Thursday, September 25, 2014

October - Domestic Violence Awareness Month


It was an honored to have been the recipient of the 2014 Batterer's Intervention Professional of the Year awarded by Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Words cannot express my appreciation for this recognition.  There are many in Indiana working to end domestic violence and I share this award with each of them.

October is domestic violence awareness month.  Many activities will be taking place all over Indiana to raise awareness and get people involved. Here is my kick-start:  Understanding Violence/Abuse.

·         It doesn't start with a black eye
·         It isn't all the time
·         Not all violence/abuse is physical
·         Not all abuse reaches the level of breaking the law
·         Taking inventory of my own thinking and behavior

When I am working with participants at NonviolentAlternatives, there are many goals to accomplish. Raising their awareness, connecting their abuse with their thinking habits and getting them to see how they sabotage their own happiness.

He/she just swept me off my feet.  I have seen the pattern of abuse repeated over and over again.  It was true in my own life for many years.  As humans our need to be connected to others is deeply ingrained.  In our quest to find our special connection to that one person many times we fail to pay attention to the behaviors (warning signs) that might indicate problems down the road. If we listen people will tell us about themselves. There are no guarantees of course, however understanding our own needs helps; accepting our own worthiness reduces the risk of being in an abusive relationship. The first person we must love is ourselves.  Two emotionally unhealthy people make for one abusive relationship. In the beginning the excitement of the new gets in the way of reason and common sense.  We may see or hear those warning signs and choose to ignore them hoping, believing they will work themselves out. And so it begins.

The first time he hit me he apologized over and over and I believed him.  While he didn't hit me again right way, he was abusive in many other ways.  There are periods of time when it feels all is well and we let down our guard.  We convince ourselves the past abuse must have been a mistake; must have “just happened”.  The need for this to be true, that we were mistaken about the abuse is over whelming and prevents us from seeing the truth. It does not matter what another person may so or do, it doesn't give anyone the justification, the right, the reason to be abusive or hurtful to someone else.  This is the very basis for changing the relationships in our lives.  Terry Moore, the director and founder of Nonviolent Alternatives has a copy right on the following which helps enforce this idea with our clients. “There is nothing another person can say or do that can make me say or do something I know in my conscience is wrong”.

While bruises are a clear sign of physical abuse, there are no clear of obvious telltale signs of other types of abuse. As partner violence builds and escalates to the physical stage it is typical to find many other forms of abuse having been used which serve as layers of reasons and fears which leads a victim to believe there are no other options, no way out. The question “why does she stay” has been asked over and over again, I believe the real question is “why does someone abuse?”  Making the abusive behavior focal point and releasing the victim from any “fault” of another’s abuse is imperative.  The wheel of abuse was developed through the Duluth program and can be found at the following link.  http://www.theduluthmodel.org/training/wheels.html 

By the time abuse reaches a level that the police become involved; the victim has suffered extensive conditioning to believe she/he is the problem. This belief is often reinforced by the media, or others who do not understand how domestic violence manipulates and the toll it takes on people living in these conditions.  Children living in these conditions have lower grades, poor social skills and low self esteem.  They are learning how to get what they want with abuse and/or are conditioned to become the victim in adult relationships perpetuating the cycle of violence.

Taking a personal inventory of our own behavior and correcting those things we do on a daily basis that might hurt us or others is a starting point in changing the future.  Have I said or done something today that I wouldn’t want said or done to me?  Am I setting the best example I can for my family, my neighbors, my community, am I doing anything to assist others in raising the awareness of violence and changing it?  During this month of Domestic Violence Awareness, what will you do to be a part of the change?  Reach out and change someone’s life.