People are often compelled to action when they are personally impacted and connected to the stories they hear—those stories that touch their heart and activate their mind. National Domestic Violence Awareness Month remains an important observance because even though we’ve come so far over the past forty years in providing services, shelter, support and protection for victims of violence, every day people continue to be threatened, coerced, beaten, assaulted and damaged in their personal relationships by those they trust to love and care for them.
I think of my own story of being raped and remaining silent because it happened at a time when I was caring for my mother as she recovered from a car accident that left her paraplegic. It’s been six years and I’m just now beginning to talk about it—only to learn that my assailant was recently jailed for domestic violence against his new girlfriend.
I think of the 24-hour news cycle and the rampant, often misinformed and insensitive discussions of rape and violence against women that trigger strong, painful reactions as survivors are reminded of their experience… and the process of healing continues within us. Many wonder why survivors cannot just “let it go.” For most it’s never really over because the violence doesn’t stop, it stealthily moves on to the next person or finds other ways to creep into our lives. This is why we must continue to speak out, to tell our stories and to change lives. We must work together to say NO MORE domestic violence and sexual assault.
Young girls and boys deserve to grow up in a society that does not tolerate or trivialize domestic violence and sexual assault. They deserve to grow up in a world where abusers and rapists are held accountable for their actions and punished for their crimes. We must continue to speak out, to raise awareness, to ensure that anyone who ever needs our help knows how to get it and to ultimately, end domestic violence and sexual assault before it begins. Let’s take time out to mourn and say a silent prayer for the lives lost to domestic violence. Then get up and celebrate those that have survived. Let’s strengthen our connection to others working alongside us to end this horrible epidemic and work until the day the violence stops.
In peace and solidarity,