May 1, 2008

Domestic Violence

*Yawn* I am sooo tired today. Last night, I attended the annual charity fundraiser that benefits my county's Domestic Violence program. Domestic violence is a senseless crime. The county's DV organization provides women with individual and group counseling, children's counseling, legal advocacy, transitional housing, and a 24-hour crisis hotline. All services are free and confidential.

The most recent DV death in my county happened just last month: The boyfriend of a woman killed her sister and mother in a domestic dispute. Granted, not all DV disputes end in death. Most disputes aren't even reported. Some are strong enough to walk away and get help, others are not. Whether it's verbal or physical, it is NOT all right to "beat" someone down. Yet, each of us is touched in some way by someone who is the receipient of domestic violence.

This program has always held a special place close to my heart. You see, I am a survivor of DV. Without going into too many details, suffice it to say that I almost choked on my own blood, and I literally saw stars. Even though it was over 20 years ago, my thanks goes out to DV legal advocate, Teri (who died way too young... in her 30's... of a heart attack), because without her a young woman in her 20's wouldn't have been able to navigate the system, get counseling, and the protection she needed. Thankfully, with her help and "talks" I was able to stay strong and do what I had to do. Interesting to me at the time, I had other young women say to me: "I'm glad you're being so strong. I could never do what you're doing."

So what was this fundraiser about? Each year, the community is asked to nominate women who've offered significant contributions to their communities and/or families. Out of those nominees, several are recognized as a "Woman of Excellence". The DV program also gives out a $500 scholarship to a high school senior girl based on her achievements, future goals, and an essay about a woman who made a difference in her life. In addition, we enjoy a delicious catered dinner and fabulous entertainment.

Dinner consisted of Tropical Baby Spring Green Salad (OMG, it was sooo good!), Pineapple Mango Chicken, Fresh Garden Cut Aparagus, Mediterranean Rice Blend, and Key Lime Cheesecake. I was ready for a nap after all that food!

Entertainment this year was provided by an a cappella rock 'n roll group from the Chicago area called Ac•Rock. They were very funny and entertaining!

On that note, I'll leave a few parting thoughts:

• Domestic Violence is not limited to certain income, education, or socio-economic levels. It doesn't care if you're white, black, yellow, or green.

• Battering is more than physical (hitting, kicking, pushing, etc) harm. It also comes in the form of verbal put-downs.

• No one has the right to physically or mentally harm you. Do not let anyone hit, push, or put their hands on you in any way.

• Don't let anyone tell you "You are worthless" or "You won't be able to make it on your own". Because you aren't worthless. You CAN make it on your own.

• Whether you are single... or have children... aged 13 or 80... There are people who will help you. All you need to do is take that step.

National Domestic Abuse Hotline
Get The Facts
Council in Europe - Stop DV Against Women


Terry said...

What an awesome post Meari! I've been in this situation myself but didn't have someone to help me out. I had to work up the nerve to leave and once I did I realized I could do it on my own. It was the best thing I could have ever done for my little girl so I've never looked back. Thanks for putting the information out there. I wish I had known about this 8 years ago but I made it out and have a great life now.

~V said...

Thank you!

Jenna said...

What an inspiring post, Meari. I'm glad that you are strong and you're a survivor!

Anonymous said...

Inspiring and thought provoking.

Thank you.

Nic said...

Great post, Meari.

The company I work for has just finished a tour of primary schools on this subject - more about emotional abuse than physical, we can't be too graphic with the under 11s, and it's shocking the amount of this kind of thing that goes on.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Meari! I'm very glad you were able to survive - and find great help to take your steps.