October 17, 2018
By Carmen Pitre, Sojourner President and CEO
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.”
– Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Chances are high that you know someone who has been hurt by domestic violence. A co-worker, friend, or family member who has been scarred by the hurt and harm that has been caused by someone who promised to love them.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for us all to understand what we can do to help those who have been hurt among us. During the month of October, we take time to honor survivors, we work to elevate the community conversation about domestic violence and we strive to engage everyone in the hard work of ending violence in our community. While it happens in our homes, domestic violence sets the stage for violence on our streets, in our neighborhood and in our city.
At Sojourner, we understand that we must help survivors by believing them when they come forward. We know that we must work together to make coming forward easier and we must dedicate ourselves to eliminating the barriers that prevent survivors from seeking help.
We believe that healing is possible. At Sojourner, each day we partner with survivors to help them find their path toward wellness and hope. We understand that people come through our doors at the most difficult of times and we believe it is our responsibility to be present to the truth they need to speak.
“Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once,…”
You must ask yourself what role you can play in ending violence in your own life, in your own neighborhood, at your job, in your church and within your own relationships. Survivors need us to work together to end the silence that allows violence to thrive in their lives. We can give reassuring messages, encourage people to seek help, respect the decisions survivors make, listen to them when they need to speak their truth and challenge the notion that people are to blame for the hurt and harm that has happened to them. Starting in your own life is a good place to begin.
We know that domestic violence can rob a person of their ability to live a peaceful life. Violence can take away a person’s sense of safety and security. Experiencing violence puts survivors on guard and teaches them that they must be prepared to defend themselves at any moment.
Even more troubling is the normalization of violence for children who are exposed to hurt and harmful behavior. We know that children who witness violence learn that this behavior is acceptable and it will influence their lives for years to come.
No child should grow up in violence. No child should have to hide in the closet, under the covers or tremble in fear because violence is happening in their home. We have the power to create a different reality for our children.
We must stand by survivors and let them know that they are not alone. We must tell them that the violence is not their fault and we must affirm that we are here to help.
These messages are deeply needed at this moment in time.
If we want to end domestic violence, it will require that we make space for hurt to be healed and pain to be acknowledged. It is important for us, as a collective community, to give healing messages, to believe that healing is possible and to build programs that support a person’s ownership of their own healing process.
As helpers and healers, we can hold space for harm to be mended and for pain to be transformed.
Can we really heal? Is it possible to find space and time to heal our deepest, darkest hurts? Can our hearts be mended? How do we build a culture of hope and healing for the next generation and ourselves?
These important and urgent questions must be answered if we want to leave our children with a better world. A world, perhaps, that will not need to dedicate a month to ending violence in our lives.
Sojourner Family Peace Center has been designated the 24-hour Domestic Violence Hotline for the City of Milwaukee and outlying communities. If you or someone you know need help, dial 414-933-2722 or learn more about how Sojourner can help by visiting their website.