October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Although it’s not as well known a cause as breast cancer, this epidemic affects over twice as many women worldwide. Given the increasing recent accounts of politicians’ and celebrities’ experiences in the media, I’d like to take a few moments to shine the light on Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
More often than not this issue is swept under the rug or avoided in conversation…it’s embarrassing. Far too many women and children live in fear day in and day out. The World Health Organization reports that an astounding one in three women worldwide experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime. In some countries, that rate jumps to 70%!
I can go on and on about how we need to break the cycle of abuse…to teach kids and adults to work through their problems without resorting to physical or emotional abuse. That we need to teach young girls that they deserve to be treated with respect, and teach kids how to show that respect to their peers, future partners and children. How we need male role models that show their confidence and talent without the ego it takes to demean or abuse their girlfriends or wives. How celebrities or athletes or other men of power should be punished/ostracized when they do not live up to the status they’ve gained AS a role model…but I’ll refrain from saying that to share this:
Here’s why it matters:
Excerpts from https://ncadv.org/statistics
Here’s why it matters to ME:
I was lucky enough to grow up in a household of loving parents, who, sure, would argue sometimes as any couple does… But they tried to make sure it did not disrupt us kids. Yes, we got spanked sometimes when we misbehaved or disobeyed or got caught doing something dangerous, but there was never any real physical violence…unless you count the fights my brothers and I would get into on occasion. Both of my parents had turbulent pasts – My mom’s first husband (not my father) was abusive and her life was threatened on many occasions until she was finally able to escape. But she had to start a new life with nothing. And I can still see the effects this beast had on her, and the terror she feels at the mention of his name, even though it’s over 45 years later. My dad had an abusive childhood, but unlike most of the kids who survive brutal circumstances he grew stronger and was determined NOT to repeat the cycle of abuse.
They instilled in us from very early ages that hitting is not the answer. When my brothers and I would get into fights they’d lecture us for what seemed like hours about how wrong it was that we hit our loved ones, and that we should always use words to debate or stand up for ourselves. (These lectures, by the way, were MUCH worse than the rare spankings.) My parents made sure I understood that no boy had the right to put his hands on me unless I wanted him to, and that my brothers understood they could not use their strength to manipulate girls. We ALL understood that, although there will doubtless be pain in life, real LOVING relationships do not cause fear and pain (neither physically nor emotionally).
Mama has served on the Board of Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence for nearly a decade and has worked tirelessly for years to help educate and support the families affected by such violence. Five years ago, she retired from nursing to open Amy’s Closet Boutique, a non-profit resale shop in Denver, NC that takes donations of women’s clothing and small household items, then resells them to raise money to sustain Amy’s House, Lincoln County’s shelter for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
This shop also provides Amy’s House residents with clothes and housewares to start their new life after leaving their abusers, which often happens in the middle of the night and with nothing but the clothes on their back. This shop now has two locations – one in Lincolnton, NC and one in Denver, NC.
My father also works diligently to help with the business side of both Amy’s House & Amy’s Closet – keeping the financials in line, helping apply for grants, and trying to help keep things running smoothly. Their dedication is an inspiration to me and has given a much needed lifeline to many others in our community.
Here’s what you can do to help:
WEAR PURPLE – This month everything’s turned Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness, but let’s not forget to mix in a little purple to bring attention to the pervasive problem of Domestic Violence. Help spread the word for the organizations that are working to put an end to the violence and tell those who may be struggling with it that they’re not alone and there are alternatives.
GET INVOLVED – volunteer your time/energy or money to help support your local shelters. Many are not supported by local tax dollars and rely solely on grants and donations. Some have programs that teach mothers how to survive on their own and need volunteers to help with the kids while they’re in classes or folks to help teach classes (cooking, family budgeting, resume writing, etc.).
When cleaning out your closets and garages, take things like gently used clothes, linens, dishes and other housewares to your local shelter to help families get back on their feet. (or to Amy’s Closet at 751-E North NC Highway 16 Denver, 28037 or 202 S. Cedar Street Lincolnton, NC 28092)
DONATE – Attend awareness events or fundraising galas. Participate in fundraising drives. I’ve linked to the events and fundraisers we’re doing for LCCADV to help build a bigger, better shelter, but I’m sure every single shelter could make better use of the $10 you spend on your daily mocha latte from Starbucks.
The most important thing you can do is to BE A ROLE MODEL – treat your spouse and children with the love and respect you want to be treated with and we all deserve. Don’t put them down or raise your hand to prove your point or express your frustration.
If you or anyone you know needs help:
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
NC Domestic Violence Service Providers (listed by county)
Mecklenburg’s Safe Alliance 704-332-2513
Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Crisis Line phone: 704-736-1224