At times, we may not know what we can do as individuals to ensure relationships free from violence and abuse for every member of our community. Though Domestic Violence Awareness Month is coming to a close, there are always opportunities to raise awareness and support survivors year-round. Here are five things all of us can do today to end domestic violence in our communities.
1. Know the Signs
1 in 3 people will experience some form of abuse in a relationship in their lifetime, so it is likely we all know someone impacted by relationship violence. In order to end abuse in our communities, we must recognize its many forms. Abuse is not always physical and it does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone of any gender, age, race or nationality, education level, sexual orientation, economic background, or ability. When we learn more about the dynamics of abuse and its many forms, we can start to end abuse in every community.
2. Don’t Ignore It
It may not always be comfortable to get involved, but support starts by interrupting abuse when we know or suspect it is happening. If someone is being hurt by their partner, check in with them – let them know what is happening is not ok, that help is available, and that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship. If someone is hurting their partner, remind them that abuse is never ok and that it is never too late to change their behavior. Abuse thrives in silence, so it’s important that we speak up.
3. Share Resources
It can be difficult knowing where to start when leaving an abusive relationship or knowing how to help someone. Connect people to support by learning your local and national resources. Not sure where to start? Visit HCWC’s website, www.hcwc.org to find a list of resources. Outside of your local center, learn what policies are in place at your school or work that support survivors of abuse. Follow organizations and individuals on social media who are connected to domestic violence issues, and like and share their posts. Social media can be a powerful tool in connecting people with help. A few simple clicks can make a big impact.
4. Promote and Practice Healthy Relationship Skills
When we practice healthy relationships ourselves, we model them for others. Recognize and respect boundaries. Communicate about the good and the bad, and be willing to compromise. Take responsibility for your actions and words. Support others in your life in doing the same in their relationships and teach children how they can practice healthy relationships. While no one has relationships completely figured out, everyone deserves a healthy relationship and everyone can learn and practice the skills that make them possible.
5. Get Involved
It’s important to keep having conversations about domestic violence with our families, friends, communities, and government. Learn about legislation that can benefit and impact survivors of relationship violence and contact your representatives to let them know it matters to you. Advocate for healthy relationships curricula to be taught in schools. Donate to your local advocacy center to support on-going services for survivors and education in your community. Create your own social media post to generate discussion about issues related to relationship violence and healthy relationships. No matter how small, every action plants a seed that will make our communities safe and healthy for everyone.
Even though no relationship is perfect, your relationships should make you feel good – building you up instead of tearing you down. It should make you feel happy, safe, and supported, and abuse should never be a part of it. If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, and is seeking help or support, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat with an advocate through Love is Respect by texting LOVEIS to 22522. If you are in the Hays/Caldwell county area, call HCWC at 512-396-HELP(4357)