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5 Ways We Can Support Domestic Violence Survivors

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Although Domestic Violence Awareness Month has passed, domestic violence continues to be a major issue in our communities and is also considered a major public health issue in the United States, disproportionately affecting Black and Native American women, low-income women, QTPOC people, and children. The holidays can be a scary time for domestic violence survivors, with added financial pressure, heightened expectations, and increased drug and alcohol consumption. Here are five ways that you can support domestic violence survivors during the holidays and year-round.

 

Take a 30-Hour Domestic Violence Victims’ Advocate Training

In order to effectively advocate for domestic violence survivors, one must fully understand the dynamics of domestic violence and how it intersects with race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Many organizations that serve domestic violence survivors, including the YWCA, offer a 30-hour Victims’ Advocate training that provides information on the domestic violence awareness movement, navigating legal and social systems as a survivor, and explores how domestic is treated in religious and People of Color communities.

 

Be Mindful of Your Language

As Crissle from “The Read” would say- “Words mean things.” Being mindful of your language to someone experiencing or fleeing domestic violence is a step in the right direction of shifting our culture from victim-blaming culture to a victim/survivor supportive culture. When engaging with someone who is experiencing domestic violence, avoid passing judgment. Statements such as “I could never allow someone to treat me that way!” or “Why don’t you just leave?” are ignorant and harmful statements that place the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator. (Also, keep in mind that when one flees domestic violence, their lethality rate increases by 75%. Leaving an abusive relationship is inherently dangerous). When in doubt, the best question to ask is “How can I support you?

 

Donate Clothing, Toys, Personal Items to Local Domestic Violence Agencies

When fleeing domestic violence, survivors oftentimes have to leave behind most, if not all, of their material possessions. Donating clothing and shoes (women’s, men’s, children’s, and gender-neutral), toys, books, pet products, and hygiene products can alleviate the financial strain of starting over and can help survivors transition into life after fleeing abuse more easily.

One that we suggest is The Butterfly Project.

 

Donate Cash to local Domestic Violence Agencies AND Directly to Domestic Violence Survivors

Many agencies that serve domestic violence survivors are non-profits and/or are operating on extremely tight budgets. Donating money to these organizations can assist in providing shelter, emergency food, transportation support, and legal support to people fleeing domestic violence, as well as assist with other operating costs.

Also, many people underestimate the value of direct giving. Donating money directly to people fleeing domestic violence is an act that empowers the survivor and spares them the frustration of navigating social services organizations. Pooling together money with other supporters is an excellent way to garner community support and show survivors that they are truly loved and supported. Your monetary donations could be the money they need to finally get that bus or plane ticket to flee the situation.

 

Provide Childcare to Domestic Violence Survivors

Parenting through domestic violence and its aftermath is a trying task that oftentimes leaves survivors deeply depressed, anxious, and feeling isolated. Offering to babysit and interact with a survivor’s children for an hour or two can allow a survivor to run necessary errands, such as meeting with a lawyer, applying for housing and food assistance, or simply decompressing after a stressful transition.

Everyone has the power to positively affect a survivor’s life and aid them on their road to healing. Through educating ourselves and opening our minds and hearts, we can collectively work to improve domestic violence in our communities.

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What a Viral Twitter Thread Can Teach Us About Love and Trauma

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After a chance meeting with a New York legend, Chaédria LaBouvier, the Guggenheim Museum’s first black female curator, promised herself if she experienced another special encounter on New York’s MTA bus service, she would live-tweet it for the world. Probably sooner than she expected, she found herself giving her followers a play-by-play of a man and woman discussing their relationship, its problems, and how they can solve them.

According to LaBouvier, everything began with the man telling his girlfriend, “I love you and I want to make this work but you’re mean AS FUCK and it’s wearing me down.” Her tweets then went on to describe the man explaining that she doesn’t know how to communicate her concerns in a healthy and productive way with him and pleading with her to seek help from a mental health professional. 

The woman acknowledges not only his concerns but also her own frustration with her actions and her reservations about therapy. “’I know I don’t communicate my feelings…I didn’t grow up with that and I had to teach myself… what if therapy doesn’t work for me? What if I’m just angry?’”

To some, LaBouvier’s tweets hearkened back to the problematic “#PlaneBae” incident in which a comedian’s live-tweets of flirtatious meet-cute between two fellow passengers on her flight from New York to Dallas included photos of the unsuspecting pair. Many, though, are hailing the unidentified MTA man’s devotion to his relationship and LaBouvier’s (@chaedria on Twitter) account as a beautiful example of love, commitment, patience, and compromise. 

In the exchange, the man affirms his girlfriend’s feelings about her anger and recognizes how difficult it can be to change learned behaviors, especially when the raw emotion of a lover’s quarrel come into play. Often times, couples fail to acknowledge the impact of their actions while focusing on the recipient, but both participants here succeed in validating the other and showing empathy for one another at the same time. “’I want a better YOU not someone else… would it help you if I went with you [to therapy]? I’ll ask my mom if she has any recommendations,’” the man offers 

However, what he likely doesn’t understand is that just any old “therapy” isn’t always the answer. Our MTA heroine arguably needs a trauma therapist specializing in PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder – as evidenced by her brief detail of her childhood experience and the shame she feels every night. By her own admission she continually tries to correct her behavior yet fails, and a trauma specialist could not only better understand her situation, but also potentially reduce the pain she feels, slow the frequency of her “blackouts,” and address any other side effects. 

When thinking of the traumas that can affect any of us, it’s important to remember that what scars us individually may not scar us collectively. Whatever she experienced may not be immediately understandable or accessible to us (or her boyfriend whose race remains a mystery while LaBouvier identifies her as a woman of color), but it still grieves her daily. Imagine breaking a limb – you may get a cast and lollipop at the hospital, but that pain still remains until the injury is fully healed. Equally, that pain still affects our interactions with other others. All human interaction is dependent on our relationships and when our feelings are hurt, those relationships are thrown into chaos until the injury is healed or at least back in a working state.

This couple’s relationship may not be perfect, but their willingness to work together through their weaknesses is a sign all love is not lost. While therapy is not a cure-all, the right therapy can heal a lot of injuries. 

Check out the full thread on the flip and let us know what you think. Can therapy help their relationship? Do you have a personal experience you’d like to share?

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