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.
High School Students Stage Sit-In Protest Against Racism
In response to how school faculty have handled a racist video, students of Ethical Culture Fieldston School in the Bronx have staged an overnight-sit-in protest. Dissatisfied with faculty’s response to demands to address racism on the school’s campus, students have rallied and locked staff out of the administration building until they reached an agreement.
Outrage Lead to Action
More than 200 high school students of the K-12 academy occupied the building to demand action. They were outraged by the response to a video which featured White students counting down before blurting racist, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs. The video gained attention after circulating Twitter and eventually being reported on by The New York Times. However, school administrative officials did the bare minimum by only condemning the video without stating a plan for disciplinary action. Knowing only one of the students involved had withdrawn from the exclusive academy, students developed a plan to hold staff accountable. Thus, Students of Color Matter was born.
The standoff between students and staff lasted for 72 hours before an agreement was met. Each day the students, who developed a Twitter, Instagram, and petition, posted demands to their accounts. March 11th, the students began with a statement on Instagram:
“We are here today in light of recent events imploring those who desire to see out institution more forward to stand in solidarity with the students of color and white allies of the Ethical Culture Fieldston Community. Today a lockout will take place in the administration building (the 200s) as a means to force our administration to acknowledge the concerns we’ve been bringing to their attention over the past several years”
After outlining the reason for their cause, Students of Color Matter organizers detailed updates as well as their demands.
All or Nothing
The administration was sent an email by students which resulted in the head of the school, Jessica Bagby, alerting parents and students that “Fieldston campus will operate on a normal schedule.” The students also integrated a hashtag, which added pressure due to its discovery by major media sources. Despite the non-violent protest, there were two physical altercations which involved a history teacher and a parent attempting to enter the closed facility. Jessica Bagby’s inadequate response to the students’ demands and inability to commit to change is what ultimately caused the 72-hour standoff.
As of March13th, the students had roughly 3,000 signatures on their petition. Housed on their Students of Color Matter website, the organization calls for the following:
The use of racist and bigoted language are symptoms of systemic and institutional racism that plague educational institutions across the country. For this reason, we command the implementation of structural reform, such as long term curriculum changes, the admittance of more students and faculty of color, and racial sensitivity training for all community members.”
Jaden Smith Brings Mobile Water Filtration System to Flint
Flint, Michigan has been ravaged by a bad city-wide deal that resulted in tainted water for nearly five years. Now, Jaden Smith’s startup may provide a solution to the city’s needs water needs.
Called “The Water Box”, Jaden’s mobile water filtration device was unveiled in Flint at First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. Able to produce 10 gallons of clean drinking water per minute, the actor-rapper turned philanthropist hopes the invention will help the community. Housed within the church, which previously distributed over 5 million bottles of water to the community, residents will be able to fill any container of their choice with clean water. However, they are required to do so during distribution times.
After Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ended the free bottled water program initiated by the state, Jaden and crew stepped up through JUST Water. JUST Water is a company that Jaden Smith became a partner of at just 12 years old. The company, which “combines for-profit energy and non-profit motives,” began from a desire to develop a filtration system to benefit poorer areas and nations. Making clean water more accessible, the company first launched in August 2018 in the UK.
Speaking about his community effort, Jaded remarked, “This has been one of the most rewarding and educational experiences for me personally. He added,” Working together with people in the community experiencing the problems and designing something to help them has been a journey I will never forget.” Jaden Smith plans to continue deploying more filtration systems across the city to benefit those in need and looks forward to aiding more places experiencing similar issues.
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