Domestic violence will affect many of us — men, women and children alike. Nobody is immune, regardless of our sex, financial status, color or religious affiliation.
Although women are the primary targets of abuse, men and children are victims too. EmpowHER has spoken to many partners and husbands who have felt the wrath of a woman’s anger.
Children are automatically affected by domestic violence and, often tragically, have no voice at all. There are ways to work against violence in the home — practical, hands-on ways that the whole family can implement.
Here are a few to consider.
When I got married and we had double the furniture, I donated the contents of my home to a domestic violence shelter. My furniture was nice but not expensive, and appliances like coffee machines, toasters, TVs and cookware were things needed for any woman starting new life away from her abuser.
My furniture went directly to a survivor of domestic violence who had gotten out with her children and started fresh with a new but empty apartment. It wasn’t a huge sacrifice for me and it felt good to help a new family start a new life.
Call a domestic violence shelter near you and ask if they need anything. It will go directly to a survivor and his/her children who need it.
Money can always be used and so can donations like toiletries (including sanitary products), new unwrapped underwear and socks, clean stuffed animals, and unused makeup and hair products.
A nice suit for job interviews can help someone look good when applying for work. Staff could use cleaning products, gift cards and baked goods.
The Pixel Project is an online, global volunteer organization to end domestic violence. It's launched a "16 for 16" campaign, suggesting 16 things we can do in 16 days.
Ideas including meal donations, training to work on phone hotlines and volunteering once trained, or offering childcare to children in the shelter.
Women in shelters have a very hard time working, applying for jobs or meeting with attorneys and advocates, because they have no childcare.
The Pixel Project suggests:
“If you love children, your assistance with child care could be greatly appreciated by both the shelter and the families. If your local shelter does not have the funds to employ a full-time childcare staff, and most don’t, then you could offer some of your time to care for the children at the shelter in a group at a certain day or time, or work with a single mom as she schedules meetings with lawyers, needs time for paperwork, housing appointments, and the list goes on. “
3) Hold a Fundraiser
If your work, school or church holds fundraisers, contact them about adding a domestic violence shelter to their list of recipients.
Or hold your own! Simply hold a potluck at your home or in a park and ask for a donation for lunch, with the money going straight to a shelter.
You can also ask friends to bring along kids’ books, toiletries and other products that women and children need when they've had to leave their homes quickly.
A fundraiser can be big or very simple — a dozen family and friends for a cookout and potluck and raise several hundred dollars for a local shelter. Every penny counts.
4) Involve Your Partner and Children
Set a good example for your kids. Involve them in helping out, volunteering and fundraising. Instead of birthday gifts, how about gifts for children in shelters instead?
If you are helping out a shelter, take your kids. They can help with chores or hang out with other children there.
An article in Women’s Health Magazine talks about making advocacy a family affair.
They interviewed Brooke Axtell, the domestic violence survivor and activist who appeared with Katy Perry at the Grammys. Axtell is also the director of communications and engagement for Allies Against Slavery.
She said, "...the core of change around this issue begins with creating a culture of compassion. That means very early on teaching children how to have compassion for themselves and for others."
She said that we need to show children what it means to have healthy relationships by maintaining them ourselves, and we need to engage our kids in empowering, age-appropriate discussions about expressing their sexuality in a healthy way.”
And remember that charity begins at home. Treat your partner/spouse with the love and respect they deserve and reach out for help if things get out of control.
Make sure your children know that respecting those around them should be the only acceptable way to live, and be treated.
Encourage them to advocate against any kind of violence so that they can go on to help others in adulthood, and to avoid becoming victims themselves.
The Pixel Project. “16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter”. Web. Retrieved May 2nd, 2015.
Women’s Health Magazine. Life. “We're All Aware That Domestic Violence Is a Problem—Now What?” Web. Retrieved May 2nd, 2015.
Reviewed May 8, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith