Domestic Violence Awareness Month – “It’s Time to Talk.”

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This is a guest article by Jackie Benoit-Petrich, the Community Coordinator at Women’s’ Shelter Inc. She can be reached at jackief@womens-shelter.org

“It’s Time to Talk.” Yes, indeed.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and our slogan this year is urging all of us to become more aware, mindful, active and vocal about domestic assault. My passion is to educate people…to get them talking…making them a little uncomfortable… and give a voice to the silenced.

Domestic violence is everywhere. One in three women in our country will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in their lives and on average 4 women will be murdered each day at the hand of their intimate partner. Globally, the epidemic of violence, torture and trafficking of women are reaching epic proportions.

The Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC) has placed displays at the College and the Government Center throughout the month of October. As we take in the displays and read the stories of lives lost we may become pensive and feel helpless in what to do. “It’s Time to Talk” may leave us questioning our own passivity to abuse in all its forms. We may be forced to examine our own biases and prejudices that have led us to victimize the victim all over again. We may have to dispel myths that we have believed that has surrounded battering for centuries and embrace the facts.

We’ve heard the “No More” campaign airing ever more frequently now that the crime of domestic assault has made national headlines:

“No More…she deserved it”

“No More…she was drunk”

“No More…boys will be boys

“No More…he said he was sorry

“No more…why doesn’t she leave?”

…and the list can go on and on to empower ourselves use our voices to end domestic violence. How often have we heard those very statements or thought them ourselves and believed them, somehow thinking that if the victim would just change or leave, the violence would end? When in actuality, we should be appalled that he is beating her in the first place. Of the tens of thousands of domestic assaults that happen each year in our country, only a fraction are caught on camera or involves a celebrity superstar.

“It’s Time to Talk” so the faceless, nameless victims voices may be heard as well and offenders are held accountable.

I want to make a clear point here as I am sure there will be comments that I am being gender bias and unfair to any male readers. To the contrary! Do not believe the myth that “Just as many men are beaten as women.” In 2006, the Federal Bureau of Investigations found that nationwide the crime of Domestic Assault was 92% male perpetrated. Does this mean 92% of males are abusers? Of course not, only that when the crime is committed, it is predominately male. But I ask that we take a look at our defensiveness around this issue. Defensiveness and victim blaming is a huge dis-service to humanity both to women AND men. I implore the male readers to engage their hearts, minds and bodies to end violence against women. This gender violence affects you…to the point where even as good men; you suffer because of the crimes of your brothers.

“It’s Time to Talk”…Silence is affirming, when we don’t speak out against men’s violence, we are supporting it.

On October 30th, we will honor the 38 Minnesotans who lost their lives due to DV in 2013 with a Commemoration Vigil in the Atrium at RCTC at 5:30PM. Twenty-five women were murdered by a male partner, two men were murdered by a male partner, six men were murdered by another male (ex-male partner of the female) and five men were murdered by a female partner. These Victims are part of the nearly 3000 domestic homicides nationally in 2013. Visit the Atrium that day to find out information agencies and organizations committed to ending gender violence…all violence.

I will leave you with these images as reminders of the magnitude of violence against women in our community.

  • The next time you see a Vietnam War Memorial- remember that every 5 years more women die from injuries due to battering than the total number of US casualties during the Vietnam War.
  • Next time you walk into a children’s classroom-remember that there at likely that many children who are staying in our Rochester Shelters that day
  • As you go about your daily living remember-if all the women and children who have lived in the Shelter or use our safety services, they would circle around Silver Lake more than 10 times. If the stood holding hands along highway 52, they would pass Zumbrota…… Try to imagine them the next time you drive north on highway 52, women and children who are in need of protection against a person they once believed they could love and trust.

Which of them do you know?

Yes indeed, It’s Time to Talk.

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