AL Gives Day – Help End Domestic Violence

AL_Give Day image

The domestic violence shelters in the Birmingham, AL, area are coordinated through the Central Alabama YWCA.  On February 2nd {today!}, the YWCA Central Alabama will participate in Alabama Gives Day, a statewide day of giving.

They need our help to reach their goal of $5,000.  They have secured matching funds of $1,000 from an anonymous donor if they can raise $4,000.

Every gift helps. No gift amount is too big or too small, and you don’t have to live in Alabama to participate.

Donations will not be accepted before February 2nd.

How to Help

 

On February 2nd, visit the Birmingham YWCA’s Razoo page and make an online donation.  That’s it!

Also, if you’d like to learn more about Alabama Gives Day, visit this site.

True Confessions:  I was not compensated in any way for sharing this information.  I believe in supporting organizations that work to end domestic violence, and wanted to let you guys know about this great campaign!

Sweet Cause: Brave Woman #BraveWoman #CBias

Brave Woman

Last month I brought you guys a post about Brave Woman, a site dedicated to supporting and empowering the brave women who are in and are leaving domestic violence situations.  It is my goal to shine a light on domestic violence and spark conversation, and by doing so, accomplish a few things:

  • help those who might be in an abusive situation
  • provide resources for those who do not know how to help someone in an abusive situation
  • keep the conversation going so that we can work to end domestic violence, and
  • help parents realize how important it is for them to talk to their sons and daughters about domestic violence, why it’s wrong, what the signs are, and how to get help.

My Goals for 2012

 

As I mentioned in my “what’s coming up in 2012″ post, my goal is to have a regular posting schedule for Sweet Cause.  This is the main way I hope to take a stand and help others.  The posts will focus on warning signs, resources, material to use when talking to your children, stories from survivors, etc.

In addition, I have taken the Brave Woman pledge:

I pledge to honor and respect brave women and children who tackle the difficult journey of change from domestic violence to a new life. I acknowledge my own moment-by-moment bravery, will remain aware of what is happening to others around me, and speak up against violence in any form. I will stand up for human dignity and safety for women and children.

I would like to develop an eBook that takes parents step-by-step through the process of discussing domestic violence in an age-appropriate manner with their children.  Don’t wait till your child is a teen experiencing violence, start from an early age.

I would like to help the local safe house in my county.  Volunteering can sometimes be difficult due to the sensitive nature of the situation, but there are still ways to help such as making donations.

I would like to find other ways to help that are currently unknown to me, hopefully making an impact in someone’s life.

Why Am I Taking the Pledge?

 

I recently had someone mention to me that they couldn’t stand people like me who talked about domestic violence but who had never personally been abused.  While it’s true, I have never personally experienced domestic abuse from my partner {thank goodness}, I know all too well what it is like to grow up in a household affected by it.

While you are not scarred in the same way as someone being directly abused, you are still affected.  What you see, what you hear, what you experience, it sticks with you, especially as an innocent child who doesn’t understand what is going on.

We recently had a representative from the county’s safe house come and talk to a group of homeschool girls.  She gave each girl a sheet of paper and pointed out how nice and clean and perfect the paper was.  She then instructed them to crumple the paper up, as much as they could.  After the paper was crumpled, they were told to try to smooth it back out to it’s perfect state.  Of course, it was impossible to get it back to that smooth piece of paper.  While they could flatten it, and get it to look much better, the paper still had the remnants of the damage that was done to it.

She wanted to illustrate that abuse, no matter it’s form, leaves marks on a person, just like they had left on their papers.  We’re all imperfect, so we’re going to mark papers no matter what.  Some marks are worse than others, though, and despite not having been personally abused, I have marks from the situation nonetheless.

In addition to the horror of seeing your mother being hit, having alcohol thrown in her face while holding an infant, being yelled at, seeing holes being punched in walls, seeing things broken to pieces in a fit of rage, and many other things, I became hyper-vigilant, sensitive to situations in which people have been drinking a bit too much or doing drugs, uncomfortable around men, and have been diagnosed with PTSD.  I run the risk of putting myself in the wrong type of relationships, you know, “the cycle.”

It affects you, it just affects you in different ways.  This is why I’m so passionate about domestic violence prevention and awareness.  I know what it’s like, I just know it from a different point of view.

I encourage you to join me in raising awareness.  I encourage you to change the pledge.  I would love it if you followed along throughout the year while I shed light on this subject.  Also, please feel free to support Brave Woman on Facebook and Twitter.  Also, check out their site for resources, not just for those in abusive relationships, but for those who are looking to help others as well.

True Confessions:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.

Sweet Cause: Brave Woman

Brave Woman domestic violence resources

Brave Woman domestic violence resourcesDomestic violence is something that affects women from all walks of life. There is no special pass that assures you that you won’t be affected. Even if you are never personally abused, chances are you know someone {or will know someone} who is.

Let’s Chat

 

If you have any experience with domestic violence, you probably know that many people don’t want to talk about it.  Or, maybe they don’t have any reason to talk about it.  The problem with this is that these people remain uneducated about ways to help someone in the event they need to.  Talking is one of the best things you can do to help end domestic violence.

Where do you start, though?  I’m happy to introduce Brave Woman:

Brave Woman is a grassroots movement to shift personal and public perception of women facing domestic violence situations from a victim mentality to one of courage and strength. The ultimate goal is action to create a world community that

  • Supports difficult decisions involved in creating a new life of safety, healing and independence.
  • Is aware of the presence of domestic violence and its impact on families.

Brave Woman is not only a resource for those in domestic violence situations, but also a resource for those of us who are not.  Did you know that it’s not a simple decision to just leave an abusive relationship?  Do you know the multitude of things that must be considered when trying to leave?  It is very important that as you help someone, you also respect the decisions they make and continue to support them.  This site gives you tons of great information about this.

Brave Woman Pledge

 

There is a pledge you can take on the Brave Woman site.  The pledge allows you to commit to speaking out against violence against women and children and vow to honor and respect them.  I invite you to take the pledge.

In addition to the pledge, there are other action items such as becoming an advocate, telling your story, watching videos of brave women, and making a donation.

Brave Woman Twitter Party

 

I’d love for you to learn more about this wonderful grassroots movement.  They will be hosting a Twitter party on December 19th, 1-2 pm EST.  Attend and learn more about Brave Woman, share your story, or be inspired by others.

Final Thoughts

 

As many of you know, I saw my mother being abused for a good bit of my childhood.  I vowed to  never let that happen to me.  Thankfully, I’ve been fortunate.  The fact of the matter is sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you find yourself in a situation like this.  It takes more courage to leave than anyone who hasn’t been in that situation can imagine.

By sharing stories and learning about resources, we can help each other by shining a light on this far-too-common occurrence and helping women learn that they are not victims, but brave individuals who will no longer stand for this treatment.

For more info, feel free to follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

True Confessions:  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias.  As many of you know, though, this is a cause I am passionate about and will continue to discuss and bring you resources.  We have to stop this.  #CBias #BraveWoman

Sweet Cause: When Someone Shows You Who They Are, Believe Them

Oprah says:  “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”  I believe she learned that lesson from Maya Angelou.

What the heck does this have to do with anything?

Well, people show you who they are, eventually.  Many of us spend quite a bit of time trying to ignore their very blatant signs.  Fact still remains, though, that they’re still showing us who they are.

If someone you love {and who “loves” you} is hurting you, either physically or emotionally, they are showing you who they are.  And it is imperative that you listen.

Often, though, it is difficult for someone in an abusive situation to get out of that situation on his or her own.  What can you do to help?

Ways You Can Help

 

  • Don’t assume you’re wrong or that it’s none of your business.  It’s better to be safe than sorry; if you suspect someone is in an abusive situation, go with your gut.  You may be the only chance this person has for escaping the relationship.
  • Talk to the individual in private.  The last thing this future survivor needs is to be pointed out in public.
  • Express your concern and point out warning signs you’ve noticed.  If you judge the individual, they are more likely to close up and resist your assistance.  Gently point out things you’ve noticed that you feel portray a potentially abusive situation.  Sometimes people aren’t even aware of the situation they’re in until it’s pointed out to them.
  • Listen.  Sometimes simply listening to the individual and offering validation is all that is necessary to enable the person to open up to help.
  • Offer assistance.  Learn about the domestic violence resources available in your area and offer specific assistance to the individual.  Inform them of safe houses, hotlines, and other resources and ask if they’d like further assistance in conjunction with these.  Here are a few resources to get you started:  Domestic Abuse Hotline for Men and Women, Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook, National Domestic Violence Hotline,and the State Coalition List.
  • Respect their decisions.  You can’t force someone to leave an abusive relationship.  Judging them and ignoring them if they don’t do what you think they should will not help them.
  • Build the person up.  The individual is likely suffering from low self-esteem.  Help the person see his or her worth and courage.
  • Help the person protect themselves and think about what they can do.  Help the person devise an emergency plan, develop a code word for when things have escalated, find out what legal and law enforcement options are available, or help prepare an escape bag.
  • Offer practical assistance.  Offer to cook meals, watch the children, or any other things he or she might need assistance with.
  • Maintain regular contact, even after the person is out of the situation.  They need help through all phases of the process.

Remember, knowing what to do before you ever find yourself in this type of situation is important; you could help save a life.

Do you have any advice for assisting someone who is in an abusive situation?

Domestic Violence Awareness: Know the Signs

A little over a week ago I posted about Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  I wanted to encourage my readers to learn about domestic violence and learn how to take action to help those suffering from it, as well as take action to end it.

Why is this so important to me?

What I didn’t mention in that post is that my mother is a domestic abuse survivor.  On and off for much of the time I lived at home I saw her endure physical and verbal abuse.  Some times were less violent than others, but when it was bad, it was really bad.

I won’t go into specifics about my mother’s situation because I don’t think that’s fair to her, but I will say that I learned from her experiences.  I knew I never wanted to be in a relationship like that.  Unfortunately, I became hyper-vigilant and that has stayed with me to this day.  Thankfully, my husband knows my background and is a pro at understanding and dealing with me.

It frustrates me, though, when I find myself falling into certain thought patterns that are a product of living in a domestic abuse situation.  You’re never the same person.

The point is, domestic violence has far-reaching effects.  Some people aren’t able to escape the cycle.  Some people follow in the path, mainly because they don’t have the support system they need and knowledge of resources available to them.

So, what can you do about it?

One of the first steps to helping bring about change is educating yourself on the warning signs of domestic abuse.  You can’t help someone if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

The Allstate Foundation and Click to Empower have provided a printable list of signs to look for when someone is being physically, emotionally, and financially abused.  Review these items and familiarize yourself with the various ways someone can be abused.

I should point out that just because someone exhibits one or two of these signs does not mean they are being abused.  What you are looking for is a pattern, something that becomes progressively worse, someone who has changed completely upon entering a relationship, etc.

Next week we’ll talk about what to do if you believe someone is being abused.  These are delicate situations, so they usually require careful planning and preparation.  Usually time is of the essence, though, so knowing what to do is imperative.