Readers Respond

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Domestic abuse vigil

From JENNY AHLERS / Storm Lake

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a national movement to bring public attention to the problem of intimate partner violence. While October is the official month for this campaign, many individuals and organizations in Buena Vista County make domestic violence awareness their goal every single day.

FACTS: Nearly one-third of American women report having been physically or sexually abused by a boyfriend or husband at some point in their lives. Many children exposed to domestic violence exhibit behavioral and physical health problems, and what they experience growing up has an enormous impact on their future relationships. Between 13-25% of teenage girls have been in a physically or verbally abusive relationship.

Domestic violence is not a family, individual or police issue - it is a community issue. Domestic violence in Buena Vista County can be stopped, but it is going to take our residents working together to create a unified community that does not tolerate domestic violence. You can help. We ALL can.

While it's true - domestic violence is a complex problem with no simple solutions - the fact is there are countless steps we can take in our daily lives to stop a batterer...to support a victim...to save a life. CAASA's theme for 2008 is "Ending Domestic Violence - One Community...One Home...One Life at a Time".

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Educate yourself: Get the facts, and find out what resources are available in the community.

Help a victim: Let them know you are there for them. Tell them they don't deserve to be abused and that they can live a life free of abuse. Let them know about services that can help. Services for victims include but are not limited to safe shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, legal aid, protection (restraining) orders, sexual assault resources. Children who have been exposed to domestic violence can receive counseling as well.

Talk to an abuser: Always remember that while an abusive person may be open to talking with you, true change can only occur if that person is willing to be accountable for their actions, and be willing to take the necessary steps to help themselves. Domestic violence certified treatment and counseling is available to abusers.

Wear a purple ribbon to raise awareness for domestic violence. Ask others to wear a ribbon.

Set a good example: Other people see your behaviors and actions, especially young people. Treat others with respect, and teach the young people in your life that domestic violence is wrong.

Raise awareness in larger groups, such as during Sunday church services, during business meetings, or group meetings. Here are a few ideas: Ask your pastor for a couple of minutes to talk about efforts to end domestic violence, or ask to have it included in the bulletin or talked about in a sermon. During a business meeting or other group meeting, take a few minutes to talk about the efforts.

Take a stand: Domestic violence is not a private family matter. It is not an individual issue. It is not just a women's issue. And, the police cannot solve this problem alone. Every single person can and should play a role in resolving domestic violence. Domestic violence is our problem as a community, and we all need to be involved in becoming part of the solution. Men - wear a white ribbon to show your desire to end all violence against women, and talk to other men and boys about your efforts. Women - wear a purple ribbon to bring awareness to domestic violence, and teach your children about healthy relationships. While many significant and worthy efforts have been made, domestic violence is still a public safety issue.

Domestic violence impacts thousands of people every year in our community: More people are injured as a result of domestic violence than any other crime in our city. When our community stands up and takes action by making domestic violence an unacceptable behavior, it can become a thing of the past.

Join together with others in the community during October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and make it known where you stand on this issue. You can help. We ALL can work to Ending Domestic Violence - One Community...One Home...One Life at a Time.

In 2007, CAASA provided services to 829 new clients - adults and children. 54 adults and 57 children sought shelter for a total of 1273 nights. 472 crisis calls came into their centers.

CAASA is proud to serve the Buena Vista, Cherokee, Clay, Dickinson, Emmet, Ida, Palo Alto and Sac counties with individual and group counseling for adults and children, crisis intervention, shelter, information and referral and multicultural outreach services.

CAASA will be holding a Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, October 19 at 7 p.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 300 E. Bow Drive, Cherokee. This is an opportunity to mourn those that have died, celebrate those who have survived, and connect those who work tireless to end domestic violence.

We encourage you to join us this month in our efforts to reach out to survivors and their families. And let us commit to face the reality that domestic violence lives in our own backyards.

* Jenny Ahlers is the

BV & Sac County Coordinator

for the Centers Against Abuse and Sexual Assault

PO Box 333, Storm Lake, 50588

A free Toll Free Crisis Line is available at - 1-877-362-4612