We all have a part to play in ending domestic abuse and violence. Here are a few ideas for how you can take action.
Contact your representatives and advocate for public policies that benefit survivors and hold perpetrators accountable. This includes learning about domestic abuse and violence intersects with other policy issues, like access to healthcare, reproductive freedom, economic justice, and racial justice. As we say in our Philosophy Statement, “All of our struggles against oppression are related.” To create a world free from domestic abuse and violence, we must address the wide range of ways in which control over others’ human and civil rights are maintained in our society.
Does your workplace have a domestic violence policy in place? Does your child’s school have a dating violence policy? If not, initiate one.
An effective policy, supported by training on implementing it, establishes guidelines for a response to a problem before one arises, helping make schools and places of employment safer for everyone. Your local Domestic Violence Resource Center can help.
Change Our Culture
Abuse thrives in a society that encourages the oppression of some by others. Confront sexism, racism, heterosexism, and the other “isms” we all encounter daily. Become media savvy. Speak up when you see popular culture or people you know promoting values that condone abuse and violence.
Consider your own belief system and how it might contribute to a world in which some people believe they have the right to dominate others. If you are a man or are male-identified, encourage others to get involved in ending gender-based violence.
Make Your Values Visible
Throughout the year, you will find opportunities in your community to shine a spotlight on domestic abuse and violence. Attend a vigil, walk a 5K, write a letter to the editor, or Take Back the Night. By showing up, you send the signal that your community will not condone abuse.
Connect via social media to find out what is happening in your local area. Share that news with your followers. Public displays of support and compassion can provide hope for people living through abuse and send a message of accountability to people who choose to use abusive behaviors.
Contact your local Domestic Violence Resource Center to ask them about volunteer opportunities. They have many things they need help with, ranging from long-term commitments to one-time events. We could not do what we do without the generosity of hundreds of volunteers across Maine.
Too often, after a domestic violence homicide, we hear that people around the couple knew something was not right but didn’t know how or if to interfere in “private family affairs.” If you notice someone indicating, with their words or their actions, that they believe they have the right to control their partner, talk with them. Do what you can safely do to interrupt the system of beliefs that fuels abuse.
Find a safe, private time to check in with their partner. Be consistently supportive, and offer the number to the local Domestic Violence Resource Center. If you are not sure how to approach the situation, call the helpline, and an advocate can help you figure out how you can help.
Abuse is not a private matter. We all have a responsibility to take action. By working together, we can end domestic abuse and violence for good and create a world rooted in equity, respect, caring, and joy.