By Ashley Wilson
Rise Above Violence
Imagine for a moment what it feels like to wake up one day and realize that you have put yourself and your children through all of the verbal and physical abuse that one can bear. You decide it is time to make moves to leave the relationship that has caused so much self-doubt and isolation, and create a world for your family that is free of violence.
As this awareness hits, it is immediately followed by the troubling realization that you are waking up in the bed and the home that you share with your abusive partner that is provided by their income. It is not that you are unable to work, but you have been told you need to leave your job to raise the children, or the constant fights and bruises have caused you to miss work so many times that you were fired.
In order to make your decision to leave a reality, the basic need of shelter can be a barrier that may seem impossible to defeat with so much stacked against you and that is only the first and most obvious thing. Now you have to figure out how to navigate a legal system to protect yourself and your children, you have to decide what to tell friends and family — many of whom might not believe you. You have to decide if you can take your family dog since many rentals won’t allow pets; yet your abusive partner has threatened to harm your beloved animal.
Community members often ask why victims of domestic violence don’t leave and, unfortunately, the answer is never straight forward. It takes victims an average of seven times to leave for good because there are so many barriers and the cycle of violence is rarely clear-cut. There are good times mixed in with the abuse, there are apologies and promises, there are threats and there are so many hurdles.
Domestic violence costs a community. It has an emotional impact, an economic impact, and when considering that children are often witnesses to the abuse, a long-lasting impact. According to NCADV.org, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. The economic impact of domestic violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year and causes victims to lose a total of 8 million days of paid work each year. Many victims, up to 60 percent, lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.
Do you feel overwhelmed by those numbers? Do you want to help but are not sure how? The #1Thing that will end domestic violence is our collective power, our collective voice. Each one of us in this community can do #1Thing because we believe that awareness plus action equals social change.
If you want to learn more about #1Thing you can do, join us today at 9 a.m. for Coffee Talk on the Rise Above Violence Facebook Live. If you read this and have missed it, it is recorded on our Facebook page. You can also call Rise at 264-1129 to learn more about how to help.
If you need help because you are in an abusive relationship, Rise Above Violence is here. You can get help 24/7 through our hotline at 264-9075. We also have many programs at Rise that can help you keep yourself and your family safe.
Our Housing Program helps our clients feel confident and safe when choosing to independently stabilize. Since starting this program in the spring of 2019, we have helped maintain housing and/or located new appropriate housing for 10 families in our community.
Our Emergency Assistance Program is for clients in need of onetime rental assistance, utility assistance or relocation costs. This program has helped us move families quickly away from perpetrators in ways such as greyhound bus tickets or gas for their vehicles, and we have also been able to assist in U-Haul costs for families planning to make a fresh start for themselves.
Our Legal Advocacy Program helps clients understand the legal system and their rights. While Rise staff cannot give legal advice, we can help them understand how the system works, and through some grant funding, may be able to connect them with low-bono attorneys. Perpetrators often use civil court proceedings or threats of court proceedings to continue to hold control over victims and their children.
Rise advocates offer support through the entire process and supporting victims with whatever choices they make to keep themselves safe. Staff, who are knowledgeable about cycles of abuse, provide social and emotional support as clients plan for safety.
Our programs have not only been successful because of Rise, but is largely so successful because of help from community members who have recognized our cause and chosen to selflessly lend a helping hand.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and there are many things you can do to help. #1Thing: Please consider volunteering your time as a crisis advocate or help us run one of our fundraising events. Rise operates from grants and generous donors in our community. Consider being a monthly donor. Even $10 a month adds up quickly when a community commits together. Visit the donor page at our website to learn about all the ways you can help.
Rise Above Violence is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that provides 24-hour support and advocacy services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault or other forms of violence, serving more than 300 victims each year. Rise also works to eliminate violence through education for youth and our community. All programs and services are free and confidential, including emergency prevention education and empowerment programs. Visit www.riseaboveviolence.org for more information or call 264-9075 to talk to an advocate today.