I didn’t have time to write a blog for today. I used my writing time to put together a speech for a community vigil and walk, that was held last night. April is Victim Awareness Month. Since feeling safe is crucial to the foundation of wellness, I decided to make my talk from last night, my blog for today…..
We are here tonight to acknowledge victims. We are here to raise awareness and encourage each other to continue making progress on this issue. To be able to support people effectively we need to continue learning about what helps and what doesn’t.
I work with victims, perpetrators and the children who witness the violence. My job is to talk to people about abuse within relationships. Many of us did not get a lot of information about relationships when we were growing up. We were told if we just follow the golden rule, we should be ok. You know what The Golden Rule is, treat others the way you would like them to treat you. The truth is, men like to be treated differently, than women like to be treated. A man’s comfort level around safety is not the same as a woman’s. Women and children have worries about security that men simply don’t have. We need to be concerned about our physical well being more than men do. When men challenge me on this, I will ask them, “when you leave here tonight, will you ask someone to walk you to your car, to avoid being sexually assaulted?” That shuts them down every time.
Events like this, raise empathy, around what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes. When thinking about how to treat women, the golden rule is fine. But I am going to ask you to consider something else.The Platinum Rule, which is, treat others, the way THEY would like us to treat them. People who have been victimized experience situations and environments differently. Many victims find the darkness of night terrifying. Regardless of history, many of us don’t go out in the evening alone because it feels risky. Personally, I do not feel comfortable walking around Lawrence or any other city at night. I know I tend to run a little high on the wimpy scale. You won’t find me on a roller coaster or pursuing any activity that purposefully induces fear. I won’t even drive in the snow. But let me tell you about one of the places I do feel safe. When I am facilitating a group for batterers. I have worked in The Intimate Partner Abuse Education Program for a long time. Most of the individuals we work with have been arrested for using violence. People who are not familiar with the work, worry about my safety. But I am not at risk when I’m in this group, because I am not their target. Their loved one is. Domestic violence is not just about aggressive, hurtful, abusive behavior towards a partner. It is a problem fueled by a disturbing belief system that supports the misuse power and control.
Events like this, highlight the dangerous predicament women encounter on a daily basis, both within their homes and outside in their communities.
Together, tonight, we took one step towards creating an environment where people can feel safe. Not just outside the home, but inside too. And not just for tonight, but every night.