Your Turn: It’s a crucial time to be aware of domestic violence
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As we enter the eighth month of COVID-19, it almost feels like cognitive dissonance to be talking about “Awareness.”We are all acutely aware that life is challenging for everyone right now. We are all more than aware that some members of our community are suffering disproportionately under COVID-19. Domestic Violence survivors are among them, facing impacts not just from the virus, but from the protocols and practices necessary for public health.
We hope, during October, to help our community as a whole become more aware of those challenges survivors face. We want to make everyone aware of the work we at The Willow are doing to assist, mitigate and adjust to make the most significant possible impact for the greatest number of folks in need. We’ll be sharing information and events via social media, holding special COVID-safe events and continuing to raise much-needed dollars to make our services continuous to those who need us.
So many people have lost their jobs. So many are struggling financially, emotionally, and are experiencing the stresses of online school and lack of connection with friends, family and community outside their homes. These stresses affect everyone but are particularly dangerous for folks who live with domestic violence. Home becomes a pressure cooker. The usual safety nets of work, church, social engagements and school are no longer possible. Secrecy becomes the order of the day, and there are few witnesses to bruises or cruel behavior.
The Willow recently purchased a second shelter, which is key to our ability to continue to provide safe nights of rest for survivors and their families during the pandemic. Congregate living is challenging, and we cannot shelter as many folks due to social-distancing rules. The new shelter will create more beds. The Growing Forward Capital Campaign is almost complete, but we still need to raise nearly $150,000 to open the doors and provide comprehensive services at the second location. We hope October will give us that final round of funding, and by November, we will have safe, warm beds in our beautiful new facility, ready to protect families for the winter.
I hope the community will join us in raising awareness for domestic violence this October. We will be working in partnership with Lawrence Public Library to present a conversation with Rachel Louise Snyder, author of “No Visible Bruises.” The book follows a high-profile domestic violence case and how it affects not only the family involved but also the community and country. We must begin to look at domestic violence not just as a personal or family issue but one that affects our community, our state and the nation. A problem that disproportionately affects our most vulnerable populations, including people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, those with disabilities, and an issue responsible for 15% of all violent crime in our country. Domestic violence is on the rise during these times of uncertainty and isolation. I urge you to help raise awareness of the high cost of domestic violence, and how you, your family and your community can help. For more information, please see our website, www.willowdvcenter.org
— Megan Stuke is the executive director of The Willow Domestic Violence Center.