Today marks the first day of October. Domestic Violence Awareness Month – and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Such an important month, such devastating damage inflicted. We have all known someone affected by cancer – and we have likely all known someone who has been impacted by domestic violence, even if we aren’t aware of it.
During October, we will hear a lot about breast cancer and self exams and walks and runs and ribbons. What will we hear about domestic violence? So much has been said in September. I hope that we will continue the conversation. If you listen carefully, if you ask the right questions, if you create a safe space – you might be surprised by what you learn.
Most people who have breast cancer have to find a way to tell friends, families, coworkers – for soon they will have surgery and probably treatments that lead to hair loss and exhaustion. They will hear the soothing sounds of loved ones offering support and assistance. They will say: “that stinks” (or something similar) and that it isn’t fair – “you don’t deserve this.” Breast cancer survivors feel sadness and helplessness and pain and struggle – and many are so fortunate to have people who will stand with them.
Change that pink ribbon to purple and the story is much harder. Victims of domestic violence are ashamed, scared and lonely in their suffering. They have been led to believe that they do deserve what is happening to them – by the abuser, by society and sometimes even by their family and friends. Over time, fewer people are there to stand with them as they suffer, tired of the excuses, the going back and the wasted effort.
How can we better understand how domestic violence ravages relationships and damages families? Can we think differently about how to “treat” it? Can we stand with survivors of domestic violence? Can we work together to find the “cure” for domestic violence?
At REACH, we believe the answer is in our hearts and in our hands. We all have a role in preventing domestic violence. We can use this month to engage family, friends and neighbors in building healthy and safe homes, neighborhoods and communities. You can take a stand against domestic violence in many ways; attend an event, engage a friend in a conversation or support the important work of REACH. We need your help, your voice, your heart and your hands – together we will reach beyond domestic violence.