How Can I Be Equipped in 2018?
How you can be prepared, or prevent yourself from being a victim, is a question that is too common and frankly it is a problem. This concept is one that many people have read, been a part of, or are at least familiar with. Maybe you've taken the self defense classes highlighting how "not to be a victim", or ways to protect yourself. Which is great, we're not knocking self defense classes! Let's just think about this for a second- with this type of messaging the responsibility or burden for safety is put on the victim. This mentality is known as victim blaming. We would like to take a moment to clarify that no matter the circumstances the victim is not responsible for the actions of an abuser, and therefore this concept of prevention efforts for victims is misaligned.
Here's why- abuse is a choice. A choice the perpetrator or abuser makes. They make a choice to physically, emotionally, psychologically, or sexually harm the other person. Enabling behavior often echoes stories about how the abuser can't help it or something happened (whatever the story is) and that's why the abuser hurt the victim. At the end of the day abuse is not a cause and effect concept, it is a choice. Ask yourself this- why can someone go to a job they hate with coworkers they cannot stand and a demanding boss, and not harm their co-workers or boss, but then comes home and reacts completely differently around their partner? Because this is a choice they make. They actively choose not to hit their boss in the same way they actively choose to hit their partner.
So domestic violence 101 question of the day- what is the cause of abuse? Choice. Now, there are certainly variables that impact safety concerns or risks and our team of advocates are trained to help navigate these with victims/survivors. But at the end of the day blaming the victim in anyway is part of the problem not part of the solution.
How To Be Equipped
So that brings us to our tips on how YOU can equip yourself in 2018. Like we mentioned above, you can't necessarily equip yourself to not be a victim but you can equip yourself to be an advocate. So here's 2 of the top things you need to know this year in order to be an advocate for victims of sexual and domestic violence right here in Denton County.
1. Don't Judge Her
It is not your job to tell her what to do or try to understand the reasoning behind her decisions or actions. First of all, you can't make reason out of something that doesn't really make sense to begin with. To put it simply, someone that she loves is hurting her, that alone does not make sense. We often hear people asking why a woman doesn't just leave an abusive situation. There are many barriers to leaving. You can read a more comprehensive list of barriers to leaving an abusive relationship in this past blog post but for now let's just talk about one: her safety. The most dangerous time for a victim of violence is when she is trying to leave her abuser. The Honoring the Texas Victims report, distributed annually by the Texas Council on Family Violence, is one place we see this safety risk come to life. In 2016, 146 women were killed by their intimate partners. Many of these stories share this in common- "forty percent of women killed in 2016 had made attempts to end their relationships or were in the process of ending the relationship when they were murdered." As you can see there are extreme dynamics and safety risks within an abusive relationship. Keep this in mind and don't judge her when she is brave enough to come forward with her story.
2. Connect Her With Friends of the Family
At Friends of the Family our team of experts provide compassionate, comprehensive services to those impacted by rape, sexual abuse, and domestic violence, while partnering with the community to promote safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention. If ANYONE, child or adult, is currently experiencing sexual and domestic violence or has experienced this in the past, we can be a resource! You can provide them with our 24-Crisis Line number, 800-572-4031. They can call this line anonymously and have questions answered or talk through some options with our team of trained crisis line professionals. In addition, someone can call our Outreach Office at 940-387-5131 to schedule an appointment in order to meet with one of our staff members and learn about the services available to them and their family. We are the sole provider of comprehensive services throughout the entire County of Denton. We are the local experts and can help connect your family, friends, neighbors and loved ones to the right resources to help them access safety.
You may not understand all that goes on behind closed doors, but you can know how to help someone if they are brave enough to come and share those stories of fear, anxiety, and abuse.You are not there to tell them what to do, you are there to empathize and give them resources. Listen, don’t judge and direct them to our agency! This is how you can equip yourself to be an advocate in 2018.
Our team at Denton County Friends of the Family is here for our community, ready to help victims/survivors access safety and navigate the road to hope.
What Services Are Available at Friends of the Family
At Friends of the Family we provide access to comprehensive services. More information about the type of services available can be accessed through our website under our Get Help section or by calling our Outreach Office at 940-387-5131. Services available include:
- Safety Planning
- Individual and Group Counseling
- Play Therapy for Children
- Activity Therapy for Adolescents
- Emergency Shelter
- Legal Services
- Access to Crimes Victim Compensation
- Help Navigating the Legal System
- Food Pantry
- Education Programs
- And more, based upon the needs of the client...
Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice, and prevention for victims of sexual and domestic violence.