When I share about my job as a women and children’s therapist at Genesis, people are often surprised at the prevalence of domestic violence in Dallas and across the country. I usually hear versions of the same statement: “That can’t be happening in my [church, school, job, community, etc.].” I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but domestic violence is happening in your community, because it’s happening everywhere. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has found that domestic violence is prevalent in all communities regardless of socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, race, nationality, age, gender, or religion.
Violence against women and children is happening in the places that you work and worship. It’s impacting the children your kids play with and the people you grew up with. It’s happening in your neighborhood and at your schools. Believing that we are protected from the issues that “other people” have may help us feel safer, but when 1 in 4 women experiences domestic violence in their lifetime, it is almost certain that you know someone who is living through abuse now or has in the past.
Now that you know that domestic violence is happening around you, what can you do to help?
When we believe the lie that violence isn’t happening in our communities, it’s easy to dismiss women when they open up about the abuse they’ve been suffering behind closed doors. Believe women when they open up to you. It’s very rare for women to falsely report the violence they are experiencing because of the risks associated with not being believed (and the abuser has likely told them over and over that no one will believe them if they ever share the truth).
Connect them to Genesis.
Many women don’t know about the resources and options that are available when they find themselves in a violent relationship. Give them our information and let them know there are people who can help. Here at Genesis we can provide safety planning, counseling, legal advocacy, shelter, and other resources that a woman might need to help keep herself and her children safe.
Spread the message.
Share our blog and website with your children’s school. Ask your church to offer Genesis’ pamphlets in the lobby or women’s restroom. Organize an opportunity for your community to learn more about domestic violence. Genesis provides free speaking engagements to the community including churches, clubs, organizations, and schools.
Brooke Allen is a women and children’s therapist at Genesis Women’s Shelter