If you're questioning why a mental health agency is writing about Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we've got news for you: Domestic Violence awareness is EVERYONE's business! Many of our clients are survivors of domestic violence. As our agency remains dedicated to utilization of trauma-informed care, it's vital we take part in efforts to address domestic violence. Trauma has potential to affect every aspect of a person's life. At Stepping Stones, we strive to empower our clients, provide safe housing, earn trust and work in collaborative manner. Instead of asking "what's wrong with you?" we ask "what happened to you?" Those are very different questions! The focus of Stepping Stones may be on treatment of chronic mental illness but without consideration for trauma history, we're only addressing part of the story.
Unfortunately, trauma and violence are pervasive. It's an individual issue... a family issue...a community issue. The more people educated about domestic violence and trauma in general, the better we can function as a community. We can all make a difference when it comes to domestic violence. Hence, Domestic Violence Awareness Month!
What is domestic violence? It may not be what you initially think, especially if your first thought is physical abuse. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, "Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. It can happen to anyone at any point in a relationship. Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, cause fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish, or force them to behave in ways they do not want." https://www.thehotline.org/2019/09/26/whatisdvam/
Who experiences trauma? The soldier returning from war, now experiencing symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder? The teenager who can't function at school because he is being sexually abused? The businessman who witnesses someone be shot and killed at the bus stop? The person with mental illness who is homeless, untreated and disenfranchised? The child who is witnesses a catastrophic event? The answer is all of the above. According to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration), "Trauma has no boundaries with regards to age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, geography or sexual orientation." https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4884.pdf
What is trauma, ayway? It's safe to say many of us have witnessed some pretty awful events. Does that qualify as trauma? Does it mean we automatically have trauma? It depends on your view of what transpired. SAMHSA describes trauma as result "...from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening and that has lasting adverse effects on the individual's functioning and mental, physical, social, emotional, or spiritual well-being." It might be a one time event; it might be ongoing. https://store.samhsa.gov/system/files/sma14-4884.pdf It's safe to say that many persons who find themselves in situations of domestic violence develop trauma issues.
Locally, our community is fortunate to have services focused on serving those who are experiencing or have a history of domestic violence. Remedies https://www.remediesrenewinglives.org provides domestic violence services, substance use treatment and gambling addiction treatment. "Contacting Remedies is the first step taken by most victims when they decide to escape the violence, begin the healing, and establish a new life. Whether residing in the domestic violence shelter, or attending on-site appointments, we provide a holistic continuum of care where survivors can address their physical, mental, emotional, and social needs. Our mission is to support victims of domestic violence as they begin the recovery process and plan for a future free of abuse. As victims regain inner strength and rebuild self esteem, we are with them every step of their journey and provide a continuum of care, which allows them to transition from victim to survivor. Remedies offers case management, education, advocacy, and emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence. Remedies' shelter is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year and all our domestic violence services are free.We are committed to protecting the privacy of our clients, and we strictly adhere to all applicable federal and state laws that protect such confidentiality."
Want to learn more about Domestic Violence? The resources are almost endless! Here's a good place to start!
Use the hashtag #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth in your social media.
From "Break the Cycle," https://www.breakthecycle.org/ It's National Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Don't stay silent. It's time to speak up all month long.October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as a Day of Unity to connect battered women's advocates across the country. Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It's not just punches and black eyes -- it's yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It's stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it."
TAKE A STAND: https://ncadv.org/take-action "....a call to action meant to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and throughout the year. By taking a stand we intend to remind the nation that there are still countless people--victims and survivors, their children and families, their friends and family, their communities--impacted by domestic violence. We, all of us, should not stop until society has zero tolerance for domestic violence and until all victims and survivors can be heard."
NO MORE: https://nomore.org/campaigns/dvam/ "October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year #ChangeHappensHere. Join us in commemorating DVAM by spreading the message that no matter who or where we are, we are capable of making change to end domestic violence in the places that we live, work, and play. We know that when it comes to ending violence, no matter who or where we are, #ChangeHappensHere."
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS PROJECT: https://nrcdv.org/dvam/home "The Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) supports the rights of all individuals, especially women and girls, to live in peace and dignity. Violence and all other forms of oppression against all communities and families must be eliminated. The purpose of the DVAP is to support and promote national, tribal, territorial, state, and local advocacy networks in their ongoing public education efforts through public awareness, strategies, materials, resources, capacity-building, and technical assistance. These efforts include campaigns that address the victimization of women throughout their lifespan. The voices, leadership and expertise of survivors who have been abused are acknowledged as critical and necessary components of these campaigns. To change belief systems and practices that support violence and abuse that disproportionately affects women and other marginalized people, the DVAP recognizes and promotes the participation of the entire community in building social intolerance towards domestic violence."
Make a difference. Join Stepping Stones of Rockford as we honor #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth