Domestic Violence is real- it is happening in your hometown, your community, even your neighborhood. The statistics are alarming. The truth is, you either know someone, are related to someone, or are someone who is the victim of domestic violence. There are women and children who are living in fear and you may not realize it. Look at the vintage drawing above.
- has no color, ethnic or religious background
- the face tells you nothing
- the price is not shown
- the level of education is not a factor
- the clothing may hide the bruises
- the pocketbook is partially hidden.
Domestic Violence has no economic boundaries, does not favor a race or color, age range, level of education or neighborhood. You may not see the bruises or know the types of abuse-most suffer from one or more, even all of these:
- some are mental
- some are financial
- some are emotional
- some are physical
The drawing is a Chanel suit, accessories and handbag from 1926 from a vintage history book of fashion. I was drawn to this particular sketch, it speaks to me. I have known victims of domestic violence. They don’t look different, they look the same maybe even better than most. Know a victim long enough and you will sense or feel-
- the fear
- the dread to go home at the end of a workday
- the isolation
- the excuses
- the entrapment
A victim of domestic violence lives in CHAOS- ‘Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome’–
As you read this-let me offer a piece of advice – please don’t ask, ‘Why don’t they just leave?’ It’s never that simple, especially if there are children involved. When violence escalates, the abuser blames the victim; or promises the victim ‘it won’t happen again’-shame and fear often drives the victim back to the place of violence. This vicious cycle needs to be interrupted by hope that help is out there waiting.
I am honored to serve on the Steering Committee for The YWCA Purse and Passion Luncheon held in my hometown, which offers shelter, counselling, legal services, relocation and job placements for victims of domestic violence. I wish there was no need to be on this committee; unfortunately, the needs are great. Most women who escape do so with just the clothes on their backs, they are in emotional turmoil- often gravely injured, broken and scarred; without doubt these victims are at the lowest moments in their lives.
Hopefully you are asking yourself, what can I do to help? First of all, assess the safety factor for yourself, instead of trying to rescue. Find a certified domestic violence shelter closest to your area. Keep the hotline number with you- or programmed into your phone. If the victim is a close friend or relative, encourage them-
- to develop a plan by talking to a person they can trust
- call 911 for help as soon as possible
- *keep important papers, social security cards, insurance documents, ID, driver license, birth certificates and passports
- arrange a signal with a neighbor to let them know you need help, ask them to be ready to call 911
- if a situation seems unavoidable, try to be near an exit and away from weapons
- teach your children to go to another room, how to call 911, and make sure they know a safe place to go
- ask your healthcare provider, beautician, co-worker or friend to take photos of your injuries and make sure the photographs are in a safe place
Some victims are so overwhelmed- even the above suggestions are too much to handle. However, just making a plan is often empowering. Ask them to write out:
- If I need help I can talk to: add name and phone number
- If they are not available I’ll go to: add name and phone number
- In an emergency I can go to: put emergency numbers here with 911 in bold numbers
- The hotline or number for local shelter or safe house
- Keep this information on hand.
Making a plan is often the first step a victim takes toward escape. If you do not know a victim of domestic violence- you still can help. Here is the Pocketbook Project:
What’s in your handbag?
- Wallet? Donate as much as you can to a local certified shelter, regardless of the size of the donation every bit helps. If you shop on Amazon- look for the banner, Amazon Smile– which donates a portion of every purchase you make to the charity of your choice- Mine is YWCA Central Alabama!!!
- Tissues? Every shelter needs paper products! It is amazing the amount of paper products women and children need
- Comb or Hairbrush? The next time you go to your beautician, give her the hotline number for your local shelter- so that she can have it on hand. Beauticians are often the first to know if a woman is being abused.
- Medications? Let this be a reminder that your healthcare provider is also a resource for identifying victims of domestic violence- again, ask them to display or have on hand- the names of local shelters and a plan of action. Healthcare providers take seriously their responsibility to report suspected abuse.
- Cosmetics? Women leave home with the clothes on their backs- sample or full size cosmetics could mean the world to a person trying to regain her balance. Cosmetics are vital to self esteem and when it is time to go for an interview- indispensable.
- Paperback? Volunteer to read to a child in a shelter while their parent receives counselling and legal services
- Cellphone? Call your local shelter or Certified Organization and ask how you can help.. Even cellphones which are no longer in use, can be re-furbished; with a gift card or phone card- these cellphones can be the difference between life, injury or death for victims of domestic violence!
Your very own Pocketbook Project can mean more than you could ever believe…
‘Every woman deserves a purse of her own.’ Susan B. Anthony
Let me tell you about Purse and Passion’s- Our Place, since it was founded in our small county in 2009, we have been able to provide legal assistance, court advocacy for more than 5000 victims! And we have provided safe shelter for close to 500 women and children. In 2015, Our Place, the only certified shelter for victims of domestic violence in our county provided:
- shelter for 86 women and children who were no longer safe in their homes
- provided legal services to 66 victims
- guided 449 victims through the complex legal system with our court advocacy program
- provided support groups for 18 women and children
- as a bonus program-Prom Dress Giveaway which often helps identify at-risk teens we provided free prom dresses for 20 high school girls in need.
All funds raised at our Purse and Passion Luncheon remain here- in our hometowns! We provide:
- case management and crisis counselling
- food and re-housing assistance
- financial literacy programs (this is different from not knowing how to read- it is knowing how to manage money)
- community outreach
- healthy relationship education
- and free legal assistance.
Wow! That’s a lot! Right now, we are working very hard to raise funds for our Annual Purse and Passion/St.Clair Luncheon which is our only fundraiser. The needs are great, our people are so generous and amazing. If you do not have a local organization- Go to: ywcabham.org to find out more! We simply could not do this without the ongoing support of YWCA Central Alabama! You do not have to live in our area to help. A special thank you to my dear friend Elizabeth, who lives in New York- yet donates to Our Place! Her help and your help saves lives. Please remember –
A house is not a home unless everyone inside is safe.
Love y’all, Camellia
*This is Camellia’s Cottage- post #100, the longest post offered thus far. To honor that milestone- it had to be something worth reading, thank you for stopping by. If you or a loved one is a victim of domestic violence please know our hearts are with you and that there is help, you can start a new life. The blogging community is doing a wonderful job on highlighting emotional and mental health issues, we honor them, as well as WordPress, who gives the space, the platform to bloggers to speak their minds and hearts..
*C.H.A.O.S – is a phrase I first heard on a wonderful website for homemakers- flylady.com
* ‘Fashion in History- Apparel in the Western World’, 1970 by Marybelle’s Bigelow- San Diego State College.
Amazon Smile – with every purchase you make from Amazon.com, a portion of your purchase will go toward the charity of your choice!