This guest post is co-authored by MariBen Ramsey and Christine Benero. MariBen Ramsey is the Secretary of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. MariBen is a long-time member of the Junior League of Austin and was Vice President of The Association of Junior Leagues 2005-2008. Christine Benero is a Board Member of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Christine is a long-time member of the Junior League of Denver and served as President of The Association of Junior Leagues 2003-2005.
We know that many Junior Leagues work in the area of domestic violence, but did you know….
that 12 million people are affected by domestic violence every year in the U.S.? It’s staggering to consider that in every community across the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom, so many women, men, and children are experiencing abuse. Domestic violence does not discriminate: anyone can be a victim (or a perpetrator) of abuse, regardless of age, nationality, race, gender, sexual orientation or background. And, it’s not just about physical abuse. Abuse can be emotional, verbal, digital, sexual or financial, but one thing is for certain: Abuse is never okay.
We can all play a part in supporting survivors and ending domestic violence. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, now is a great time to learn more about the issue and how to get help for yourself, someone you love or someone you know. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline – the only national, 24-hour hotline in the U.S. (which also has received calls from Canada and Mexico) offering support to anyone affected by domestic violence – it’s important to recognize the many warning signs of abuse because they aren’t always obvious. An abusive partner might:
- Shame or embarrass their partner with put-downs or insults
- Isolate their partner from friends and family
- Exhibit jealousy or possessive behavior
- Hit, slap, choke or kick their partner
- Control who their partner sees, what they wear and/or where they go
- Prevent their partner from getting a job or going to school
- Not allow their partner to make financial decisions or refuse to give their partner money for necessities
- Pressure or force their partner to engage in sexual activity
- Destroy property or threaten to hurt their partner, children or pets
- Intimidate their partner with guns or other weapons
If someone you know is being abused, one of the most helpful things you can do is let them know that the abuse is not their fault, and listen to them without judgment. Another way to support someone you care about is offering to help them create a safety plan that might include finding transportation or a safe place to stay.
You could also let them know about resources for survivors, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline or a local hotline or shelter. Hotline advocates are available 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or by live chat at www.thehotline.org between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time. They can assist with safety planning, offer domestic violence education and provide referrals to legal or local resources, such as domestic violence shelters. They can directly connect the caller to local shelters and if the caller’s primary language is not English, the Hotline has a language line and it will keep the language line open for the local shelter’s use to be able to communicate with the caller.
No one deserves to be abused, ever, for any reason. This October, we invite you to help raise awareness about domestic violence and show your support for all survivors!
We are very proud to serve on the Board of the Domestic Violence Hotline.
As former Junior League Presidents and former AJLI Board members, we know that Leagues and League members have been and will be critical to sending the message that domestic violence is NOT acceptable.