Everyone can take stand to end domestic violence

  • Published
  • By Paula Spooner
  • Family Advocacy

Family Advocacy recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month by planning and conducting community activities designed to promote recognition of and responsiveness to the signs of intimate partner violence each October.

 All branches of the military are working collaboratively to reduce the incidence rate of domestic violence within the Department of Defense, and this October’s collective theme is “Take a Stand Against Violence.”
What does it mean, when we urge someone to take a stand against violence? It sounds great, but is somewhat nebulous — like being urged to come up with a solution for world peace. It’s undoubtedly a goal worth working toward, yet to most of us it feels overwhelming. We tell ourselves the scope is just too far-reaching. We’re not trained. It might not be safe. It’s not our business. Unfortunately, those responses are exactly what perpetuate the problem. We convince ourselves that “someone else better equipped” should deal with the immediate problem. Then, guess what? No one acts. No one takes a stand.

Thankfully, when it comes to responding to domestic violence, even simple actions can have a tremendous impact. First, know the outward warning signs.

• S/he seems afraid of a partner or worried about making decisions without the partner’s consent
• S/he has unexplained bruises or injuries
• S/he has become socially isolated and withdrawn from friends, family and co-workers
• S/he may receive threatening phone calls and have frequent/unexplained absences from work

Intimate partner violence can occur without detection over long periods of time; without intervention the severity tends to escalate. The person being abused — whether man or woman (and kids become victims when their adult caregivers are violent) often do make a report it for numerous reasons, such as fear, shame, or even a misplaced desire to protect the abuser.

Second, use those Green Dot strategies! When faced with concerning or uncomfortable situations dealing with domestic violence, remember the Three D’s: Direct, Distract, and Delegate. Let’s assume you are sitting in a movie theater with a friend, waiting on the feature movie to begin. A couple seated in front of you begins to argue, which grows increasingly heated. Within minutes it’s progressed to name-calling, threats, and a slap. Here are a few examples of possible interventions using the D’s.

• Direct: “Hey — listen. Relax, you’re obviously pretty upset, but nobody deserves to be talked or treated like this. Why don’t you just go take 10 and calm down … no harm, no foul.”
• Distract: Lean over the seat in front of you and call to the couple, “Excuse me! Did you by any chance graduate from Daphne High School/work at Microsoft/PCS from Sheppard? You look so familiar!” or “Sorry to bother you, but did I leave my sweater in that row by you?”
• Delegate: Get up, walk to the front of the theater, and alert the manager.

Now I am going to add my own final “D,” for Delay. Delay stands for an intervention that occurs later on, after the event. In this example the victim goes to the restroom, and you follow to say (once safely inside), “Are you okay? I overheard what happened and I‘m concerned about you. Can I help?”

The bottom line is that if you see or suspect intimate partner violence, respond. The Green Dot slogan of “No one has to do everything, but everyone has to do something” is so applicable here. Take responsibility. Remain aware. Offer support to stressed out friends, family, neighbors and colleagues. Make it known that you are available to talk. Don’t judge.

Don’t stand by while others suffer. Take a stand to stop domestic violence and keep our community safe.
To report any concerns, call the Family Advocacy office at 376-3457.