If anyone knows me, they know I like being a busy body. I love finding unique things to do in my city. Often times, if my friends can’t make it to my outings, I’m out and about by myself. Although I am completely fine with rolling solo dolo, for safety reasons, I have to be extra cautious about my whereabouts. Even though I haven’t used my lethal knuckles in a while, I do wonder if there are other techniques/ tools that I need to know about in order to defend myself (Lord forbid) if anything were to happen.
Then that made me think: I don’t have to live in this kind of fear on a daily basis. However, some people don’t have the luxury of living with this peace of of mind everyday. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I began thinking about how some women and men are secretly fighting for their lives in hostile living environments.
After reading about the vigil ceremony Baton Rouge AKAs held for their own sisters, I tried to think of ways our Greek sororal AND fraternal organizations could get involved in championing this cause. Here is what I came up with:
Physical Abuse: Co-ed Self Defense Classes
Let’s be honest: most people think they can fight. But, in moments of immediate danger, strategy is better than aimless, aggressive swinging. Self defense tactics help you instantly identify the reactionary options, injure the attacker as quickly and effectively as possible, and allows you to get away at a faster pace.
Have your council (and other councils if you like) partake in co-ed self defense classes. Generally, we assume that domestic violence happens only to women. In the U.S., 24 percent of adult women and 14 percent of adult men have been physically assaulted by a partner at some point in their lives. (Forbes, 2013). Have a self defense instructor come in and teach a class. It doesn’t have to be as intense as Jennifer Lopez’s performance in Enough, but it does need to be practical and effective. Do co-ed partner simulations so members will know exactly what to do in the case of an attack. You can switch it up with same- sex partnering so members can learn how to defend themselves in both situations.
Disclaimer: If someone currently is or was on the receiving end of domestic violence, this might serve as a trigger for that individual. He/she might not want to participate. If his/her behavior is a little sketch, sudden, and nervous, do not force this activity. You may not have known prior to this event they were experiencing this in real life, so try your best not to magnify the situation. Rather than asking the person to participate, kindly ask if they can stay and watch to show support to the organization. They may be scared to even think about defending themselves. However, even though they are not physically participating, they can still take mental notes while watching all the things they are supposed to do if an incident occurs.
Emotional and Psychological Abuse: Role Play -Identify the Signs
Ask the self-defense instructor to bring examples of emotional, financial and psychological abuse as well. It is important to discern what classifies as abuse and what doesn’t. There might be some gray areas you aren’t privy to. Split the scenarios among co-ed groups and have them either read/role play the situations. Have each group identify what they considered abuse and why. Once everyone is finished with their specific scenario, have a few representatives play out the scene in front of the event attendees. The remaining groups can vote on whether they think it’s abuse or not. Call on a few individuals and have them explain their decision. This not only encourages dynamic discussion among your council, but it teaches everyone the key triggers to look out for.
The same disclaimer stands for this activity as it did for the previous suggestion. They don’t necessarily have to participate, but we do want them to be in the know in case they do choose to take action later.
A dynamic group effort always yields influential and impactful results. Here are a few national initiatives that are taking place your council can do to support the National Domestic Violence Awareness campaign.
- Donate to NCADV via MobileCause by texting #takeastand to 41444.
- Take a selfie or group photo and share via social media why you will Take A Stand with NCADV. Use our printable placards (found here: Write-In or Ready-to-Go) and the hashtags: #tasncadv #STANDwithNCADV #takeastand. Email photos to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can share them with our networks!
- Share what you have already done or are doing to address domestic violence on NCADV’’s Facebook (www.facebook.com/supportNCADV) or post to your own social media with the hashtags: #tasncadv #takeastand #STANDwithNCADV
- Collect cellphones and start a cellphone recycling drive for free. Get info on how at: http://www.ncadv.org/act/donate/donateaphone.
For a more comprehensive list from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, click here.
Usually, those going through domestic violence aren’t pulling a Kelly Rowland and airing their Dirty Laundry for the world to hear. No shade to Kelly- I adore her and her bravery. It is just a reference. We want to make sure that if you do indeed, know someone who is experiencing physical, emotional, financial or psychological abuse, approach the situation delicately. S(he) is already in a vulnerable place and most likely feel trapped and isolated. So simply “getting up and leaving” doesn’t seem like the most plausible option at the time. It may be due to the perception of the lack of resources, love, or support. The abuser may have threatened to kill or harm the victim or someone they love like his/her kids, family members, friends, etc. The point is, if they felt like they could have left, they would have. Sometimes the realization comes instantly; sometimes it takes a little longer. Whatever the case might be, practice and keep these behaviors in mind:
If you do know someone who is in an abusive relationship, rather than shaming them into oblivion, pray for them. I don’t care what anyone says, prayer changes things. HOWEVER, faith and works is the best combination (the works are explained below.) Pray for his/her blinders to be taken off. Pray s(he) has a change of heart and decides to leave the situation. Pray s(he) will feel the love of God and recognize they are worthy of the greatest love that isn’t demonstrated through maliciousness. Every now and then, send “Thinking About You” messages with Bible scriptures s(he) can meditate on. Pray for his/her mental, emotional and physical well-being. Ask God to reveal to you the various ways you can help this person escape in a safely. Pray consistently, insistently and in full faith that God will bring them through.
People going through domestic abuse of any kind don’t want to be taken on guilt trips, nor do they need anyone trying to brashly rush them out of the situation. Things may seem to be “common sense” to you, but to him/her, things might not completely register for that person because of the intricacy of a dangerous relationship. Domestic abuse cases can be intensely complex and any sudden move can be extremely detrimental to the individual or others involved in the relationship. Be patient with your friend or loved one during their time. Now, patience does not equate to being nonchalant due to the repetitiveness of the situation. I ran across a blog the other day that was very insightful in describing what to do: 8 Things Every Abused Woman Needs Her Friends to Know . A few of my key takeaways were the following:
- Reassure him/her. Tell him/her things like, “You don’t deserve this;” “This is not your fault;” and “I believe you.”
- Tell him/her that you think s(he) might be in DANGER (S(he) needs to hear this from someone else).
- Please keep helping him/her even if s(he) tries to leave on countless occasions and then end up changing his/her mind. Leaving isn’t easy. Leaving often isn’t safe. Leaving is scary.
Be sure to check out the rest of the list, as those points are also vitally important. Remember, this is someone you deeply love and care about. Every action regarding this person should be seeped in love, especially since their perception of love is warped by their abuser. If you ever find yourself getting irritated or impatient, know it’s natural. You want the best for that person. At those times, just remember and recite 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 and readjust your approach:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
Never assume that your friend or loved one isn’t listening to the advice you are giving. They are listening, they just don’t know how to react at the time. How many times did your parents tell you something over and over and you’re JUST now getting the concept today? It’s the same thing. People’s understanding develops at different stages and at different paces. Continue to instill positive and proactive plans of action in their brain for WHEN they do leave the abusive relationship. A few things that are helpful are:
- Creating an escape plan. Help your friend/ loved one identify everything they’ll need to have ready when they decide to leave. Make sure you do this in a discrete and careful manner. Any sign of escape displayed to the abuser might set them off.
- Make sure they have the hotline number memorized. Keeping the phone number documented can trigger the abuser if they are of the controlling nature and have a tendency to check everything. If they do choose to save it in their phone, make sure it is listed as the most ambiguous, non suspecting name in the world so it doesn’t look suspicious.
- Encourage him/her to partake in different activities. You don’t need grand gestures; simple activities will do. Know it’s okay to ask how s(he) is doing. However, be sure not to press the issue too hard. S(he) will need a breather and a space to put that life on the back burner. Hanging out with you should be peaceful, not a pestering psychology analysis.
- Continue to inform him/her about key resources in his/her area. Locate & drive to the shelters from time to time; take different routes. Go over the legal actions that person can take to protect themselves. Find different organizations that offer resources and keep the their information with you at all time in case your friend decides it’s time to switch gears.
In the event that you know someone (or you yourself – again LORD FORBID) find yourself in an domestic violence situation, I hope and pray you have enough strength and courage to reach out to National Domestic Violence Hotline
For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call THE NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE
Know that no one deserves this kind of treatment, verbal or physical, even on their worst day.
I hope this post was informative and useful for you and your chapter. Let me know if you implement any of the things suggested! I would love to hear from you on Twitter and/or Instagram. Follow us on @dptaughtme on both IG and Twitter.
Be safe, be blessed and know, I love you and so does the man upstairs!