Saturday, October 31, 2015

are you listening?

Last month I asked who is the face of illiteracy and I approach you today with a similar question.  Can we really "see" who is being affected by Domestic Violence?  Oh sure, we can see the bruises and other obvious signs.  But, what about the people in relationships that have not escalated that far?

What does control look and sound like?  Where and how does restriction bear is face?

So, on this our last day of the month of October when we find ourselves preparing costumes and
Are you listening? | Domestic Violence starts long before the hit @bigpittstop #NWArkCares
masks, I wonder if we could peel them back for a second.  I wonder if we used those Minion goggles to see beyond the Wonder Woman and Superman facades that many around us bear.  What are we really missing?  What words do we try to not hear that tell us something else might be going on?  None of us really know what happens behind closed doors.  None of us really know what our co-workers deal with when they get home.  None of us really know the story of the guy and the kids in the line in front of us.

"Sure I do", you say.  "She puts it all over social media. They are fine."  And, I crack a smirkish grin from the left corner of my mouth and ask you to settle in.

In college I took a social psychology class.  One of the few that I remember most of what I learned and one of the few that I still call to mind often in every day conversation.  Hindsight Bias, Pavlovian Response and Bystander Effect.  All 3 terms I use frequently (hey, I admitted a long time ago I was a BIG nerd).  But, also 3 things that I've wrestled with this month.

Hindsight Bias - reminds us of all the signs we should have seen and responded to:
  • "I need to ask Jeff if I can spend money on that." - I'm not talking refrigerators and couches here.  Everyday stuff.  Silly little purchases that you would never think twice about getting "permission" for.
  • "Oh I couldn't possibly live without her in my life." - again, not an affectionate, I love my partner kind of response, but a compelling draw that you know keeps them in an unhealthy situation.
  • always checking phone, "I'm just waiting for Cindy to call"/ "I need to be home by 8:30, Jim doesn't like me to be out late." - signs pointing and indicating to a dependency and control of time, how its spent, what is done and who they are with.
  • "He always tells me I'm fat or that I can't eat sweets, but I know he is doing it because he loves me and wants me to look my best." - controlling diet is one of the low hanging fruits.  Its easy to be manipulated into thinking that its about you and your health.  When you hear these "but" excuses...listen to the real thing being said.
Pavlovian Response - learned behaviors instigated by a specific action
  • loud noises and yelling are a big trigger for many 
  • when he gets home, she starts shuffling papers and indicating its time for you to leave
  • early intervention is the key here - helps with the length of time to brainwashing
Bystander Effect - the thought and assumption that someone else will take care of it
  • "I didn't really see him hit her" - right, if you turn your head he won't do it again.
  • "I don't see those bruises around her wrist or when she accidentally pulled her sleeve too high" - its hard.  I worked in an after school program when I was in college.  I had been trained.  I knew what I had to do.  She pushed up the sleeves on her windbreaker.  It was 80 degrees outside.  No reason to wear a windbreaker and she had already refused to take it off when we came in the classroom.  A few days later she was not in the room and had been removed from the school because she had gone to live in a new home, a foster home in a different town.  What I saw was real.  My gut reaction was right.  I didn't want to.  But I had to.
  • "I didn't really see that mom grab and snatch up that kid or use inappropriate language in the aisle at the grocery store" - the big longing eyes of that kid looked up at you.  Beckoned you to listen and knowing that's not the way you talked to your kids.  They saw another way out.  Just ask the woman if you could help her with something.  Just offer a smile, a dollar, anything that could passify and shift the moment.
  • "I don't hear my neighbor yelling the F-word at his girlfriend in their backyard every night" - been there done that.  I cracked open the squeaky back door just enough to make sure the elevated voices were saying what I thought they were.  I was going to step out there.  Surely if he knew I was also in my backyard he would do anything.  Or, would he? Would he do something to me too?
We've all been there.  (well, many of us have) The hairs on the back of our neck stand up.  We wanna throw a flag, the reddest of reds.  We hear the excuses and we know if they were said to us, we would not stand for them.  Yet we do.  We pause, we listen and like the bystander....we assume our friend is strong enough to say no or that they don't want us in thier business.

Girlfriend, let me tell you.  She does.  No one is fighting for her.  He needs you to hear the irrational talk she is using and tell him.  Yes, there will be "but" excuses and rebuttals.  Yes, they will most likely not listen and act immediately.  But, they need an advocate; a voice of reason.  Speaking truth and connecting life.  Safety - that's really all they want to know.  The rest of the details can be figured out later.

So, what' can you say/do? 
  • Simply...."What can I do?"
  • "What do you need from me?" - a suit to interview? keep your kids?
  • Ask now, but come back in a month, 6 months, 1 year.  Celebrate their successes. Don't leave them hanging to slip back in to the situation.  It was safe and comfortable.  That's why they stayed their in the first place
  • Don't blame them.  Connect with their emotions (even if you don't agree or understand).  "I get that." or "You've invested a lot in this."
  • Provide resources and options.  
  • Know what healthy relationships look like and reinforce those.
  • Seek out a couple who has been married for 30 years and things are going well.  Ask them what that's like, what works, what was the hard stuff?
  • Couples counseling is not just for mess ups or people right before they get a divorce.  Life get's messy.  Sometimes even dating couples need to learn how to connect better with each other.
Most of us are ALL OR NOTHING kind of people and dont realize that SOMETHING is sometimes ok.  And Enough.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

what can you do: Domestic Violence

So we know the facts and we know that a victim of Domestic Violence can look like a neighbor,
co-worker, or the face in the mirror.  It's messy to step in and get involved.  It requires vulnerability, educating ourselves and a willingness to get a little sticky.  So, what can we do and what are some resources to have handy?

Agencies in Northwest Arkansas and around the state that are helping:

What can I do?:
  1. Educate yourself - hover over the tab at the top for a full list of things to read through
  2. Turn your personal story into a spark for change - get involved and volunteer where you can when you can.
  3. Safety Plan - a great list of things to take when someone is removing themselves from a relationship or situation.
  4. Make donations based on specific needs that the Northwest Arkansas Shelter has at any given time.  They do not always need the same things.
  5. Some of the agencies mentioned above have volunteer opportunities and thrift stores that support their work.  Donate your old items to the thrift store to help continue the needed services they provide in NWA.
  6. Be a volunteer at these agencies and shelters for specific needs to train their clients - financial planning, meal planning, child care, grief counseling, resume writing, interview training, or another specific skill set you have or could bring. 
  7. Practice healthy relationships.  
  8. Contact your local, state and national legislators and voice your concern or support about pending legislation.
Whatever you do, pay attention.  Don't keep your head in the ground that no one in your life has ever experienced Domestic Violence.  Statistics say otherwise.  Be willing to listen when someone starts telling you their story.  Whether it's their past or their present, keep the things you have learned in mind.  Knowledge is power and with knowledge comes a built in responsibility to do something about the things you know.

Open your eyes and keep alert to the world around you.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

facts: Domestic Violence in #NWARK

The Facts: Domestic Violence in #NWARK @bigpittstop @NWArkCares
So, this month as we look at Domestic Violence in Northwest Arkansas, I thought it was important to share some of the staggering statistics that might just put context to the need for a megaphone.

As you read through these, let me challenge you to continue breathing.  This issue is not racist, sexist, or choosy about a specific economic class.  Anyone is fair game.  And its all staggering.
Imagine if someone asked you questions....
  • every time you went to get in your car
  • every time you dressed up, fixed your hair or put make up on to leave the house
  • about what you were cooking for dinner and wanted something different
  • you browsed and looked for things on the computer - questioned what websites you had been on and what you were doing while you were there
  • when you went to hang out with your friends...who are you meeting with? where are you going? What are you doing?
  • about covering up the marks on your body left from a violent night
  • kept you at home, away from a job, because they didn't want you interacting with others who would "know"
  • sent you to work so they could have your money to spend on things they want
I know, its hard to swallow, right? Keep breathing........

Things to consider:
  • Abuse can take on many different forms - physical, sexual, mental, emotional and financial.
  • Victims and survivors need to be heard.  Listen to them.  Believe them.  DON'T blame them.  This is not a situation for fault or reasoning.  LISTEN.
  • According to the Power of Control wheel - the behaviors are a cycle that occurs over and over based on action and response.
  • Abuse costs families, communities, and employers.
  • Victims/Survivors and witnesses to abuse (children/friends/roommates) are at a higher risk to be an abuser.
  • The barriers to restart one's life can be daunting, emotionally, logistically and financially. 
  • Like most things, the way to stop is education.  Teach yourself what to look for and how to help someone in your life.
This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

love shouldnt hurt

...that's what they say anyway....

It's a quiet Saturday morning and I'm sitting in the dark.  Not because I'm scared or worried.  But, because I want to.  It's a quiet morning and the time of day is something many would say is too late to still be sitting in bed.  But its the most used place in my home.  Its the place I sit and eat dinner when I get home late from work or gallivanting around town.  Its the place I scroll for hours through mounds of social media posts and catch up on what's going on in the world.  Its the place I like to sip a hot cup of coffee on Saturday mornings and watch cooking shows.  Its the place I gather my thoughts in the morning and contemplate the day as I soothe myself to sleep.   

My home is a safe place.  A quiet place.  A place I can be myself without makeup on and morning hair.  A place I can be real.  A place my feelings matter.  A place where emotions, healthy emotions, can be expressed. 

This Saturday morning, I sit alone because I chose to.  I'm waiting for my boyfriend to come in town so we can spend a day together enjoying a beautiful fall day in Northwest Arkansas.  Last night, he asked me what I wanted to do.  Where I wanted to go.  He had some thoughts and plans already in mind, but the options of the day were mine. 

And, so I wait.  He is letting me do what I love, have quiet moments on a Saturday morning.  He is doing what he wants to do and we will join our day together later.  We will no doubt drive through wide open spaces, enjoy the beauty of the changing trees, laugh a lot, plan our lives together and come back home and enjoy a fun evening out. 

If he touches me, it will be to hold my hand. I will not flinch.  I will not fear.  He will not demean me.  He will not control me.  He will not hurt me.  The money spent today will be out of love and for fun, not to manipulate a next action. 

Love shouldnt hurt...a post on domestic violence @bigpittstop #safetyselfieSo, this quiet Saturday morning, my thoughts have been loud.  My Saturdays could have been different.  Statistics say so, but my heart has known the hurt of control.  Oh, I'm safe now, but it could have been different.  I knew what it was like to feel like your next word could cause an explosion.  Where, "I bought you something," was a means to get something else, something he wanted.

I by no means can identify with a Domestic Violence Victim or Survivor.  My situation/relationship did not escalate that far.  But every year when I see the purple ribbons come out, my heart leaps, I gasp and get the lump in the bottom of my throat.  We always wonder "what if".  Starting over would be daunting.  Saying "no" and getting away, almost inconceivable.  But, there is help. 

So, this weekend, this month as we continue to honor the fight against Domestic Violence and bring light to the situation, I challenge you to post a "Selfie for Safety".  Take a selfie of yourself and add the safety hotline phone number to the picture (1-800-799-SAFE).  Acknowledge your freedom (or if you dare, your struggle) then encourage your followers to seek help.

This post is part of the #NWArkCares series by the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers group. To view other posts, visit the Northwest Arkansas Bloggers Pinterest Board or follow #NWArkCares through social media.