We’re only part of the best response to domestic violence

We’re only part of the best response to domestic violence

If we asked you who in the Hendricks County community is best equipped to serve victims of domestic violence, we’re pretty sure your answer would be Sheltering Wings women’s shelter. While we appreciate your vote of confidence, the simple fact is that we can’t provide what victims need on our own. Sure, we’re ready to respond to crisis calls and give women and children a safe place to stay, but adequately serving the needs of those women and children demands resources beyond our walls. People who have been in abusive situations need comprehensive support that only begins with safety. Our Life Skills program is the conduit for much of that support, as it assesses their individual needs and provides access to resources for mental health, job skills, education, transportation, medical needs, parenting, and legal matters, with the ultimate goal of delivering the knowledge and support they need to live safely and independently when they’re ready to leave Sheltering Wings. The most successful responses to domestic abuse are community-wide. A coordinated community response brings many sectors of the community together for a collaborative approach. That response involves law enforcement agencies, healthcare providers, the judicial system, schools and other educational organizations, churches, and other resources. It’s not enough to simply identify those resources. They need to work cooperatively and proactively to ensure that all involved understand the roles each participant plays and the steps to take when any of them become aware of situations involving domestic violence. That way, everyone is ready to respond correctly and immediately to protect victims and address all of their needs. Successful community programs also involve...
A simple question with complex answers

A simple question with complex answers

Why doesn’t she just leave? When people learn that we work in a domestic violence shelter, that’s one of the questions they almost always ask. It makes sense. If someone were abusive to you, why in the world would you stick around? And if you did stick around, wouldn’t you just be asking for more abuse? Life is rarely that simple, and you don’t have to work with victims of domestic violence for very long to realize how complicated that seemingly simple question can be. But if we’re going to overcome domestic abuse, it’s important to listen to the answers. That’s why there’s been a social media effort built around the #whyistayed hashtag. Every day, our crisis line brings calls from women who are in abusive situations. The degree of danger varies, and many women aren’t ready to ask for a place in a women’s shelter or even an escape. They’re torn and are looking for guidance. As we talk with them, we try to get a sense of what’s keeping them in their situations so we can help them find the courage to move to safety. Sometimes, it’s a belief that they can “fix” their abuser. It’s a hope that love is a strong enough force to overcome abuse and move their abusive relationship to something happier. But that isn’t going to happen. Abuse and violence won’t be cured by love and affection. Often, women blame themselves. “If I didn’t do this” or “if I only worked harder to make him happy” they say, not yet realizing that they’re not the cause, because there simply is no excuse...
Thankful for a Quiet Moment

Thankful for a Quiet Moment

Something interesting happens every Thanksgiving (and every Christmas Day): our Crisis Line becomes very quiet. The number of calls from women who are being abused takes a significant drop. You might think that puts smiles on our faces, but it doesn’t. We know exactly what’s happening. Some women are taking a deep breath and putting up with bad behavior in an abusive relationship so the children in their home can have a “nice” holiday. Others are enjoying a momentary respite from violence, as they’re surrounded by family and friends, and abusers rarely act out with witnesses around. Sure enough, after the holidays pass, the number of calls spikes. Domestic violence does not just go away. There are other factors that contribute to that increase. Face it, the holidays can be one of the most stressful times of the year. We like to think of Thanksgiving and Christmas as happy times … and there are certainly joyful moments … but there are also challenges. It’s a time of financial stress for many families. Often, family members may drink more than normal. Long-simmering disagreements and jealousies may explode into vicious arguments. And the days following holiday joys can be an emotional letdown. All of those situations can trigger abuse. If you’re facing abuse, or you suspect that a friend or family member is in an abusive situation, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of violence. The most important is having a safety plan. That can include having safe places to go if domestic violence becomes a problem, knowing how to exit the house without the abuser’s knowledge,...
Resisting Domestic Violence Is Faith In Action

Resisting Domestic Violence Is Faith In Action

There have always been a lot of churches in our part of the world, but have you noticed how many more have popped up in the last few years? The new ones show up in all kinds of places, from old church buildings that established congregations have left behind, to storefronts, to libraries and schools, to office parks. They may look nothing like the churches many of us grew up in. But the people who worship in them enthusiastically every Sunday morning don’t care. All they care about is that it’s real and relevant to their everyday life and Truth is spoken there. They just come to spend time with Jesus. Want to know another way to make your worship real and relevant? Live out what you learn on Sunday every other day of the week. You encounter opportunities to do that every day. Jesus gave us an example of how to do this in Matthew 25: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” You serve Him whenever you help others in need … like when you help Sheltering Wings support victims of domestic abuse. Yes, Sheltering Wings is a shelter that provides a safe haven for women and children who are escaping abuse. But our work is about more than freeing families from abusive relationships. We provide children’s services to stop the cycle of domestic abuse before it begins. We are a women’s shelter where women get the support and skills they need to become...
How Can the Cycle of Domestic Abuse Be Considered ‘Normal’?

How Can the Cycle of Domestic Abuse Be Considered ‘Normal’?

Think of kids, and you might think of bicycles and tricycles. But there’s another kind of cycle in the lives of far too many kids: the cycle of domestic abuse. What do we mean by the cycle of domestic abuse? Think about your family and your traditions. Think about Christmas and other holidays, the special things you do on birthdays, the vacations you’ve taken together, and how you spend rainy Saturday afternoons. As you got older and got to know other kids, you were probably surprised to discover that their families weren’t exactly the same, because you assumed that your activities were “normal.” Now, what if growing up included some other things? Say, Dad screaming at Mom at 2:00 a.m. while you hid under the covers. Perhaps him slapping her because she cooked fish instead of hamburgers. Hearing him call her all sorts of names … and getting spanked when you used the same words. Maybe it’s Mom not being able to leave the house during the day, because Dad won’t let her drive … or listening to comments about how useless and stupid women are. If you grew up in that environment, an environment that included an abusive relationship, you’d have a different view of “normal.” You might think that a wife who fell short of her husband’s expectations deserved to be punished. You’d probably assume that screaming at someone else was a perfectly acceptable way to express disappointment. You’d conclude that men were far more important than women, and were allowed to behave however they chose without fear of punishment. So who could be surprised if when...
Where Does Your Business Stand on Domestic Violence?

Where Does Your Business Stand on Domestic Violence?

In a much-publicized announcement, Major League Baseball (MLB) has suspended Colorado Rockies shortstop, Jose Reyes, for 52 games without pay for domestic violence. The incident occurred in Maui, Hawaii last fall against his wife, Katherine. She has since dropped charges, but reports indicate that MLB has instructed Reyes to return salary he has already received this season. He is being required to donate $100,000 to a domestic violence charity and is expected to lose approximately $7.06 million in salary. Domestic violence is not limited to a specific group of people; all races, nationalities, ages and socioeconomic levels are included in the pool of domestic violence perpetrators and victims. There is no “typical” victim. And often, people around the victim are not even aware someone is being victimized. And, not only does domestic violence affect the family, it affects the employers, too. Take the case of Reyes. Although we might consider his employer just a national pastime, you can rest assured that the Colorado Rockies is run as a business. And that means that Reyes’s suspension has an immediate impact on the team. They may not be paying his salary, but they hired him to do a job and now he cannot do that job. The fact is that now someone else has to do the job and that person has to be paid. Perhaps not as much, but there is still a cost – and a loss if the replacement doesn’t perform to the same level that Reyes would have performed. His absence may cost the team more than the savings of his salary in the long run. The...