I remember, as a child,
Hiding in the dark closet with my sisters and brothers,
Unable to block out the sounds of my father beating my mother.
We would cry and pray together, asking God to make it stop.
It never did…..
It never did…..
Now, 28 years later, when I talk about it,
I still feel that helplessness and fear.
I see the house, the closet.
I feel huddled up with six kids in the closet… Crying quietly. My Mom screams… My father yells…
The crashing sounds…
Deep terror… Feeling it was our fault somehow.
We all paid for it in our adult lives. Not one of us escaped.
We paid for it with drugs and alcohol and violent relationships, reliving and acting in our own ways
the script we grew up with.
That was just from listening to it
just from listening to it.
The effect it had on our lives.
What is sad
is that I didn’t realize until the end of my last abusive relationship
That my kids were suffering
as I did as a child
-Anonymous poem found online
Teen’s speak art competition offers large prizes
and important message
Teen dating violence can sometimes be invisible to those of us who haven’t been teens in a while. Unfortunately, it isn’t invisible to teens: One in 10 high school students report being purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Many teens do not tell anyone about the abuse, but if they do tell someone, they are far more likely to tell a friend than a teacher, parent, counselor or other caring adult. Nearly 60% of teens know someone who has experienced some form of abuse in a dating relationship and 1 in 3 report knowing someone who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner. Twenty percent of surveyed male students report witnessing someone they go to high school with physically hit a person they were dating.
The Teen’s Speak Art Competition is designed to get teens talking about violence and thinking about what they can do or say when confronted with these types of situations. We are encouraging teens (anyone aged 13 to 19) to think about the situations they face and to think of creative ways to take a stand against violence without putting themselves or anyone else at risk. Then create a two dimensional work of art (drawing, painting, photography, a poem, computer generated graphics, multi-media, or other medium suitable for reproduction) that reflects that message. The artwork should be a minimum of 4”x6” and a maximum of 16”x22” and may not include copyrighted material or have been used by any individual or other organization for any other purpose. Each individual may submit up to three entries.
We are offering a $300 grand prize and three $100 honorable mention prizes. Submission deadline is Friday May 1st at 4PM and each submission must include a completed entry form. For rules, entry forms, or more information us at 541-592-5332 or drop by our office in Cave Junction. We are also happy to use the art competition as an excuse to come and talk to any group of teens. If you know of a group that we could talk to, please give us a call and we will schedule a time.
Every April we are busy planning our annual event “Soup for the Souls”. (Actually, the planning begins in January) It is a great event, lots of people laughing and having fun, lots of good homemade soup and bread and exciting bidding during the cake walk for home baked cakes. We bring people together in April because it is the month to remember those who have suffered from the trauma of sexual assault.
Some may wonder why we have such a fun get together during such a solemn month. Shouldn’t we be sad and have quiet respect for the ones that have been affected? I don’t believe so. I don’t believe that would do justice to those still living; those who have been victorious in overcoming the trauma that has been forced upon them. We should celebrate the survivors and we should celebrate the progress that we have made so far. Although the progress is sometimes difficult to see; women and girls and boys and men are still being sexually assaulted in their homes, in the schools, and in the streets. We see it in the news, we see it on Facebook, and we often experience it in our own lives. The progress that we see is this: Those affected are no longer blamed and shunned and left to try to figure out how to heal on their own. There is less victim blaming; there is less shame; there is more understanding and there is more support. There are more and more of us who are willing to stand up and say we will not tolerate this any longer. We will not tolerate bullies and predators and abusers that hurt those they say they love and then leave them with the blame and the shame. An amazing woman once said to me “No one is safe until all of us are safe, when we all become advocates, only then will we see an end to the violence”. The first step to becoming an advocate is to be aware of the issue. That is why we begin in January to plan our event in April. We hope that getting together in the spirit of laughter and joy will bring more awareness to what we hope to gain; awareness that leads to advocacy that in turn leads to safety for all of us.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. How aware are you?
Over the years we have worked very hard to engage social service agencies, organizations, and community members as partners, donors and volunteers. We have a tremendous base of support in our community and we would be lost without the volunteers who help us with events, errands and other projects. We are incredibly grateful for these partners in our community and we literally would not be here if not for the support they give us on a regular basis.
We have been less successful at engaging the community in the work that we do. That is not surprising. The work is hard and a significant amount of training and experience is required in order to provide direct services to survivors. Those people who are willing to make this commitment and do this work are incredibly valuable to our organization, our community and the people we serve. However, community members often have the impression that because they are not a trained advocate, that they do not play an important role in the work to end violence in our community. Nothing could be further from the truth. While someone who has experienced violence does benefit greatly from working with a trained advocate, it is the average community member (like you) who is likely to be:
• the first person a survivor tells about abuse
• in a position to say or do something when you see an acquaintance or a stranger being abused by someone
• someone that your friends and family would listen to when you say that violence is wrong
• the first person to recognize the signs that someone you love has been hurt or is in a dangerous situation
• in a position to refer someone to our organization who you think might need services
• able to put a poster in the window of your business, workplace, church or community organization that lets people know that violence is not okay with you or that you support the Safe House Alliance
• present at a place where someone is threatening their wife, humiliating a child or demeaning their partner.
• in a position to ask someone in your workplace, church or community organization if the Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance can come and speak to your group about Green Dot.
What do you do? What do you say? Many of us don’t say anything when we find ourselves in a difficult or sensitive situation with a friend, family member, acquaintance, coworker or a stranger out in a public place where you sense that something might be wrong or someone might be being abused or in danger. Not because we don’t care or because we think violence is okay, but because we don’t know what to say or do. Green Dot is designed to help you find things that you can feel comfortable doing or saying. The fact is that when you do or say something, it lets everyone around you know that violence is not okay with you. It empowers you and possibly keeps someone safe. The more people in our community who are prepared to do or say something when they see or hear an abusive or dangerous situation, the more widespread the message is that we do not tolerate violence in our community. This message comes through louder and clearer when people have visible reminders that we don’t tolerate violence in our community (posters, brochures, posting to social media, etc), especially when the messages appear in places or come from people that are not the usual places and messengers (like those of us at the Safe House Alliance).
Without the engagement of the broader community, we are just one small group of people trying to make a difference. We can provide services to survivors and help them to recover from the consequences of violence. With broader community engagement, we can keep our entire community safer and maybe even prevent people from being hurt in the first place.
We know you care because you are reading this. If you want to take the next step and learn how to become more engaged, give Marcy a call at 541-592-5332.
Save the Date!
The Safe House Alliance will be having our 10th Annual Soup for the Souls on April 9th at 5:00pm. It will once again be at the Illinois Valley High School on East River Street in Cave Junction. There will be lots of good soup, bread, cake, a silent auction, raffle and door prizes along with the famous cake walk. We are still seeking donations of bowls and auction or raffle items. Call Susie at 541-592-2515 if you would like to purchase tickets or donate an item. Tickets are still only $15 for adults and you get to eat as much as you want and keep the bowl!