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.