Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Domestic Violence and a Woman's Self-worth

After a round of self-esteem exercises on our own, Vera House, Inc. co-exective director Randi Bregman joined the Baobab Society and Women's Caucus to answer questions about recognizing domestic abuse, and helping our friends and families find the sense of worth and safety they deserve.  People stay in abusive relationships for lots of reasons, including fear of the unknown and some comfort with the familiar (the devil you know....).  Often, they "want the relationship to continue, but the abuse to end." The best thing that we can do for those we know are at risk:  be good supportive listeners and keep at it.   Model a concerned relationship. It's a big decision about whether or not to involve authorities--you might fear reprisal, or fear that this act might offend the person you are trying to protect. "Do not put yourself at risk by trying to intervene directly."  Direct them to local resources:  locally, Vera House and the Rape Crisis center have recently merged (Vera House, Inc) to provide comprehensive assistance, 24/7. Sadly, 70% of the clients of the Rape Crisis Center are children.
When are children at risk?  It used to be that they were only considered to be in harm's way when abuse was directed at them.  The current thinking has evolved, however, to recognize that it isn't good for their emotional and long-term well being to repeatedly witness such acts.  Teachers and medical professionals are mandatory reporters if they suspect a child is in any danger.
We also asked about the sensitivity of police when someone has been raped, should the initial response be to call the police?  No--first go to the hospital to 1. tend to  physical injuries 2. collect evidence and 3. talk to an advocate who can advise and notify authorities if victim chooses to do so.

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