Featuring domestic violence survivors

Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The breast cancer survival stories featured in the Empire this month are heartwarming and inspirational. My thoughts are with these women and others currently fighting this dreadful disease. I am thinking, too, of women who struggled but passed away, and of their loved ones.

October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I am hoping that the newspaper will publish a story or two about survivors of this devastating condition that affects our community in various ways. The media can protect the identity of women requiring privacy who want to share their experiences in order to help others in similar situations.

If I were a middle-aged, middle-class Caucasian woman suffering domestic violence, I'd appreciate hearing from survivors that turning to AWARE for assistance is a safe thing to do. If I were an abused doctor or professor or social worker, I'd want some assurance, and hope, that my career would not be jeopardized by my need for help. If I were the harmed spouse of a state or city employee nearing retirement, I'd want to trust that my safety comes first, before future financial plans, before Tier 1. Violence doesn't discriminate. I'd like to listen to any woman who wants to share her story, regardless of her class or financial status.

If you were to surf the Web, you'd find that women living in relatively small and/or isolated communities find it difficult to identify themselves as victims of domestic violence. The risk of social alienation, and the worsening of an abusive situation are factors that influence women's silence about their domestic problems.

For women out there who are fearful of calling AWARE at 586-6623, or the police during an emergency, please remember that many, such as Oprah and Vice President Joe Biden, are out there advocating for you. They know that neither you nor your children are invisible. They know that domestic violence is a major health concern in our country. Like those who search for a cure for cancer, thousands work daily toward the eradication of abuse.

The featured survivors of breast cancer make me think. So many of us are the survivors of something, aren't we?

Joni Gill


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