October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. AWARE and the Juneau Domestic Violence Task Force submitted this letter:
Sound off on the important issues at
I have a problem with the family next door. I hear yelling and crying, slamming doors and crashing ... and I'm not sure what to do.
I want to talk to my neighbor, and see if she's OK. But she looks so embarrassed passing me in the hall that I smile and ignore it. I'm not nosy. I see her kids playing outside sometimes while she's getting yelled at in the apartment, and I wonder what they think. Or worse, what happens to them when they aren't outside.
I think about calling the police. But wouldn't that make it worse? Wouldn't he be even madder when the cops showed up? I don't want to do anything that will make her life harder. And to be honest, I don't want that guy mad at me, either.
Even though I hear what she has to deal with, a small part of me thinks, why can't she pull it together enough to leave him? I think, if my husband treated me like that, I'd be out of there in a heartbeat.
Then I tell myself, wait a minute. It's never that easy. Having an abusive partner is something many women deal with, and there has to be something I can do to help. I will call the police if it seems bad. And next time I see her in the hall, I might say, "Hey, I've heard some scary noises coming out of your apartment. Are you OK?". Or I might say, "It sounds like you might be in a tough situation. Want to talk about it?". And if I wanted to tell her what I was really thinking, I might say "You don't deserve this."
I won't expect her to tell me everything, and I won't expect that my words will cause anything to change. But I can hope that she knows I'm here and that I don't think she's to blame. And if she wants to talk, we should have a cup of coffee some morning.
I will think about how everyone is frustrated with her, asking her why she won't leave. Then I will stop listening to what everyone says, open my heart, and think about the real question.
Why does he hurt her, and why do we let him get away with it?
Mandy O'Neal Cole, direct services manager, AWARE Inc.
Juneau Domestic Violence Task Force