One woman. One horse. 48 states for Domestic Violence Awareness

Check back often for the latest updates and stories from Meredith and Apollo as they journey 10,000 miles on a four year ride around the USA.

Speak Up, Speak Out

I mentioned two things you can do in my prevention post earlier this month:

Increase the conversation -  Domestic violence is still largely a silent problem.  Of course people who are still being victimized will continue to stay silent, for their own safety if nothing else. But those of us who have already gotten out, or those who have a good friend or family member who has experienced abuse, should not stay silent. Your experiences can change other people’s lives! Those who haven’t been in an abusive relationship before need to know the truths about it - not just statistics and general facts. You don’t need to write a book or jump on a horse to do this, but do consider sharing your story when an opportunity arises.  (And if you do share your story, please don’t downplay it with such statements as “it wasn’t that bad” or “but he never hit me” etc - that does not do justice to yourself or to whoever would be helped by your story).

Speak up  - If you meet someone you suspect is a victim, don’t just wonder and be silently sad.  There are things you can do. Even if it’s a total stranger, you can discretely give them the info for your local crisis center or the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  Some crisis centers print up business cards that don’t say what it’s for, so a victim can safely keep it in their purse until they’re ready to call - ask yours for a few to hand out. If it’s someone you know, make sure they understand you’re there if they need help.

Here’s a few more things you can do:

Get informed. Learn what abuse is, what the signs are when someone is being abused, and how to help someone if you suspect they are being abused. Every person can be an advocate for their neighbors, friends, and family!  Help others be informed too by sharing what you learn on social media.

Choose your words wisely.  While “Domestic Violence” “Shelter” and even “Battered Woman” are still commonly used, these and other such verbiage perpetuates the confusion and misunderstandings people have about abuse.  “Domestic violence” leads people to think that only violent abuse (such as hitting) is real abuse, and that non-physical domestic abuse somehow doesn’t count.  Same goes for “battered woman” - a phrase that also downplays how many men are victims.  “Shelters” are now trading in that term for “crisis centers” or “domestic violence agencies” or “domestic violence services,” to help overcome the idea that they’re just for people needing a safe place to sleep while they escape their abuser - when in fact they provide so many more services than that. (And yes, I know I use the word “domestic violence often in this blog; having already named my ride as being “against domestic violence” it was too late to change when I realized how it could be improved).

Fight against victim shaming/blaming.  Choose your own words wisely in this area too, and also be willing to speak up if you hear someone saying something that shames or blames a victim of abuse. Rememeber, it is never the victim’s fault!

Volunteer.  Your local crisis center can use your help in so many ways.  It can be as easy as setting up chairs for their next event!

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