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Optimism in the midst of violence
The system through a victim's eyes
by Kathy Magnuson
"Experience the domestic court system as a victim of abuse would. See the courtroom and hear from advocates, police and prosecutors how the real world differs from what you see on 'Law & Order.'" That is the description of the Domestic Abuse Project's (DAP) Justice Tour. I learned many things from Ann Moore with the DAP and Lt. Kim Lund of the Minneapolis Police Department, who led the Justice Tour during a recent Friday noon hour.
I learned that not all victims of domestic violence want the relationship with their abuser to end. Sometimes they just want the violence to end.
I learned that developing new behaviors can be like learning a new language. Most people grow up learning a primary language-for most Minnesotans, it is English. We learn it from observing our parents and family. As adults we may wish to speak another language, but as determined as we may be, it does not happen without lessons and studying. It is more than just wanting to do it. Learning new behaviors can work the same way. Moore explained that domestic violence is a learned behavior and it can be unlearned. This doesn't always happen, but it can. Over 70 percent of perpetrators who complete treatment are nonviolent six to 12 months later.
I learned that making excuses for violent behavior is not the same as finding an explanation or reasons for violence.
I was reminded that it can be hard to know who is experiencing domestic violence. Lund has worked with domestic abuse issues for 29 years. She shared the story of Pam, her friend and colleague with whom she had worked for 16 years. Lund was surprised when her friend told her she was getting a divorce and that years of domestic violence was the reason. Pam had said, "I think it's going to be OK." She believed she had a plan and was safe. The following day, Pam's estranged husband kicked in the door and shot her.
I learned the phrase, "Get into your neighbor's business." If you think you hear or see something suspicious, call 911. If you were wrong about what was happening, you can always apologize later, but you can't bring someone's life back later.
I learned that the Domestic Abuse Project offers to provide an advocate for every domestic violence victim in the court system. The advocate is with her through police questioning, working with the prosecutor, testifying in court and pulling her life together during this time and after.
I learned that the Domestic Abuse Project offers therapy to all family members.
I learned that workers in the midst of such pain and fear can experience optimism. They see that change can and does happen.
The free, one-hour "Justice Tour" and "A Child's Journey" tour are offered by the Domestic Abuse Project alternate months. I encourage you to attend and see what you can learn.
Justice Tour: The System Through a Victim's Eyes
Experience the domestic court system as a victim of abuse would. See the courtroom and hear from Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) advocates, police and prosecutors. Justice Tours are held at the Public Safety Facility, downtown Minneapolis, on the 4th Friday of every odd-numbered month.
A Child's Journey: From Secrets to Safety
Walk the path followed by children who have witnessed domestic violence when they come to DAP to heal from the abuse they have seen and experienced. Tours are held at DAP's main office, 204 W. Franklin Ave., on the 4th Tuesday of every even-numbered month.
or call 612-874-7063 to reserve a space on the tour.
Ten Things You Can Do to Help End Domestic Abuse
If you hear or see someone being battered, call 911.
If you suspect a friend or family member is being abused-ask. If she is not ready to reveal the abuse now, she will know who she can tell when the time is right.
If you're not sure how to approach someone you suspect is being abused, contact Domestic Abuse Project (DAP) to discuss how to help her in the safest way possible.
Adopt a room at a shelter. Many shelters have put off projects to improve the appearance of their building due to lack of funding. You could get a small group together and beautify a space by painting, providing window treatments, carpet or furniture to make it more welcoming for families in crisis.
Contact DAP to do a presentation at your place of worship, civic group or workplace to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Volunteer at DAP. Host a Party with Purpose. Take up a collection at church or work. Collect gift cards for advocates to use.
Make sure your company has a workplace policy on domestic abuse. Are your managers trained to recognize signs of domestic violence in their staff? Is your Employee Assistance Program staff trained in domestic abuse or do they know the local service providers who specialize in this issue?
Donate money to DAP so that the DAP brand of life-changing services to men, women and youth can remain accessible to all. All donations are tax deductible.
If you have skills and talents to offer, talk to DAP about serving on the Board of Directors or a Project Team.
Contact your state legislators and the governor to let them know that ending domestic abuse and supporting increased funding for programs that serve battered women are top priorities for you. Get friends and family to join you in this effort.
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