Support for victims
Kudos to Jill Gruenberg’s guest opinion (The Aspen Times, Saturday) and for the many positive responses it has received.
In his book “Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men,” Lundy Bancroft states, “Partner abuse is a cyclone that leaves a swath of destruction behind as it rips through the lives of women and children: destroyed self-
confidence, loss of freedom, stalled progress, fear, bitterness, economic ruin, humiliation, heartbreak, physical injury, ugly custody battles (and) isolation.” That names a few, with death/homicide, as Jill stated, being “the ultimate act of domestic violence.” She goes on to point out that every victim of domestic violence is “potentially at risk of death.” I learned this after finally leaving an abusive relationship. One of my counselors enlightened me that “any one of those blows to my head could have killed me.” That was my “a-ha” moment. I finally got it!
And Jill is right in stating that everywhere, victims of partner violence will “deny or minimize the level and frequency of abuse.” She stated most of the reasons why a victim will not reach out to others for help, and unfortunately, doing so puts one more at risk of additional acts of violence, something I know so very well. I also know now that family, friends, neighbors, co-workers and bystanders will similarly deny or minimize the abuse for many of the same reasons as the victim, which also includes turning away and “minding your own business.” In fact, I had a conversation last night with a friend who is aware of a woman involved with a man who has a history, including a criminal one, of partner abuse. In our conversation, I told her I thought it was our obligation to somehow inform this woman about the abuser. I was dismayed by her apathy. As a survivor of domestic violence, I was floored and left that conversation uneasy about her attitude toward partner abuse and its potential danger to the victim.
So how can a person help? For yourself (the victim), get support no matter what. Response offers such support and at no cost. As family or friend, offer her or him your love and support. Let them know you are there for them no matter what. Call the victim often, even if they don’t return your calls. Go over to their home if necessary to check in. If you know she or he is in danger, don’t hesitate to call the police. Better safe than sorry. Encourage them to seek support. Go with them if they need a hand to hold. As a community, we can all play a role in making our valley an abusive-free zone. Supporting our victims so they know they can count on complete support and holding abusers accountable is just one step in creating a safe haven for all. Getting involved and/or supporting your local programs is another step in keeping us safe. Response, Advocate Safe House, Aspen Hope Center, etc., all need our support. Thank you!
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Aspen School District’s younger students will return to class next week, but that’s not the case for those in the seventh through 12th grade, who will continue to take courses from home.