Guest Commentary by Megan King
Violence Prevention Coordinator,
WRC of Northern Michigan
National Domestic Abuse Awareness Month has been observed for 30 years. During that time we have become more aware of the issue and more willing to talk about it openly, as we work to understand the root causes and ways in which we can help end it.
Although social change is slow, absolutely devastating annual statistics indicate hundreds of thousands of women every year continue to experience physical, emotional, financial, reproductive, sexual and technology-facilitated abuse. It is clear much more needs to be done.
You can help.
Start by thinking about actions you can take in your everyday life to make the people who live here feel safer and more supported.
These actions do not have to be groundbreaking or newsworthy.
Actions as simple as listening to someone, practicing empathy and showing kindness can prevent violence.
Taking time to listen to someone, really listen, shows them you are a safe person to talk to.
Even if today they are not sharing anything life-changing, down the line, they might experience something and need someone to talk to.
By taking the time now, you are setting them up to be supported later, and that support can mean everything to someone experiencing abuse.
Practicing empathy helps us connect as humans and it helps others feel heard, respected and validated. It can often be easy to get caught up in our own lives and our own judgments, but taking time every day to think about what it would be like to live someone else’s experiences can lead us to be more understanding and kind.
Empathy is very important when you are supporting a survivor of abuse because every situation is different and that survivor’s story and experience are unique to them.
Finally, when we show kindness and go out of our way to just be nice to people, it helps make our community stronger.
When people are genuinely kind to one another we feel safer, we feel happier and most importantly, we create a wave of positive change.
You may have heard laughter and smiles are contagious; so are acts of kindness.
Your small gesture, one day, can have a ripple effect impacting people’s lives in a positive way and helping to end violence against women and girls.
Nobody deserves to be abused by another. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan’s 24-hour help and information line, at 231-347-0083 or 800-275-1995 or visit wrcnm.org.