Written by Denise Miller, Firesteel Advocacy Manager
Throughout October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we’ve been sharing information about the connections between domestic violence and homelessness, stories from survivors, and actions you can take to help keep women and families safe. I hope you’ve found inspiration and opportunities to make a difference, and that you will keep taking action to end domestic violence.
In concert with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, our local YWCA participates in an annual Week Without Violence, an initiative created by YWCA USA nearly 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs.
To celebrate the Week Without Violence, we invited our community to reflect on domestic violence.
We set up poster boards in the lobby of our downtown Seattle building, and asked YWCA staff, clients, residents and visitors to respond to these prompts:
- What does a domestic violence survivor look like?
- Why do we still tolerate domestic violence?
- What would a world without domestic violence look like?
My colleague Caroline Brown compiled the reflections into this beautiful piece of poetry, which I’d like to share with you as Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close.
YWCA Week Without Violence 2015 Community Poem
She can look like anyone
Beaten down physically,
Probably thinking it was her fault
thinking what’s wrong with her.
No visual to violence.
Women of all ages. Self-destructive. Self-abused.
Women of all backgrounds. Strong. Confused.
A person who cuts herself
because she doesn’t like herself.
Beaten up and thrown out of her kitchen window.
You will never know
Unless you listen.
She can look like anyone.
People close their eyes.
Act like they can’t see.
But it’s there.
People close their eyes. Tolerate it.
But we shouldn’t.
People close their eyes.
Lack of understanding.
Fear of the unknown.
Like the justice system,
Blind to what it sees.
Blaming the victims.
It’s up to all of us to call it out.
It’s up to all of us to support survivors.
To take action. Helping hands.
The support to escape.
If you mess with the least of them, you are messing with me.
33 years of DV. Now I’m FREE.
It wouldn’t look much different.
Only those behind closed doors would see the change, who would believe them?
I hope it can change.
It wouldn’t look pretty – but survivors, would be free!
There could be love, respect, peace, an opportunity to thrive.
Faces of peace.
Faces of happiness.
Faces of love.
Would look more peaceful than the world we have now.