Happy Holidays!

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On December 6, Safe Passage clients celebrated the holidays with our annual winter party. Over 50 clients and their children enjoyed a holiday meal, desserts and music.

Children were able to decorate ornaments, color holiday masks, and create winter crafts with their friends and parents. Later in the evening, Santa made an appearance. Children were thrilled to talk to Santa about their hopes and wishes after receiving goodie bags and taking a picture with him. Santa told us the majority of children and adults that spoke with him hoped for “happiness and peace.”

We also want to recognize the generosity and kind hearts of Kyler Photography who took family pictures for our clients. These were framed beautifully and given to each parent as their gift. Clients were overjoyed by the opportunity. This night wasn’t possible without the help and dedication of our board members, staff and community volunteers. Stay tuned with upcoming events and volunteer opportunities at www.safepassagedv.org/events.

Thankful

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We are thankful for the survivors who’ve shared their stories and bravely spoke up to say “#MeToo.”

We are thankful for the survivors who tell only those who help them to feel safe and whole, who remind themselves that a silent “me too” is just as powerful.

We are thankful for survivors who heard #MeToo and reached out for help and healing.

We are thankful for legislators, advocates, donors, and all who work to end intimate partner violence around the world.

We are thankful for our women and femmes who speak up boldly about their right to an equal and safe place in this world.

We are thankful for men who speak out about their own experiences, who reshape the narrative about assault and who call for their brothers to do and be better.

We are thankful for people of color and especially for women of color who fight intimate partner violence in a field that has been and continues to be all too unwelcoming of the anti-racist work that needs to be done.

We are thankful for trans men and women and gender-nonconforming folks and all in the LGBTQIA community who push our movement to be more inclusive and to fight for the rights of all.

We are thankful for a chance to work for a better future.  We are thankful that we know that future is coming.  We are thankful that each day we get the chance to continue the fight on behalf of all survivors.

We are thankful for YOU.

Beyond Policy

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Even someone who lived under a rock for the majority of the 2016 presidential campaign is likely to be aware what a big issue immigration became.  For Republicans, the party platform pushed for increases in border security, reductions in immigration and travel visas, and increased immigration enforcement.  When Donald Trump became the elected president, that party platform began to become policy.

Jezebel-the Justice Department and Immigration

The above-linked article discusses the new move by the Justice Department (headed by former Senator Jeff Sessions) to reward police departments that participate in stepped up immigration enforcement, allowing ICE officers into jails and turning over undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.

Regardless of your political affiliation, it is important to be aware of some of the potential drawbacks to this new plan.  Aside from its potential un-Constitutionality, this policy change could result in increased danger for immigrant populations and for communities throughout the United States.

Imagine if you are being abused by a partner who you care about.  You want the abuse to stop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you want the person to be hurt or punished.  You may share children with the partner who is hurting you or the partner hurting you might be your family’s main source of income.  Would you call the police, knowing that your partner could end up being deported or would you stay silent?

Many undocumented immigrants face this dilemma every day.  Some are even afraid to press charges against an abuser, fearing that if they came to court, they themselves would be arrested for being undocumented.  This fear is, unfortunately, not unfounded.  We MUST do better.

If we are ever to stem the tide of intimate partner violence in our nation, victims must feel comfortable reporting that violence, knowing that the result of their report is just, fair, and increases safety for themselves and their families.

This new move by the DOJ does anything but that.

Thank God there’s a Safe Passage

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Is there a domestic violence or rape crisis center in your town?  Would you know if it closed?  Would it affect you?

DeKalb County was forced to face these questions as the Illinois Budget crisis continued to threaten social services around the state.  Years dragged on without promised funding to nonprofits and service providers.  If Safe Passage couldn’t keep our doors open, where would victims turn?  Where would they find safety and support in our community?

Most people in our community don’t think about these questions.  They don’t wonder where they would turn in a crisis.  They may not know what makes these kinds of services so crucial to a community.

We were lucky enough to have three brave women come forward to share their stories, helping explain to our community why Safe Passage matters.  For those of you who have never wondered where you can be safe today, be thankful.  For those of you who have, know that Safe Passage is here for you.

Click the link to watch our video!: Safe Passage

Why are you grateful for Safe Passage?  Why are you thankful for the movement to end violence?  Where do you see need for improvement?  How can we all do better in supporting survivors and ending violence?  We want to hear from you!

Violence is Violence is Violence

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Gun violence is becoming an American tradition.  The mass shooting in Las Vegas is being quickly driven to the back of our minds as our nation mourns churchgoers, gunned down as they worshiped in Sutherland Springs, TX.  Time and again we wonder how this could happen, what we could have done to prevent it, and how we can be better prepared in the future.

Violence does not occur in a vacuum.  These shooters, overwhelmingly men, have grown up in a culture that teaches them that violence is a source of power.  We teach young men and boys that toughness is a virtue.  We teach them not to cry, not to show any emotion other than anger.  We teach them that they prove their masculinity with their fists.  We teach them this and then wonder how they grow up to be men who live their lives by these principles.

When compassion, empathy, and respect aren’t nurtured, we grow our children into broken adults.  Our children, full of hope and life and opportunity, grow up to be adults who gain control with the force of a fist or down the barrel of a gun.  Our children grow up to abuse their spouses and their children.  Many end up turning that anger and need for control on an already-hurting world.

From the day our sons and daughters and our children are born, we indoctrinate them into a culture of fear, power, and control.  It is no surprise that the traits that create domestic abusers allow them to go on to become mass shooters.  Upwards of fifty per cent of mass shooters have a history of violence against their families.  We MUST address this fact if we are ever to address the true roots of gun violence in our country.

We have a gun problem in a country, but we also have a problem with domestic violence.  We need to be aware of the dangers that abusers pose, both to their victims and to society at large.  We need to work harder to keep guns out of the hands of abusers and teach law enforcement and the justice system to recognize the signs of escalating violence.  If we are ever to make progress in ending mass shootings, we must begin by taking domestic violence seriously.

Domestic violence shelters are key advocates in this fight and keenly aware of the dangers of abusers.  We know the struggles our victims face.  We know the keys to preventing violence in the first place.  We advocate for the needs of survivors and the right to a safer future.  We stand with all those calling for an end to gun violence and we ask them to stand with us for survivors of domestic violence.  We honor all those who have been killed by those who were supposed to love them and we will not give up on the journey to end both domestic and gun violence in our community, in our country, and in our world.

 

Recommended Resources:
Tough Guise 2–Jackson Katz
A Call to Men–Tony Porter

If you are worried about domestic violence and want to speak with a trained advocate, call our 24-hour hotline at 815-756-5228.

 

 

 

Survivor 1

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4 years ago today, I was roofied by a bartender [at a bar]. I don’t think I’ve spoken publicly about it since regaining full consciousness a few days later, when I posted a Facebook status alerting my friends to be cautious in our relatively safe town.

I think a reason that I’ve been mum about it for years is because of the way I was treated and perceived in the aftermath: when I finally made it to the hospital the next morning, the doctor asked me 3 different times if I was SURE I didn’t just have “too much to drink”, told me he didn’t need to inspect the wound on my head because it “wasn’t anything serious”(it was), finally tested my blood and urine multiple hours later, and told me that he was “surprised” when my results came back positive. While talking with an old co-worker and friend from a Bible camp, he told me I should remove my Facebook status because it would give me a “bad image” to the campers I’d worked with. When I was finally talked into filing a police report, the officer asked if I really wanted to “waste my time”, and that he would try to “make time to look into it” and “get back to me” (I never heard from him again)

I can remember verbatim what was said to me, because each interaction left me feeling ashamed, burdensome, and like what happened was my fault. At the age of 23, I went out with my friends on the weekend and had one drink that I kept with me the entire time, but somehow this reflected poorly on me. A friend literally saved my life that night. A day later, I began slurring my speech and not being able to focus my eyesight. I learned that I had bruised my occipital lobes, damaged parts of my brain that control speech and memory, had gravel imbedded into my skull, and suffered a severe concussion. I was in speech therapy for over 6 months, went to OT everyday to correct my vision, and didn’t gain back my short term memory for over a year.

But the time to keep mum is not now. Our world is so broken that even “safe” places aren’t immune: a church, a school, a marathon, walking down the street in broad daylight, a movie theater, a friend’s apartment, a regular weekend at a regular gathering place to enjoy a gin and tonic with friends. Importantly, be SAFE. Be aware of your surroundings, where your drink is, drink responsibly, and ALWAYS have at least one friend with you who can pinpoint if something is not right, and get you help. But maybe even more importantly: DO NOT FEEL SHAME. Don’t feel guilt. Advocate; for yourself, and for others. Take action when needed, and don’t be afraid to seek help. And do not believe anyone who looks at you negatively because of the disgusting actions of someone else. You have had your privacy invaded, and you have been assaulted. Your trust has been broken and it’ll take a long time for you to not live in fear and be cautious of everyone. But you are not at fault, and you deserve access to the best, quickest treatment without any form of judgement. If you’d like to talk about this specific topic or assault in general, or need a safe space to process, please don’t be afraid to reach out, and I am always here. No woman or man should have to journey through that alone. Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other.

A message from Safe Passage:  We are so grateful to each survivor who shares their stories and reminds us all that we are not alone, that we don’t need to be ashamed, and that we have the power to build a better and safer world each day.  If you have been the victim of domestic and sexual violence, help is available 24/7 at 815.756.5228.

Safe Passage, Inc.

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Safe Passage is DeKalb County’s only Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Center.  We work with survivors of all ages and genders, focusing on processing trauma and rebuilding lives.  Our unique agency offers services that surround survivors with a continuum of care designed to support and encourage healing and growth in every area of their lives.

Providing emergency shelter, counseling, advocacy, and support are critical services for anyone following domestic or sexual abuse, but we know that is not the only need. We must also work to galvanize our community, our nation, and our world to end domestic and sexual violence.  We are aiming not only to support survivors, but to create a world where no one is ever abused in the first place.

We know we must break the stigma around domestic and sexual violence.  We must speak boldly and bravely about the issues that cause and perpetuate violence in our homes and our communities.  We must amplify survivor voices and provide a space to speak and to listen.  This is our space.

Welcome to our blog.  Welcome to a space to be heard, a space to listen, a space to learn, and a space to heal.  We’re so glad you’re here!

Mary Ellen Schaid, Executive Director