Give DeKalb County

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When I was in college, I had a roommate who would wake up at 3 am to watch tennis.  No watching replays for her.  Who cared if I had a test the next morning?  The match was on in Australia!  The only thing worse in a teeny room than a tennis-obsessed roommate was a teeny room with a tennis-obsessed roommate who also played trumpet.

Now I’m far from perfect and I’m sure she could tell you some horror stories from the days of living with me, but the point is we were both two privileged, nontraumatized strangers who managed to drive each other crazy in communal living.  We had the best opportunities for being able to peacefully coexist and it was a rough year.

Imagine now, that my roommate and I were both fleeing abusive relationships.  She has two children under the age of 5.  She and I have been living with abusive partners and I grew up in an abusive household.  I’ve learned to lie to get what I need to survive and I’ve learned to yell if I want my voice to be heard.  She struggles with a substance use disorder.  Now imagine that we had to share a room in our emergency shelter.  She and I and her two children in a room not much bigger than our freshman dorm.  There’s two bathrooms in the entire building for all 25 of us to share and one communal kitchen.

Imagine trying to heal under those circumstances.  Imagine trying to move on from an abusive past and face your trauma.  Imagine how much easier it might seem to just give up and go back home.  Imagine how difficult it would be to take the time to invest in your own mental health and healing.

For many of our clients, they don’t have to imagine.  This is our reality.  Our shelter, while it provides incredibly important and necessary emergency care, is still set up for just that: an emergency.  It isn’t designed to be a place of healing and wholeness.  Our staff have done so much with the limited budget we have, but we know there is so much more to do.

This year on May 3, Give DeKalb County is hosting the 5th annual community fundraiser for DeKalb nonprofits.  Please consider visiting www.givedekalbcounty.org on May 3 and make a life-saving donation.  Your donations ensure survivors continue to have access to emergency shelter, counseling, and advocacy, but also give us the flexibility to invest in projects to improve the emergency care we provide and ensure every survivor is given every chance to not only survive, but thrive.

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.

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