¿Como puede uno cuidarse a uno mismo, conocerse, y sanar un trauma o abuso del pasado? He estado reflexionando sobre lo que esta pregunta significa para sobrevivientes de abuso y al mismo tiempo lo que significa para mi, en lo personal y como mujer. Como mujeres, el apoyo que tenemos es suficiente para podernos conectar o reconectar con nosotros mismos y nuestro poder interior? Ese poder interior que nos guía, da el correcto balance a nuestra autoestima y nos da paz. Me pregunto, ¿cómo serían nuestras relaciones si estuviésemos conectados a nuestro poder interior y nos diéramos cuenta de que podemos crear y transformar nuestro propio futuro?

Hace unas semanas tuve la oportunidad de atender una capacitación sobre opressión con Leticia Nieto (super recomendable) donde se habló precisamente de nuestro poder interior y lo importante que es estar en contactoleticia-book con él. Durante los días siguientes a la capacitación, procesé mi pensar y sentir al respecto y al mismo tiempo me puse a pensar en la importancia de esta conección para las sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica y sexual. En este procesar de ideas, una amiga me dijo que era un privilegio el recibir el apoyo necesario para tener el tiempo y espacio necesarios para conectarte contigo mismo. ¿No debería este privilegio estar disponible para todos?

Me pregunto si como movimiento en contra de la violencia doméstica estamos ofreciendo ese apoyo de tiempo y espacio a sobrevivientes, especialmente inmigrantes sobrevivientes de abuso que de entrada están lejos de su país, familias y amigos. Ya sabemos, basados en nuestro Fatality Review Project, que sobrevivientes inmigrantes buscan primero a familia y amigos en situaciones de crisis. Entonces, quisiera que creáramos ese tiempo y espacio en las comunidades inmigrantes para que las mujeres, hombres y niños puedan tener lo necesario para conectarse con ellos mismos y su poder interior, recuperarse al abuso, y tener un mejor futuro.

Por ahora, empezaré conmigo misma reconociendo este privilegio y estando agradecida de tener todo lo necesario para desarrollar esta conección interior y al mismo tiempo estar más consciente de mi alrededor y de mi papel para ofrecer ese espacio seguro, ese tiempo y ese apoyo a quien no lo tiene.

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How do we take care of ourselves, be self-aware, and heal from trauma and an abusive past? I have been reflecting on this question on behalf of survivors as well as my own journey as a woman. Are we, as women, supported in being connected to our internal power? This is the power that guides us, brings balance to our self-esteem, and gives us peace. What would our relationships look like if we were connected to our own power and realized that we had the ability to create and shape our own future?

Some weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend an anti-oppression training with Leticia Nieto (highly recommended) where we were talking about the importance of connecting with your internal power. In the days following the training, I thought about what this means for me, as well as how it might relate to domestic violence and sexual violence survivors. A friend pointed out that having the necessary support to have the space and time to connect with your internal power is a privilege. Shouldn’t this privilege be available to everyone?

So I wonder whether we, as a domestic violence movement, are offering that kind of time and space to survivors, especially to immigrant and refugee survivors of abuse that are far away from their countries, families, and friends. We already know from our Fatality Review Project that immigrant survivors in crisis situations reach out to family and friends first. I want us to focus on creating that time and space in immigrant communities so women, men, and children have what it takes to connect with their inner power, recover from the abuse, and have a better future.

For now, I am going to begin by recognizing my privilege of having all I need to connect with my internal  power and be grateful for that. At the same time, I am going to open my eyes and be aware of everyone around me, and of my role in offering that safe space, time, and support to those who do not have it.

A few weeks ago, our final fatality review report pointed out that most people victims turned to for help did not refer them to a domestic violence advocate.

We know that advocacy saves lives.

We also know that domestic violence programs cannot keep up with the demand for services.

And we know that people turn to family and friends long before they seek help from professionals.

As Traci said earlier, we’re all counting on YOU.

If that makes you nervous – never fear. I just finished teaching at our 3-day Advocacy for Rookies training. It was heartening to learn that many of the attendees have no intention of getting a job as an advocate. They came to the training because they know that anyone can be a critical, life-saving source of support. Here’s how:

1.      LISTEN. Really listen. What is she saying she needs? What does she think will help? (Note: Hear what she is really saying, not what you think she should be saying. For many people, the goal is to end the abuse, not necessarily to end the relationship.)

2.      LEARN. Do a little research on her behalf. Call your local domestic violence program and find out what they offer. And there’s tons of great info online. You can read up on legal and economic options. Get the scoop on housing and employment issues. See what the laws and policy manuals say.

3.      LOOK AHEAD. Talk with her about long-term plans for coping with the abuse. Help her think through the pros and cons of different options and anticipate how the abuser might react. That’s called safety planning.

4.      LEVERAGE. Give her whatever help you can: a ride somewhere, free babysitting, some cash. And use your influence to let the abuser know that controlling and violent behavior is unacceptable.

5.      LOVE. Have compassion. See the victim’s (and abuser’s) full humanness. Be patient and humble – this stuff is complicated. We are all responsible for each other. Love is the antidote.

I’m really excited this week because the release of our final Fatality Review Report is getting a lot of attention in the media. But it’s hard to be excited about the report itself. Studying domestic violence homicides has shown that many of the systems we expect will help are not reliable. And honestly, this is not a big surprise to me. Maybe I’m jaded by all the stories I’ve heard from survivors of how the legal system, or the welfare system, or even sometimes the domestic violence shelters, failed them.

But I want to talk about something else. The Fatality Review data also showed that victims turned to family and friends for help long before and far more often than they called police, got a Protection Order, or went to a shelter. And yet, still their lives ended at the hands of their abusers. My hope in this new year is that if you’re the one person that someone turns to for help, you’ll know what to do. Just knowing that anyone can call a domestic violence program and knowing a bit about what might happen when you do goes a long way. Domestic violence can end, but we all must be a part of the solution.

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