Open Hearts Advocates: Moffat County has a domestic violence problem that we need to address
Open Heart Advocates
Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You’ll have bad times
And he’ll have good times,
Doin’ things that you don’t understand
Stand by your man,
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man
— Tammy Wynette 1968
I grew up in rural Colorado, surrounded by mountains, arid deserts and farmland. Space where idyllic narratives were nurtured, an association of a simple, innocent, genuine community, where traditional values reign and lives are more real.
A part of America where “real men don’t hit women” and “those things don’t happen here” are comebacks to the ugly and darker side of human relationships. A way to create distance from undesirable things.
Idyllic narratives that push, silence is a virtue, cry in the dark, meekness — as defined as “enduring injury with patience and without resentment” — is strength, carrying on in the face of any adversity, in sickness and in health (heavy emphasis on the sickness).
All manner of trauma, violence and harm are to be a bitter pill swallowed down with a smile. Accountability and consequences laid on a victim’s shoulders. Abuse bypassed as sickness or a misunderstanding, victim blaming labeled as “just asking questions,” the idea that “I know them, they would never.” Keeping our heads deep in the fertile soil of naivety, claiming we didn’t know and no one said anything to us.
And maybe we didn’t. Maybe we got so good at silencing that we have placed the abuser’s hands across our own mouths. Maybe as an organization in order to keep a comfortable space we also caused harm by not speaking loud enough, decisive enough. So let us change that now.
In Moffat County, we have a domestic violence problem — a problem that often finds us leading the state in victimization, a problem that costs us hundreds of thousands of dollars a year — one that has been passed down, like grandma’s recipe for sweet rolls.
Allowing generational trauma to become our culture. It is so common, we accept it as normal. Where two out of every three women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Which means how many people are creating violence?
On the eve of October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, maybe we can start a louder conversation, one in which we talk about the ugly truths — that alcohol, disenfranchisement, collapsing economies, changing shift work and conditions ripe to decrease mental health cause trauma and harm, and cultural values and narratives create the perfect environment for domestic violence to flourish.
My hope is that through breaking silence we can shift our narrative, address the uncomfortable and make room for change, for doing better now that we know better.
Jamie Fraipont-Daszkiewicz is the advocate director of programs and grants for Open Heart Advocates. For more, OpenHeartAdvocates.org.
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