When I first started volunteering at A Woman’s Place (AWP), my goal was to just log some hours as a volunteer for an organization. I never gave much thought as to where I wanted to volunteer, but A Woman’s Place seemed like the perfect fit; unique, convenient and a great cause. It was about a community issue, a community effort, a community struggle. Just because domestic violence and abuse does not happen in my life, or your life, doesn’t mean that we live in a perfect community where every relationship is perfect.
When I look at the statistics on domestic violence, it pains me.
One in four women experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
In Bucks County, over 15,000 women are abused each year and 30,000 children are secondary victims.
About 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States are killed by their husbands or boyfriends (Bureau of Justice Statistics, http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/)
The truth is domestic violence and abuse happens a lot and everywhere and – NOBODY deserves this.
A couple of months ago, I passed by a girl whose boyfriend had thrown hot chocolate at her neck. “Why?” someone asked her. Her response shocked me. “We got in a fight,” she claimed. “He was frustrated; it was my fault anyways, he really loves me.” For the first time in my life, words could not describe my shock and confusion. Since when was throwing hot chocolate at your girlfriend’s neck considered mere frustration. Because of my volunteer training at A Woman’s Place, I recognized this as abuse. I never thought anyone could associate love and throwing hot chocolate in the same sentence. But people do think that. They think that love excuses fights and that it is normal. Disagreements are normal, but physical and mental abuses are not and they are unacceptable.
This is an example for all those who feel domestic violence is an issue outside of Bucks County or that it only happens to adults. One thing for sure is just because Bucks County is a relatively crime- free area doesn’t mean that it is perfect and it can happen to anyone, including teens. I want people to know that this is a community issue, a community problem. Just because people don’t always report it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. In fact, those who are abused, often choose not to report it. The first step toward ending this is awareness.
Awareness is key. This past October, A Woman’s Place held its 2nd annual Walk to Empower. It wasn’t just a walk for those who have suffered from and know the pain of domestic violence. It was a walk for all those that believe that domestic violence is WRONG. For all those people who believe that no one deserves to be abused. For all those people who support this community issue. For all those people who believe in the power of awareness. If each of us makes an effort towards educating, understanding, and raising awareness about domestic violence, one day, we may see an end to this community issue.
AWP Teen Volunteer