I have worked at A Woman’s Place (AWP) for a little over two years. The direct service training we are required to take opened my eyes to the cycle of abuse and violence in intimate relationships. I learned the answers to many questions we all have about women and men who stay in those unhealthy relationships. When the training ended, I felt I understood what domestic violence was and had the basics of how to deal with it.
The most important lesson I learned was that domestic violence is not a private issue, it is a community issue. However, even after working here for a few years, I found myself being silent when it touched my own life through a family member. What should I do? What should I say? Was it my place to sound the alarm? I had learned how violent and deadly these situations could become but I struggled as I watched this person try to leave her abuser. I wondered if it was my place to step in. I felt myself hindered by years of cultural education to respect the privacy of family matters, and to allow personal issues to unfold between those immediately involved. All that I know to be true about domestic violence faded away, replaced by my fear to stand up and act differently than I had been originally taught.
Apparently two years is not enough to erase twenty some years of what my culture has taught me. However, it has to be enough, if I, along with my colleagues ask members of our community to be that change, to come forward with what’s considered private. I have to be willing to as well. Classroom instruction may seem easy to follow but practicing it in the real world will always be one of life’s challenges for me. I look forward to the tests that the classroom gives me as I continue to learn through my work and life.
Christy Heine, AWP Data Manager