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Tribal members pledge against domestic violence

Submitted by Darian Towner,
House of Hope Prevention Specialist

The House of Hope Domestic Violence Program raised awareness about the prevalence of domestic violence as well as the program’s services at this year’s Family Reunion Festival by use of a powerful visual display. Beside House of Hope’s table stood a punching bag adorned with a purple, sparkling dress. Alongside the dress a sign read “I’m not your punching bag!” with a pledge to stand up against domestic violence as well as the stigma surrounding victims.

The close of day two produced over 300 names of Tribal members, relatives and employees on our pledge posters, and our table had over 600 visitors.

Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s House of Hope helps increase domestic violence awareness at Family Reunion Festival.

Our hope for the display was to creatively represent a strong message. That message was that everyone (specifically here women and girls) is a valuable member of our community and world, and no one should ever be abused by their loved ones.

Some of the most powerful moments we were able to witness as a result of the display were within individual families who stopped by our table. When parents or grandparents would approach the table with little ones or teens and take the time to teach valuable lessons to their families were beautiful conversations to witness.

One mother in particular bent down to her son and daughters’ eye level and explained what the pledge symbolized. The mother looked into her son’s eyes and explained that by signing his name, he was agreeing to never hit or abuse his future partner, even if that partner did something to make him angry or upset. Next, the mother looked into her young daughter’s eyes and grabbed her little hands, and explained to her as well that her name on that pledge would mean that she was also agreeing to never abuse her future partner, just like older brother had pledged. The mother then explained to both children that if they ever were being hurt in a relationship, programs like House of Hope existed everywhere, and they existed to help people when help was needed.

House of Hope staff watched with warm smiles as the father, mother, son and daughter each proudly signed their name on the pledge. Moments such as those are an absolute wonder to witness! How we make a difference in our society; how we change current statistics on domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking; and how we prevent our children from experiencing these very real life problems can often begin with just a couple of minutes with your children at home. That change can be ignited by a quick look into their eyes, a warm hand extended and a simple reminder that they are worthy, valued and deserving of respect, which is a powerful lesson that is greatly needed in our world today.

In addition to providing services to survivors, our program also focuses heavily on prevention, which can manifest itself in a variety of ways. Sometimes prevention is most powerful when it is delivered on an individual platform. Sometimes prevention is when you choose to step out of your comfort zone and speak truth into someone else’s life. We challenge you today to remind a loved one, neighbor or maybe even a stranger that they are worthy of love and respect. This simple sentence can shake someone’s world in the best of ways, and sometimes it can even save a life.

As always, if you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, sexual assault or stalking and would like more information, please contact House of Hope at our 24/7 crisis line at (405) 878-4673, or visit us online at facebook.com/cpnhouseofhope.