Darian Towner, House of Hope Prevention Specialist

This year, many stories of sexual assault and domestic violence have come to light. We have seen its presence in the political sphere, throughout Hollywood, within our schools and in our daily news.

Tackling issues such as sexual assault and domestic violence can seem intimidating with new stories surfacing weekly. Daunting as they may first appear, we must choose to acknowledge the strength and bravery of survivors who are sharing their stories and reaching out for help. Along with acknowledging survivors’ bravery, we must also come to the realization that domestic violence is preventable, and we have the power to make an impact. After growing in awareness and understanding, the next step to produce lasting social change is to take action.

This October, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence’s #1Thing campaign for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is driven by a powerful truth — that what you do matters. The central idea behind the campaign is that while we cannot individually end domestic violence, we can commit to faithfully choosing one action that we believe to be important. As our collective “1Things” work together, we can then powerfully eradicate the problem.

These could be a variety of actions: speaking up against victim blaming, sharing a personal story of abuse, shutting down jokes about domestic violence and sexual assault, using individual skills and talents to serve at a local shelter, supporting a friend who is experiencing abuse or who is a survivor, or teaching the youth in one’s life about the importance of respect and boundaries in a relationship. To better our future and eliminate domestic violence as an issue the next generation will have to face, we must use our voices and act now.

A quote that the NRCDV’s campaign comes from women’s activist Malala Yousafzai who declares, “When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.”

Recognize the power your voice holds. Use it to either speak up for those who are currently being oppressed or to share your story. Because friends, it matters.
The phrase “Hindsight is 20/20” is often used to explain why it seems easier to see or do the right thing when looking back into the past. A variety of reasons can hinder us from clearly seeing our surroundings. That being said, it is important to have knowledge of what red flags in a relationship look like in order to properly recognize abuse.

These warning signs can take many forms including extreme jealousy, controlling behaviors, monitoring of texts or social media accounts, isolation from friends and family, physically harming others or pets, using threats and verbal putdowns, unpredictable mood swings or demanding control of all finances.

One truth we cannot reiterate enough is that you are never to blame for the abuse that is happening to you. Even when a situation seems impossible to escape, recognize the strength you have within and do not be afraid to ask for help. The Citizen Potawatomi Nation House of Hope is available to provide you with a safe place, both emotionally and physically, and support you in your journey to living a life free of violence. You are worthy of dignity and respect, and a better future is possible.

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.