Everybody’s business Editor of the Reformer:
Domestic violence is everybody’s business and affects the health of the entire community. One in four U.S. women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. Although domestic violence is also the leading cause of injury to women and girls between the ages of 15 and 44, the FBI estimates that only about 10 percent of these assaults are ever reported. More often, it is friends, family, or coworkers who are the first and sometimes only people victims confide in. Many women suffer the abuse alone, isolated from others and afraid to tell anyone.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and although we at the Women’s Freedom Center don’t believe that violence should only be brought to people’s attention during the month of October, we do want to use this opportunity to bring a much stigmatized and widespread problem to the community’s attention. We want victims and survivors of domestic violence to know that they are not alone and that we all play a role in helping make our community safer. Assaults occur every day of the year. Here at the Women’s Freedom Center, we respond to crisis calls every day. All too often, domestic violence is portrayed as a private matter -- creating further isolation for women and contributing to a victim- blaming mentality that prevents getting to the root of the issue and creating real change. Rather than focusing on a victim’s behavior, such as asking "Why don’t you just leave?" we need to ask, "Why do people commit violence on others? What is it about our society that gives rise to predominantly male violence?"
Throughout the first week of October there will be a flag display around the Wells Fountain, at the north end of Main Street. The 386 flags represent the number of women who sought support from the Women’s Freedom Center during 2011; 386 women being stalked, intimidated, battered, or sexually assaulted by primarily male intimate partners, boyfriends, or husbands. These flags are not only used to draw attention to violence against women in our community but also to honor these women and let survivors know that their voices are being heard, not forgotten.
Together, we as a community must not simply raise awareness but actively make change. We must all support efforts to end abuse. Only by making a real commitment to stop domestic violence can we end this devastating problem. For more information or to have an advocate come and speak at your school, community organization, church, or event please call us at 802-257-7364.
The Women’s Freedom Center Advocates,
Brattleboro, Sept. 27
Keep your money
Editor of the Reformer:
I suggest you should keep your money in your pocket as an expression of activism.
The Occupy Wall Street movement galvanized many people across the country. It is (was?) an important and powerful surge of social activism. Nevertheless, there were troubling logistical aspects from the beginning, such as: Selecting a site; getting people to and from; creating a sustainable environment at the site; police presence; maintaining social harmony; and whether or not OWS had staying power.
Now that the Supreme Court of the United States has reaffirmed in Citizens United that corporations are people and money is free speech, us real people have a very potent and controlling tool at our disposal.
In the guise of a person, corporations share one thing with real people -- they get hungry ... very hungry. But unlike real people they feed on cash. And we the people are their feeders.
So what’s a "real person" to do?
This idea is not entirely original. Consumer groups often call for boycotts to help reduce rampant over consumerism. All the same, the cash in your pocket plays a vital role in corporate survival. Without a continuous feeding schedule hungry corporations will feel the impact of a reduced diet of cash ... your cash.
It is a "keep your money in your pocket" campaign that millions of Americans can employ. Potentially, while it is an individual private expression, it can become a massive pressure group that sends a message to the fake people from us real people.
It is also a couch-activists dream. There is nowhere to travel, no tents to set up, no police presence, no surveillance and no negative imagery that the media can use to disparage the movement.
A small core of people from Brattleboro and Burlington are strategizing at this time to see if they can build this movement locally and nationally.
The devil in the details suggests that a lot of work, known and unknown, would go into creating an awareness and choice mission that would give real people an invisible but unified voice that corporate boardrooms could not ignore.
Watch for the details. Contact: VoiceOfConcernedAmericans@gmail.com
Brattleboro, Sept. 28