By Nicole Knieps
As Domestic Violence Action Month wraps up for this year, it’s important for all of us to consider how we will move forward as individuals and as a community to prevent and end domestic violence.
As you may know, this issue is 100 percent preventable. Domestic violence does not ever have to occur. In order for us to reach the day when we can say domestic violence is no longer an issue, we need everyone to participate in shifting the culture around relationships and violence. There are many ways you can do this. The following are three ways you can take action.
The first thing you can do is practice open and respectful communication in your relationships. Communication is really the most important element to a healthy relationship. Healthy communication is when both people in the relationship have the space and time to honestly express themselves in a way that communicates their wants or needs. Healthy communication is not aggressive or manipulative, rather it includes active listening and openness. For those of us with children, it is important for us to model what healthy communication looks like so that our children can develop healthy relationship skills. Passing down healthy relationship skills to our children will help to prevent future domestic violence.
The second thing is be supportive and start by believing others when they tell you they’ve been harmed. If someone tells you they are being abused listen to them, offer support, and encourage them to seek help.
The Forks Abuse Program, 360-374-6411, is the local domestic violence agency. Other resources include the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233, and Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (wscadv.org). The likelihood of people reporting violence increases when we create a culture that is supportive as opposed to accusatory.
Finally, stay in the conversation and keep yourself informed. The best thing we can do as a community is to continue talking about domestic violence and ways we can pull together to end it. When you hear people making comments or jokes that glorify or promote violence, speak up. We can change our culture around violence, but we first have to change how we talk about and engage in violence.
If you’re interested in being more involved or would like more information or resources, call the Forks Abuse Program at 360-374-6411.