Ending the cycle of violence

When we talk about domestic and sexual violence we often talk about addressing the effects of violence. We talk about how to get the survivor help and how to hold the offender accountable.  While HAVEN is deeply invested in providing compassionate care to empower survivors of domestic and sexual violence, HAVEN is also deeply invested in preventing violence. We envision a future where everyone feels safe in their home and the community is educated about violence and empowered to prevent it.

We would like you to be a part of those prevention efforts. Below are a few ways you can participate in ensuring all our friends, family and neighbors have a safe and happy home.

1. Acknowledge that abuse does happen, even in our community.

Before we can address the problem, we need to accept that there is a problem. HAVEN served 1,255 members of our community last year. Nearly one in three women will be a survivor of abuse at some point in her life. 60% of Americans know someone who has been a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault. These shocking numbers tell us that we have a crisis on our hands, one that it will take our entire community to fix. Thankfully, HAVEN has seen our community come together time and time again to support survivors; we don’t doubt that we can bring the necessary attention to stopping domestic violence with all of you standing with us. Along with so many others across the world, we too can say NO MORE.

2. If you are a parent, teacher, mentor, aunt, uncle, etc., talk to the children in your life about respect and healthy relationships.

It is imperative that we teach children the tools they need to form healthy relationships and friendships by setting positive examples and encouraging open communication. Model positive communication and promote equality in your own relationships. Talk to your kids about respecting each other, their friends and their classmates. Help them determine if their own friendships and relationships are healthy by asking themselves the following questions about their relationships:

  • Do I have fun?
  • Can I be myself?
  • Do I treat others well?
  • Can I say no?

These four simple questions (courtesy of Power Up, Speak Out) can apply to children and teens in all the stages of their lives and relationships. If they answer “no” to any of the questions, encourage them to reconsider just how healthy their relationships are. To learn more about more prevention strategies and ways to talk to your children about healthy relationships. visit Montana’s Rape Prevention Education program here.

3. Speak out against abuse

Abusers must be held accountable by society to end the cycle of abuse. You can do this by writing letters to the editor in support of organizations such as HAVEN that serve survivors of family violence. Other ways of holding abusers accountable is simply by speaking out against domestic and sexual violence and not condoning jokes that promote gender roles or violence. It is also important to remember that domestic violence and sexual assault are crimes. Just as we would expect someone who starts a fight in public to be held accountable, those who are violent in their own homes should also be held accountable. By simply promoting the mindset that abusers should be held accountable, you can help create a more peaceful culture.

4. Support Survivors

Intervention is a form of prevention: it prevents future abuse from happening in that relationship. If you know someone who you suspect is in an abusive relationship, let them know you’re there for them if they ever want to talk. If they do open up to you, encourage them to call HAVEN’s crisis line at 406.586.4111, but respect whatever decision they make. For more information on how to support a loved one, visit http://havenmt.org/get-help/friends-family/

Domestic violence is a community matter, not a private matter. It affects the entire Gallatin Valley, not just those who are survivors. We hope you will join us in preventing future violence in the Gallatin Valley.