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Happy Belated Birthday, Cristi – Support a Domestic Violence Center Near You

cristi graduation

Domestic violence rudely entered our lives on July 19, 2007. Today, you would be 40, having had your birthday just two months ago. Eleven years ago, I hope I called you on your birthday. Ten years ago, I didn’t know that would be the last birthday you would celebrate. Eleven years ago, on July 20, I became educated on the reach of domestic violence.

A year ago, I spent the day with a new friend. She’s a PR professional expanding her local reach. The day ended with a light dinner at her sponsored table for an event. The event was “Roots of Resilience”, the annual fundraiser for SAFE of Columbia County.

Before that fateful day, I knew of domestic violence in abstract terms. I remember an SNL skit that laughed at Bill and Hillary’s relationship, suggesting that he was the victim. (1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. ) I knew of domestic violence with other bad jokes of men in “wife beater” tank tops, the illusion that only uneducated, poor, white men are the perpetrators of abuse. The truth is grayer. The truth shows us that domestic violence crosses all demographics: race, socio-economic, education. Though poor economies can raise the effects of abuse, economics is not a cause of domestic violence.

The Wheel of Power and Control

When I got home from your funeral, I spent a little time educating myself on domestic violence. Learning some of the harsh truths and taking the time to understand patterns of control. In a sense, I find I am hypersensitive to language when I hear things that sound like controlling behavior. I found this widely shared image that helped put things in perspective for me. I wish I had known about it before you died. Maybe we could have had a conversation about what you needed to feel safe in your relationships.

Wheel of Power and Control
From the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, www.duluth-model.org, shared by SAFE of Columbia County.

Help Us Really Hear

One of the reasons I think we didn’t talk about all those things is that the busy-ness of our lives – we let it get in the way. We don’t listen to each other. We don’t really hear each other. We allow bad behavior to be swept under the rug instead of standing up to abuses and intolerance. We all have our own lives to lead and live, after all. 

In honor of the 1 and 3 women and 1 and 4 men, I encourage you to stand up to oppression far and wide. Start saying, “NO!” You will not tolerate that racist slur, that minimization, that gas lighting. It’s not right, it’s hurtful, and it doesn’t help those we love. 

Sources

SAFE of Columbia County
The Gateway Center of Portland
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Statistics
Dispelling the Stereotypes
7. How does the economy affect domestic violence?

Other Notes

This post was started on May 13, 2017. That would have been Cristi’s 39th birthday. At the time of publishing, we both would be in our 5th decade. I will celebrate the lessons I’ve been gifted through this grief and awareness.