By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson
With the dawning of a new season, we notice the leaves changing colors and leaving their summer tree limb homes; we update our seasonal wardrobe and become cool weather compliant and we notice more of our neighbors decorate and prepare to celebrate the holidays.
All of these things are great, but, then there are some things we notice, but then we turn away – perhaps because of fear or simply not knowing how we should interact.
It’s an uncomfortable conversation for many of us, but domestic violence is happening often right before our very eyes when it’s really not hard to locate.
According to online publisher WebMd, domestic violence can usually be seen in the form of:
- Unexplained bruises or cuts.
- Unusually low self-esteem.
- Constant check-ins with their partner.
- Excessive fear or worry about upsetting their partner.
- Skipping work, school or social outings for no reason.
- Nervousness when away from their partner for prolonged periods.
- Lack of or reduced communication and visits to friends and family.
I am asking you to go a step farther once you notice it. I am not asking you to put yourself in harm’s way but to think through what you can do to provide a measure of support for the victim during Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October) and year round.
- Show them some compassion
- Check in frequently with them. No need to ask many questions but let them know you care. Ask how you can help them.
- Provide a safe space for them to talk or just hang out, even if it’s only for short periods of time. (You’d be amazed at how much pressure this can relieve.)
- Offer to provide resources (money, contacts, housing) for temporary shelter, food or clothing, if needed.
- Be confidential and share when appropriate. You will have to know when to be silent and when to share (with other family members or local authorities if need be) to help provide safe cover.
- Understand how to tap local and/or national resources for the victims of domestic violence.
I know this may be a tough ask, but I’m imploring you to open your eyes and see those closest to us, whether family, friends or neighbors.
There are way too many who slip through the cracks because often we’re willing to look away when we see something wrong. We hear unusual and gut-wrenching things and then act as if we don’t. We refuse to offer compassion when others are bold enough to show or tell us their ordeal.
Someone’s life may be dependent on you. I’m pleading with you today, please don’t drop the ball.
Until next time,
Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson is a life coach, author and speaker. Her column appears on the first and third Thursdays of each month online and in The Birmingham Times. You can contact Keisa at email@example.com and visit http://www.allsheanaturals.com for natural hair and body products.