The SafeHaven domestic violence hotline rings once every twenty minutes, around the clock. The callers are your friends, neighbors, co-workers. The calls are received under the presumption the callers are telling the truth. The SafeHaven staff starts this work by believing victims, straight from the beginning.
The truth of the matter is: the vast majority of domestic violence cases go unreported. Domestic violence victims go to great lengths pretending their relationships are healthy and normal. Victims go through this charade because it is the most effective way to stay safe from an abuser. This performance will continue until the abuse become too much to bear. By the time victims are ready – and needing – to speak up, they have done such a convincing job persuading friends and family the relationship is strong and stable, they are sometimes not believed. This seemingly changed story presents a challenge for those who would be the victim’s support network. Sometimes, the way friends and family react to ‘inconsistencies’ from the victim is harmful.
What if we all started by believing? Victims would be more comfortable coming forward – something we want them to do. Abusers would be identified and addressed. Victims would be safe and supported. Ultimately, more victims would feel comfortable coming out of the shadows because they would be confident the system was going to work for them.
So this month, this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, let’s do just that. Let’s #StartByBelieving. This shift will change the way Tarrant County looks and feels – for the better. Thank you for joining SafeHaven in this effort. We will be a better county because of it.
Kathryn Jacob, LMSW