Monday, June 27, 2005

What's wrong with this picture?

I haven't even started working with domestic violence or sexual assault survivors, and already it's difficult. Tonight at the volunteer training we talked about legal issues surrounding domestic violence. One pamphlet we got dealt specifically with immigrant and refugee women and had a section on women who would lose their legal status if they left their husbands or if their husbands reported them to the INS. The consolation we're supposed to give them is "deportation may not follow, would not be immediate, and, in most cases, you would have the opportunity to present your cases to a judge." Great. Also, the mantra of all domestic violence workers seems to be "Leave!", but at the same time women are more likely to be murdered after leaving a domestic partner than at any other time in their lives. I'll be advising them to leave for the sake of their own safety, yet increasing their chance of being murdered.

At one point the woman leading the training asked how many of us had experienced stalking or domestic violence, and she and about a quarter of the room raised their hands. My first reaction was surprise that they seemed so comfortable admitting this, and then I had to give myself a mental whack for even thinking it was something they should be embarassed about. If we didn't think these things were something to be secretive about, to be ashamed of, maybe the problems wouldn't happen as often or be as horrible.

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