October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Pass it on.
By Toby Myers*
Reflecting on the 35 years I’ve spent working to end violence against women, I realize I have borne witness to change. Some changes document progress. JWI, a mainstream organization, embraced the work and has taken a leadership role.
The old days were fun and though the goal seemed far off and impossible, it did not deter early activists. Many regarded us as crazy women running the streets trying to get the attention of whomever we could. That we did! The work has entered all citadels of the establishment–the Federal Government with the country’s Office on Violence Against Women; academia with courses, research, and even majors; medicine—the Joint Commission Accreditations with inclusion of domestic violence; criminal justice with prosecution that what was always criminal but tolerated in families; and faith communities with conveying concern from pulpits. JWI’s Clergy Task Force’s recently released Mishaberach is but one example.
The more we accomplish, the more we discover still left to do. Women survivors charged in criminal cases are being convicted, losing children, living in poverty, facing deportation, and losing jobs. Our work has sought to include men because we know that if women could have stopped domestic violence, it would no longer exist. When our activism changes public opinion to tolerate domestic abuse no longer, eradication comes closer to reality.
*Toby Myers serves as vice chair of the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence and volunteers with the Houston-based teen violence prevention program “Love Shouldn’t Hurt.” She also devotes much of her energy to working with attorneys on domestic violence cases and training others to become expert witnesses. She is co-chair of Advisory Committee for JWI’s National Alliance to End Domestic Abuse.