Safe families create a healthy community
As a community, we must accept the bold truth that what goes on in the home, within intimate family arrangements, impacts us all.
Things happen for a reason. The community is awakened and interested. The Hawaii legislative Women’s Caucus is alert and vigilant. The engagement and communication with the Honolulu Police Department is at a tipping point.
None of this would be true if we had not been eyewitnesses to an assault, gone viral. My perspective is rooted in regret for the suffering of the victim, and an understanding that the heartbreak and embarrassment, as well as continued likely harassment, is not a good thing.
This discussion with our community, however, is long overdue. It is hard to comprehend the constellation of variables that has contributed to the complacency that has set in. Domestic violence was in sharp focus 20 years ago. New laws, new programs, new training, new procedures and new initiatives were in play with many allies at different levels of leadership.
My thoughts about the complacency have formed as a participant in community matters. First, there are many competing community issues. Second, there are lots of people and families deserving of attention. Third, there are limited resources. Fourth, there are many good advocates highlighting the plethora of community issues. All of this has numbed the general public to the continuing reality that domestic violence remains at epidemic levels, and our system is weak in many respects.
With the steady demand on programs and system agencies, we cannot afford the failures for too long. Lives and spirits are at stake. Health is compromised and costs are exorbitant. The vitality of examination, institutional reflection, improvements and adjustments cannot be overstated.
There still exists the unadulterated belief that this is a problem that impacts only some kinds of families, in some kinds of communities. Thus, an attitude of, “what does it have to do with us?” also exists. The reality is far from this conviction. I don’t go anywhere any more without someone taking me into their confidence with a personal story. Their first husband, their mother, their sister, their daughter, their co-worker or their next door neighbor is suffering from the harm of domestic violence.
We would be wise to accept the bold truth that what goes on in the home, within intimate family arrangements, impacts us all. Violence in the home spills out into the community. If we desire and believe we can create healthy communities, we must first take care of our families. Safe families create a healthy community.
The way to achieve that is accountability of systems and people. It requires continued investment in prevention, specialized direct services to those who need them, an exhaustive look at the social norms that perpetuate and condone this crime and the courage to name what is occurring.
With this breakdown, evident through the revelation of intimate partner abuse in arenas including the national football league and the Honolulu police department, we can work towards breakthroughs. Every setback creates an opportunity to lunge forward.
Please consider the cost of doing nothing. We are prepared to keep our gaze focused on the prospect of change. Join us.
Your presence with us on this journey is a precious gift. We cannot do it alone. Please stay with us, as we work to reverse the complacency.
Every sector, every socioeconomic class, and every ethnic community is touched, is yearning for change and we will all be better off when we are all better off.
Nanci Kreidman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Domestic Violence Action Center.