Giving Back Connects You With Yourself and Your Community
Years ago I was in an extremely abusive relationship. Contemplating the severity of repercussions one could experience from an abuser for reaching out to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom county (DVSAS) is enough to keep many from asking for help at all. The short, unpredictable times that you have to make a call or stop by can be few and far between. You are completely drowning in a sea of fear, devotion, hopelessness, pain and depression. I consider myself lucky to have gotten out when I did and in the way I did. But it wasn’t without more abuse as I slowly worked to pull my head above water.
DVSAS was there for me. This abusive relationship was with someone who also was an alcoholic. For a long time I thought the two were basically one in the same but they are not. After reading the book, Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft, I have understood so much more about abusive people and how they think. It’s honestly been fascinating and heavy to read. Whether you think you’ve been in an abusive relationship or not, I think this book is a worthy read to help all of us gain more awareness on what abuse actually looks like and what we can do about it.
This leads me to doing something about it. At times I have considered volunteering at DVSAS to help the people one on one but quite honestly, hearing about abusive experiences in depth, is extremely difficult for me. This is one of my emotional limits that I recognize and honor. So what can I do if I cant give my time? I can give money. I have chosen to donate ten percent of all of my merchandise sales to DVSAS.
What else can I do? Connect. I announce at all of my performances that I donate to DVSAS. When someone timidly or boldly comes to me after a show, thanks me for donating and shares about their experience with being in an abusive relationship, it only further supports my decision to donate. When I can speak openly on stage about domestic violence and some of the different forms it takes on, I speak for those who cannot. I am witness to those who have been unable to speak to and honor that terrified pit inside of them. The place that screams out for help and that something is not right, yet, they simply cannot. I have had people share with me who have been out of an abusive situation for years, for days and everything in between. Creating a space where conversation can be had about domestic violence and empowering those in an abusive situation is so close to my heart. I have learned on my journey that one of the most valuable things I can remember is that I am not alone, that none of us are but we must speak. We must speak for those who cannot speak until they can. Because there are many. In the mean time, we can provide what we can to help them feel safe enough to speak.
Giving back to an organization that helped me and has continued to help many others for years, makes me feel good on a very profound level. Where by creating dialogue and donating money, I am caring for the space inside me that has been deeply injured in abusive situations. (Going into the psychology of why and how this works is an entirely different article.) When I (or you, or anyone) is actively participating in this type of self-love, it moves beyond us as individuals and out into our friendships, families, communities and the world around us. It’s a beautiful cycle of love, health and awareness that I am honored to be a part of.