By Vi Waln
An important activity in October is Domestic Violence Awareness. There are many incidents of domestic violence happening not only on our reservations, but all across the world. It’s hard to image the number of people who suffer physical, mental, sexual, emotional and spiritual abuse every single day.
Domestic violence is an issue which many people will refuse to talk about. For example, a neighbor might be aware of your violent situation but they will refuse to tell anyone because they think it is none of their business. This attitude just condones the domestic abuse. We all have a responsibility to begin talking about the prevalence of domestic violence in our communities.
Domestic abuse comes at the hands of close family members who live under the same roof. Victims of domestic violence should seek help right away. Do not continue to risk your emotional, mental, spiritual or physical well-being to stay with an abuser. Despite the danger, there are numerous women who make the choice to stay in abusive situations.
Witnessing or suffering from domestic violence attacks can contribute to mental illnesses, often known as disorders, in most victims. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) might be the most common result of domestic abuse. PTSD can affect anyone in the household who suffers from or witnesses the abuse. When you commit violent acts in your own home, you are also increasing the chances of your children living with PTSD into their teen and adult years.
We are worth more than the abuser wants us to think. Our children are precious and irreplaceable. Every human deserves an environment where they feel safe. I’ve always urged battered family members to get away from the abuser.
Many of us struggle to understand why it’s easier said than done to get out of a violent situation. It’s not worth putting your life or your family’s lives at risk to continue living with a violent person. We want abused family members find the strength to leave. We all deserve to live in a safe environment.
This week the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc. will sponsor a Domestic Violence Awareness Walk in Rosebud on Thursday, October 15. The walk will begin with morning prayers at the Rosebud Hospital. They will pause for prayers at the Tribal Courthouse and Spotted Tail Cemetery. A meal will be served to all participants at the Tribal Building.
Other walks will also take place in reservation communities during the month of October. All of these walks will likely include the wooden, life-sized red silhouettes of women which are stark reminders of the violence that exists on our reservation and other communities across the world. The red silhouettes are placed at different public places by members of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, Inc. These life sized silent witnesses are meant to remind us of how common incidents of domestic violence actually are.
Each one of these silent witnesses represents a Lakota woman from the Rosebud Reservation murdered by her husband or domestic partner. Violent acts leading to the murder of your partner are not Lakota traditions. Sadly, we still see too many Lakota women are physically abused on our reservations.
I can write every week to urge those of you suffering from domestic violence to get away from the person hurting you. But none of my advice or opinions will do any good if you make the choice to stay with your abuser. When you make the choice to leave a dangerous situation, there are alternatives available for you.
Many people pray every day for the safety of families affected by domestic violence. Please find the courage to get away from an abusive situation. Call the White Buffalo Calf Woman Shelter at (605) 856-2317 for help. Your life and the lives of your children are precious.