By Lori Weckerly, J.D.
Manager, Becky’s House® Domestic Violence Programs, YWCA of San Diego County
The YWCA of San Diego County invites San Diegans to take a stand against intimate-partner violence by donning pumps and “walking a mile” in the shoes of survivors. The annual Walk A Mile fundraiser supports the YWCA’s Becky’s House® Domestic Violence Programs, residential and supportive services for survivors and their children. The event brings together our community in a show of support for victims and to raise awareness about an issue that is still too often minimized. Women and men, young and old, survivors and advocates join the YWCA of San Diego County to march through the streets in a mass of high heels of all shapes, heights and outrageous colors. In so doing, they make a statement with every step: a statement that women and men can take a stand against domestic violence.
At last year’s Walk A Mile, I watched a dad push a stroller in heels. It was a striking image, one to which I return often when thinking about how our community can break the cycle of domestic violence.
There are innumerable ways men and boys can support victims and promote healthy, non-violent relationships. Fathers, brothers, sons, nephews, uncles and grandfathers can support a victim by learning about domestic violence dynamics and available community resources. Why? Domestic violence perpetrators often isolate their victims. As a result, victims are removed from the families, friends, colleagues or faith communities that could otherwise be a support system. A well-informed loved one can counter this isolation and link a victim to life-saving services. Male educators and coaches, too, would benefit from knowing the dynamics of domestic violence and available services.
It is a myth that all domestic violence is physical abuse. Domestic violence is about power and control. Perpetrators use a pattern of coercive, abusive behaviors to gain and maintain power and control within the relationship. Examples of these behaviors include monitoring a partner’s whereabouts, repeatedly texting or calling a partner, or preventing a partner from going to work or school. Knowledgeable educators and coaches can look for and respond to these indicators of dating violence. Religious leaders can foster faith communities that support victims and their children by addressing violence too often thought of as “private matter.” Perpetrators often make victims feel responsible for the abuse, leaving victims feeling guilty and ashamed. Clergy can demonstrate support for survivors by teaching that no one deserves to be abused.
This October 17, I will join family members, educators, coaches, faith leaders and many others to “walk a mile” in her shoes. Will you join us?
Prior to joining the YWCA of San Diego County, Lori worked as the Hotline & Community Advocate Manager at the House of Ruth Maryland in Baltimore and as a Paralegal at Women Against Abuse in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lori received her B.A. in Sociology from Goucher College (Baltimore, Maryland) and her J.D. from Widener University School of Law (Wilmington, Delaware), where she was President of the Women’s Law Caucus and Domestic Violence Research Fellow for the 2010-2011 academic year. Lori was admitted to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bar in December 2011.