A Special Message to Domestic Violence Survivor Who Shares Her Photos of Abuse Online to Build Aware
In Response to the Following, Please Note:
'To Carrel: The women and partners of DVSAC commend you for your courage in sharing these photos. We do not take it for granted that you are in a vulnerable place yet you are utilizing your experience to share 'truth' about domestic violence but also encourage 'accountability' by putting a face to your name. With that, we also want you to know that despite the comments that people will make and the judgments that they will cast - this is not your fault and help is available through the Women's Coalition of St. Croix at (340) 773-9272.
For the readers and those who comment, let's not forgot the 'bigger picture': Whether it was the first time or the tenth time, abuse is never the answer and should never be 'justified' whether the victim chooses to stay or flee as no one deserves to be abused. There are many factors that influence an individual's decision to remain in an abusive relationship as domestic violence is not 'black and white' - it is 'grey' with complexities that stem from living in a small community to financial dependence and personal beliefs about one's self and the value of relationships to religion, family/social expectations and access to one's children - and this is just the tip of an iceberg. It's okay to be simple but do not be simple-minded - they are two different things. Saying a prayer for victims such as Carrel is simple but judging her situation without all of the facts is simple-minded. Calling the police to intervene in a domestic violence dispute in order to prevent injury or death is simple but 'blaming' the victim for doing something that you may or may not have done when you do not walk in the victim's shoes is 'simple-minded'. Making a personal commitment to uplift your community by supporting the people who live within, regardless of their struggles, is simple; but making statements about what victims should or shouldn't do without acknowledging the safety risks that increase when a victim tries to flee - especially in a community that may be more prone to 'help' the abuser instead of 'help' the victim, is simple-minded.
Do not take Carrel's courage for granted - this is not an opportunity to 'chat' but an opportunity to 'act'. So instead of putting her in the spotlight with questions, put yourself 'on the stand'. What will you do to help Carrel or others like her? What will you say that will encourage and support victims in their self-growth? What will you do or have you done the last time you heard or witnessed a domestic violence issue? This is a moment to pause, reflect, learn and act because Carrel was brave enough to share her photos but there are many more in the 'forensic' files of the VIPD.
Lastly, to the VIPD, criminal justice system and community leadership, what do your actions say about domestic violence? Should you be 'urging victims to avoid physical confrontations' or should you be 'urging perpetrators or anyone contemplating victimization to avoid physical confrontations'? Responding to violence requires a 'response' but ending it requires accountability which comes in various forms from batterer's intervention to psychotherapy and community service to restorative justice BUT urging victims to 'prevent violence' when the perpetrator caused it, is not a form of accountability. So, to Carrel and every other victim like her (regardless of gender, sexual orientation, age or form of abuse as emotional abuse is just as traumatic), know that DVSAC stands with you. Our partners, The Women's Coalition of St. Croix and Family Resource Center, stand with you; and you are not in this alone!' - Khnuma Simmonds-Esannason, Executive Director