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The time for domestic violence prevention is now

From the large numbers of sexual assaults on college campuses to the National Football League’s suspension of Ray Rice, it is difficult these days to escape media coverage about domestic and sexual violence. The media’s renewed attention to issues such as intimate partner violence has millions of Americans looking to someone to take action.

(Image is Clickable Link) Naaman Cordova-MuenzbergAnd a call to action could not be timelier.

Tragically, nearly one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

There was a belief for a long time that domestic violence was “nobody’s business.” People were often silent because they did not know how to help or because of social stigma. Today, domestic violence is everyone’s business, and we expect our role models to be examples of healthy relationships. Yet, have we forgotten that we can be role models too?

All of us can make a difference in helping one another heal and thrive. We can listen to each other and offer resources and support. By modeling and encouraging healthy relationships and communication, we can prevent a generation of children from repeating the cycle of violence, and even save lives. This is so important right now because, unfortunately, the rate of intimate partner violence for Columbia County teens is twice Oregon’s average.

Together, we can reverse that trend.

Here’s the thing, though: being angry or annoyed by batterers’ behavior is not enough, and just feeling sorry for the victims will not help them heal.

This October, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I think we should all educate ourselves and reflect on what a healthy relationship looks like, and then put those ideas into practice.

As director of SAFE of Columbia County, I am lucky to be a part of the action that is taking place. Every day I am awed by stories of survival and resiliency. I see courage, perseverance, and laughter daily. And, I work with a team whose mission it is to empower our community to live safe and healthy lives, free from abuse. In the past year, we worked with over 600 people.

You can help too. There are people in our community SAFE cannot reach, but you can. Volunteering as a Help Line Advocate gives people the tools to personally support survivors when they need someone the most. SAFE provides the training for free, and we have a training scheduled from Monday, Oct. 20 to Friday, Oct. 24. Please contact SAFE at 503-397-7110 for training registration details.

We also provide presentations and resources for businesses, churches and service groups.

Just giving SAFE’s 24-hour phone number to someone you are worried about is a good a place to start. The number is 503-397-6161.

I am excited to hear how you are empowering your community to live safe and healthy lives, free from abuse. Check us out on Facebook and message us with #safeofcolumbiacounty or #healthyrelationships.

To volunteer, schedule a presentation or donate, call our office at 503-397-7110, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., or visit us at www.safecolumbiacounty.org.

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