October is domestic violence awareness month, each year, every year. There was a newscast, today, on our local news station. It's worthy to tell you I live in an ultraconservative state and so the newscast seemed so odd to me.
The article talks about how a person from the YWCA is doing a ride along, once a week, with local cops when called to a domestic situation. The article talks about how cops are usually not sure if it is domestic abuse until they arrive at the scene. To me, a survivor of domestic abuse, that is laughable in a twisted sort of way. Why? Well my present husband and I first moved here in 2001. We owned a police scanner since first coming here to live and even then we knew if the call involved domestic abuse or not, the dispatchers seemed to know too. So why are the cops such a slow study? In an average night, since 2001, we have counted as many as 12 such calls a night. Pretty grim statistics. Another good question is: So for at least 15 years of such calls, where in Hell has anyone been who might have been concerned enough to do something about it in this city?
Don't get me wrong, I think any real concern is a step forward. But, and this is a big but, the reality of getting any good help is pretty much bogus. This conclusion comes not just from my own experience, but the experiences of those I know and from my years as a Social Worker. From the observation that not a lot is offered, and when it is offered, it is so limited that it does not help a lot in those situations.
Example: So a concerned counselor rides with cops on domestic calls, hands out cards, offers some advice, but then what?
Real life experiences: The abused person (usually a woman) uses the card, seeks help and is, more often than not, told there is no room at the women's shelter for her and her kids. Oh, if she has a pet, well they also don't allow pets. So then she decides to seek help, just temporarily, from the Social Services agency in hopes of finding an apartment to get herself and her kids out of the violent situation. Reality: She has more than two kids, landlords say "Oh no, too many kids." So not only is she expected to give up her pet, is she now expected to give up a kid or two also? Apparently.
Reality: Seeking help from Social Services is, in itself, quite the nightmare too. Example: Many places, my present city included, make it very hard to even get a damned appointment to see a Social Services Examiner in the first place. When you do finally get one it usually goes down badly. How? Well they aren't supposed to be judgmental, however they usually are. They don't say it outright, but their attitude sure shows it. If your husband dies, they are like: 'Step on up here, you poor thing.' If the problem is you are being abused, well, it goes like: 'Gawd, you stupid woman, you chose badly. Not only did you choose badly, you are stupid enough to have kids with an abuser.' There's no mistaking that attitude either. Example: Examiner: 'Now you realize I have to justify putting your case ahead of others in order to get you expedited food stamps for you and your kids.' (Never mind the abuser Never allows you to have food money, and maybe has spent every cent for the household on alcohol and/or drugs.) Never mind you would not be applying for food stamps if your kids did not need to eat.
Examiner: 'So you found a landlord to rent to you. The landlord does not require a security deposit, so sorry, we cannot allow that. You must now find a landlord who does require it.' (Never mind it took you a year to find this landlord who's willing to rent to you. So now, due to a stupid and asinine rule, you have to start looking once more.
The help the system offers: My ex-abuser and I had to go to family court once. Well, the stupid judge, upon finding out it was a domestic violence household, ordered me to go to counseling. WTF? I needed counseling to handle abuse? The abuser was never once ordered to counseling. I'd have thought he, at the very least, could have benefited from anger management classes. But no. Hey, white, male, middle class, stupid and ignorant judge person: Knock off the 'boys will be boys' attitude. These Same type of judges are also Why rape laws Never change either. All I can say is: Ladies, step up and pick your abusers. Society, the abuser at home or some stupid judge. Need I say more? When is it ever going to get better? Or are we just going to allow domestic violence awareness to be the cause of the month once a year and nothing more?