One of my favorite classes in college was a class called “Violence Against Women,” an upper level sociology class with a service learning requirement and a primarily-female student body. It changed the way I look at the world and made me realize a lot of awful truths about the world we live in.
It wasn’t an easy class, mostly because the subject matter was very difficult, and because the realities of domestic violence and any violence committed against women, is a terrifying reality. This is the class that taught be all the terrifying statistics about how likely myself and my peers are to get sexual assaulted before we turn 30. This was the class that taught be about victim blaming, about how we’re quicker to condemn the raped than the raping. The subject matter was one that would keep popping up for me over and over and over again, even playing a part in my final research paper.
I learned an incredible amount and one of the more unique parts of this class is that it required all students enrolled to complete 20 hours of community service that in some way related to the course topic. I don’t remember what most of my peers did to fulfill this requirement, but myself and a handful of others volunteered at a local women’s shelter, Safe Harbor. We mostly organized the donations in the basement of the shelter, arranging t-shirts and dresses and baby clothes by size and age. On our final day of service, we hosted a cookout for the women living in the shelter and their children and getting to talk to these women and play with their children was an awesome opportunity that I’ll never forget.
I remember especially one woman who was there with three boys: one young, one around 7, and one a teenager. The youngest one got mad at the middle one for some reason and hit him and the older one swooped in and calmly and quietly took the little one aside and explained to him that hitting is never an option, that violence isn’t okay, and that there were better ways to handle the situation rather than lashing out at family members. I nearly cried at the magnitude of the things he told his brother given the context of the situation.
I picked this organization for February because February is all about the love, with Valentine’s Day right in the middle, filling store aisles with hearts and all things red and pink, so I figured, why not donate to an organization that supports healthy relationships in a month that’s all about the icky love stuff. Plus, it seems like half the comments on my post soliciting advice on who to donate to suggested donating to local women’s organizations and this one fits the bill pretty damn well.
About Safe Harbor:
We are here to support those who are experiencing or have experienced domestic and/or sexual violence. Safe Harbor offers comprehensive services for survivors of sexual and/or intimate partner violence including: 24 hour helpline, children/youth services, community education and training, counseling, court advocacy, emergency shelter, and hospital accompaniment. Our team collaborates with survivors to provide support, education and referral information to help survivors meet their goals.
We provide services to anyone who has experienced sexual and domestic violence regardless of race, gender, age, national origin, gender identity or expression, faith, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity and geographic location. Our services are available in both English and Spanish, and all services are offered free of charge to anyone seeking help.
Safe Harbor was founded in April 2000 after a St. Mary’s nurse, frustrated with the lack of safe housing options available to survivors of domestic violence, advocated within Bon Secours Health Systems for increased services and support.
Previous Months: January