THE POSTER CAUGHT MY ATTENTION. As much for its powerful message as its location.
I had just closed the door on a stall in the women’s bathroom at a toy store in rural southeastern Minnesota when I saw the sign:
My reaction was one of thankfulness. To Praxis International, a nonprofit corporation which created this rural public awareness campaign about domestic violence. And to Lark Toys for posting this message in a bathroom stall. Brilliant.
I want you to read and reread the words. Read them until you understand. Read them until they are imprinted upon your mind. Read them until you realize that, by failing to speak up or by looking the other way or by not trusting your gut, you are likely enabling an abuser.
Refuse to remain silent.
Understand, though, that you cannot “rescue” someone who is being verbally, mentally, emotionally and/or physically abused, controlled and manipulated. But you can educate yourself and perhaps subsequently help. You can connect with those who can offer professional advice.
On the poster posted in the Lark Toys bathroom in Kellogg, readers are directed to Rochester-based Women’s Shelter, Inc. That organization provides outreach, advocacy and housing to battered women and their children. The shelter has satellite offices in four rural counties outside of Rochester, home to the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
In the “Who We Serve” portion of the shelter’s website is this statement:
We have served families from around the world, due to our close proximity to the Mayo Clinic. Domestic Violence can happen to anyone regardless of their educational background, financial status, race, or country of origin.
That was demonstrated in Minnesota just last week when a company CEO murdered his wife and three teenage children in their $2 million home in an upscale west metro neighborhood.
This violence must stop. With the Short family’s murder, the number of those killed as a result of domestic homicide in Minnesota this year stood at twenty. That’s 20 too many.
Domestic violence can happen anywhere. In a farmhouse. In a mansion. In an apartment. In your home. Next door. Down the street. To anyone. Anywhere.
Refuse to remain silent.
Help your neighbor. Or a loved one, friend or stranger. Help yourself.
If you are in an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or a local shelter/crisis line in your community.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling