Monday, October 18, 2010

Safe Haven helps women regain their lives: Hillsider blogger attends presentation about domestic violence

Presentation about battered women's shelter discusses how women get caught up in abusive relationships

Caption: The Power and Control Wheel in an abusive relationship. The Equality Wheel. The Power and Control Wheel was developed from the experience of battered women in Duluth who had been abused by their male partners. It has been translated into over 40 languages and has resonated with the experience of battered women world-wide.
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By Sam Elmquist October is nationally recognized as violence against woman awareness month. In honor of this I attended a presentation about physical violence against women, more particularly about a women’s shelter here in Duluth called Safe Haven. The shelter works with men, women, and children involved in abusive relationships. Safe Haven provides a safety net which allows women caught up in abusive relationships to come and stay at the shelter, hopefully allowing them the time they need in order to try and settle themselves as individuals. Specifically they give these women a place to stay and time to figure out what it is they want to do. Various support groups help them realize the situation they are in and give them the chance to relate with other women who are going through similar circumstances. The shelter offers women looking for help up to thirty days to figure out what it is they want to do, this is not necessarily a time limit because the shelter is willing to make exceptions for women who need more time and are seriously committed to change.

Ed Heisler, community education coordinator, was the speaker for the presentation which focused on how these sorts of abusive relationships work, and how abusive men gain control power and control over their partners. (Now it is important to consider the fact that there are men that are in abusive relationships, but it is vastly more common among women and so that is why the presentation and the shelter focus directly upon women as victims.)

What it comes down to in these sorts of relationships is domination and subordination, particularly through violence. To get a good idea of how power works in this sort of relationship refer to the power and control wheel which illustrates this article. The wheel was created by women who had direct experience with these types of relationships. The man wants the woman in the relationship to be exactly the way he imagines she should be and if the woman puts forth any resistance then it is answered back with more resistance. For instance a woman tries to stand up for herself within any sort of context, like a simple argument, and the man reacts by raising his voice, now she is scared and she may or may not proceed with standing up for herself. If she does stand up for herself, the man reacts with even more resistance by pushing her and calling her names. Generally there comes a point when the woman gets tired of trying to resist and instead just settles within the relationship. There are women take the risk and try to get help from places like Safe Haven, that is if they are even fortunate enough to have this option. For an idea of what a healthy relationship looks like consider the equality wheel attached.

Fortunately for us here in Duluth there is Safe Haven and they are here to help, if you know of any women or children in these sorts of situations you can call there crisis line 24-7 at 218-728-6481. Feel free to check them out on the web as well.