The path out of domestic violence must include ways out of poverty and need opinion
People’s wants, needs, hopes, dreams, and aspirations are like a puzzle whose pieces, when put together, explain the future they have chosen. In a way, domestic violence shelters are a haven where survivors and their children can safely piece together the pieces of their future. For the first time in a long time (or in some cases for the first time ever), survivors and their children can focus not on their futures shattered by domestic violence, but on strategizing ways to create a new, more beautiful future where they can live and thrive. Safety and peace. Too often, however, survivors’ efforts to arrange, let alone obtain, the parts that make up their future are stifled because access to resources is disrupted by systems that are ill-equipped to serve survivors in their entirety.
Protective factors, such as reliable access to resources such as safe housing, food, child care, medical care, and transportation, are paramount in creating paths forward toward a life free of violence. When these resources are scarce, the gaps they leave behind allow intimate partner violence to perpetuate and intersecting forms of violence to emerge. Domestic violence occurs in families and partnerships across all social and economic spectrums. However, poverty makes people vulnerable to domestic violence, and domestic violence makes survivors vulnerable to poverty. As with physical or emotional abuse, poverty itself is a form of violence. It literally makes people sick, shortens their lives, causes poor health outcomes, and increases medical costs. It also undermines people’s dignity and limits their opportunities to provide for their families as well as their ability to heal and thrive. Survivors who live in or near poverty, or who live in fear of impending poverty, are often forced to choose between their families’ physical or emotional health and meeting their basic needs. Many survivors often courageously choose poverty and homelessness to escape abusive and dangerous environments at home. Conversely, many survivors choose to “stay” in abusive relationships to avoid poverty and homelessness for themselves and their children.
We have the power to create a world where everyone can pursue the future they choose as long as we commit ourselves to respecting and protecting our wholeness within and outside ourselves. Perfection inside It means taking care of ourselves, our families, and our community in our daily lives today; The practice of reconnecting with each other, with the Earth, and with all the beings who inhabit it. Completely without It comes from making peace with the forces that are an obstacle to our mission and vision.
To move toward perfection, we must first be in perfection. So, in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I urge you to find ways to see the humanity in others, even those with whom you disagree, reject the social systems and conditions that degrade the lives of people in our world and believe deeply in the future. Together we can make teamwork become our motivation. As the Resonance Network puts it, “We can create a world of sufficiency and abundance without indulging in greed, where people eat deliciously, are warm when they need warmth, cold when they need cold, and where there is danger but not permanently.” A threat to a people against a people for a people, where work has dignity, and the land slowly heals.” A future free of violence is possible for all Kentuckians, as long as we are willing to pool our hearts, minds, and uncompromising devotion to each other as one.
Angela Iannelli is the Executive Director of ZeroV, formerly the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence.