Out for an afternoon stroll with friends on a path next to a river, you’re startled by a woman’s cries for help and you see her flailing arms in the water.
Someone jumps in and you and your friends help pull the woman safely to shore. Exhausted by the effort and soaked to the bone, everyone sits panting and shivering on the grass.
Then you hear more cries and look up to discover another person, and then another and another, struggling desperately to keep their heads above water as they’re swept downstream.
That’s the way it is with domestic violence: Friends and family, doctors, counselors, lawyers, social workers — it often takes a whole cadre of concerned citizens to stop just one abuser and save just one victim. Meanwhile, the stream of victims just keeps coming, flowing one after another.
The community’s challenge is to hike upstream to find the source and cut it off. While that’s no easy task, working together we can build a dam to slow the torrent of domestic violence to a trickle.
That, essentially, was the message delivered Nov. 15 at the Women in Philanthropy luncheon at Anderson Country Club by the keynote speaker, Laura Berry, executive director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Because domestic violence and child abuse don’t flourish in isolation, they require communitywide solutions, Berry said.
“They’re all interconnected,” she explained. “We know community connectedness is the protective factor for so many forms of violence.”
Berry’s coalition advocates for the upstream approach, offering programs that address prevention, intervention, advocacy, awareness, training and legal help.
Local organizations work diligently to provide similar services, but the stream of domestic violence keeps on flowing.
While we’re pulling survivors to the shore, we must continue to build that dam upstream.