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Letter To The Editor

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Turning Outrage Into Action in Your Community

Everyone is horrified by what we witnessed in the video depicting Ray Rice assault his then fiancée (now wife), but why are we just now outraged when we see what goes on behind closed doors? We all knew he assaulted her months ago. We all hear about domestic violence incidents regularly on the news.

Why must we see it for ourselves to be moved to anger?

HopeWorks of Howard County has been serving victims of domestic violence for more than 35 years. Last year, we served more than 2,500 individual victims who needed crisis intervention, shelter, legal services and counseling. These are folks right here in Howard County — our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers.

Let’s not just watch what goes viral on YouTube and blog about how awful it is. Let’s really do something about it. We are the ones that create the culture that allows companies to protect their moneymakers when they behave badly or ask, “Why does she stay?” instead of, “Why does he act like that?”

We have the ability to change the culture that allows domestic violence to continue; so, if you want to turn your outrage into action, here’s what you can do:

  • Go to WeAreHopeWorks.org and find out what services are available in your neighborhood, should someone you know need help.
  • Ask us to come talk with your school, civic group or faith community about the dynamics of domestic violence: what it looks like, how big a problem it is, how to talk to someone if you are worried about him or her, how to get help.
  • Get involved in our youth programs that focused on healthy relationships and how understanding yourself in the context of our violent culture has protective factors.
  • Find out more about our Legacy Project, which looks at redefining masculinity in a manner that doesn’t equate violence and domination with manhood.
  • Look for the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) ways in which our culture supports, minimizes or makes fun of violence against women, e.g., the comment about Janay Rice wishing she took the stairs. It’s not funny. Domestic violence jokes are never funny.
  • Make a donation: All the outreach, education and services cost money.

What we don’t see, we often ignore and tolerate. But abuse is intolerable. Survivors depend on agencies like HopeWorks to support them and work to change a culture that tolerates the abuse they have experienced. And agencies like HopeWorks depend on you to be partners in this transformation. Step away from the water cooler and decide to do something today.

— Jennifer Pollitt Hill, executive director

HopeWorks (formerly Domestic Violence Center)