October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As you may know, October is National Cancer Awareness Month. You may or not know that October is also designated as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. One of the greatest missions in my life is to prevent violence while empowering youth through the SAFE through the Arts program. As this is a subject that is dear and near to my heart, I would like to take the opportunity to explain a little more about the program and why I feel that it is so important.
During this period of economic hardship, cases of both social and domestic violence have been on the rise. Incidents of abuse in all of its forms have been escalating in the last few years. Bullying, a form of verbal and emotional abuse, has become a serious problem in schools, in some cases leading to physical injury and even death. It is more important than ever for teenagers to not only be able to recognize the signs of a potentially violent situation but also to acquire tools that help boost self esteem and confidence as well as to communicate effectively with others in a non-violent manner. The SAFE through the Arts program strives to address both of these challenges.
The SAFE through the Arts program is based upon the three key components that will keep a young adult safe from entering and/or staying in an abusive relationship: Self Affirmation, Financial literacy and Education of non-violence. Through utilizing various modes of the performing and creative arts including dramatic role play, drumming, journal writing, drumming and dance, The SAFE through the Arts program gives students eight specific tools to help empower themselves and communicate more effectively with others. It is imperative that young people cultivate a strong appreciation of themselves, their unique abilities and how they are able to contribute positively to their families, schools and their communities. Self-Affirmation is an essential key ingredient in diminishing violence in our schools and in our society as self-empowered people are less likely to act violently towards others or tolerate situations in which they are being treated disrespectfully. People who feel good about themselves and their accomplishments have no need to deflate other people’s egos through bullying and acts of violence in order to inflate their own sense of self-worth. SAFE through the Arts strives to empower youth through helping students to create their own affirmations and visualizations that they can practice and use as needed. Through creative self-exploration, they learn how to identify their unique strengths and ways in which they can make a positive contribution to society.
In the second key component of the SAFE through the Arts program, Financial literacy, students learn the importance of earning an income and managing ones own finances as an avenue to freedom from violent relationships. People who find themselves in abusive relationships often have no control over how they make or spend their money. It is common for a controlling partner to manipulate his/her spouse through withholding access to money. In addition, the partner seeking control over another will often prohibit his/her partner from engaging in employment. Without financial resources, it is difficult if not impossible to leave  an abusive relationship. Therefore, learning and practicing the steps involved in gaining financial independence at an early age is imperative.
The final key to safety from violence, Education of non-violence, involves students  embracing the principals of Marshall Rosenberg’s non-violent communication., students participating in the SAFE through the Art program have the opportunity to practice communicating with others in a direct, compassionate manner without sarcasm and negativity. In addition, students practice exercises designed to help with anger-management and foster self-control in order to de-escalate potential acts of violence.
SAFE through the Arts is one of many programs designed to help prevent and bring awareness to this serious matter. There are many ways in which you can be involved. During this month of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention, please take a few moments to help in one or more of the following ways:
Donate time and/or money to an organization or agency advocating awareness and prevention of domestic violence.
Become more knowledgable of the problem of domestic violence  in all of its forms. (There are many great resources on line and at your local library).
Recognize the signs of domestic violence. If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, get help.
Thank you so much for taking the time to further your understanding in a cause that effects all of us. I greatly hope that by us all working together and becoming more compassionate of ourselves and others, there will someday be a day when there will be no need to have a month dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness.

All best wishes for a peaceful rest of October!