Happy New Year. Celebrating the New Year is a time I pause, reflect back, and look forward to what the year will hold for me and my family. A healthy community is a community that grows and works to make it a better place for everyone. As we start the new year, my hope is that people will talk about healthy relationships and what our community can do to promote healthy relationships and support victims of domestic violence. While it can feel uncomfortable, I think it is important to talk about domestic violence to get a better understanding of what it is and what everyone can do.

Over the holiday I was talking with an individual at a gathering. They knew I work for Family Safety Network and told me about meeting a woman who told them she was being abused by her partner. She had recently left the relationship. Two weeks later she was back with her partner and had moved with her kids to another state. This series of choices and actions both confused the story teller and made them feel powerless in their support role. Domestic violence can be confusing and frustrating to the people victims confide in.

Each domestic violence incident is unique in its own way. What connects all domestic violence is the pattern of abusive and coercive behavior in the relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power over the other. The abuse can be physical, mental and or financial; the abuse can escalate in caliber and/or frequency and can be extended to children.

Reaching out to you may be a first step for the victim, or a repeated step that keeps happening within the cycle. Listening and supporting the victim without judging them is valuable. Knowing and sharing about Family Safety Network, a free confidential resource, is valuable because it helps victims, friends and families understand their situation and choices available to them. Sharing that Family Safety Network is here to support and advocate for all involved regardless of the situation and that person’s choices can open a door for the victim to step through for more help.

I hope the woman in this story gets the support and help she needs. I hope our community will listen non-judgmentally and take active steps to support people dealing with domestic violence. It may be as simple as connecting them with the Family Safety Network. I hope our community will promote healthy relationships by talking with their families and setting positive examples for our children.

Wishing you all a joy-filled and peaceful 2016.

Willy Warner, Family Safety Network Outreach Educator: fsnsupport2@silverstar.com. He is a trained Stewards of Children facilitator.

Family Safety Network’s mission is to partner with individuals and communities to eliminate violence, abuse and oppression.