A personal fave, the chocolate Labrador retirever.
A patient, someone who is weighing whether or not to leave an abusive spouse, a spouse who will not get help, tells me, "No human being has the right to hurt another."
Uh, huh. Go on.
Then she asks, "Don't you agree? Does anyone have the right to hurt anyone else?"
Probably not, probably not. And yet, it happens. And you have to get out of that when it does, even if it means abandoning, hurting the one who hurts you. Hurting that someone else, the one who has been hurting you, has to happen, it's a part of the process, and most people would agree that even if it's going to hurt, even if there's risk, you might have to go anyway.
You're not punishing, you're just going, I like to say. Nobody's punishing anyone.
And there are risks, safety risks, which is why support is so, so important. So many qualifiers when it comes to these things.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The month is really brought to you by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and if we reach way back, the Family Violence Prevention and Service Act of 1984. But when I searched "domestic violence awareness", surprise surprise, the NNEDV didn't show at all.
Somebody did their SEO* homework, that's for sure, and a collaboration between PAWS and the American Humane Association grabbed the top spot with a feature on the Pets and Women's Shelters Program. Social service providers are matching up pets and abused women to alleviate stress for both, kill two birds with one stone. Not the best metaphor, admittedly.
At first I was confused. The whole idea, really, throwing women and pets into the same sentence. But pets are vulnerable, and women and children are vulnerable, too. Almost anyone, male or female, can find himself at the end of someone's boot now and again.
This is really pet therapy, using pets as therapeutic agents. Animals have healing powers, provide comfort to humans. There's even a genre of specially trained Therapy Dogs that pad into nursing homes and residential treatment centers. These uncomplicated creatures are only in the biz to give and to take love. They haven't much else to do, really, and they're furry. So why wouldn't victims of violence love to love them?
Some might prefer to have the rent paid, or a fur coat, maybe, but then the PETA people would be on them about that. There you are, recovering from an abusive relationship, hugging your fur coat, and someone throws paint on it.
The PAWS idea makes sense to me, however. PAWS stands for Progressive Animal Welfare Society, by the way. I've suggested to parents, on occasion, referring to an occasional very, very sad kid,
"This kid needs a dog."Or maybe a cat. Or a bird. Or a fish tank. But the dog, well, a dog is (wo)man's best friend, proof positive, everyone knows. You've seen Lassie, Rin Tin Tin. I'll take that chocolate lab, if you don't mind.
It's amazing how fickle we can be, some of us, after burying a faithful pet. You would think that replacing him is the next step. But service complete, we sometimes let them go, decide that taking care of a dog is too much work, too big a commitment, come to think of it. And have you seen the price of heart worm medication lately? I hope the Pets and Women's Shelter Program is going to pick up the tab.
Let's move on. There's so much to know about domestic violence, like one out of four of us will fall victim in our lifetimes. Check out what the President of the United States says.
And the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
and the US Department of Justice.
Don't miss the Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP)
I like their mission statement a lot:
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project (DVAP) supports the rights of all women and girls to live in peace and dignity. Violence and all other forms of oppression against all communities of women and their children must be eliminated. To change belief systems and practices that support violence against all women, the DVAP recognizes and promotes the participation of the entire community in building social intolerance towards domestic violence.
And they have resources, things a person with heart could do to work towards eradicating domestic violence, give it a shove out the door, make it one of those zero tolerance things.
The idea that we should work toward eliminating violence and all other forms of oppression against all communities of women and children, fantastic. I would add, toward men and pets, too.
It's all very much like, "No human being has the right to hurt another."
SEO, as in search engine optimization, the science of getting a website to the top of a Google, Yahoo, or Bing search. See my sidebar.