By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
Some people feel helpless when it comes to thinking about ways that they could support survivors of intimate partner violence. They may feel that they aren’t professionally trained to do prevention work or to provide services to survivors, so they aren’t sure where to start. But, I believe that to really address the deep-rooted issues of domestic and sexual violence, everyone can play a role, starting with their own social networks and relationships.
I also love hearing about creative and innovative ideas for bringing non-traditional talents to the arena of domestic and sexual violence work. Of course, whenever possible it’s a good idea to collaborate on these initiatives with specifically-trained professionals, including law enforcement, victim advocates, and mental health and other healthcare professionals.
But here are just a few creative examples of people from diverse fields bringing their time, talents, and passion to supporting survivors:
First, there’s the Hair Do Project, where founder and stylist Shaina Machlus has traveled internationally to train women how to style hair as a way to prevent sex trafficking.
Second, artist Cara Hagan founded the Wedding Dress Project, where she offers workshops that involve deconstructing old wedding dresses to raise awareness about domestic violence.
And third, Tennessee dentist Janet Clodfelter is making an impact by offering survivors of domestic violence a day of free dental work and other pampering. In Tony Gonzalez’s story on Dr. Clodfelter’s efforts, Clodfelter is quoted as saying, “If they have cavities or missing teeth, the chances of them getting a job where they're going to be working with the public are pretty small." As such, the dental and cosmetic changes these women receive can help them counter the stigma they may experience when they take steps to empower themselves economically.
So, what about you? What’s your talent? And how could you use it to support survivors of intimate partner or sexual violence? Are you a musician who could put on a benefit concert for your local domestic violence shelter? Are you a teacher who could offer tutoring for children who are growing up in abusive homes? Perhaps you’re an expert at marketing who could offer some tips and resources to your state domestic and/or sexual violence coalition?
Please share other ideas with us about creative approaches that people have used to bring their talents to support survivors in your community.