Learned Helplessness

They say
These clever scientist folks,
That there is such a thing
As learned helplessness;
Cage a rat
Subject it
To repeated trauma
Until it is so tired of fighting
It will lie in the corner
And take the pain

Not leaving
Even when the door is opened

I know this to be true
This has been me
Cowering
In the corner
Begging
With imploring eyes
For you to shut the door
And stop confronting me

With impossible choices

This poem, by an unnamed victim of domestic abuse speaks powerfully of what is the day-to-day reality for so many victims of domestic abuse and violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), an observance that evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and which was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes:

• Mourning those who have died because of domestic violence
• Celebrating those who have survived
• Connecting those who work to end violence

These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

While women and children are, statistically, the primary targets of domestic abuse and violence, it is manifest in every socio-economic and cultural stratum of society. Perpetrators and victims may be of any gender or sexual orientation. Studies reveal that the incidence of domestic abuse and violence in the Jewish community mirrors that of society at large. We are, by no means, immune to this scourge.

On Cape Cod resources exist for those who need help extricating themselves from abusive and dangerous situations.

Cape Cod Center For Women, providing services for battered women and their children, is the only 24-hour, 7-day-a-week confidential domestic violence emergency shelter serving Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The Center is dedicated to providing quality programs and services to individuals and families escaping violence or abuse. Our compassionate community of staff, volunteers and supporters assist primarily battered women and their children in leaving violent environments and transitioning to independent living, fully connected to a network of community support and with a lifelong safety plan. 508-564- (SAFE) 7233

Independence House, Inc. is the only comprehensive community-based organization on Cape Cod providing free and confidential specialized services and widespread programs for adults, teens and children (ages 6 and up) who are survivors of, or affected by domestic and sexual violence. For over 35 years, Independence House, Inc. has been sharing knowledge and skills with survivors in order for them to regain self-confidence, make informed decisions and initiate changes in their lives n order to live empowered, independently, and free from violence.

Independence House has been a consistent and continuous leader in increasing safety options for adult and children survivors of domestic and sexual violence; increasing knowledge and awareness about domestic and sexual violence prevention; elevating and improving Cape Cod’s response to domestic and sexual violence; and actively engaging with the community to end domestic and sexual violence. 24 HOUR HOTLINE: 800-439-6507

I urge you to find some time this month to educate yourself about domestic abuse and violence and what resources exist to address this problem. Chances are great that you know someone–a relative, a neighbor, a friend–who is a suffering from domestic abuse and is awaiting your outreach and advocacy.