Listen carefully to serve needs more effectively
cademics and practitioners who work to heal domestic violence are used to dealing with tight budgets and expanding workloads. As times in this country become more challenging from an economic standpoint, many of us are figuring out more and more ways to do better with less.
This issue will help us do that by getting us to think more deeply about the work we do. I have the privilege in the work I do as a researcher to work with domestic violence healers from throughout the country and throughout the world. Over the years, a primary lesson that I have learned is that we must be willing to listen better to the people we serve, so we can better respond to their needs. Fortunately, listening doesn’t cost us anything but a little more time.
We have listened to what they tell us, which is difficult because sometimes what they tell us is complicated and/or contradicts the competencies we’ve developed. But we need to continue to hone our abilities to listen more closely. In the past, our primary objective was to get people to safety, which is a basic issue to attend to. Now, we’re at a place where we need to listen and deal with complexities of domestic violence victims’ lives. Our feature story on pp. 1-3 examines some of the organizations that have done this.
Another primary lesson is that victims have needs beyond shelter services -- needs to stay in their communities before, during and after shelter. This is important because victims need professionals who understand their cultural communities, so they don't have to educate them on that very basic aspect of their lives.
In this issue
In addition to the feature on the changing roles of shel ters in a resource-scarce world, our newsletter goes global with a feature on pp. 4-5 by IDVAAC Steering Committee Member Kelly Mitchell-Clark. Mitchell-Clark lives in Ethiopia where she works on community development projects on behalf of the U.S. Embassy. Her story about an Ethiopian safe house shows what can be done by a few dedicated souls in the midst of a country where abuse and sexual violence is experienced by half or more of the women who live there.
We're excited about our August 2009 conference, which is currently in the planning stages. Please keep an eye on our web site, www.idvaac.org, as our plans unfold. Also, look for our next newsletter, which will focus on parenting after domestic violence.
As always, IDVAAC strives to be on the cutting edge of research and public education related to healing domestic violence in this country and throughout the world. We trust you’ll learn something new by reading this issue, and we welcome your comments.