As stated by the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately 25% of all women will experience an act of domestic violence in their lifetime. This type of behavior is often repeated, and stems from the abuser’s desires of power and control. It is not always physical, nor is it always directed towards women. It affects all ages and people of every social status. The worst of all—it is silent. Humiliation often prevents victims from coming forward and speaking out against their abusers. How can the community help a silent, yet incredibly damaging issue? One solution is to raise awareness.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As our way of showing care to the victims of this issue, Rule29 spent a day up in Woodstock, Illinois volunteering at Turning Point, a 24-hour crisis intervention and response center. In order to maintain the facility and allow it to continually serve the community, Turning Point relies on the community to provide whatever contribution they can. Through various types of donations, the organization is able to supply shelter and supplies, counseling, education, and advocacy to those in need.
In a group effort with our friends at Grip Design and Faust we were able to take a break from our busy schedules to lend a helping hand. (Read more about our serving adventures here.) From brightening up a dreary stairwell with a cheerful mural to organizing a cluttered supply closet and lots of yard work, we were able to make a big difference in just a few hours. (For a closer look at the day, check out our Flickr set.)
We started off our day in the basement, where they normally conduct counseling for young children. The artwork and collages that hung on the walls illustrated the ranges of emotions the young victims experienced. It was obvious that Turning Point was making a positive difference in these children’s lives. The empowerment was strongly evident. We learned that our main task for the day would be to help make the space more visibly pleasant—the dark stairwell was somewhat frightening for the younger visitors. We didn’t waste any time and broke out the paint and brushes to create a cheerful and colorful nature scene, complete with adorable animals. Nothing says happiness like a bunch of purple porcupines rolling down a grassy hill.
Since a lot of the adolescent counseling uses techniques children are familiar with, art supplies and toys are brought in to help them find their voice. Unfortunately, the storage room for all these supplies was dusty, dirty, disorganized, and crawling with creepy crawlies. In a couple of hours, we transformed the space with a vacuum and some elbow grease. It is now an organized storage area where employees can easily locate exactly what they need for their counseling sessions.
Others in the group helped to beautify the facility—painting trim, spreading grass seed, pulling weeds, and chopping down trees (that’s right, Tim got to bust out the chainsaw). They mentioned that due to the weather, many of their summer volunteers were unable to assist in landscaping maintenance. Lucky for them we offered lots of helping hands to get the job done!
It was a great experience to see how much fifteen individuals could accomplish (all before lunch), and there was an overwhelming reception by the Turning Point employees. Throughout the day, people would come up to us and were so genuinely grateful for what we were doing to help them. They explained that they wouldn’t be able to provide aid without outside volunteer help and generous donations from the surrounding community.
For more information on Turning Point, including how you can volunteer, please visit their website. This resource also provides education on how you can identify the warning signs of domestic violence—valuable information to keep you or someone else you know from becoming a statistic.