Safe Harbor recently applied for a new type of government grant. If awarded, funds would allow us to provide four months of rent assistance for clients moving from shelter back into the community, plus a rent deposit and $75/month in utilities assistance. This would undoubtedly provide some relief for our clients as they continue the process of regaining their footing.
Across the country, millions of dollars will now be accessible via this grant for programs and clients like ours. In my role as a person who accesses resources for Safe Harbor, this is exciting. But as my contemplative, human self, today I took pause and sat with the fact that our country and our communities need to spend billions of dollars to aid those abused by a spouse or dating partner. It’s tragic. It’s senseless. Safe Harbor alone operates with a $3.1 million budget, and there are 1,000+ programs similar to ours across the country. Why do we as a human race inflict this cycle of abuse and subsequent aiding upon ourselves? We cause the hurt, and then we expend resources to try, as much as possible, to repair it. Today, that felt like reason enough to stop and question…why? Why is the interconnectedness of people so complex and, in the case of so many abuse victims, painful? Why, with as much brainpower, sweat, and resources as we put toward resolving the issue, can we not evolve ourselves past it?
I cannot answer these questions. In fact, I’m generally one to feel like each of us is truly capable of making a difference. With my three children, I often quote Dr. Suess’ The Lorax: “UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” The world is macro, but in our microspheres, we all can be empathizers, helpers and change-makers. Even when results don’t seem evident, change for the better is taking place.
These questions also bring me to the value of prevention. For so many reasons, from the suffering to the economics, we owe it to ourselves to prevent this form of violence. Safe Harbor’s Relationship Education Project (REP) is about changing attitudes and behaviors that lead into abusive tendencies, such as the need for power and control. It’s an interactive dissection of the healthy relationship versus the unhealthy relationship, and what students can do not only to keep from being victims/abusers, but to build respectful relationships for themselves and to advocate for a world where this is the normal. It is our hope and mission that in the next generation, abuse will begin to fade as necessary reason for billions of dollars in repair work.
In September alone, Safe Harbor will ask our community to invest $150,000 in grant dollars into our programs and services. We will use these dollars informedly and efficiently to repair broken hearts and lives; to give small children hope for a better world; and to fight for real change against a culture of hurt-and-then-bandage. We thank you, our friends and supporters, for bringing your voice to the table…because UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not. Together, let’s continue to seek solutions for ending this costly cycle of violence.