Letter to Editor: Violence is a no-win

To the Editor:

Another October, another Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Another opportunity to acknowledge the prevalence of domestic violence and abuse, and to shed light on the courage of survivors. As executive director of The Next Step Domestic Violence Project, a nonprofit agency serving Washington and Hancock counties, I am heartened by the willingness of local people to participate in domestic violence awareness events, to speak out against abuse and to help people who have been victimized.

We have come a long way since the time when domestic violence was considered to be a private matter and a fact of life.

Still, there is so much more to be done. Therefore, though Next Step will be commemorating our 25th anniversary this month, we are not celebrating yet.

Next Step served almost 1,000 people last year, with services ranging from safety planning and emotional support to shelter, legal assistance, counseling, child welfare advocacy, access to affordable housing and more. We also provided education and training in schools, medical centers, businesses, social service agencies and may more locales.

Over the 25 years since we were founded in 1993, our services have grown more comprehensive, to better meet the needs of people affected by abuse. We have developed meaningful partnerships with law enforcement, child welfare and other social service agencies. And still, there is so much more to be done.

Yet the solution is so simple! All it will take is for people to consider their choices rather than defaulting to violence. Violence is a no-win way to get one’s needs met. There is always a better way to communicate. There is always a better way to express emotion. There is no excuse for hurting someone you claim to care about. Next Step will be ready to celebrate when this has become so obvious that there is no longer any need for our services. When intimate partner violence, stalking and dating abuse seem like artifacts of a barbaric time. When the response to the statement, “There’s no excuse for domestic abuse” is, uniformly, “Of course not; who could ever think there was?”

Dorathy Martel

The Next Step Domestic Violence Project


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