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An Office Tour at FCC

I walked into my office after hours last week.  I had just gotten back in town from a conference and needed to drop off some keys, paperwork, etc. Normal logistical stuff.

If you had walked through the office with me, it likely would not have left too much of an impression on you.  Offices, conference room, cubicles, kitchen.  Staff mailboxes, empty office chairs, file cabinets.

You might notice a few things that stand out to you, though.  The locks on all the doors, the large TV monitors in all the offices, the doors you are unable to open.  Maybe you would read some of the quotes on the walls or notice the discrete exterior of the building.

So, if you asked, I would tell you about the locks on the doors.  I would tell you that our whole building has to be secure not just for our safety, but also for the safety of the individuals who call this place home.  The individuals who are literally fighting for their lives against the hands of an abusive partner.

I would tell you that the monitors show staff who is coming and going so we can be on the lookout for our clients, who can’t ever go a day without the paralyzing fear that their abuser has found them, and their abuser is waiting. 

I would explain how the quotes inspire us, keep us moving forward, when we begin to wonder if there’s any hope left. 

I would open a filing cabinet for you.  I would show you that instead of budgets and annual reports, our cabinets are full of proof that violence and senseless hate exist and are running rampant.  Years and years worth of names- mothers, brothers, friends, cousins- reaching out for help.

I would tell you the stories of the empty chairs.  I would tell you about the staff member who sat in her chair for hours while she talked a client through leaving his home; a home where he was no longer free to come and go, a home where his children were kept from him, a home that silenced his cries for help.  I would tell you about the staff who sat in her chair, typing a report, and holding a sweet baby whose momma was in the other room, reliving every moment of fear and agony that so easily could have taken her life.  I would tell you about the staff member who hardly sits in her chair.  From checking on clients in housing, to talking through hard cases with staff, and answering the phone as it rings; she fights all day long.

I would point you to the packet on the kitchen table.  The pretty purple paper bound together into a thick booklet is actually a report of all the deaths in our state caused by domestic violence. Hundreds of names- men, women, and children- brutally beaten, stabbed and shot at the hands of someone who was supposed to care for them.

Unfortunately, these ordinary looking cubicles and offices, while they look so ordinary, hold the sanctity of first time disclosures, safety plans, calls to police, moments of crisis, and news of yet another sacred life ripped away from this world.  Another child without their mom or dad.  Another family torn apart by a system that’s supposed to protect them.  Another human being who is scared, suffering, killed.

I would hope that these things I would tell you would leave an impression on you.  I would hope that you would ask more questions, that you would evaluate what in your life could be perpetuating a culture where violence is acceptable and victims are blamed.  I would hope that your heart would break, that you wouldn’t be able to shake the fact that this is happening in your community, that even if you don’t understand or you don’t know what to do, you would show up.  Show up to volunteer.  Show up by giving.  Show up by creating a safe space for victims. 

Domestic Violence is everyone’s problem.  Never underestimate the impact your light can have on this world.  There are people working to oppress and abuse anyone they can, and there are too many people standing by quietly, hoping it doesn’t happen to them or someone they love.  Don’t wait any longer.  We need you, victims of domestic violence need you, children who see their parents hurt each other need you.

So, let me know if you’d like a tour.