In this community or any other, the problem of domestic violence never goes away. The fight against it is never-ending and requires a sustained and passionate commitment from volunteers and professionals alike.
Luckily for all of us, the effort to combat violence and abuse here is robust and right on-target. Taking the issue to the people, putting it in the public spotlight, is one big key, and advocates are doing their jobs. Two recent awareness events left the community with plenty to think about.
In September, the Mt. Emily Safe Center hosted the first Rural Institute on Child Abuse and Intimate Partner Violence. The symposium-style gathering at the Blue Mountain Conference Center featured presentations by people from the local legal and social services communities, as well as talks by nationally-known figures.
Highlight of the affair was Denise Brown’s speech on the abuse her sister Nicole Brown Simpson, wife of famed football player O.J. Simpson, suffered in the years leading up to her brutal murder in Los Angeles.
Brown, who today heads the Nicole Brown Foundation, told how she watched in confusion and helplessness as the Simpsons’ relationship grew more and more violent. Though she knew things were drastically out of kilter, she didn’t understand at the time she was witnessing what these more enlightened days is termed the cycle of domestic violence. Brown sounded a warning: It’s a cycle that all too often ends in death.
Denise Brown ended her La Grande talk with a plea for awareness about domestic violence. She urged those in attendance to spread the word wherever and however they could. An audience of about 50 people heard the message and no doubt went away inspired.
The second event drawing the spotlight to domestic violence issues was the Third Annual Jimmy Lloyd Rea Domestic Violence Awareness Birthday Bash Oct. 10 at the Eagles Lodge in La Grande.
The yearly event raises money for Shelter From the Storm, the local non-profit agency that provides domestic violence services including advocacy, shelter, counseling and special programs.
For three years running, Rea, a Baker City blues musician whose long career includes gigs with the likes of Muddy Waters and Canned Heat, has donated a night of music to the Shelter. The money he has helped to raise goes a long way toward making things better for the sufferers of domestic violence.
Shelter From the Storm, by the way, is celebrating 30 years of service to Union County this month. That shows like nothing else the sustained, passionate commitment of our domestic violence prevention advocates.
At rock bottom, actually, our community is a good one. But like every community, it has its share of bad people, violent people, chronically abusive people.
Domestic violence will be with us for a long time yet, but so too will be the people who recognize it for the evil that it is and carry on a good fight against it.
Never take those people for granted. If you happen to run across one, say thank you.