Offering SHELTER and HOPE amidst the storm

Sarah’s Story: The Ugliness of Domestic Violence

Part of Newton’s law of Motion is stated as: an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force.  It seems peculiar to think of Newton’s law of Motion when talking about Safe Harbor but this is where I feel it should start. With that being said we can take the law of motion to a relationship level, meaning the example of what a man should be, is what I will find acceptable for my man to be. Then in return I will give permission for the next generation to accept such standards in a man, unless an external force helps to change that cycle.

Our family needed that external force; however, we were not able to stay in the house Safe Harbor provided for most of the recipients because my little brother is wheelchair bound.  The facility they currently have is not handicapped accessible. We consisted of three children two little girls with sassy attitudes and my little brother who needed extra medical equipment and the extra space that equipment took up, then there was my mother.  A woman who had to leave the man she had loved, given her all to and had been rewarded with his disgust. We had been alienated from our own family and not many knew what was happening.  We had no choice but to be put up where Safe Harbor had available for us.  We were and I still am grateful for the support they gave to us.

They put us up in a motel right on 6th Ave in Aberdeen. I don’t care that the last time I looked Aberdeen was the third largest city in South Dakota, it’s still a small town.  Everyone can see what’s going on, on 6th Ave.  Our room was on a side street but it could still be seen from 6th Ave.  Regardless of the fact that we were out from under the same roof as him we felt even more unsecure.  He was mad and we had no clue of what he was capable of doing.  There was no sense of security just three scared little kids and a mother on constant alert.

The person we were so desperately trying to get away from was a farmer and wore a baseball cap all the time.  Our new normal was unnerving because softball season had just opened. Getting settled in, at the motel, was terrifying.  The street light outside our door seemed to mock us as it shouted the silhouettes of men as they walked past our window, all with baseball caps on.  Several of the players celebrated jubilantly their win or lose, usually with mood enhancing alcohol. The one thing we could control was the sound inside our room.  We would usually turn the television on that way we had a constant sound that wasn’t someone shouting a few doors down or a beer bottle shattering on a sidewalk.

Safe Harbor did the best that they could with the resources they had at that time.  They continue to do what they are able to but almost 17 ½ years later I can tell you it wasn’t good enough. I remember my grandfather telling me that locks only keep honest thieves out. The people that Safe Harbor tries to keep out are not honest. They have already shown themselves to be of poor character.  The women and children that are able to stay in the house provided are cramped in close space.  They are already dealing with high emotions and then on top of that they have to be almost held captive.

Aberdeen is a small town but it provides the resources for several surrounding communities. Safe Harbor will continue to keep its motion of operation exactly where it’s at unless it can be affected by an external force.  That external force is the community around it.  We need a higher standard of security, support and down to the point money.  I want them to be provided with money so these women and children can have a true Safe Harbor.  I know this place can be a place to heal to learn how to thrive independently and a fresh start.

Domestic abuse hits all walks of life those with and without money, those who are and are not religious. No matter the social status in life it’s always right there in front of us each day; the sad thing is that we can’t always see it. Since this time, 17 ½ years ago, I have been able to break the cycle with me.  Not all have been able to break that cycle and because of that there will always be a need for Safe Harbor.   The ugliness of domestic abuse will always be around, how it’s handled is up to us.  Are we silently going to sit back and say it’s none of our business or are we going to be that force that helps stop the cycle one person or one family at a time? What’s your role going to be?  To sit back and say it’s none of my business is giving your permission that it’s okay for this to happen? It wasn’t okay for me 17 ½ years ago and it’s not okay for me now. What are you going to do about it?