October 10, 2015
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Ever since I began writing newsletters for Handmade, I make Domestic Violence the subject of the October newsletter. I repeat statistics and results of studies by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence which show how widespread and damaging domestic violence is for our entire community. Just listing their findings would be repetitive, so I want to single out a few that have new meaning for me.
One in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime.
This was just a statistic to me that, while serious and terrible for those to whom it applied, didn’t apply to me. That is, until last year when the KCET team came to video Handmade at work. There were 8 of us present, doing our respective “jobs.” When it turned out that Rainbow Services (the first shelter to which Handmade donated scarves) couldn’t send an actual abuse survivor for the piece, Val Zavala (KCET’s Vice President of News and Public Affairs) asked if there were any abuse survivors among us. I was going to answer “No” but then two of our volunteers stepped forward. One in Four. Really.
85% of domestic violence victims are women; 25% to 45% are battered during pregnancy.
Another statistic. I was surprised that so much abuse occurs during pregnancy, but then as I learned more about domestic violence and its causes, I came to understand why. Abuse is about power, control. The abuser demands the undivided attention of his victim. When a woman becomes pregnant, her attention shifts from her husband, partner, boyfriend to her developing baby. The husband, partner, boyfriend resents this change of focus, and the abuse begins.
Domestic violence during pregnancy is the biggest cause of birth defects
Growing up as I did in the 50s, I thought the biggest cause of birth defects was genetic. Or disease. Or Thalidomide. Domestic violence never crossed my mind (because, when I was growing up, I never heard of it). To me, abuse during pregnancy as the biggest cause of birth defects was another shocking, but terrible statistic. However, a few weeks ago, I spoke to a large group at the AT&T Call Center in Tustin CA. I was trying to encourage the audience to choose Handmade as the recipient of their $$$ donation during the United Way Giving Campaign. As part of my talk, I listed some of the most shocking domestic violence statistics. After I said “Domestic violence during pregnancy is the biggest cause of birth defects,” a woman raised her hand and said: “My first husband abused me. And I lost my baby.” A hush fell over the audience. That’s real.
Domestic violence occurs among people of all races, ages, socio-economic classes, religious affiliations, occupations, and educational backgrounds
Again, my personal experience with domestic violence is non-existent. My husband never abused me. My father never abused my mother. When I first started Handmade, I more or less felt I was making comfort scarves altruistically, for another group, another neighborhood, but not for anyone I really knew. But, one summer evening as a group of Handmade volunteers were knitting at Concepts in Yarn, our local yarn shop, I felt overwhelmed by the good luck of our group—beautiful setting, beautiful weather, wonderful companions, and I blurted out: “We’re so lucky. None of us has experienced abuse.” One of the women answered: “My daughter just graduated from Rainbow. And she took her scarf with her.” Domestic violence touches every social, economic, educational, ethnic, and religious group.
Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners when they become adults.
After Sister Anne of the Good Shepherd Shelter, spoke to Handmade about the work they do at her shelter, she emphasized that their program is based on the premise that because abuse is LEARNED, it can be UNLEARNED. In response to this, Handmade began its campaign to make hats for the kids in the shelters. We hope that receiving a hat will affect the kids in way similar to receiving a comfort scarf moves their mothers. We polled all our shelters about how many kids arrive with their moms. 50 + shelters are home to about 2,700 kids. So far in our hat campaign, we have collected about 1,500 hats. Only 1,200 to go. We want to deliver them in time for holiday parties at the shelters.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month makes us think about women who experience abuse on a daily basis, those who seek the protection of a shelter, and those who don’t.
As our way of alleviating the terrible effects of abuse, Handmade makes and distributes comfort scarves. However, the 12,000 scarves we deliver each year cannot combat these statistics or cure the harm done to the women and children who experience abuse. Receiving a comfort scarf is a START to overcoming the negative effects of abuse. Comfort scarves help a woman feel important and valuable. The feelings a woman experiences when she receives a comfort scarf give her hope that beginning the therapy and education offered by the shelter really will change her life. We who make comfort scarves have a big responsibility to keep making them, to continue helping abused women break out of the mental state that allows them to think abuse is OK or even “normal.”
We need you. We need you to make scarves, enough scarves so we can supply all the shelters in S CA with the comfort scarves they have requested. We still need 3,000 scarves and 1,000 hats for kids in time for holiday parties at the shelters.
Finally, if you want to donate scarves or $$$, please mail to:
Handmade Especially for You c/o Leslye Borden
30065 Grandpoint Lane
Rancho Palos Verdes CA 90275
Thanks for supporting Handmade Especially for You. I appreciate, and so do all the abused women who receive our comfort scarves.
Leslye Borden, Founder
Handmade Especially for You
501(c)3 EIN: 26-3529292
Handmade Especially for You is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt non-profit charity, so your donation is tax-deductible. We provide appropriate receipts for all donations. 100% of cash donations goes toward helping abused women, paying for shipping scarves to shelters, etc.