Today’s post comes from Aviva, a Millennial contributor who exemplifies her generation’s interest in social causes and their desire to bring about change. Aviva wants to bring attention to domestic violence, an issue that affects men and women of all ages, but one she finds people shy away from discussing because of the subject’s sensitive nature. However, Millennials are different and aren’t afraid to tackle tough topics like this as she demonstrates; they’re eager to get involved and help stop a problem or provide support. Whether it’s learning more about an issue, helping an existing organization, or forming their own (as Aviva did), Millennials strive to make a meaningful impact despite what some studies may suggest.
Millennials Care About Causes And Find Ways To Get Involved
Most people probably don’t realize the vast number of Millennials who are impacted by domestic violence and the work they do to combat this horror, which is probably because domestic violence is one of the most silenced issues in society. Domestic abuse, like many other uncomfortable topics, is often avoided due to its touchy and sensitive nature. However, ignoring the issue will not make it go away. Today, tens of thousands of individuals experience violence in their homes. In 2002, the National Center for Domestic Violence testified that 24,905 cases of domestic violence were reported. Of these, 85% of the cases reported involved women.
Additionally, domestic abuse is not bounded by sexual orientation or one’s approach to dating. Any individual can experience abuse, whether they are gay, transsexual, in a committed relationship, or dating casually; abusers do not discriminate.
As mentioned previously, combatting domestic violence is an issue that Millennials, including myself, feel very strongly about. Many teens experience domestic abuse, either by direct perpetration by boyfriends/girlfriends or parents, or, more commonly, young people witness others such as their friends or mothers being victimized in the form of domestic abuse. 10% of students reported that they experienced a physical attack by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past year. As a result, it’s an issue that matters to them and one that they seek to combat.
Domestic abuse impacts everyone around the victim, whether it’s friends, parents, or most disturbingly, children. That’s why there also needs to be support for individuals who do not actually experience the slap of physical abuse or the sting of emotional attacks, but who watch those they love experience abuse and see what care the witnesses require consequently.
Perhaps as a result of Millennial interest and investment, people have begun speaking up against domestic abuse more and more in recent years and are addressing the issue through action. More organizations have begun providing support, reaching out, and helping victims. Organizations like Dottie’s House, Women Aware, and the Rachel Coalition are all examples of organizations that provide services for victims of domestic violence. They provide hotlines, safe houses, therapy, and countless other services for abuse victims. Unfortunately, even with their support, the damage caused by domestic abuse extends beyond the direct victim and fewer resources are directed at helping the families of the victims and anyone else who suffered because of the abuse.
That’s why last summer I began organizing an initiative called Krafts with Kids; the organization’s goal is to visit safe houses and provide art projects for the children of women who experience domestic violence and consequently live in safe houses. We wanted to target those individuals affected by domestic violence, but who were not receiving all the benefits offered by services for victims. I decided to first look within my own community. I found and contacted Women Aware, a battered women’s shelter located in New Brunswick, NJ that provides a safe house, therapy, and long term care for victims after their departure from the safe house. Women Aware does provide some services for impacted children, but few services for the children while they are actually living in the safe house. My program was meant to be a weekly visit to the safe house where a few college aged women would do various arts and crafts activities with the children there. Art, in itself, can help in the healing process; anyone can be an amateur therapist by administering art projects and helping a child complete an activity.
After months of communicating with the volunteer coordinator of Women Aware and the child specialist, the first training session for the volunteers took place. After three hours of training, fourteen of us were ready to help the children living in the shelters on their journey of healing. Three of the volunteers, including myself, visit the shelter every week and do various projects with the children, which has resulted in heartwarming words of thanks. Even more, many angry and aggressive children have begun to develop a calmer demeanor and have respect for the healing process ahead. The program provides both a weekly structured activity that the children can look forward to and role models that exemplify how hard work can pave the way to a better future.
Every week that we go to the shelters, the volunteers learn more about the resilience of children and what it means to give back. My own experience with these children has been nothing short of amazing and inspiring. It has strengthened my resolve in carrying a message: domestic abuse is a real, damaging problem that inflicts tens of thousands today, and it must be combatted. Most of all, by starting this initiative, I am assured that the hard work I have put in will continue to make a difference. This program will continue helping people even after I graduate, which gives me confidence to continue working on bringing about change and starting other initiatives.
Aviva, a rising senior at Rutgers University, is completing a dual major in Psychology and Communication and hopes to use the skill set she builds in these subjects to continue on with a career as a clinical psychologist. Aviva is passionate about making change and has fostered this ambition by interning at AMARD&V, an art camp for at risk youth last summer and joining the Hillel board as Community Service Chair this past year. In this position, Aviva started an initiative called Krafts with Kids where college students do art projects with children living in a battered women’s shelter. Finally, Aviva is the youngest of four children and states adamantly that before you can take on the world, you must focus on your family. Her three favorite people in the whole world are her two nephews, Asaf and Ben, and her beautiful new niece Talya.