Once upon a time, there were some people who lived in a village next to a river. One day, a villager noticed a woman floating down the river. The woman was in the middle of the current and obviously in trouble, so the person did the right thing and pulled her to safety. Soon, others noticed more people in the river, also in jeopardy. The call went out to the village for help to come rescue these people caught in the stream.
The surge of victims in the river continued and more and more people and resources were called upon for their rescue. One of the residents did not go to help pull victims out, however. Instead, he was seen heading north out of town. When those involved in the recovery operation questioned why he wasn’t helping, he replied, “I am. I’m going upstream to try to stop these people from falling in!”
This tale captures exactly why the Ananias Foundation takes a different approach toward domestic violence help. While the vast majority of resources devoted to the issue are at the river banks helping victims, we headed upstream. Here are four reasons why we took this approach:
What’s being done now isn’t working. Despite all the money, time, and attention domestic violence hotlines get, incidents of domestic violence are not going down. Campaigns to raise awareness that domestic violence is wrong are not making a dent. Batterers intervention programs (BIPs) are ineffective. If a new organization is going to enter this space, it needs to have something new and better to offer, or it is unnecessary.
If a new organization is going to enter the domestic violence help space, it needs to have something new and better to offer, or it is unnecessary.
Going upstream to the source is more effective and efficient. Prevention means no cure is needed. Preempting abuse is a wiser use of resources than trying to recover from the damage afterward. Immediate costs of this issue include the price of running domestic violence hotlines, shelters, counseling services, moving costs, medical care, and lost work. Then, there are the long-term emotional tolls abuse takes on victims: higher rates of suicide, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Children who witness abuse and grow up in broken families also pay.
Preempting abuse is a wiser use of resources than trying to recover from the damage afterward.
Stopping violence is what we know. We are an organization of individuals whose lives have been transformed from being abusive to being able to enjoy healthy, safe relationships with the ones we love. People who have done something successfully are uniquely qualified to share their wisdom in helpful, relatable ways. Those who never had to conquer the challenge themselves don’t have that advantage.
Helping transform lives blesses us. We don’t set our sights on small challenges. Seeing people healed from the things that cause them to hurt others, to watch them be set free from the shame of their actions, and to have their relationships, families, and lives restored is an incredible blessing! We get a front-row seat to this radical transformation.
We get a front-row seat to radical transformation.
We’d love it if abundant resources addressing the source of domestic violence in truly helpful ways already existed. It doesn’t. Until then, we’ll be upstream, working to stop domestic violence at the source.