Domestic violence cannot be an issue that only nonprofits focus on. The responsibility of keeping families safe belongs to all of us.
When women and children are abused, the ripple effect permeates all of our public, private and government institutions.
According to The Nonprofit Partnership, the net loss annually from domestic and family violence is about $1.4 billion. More than one in three women and one in four men in the United States have been abused, raped or stalked.
The statistics for children are staggering. The American Family Physician journal cites that an estimated 3.2 million children in the United States witness incidents of domestic violence annually.
I bring this to the forefront because this is an issue that we must all take seriously. I have personally known many women and children who have suffered at the hands of their abuser.
I have heard their stories: stories often shared in whispers about the abuse they suffered in relationships or as children at the hands of a loved one, stories that haunt them in their adulthood, stories hidden in the darkness, or stories spoken through glances.
I have heard stories told in the context of “well that’s the way it was back then.” The truth is the “back then” is happening now and every day. Those stories must come out from the dark recesses of society and into the light.
On Oct. 17, more than 400 men and boys in El Paso strapped on high heels and walked around Downtown El Paso to raise awareness of domestic violence. About 1,000 people participated: community leaders, families and corporate sponsors.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes began approximately 10 years ago and always falls during Domestic Violence Awareness Month and YWCA USA’s Week Without Violence. The event is loud, colorful and unapologetic. It is a moment in which domestic and family violence is taken out of the shadows and into the light.
This year, participants raised more than $189,000 for survivors. The money raised is designated for the YWCA Sara McKnight Transitional Living Center, which houses women and children who are escaping violence.
We are so incredibly grateful to each person who participated.
YWCA El Paso stands with victims and will continue to advocate for them because it is our mission, our passion and our responsibility. It is time that as a community we bring this hidden secret out of the shadows.
Sylvia Acosta, Ph.D. has been CEO of the YWCA El Paso del Norte Region since March 2017.