Hopefully, the Center for Women in Transition won’t make it to its 50th anniversary.
Hopefully, 15 years from now — when the agency would be hitting that milestone — there will no longer be a need for its services.
Unfortunately, this is a far-fetched hope.
But you can’t blame us for wishing that violence against women and children ceases to exist.
The truth of the matter is that two in five women will experience abuse or violence in their lifetime. This is your daughter, friend, mother, sister or niece. This statistic is horrifying.
Granted, signs of abuse are sometimes difficult to spot, even for those closest to these women. Hiding is something they learn to do very well.
But there are signs. Withdrawal from social situations. Wearing long sleeves or turtlenecks in warm weather. Rarely wearing shorts or skirts. Keeping their hair down, dark sunglasses on. Rushing to obey their boyfriend’s or husband’s or father’s every wish. Bruises. Flinching at sudden movement. Shrinking from physical contact. Loss of self-confidence. Fear of upsetting others.
The list goes on and on.
While some signs of abuse are more subtle, others are blatant. Many choose to ignore them, for fear of escalating the situation or intervening in something that’s not their business. This happens far too often. And it happens in our community; likely in your neighborhood.
The Center for Women in Transition does a remarkable job at helping women battle back after abuse. In Ottawa County alone in 2011, the agency provided 5,232 nights of emergency shelter, and helped more than 3,000 women overcome challenges toward becoming independent and freeing themselves from abusive situations.
The center and its dedicated, passionate staff members should be applauded for their efforts. But they can’t do it alone. They need your help.
Helping is easy. If you see abuse — physical, mental or emotional — reach out to those who need help. Provide them with the 24-hour hotline number: 616-392-1970. Let them know you care and you’re there to listen, and help — if and when they’d like it.
Take a stand. If you see physical abuse occurring, call police. Don’t hesitate.
If you saw a fire next door, you’d call the fire department. So why wouldn’t you call the police if you saw a woman or child being harmed? It is your business.
And, until the day that no woman or child is abused in our community, it is everyone’s business.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.