Opinion

DAWN is still available to Island residents

By JOANNA

For The Beachcomber

As you may have heard, King County faced a $90 million shortfall in the general fund this year, and funding for human services was drastically reduced. Human services agencies have been on the offense working to maintain needed funding, and we continue to work to have money restored to human services agencies across the board.

Unfortunately, the 2009 budget for the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN) has been reduced as a result of these shortfalls, and the county has notified all domestic violence providers to brace for additional cuts over the next two years. Therefore, DAWN has had to make difficult decisions on how to offer the best level of services to the individuals we work with. DAWN has been forced to reduce the day-to-day services that it has been able to offer to residents at its Vashon office.

While we are deeply saddened by this, it is important to know that Island survivors will continue to have access to resources and support 24 hours a day. It’s also important to remember that the community has a big role in ending domestic violence.

To survivors on Vashon: If you are in an abusive relationship, you have a number of resources available to help you keep yourself safe. If you need support, help with safety planning or information about community resources, DAWN’s crisis line is available 24 hours a day. You will continue to have access to DAWN’s shelter and transitional housing program. Working with the legal system often can be a challenging and overwhelming experience when leaving an abusive relationship, and DAWN’s legal advocate is available to provide information, support and court accompaniment.

Most importantly, trust yourself. You are the only one who knows your situation, the danger you are in and the likely outcome of steps you take to protect yourself. Seek support and assistance, know your options, and always trust your instincts.

To the Vashon community: The best way you can assist survivors is by believing their experiences. While no one wants to believe that a friend, neighbor, co-worker or a loved one is capable of being abusive, the majority of people who abuse have a charming, positive public persona. The emotional and physical abuse takes place in secret and isolation.

If you suspect someone is experiencing abuse, refer the person to professional support. Understanding the complexities of domestic abuse is critical to stopping abuse, so educate yourself. Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That,” is an excellent introductory resource. Speak out against domestic violence and create a climate where abuse is not tolerated.

I also encourage you to participate in the public discussion on domestic violence. Contact your local and state elected officials to ask them to take a stand on laws that hold abusers accountable and for their assistance in restoring funding to programs such as DAWN, emergency shelters, food banks, community health clinics and children’s services — all of which are facing funding cuts as a result of the county’s budget shortfall.

The staff at DAWN is honored to be a part of the Vashon community and thanks you for all of your support. It has been a privilege to work with the many brave survivors on the Island, the dedicated service providers, the volunteers and the community at large. 

I will be saddened to not have the opportunity to provide the one-on-one services I have in the past. But DAWN looks forward to continuing to serve Vashon by assisting community members in keeping themselves safe and holding people who abuse accountable.

— Joanna has worked as DAWN’s Vashon-based advocate for the past two years. For safety reasons, her last name is not disclosed.

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Important numbers

DAWN’s 24-hour crisis line can be reached at 1-866-286-3296.

DAWN’s legal advocate can be reached at 1-877-465-7234, ext. 235.

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