Staff works 24/7 in the shelter, answering crisis calls, cleaning the bathrooms and kitchens and common areas, entertaining kids while mom is finding a job or a house, advocating for those who have no one else to turn to, and so much more. The shelter is never closed and always full, as are the other shelters in the area. As long as there is domestic violence, there will be staff and volunteers working around the clock to provide safety, shelter, support, and resources at the Hubbard House.
I began my NHC FL AmeriCorps service year at Hubbard House just a few weeks before the start of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but it was immediately clear that no one was waiting for a designated month to bring awareness to this massive, global issue. Outreach and advocacy are in full swing all 365 days of the year. There is no time for a break when nearly 20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute in the United States. That equates to over 10 million men and women each year.
As a Health Educator at National Health Corps Florida Program serving at Hubbard house, I function as the Violence Prevention Facilitator for Youth. I serve on the Primary Prevention side of the fight against domestic violence, which means I educate the community, particularly children, with the goal of preventing domestic violence before it begins. In my WAVE (Working Against Violence Every day) class, each day begins with the students writing in their journal and answering the questions, “How do you feel today? Why do you feel that way?” It gives them a chance to think honestly about their emotions, without fear of being judged for feeling a certain way. I include games and activities in my classes and presentations with students as they are more receptive to moving around and using visual learning, rather than listening to a lecture. I believe that teaching children about bullying, gender, emotions, relationships, and who they can turn to for help is the key to creating a generation that is less like to become violent.
Domestic violence is prevalent among all genders, ages, races, and cultures. It can consist of physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial abuse, or a combination of some or all of these. Abusers use threats, isolation, intimidation, coercion, and even children to control their victims and take away their power. The men, women, and children seeking shelter at Hubbard House are guaranteed more than just a roof over their head. They have access to employment, housing, and legal resources, as well as counseling and transportation. Children can attend school right in the shelter, and little ones are looked after to allow their parent to attend job interviews, meet with legal advocates, and look for housing. Everything is free of charge.
While Hubbard House staff and volunteers work year-round, October is an opportunity for everyone around the country to come together, to remember, to celebrate, to support, to change the statistics, to raise their voices against domestic violence.
This blog post was written by NHC FL member, Laura Gilligan.
Laura serves at Hubbard House as a Health Educator.