Oct. 1 marks the beginning of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, designated in 1989 to acknowledge and support survivors of domestic violence. For local nonprofit Kingdom Builders Family Life Center, it provides an opportunity to amplify their year-round message of hope and support for those living in, or recovering from, domestic abuse.
“Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status,” says Lisa Jenkins, the organization’s founder and executive director. “Although we advocate for awareness and change when it comes to domestic violence all year long, we use this as an additional month to heighten the education and awareness of it.”
Jenkins, a victim advocate, case manager and survivor of domestic abuse herself, founded Kingdom Builders in 2013 to provide outreach services to underserved adults, youths and families in El Paso County.
“El Paso County has the second-highest number of domestic violence cases in the state, with 43 domestic violence homicides in the last five years alone,” says Jenkins.
Her organization provides multiple resources and programs to help change these concerning statistics. My Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper Domestic Violence Program, for example, provides support and healing for survivors, while Project Right Direction provides mentorship life skills to young people ages 11-18 to help them stay on the right track regardless of their situation at home. Kingdom Builders also offers a resource closet and food pantry, both of which welcome donations of non-perishable food items, toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers and wipes.
Currently, the organization is also working on securing transitional housing to give families a safe place to stay while they rebuild their lives and work on self-sufficiency.
“Anyone who is interested in allowing us to master lease a home or purchase a home for us to use for that purpose is welcome to contact us,” says Jenkins.
The challenge of bringing awareness to issues of violence in the home lies both in the insidiously secretive nature of abuse and the challenge of identifying abusive behavior. Domestic abuse is not limited to instances of physical violence, making it difficult for some survivors to recognize they are in an abusive situation.
“Domestic violence can include physical violence, sexual violence, economic control, psychological assault — including threats of violence and physical harm, attacks against property or pets and the use of children as a means of control — and emotional abuse,” says Jenkins.
If you are concerned that someone you know is living in an abusive situation, Jenkins says that it’s important to speak out.
“If you see something or suspect that someone is being abused, do something. Do not put your safety at risk but report it. If this person is a friend, discuss this with them away from the person who is creating the violence. Let them know that you care, and you are there for them.”
Survivors of domestic violence often struggle with the decision to leave an abusive situation. The cycle of violence mixed with periods of calm can create confusion, as well as hope that the last time was, in fact, the last time.
However, their hesitation does not mean you should withdraw support. Helping someone leave an abusive situation requires patience and understanding.
“If they are not ready to leave, let them know it is okay but that you are there for them when they are. Keep resources for them and when they are ready, they will know that you support them in navigating those resources.”
Support, Jenkins notes, does not just have to extend to the abused party, either. If you are a friend or family member of the person that is causing the harm, you can also help stop the cycle of violence. Discuss with them your concerns and offer to assist them with their journey of getting the help they need to stop the abuse.
If they refuse, then do your part and report it so that the family can get the help they need. You can always make an anonymous report, don’t just ignore it because if you do you are apart of the problem not the solution.
“Domestic violence is a learned behavior and all parties need to get support in order to address it. The abuser must also be educated and get the treatment they need to overcome it.”
Kingdom Builders is located at 411 Lakewood Circle inside the Satellite Hotel on the second floor, 719-247-8190. Hours of operation are 9-5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays. They offer a 24/7 crisis line, 719-464-4647 or you can connect at kingdombuildersfamilylifecenter.org through their live chat.
— This branded content advertisement was paid for by Kingdom Builders Family Life Center.