Here Be Dragons

shutterstock_57747313In older times, mapmaking was a fairly imprecise task, due to lack of advanced technology for exploration purposes.  So, to fill great blank areas on the maps, mapmakers used to include textual and/or graphic warnings of the perils of going into uncharted territory.  These words have been found on some ancient maps “Here Be Dragons”.

In our work, each situation has its uncharted element even though basic symptoms are present.  To each person who is being victimized by insidious behavior within the relationship, their experience is their own and not like anyone else’s so pointing out textbook examples may not have any convincing proof for them.

Traveling to the shelter, the small woman sitting in the backseat held her bruised forehead in her hands and uttered these words, “you were right, he did everything you said he was going to do”.  I found no satisfaction in being right about this as she had been through so much since I had seen her last but this day was a good day for her.  She would be safe in shelter and her healing could begin.  Now she was armed with more information about herself and what love isn’t.

In the nearly nine years since my work began in Texas and Wright Counties, unfortunately I have heard this statement many times perhaps in different ways but all with the same meaning.  Our progress in making inroads in this serious widespread social problem sometimes feels incremental in the face of its proportional negative impact on families and communities but nonetheless progress.

I have seen evidence of greater awareness that domestic violence is no longer a private family problem but one to which we all must make some response when the opportunity presents itself.   Greater awareness is not something achieved overnight but through one client, one family, one presentation at a time.

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