Monday, February 23, 2015

Kit Gruelle from Private Violence - The Tennessee Valley Art Association, Western Carolina University, & Robinson Film Center

From Kit Gruelle of Private Violence:

In Shreveport at the Robinson Film Center on 2/19/15 from left to right (Sgt. Lindsey Bonner - Shreveport Police Department Domestic Violence Unit; the one and only Kit; Angela Henderson - Project Celebration Sexual Assault Executive Director & Domestic Violence Advisor; Petrina Jenkins - Project Celebration Domestic Violence Community Educator & Public Relations Coordinator.

I attended three screenings of Private Violence on the Southern Circuit tour – one in Sheffield, Alabama, one in Shreveport, Louisiana and one here in my own state of North Carolina, at Western Carolina University. Each event and audience was completely different, but the common thread between them was clear: the people who came believe wholeheartedly that domestic violence is something that everyone should care about and get involved in preventing. It is not an issue that is just the domestic violence agency’s “problem.” It is not a “private” problem. And it will take greater collaboration with everyone across our communities, not just with our criminal justice professionals, to get there. Domestic violence is, in fact, a societal problem that, directly or indirectly, touches everyone.

I was inspired by talking to so many people, and was especially moved by the young people who were passionate about getting into this work. I talked to several young women and men out there who are just starting their work on ending violence against women, and they were not afraid of what they are getting into. I was thrilled to see law enforcement so actively engaged at the screening in Shreveport. I loved that half of the people who attended the WCU event were men. There is much to be hopeful about. And yet, I still heard stories from advocates in the audience that made my skin crawl and my jaw drop. One lamented the fact that a particular judge in a neighboring county refuses to issue any protective orders period because he, “doesn’t want to come between a man and his gun.” This is 2015! We have the power to change communities with this film and its community outreach initiative and we appreciate Southern Circuit for giving us the opportunity to nurture these conversations.

When people come together to watch the film and participate in its outreach and collaboration initiative, they learn about the complex realities battered women and children face in their communities. Important relationships get formed, which leads to a more comprehensive and community-based response. No one person or agency can do this work alone, but together, much good can be accomplished.