Our intern Sara is participating in WEAVE’s 70 hour Peer Counselor Training program. At it’s completion she will have met the requirements established by the state to provide crisis intervention services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Sara will be sharing her experiences and reflections throughout the class.
Tonight I attended the first Peer Counselor Training (PCT ) class at WEAVE, Inc., and as it was the first class I wasn’t really expecting much. I have heard that the training really affects
people and stirs up many different feelings and emotions, but this was just the first class so I was anticipating an overview and history of WEAVE. While we certainly got this information
provided to us, we also got a lot of information about the history of Domestic Violence in the world, and more specifically the United States.
The presenter shared a quote from Aristotle with the class, which was made around 1254 BC; “it is the best for all tame animals to be ruled by human beings. For this is how they are kept
alive. In the same way, the relationship between the make and the female is by nature such that the male is higher, the female lower, that the male rules and the female is ruled.” This was very much the thought and the represents the social norms of this time. It is this mindset that created the belief that women were the property of men, first their fathers and then of their husbands, which allowed men to beat women either to keep them in line or to punish them.
While it is easy to quickly dismiss this as being “so very long ago” this mindset was still very active in the not so far past as well. Another item that was shared with us was a copy of an article from Housekeeping Monthly that was published on May 12, 1955. The article was titled, “The good wife’s guide” and was a list of different things a woman should do or remember in order to be a good wife to their husband. The list included rules like “show sincerity in your desire to please him”, “remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours”, and
ends with “A good wife always knows her place”. This is shocking to me, because this was published around when my own mother was born which really wasn’t that long ago.
This mindset is still very active today though and is represented in the media as the social norm through books and movies like The Twilight Saga. In this series the female lead has
the choice to be with one man or another, but there is never a choice of being her own independent woman that is expressed. The lead male is very domineering and controlling, though he says he does it for the female leads safety. This series is marketing to pre-teen and teen girls, and this is the message that we are still allowing to be conveyed to our female youth. As a parent, this is a very scary reality to have. While I did not allow my own children to read the books or see the movies at first, even I succumbed to peer pressure from my own friends indicating, “It’s not that bad, it’s cute!” Hooting and hollering at a big screen stalker, no matter how glittery, is not cute in my opinion though.
I went home after the first night, profoundly affected by the information I received and feeling almost overwhelmed with the feelings it left me with. However, I am there to make a difference and I know that together we are stronger. There were two quotes from our presenter that I wanted to leave you with:
“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”
“I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” -Hellen Keller