Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Finding Your Tribe

Posted by on Nov 13, 2016 in Domestic Violence | 4 comments

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” ― Helen Keller

A rare vision of me public speaking !

There is something quite exhilarating about finding a group of people who get you……..and you, in turn, utterly get them. When you are together with such people you feel that you can collectively conquer the injustices of the world. Without them you can feel a bit adrift and alone in your fight. Please indulge me whilst I share the happenings and sheer brilliance of the tribe I have found through Lucy’s Project.

Lucy’s Project was started a few years ago by lawyer Anna Ludvik who wanted to do something good and desperately needed in honor of her stillborn daughter, Lucy. Her dreams have snowballed into a growing gang of smart, compassionate, driven people who all share the same vision – one where the indisputable link between animal abuse and domestic violence is recognised and acted upon. This project has drawn together a collaboration of people including vets, social workers, police, lawyers, academics, refuge workers, domestic violence survivors, psychologists and animal welfare groups. All are drawn together through their collective love of animals AND people and their desire to put into place practical solutions to respond to the epidemic of  domestic violence through their respective roles.

I am one of the tribe members and am on a mission to do what I can through my working world (one I keep very separate to this blog) to help. I proudly overcame my utter horror of any kind of limelight by giving a presentation at last weekend’s Lucy’s Project Domestic Violence and Animal Abuse International Perspectives conference. I feel so motivated and excited to do more. The new friendships and bonds with my fellow Lucy’s Project tribe members are wonderfully refreshing.

Here is a taste of what this fab group is learning about, promoting and doing (whilst our politicians and decision makers are largely ignoring this almighty elephant in the room)

Acknowledging the recent Australian (and similarly reflected worldwide) statistics (thanks to the beautiful Dr Lydia Tong) that :

  • people who hurt animals are more likely to injure / kill people (and to commit violent crimes in general) In fact, it is one of the main predictors of domestic homicide. Why oh why are our decision makers not giving animal cruelty the recognition it deserves ?
  • children who witness animal cruelty are more likely to become perpetrators of both animal cruelty and domestic violence in later life. The damage it does to children is overwhelming. The work of Frank Ascione is so informative. He was a pioneer in recognising these vital links.
  • victims of domestic violence often delay leaving domestic violence situations due to fears for the safety of their animals. Yet, there are not enough places for them to take their animals to.
  • Animals (particularly the one that the abused person is closest too) are often abused, physically and physiologically, to punish or control or terrorise the human victim.
  • the importance of the bond between an animal and a survivor of domestic violence cannot be underestimated.

But the good news is that….

  • there is a small but growing number of refuges in Australia which will take people AND their pets.
  • The United States gives us a fabulous model to work with to create more refuges with shelters thanks to Allie Phillips and the SAF-T program.
  • Vets are receiving more training about family violence and how to address customers who present animals with non accidental injuries(thus potentially indicating family violence in the home). Sentient is doing some great work around this topic.
  • The RSPCA offer some innovative and helpful programs which can assist practically (including Living Ruff, POOPS, Safe Beds for Pets) and educationally.
  • An informative and heart warming hub of information of a website is waiting in the wings, detailing where domestic victims can take their pets and showing real life stories of survivors talking about escaping domestic violence with their pet. My Saving Grace – I can’t wait for the launch of this site.
  • Police can help through Apprehended Violence Orders and enforcing animal cruelty offences (along with the Animal Welfare League and RSPCA) and helping with resources.

There is so much that we can all DO to help

  • Do you know a real estate agent ? Or someone about to rent out their house ? Encourage pet friendly rentals to become the norm rather than the exception. Pets are family members too after all.
  • Make animal abusers more accountable and traceable by supporting a database for animal cruelty offenders in Australia. Sign here  (a friend is running this petition and she’s nearly there – so, please add your signature).
  • Are you an educator or do you know a teacher ? Encourage a program such as Thinkkind to be introduced into school curriculums. Having kids develop respectful relationships for our most vulnerable (animals) is so important in regards to the likelihood of them developing into decent and kind adults.
  • Become a foster carer for an organisation such as the RSPCA or Paws And Recover. Having somewhere for their animal to go may be the one thing which makes someone leave their abusive relationship. Or if your area is lacking in fostering services, start one up. Rural areas are particularly lacking in such resources.
  • Become a member of Lucy’s Project to learn more and become part of this tribe.
  • Donate to or tell one of these the grassroots groups I’ve spoken about in this post about a grant you may have heard of. SunsuperAustralian EthicalVoiceless – all have some good ones. Local councils often offer community grants too.

Need some further inspiration ?

  • One of the presenters at the conference last weekend was Glyn Scott. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when she recounted her life story. When I am next having a hard day, I am going to think of what Glyn survived and I know my woes will look comparatively tiny. Like Anna, Glyn has created light from darkness to do something so fabulous and good. I’ve just ordered her book (Hope Was All I Had – available for pre-order through the website) and I follow her beautiful, inspiring organisation on facebook – “Love, Hope and Gratitude Foundation Inc.”
  • Dr Freda Scott-Park. I loved hearing about the compelling research from this Scottish vet around family violence and how vets can become involved in preventing it and protecting pets in a violent home.
  •  Carl Coorey-Ewings is a very un-ordinary 18 year old school boy who has been researching this very topic (domestic violence and animal abuse – the link) for studies in his final year of school. Educating young men about this issue is so important and that’s exactly what Carl is doing.
  • Follow what Mel is doing with her crowd funding campaign for some self contained units where all family members (including pets) will be welcome. Mel is one of those amazing people who found a need lacking when she needed it. So, rather than despairing, she invested her heart and soul into making sure others do not go through what she did and created The Hive Village Project.
  • Sign up to the National Link Coalition newsletters. They are the source of so much information.

What is something you can do or are doing in your work or private life to help a cause which you are passionate about ? In an alarming world where Donald Trump is soon to become one of the most influential people on the planet (shudders), the time is never so dire. What can YOU do ? What tribe can you find to do it with you ?

 

4 Comments

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  1. Melinda

    You’re doing good stuff Ingy. Good on you. xoxo

  2. Jennifer howard

    Or follow us in Adelaide “Safe Pets Safe Families” a great support program run by Living Ruff in SA Inc . We are a people and animal charity and have an amazing foster network to allow people to leave knowing their pets are safe and have other support services to go along with that.

    • admin

      Yes ! “Safe Pets Safe Families” is one of the great programs available in Australia to keep pets and their owners safe. We need so many more similar initiatives and much more passionate people like you Jennifer x

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