Posted on October 5, 2022 at 6:00 am
Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition (SRDVC) is excited to again partner with Spokane County Library District (SCLD) during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Libraries play an especially signiﬁcant role in the community. Not only do they offer great reading materials, but they also provide a place where community members can seek and ﬁnd important community resources and support services. This is especially important for those who are experiencing domestic violence.
Here, I share three vignettes illustrating ways the library and domestic violence resources can help those who might be seeking information and help.
Laura brought her children to the library for storytime. After enjoying storytime picture books and activities, Laura and her children wandered to the children’s area of the library that had many shelves of books, games to play, and coloring pages for kids to color.
Just across from the children’s area, Laura browsed the books for adults where she could still keep an eye on her kids. A purple display of books caught her eye. There, she found a story about a woman who had lived with a verbally abusive partner. Intrigued, Laura picked it up, returned to a chair in the children’s area, and began to read.
The next week, Laura and her kids returned for storytime and to spend some more time in the children’s area afterward. Laura continued to read the book she found the week before. A few weeks later, she ﬁnished the book and decided to make a call to one of the hotlines that was listed on the back. This was the start of Laura’s journey to safety.
There is often an “aha” moment that happens when someone who is living with domestic violence realizes they are being abused. Sometimes it is something another person says. Other times, it is something that they’ve read or seen on television. Libraries provide important materials that can help victim survivors recognize abuse and then seek the help they need from appropriate places.
SRDVC and SCLD have identified and displayed books and other information in libraries to help victim survivors trying to understand domestic violence and their situation. These books are informational, educational, and contain personal stories from survivors and advocates.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, and it does not discriminate on any basis. The library is a place where all people in the community are welcome and can be a place where someone can go to relax, read, and think.
Ryan came to the library because he needed to think and he wasn’t sure what to do, but he knew the library was a good place to find information. After a big ﬁght the night before, his partner had kicked him out of the house. Ryan was nursing hurt ribs and looking for a quiet place to sit and think.
Some brochures caught his eye as he walked through the library. He found a comfortable chair in an out-of-the-way area of the library where he could relax for a little while. He started to read the brochures and one in particular caught his eye. It offered several options he could call for help. A couple minutes later, he used his cell phone to call a local domestic violence agency for help.
There are places in Spokane that offer help in finding safety and support to people from all walks of life, including Indigenous people, LGBTQIA+, youth and teenagers, and many others.
SRDVC provides the library with resource ﬂyers, bookmarks, and posters that help direct people to appropriate community resources for their situations. I encourage you to look around your library for these resources, and take them with you so you can be prepared when someone you know might need them.
Reliable internet service is also available at the library. Sometimes, a person cannot afford internet service or devices like a cell phone or computer. Other times, it is not safe to use the internet at home for fear of being monitored or stalked by an abusive partner.
Library computers are free to use and are not monitored like a home computer, tablet, or phone might be. You can even print for free at the library.
Alyssa came to the library for a few hours every day before she needed to be home. Today, she wanted to look something up on the library computer. She knew her online activities would not be traced on the library computer, so it was a safe place for her to ﬁnd the information about dating violence that she was looking for.
Her dating partner had smashed her phone the week before because she did not want to show her text history. Now, she needed help, and the library provided the technology for her to ﬁnd it.
SRDVC recognizes that technology abuse is rising rapidly as another technique that some use to control their victims. At the same time, valuable information and support can be found online.
Having access to safe and free technology can be a vital link for a victim survivor to access resources, use chat features with advocates when phone calls at home are not safe, look at and respond to emails without being spied on, and a myriad of other ways to safely seek information and help online.
SRDVC also offers a website where victim survivors can ﬁnd resources, information, and help at www.endtheviolencespokane.org.
Libraries can be a lifeline for those who are experiencing domestic violence. Accessing books, magazines, resource information, and technology empowers victim survivors with the information and support they need when they need it.
Watch for the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month display table at libraries throughout the month of October for books that address this important social issue. Providing free and safe access to domestic violence resources for all people in the Greater Spokane Region is what makes another “End the Violence” partnership between Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition and Spokane County Library District an impactful service to the communities through Spokane County.
Taffy Hunter is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition. She is a writer, blogger, and speaker with experience as a legal and family advocate for those who have experienced domestic violence. Her educational background in human services and early childhood education make her a strong domestic violence advocate and educator. In Taffy’s free time, she enjoys traveling with her four teenagers, raising her flock of ducks, and working on DIY projects.