In Recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. What does that have to do with the Anne Arundel County Food Bank? More than you know.
Submitted by an Anne Arundel County Food Bank team member
For many, home is a place of love, warmth, and comfort. It’s somewhere that you know you will be surrounded by care and support, and a nice little break from the hustle and bustle of the real world. But for millions of others, home is anything but a sanctuary. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are victims of physical violence by a partner every year. Every 9 seconds, a woman in the U.S. is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other. 1 in 4 men are victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. A study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders. 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.
As a former victim of domestic violence, I stayed way too long in an abusive marriage because I could not afford to live in Anne Arundel County and raise my daughters with the small income I was receiving. With the support of my co-workers, the YWCA and an understanding judge, I finally was able to leave and move into subsidized housing, but I soon found myself struggling to make ends meet. I made too much to qualify for food stamps, but yet not enough to cover rent, utilities, and food. I was feeling so defeated and debated returning to the abuser just so my daughters would have both a roof over their head and food to eat – I was at that point where I was going to have to choose one or the other. Then my sister made me go with her to the “new” Anne Arundel County Food Bank (AACFB).
With the assistance from (then) Executive Director Bruce Michalec and AACFB, I was able to feed my children, and provide a home for them on my own. This assistance basically saved my life – because as the statistics above show, if I had returned to my abuser, I may not have lived to watch my children grow into the loving, caring adults they are today. Instead, as I grew personally and professionally, I was able to give back to AACFB. Now, as Operations Manager of AACFB, I want to make sure that other women who may be in the same situation know that once you have made the commitment to leave, and are doing your best to keep your head above water, there IS help in Anne Arundel County, and AACFB can provide it.
AACFB now has pantries all over the county – making it easier and more convenient to get help with food. We also have baby pantries that supply diapers and formula, clothing pantries, pet pantries and senior pantries – and more. Our mission is to make sure that no one in our county goes hungry – but as Bruce Michalec said to me 30 years ago – “We want you to pay your rent and keep a roof over those babies’ heads, keep the lights on, and let us help you with food and basic necessities.”
Because of AACFB, my girls never had to go without a meal, and I never looked back. If you need help, please go to www.aafoodbank.org/need-help to open a list of all of our pantries. This list will tell you the location, date and time each pantry is open. Do not feel bad about needing help – we all need help now and then, stay strong, and never look back.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT:
- Are you ever afraid of your partner?
- Do you feel you are “walking on eggshells” at home?
- Does your partner say hurtful things to cut you down?
- Has your partner threatened to hurt you, family, or pets?
- Have you been hit, pushed, or kicked by your partner?
If you answered “yes” to any of these, please call the YWCA at 410-222-6800 to talk through this and figure out next steps.