How One Woman Turned Hurting Into Healing for Domestic Violence Victims

Diane West never understood how her close friend could stay in an unhealthy relationship. Frankly, she didn’t understand domestic violence. Despite her best efforts, West’s friend continually returned to an abusive relationship that eventually contributed to her death.

West decided to becoming involved with Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS) in 2006, and her work has helped her learn more than she imagined. “I began to see how domestic violence affects the victims and their lives, and how as a friend, I was limited in what I could do for her.” Now, West serves on the DAIS Board of Directors in an attempt to help other victims.

West notes the expertise of the staff and volunteers at DAIS as they work with an unbreakable passion to serve, support and act as advocates. Despite the noble actions of DAIS, the incidences of domestic abuse in Dane County are still too high, which is why DAIS is raising awareness and money to expand.

 Dane County has the smallest shelter per capita in all of Wisconsin. Its mere 25 beds are full almost every night with a waiting list often above 50 people. It is these frightening facts that have impassioned West to end the issue of domestic violence as a major concern for the community. “I love this city, it’s a great place to live and work. But it saddens me to know these figures.”

West believes awareness is the first step in fighting this silent epidemic. “Domestic violence is a crime that thrives in secrecy and people aren’t comfortable talking about it.” She encourages everyone to attend DAIS’s annual Celebration Independence! Luncheon to become educated and learn how one can get involved in supporting victims. The second step is to ensure that victims are provided a shelter with the welcoming and supportive environment along with the resources they need and deserve.

During her tenure with DAIS, West has played many roles, serving on the Executive, Personnel, Program, Building and Nominations committees. In addition, West served as president of the board in 2009.

Knowing that at least one in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime and that one-third of all cases referred to the Dane County District’s Attorney’s office are for domestic-violence cases makes West wonder. “What will convince people that our community has a lot of work to do in the area of addressing domestic violence?” These numbers make it a good chance that a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or even a casual acquaintance could be victimized by an abuser. West says don’t stay in the dark— get involved.

The 5th Annual Celebrate Independence! Luncheon for DAIS will be on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 at the Madison Concourse Hotel & Governor’s Club. Get educated about this issue as you honor survivors of domestic violence and the advocates who support them. Learn more at abuseintervention.org

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