Domestic Violence Is Never OK
The YWCA is in the midst of a campaign to raise awareness of and to stop domestic violence on the Garden Isle
Anyone can help put an end to domestic violence. Empowering people to know what to say and how to help is the purpose of the YWCA’s Kaua’i Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force’s three-monthlong campaign to raise awareness about the epidemic inflicting the community.
“The idea is to help change beliefs and attitudes about violence,” says Linda Pizzitola, task force coordinator.
She cites a startling statistic: Fewer than 10 percent of individuals caught in a domestically violent cycle ever seek professional help.
“We can turn that on its head,” says Pizzitola, who would like to see the number closer to 90 percent.
Shifting the public’s perception by offering resources such as phone numbers and places to go for help will alleviate some of the violence.
And far from being a private matter, she adds, “Domestic violence is everybody’s business.”
Getting involved by knowing the proper things to say and what advice to give others are action steps toward peace and harmony in households, neighborhoods and workplaces.
The “Who Can? You Can” media campaign has several community leaders and spokespeople jumping on board by hosting radio spots and posing for posters in order to grab people’s attention.
“That support feels really good,” says Pizzitola, who spearheaded the project that officially kicked off May 2.
People also are encouraged to go online to complete a short survey designed to enlighten the community with suggestions for small steps one can take to make a difference. As an added incentive, one lucky person who fills out the survey will win a two-night stay at the Grand Hyatt Kaua’i Resort and Spa.
This isn’t the first time Pizzitola has been at the forefront of a media campaign. She also led the fight against smoking in California in the 1990s.
“In front of my eyes, I saw the norms change,” she says. “That was impressive.”
Moving to Kaua’i 11 days after Sept. 11, 2001, Pizzitola worked for the Boys and Girls Club in Kapa’a before becoming the clinical group facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Program at the YWCA, which she has been doing for seven years.
It wasn’t until she understood the psychological underpinnings of abusive behaviors that she decided to get involved in helping to rid the island of domestic violence.
“It’s really about the lack of healthy modeling and lack of skills, and the manbox where men become emotionally dependent on their partners; they’re not allowed to have their own emotional lives, which leads them to need to control, which can lead to abuse,” says Pizzitola, whose husband Lynn is a psychotherapist. “When I understood that, I was hopeful that we could make change here.”
Some partners actually believe it’s OK to harm their significant others.
And the economy could be enhancing the problem.
“The word on the street is the pressure of unemployment and economic strife are causing tensions,” says Pizzitola, a Texas native. “It’s easy to blame your partner for things going wrong.”
Anger is acceptable, whereas shame, hurt and fear softer emotions are not, and are channeled as rage.
Those who have the opportunity to initially respond are not the police, but instead neighbors, friends and family.
That’s the message Pizzitola is sending through the campaign, using her background in graphic design to aid her involvement, creating all the posters and other paraphernalia on her own. The crusade may even evolve to the state level, using her graphics as templates.
Though this is the first year for the 2-year-old task force’s media blitz, Pizzitola hopes it will continue, at least for the duration of the state coalition’s five-year plan to help end domestic violence.
The YWCA’s task force aimed at domestic violence prevention is a culmination of “all the good energy and ideas that people bring to the table who want to make a difference,” says Pizzitola.
And anyone can get involved.
“Whatever level and whatever area of interest, we can find a place for them,” she says.
Visit whocanyoucan.org to take the survey and for more details, or contact Pizzitola at 245-5959, ext. 244 or firstname.lastname@example.org.