WOW….it took just 15 minutes for me to be inspired, energized, and  and raring to speed back to my desk and get to work.That’s what happened yesterday in Stillwater. Was there a nationally recognized motivational speaker there? NO, but there were 5 professionals I know  well talking about domestic violence. I’ve heard them all speaking for years, but their words and their vision, mine too, have changed. We weren’t talking solely about helping survivors; we were talking about what we need to do to END it.

Since 2003 Sergeant Ray Cordani of the Stillwater Police Department has organized a cell phone drive

during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to provide 911 phones to victims of abuse. With the help of local businesses they’ve collected more than 4,000 phones that advocates have given to those in need.

With decades of experience in law enforcement, Sergeant Cordani knows the prevalence and effects of domestic violence, “There’s rarely a shift we don’t respond to a domestic incident.” He set the tone for the rest of the speakers with a call to action that was echoed again and again” We need to change the culture to change the behavior.” Shifting our thinking,  away from focusing on the individual (either the person who stays or the person who abuses) to looking at why abuse endures in our society– that’s the key to solving it.

With 2 full time attorneys assigned to prosecuting these cases, domestic violence is ever-present in our office” explained Acting District Attorney Karen Heggen, “Domestic violence is not a private issue; it is a community issue.” Sheriff Mike Zurlo affirmed his department’s commitment to battling domestic violence and protecting victims.

Senator Kathy Marchione, who has championed victim assistance and prevention programs, sounded a poignant call to action,

“We need to speak out with one voice and say No More to domestic violence…
No More…
Never again!”

Ten years ago when I began speaking about setting our sights on ending abuse, over and over again I heard this wasn’t a realistic goal. Today affirmed for me that not only do so many others share that vision, but that we’re committed to achieving it.

So we collected hundreds of cellphones to help in a crisis, but even more importantly we pledged a commitment to an even bigger goal…ending abuse.

Stillwater Supervisot Ed Kinowski lamented, “When I hear the stories and the statistics, I can’t believe it still exists. Domestic violence awareness can’t be just one month; it should be all year long.” That’s a great place to start.