Domestic Violence and prevention efforts at YWCA Genesee, my experience vs. community perspective

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When I arrived in the U.S, i had the opportunity to immediately participate in a Domestic violence, prevention and awareness campaign. My Supervisor, Jeanne Walton assigned me to spend a half a day with Ms.Cindy Earl who is the Director, Domestic Violence and Prevention Program at the YWCA Genesee. The YWCA had set up a stall and other organizations too were show-casing their different work activities.

By 12;00 o’clock EST, August 20th 2011, we had many people coming up to visit the stalls, get information, ask questions, and pick up brochures, pens and other promotional materials. I sat next to Cindy Earl and asked her a few questions as pertains the issues of domestic violence in the United States and particularly within her community. “People here are kind of wary and do not want to speak and talk about domestic violence” Cindy replies. I asked Cindy why and she told me Domestic Violence in the Community do happen but just like in any other parts of the world, community some victims including the perpetrators just do not want to talk about it for fear that they may tarnish their fiancé’s name and their reputation.

After, a few more minutes in the discussion, a gentleman passed by our stall, paused before he walked away and said, “no no, i can’t be a member of this program” .I again asked Cindy why he mumbled that word and Cindy again told me that people both perpetrators and victims may not boldly want to identify or talk about the issues of domestic violence because of a number of reasons including fear of reputation and image tarnishing. I also noticed that not very many women were passing by our stall and yet the different stalls were filled with people. Normally, people passing by would stop to welcome and say hi as they had read about me in the papers (Press).

I shared with Cindy how i have witnessed more physical forms of abuse against women in Uganda including deaths and later interactions & discussion with different program staff and attending court sessions on cases of abuses, noted that much of the issues of domestic violence within this community take a more robust form than the physical injuries and yet they do not want to speak out!

Domestic Violence also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence and intimate partner violence has been broadly defined by the wikipedia as “a pattern of abusive behavior by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends and cohabitation”

Jeanne Walton, the Executive Director of the YWCA Genesee in a recent interview with the Press (The Daily News) acknowledges my observation that more women are sometimes victims of domestic violence but just can not come out and speak out of fear. “There is the wealthy professional woman who attends all of the community events and does all the right things…the likelihood is that she is just as much a victim of domestic violence as anyone else” Observes Jeanne Walton in the Daily News

This week the YWCA is organizing a Spaghetti Diner to highlight Domestic Violence Awareness and prevention with such specific events and a continental breakfast. The men have been strongly involved in this effort. The Domestic Violence prevention week throughout October will be an important step in highlighting the effects of Domestic violence against women at Community level here in Batavia.

As the rest of the world join in marking the 16 days of activism against gender based violence from the 25th November to 10 December, i continued to hold the view that Domestic Violence and prevention strategies requires more women, men joining forces and speaking against the vice. This year, the regional theme for Africa is “Everyone, Everyday, Every way: Prevent Violence against women your way to reflect  a call  to every individual that whoever you are, you have the power to do something to prevent violence against women.

For more information on the YWCA Domestic Violence events, please visit the link below:


Moses Owiny

WOUGNET staff based at the YWCA Genesee, Batavia, NY