Hi, I’m Julie Johnson Weintraub, Founder of Hands Across The Bay, and president and co-owner of Gold & Diamond Source. My Non-profit organization, Hands Across the Bay, was developed to positively impact the lives of as many Tampa Bay residents as possible. Much of the work I do with the organization revolves around helping those from domestic violence situations.
I volunteer my spare time, as an advocate and voice for those suffering in silence…
My goal today is to talk about the epidemic of violence, particularly against women, in our world today and particularly as the stress of holidays during a pandemic are upon us.
Over the last 12 years I have handled some of the most horrific Domestic Violence cases. They are hard to hear, however this is the reality of the crimes and violence women, in particular, are facing all over the world and here in our communities. We cannot remain silent. I’ve lost count of the number of people who have said to me that I should just be quiet and focus on selling jewelry!
I believe SILENCE is a threat to our very existence. In fact, I would say that silence is REQUIRED in order to have the violence to continue. Yes, that’s right violence, particularly against women… requires our silence to continue… we MUST NOT give it.
So, what are the common links we can look for or keep in mind as we head into the holidays? (As I know we ALL hope those we love or know do to not end up in this situation).
To be clear again, this is NOT just a women’s issue… it affects everyone: men, boys, girls, and those from all walks of life. Violence affects everyone in society, more than many can possibly comprehend. In addition, the psychological abuse and emotional disturbance and destruction to a child witnessing physical or sexual abuse is beyond words. Many will suffer from post traumatic stress disorder for years as a result.
So what can we do? What can YOU do? Here are just a few of the many top factors I believe from my experience in helping others will assist. Avoid the #1 contributor to family arguments and violence: alcohol and/or drugs. If they are always a problem, seek to avoid or eliminate them from the situation.
Here are some other helpful tips:
- RAISE your kids in a healthy environment, discuss and teach them the difference between right and wrong at an early age. YOU will decide what kind of human being you will release into our world. Guide children as they interact with their siblings and sisters… watch the way they treat their mothers… teach them clearly that respecting others is respecting themselves.2. Teach your kids, both boys and girls… especially your daughters to be independent. NOT dependent. You want them to be in whatever relationship they are in because they WANT to be NOT because they HAVE to be. Helpless children become helpless adults.
3. Remind them that it IS ok to have a kind loving heart. But, “Under NO circumstances should you be or attempt to be rehabilitation centers for badly raised men (or women)”…It is not your job to fix, change, parent or raise another adult. You want a partner, not a project. Leave it to a professional.
If it is too late and you thought you were going to fix a lifetime of abuse and dysfunction, know if or when the time comes for you to leave. It could be VERY dangerous or deadly if you don’t. The red flags that you ignore in the beginning thinking you can “fix” or “heal” will be the reason you lose or almost lose your life in the end…. There ARE rehabs…YOU are not one. Let the professionals do it!
- Be independent…. your car, home, credit card and bank accounts should be independently in or jointly in YOUR name. Do not enter or remain in a relationship as a guest in someone else’s life. YOU do not want to be disposable or easily discarded. You do NOT want to be forced to stay because you have nowhere else to go. Value yourself… good choices equal a good life, bad choices equal bad life…choose wisely. Be a confident, independent loving partner for your mate, as you hope them to be for you.5. Jealousy is a deadly emotion. You don’t want to feel it and you don’t want your partner to feel this either. Do what you can to keep your relationship healthy and secure. It won’t make them love you more… it will make them love themselves less and behave in unhealthy dangerous ways. Partners who easily become jealous? A red flag… get out.
6. Most importantly, I have seen very young men head to prison in domestic violence cases with tearful loved ones watching helplessly. I often wonder what could have been done differently? Lives can be lost on both sides of domestic violence. I continue to wonder if someone only took the time to explain to them that the pain they may feel during a relationship breakup to escape domestic violence is only TEMPORARY. Time heals all pain… don’t throw your life and someone else’s away by staying in an abuse relationship.
- Violence should be avoided at all costs. Call for help. However, if need be, fight back to defend yourself and your family if the person threatens your life. Call for help if you are involved with an abusive person who will NOT leave you alone and you have followed all the appropriate channels. Hopefully, it will not be too late. Again…no one wins when violence is used. Do NOT be the aggressor but more importantly do NOT be sitting passively either… be clear, be firm and be READY to save yourself if needed. Channel your inner warrior. If your abuser is determined that someone is going to die? Don’t let it be you.
I wish I had more time to share more insight from my domestic violence volunteering….more about the survivors’ and their inspirational recoveries. I just want to give every spare minute to others making sure that I SHARE the things I have learned over the years from these sad but true stories and give some hope to others. Some say it is none of our business how people choose to live or raise or don’t raise their kids or treat each other. I would argue it absolutely IS our business…as one day their failures, neglect or abuse could cost someone they love or you love their life.
Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share and give you healthy thoughts and tips for your life and those of your loved ones. To see the uplifting stories or how our Hands Across The Bay SUR-THRIVERS are doing now, I encourage you to visit our website….
Wishing you peace, love and Happy Holidays, Julie Weintraub
Gold & Diamond Source
Founder & CEO
Hands Across The Bay