We are all deeply disturbed by the recent violence across our country and around the world. Murderous assaults on police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge; shootings of unarmed black men by law enforcement in Minneapolis and Baton Rouge; and the killing rampages in Orlando and Nice, France.
We created The SAFE Alliance to end violence and abuse, and our vision of creating a world without violence and abuse has never been more relevant.
SAFE was created in 2013 because two longstanding Austin community agencies recognized that violence and abuse are viral in nature. They feed on other types of abuse, on poverty, oppression, bias, racism, homophobia, lack of opportunity, and a culture of fear. We created SAFE because violence and abuse are an epidemic that, in addition to being deadly in the moment, can also lie dormant in the affected organism, waiting to erupt insidiously through another pathway. Recent events show just how horrible this epidemic can be. Too often we learn after a horrendous act of public violence that the perpetrator had a history of domestic abuse, racism, homophobia, and more. The explosive violence that made headlines wasn’t an isolated incident.
We must develop more effective, systemic, and organic ways of eliminating the breeding ground that incubates the fear, hate, and loathing that erupt into murderous acts and rampages. Ending violence and abuse is a public health emergency that must be addressed on a broad societal, cultural, and systemic level as well as through primary prevention and intervention efforts.
SAFE works to end the cycle, treat the affected organism, and create healthy alternatives.
- What if every single law enforcement officer had been comprehensively trained in trauma- informed care?
- What if every middle and high school student learned what healthy and respectful relationships looked like and had the opportunity to practice those skills?
- What if no child ever saw their father beat their mother, or no child was ever beaten and abandoned themselves?
- What if we recognized, valued, and compensated the work of social workers and mental health professionals at the same level as other professionals?
- What if we lived in a world that worked to lift all people up regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation, age, or physical ability?
SAFE is committed to changing a culture marinated in fear, anger, violence, retribution, and abuse. At serious risk of sounding corny – what if we learned to love and respect one another rather than fear one another? What if we came together as communities and people to identify the ways in which we can instill trust rather than fear, build respect rather than mistrust, celebrate love and friendship rather than gore and violence? I believe we can do that – and it’s past time to begin.