Be the Change that You Want to See in the World

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Lessons from working with Daisey at a domestic violence shelter


Daisey and I started our volunteer work again last week at the domestic violence shelter. We had taken some time off to work on a project in Oklahoma and to grieve for Bob, who made his transition last August.


We now have stability and lots of joy back in our lives and feel we are able to continue helping others. Daisey has been ready for far longer than I have and was excited to put on her therapy vest and tutu. She told me, “Drive faster or I’ll drive.” I reminded her that she didn’t have a license, which is required to drive here. The closer we got, the more excited she became, jumping from the front seat to the back and then into the front again. I had to put her seat belt on because she was acting like an excited kid going to Disney World.


When we arrived, we both sensed that things were different, yet the same. There were a couple of people who were really scared of her being there. She wanted to show them she didn’t bite or growl. She wasn’t going to hurt them in any way. She wanted them to see how gentle and loving she is.


We visited with a few people in a different area from last year. There was a mixture of feelings from the people which is a normal reaction. Daisey kept looking for someone in particular, which I have learned is a gift she has. She intuitively knows who she’s going to work with. Daisey kept asking me to walk around so she could find them, but I reminded her that they come to us on their own terms. I reminded her that when she was going through her own experience that she had to approach people on her terms. She had been scared when strangers came up to her without her being ready. We went to the area where we had worked last year and spent time with the ones that came to us.


When we were leaving, there was a little boy helping his mom carry things. Daisey wanted him to come see her, but he was afraid. The coordinator had asked him if he wanted to meet Daisey, and he shook his head and went in the other direction. Daisey was disappointed but understood how scared he was. Earlier, he had peeked into the window to see what we were doing.


While driving home, Daisey and I talked about the different reasons people are afraid of animals and why animals are afraid of people. We have come to the conclusion that it really depends on each of their personal experiences.


People use animals to hurt, threaten or abuse other people. This terrifies not only the people, but the animals, as well.


I don’t know why people do what they do to the animals and other people. The animals may not be able to defend themselves. The person may have been taught that it’s OK to abuse or mistreat others. They may have suffered the abuse themselves.


It is not OK to physically, verbally or mentally mistreat any other being whether the being’s human or not. The people and animals that we have encountered while volunteering have been abused and violated in every way imaginable. To Daisey, me and the rest of my “kids,” this is not acceptable behavior.


I know small children that have witnessed or been part of violence in the house. I know animals that have also been a witness to or have been part of violence in the house. It leaves a huge scar on not just their psyche, but on their hearts as well.


Sometimes they can overcome the fear, anger and hurt, sometimes not. Most of the time it takes a lot of mental and spiritual work to overcome the emotions that are a result of abuse. It takes courage, patience, communication and lots of love to change the patterns that have been ingrained in the memories. It starts with one step at a time.


Don’t let it continue. If you see abuse, any signs of abuse or suspect that it may be happening, please report it.


One of our goals is to help put an end to the cycle of abuse. Each of us can play a part to accomplish this goal.


Be kind, compassionate and gentle with not only yourself, but with each being that you come in contact with. All it takes is a smile or kind gesture.


Thank you for loving yourself enough to do this. We are all one. What we do to another, we do to ourselves.


Love yourself, love one another and be the change that you wish to see in this world.


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