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CIVIC ENGAGEMENT EXPERIENCE

HUMANITIES 1010, SPRING 2016


Laura Maestas

For my civic engagement experience I chose to help in a project centering on a


specific womens issue; domestic violence. The event was sponsored by the Utah
Domestic Violence Coalition and was held at the Draper Images Studio Salon on
Sunday April 23, 2016. I arrived there at noon and stayed until approximately 3:45
pm in the afternoon and my time there was spent assembling donated personal
care, hygiene and beauty products into gift bags which were to be given to women
in local domestic violence shelters on Mothers Day. The amount and quality of the
donated items was amazing to me and I was proud to take part in this experience.
There were approximately 25 volunteers there that day, which included a couple of
women who were once victims of domestic violence themselves. It was so inspiring
to hear them speak of some of the horrendous situations they found themselves in
and the ways they got out. These shelters provide women and children in very dire
circumstances the resources and safety they need in order to escape their abuser
and learn how to live healthier and happier lives. This service project relates with
the topic in our course on womens rights and equality. Domestic violence is
perpetrated by both men and women, but statistically speaking men are the
majority of the perpetrators of domestic violence crimes.
Domestic violence, by definition, is the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual
assault, and/or abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power,
dominance and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It can
leave physical, emotional and psychological scars that can cross generations and
last a lifetime. Having grown up in a situation of domestic violence myself, I
understand the impact it has on not only the actual victim of the violence/abuse but
also on the children growing up in the household. Women have fought to obtain
political and economic rights and domestic violence against women puts them back
into the very primitive role of the oppressed subordinate. As mentioned in the text
on this subject, British novelist Virginia Woolf argued that women can only become
powerful by achieving financial and psychological independence from men, and
although she was probably speaking about society at large, this concept must hold
true in the four walls of home as well. Domestic violence against women does just
the opposite and keeps women and their children living in fear and under the
control of another person, thus taking away their freedom to make choices of their
own. As mentioned, this service project allowed me to work hand in hand with
former victims as well as with women who have not been involved in this crime but
have chosen to be their advocates.
I absolutely feel like it is the responsibility of everyone to be involved in as many
aspects of society as possible in order to prevent many types of oppression and
injustice. It is in nobodys best interest for power to be gained through intimidation
or control and an uninformed public is dangerous as it allows such things to go on
behind their backs and reach dangerous levels without many members of society
even knowing about it. There are so many issues in society like this and domestic

violence is just one of many. I recently learned of a saying by Pastor Martin


Neimoller in which he was referencing the events of the holocaust; however, I think
it is so relevant to all of us in life if we are not watchful of each other.

Page Two
Laura
Maestas
First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade
Unionists And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me.
We are all vulnerable to being a victim of one form or another at some point in our
lives and would hope that others would be there for us as well. Women have fought
long and hard for equality around the world and as described in the textbook British
intellectual John Stuart stated clear back in 1869, the subordination of women is
wrong and one of the chief hindrances to human improvement.
There are so many good people willing to help those less fortunate. This experience
showed me the extremes that some people will go to when pushed hard enough.
So many of these women just give up their power out of fear sometimes that there
is nothing else out there and the abuser manages to make them feel inadequate
anyway. These little bags we were putting together were going to such a great
cause because they were filled with pretty lotions and toiletries as well as
cosmetics, all of which are certain to help them feel more important and improve
their self-esteem so that they can hopefully go out into the world and make things
better for themselves without ending back up in the same situations.
I enjoyed this experience a great deal and would do it again anytime. I have served
meals at the homeless shelter many times but this experience seemed different,
like these people we were helping were actually doing something to help improve
their own lives and the lives of their children. I feel like there are so many of us with

so many things, even if it is just the time that can change the lives of other human
beings. We are all here on this planet together and we owe it to ourselves and to
each other to watch out for one another and not allow oppression to set us back
from the progress made by those who sought to obtain it.