Empathy was the emphasis in a presentation about domestic abuse at the Tinley Park Public Library.
Ringing in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Crisis Center for South Suburbia held a special meeting discussing violence in the household and its misconceptions. Speaker Renee Rogers-Williams, who works with victims of abusive relationships for the Crisis Center, said she wanted people to walk away with one message.
"Don't judge," said Rogers-Williams. "I think sometimes we have a tendency to do that because we haven't walked in their shoes. Until you can really understand what that person is going through, we ask that you don't judge. Take the situation at hand. Look at the dynamics of the situation, and we'll move forward from there."
Debra Marillo, the director of resource development and community relations at the Crisis Center, said Monday's meeting was only the beginning of an event-filled month.
"During the month we're pumping up our presentations to the community and this just part of that," said Marillo. "We're kicking it off here with some information about domestic violence, just things that you should know about it and where you can access services."
Rogers-Williams also addressed the warning signs that someone may be in an abusive relationship.
"They sometimes talk in the third person, 'I have friend,' and sometimes that's a red flag for us," she said, "because sometimes they're talking about themselves."
Throughout the presentation, Rogers-Williams emphasized the importance of family members and friends being compassionate and understanding.
"It's not just about walking out the door," said Rogers-Williams. "It's about finances. It's about the children. They have to take things into consideration. Sometimes women don't have jobs. Sometimes they have no education. All they know is their abuser. We've tried to help the public to understand, because sometimes family members give up on them. They say, 'why don't you just leave them alone?' It's just not that cut and dry."
Rogers-Williams also teaches a 40-hour state-certified training program required for anyone who will volunteer or work professionally with abuse victims.