Yesterday my nineteen-year-old daughter told me that she plans spend May and June doing volunteer work for the Women's Shelter, a place that provides a refuge for battered women, counseling for rape victims, and help for women who need it. At her interview, the coordinator said that she will spend most of her time at the main shelter, where women take refuge from abusive partners. Since my daughter grew up in a loving home, protected from so much of what happens in the world, I suspect she may be surprised at some of the things she learns this summer. I myself am still often shocked when faced with the harsh realities of the world, no matter how many times I hear the sad stories.
I hate that my children have to learn about the violence in the world. I felt the same way when my daughter travelled to a military base this semester for her journalism class to interview soldiers – that is, young people her own age – who were being sent to Iraq. As my children get older and turn into adults, I can no longer protect them from the culture they must live in.
I know parents whose daughters have had to flee to shelters, running from an abusive partner, looking for sanctuary. I have had friends in that situation. I have heard their anger, their sadness, their desperation. I am grateful, hugely and wonderously grateful, that when my daughter goes to the Women’s Shelter this summer, it will be in the role of volunteer.