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February 25, 1979 - Image 13

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The Michigan Daily, 1979-02-25
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Page 8-Sunday, February 25, 1979-The Michigan Daily

safe house

(Continued from Page 5)
someone decides she is going back,
all I can think about is what might hap-
pen to her and the children.
T HARDLY SEEMS sufficient to
talk to her about what kinds of
problems she might face by return-
ing, and it is not very consoling to know
that at least she knows there is a place
like SAFE House if she ever needs it
again. Each time a woman walks out
the door to return to an abusive
situation, I question whether or not I
was a good advocate. Couldn't I have
helped a little more, or explained a lit-
tle better, or given her more support?
To most people, wife-beating is still a
hidden crime, but I know there is a good
chance that someone I know might be
taking a beating at this very moment,
and it scares me.
But in much the same way that the
women give each other support, the ad-
vocates help each other to cope with
such feelings. The office, one room in
SAFE House, is in many ways a SAFE
House for the staff.
"Sometimes you just have to get
away from the women, and be by your-
self or with other advocates who under-
stand what you are thinking about,"
one staff member says. "Sometimes I
tell myself I'm going into the office for
some special reason, but when I get
there I find that I was just rationalizing.
I really only went to the office to get
away for a moment."
The office is open to the women at any
time, but the door is usually kept
closed. I always felt uncomfortable
about closing that door. If even one
woman is sufficiently intimidated that
she does not bother to knock, I thought,
then we should keep the door open. But
as a volunteer I was only at the shelter
two or three days a week, and the full-
time staff probably needs the privacy of
the office every once in awhile.
But while it may provide a temporary
respite from direct confrontation from
the women, the office bears ominous
reminders of the shelter's pupose. On
the wall is a poster with a picture of a
man with a belt in his hand. It reads,
"This man wears the pants in his
family, but his wife gets the belt." On
another wall is Charlotte's Creed: "A
woman has to do twice as much'as a
man to be considered half as good. For-
tunately, it isn't difficult." And on the
bulletin board there are pictures of the
partners of the women in the house at
that time. These are used for iden-
tification purposes in case a partner
should appear at the door.
But for all the worries and fears an
advocate may have, there is nothing
that feels so wonderful as seeing a
woman take her life into her own hands,
and start living a life of her own without
fear. When a woman finds an apar-
tment, and leaves the shelter to make a
(Continued from Page 2)
ter and special sound; it's just that the
sounds and voices of the past require
patience from people who haven't yet
considered anything which doesn't play
on radio 24 hours a day.
I'm not at the mercy of the recording
industry. When I hear one of those old
songs that only require three chords, I
pull out that terrible guitar in my
closet, and play the tune myself. And
then maybe I'll go home and sing that
song with Dad. Even if we get it
together, we'll never even sound as
good as Whitey and Hogan. But that's
OK. Even if we did, nobody likes them

new life for herself and her children,
everyone at SAFE House shares the ex-
"It gave me such great peace of mind
just being at SAFE House, and finally
getting out on my own," Fiorello says.
"To be able to go to sleep at night
without somebody next to you, uhh,"
she sighs, "it was absolutely fantastic.
It was like peace came over all of us.
Just being able to rest without worrying
about everything I say, is it going to be
right, is it going to be wrong.'
But SAFE House's services don't stop
when a woman leaves the shelter.
"When a woman leaves us, there is
still so much more to do," Granville

says. "There is still 'continual
emotional support needed; there is still
transportation needed. That is why we
have a very close, aggressive follow-up
service. When a woman leaves SAFE
House, she still has an advocate
available to her for six months, and if
she needs our help after that, we will
try to give her as much as possible. Af-
ter a lifetime of dependency and a
period of abuse, we don't want to cut
them loose after just 30 days unless
they want it that way. If they want our
help and support, we will continue to
provide it." -
But Granville still isn't satisfied with
the service SAFE House provides. "My

only regret is that we never meet with
the assaulter. The assaulter is the seed
of the violence."
. That is why the Domestic Violence
Project has requested $55,000 in state
funds to establish counseling services
for the abusers. Because for all the
good SAFE House is doing now, it still
isn't hitting the root of the problem. If
all we do is help the woman to extricate
herself from an abusive situation, then
there is nothing to prevent her partner
from simply abusing someone else. If
we are going to reduce domestic violen-
ce, we will have to attack the problem
at its core, and start working with the


(Continued from Page 7)
There are also special events spon-
sored by local groups and the Univer-
sity. For instance, last October there
vwas a teach-in consisting of three days
of workshops in gay education. Part of
the teach-in was geared for the
education of straight people, although
few of them attended.
For many University students con-
cerned with their homosexuality, a
friendly refuge is very important. In
1971, the University created the Gay
Advocate's offices, and provided space
in the Union. While the University is
one of the few in the country to
recognize this need, the office still
exists in an environment of animosity.
"Our offices exist, which does show
some positive attitudes," says Jean
Hopkins, the Lesbian Advocate, "but
there are still negative attitudes around
the University-they need to be more
Other services include a gay hotline,
as well as discussion, support, and
therapy groups. "Class raps" comprise
an educational outreach provided
through the Advocate's office. Gay men
and women go to classes, such as
Women's Studies and Psychology, with
the purpose, says Hopkins, of "getting
across the point that we are as diverse
as any other group."
The idea behind the raps is that
discrimination can be combatted with
Rose oversees class raps. "There is
heterosexism where heterosexuals
.discriminate against and treat gay
people badly," she says. "Straight
people have to learn. Class raps teach
people about gay people." But Rose
says she realizes it takes time to get to
know people on a one-to-one basis, and
for their fears to disappear. She adds,
"This year we did raps at Health Ser-
vice and the Med School. It was really
helpful. I go to Health Service and the
doctors and nurses are sure I'm
straight, and.they hassle me about birth
control and intercourse-things that
just aren't a part of my life. But raps
helped them understand."
Sue Weisskopf, director of the
Women's Studies Program, says the
raps involve someone coming to the
class and leading a discussion around
lesbianism, as well as providing infor-
mation concerning lesbians and their
attendant stereotypes: "If we do what
we're supposed totdo, which is to en-
courage people to explore a wide
variety of topics and attitudes, then I
feel we open up intellectual and
emotional support.".
Weisskopf recognizes lesbianism as
one of the more sensitive topics that is
discussed. "Female sex is such a part
of a woman's feelings it often comes up
in Women's Studies classes,'' she notes.
"Someone feels comfortable ex-
pressing a sexual preference which is

not in the mainstream." But, "They
should not feel that they are deviants."
Many lesbians say that if fear and
ignorance could be wiped out, they
might be accepted simply as people
with different interests. Like all
minorities, lesbians need the company
of other lesbians. In many cases, this is
not an act of separatism, but merely a
cry for support. They often find
challenges in social situations, and can
either try to be accepted or defend their
choice and lifestyle. As Ann says, "It's
real hard to be gay and not be around
anyone else or be somewhere you feel
you belong."
Coming to Ann Arbor can open up a
new social life for many gay residents.
"It was exciting when I was 17," Ann
continues, "to come here and go to a
dance or something where everyone in
the room was a lesbian. Even closet gay
people go to concerts and bars."
June, a junior, said that when she was
a freshperson she had a group of friends
who were all gay. "We were a clique.
We needed each other. We formed a
friendship circle, a support group, a
coming out group." That circle of
friends also provided a sounding board
for adjusting: "We talked constantly. I
couldn't deal with straight people
because I wasn't strong enough then."
Dealing with straight people is often
difficult for lesbians, especially if they
have just "come out." Legislation rein-
forces this barrier and the laws are
unlikely to change soon. In the state of
Michigan being a homosexual, and
engaging in such activity is a crime.
Ann Arbor, however, has a Human
Rights code which prohibits
discrimination on the basis of sexual
preference in areas such as housing,
employment, and public accom-
modations. The existence of the non-
discrimination code reflects the at-
titude of people in Ann Arbor, and not
the state of Michigan. Ann Arbor has of-
ten been called a "liberal" city, a city
where homosexuality has essentially
been accepted. Lesbians have their own
feelings about Ann Arbor being liberal.
"At first I felt real nervous about
being a lesbian," said Ann, "as if
something was wrong with me. Now I
feel real comfortable about it. I don't
hate straight people, but I find they,
especially men, cannot accept why we

are like this. They're overly nice. You
can walk down a street and hold hands
with a woman and people don't stare
because it's Ann Arbor and it's 'coob'
But people still make jokes. People are
still really ignorant. The climate has
sort of changed, where people give a lot
of lip service to 'It's okay to be gay,' but
they don't feel it on the inside. It's not
June feels the non-discrimination
code is even less effective than those
dealing with discrimination against sex
or race: "Ha! Tell me about it! Yes,
there is a clause; that's nice. It's im-
portant that it's there, but it's insuf-
With or without the code, lesbians have
to deal with prejudices daily whether
they be at school, at work, or just
walking down the street: Ignoring slurs
like "dyke" is not easy. These women
are forced to put their sexuality on the
line, sometimes with the threat of
physical violence. A "Dyke Patrol,"
which no longer exists, was formed af-
ter several women were beat up for
being lesbians. Rose described it as "a
vigilante group to protect lesbians from
being beat up. Women were beat up as
early as last year; I think another
group would be good-it's needed.
Being beat up is an extension of being
called 'dyke' in the street."
Prejudices about lesbians-ideas that
they all have short hair, wear caps, and
dress like men-abound, and perhaps
the most crushing effect of these
notions that permeate even a com-
munity like Ann Arbor is to deny
lesbians the same diversity found
among any group of people.
"When I first came here," says
Vivian, a new student at the University,
"I thought that the lesbians here were
very much alike in what they believed
in and the way they presented them-
selves. But I found out.. . that lesbians
are as diverse as anyone else. They are
not a homogenized group."
- But despite that diversity, lesbians
generally all agree on one thing: the
most difficult battle they can ever hope
to win is the battle for complete accep-
tance. Ann Arbor may be a more
tolerant community than many others,
but it is certainly not yet a place where,
in Vivian's words, "lesbians are just

s"ndaym mgazine
Owen Gleiberman Judy Rakowsky


Is this

SAFE housing

Robert Altman's for battered

war with
Herman Wc

long goodbye?


Cover Photo by Maureen O'Malley

Supplement to The Michigan Daily

Ann Arbor, Michigan-Sunday, Februry 25, 1979

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