Back in the 70s a cigarette company adopted a successful slogan; perhaps you remember it?
"You've come a long way, Baby!"
In the years since, the cigarette company has faded like stale second-hand smoke, but the slogan has survived. It could well be adopted by those who combat domestic abuse.
Incredible as it may now seem, back in those same 70s, domestic abuse was viewed as "reasonable" human behavior. Men were still the "King of the Castle," and women were often expected to demonstrate submission and subservience.
If a "housewife" stepped "out of line," she might expect harsh consequences – not only severe criticism, but verbal abuse, or even physical violence. Then she was consistently blamed for the suffering she experienced.
Amazingly, there are still men who think and act that way, though here in Eau Claire, they are – thankfully – fading like stale second-hand smoke --largely due to the fact that men have begun to change their attitudes and behaviors.
Gerald "Jerry" Wilkie is an Eau Clairian born and raised. In the 26 years he served as director of Bolton Refuge House he has seen this community grow and change and grow up – from a community that viewed abused women as the butt of thoughtless jokes, to a place that is committed to compassion and proactive prevention.
Community consensus is a slow-moving and slow-witted animal – but Jerry – along with countless citizens who have witnessed the cancer of domestic abuse and survived – has helped to change forever the way society views domestic abuse and begin the healing. When every last woman, child -- and most especially, man – finally views domestic violence as an "unreasonable human behavior," then we will be healed.
Jerry just retired as director of Bolton Refuge House. He wants to spend more time with his grandkids, though that won't curtail his involvement with the Eau Claire County Board, where he's served multiple terms as District 19 supervisor.
In our full-length interview, you'll get a tour of the "Refuge House's" humble beginnings, get the lowdown on how domestic violence is harming our children, learn how government could take pointers from non-profits, and hear Jerry's impassioned take on "gun culture" and safety.
Jerry's a small city native with a heart the size of an idea whose time has finally come, and the spirit of someone who won't take violence for an answer.
Jerry Wilkie, In Person. Looking out for each other. Only on TV 18.