April 26, 2012
D’Va Sharon Silberman asks you to believe
By Lailani Upham
Sharon Silberman, CSKT Administration Office Manager is one of the most recent CSKT Domestic Violence Program Advisory Committee members, however one of the longest CSKT employees on board, which gives her an edge in helping victims in the community, says Bevra Jacobson, CSKT Domestic Violence Program Manager. (Lailani Upham photo)
PABLO — She’s got a heart of gold.
Sharon Silberman, one of the longest serving employees of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, yet one of the newest “D’VA” members is armed with the knowledge that a person’s first reaction can make a difference to someone in a domestic violence situation, says Bevra Jacobson, CSKT Domestic Violence Program Manager.
“D’VA” is the name given to the ladies who are seated on the Domestic Violence Program Advisory Committee.
The “first reaction” philosophy was the theme at the annual International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking held in San Diego earlier this month, where Jacobson and Silberman attended.
The motto was “Start by Believing.” Start by Believing is a public awareness campaign uniquely focused on public response to sexual assault. The philosophy says that each individual’s personal reaction is the first step in a long path toward justice and healing.
Silberman says she has not personally witnessed nor experienced domestic violence like some on board to advise, and at times says she feels inadequate to help victims.
However, the compassion to help is what Silberman is made up of. Silberman has two grown children and grandchildren she adores and a sweetheart marriage of over 40 years.
Silberman recalls in all her years working with CSKT administration, since the seventies, there was a man who came through the tribal office and was caught up in a domestic situation. Many of the cases are women, however this case stood out to Silberman. “I never thought a man as a victim and looking for shelter. He didn’t have confidence and he looked lost. I asked, ‘How do I steer him?’”
Silberman says she sees a good number of people in “desperate situations” as she is the gateway to the CSKT Tribal Council Chambers. “A lot of people don’t want to talk about it – they (situations) are very private issues, but there are some that do tell,” Silberman said.
Silberman says she listens and hopes to point the hurt in the right direction. “I feel for the men and women. To me I want to think preventative, what can we do to prevent this in life?”
Her belief is that everybody in every walk of life can touch a life in a good way by doing good things for people. To simply acknowledge a child sitting next to them can do a world of good she says.
To be a D’VA involves having a sensitive heart. “I know Sharon used to be on the Board of Directors of SAFE Harbor and has a personal history of being interested in helping others who have experienced domestic violence. With her position at the Tribal Council offices, Sharon is in a position of coming into contact with victims who are seeking help. At the International Conference on Sexual Assault that Sharon attended on behalf of the Victim Assistance Program, the slogan that was used at the conference was, “Start by believing.” When someone tells you they’ve been raped, there’s a simple response.. start by believing – your reaction makes the difference. With Sharon’s own interest in helping victims, and now armed with the knowledge that a person’s first reaction can make a difference to someone, Sharon is now even more of a valuable asset – as she always has been to the community,” says Jacobson.
The conference placed a fresh direction for Silberman to help those she can in the position she is at and to share the wealth of wisdom. “Start by believing,” she stated. “A person who is traumatized and finally finds the courage and a sense of ‘can-do’ and tells someone about the trauma – that person they talk to has a huge impact on the way the (hurt) person handles the trauma into the future, whether it is positive or negative. The first person they tell should have the first reaction – to believe.”