Tag Archives: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

focusing on healthy relationships

Today is “Taking it to the Streets” day for Strong Start, an organization dedicated to educating young people about healthy relationships and ending teen dating violence. Eleven organizations in Atlanta,, Austin, Boston, Bridgeport, the Bronx, Idaho, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Oakland, Providence, and Wichita will be helping spread the message about healthy relationships. According to the website, Start Strong is also encouraging people to join the conversation online – “We are asking for your best thinking, your best advice, your best observations to get this country learning about healthy relationships, how to have them, build them, keep them and ensure that violence and abuse are never tolerated.”

It’s great that Start Strong is doing this work and even greater that they’re taking it to the streets today during Domestic Violence Awareness Month to help people see that teen dating violence is truly related to domestic violence overall. A lot of the time we focus on the negative when trying to create awareness by telling people what they should NOT be doing or by showing them how jacked up their lives and relationships are. This campaign builds off of what many advocates know already and what President Obama said in his official National Domestic Violence month proclamation on Oct. 1:

During this month, we rededicate ourselves to breaking the cycle of violence. By providing young people with education about healthy relationships, and by changing attitudes that support violence, we recognize that domestic violence can be prevented. We must build the capacity of our Nation’s victim service providers to reach and serve those in need. We urge community leaders to raise awareness and bring attention to this quiet crisis. Together, we must ensure that, in America, no victim of domestic violence ever struggles alone.

Even amidst all this positivity, I’m kind of saddened. As a soon-to-be 28 year old woman (Nov 1!), I realize that neither I nor many of my peers know how to articulate the characteristics of a healthy relationship. So few of us have seen them or been in them. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that this is a true statement. How can we be mentors and teachers to young people starting out? Start Strong’s target audience is 11-14 year old boys and girls. Good, it’s not too early. Clearly we all needed some help learning how to love ourselves and one another in a supportive, encouraging, uplifting and healthy way.  I’m going to keep an eye on this organization and I hope that you do too. Try following Start Strong on Twitter.

Here are ways that YOU can participate ONLINE on October 22nd.  It’s easy and will only take a few minutes of your time:

  1. Give Start Strong your relationship feedback. They need to know what you know. Click Here to give your feedback!
  2. Post a conversation starter to your Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/yfxr7yl) or Twitter profile. This will have a major impact.
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DV Awareness: Remember My Name

As posted to the Domestic Violence Awareness: Making Advocacy Accessible Facebook Cause (to which I am a contributor).

As human beings we are blessed with the ability to express ourselves through language and, by extension, the written word. From the beginning of time, words have been used to capture the mundane details of life, identify objects, show the way to hidden places, record history, and foretell the future. There is also power in words where they allow us to share our innermost thoughts, feelings and ideas. Writing let’s us harness our energy, both positive and negative, and our words will bear witness to our lives. While we all have the ability to write ourselves into diaries, essays, blogs, journals, articles and poems, there comes a time when an individual will so accurately capture the essence of a movement with their words. Over a decade ago in 1995, Kimberly A. Collins wrote Remember My Name, a poem that has been used by Domestic Violence Awareness Month [DVAM] observances to memorialize victims that have lost their lives to domestic violence (take a moment to view the names of homicide victims across the U.S.).
For DVAM 2009, we share this poem with you in the hope that through written words we will never forget the names of those lost to domestic violence and that we should all heal through our shared connections and experience. You can read more about the author after the jump below.

Remember My Name

When you remember my walk upon this earth
Look not into my steps with pity.
When you taste the tears of my journey
Notice how they fill my foot prints
Not my spirit
For that remains with me.

My story must be told
Must remain in conscious memory
So my daughters won’t cry my tears
Or follow my tortured legacy.
Lovin’
is a tricky thing
If it doesn’t come
from a healthy place,
If Lovin’
Doesn’t FIRST practice
on self
it will act like a stray bullet
not caring what it hits

You may say:
Maybe I should’ve loved him a little less
Maybe I should’ve loved me a little more,
Maybe I should’ve not believed he’d never hit me again.
All those maybes will not bring me back – not right his wrong.
My life was not his to take.

As your eyes glance my name
Understand once I breathed
Walked
Loved
just like you.
I wish for all who glance my name
To know love turned fear – kept me there
Loved twisted to fear,
Kept me in a chokehold
Cut off my air
Blurred my vision
I couldn’t see how to break free.

I shoulda, told my family
I shoulda told my friends
I shoulda got that CPO
Before the police let him go
But all those shoulda’s can’t bring me back
when I lied so well
To cover the shame
To hide the signs.

If my death had to show
what love isn’t
If my death had to show
that love shouldn’t hurt
If my death had to make sure
another woman told a friend
instead of holding it in
If my death reminds you
how beautiful
how worthy
you really are
If my death reminds you
to honor all you are
daily
Then remember my name
Shout it
from the center of your soul
Wake me
in my grave
Let ME know
My LIVING was not in vain.

Copyright 1995 Kimberly A. Collins, Washington, D.C., reprinted with permission. Click to read more about the author

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DV Awareness: Start with YOUR Constituency

As posted on the Domestic Violence Awareness: Making Advocacy Accessible Facebook Cause (to which I am a contributor).

Start with YOUR Constituency

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is commonly known among advocates and allies who work to eliminate violence in relationships and families. Unfortunately, it may not be as well known among the general public. Many an advocate has spent hours creating a well designed, well planned public awareness event for October, only to find themselves “singing to the choir” or speaking to their existing constituency.

Raising awareness among people who do not know much about domestic violence is challenging but not impossible. The issue is getting them to the table. A good place to start is with your existing constituency – family members, friends, co-workers, social networking groups, your faith-based or spiritual community – and using them as a conduit to reach more people.

Listed below are some ideas to branch out and help more people understand and care about domestic violence during October and through the year. Continue reading

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Quick note on Joe Biden & VAWA

Like the majority of Americans (and world citizens) I had never heard of Sarah Palin until she was announced as John McCain’s running mate. Never. When Barack Obama announced Joe Biden as his choice for VP, I wasn’t scratching my head thinking, “WHO?” I had heard of Joe Biden. A lot.

In my last full time job before law school, I worked at a domestic violence organization. There, I heard Senator Biden’s name many times in association with legislation and activism against domestic violence. People in my agency would talk about Biden like he was the greatest man ever. Whatever his faults, Biden was known to pay more than lip service when it came to violence against women. I had heard of Joe Biden again as I worked on a research paper for a class in law school. I wrote about the Violence Against Women Act and immigrant battered women. I got an A, by the way.

Peep this video from the Obama campaign highlighting Biden’s contribution to VAWA.

I think the young woman’s story in the video is particularly powerful because it shows how a woman can go for help, after being repeatedly terrorized, and still not be safe. No matter how many times I say it, people always think it’s so easy for a woman to just leave. Maybe coming from a victim/survivor’s mouth, it’ll sound a little different.

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Be Bold: Women of Color Against Violence

On Thursday, October 30th, join survivors, allies, activists, organizers, bloggers, artists, sisters and friends in speaking out against violence against women of color.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Violence against women of color is a huge problem the world over. Here in the U.S., a newly released study reinforces what many of us already know, Black women in America are victims of crime at rates higher than our counterparts of other races. The Violence Policy Center’s report“When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2006 Homicide Data,”stated

The study stated there were 1,818 race-identified females murdered by males. And while white women accounted for the largest total of those killed–1,208–African American women were killed at a rate nearly three times higher.

Of those homicides where a murder weapon could be identified, 305 of the victims were fatally shot and most during the course of an argument. (Source Chicago Defender)

Women of color are hit harder by violence often because they already deal with issues that normally make it difficult to exorcise one’s self from a dangerous situation (i.e. economics, housing, family structure, education, and unemployment). Continue reading

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October Lights Shine for DVAM

Philadelphia is pink. The fountain at LOVE Park is spouting pink water. The stores along Walnut Street have pink ribbons up in their windows. Boathouse Row has switched out its normal white lights for pink ones. The skyline is lit up in pink. It’s all because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the City has joined up with the Susan G. Komen Foundation. That’s cool. Breast cancer is scary and affecting more women every year. Awareness and the search for a cure is important.

However, in some other cities/states, the sky is lit with another color: Purple. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).

DVAM evolved from the “Day of Unity” in October 1981 conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national levels. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline.   In 1989 the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.*

Before law school, I worked at a statewide domestic violence organization. I remember helping to organize DVAM projects all over the state. Not that I don’t think breast cancer is important, it’s just that from my experience, October was always full of purple ribbons. Ribbons can totally coexist, though. Anyway, I digress.

There are a lot of myths about domestic violence, so DVAM is necessary to empower survivors and lift the cloak of secrecy that often surrounds DV. Some quick facts:

• Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or
otherwise abused during her lifetime.
• Nearly one-third of American women (31 percent) report being physically or sexually abused
by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
• Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. In 2001, women accounted for
85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence (588,490 total) and men accounted for
approximately 15 percent of the victims (103,220 total).
• Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate.
• Women are seven to 14 times more likely than men to report suffering severe physical assaults from an intimate partner.**

New York State is going purple for DVAM. Niagara Falls will be purple, Albany City Hall will light up and the Mid-Hudson Bridge (at Poughkeepsie) will be wearing a necklace of purple lights. Check out what your city is doing for DVAM.

FYI, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (24hrs): 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). For more information, hit up the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV).

Source: *Domestic Violence Awareness Project; **Endabuse.org

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