We See DV Everywhere

What do you get when you add two motivated, compassionate college students, a mission to spread awareness about domestic violence and the open road? Peace Bound. Today Jeffery From and Emma Redden share their perspective of domestic violence after touring the U.S. and asking strangers, “Why is it important to support victims of domestic violence?”

peace-boundHow did Peace Bound begin?

Emma: The project was born out of the confluence of three things: our interest in the issue of domestic violence, our love and belief in the power of art, and our desire to have an adventure.

When we learned about the Davis Foundation 100 Projects for Peace grant, we designed a project that addressed the issue of abuse within an artistic framework. We decided to travel by car because it allowed us to reach very different parts of the country. This diversity was very important to the conception of the project because it enforced the idea of intersectional solidarity and support.

What was your goal for the project? Why did you choose to work with photos?

Jeffrey: Our project has many goals, but it is primarily to create a resource of accessible support for survivors of domestic violence in an effort to reduce feelings of isolation; to open dialogues among those who are unfamiliar with the issue; to spread general awareness throughout the country; and to demonstrate the national scale of both the issue itself and the solidarity that exists across the nation.

We chose to work with photographs because the visual nature of this medium makes our project both personal and accessible. Instead of statistics and academic essays about this issue, we wanted to create a visual resource that is understandable across age, race, creed, and socio-economic divisions. Moreover, we chose to use faces and handwriting so our portraits would reflect the intimate nature of both the issue and the support and solidarity the participants offer.

Where did you travel?

Emma: We began in Vermont and did a large loop through the South, up the West Coast and then back through the North. We passed through a total of 25 states and stopped at 12 major cities. The cities we spent a bit of time in included: Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; New Orleans, Louisiana; Austin, TX; Santa Fe, NM; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Boise, ID; Sioux Falls, SD; and Chicago, IL.

4What was your process in each location?

Jeffrey: Our process underwent an organic and necessary transformation throughout our trip. At the onset of our project, we approached randomly selected individuals, be it a woman at a flea market, or a man sitting in his truck, and presented them with our question (‘why is it important to support victims of domestic violence?’).

This first technique proved to alienating and startling for some. Therefore, we changed our methodology a bit and began canvassing on the street—but our results were still not what we wanted. People heard the words “domestic violence” and retreated.

Our breakthrough came with a simple rephrasing of our project. We began presenting Peace Bound as an “art project for peace,” and the results were amazing. The new phrasing made it clear to others that we didn’t want money, we weren’t branding passers-by as victims, and it invited an openness and creativity which allowed people to hear more than just the words “domestic violence.”

What did you discover as you met people and talked about domestic violence?

Emma: We discovered a few ubiquitous truths: domestic violence effects people’s lives across geographical, racial and socio-economic divides; there are wonderful and thoughtful people in all parts of this country who dedicate their lives to helping empower survivors; and lastly, there are people everywhere who believe in the possibility of changing the injustices in our society.

Our personal exposure to the prevalence of the issue was illuminated on one of the very first days when we walked up to two random women in a Flea Market in Virginia and they both shared with us that they were survivors. Complementary to that however, was the encouragement of our interactions with the public.

While there were people who did not want to engage with us at all, there were many strangers who took time of their day to show support for something they may, or may not necessarily be effected by. These interactions were very positive and a reassurance that despite all of the messages in our culture that promote and reinforce abuse, there are people who understand the implications and dangers, and are willing to stand against them. 

How did people react when you asked them to talk about this subject?

Jeffrey: Sometimes we were greeted with (literal) open arms, and in other times people simply waved us off. Our subject matter is a difficult topic to present to strangers because, at the end of the day, domestic violence is a trying subject to investigate. Whether it’s because it’s too close to home, they think it is a “private issue” or they simply don’t want to think about such a heavy topic, it’s a hard thing to interject into someone’s day. Once we rephrased our project, however, people began opening up and approaching the topic with a new creativity.

You chose to use the subject’s actual handwriting over their photo. Why did you choose to go this route? What does it add to the photo?

6Emma: In many ways our project is about identity; and the power of a community of people who offer to identify as allies. In light of this, handwriting is a way to reinforce and demonstrate identity. As each person’s face is different and unique, so is his or her handwriting. The handwriting adds an additional personal and intimate touch to a person’s statement.

What surprised you about your experience?  Did this project change how you thought about domestic violence?

 Jeffrey: It’s easy to divide our country by politics, race, creed, or socio-economics, but this project was a surprising reminder that before all of that, we’re just people—and most people are willing to help. Relying on strangers is a vulnerable place to be—and one we were not accustomed to—so to be received with such warmth was an amazing experience. I think the biggest things we took away were renewed understandings of our personal abilities to make change, and that people will surprise you, no matter who you think they might be or where you think they come from.

Emma: I will follow up with that. I had conceptions about what I thought parts of the United States were like, and what the people were like who lived there based off the media, stereotypes, politics and stories; and these conceptions created barriers for me. Our trip challenged that notion constantly—which surprised me. Everywhere we went people had similar stories about pain and heartbreak but also about strength and resilience. The trip ignited a sense of shared humanity. This is something I carry with me everyday.

Is there an image you’ve created that really touches you? 

http://peacebound.wordpress.com 3

Emma: My favorite image is of a young man we met in New Orleans. He answered our crux question with “So they can love again, find peace again, be whole again.” When I took his photograph he crossed his tattooed arms across his chest and embraced himself, without prompt. The combination of this body language, his gender, and his hopeful statement created an image that I think is very powerful. He is a man giving tender optimism to a survivor’s future.

Jeffrey: “because we are human.” The simplicity of the statement and image blows me away. It extends beyond race or creed or gender or politics or socio-economics or what have you and reminds us that, at our most basic level, the human level, we are all connected, we are all affected, and we are all responsible for one and other. And in that same token, as humans, we cannot do this to others or stand by and let it happen. The woman in the photo is 20 year old, and she wrote it with a smile on her face like it was an obvious truth.

What were some challenges you faced with this project?

Emma: One of the biggest challenges was figuring out how to conduct the project in a way that was empowering and not isolating for anyone who participated. There is one moment that really stands out to me that illustrates this. At the beginning of the trip, we weren’t in places where it would make sense to stand on the street and talk to everyone who walked by, so we decided we would just start to ask people we came in contact with—where ever that may be.

There was a moment when we were at a fireworks store in Tennessee, and there were a couple women working inside and they were alone so I walked in, and explained the project and asked if they would be interested in participating. I thought I had been clear that we weren’t trying to seek out victims, and I wasn’t identifying one of these women as a victim by trying to talk to her – she was just someone who possibly could have some insight about our topic. If she was a victim or not, it didn’t matter; she still might have opinions and feelings about why it’s important to support victims.

But her reaction made me feel like I had hurt her and that domestic abuse was something that touched her life closely. I think hearing the words ‘victim’ and ‘domestic violence’ were painful enough so that the rest of what I said was no longer relevant—regardless of my intention. This experience made us rethink the way we approached the project. In casual, public settings, it had to be clear that we were approaching everyone who was around and we weren’t singling anyone out. Our intention for the project was to create and reinforce feelings of solidarity—so needless to say, if our process was in anyway making people feel singled out or isolate—we were doing something wrong.

5-1What are your next steps for reaching more people with Peace Bound?

Emma: Our next step is to publish the portraits into a book. At the moment, the book is a few weeks away from being ready to send to the printer. Once we have the books, we will distribute the majority of the 100 we print to different service centers and agencies around the country that we have relationships with; and then we hope to sell the remaining books to help fund the printing of another batch. Due to unfortunately pervasiveness of the issue, our project doesn’t have an expiration to its relevancy. Therefore, once the book is printed, we will use as many outlets and resources as we can to try to get the book in the hands of as many people as possible. We have plans to present our work at a statewide conference in the spring and have some contacts we hope to follow up with in terms of gaining publicity.

Jeffrey: Additionally, we will keep our website peacebound.wordpress.com as a permanent resource on the Internet. Peace Bound has the potential to benefit countless individuals; whether a survivor who finds the book in a local shelter, a family member who does not know how to support their struggling loved one, an advocate who feels weighed down by the gravity of their work, or simply someone who does not know how effected they are by this issue. The project blog already broke 11,000 hits from over 40 countries, and continues to spread.

We hope that Peace Bound’s visual emphasis makes it’s messages accessible and powerful. The simple fact that it is a tangible collection of voices speaking out against an issue too often swept beneath the carpet of “private issues” makes it a permanent resource for support, solidarity, and hope. Although approaches to challenging domestic violence will surely evolve over time, as long as this website and book remain available to the public, they will continue to spread this project’s messages of peace.

Jeffrey: I see domestic violence as an epidemic that we can only cure as a community.

Emma: I see domestic violence everywhere.

Portraits for Non-Violence from Emma Redden on Vimeo.


How I See DV — Week 2 Recap

We’re into the second week of October which means that we’re already through week 2 of DVAM! We’ve asked you all to share with us how you #SeeDV, and it’s been incredible to read all the powerful, insightful responses from those participating in the campaign.



Jasmine V: I See a Happy Life After DV

dvam-jasmine-vToday the young singer, actress and advocate Jasmine V tells us how domestic violence has impacted her journey and why she feels we should all get involved.

Your song “Paint a Smile” is an optimistic anthem about your recovery from an abusive relationship. What did that song mean for you personally? How do you feel when you perform it?

Paint a Smile is definitely for me the brighter side of this situation. Although domestic violence is unfortunate, for me it changed by point of view on life and what I deserve. I love the song and every time I perform it I think of the people that relate and how I helped them.

Sharing your story is incredibly brave. What motivated you to spread the word about abusive relationships?

Well it was my first time being in a situation like that and I knew there was so many other boys/girls that go through it. Very few people talk about it and I wanted to be the one that did.

What does healthy dating look like to you?

To me healthy dating is when u can count more good times than bad times. Always having fun, not taking everything so serious and giving one another a chance to breathe and making sure that person adds value to your life.

Your video for “Didn’t Mean It” depicts an abusive relationship. Was it difficult to film?

It was difficult to film, but it was also a weight of my shoulders when we released it because I knew I was giving people a chance to see exactly what was happening at the time. Although I could show how bad it was when it all escalates, I also just wanted people to see how it starts sometimes.

In the “Didn’t Mean It” video, your character has a hard time leaving the relationship. What do people need to know about the experience of leaving an abusive partner?

When I was in the abusive relationship it was hard to leave because I was so scared he was gonna hurt me again like he did before. I took care of him so I almost felt like a parent to him more than a girlfriend because he didn’t have anything. When I built the strength to leave you wouldn’t believe how happy I was!

Do you have any words of encouragement for fellow survivors during Domestic Violence Awareness Month?

Yes, I am so happy and proud that you took the courage to realize your worth and leave a unfortunate situation! You’re truly blessed and know that you made the right decision to leave because no one deserves to be hurt!

You have amazing fans in your Jasminators. After you opened up about your experience, what was their response?

A lot of my Jasminators were shocked, and it was a little scary to see the reactions. I got a lot of messages talking about how their they’re going through it along with their mothers, sisters, and friends. They told me by watching my video it gave them strength to get out of their relationships.

Please finish this sentence: I see domestic violence  ___________.

I see domestic violence as an act when someone doesn’t feel in control or has hatred inside themselves. If more people speak up, not only people in the relationships but people who witness it, we can all make a change little by little!


About Jasmine V

The multi-talented Jasmine V is a rising star that shows no sign of stopping. After she starred in Justin Beiber’s Baby music video, she supported him on his 2010-2011 “My World” tour. In 2012, she released her first music video for her single Didn’t Mean It. The video focuses on domestic violence awareness, and the video hit #1 for two weeks on MTV.com. Within the first 24 hours after releasing the music video she had 14 worldwide trending topics on twitter. In addition, Jasmine’s TV credits include guest-starring roles on such shows as Disney Channel’s “That’s So Raven,” Touchstone Pictures’ “My Wife and Kids”. She was cast as a series regular Disney pilot sitcom “House Broken”, a spin-off of Disney’s “The Suite Life of Zach and Cody,” starring Brian Stepanek and Selena Gomez. She also had recurring roles on such shows as ABC’s short lived but critically acclaimed series “The Nine.” Jasmine has also been featured in Kanye West’s music video Jesus Walks and Frankie J‘s How To Deal. Learn more at jasminevmusic.com.


I See DV Prevention as an Idea Worth Spreading

Today, we’re hearing from Leslie Morgan Steiner, a brave survivor, critically acclaimed author, speaker and a member of the hotline’s National Advisory Board. She tells how she sees domestic violence after her experience of giving a widely viewed TED Talk on the issue. 

Last August, I got a call from an old friend I had not seen since our 1977 elementary school graduation. He knew that I wrote and spoke openly about my experiences as a domestic violence survivor. He had a question: had I ever considered doing a TED Talk based on Crazy Love, my 2009 memoir about surviving domestic violence in my first marriage?

Turns out that Phil, no longer the 12-year-old soccer fanatic I remembered, had founded TEDxRainier, the Seattle-based offshoot of the big TED conventions held every year in Long Beach, California. On one Saturday in November, Phil explained, 1,200 people would each pay $100 to gather in an auditorium at the University of Seattle to listen to 30 brief, impactful TED Talks. The speeches would be filmed and distributed via YouTube.

I gave about 20 talks annually based on Crazy Love and my anthology Mommy Wars. Some keynotes to larger audiences had already been posted on YouTube. I wasn’t sure how doing a TEDTalk would be much different.

I found out quickly. I proudly submitted my standard domestic violence keynote to Phil. I had gotten standing ovations with this talk. I thought he would be impressed.

He was, he said via GoogleHangout during our first face-to-face conference in September. (TedxRainier usually coaches speakers in person, but the 3,000 miles between Seattle and my home office in Washington, DC made in-person meetings a challenge.)

Then Phil asked me a tough question about domestic violence: Who cares?

I was stunned. Phil softened the blow by explaining that TED audiences are unusually diverse, with people ranging in age from 18 to 80, from all professions, political affiliations, and interest groups. I couldn’t assume that anyone had come to hear me talk, or that a single listener knew anything about relationship violence. I would have to work hard to engage them all with one very dynamic 15-minute talk from the second I stepped onto the stage.

With Phil’s coaching, I shifted the focus of my keynote and simplified my messages.

My opening line became:

“I am here to talk about a disturbing question… Which has an equally disturbing answer. My topic is domestic violence. The question I’m going to try to answer today is the one question everyone always asks: Why does she stay? Why would anyone stay with a man who beats her?”

And then I pulled a polished nickel Colt 45 (a replica, actually, but it looked plenty real) out of the little black and white purse I’d brought on stage with me. It was the same type of loaded gun my ex-husband had held to my head more than a dozen times, I explained. The audience, all 1,200 of them, got very quiet. Taking advantage of their silence, I launched into the heart of my talk – the predictable patterns of “crazy love,” and the complex factors that make leaving an abusive partner so very hard.

I ended my talk by trying to convince the audience to transform their preconceived impressions about domestic violence. I wanted to inspire each and every person listening to act differently when confronted with the signs of abuse in their own lives.

“Right now maybe you are thinking: wow, this was fascinating. But actually, this whole time I’ve been talking about YOU. I promise you there are several people listening right now who are currently being abused, or were abused as young children. Or are abusers themselves. Abuse could be affecting your sister, your daughter, your best friend…right this moment.

“My final request for you: talk about what you heard here. Abuse thrives only in silence. You have the power to end domestic violence – simply by shining a light on it. We victims need everyone – we need EVERY ONE of YOU – to understand the secrets of domestic violence. Together we can make our beds, our dinner tables, our families, the safe and peaceful oases they should be.”

The response to my TEDTalk was beyond anything I could have imagined. Over one million people have seen it. The talk has been translated into over 30 languages. I’ve gotten in touch with domestic violence victims and advocates from around the world – TED’s global reach is well beyond anything I could have achieved on my own. I’m currently scheduled to speak in the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, Madrid and yes, Seattle again, all due to the impact of my TEDTalk (plus a little help from the amazing woman who books my speaking engagements, Gail Davis).

But perhaps most meaningful to me: I’m reaching people who would otherwise not care about domestic violence. People oblivious to the lifelong trauma relationship violence inflicts. By helping expand my audience, Phil and TED also got me to expand my goals as a domestic violence advocate: to use the power of speech to reach all corners of the world, and all corners of people’s minds.

Leslie Morgan Steiner is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Crazy Love, as well as the critically acclaimed anthology, Mommy Wars. Her most recent book, The Baby Chase, explores surrogacy’s impact on the American family. Visit her website at www.lesliemorgansteiner.com or view her TEDTalk.


How I See DV — Week 1 Recap

We asked and you answered. In the first week of our campaign we wanted to know how you saw domestic violence (DV) in your own community. Today, and every Friday in October, we’re sharing the answers we hear. Thank you for the great feedback — we’re excited to continue this conversation with you all month.



I See DV As A Complex Issue That Impacts ALL Women and Girls

This October, we’re highlighting different perspectives around domestic violence as part of our How I See DV campaign. Our first contributor is the accomplished activist Malika Saada Saar, director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls).

My Work Taught Me How To Talk About Domestic Violence

I am a human rights lawyer for women and girls because of the domestic violence movement — a collection of people working to ending abuse. The domestic violence movement taught me how to name the violence done to women and girls. It gave me a language to frame the abuse in my own familial circles. And, the movement grounded me in how I wanted to make a life insistent on women’s dignity, power and safety.

The Movement, and Our Mission, Have Evolved

Since my college days of working at a domestic violence shelter, my belief in how the movement ought to move forward has changed significantly. For me, it is no longer only about the original framework of intimate partner violence against women.

The last reauthorization of our landmark Violence Against Women Act unearthed how our work has really progressed as a movement against gender-based violence. The original passage of VAWA in 1994 signaled a new discourse on violence that reshaped how we as a nation both acknowledged and framed spousal abuse. But, now almost twenty years later, VAWA includes language that names sexual violence and the need for victim services, redefines trafficking of children as a form of sexual violence, ends the impunity of non-Native persons who rape and assault women and girls on tribal lands, and recognizes that LGBT individuals are also victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Like VAWA, the domestic violence movement is powerfully expanding in its contemplation of violence to include the complex ways in which violence plays out in the lives of ALL women — and girls.

Domestic Violence Affects ALL Women and Girls

I deeply believe that we must continue to be expansive, broad, and diverse as a movement because the violence against us continues, unabated. Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the U.S. That means more women are being harmed by violence than in car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

The lives of African-American women are even more diminished by violence, as African American women experience intimate partner violence at a rate 35 percent higher than that of white women. And, one out every three American women has been beaten, sexually coerced or otherwise abused in her lifetime.

The narrative of physical and sexual violence against women and girls continues to cut across the buffers of economic or educational privilege, and breeches every divide of race, class and ethnicity in America. It is a story whispered in the corners of mansions in affluent neighborhoods, in the best private schools and universities, behind the walls of women prisons and girl detention centers, and on the street corners where girls are sexually exploited and trafficked. Violence against women and girls remains a painfully American tale.

There Are New Forms of Abuse — and New Work to Be Done

Clearly, there is still so much more work to be done to address, name, and end violence against women and girls, especially when the violence has taken on new manifestations: cyber-stalking and harassment, digitized rape, the intersection between the hyper-sexualization of girls and violence. But I am made stronger when I consider the inheritance that we possess at this moment in the work.

The inheritance we possess as women who stand on the shoulders of so many who went before us, who fought for us, who won for us access to power, equality and full personhood. I think of the other inheritance too: the inheritance of those victims of rape, exploitation, abuse, and coercion whose lives were snuffed out because of the violence done to them because they were women and girls. It is the inheritance of all of this, the generational victories and sufferings that allow us to be here, with an abiding commitment to end violence against women and girls, on this domestic violence awareness month, and every month, in the years ahead.

About Our Contributor

Malika Saada Saar is Special Counsel on Human Rights at The Raben Group. She also serves as director of the Human Rights Project for Girls (Rights4Girls), an effort focused on the human rights of vulnerable girls in the U.S. Previously, Malika co-founded and was the executive director of the Rebecca Project for Human Rights, a policy and advocacy organization for women and families. At Rebecca Project, Malika led the effort to shut down Craigslist sex ads that served as the leading site for the trafficking of children for sex, ended the federal practice of shackling pregnant mothers behind bars in U.S. prisons, and successfully advocated for millions in federal funding for treatment services for at-risk families. Newsweek and the Daily Beast have named Malika as one of “150 Women Who Shake the World.”

The Obama White House selected Ms. Saada Saar to serve on the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights.

Malika has been featured in the Daily Beast, Huffington Post, O: The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, Politico, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today, Redbook Magazine, Essence, Tavis Smiley Show, BBC, ABC News, Good Morning America, CNN, and National Public Radio.



This October, Tell Us How You See DV

October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), starts today!

Last year, our 30 days of DVAM challenges had us talking about on-going wellness, evaluating our own behavior in relationships, building support systems and reaching out to friends and those in need.

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we’re focusing even more on you and want to hear How You See DV (domestic violence) within your life. Join us for our How I See DV campaign throughout the month to share your own message.

DV affects lives in different ways. Maybe you’ve witnessed or experienced it firsthand in your own home. Maybe you know someone else who has. Perhaps you’re noticing it more often in pop culture and news, or you overheard someone loudly yelling at their partner in public and it left you feeling unsettled (unhealthy behaviors are red flags — we’re talking about those, too).

This month, join us in this collaborative effort to bring more visibility to the growing problem of domestic violence. DV affects a large percentage of Americans but it’s still a taboo subject. We need to bring this ‘behind closed doors’ problem out into the open and acknowledge how it affects our communities, our families and our lives.

We Need You

This October, we’re inviting everyone to speak up. Tell us about a time when you saw domestic violence firsthand. Tell us about the effects of DV in your workplace, friend circle or larger community. Tell us why it is important to you to speak up now.

Here’s how:

  • Connect with us on Twitter and on Facebook and like/share our images, statuses and blog posts with your networks. Don’t forget to engage in discussions on our blog and Facebook pages by leaving comments
  • Tweet, Facebook, Vine, Instagram about the campaign, sharing your perspective on domestic violence by using the hashtag #SeeDV
  • Create a video around the campaign using Vine, Instagram Video or Youtube, linking your content to ours with the hashtag #SeeDV
  • Join us back here at the blog every Friday to see if one of your tweets, videos or photos has made our Friday round up
  • Let us know what you or your community are doing for DVAM

Read Blog Posts By Special Guest Writers

We’re starting the conversation around different perspectives on domestic violence by featuring guest writers all October. We reached out to free-thinking community leaders that range from athletes to activists. Check out our blog all month to see differing views on this very important issue.

Get Inspired

Need some inspiration? Check out our campaign landing page for ideas, as well as tweets and statuses you can use today.

HopeLine & Three Minutes for Three Million

This DVAM, we’re supporting HopeLine for Verizon. Sign up to host your own phone drive to help victims in need.

We also recently reached an important milestone at the hotline — we answered our three millionth call. To recognize this moment, we’re asking our friends to pledge Three Minutes for Three Million. Sign up and commit to spending three minutes actively strengthening a relationship in your life. This could mean spending three minutes calling a family member, catching up with a friend or even bonding with your significant other.

We look forward to spending this month raising awareness with you and sparking change by sharing how we #SeeDV.


We at the hotline care very deeply about the safety of anyone using our services. Please keep in mind that sharing personal stories could jeopardize your safety if you are currently in an abusive relationship, or have recently left an abusive partner. If you would like to discuss your unique situation and receive support, please call 1-800-799-7233.