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LeslieMSteiner

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

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.

http://storify.com/NDVH/how-i-see-dv-week-1-of-dvam-2013

malika1

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.

 

how-i-see-dv

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.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 20: Congrats!

Today is the final day of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We would like to thank everyone who completed the DVAM Challenge and who helped spread awareness of domestic violence in their community.

The challenge saw us build support systems, reach out to friends who are hurting, evaluate our own behavior and relationships, identify resources that could help and even unite our voices with the NO MORE campaign. We talked about on-going wellness and ways to recognize abuse.

We hope that this month of change inspires you moving forward in your work and in your personal relationships. The final challenge is to stay committed to this issue. Don’t forget that domestic violence can affect anyone in any community. Remember that there are always advocates at The Hotline who are here to talk to you 24/7. Remember that you can make a difference in ending domestic violence, no matter the month.

Thank you for joining the DVAM Challenge.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 19: Think Ahead

Today is our second-to-last DVAM Challenge. We hope this October has been a chance of reflection and motivation for you. We hope it has been an important time of awareness for survivors, victims and advocates alike. For friends and family, we hope that you were encouraged to provide support to a loved one experiencing domestic violence. Thank you for taking this journey with us.

Change takes time. It requires that we continually renew our commitment in order to keep our goals on course. With this in mind, we challenge you to plan to stay involved with this issue. Challenge 19 — mark a few days on your calendar, months in the future, with a DVAM-related message. You could select days on which you’d like to volunteer at a local shelter. You could set reminders to reach out to a certain friend who you know is experiencing a rough time. You could mark days on which you’d like to return to our website and evaluate your relationship. You could simply write an encouraging message to yourself on your calendar to remind you that you are worthy of a good relationship.

Please share in the comments below how you are completing this challenge.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 18: Evaluate Your Relationship

Today marks the start of the final week of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and our challenge is almost finished. Today’s challenge is about checking in with your own relationship. Run through our warning signs and see if you or your partner is exhibiting abusive behaviors. Even if you feel your relationship is healthy, ask yourself — am I respectful of my partner? What can I improve on?

If you find that your relationship is not healthy or is even abusive, remember there are always advocates here at The Hotline who are ready to talk to you 24/7.

Today’s challenge: please share this image and personally reflect on your relationship.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge: Follower Participation 3

We didn’t think it was possible, but this week’s DVAM Challenge participation has been even greater than last week’s. We are so thankful to have readers, friends/followers and supporters like you that are committed to ending domestic violence. In honor of your contribution, here are a few of this week’s participants.

Thank you again for your participation. We hope that you’ll finish strong and keep up with our DVAM Challenge until the end of the month.

http://storify.com/NDVH/dvam-challenge-week-4

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 17: Commit to Saying No More

Today’s challenge #17 is about adding your voice to the collective movement against domestic violence and sexual assault. The NO MORE campaign was started to unify the efforts of the many people working to end violence.

The following is from the NO MORE website:

NO MORE was created  by 50 individuals from many different backgrounds who were frustrated by the fact that even though domestic violence and sexual assault are devastatingly pervasive and widespread– impacting rich, poor, young , old, male, female, white, brown, black, from every region and religion– they aren’t a priority in this country.

There are many ways to get involved with the NO MORE movement. You can download the symbol, you can share a message on a social media site, you can spend time on the website learning about the statistics around these types of violence, you can add your photo to the NO MORE gallery. Today’s challenge is to select one way and get involved. Make sure to visit nomore.org.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 16: Remember a Victim

We are surrounded by stories of domestic violence and sexual assault. Whether they are reported accurately or are framed as homicides, domestic disturbances or misdemeanors, we encounter these stories on a daily basis. October is an opportunity to shed greater light on the complexities of these stories and to honor the women and men who died as result of violence.

Today for DVAM Challenge 16, commit to remembering a victim of domestic violence. This can be someone you knew personally, a story that captured the attention of your community or even a story of a stranger who you never knew. Together let’s remember these victims. We keep their spirit alive in the work that we do in our communities to prevent and end abuse.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 15: Commit to Ongoing Wellness

At The Hotline, we take the health and wellness of our callers, staff and community seriously. In the spirit of the week’s theme — committing to change — we want to encourage our readers to commit to taking care of themselves. This could mean emotionally, spiritually, physically, etc. No matter where you are in the issue of domestic violence, you deserve to be healthy and happy.

For advocates, this could mean making sure you’re in a good mind space to best help your clients. For friends and family members who are witnessing the painful abuse a loved one is experiencing, this could mean talking to someone about your feelings. For victims, this could mean talking to one of our advocates and safety planning. For a survivor, this could mean having your go-to person to call when you’re tempted to contact your abusive ex.

We recently wrote about moving on emotionally after an abusive relationship. Here are a few of the ideas we outlined for taking care of yourself emotionally.

  • Identify things that help you calm down — taking a warm bath, reading a book or taking deep breaths can help you de-stress
  • Remind yourself why you left — journaling about your abuse can help you remember the reasons that you left and can be particularly helpful if you’re having second thoughts about leaving
  • Identify a call buddy for when you’re missing your ex — talking to a friend can help you resist the urge to reach out to your ex when you’re down
  • Talk to a counselor or join a domestic abuse survivor’s therapy group
  • Talk to your family or friends — community members and neighbors can also be a good resource
  • When an anniversary, birthday, holiday, etc. is coming up, prepare yourself — try to make other plans, set a strong support group in place to help you through emotional times

Your overall wellness is important. For today’s challenge, identify one thing you can do that will improve your health and wellness this week. It doesn’t have to be a big area. It could be as simple as promising yourself a jog after work. It could be choosing to call us at The Hotline and talking with an understanding advocate. It could be spending time with a friend so that you can de-stress. Whatever it is, we challenge you to make one act for your wellness this week and see how good it feels.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DVAM Challenge 14: Commit to Change

We’re entering the final lap of our DVAM Challenge. Are you still completing the tasks we’ve laid out in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month?

This week, we’re committing to change. You can commit to change on a personal level, on a community level or on a movement level. We can all make a commitment to take care of ourselves, support our friends and promote healthy relationships in our community. We can be loving and respectful partners, nonjudgmental friends and agents of change where we live.

This week, reflect on the positive goals you’d like to set for yourself. We’ll start this week by collectively committing to the cause of ending domestic violence. Today’s challenge is to share this image with someone you know. Keep in mind the power of your social media channels.