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digital safety

Getting Digital to End Abuse

In light of the recent tragedies that occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, it’s easy to feel like tech and social media is causing more problems than inspiring good.

While there have been examples of the two being used to harm, we’re also seeing social media and technology being used to prevent and spread awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault. Today, we’re taking a look at empowering apps, websites and projects that are changing the way we see abuse.


Apps Against Abuse

In 2011, Vice President Joe Biden launched the Apps Against Abuse challenge, calling on innovators to make mobile apps to prevent dating violence and abuse. Among the winning apps was Circle of 6, which uses texting to contact friends and employs GPS to tell them where you are. A new version has even been developed specifically for India, taking into account cultural differences, language and in-country resources.

Hollaback!

Catcallers are called out publically with Hollaback!, which lets anyone who has experienced street harassment share their stories, images and videos on an interactive map that documents where the incident took place. With both web and mobile apps, this nonprofit is taking the streets by storm in 64 cities and 22 countries. They hope to soon have the capability to allow users to report directly to the NYC government.

Project Unbreakable

Featured on an episode of “Law & Order SVU” in which a campus quad of hundreds of students held up posters with quotes from their attackers, Project Unbreakable is an image-based project that has spread all over the country thanks to the power of the web. It began on Tumblr and has been named one of the Top 30 Tumblr blogs by TIME Magazine. The woman behind the project, Grace Brown, photographs survivors of sexual assault holding a poster with a quote from their attacker. She has taken images of over 400 people for this “art of healing” viral project.

#ididnotreport

While a hashtag can be co-opted to victim blame and spread hateful messages (such as Torrington, CT’s #FreeEdgar), it can also be a powerful social media tool to begin dialogues on a global scale. In 2012 a blogger from London Feminist sparked a Twitter movement with the hashtag #Ididnotreport. She expected it to be limited to users tweeting about what she described as “low level harassment” but people everywhere began using it, especially in relation to serious sexual assaults. The hashtag opened up discussion and built an instant community of people with similar experiences, while highlighting the vast problem of underreporting and the many reasons people don’t report.

loveisrespect online chat and texting service

The loveisrespect online chat and texting service allows teens to talk about their relationship directly to a peer advocate whenever and wherever they want. This lets young people communicate in what can sometimes be a more comfortable and safer manner than in person or on the phone. The loveisrespect text service was the first in the country of its kind, and the service was actually launched by a text message from Vice President Joe Biden himself. Visit loveisrespect.org to use the online chat, or text “loveis” to 22522 to message an advocate today.


Have you heard of any other organizations that are using social media and technology in the fight against domestic violence and sexual abuse? Sound off in the comments — we’d love to learn about them.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

#NOMOREDay Discussion: Speaking Up Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

Wednesday March 13th marked the first ever “NO MORE Day” and the launch of the first universal symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault. At 3PM EST, The Hotline joined a Twitter Chat hosted by NO MORE, The Joyful Heart Foundation, and Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay. The chat focused on the significance of the symbol and how it can be used, as well as methods of bystander intervention and methods of spreading awareness.

If you were involved in the Twit Chat, we’d love to hear your feedback. If not, we hope you join us next time.

On Wednesday March 13th, advocates and supporters everywhere joined together to unite their voices for the first ever No More Day. The 3PM EST TwitChat hosted by @NOMOREorg focused on the launch of the first universal symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

http://storify.com/NDVH/nomoreday

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Today is NO MORE Day

Today is the very first NO MORE Day of Action. Everyone is familiar with symbols for change and hope such as the pink breast cancer ribbon and the red AIDS ribbon. Today, in communities all over the country, advocates and supporters will unite in launching the first universal symbol to end domestic violence and sexual assault. The symbol has been in the making since 2009.

NO MORE seeks to remove the shame and stigma surrounding domestic violence and sexual assault. It aims to empower bystanders to speak up and get involved. Nearly every organization working to combat domestic violence and sexual assault in the U.S. is uniting under this one symbol.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline supports NO MORE as a symbol of dedication to spreading awareness about domestic violence. This is a topic that often remains hidden in our society. With your help, we can bring the realities of domestic violence into the light and make a real change.

What will be taking place today nationwide?

  • A Congressional Briefing with Twilight’s Ashley Greene, highlighting survey results about the role of bystanders in responding to teen dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual assault.
  • Law and Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay headlines the National press Club Newsmakers Luncheon to speak about domestic violence and assault.
  • The Washington Wizards recognize NO MORE in their game against Milwaukee Bucks at the Verizon Center and information is distributed to fans.
  • Invisible War Screenings (open to the public) – Find one near you

How can you get involved?

  • Join our Twitter chat at 3:00 PM EST with @NOMOREorg and @TheJHF (The Joyful Heart Foundation). Use the hashtags #NOMORE and #NOMOREDay
  • Instagram: NOMOREorg with the hashtags #NOMOREDay and #NOMORE
  • KNOW MORE. Go to www.nomore.org and learn the signs of domestic violence and sexual assault. Get the facts and know how to intervene safely. Request the NO MORE Toolkit.
  • Say NO MORE. Break the silence. Speak out and seek help when you see this problem in your family, your community, your workplace or school.
  • Share NO MORE. Share the NO MORE symbol with everyone you know. Facebook it. Tweet it. Pin it. Instagram it. Email it. Wear it. Help to increase awareness about the extent of domestic violence and sexual assault. Click here to shop NO MORE.
  • Ensure NO MORE. Get involved. Volunteer in your community, or donate to a local, state or national domestic violence or sexual assault organization. Visit nomore.org to find out how.
National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Did You See Last Night’s Law & Order SVU? Thoughts?

Last night’s Law and Order SVU told a familiar story — one of a young pop princess being brutally beaten by her baby-faced singer boyfriend. It was very similar to Rihanna and Chris Brown’s experiences, including the same triggers that set off the fight, his controversial tattoo and the public tweeting between the couple. It was an emotional episode that ended tragically — the young star is slain by her boyfriend after they get back together.

Here are some thoughts around last night’s episode:

Victim-Blaming Worsens the Situation

It was heartbreaking to watch the young pop icon named “Micha” in the episode attempt to recover in the days following the abuse.  She had just been betrayed by her best friend and partner, “Caleb,” she was physically hurting and she alone had to decide what to do next. In the midst of all of this, former fans and Caleb supporters were slamming her on Twitter saying that she was a “hoe,” that she should take him back, etc. A neighbor even told police, “She shouldn’t have dissed him.”

Take-Away: This was a powerful reminder of the difficulties facing a victim days after an instance of abuse. We should never judge or blame the victim for what has happened. No one wants or asks to be abused. Abuse is never justified. Let’s make sure that we always take an open-minded and supportive approach towards the victims in our life, and never tell them what they should do but rather be there for them as they heal.

Labels and How Abuse Changes Self-Perception

One of the most jolting lines in the show was Micha saying, “I don’t want the world to see me like that — like a victim.” In the episode, Micha’s brand managers talk with the detectives about what Micha should do in order to protect her public image. The scene also hinted at an internal struggle. It seemed that Micha didn’t like how her own self-perception had twisted as a result of what happened. One of the characters said, “He breaks the law and she gets punished?” Micha’s “punishment” wasn’t confined to her injuries, but rather her self-esteem and understanding of the world was changed as a result of Caleb’s violence.

Take Away: Victims are not only victims. They’re mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, teachers, jokesters, romantics, artists, you name it. Too often in news stories or TV dramas, the victim isn’t adequately described outside of the violent situation. If you are being abused now or have survived, know that your experience isn’t all that you are. It’s a part of your story, but know that you are still a whole person. If you’re struggling in how you feel about yourself as a result of abuse, we have advocates on the lines 24/7 who are here to talk.

Is Anything “Inevitable” In Abuse?

The episode ended on a jaw-dropper. Micha and Caleb publicly announce they are back together. When asked what the detectives should do next, Detective Benson replies, “We wait for the inevitable.” Cut to Micha and Caleb on a boat, seemingly happy until Caleb receives a text message from another girl. A fight ensues, and in the next scene a TV report broadcasts that the young singer’s body was found.

Take Away: The sad ending to the show seemed to insinuate that death always follows abuse. While it is true that abused women are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm, we do want to point out that nothing is “inevitable” when it comes to someone’s situation. Advocates on The Hotline can help assess for potential risk. We are always concerned about our callers’ safety and can help anyone see how much danger is present. If you or someone you know is being abused and there are weapons present, please call The Hotline to safety plan around staying safe with those in the house.

What did you think of last night’s episode? Did anything stand out to you?

(photo credit: nbc.com)

announcement

Sportcaster James Brown and Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay On Bringing Men Into the Conversation

On January 31st, we participated in another important Twitter Chat with our friends from the Verizon Foundation, as a part of the Foundation’s Your Voice Counts campaign.

This Twitter Chat focused on the role that men play in preventing and ending domestic violence. With the Super Bowl then-only days away and recent tragedies in the NFL community still fresh in the minds of many, this was an incredibly timely conversation.

The topic was so popular that the event’s hashtag #YourVoiceCounts even trended nationally on Twitter. Verizon Foundation’s President Rose Stuckey Kirk, CBS Sportscaster James Brown, actress Mariska Hargitay and her organization Joyful Heart Foundation, A CALL TO MEN, and NO MORE all contributed to the success of the chat.

If you were involved in the Twit Chat, we’d love to hear your feedback. If not, we hope you join us next time.

1/31 Tweet up with Verizon Foundation @verizongiving, Sportscaster James Brown @JBsportscaster, NO MORE @NOMOREorg, LiveRespect @LiveRESPECT, Joyful Heart Foundation @TheJHF, and actress Mariska Hargitay @Mariska

http://storify.com/NDVH/yourvoicecounts-tweet-up

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

It’s Time to Talk About Domestic Violence

For the seventh straight year, Liz Claiborne Inc. is sponsoring It’s Time to Talk Day on December 8, 2010, a day dedicated to ensuring that Americans speak up about a subject that most people simply prefer not to discuss — domestic violence.  Representatives of The Hotline and loveisrespect will join other advocates on “Radio Row” at the Liz Claiborne headquarters in New York City to talk about domestic violence.

This year’s event will begin with a screening of Telling Amy’s Story, a riveting documentary which follows the timeline of a domestic violence homicide that occurred on November 8, 2001.  NBC Today Show co-host, Meredith Vieira, will emcee the screening.  The documentary is narrated by actress and member of The Hotline’s 15th Anniversary Honorary Committee, Mariska Hargitay.

To take part in It’s Time to Talk Day in your community, please consider doing the following:

  • Ask medical offices, hospitals, city offices if you can hang posters which include The Hotline number as a resource
  • Encourage local businesses to hang purple ribbons in their place of business
  • Encourage your local mayor and city council to recognize the day as It’s Time to Talk Day
  • Tweet with the #ITTTD hashtag, post information about It’s Time to Talk Day on Facebook and email your friends with empowering information about domestic violence. Help them know the signs of abuse and that help is available by calling The Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Talk to your friends, co-workers and family about healthy relationships and get the conversation started

For more information on It’s Time to Talk Day, visit Love Is Not Abuse.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

PBS Documentary on Domestic Violence to Premiere at Newseum in Washington D.C.

Actress and domestic violence prevention activist Mariska Hargitay, of NBC-TV’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, will introduce and appear in Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary on domestic violence that will premiere May 18 at 6:30 p.m. at the Newseum, prior to being broadcast on PBS stations nationwide starting in June.

The documentary, created by Penn State Public Broadcasting, chronicles the time leading up to the death of Amy Homan McGee, a mother of two who was shot and killed by her husband. A question-and-answer session to include Sheryl Cates, CEO Emeritus of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, will follow.

The story of Amy Homan McGee is frightening and difficult to believe.  This hard working mother of two small children was tragically murdered at the hands of her abusive husband.

Penn State Public Broadcasting made a documentary and talked with her family, friends, law enforcement and court officials who were involved with the case to get their perspective on what happened in the weeks, months, and years leading up to Amy’s death.

This documentary was made so Amy Homan McGee and other victims’ voices of domestic violence will not be forgotten.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) would like communities across the nation to begin a dialogue of how their community can save lives and change the outcome of Amy’s story.  NDVH believes that domestic violence is preventable.   We as communities can not change the outcome of Amy’s life, but we can be an accountable community working positively wifh families for a different outcome.

Through this documentary, you will never forget Amy Homan McGee and we applaud Verizon Foundation and Penn State Public Broadcasting for collaborating on this documentary and engaging communities and showing that we all have a part to play in ending domestic violence.  To see a trailer of the movie and find out how you can get it shown in your area, visit telling.psu.edu.

Domestic violence is preventable and we can all play a part in social change.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

2008 Vital Link Awards

At the end of October, the National Domestic Violence Hotline held its annual Vital Links Awards in New York to honor individuals and organizations which have significantly contributed to building awareness of family violence prevention services. Honorees have courageously spoken out against domestic violence and in support of survivors and their families.

Fox News Channel Fox & Friends Co-Anchor Gretchen Carlson was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Sponsors for the event included Platinum sponsors Verizon, FedEx and CTIA The Wireless Foundation, Gold sponsors Liz Claiborne, Red Media Group, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs with all of its contributing organizations, and Silver sponsors Kaiser Permanente, Lifetime Networks and Burson Marsteller. Other contributors included New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC, GFWC Federation Guild Association, Wilkinson, Brimmer, Katcher, Gap, Inc. and Richard Pizutto Events Management.

Awards and recipients included:

  • Voices for Change Award to S. Epatha Merkerson, who portrays Lieutenant Anita Van Buren of NBC’s award-winning series Law and Order.
  • Vital Link Award to the Verizon Foundation for its generosity and support, on a local and national level of domestic violence education, prevention and victim empowerment programs.
  • Special Tribute for Lifetime Achievement to Linda Fairstein, best-selling author of crime novels, and one of the country’s leading legal experts on crimes of violence, having served for 25 years as the Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
  • Special Tribute for Advocacy and Social Change to Victor Rivas Rivers, who speaks out on the effects of domestic violence on behalf of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and is the author of a personal memoir, a Private Family Matter. In his book, Victor writes bravely and honestly about what it is like to grow up in a home dominated by domestic violence. In addition to his national speaking engagements, Victor is a regular in the NBC hit series Life.
  • Media for Change Award to Seventeen Magazine for leading the national conversation about healthy dating and dating abuse, and its support of loveisrespect.org, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.
  • Media for Change Award to MySpace for its partnership with loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline which provided advertising to promote the Helpline to teens.
  • Volunteers for Change to Jacquelyn Pierce and Nannette White of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) which took on Domestic Violence awareness and prevention as it special project for 2006-2008. Under the leadership of then-International President Jacquelyn Pierce and Chair Nannette White, the GFWC contributed more than $15.9 million to domestic violence awareness and prevention projects throughout the United States. To celebrate receipt of the award, 37 members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs were in attendance. These 37 club members were from 13 states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Washington.
announcement

2008 Vital Link Award

Austin, Texas—November 13, 2008 — At the end of October, the National Domestic Violence Hotline held its annual Vital Links Awards in New York to honor individuals and organizations which have significantly contributed to building awareness of family violence prevention services. Honorees have courageously spoken out against domestic violence and in support of survivors and their families.

Fox News Channel Fox & Friends Co-Anchor Gretchen Carlson was the Master of Ceremonies for the event.

Sponsors for the event included Platinum sponsors Verizon, FedEx and CTIA The Wireless Foundation, Gold sponsors Liz Claiborne, Red Media Group, and the General Federation of Women’s Clubs with all of its contributing organizations, and Silver sponsors Kaiser Permanente, Lifetime Networks and Burson Marsteller.  Other contributors included New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs of GFWC, GFWC Federation Guild Association, Wilkinson, Brimmer, Katcher, Gap, Inc. and Richard Pizutto Events Management.

Awards and recipients included:

  • Voices for Change Award to S. Epatha Merkerson, who portrays Lieutenant Anita Van Buren of NBC’s award-winning series Law and Order.
  • Vital Link Award to the Verizon Foundation for its generosity and support, on a local and national level of domestic violence education, prevention and victim empowerment programs.
  • Special Tribute for Lifetime Achievement to Linda Fairstein, best-selling author of crime novels, and one of the country’s leading legal experts on crimes of violence, having served for 25 years as the Bureau Chief of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.
  • Special Tribute for Advocacy and Social Change to Victor Rivas Rivers, who speaks out on the effects of domestic violence on behalf of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and is the author of a personal memoir, a Private Family Matter. In his book, Victor writes bravely and honestly about what it is like to grow up in a home dominated by domestic violence.  In addition to his national speaking engagements, Victor is a regular in the NBC hit series Life.
  • Media for Change Award to Seventeen Magazine for leading the national conversation about healthy dating and dating abuse, and  its support of loveisrespect.org, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline.
  • Media for Change Award to MySpace for its partnership with loveisrespect, National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline which provided advertising to promote the Helpline to teens.
  • Volunteers for Change to Jacquelyn Pierce and Nannette White of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) which took on Domestic Violence awareness and prevention as it special  project for 2006-2008. Under the leadership of then-International President Jacquelyn Pierce and Chair Nannette White, the GFWC contributed more than $15.9 million to domestic violence awareness and prevention projects throughout the United States. To celebrate receipt of the award, 37 members of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs were in attendance. These 37 club members were from 13 states, including Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Washington.