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How We Can Turn Towards Domestic Violence the Rest of the Year
"My wife and I were at a dinner in Washington DC earlier this year—it was a cancer event—and this woman sat down and said 'Nice to meet you I'm so and so, and I'm a 30 year cancer survivor.' That wasn't all that she was, but that was simply part of what she had gone through and that's why she was there. Our vision is that is that someday someone will be able to sit down at a table and say 'I'm a survivor of sexual abuse; I'm a survivor of childhood sexual abuse; I'm a survivor of rape', and not have the needle skip off the record and have the person sitting across from them not know what to say. Because it's not what defines them, it's simply something that happened to them and it's not their fault and they don't need to carry the shame. It's an unjust stigma in the sense that the shame belongs to the perpetrator and not the victim." —Peter Hermann, founding Joyful Heart Board member
Every time I read this quote, I think long and hard about Peter's words—about what it means to really turn towards these issues and about what it would be like if we, collectively, really saw surviving abuse or assault in the same way we see surviving something like cancer. Without blame, stigma or shame. Unafraid to listen to someone's story and unafraid to say "no more." Every year, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). (Coincidentally, it also happens to be Breast Cancer Awareness Month.) Domestic Violence Awareness Month is one filled with rallies, marches, speak outs and awareness events of all kinds, many with purple ribbons and many with first appearances of the NO MORE symbol. It was a month in which we collectively turned towards an issue that affects 1 in 3 women—the number who are raped, physically assaulted or stalked by a husband or boyfriend in their lifetime—and the 15 million children who witness violence in their homes each year. In October, staff members at Joyful Heart were proud to participate in the second Shine the Light in Times Square event. We stood with advocates, bystanders and elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, Tony Award-winning playwright Eve Ensler, representatives from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence and many others, to literally shine the light on domestic violence, watching as billboards in all directions in the world-famous Times Square lit up purple with messages of support for those affected by domestic violence.
The most inspiring things about events like this one is that they bring issues that are so often kept hidden in the shadows out of the darkness and into the light, something that Joyful Heart believes deeply in doing. So as we move into November and the other 10 months of the year, we'd like to share some of the many other ways to turn towards these issues.
Say "NO MORE"
NO MORE is a movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault with one uniting symbol, like the pink breast cancer awareness ribbon, the red AIDS ribbon or the yellow "support our troops" symbol. In just two simple words, NO MORE is exactly what we're trying to say: NO MORE domestic violence and sexual assault. NO MORE blaming survivors. NO MORE doing nothing. NO MORE silence. NO MORE bystanding. In 2013, NO MORE is officially launching to the public and we're proud to play a big role in rolling it out. You can join the movement and help bring the symbol to your community in the following ways:
- Download the toolkit and use the NO MORE symbol on your correspondence, on banners and posters, on pins and t-shirts and anything else you can think of. It's yours to use and share.
- Follow NO MORE on Facebook and Twitter, and sign up to receive updates on the movement at www.nomore.org.
- Add your photo to the NO MORE photo gallery. Through this simple act—uploading a photo and a message—we're truly delivering a powerful message that you're not alone and that we say "no more."
Use Your Voice
We're proud to partner with The Verizon Foundation, A CALL TO MEN, NO MORE and sportscaster James Brown to spread the message that Your Voice Counts to end domestic violence. Though women and children represent the majority of victims of domestic violence, men are affected as well?as victims, as perpetrators and as witnesses and bystanders. Engaging men is an important part of the movement to address, prevent and—one day—end domestic violence. The Your Voice Counts campaign invites men to join the conversation to end domestic violence with specific tools aimed at giving men resources and information to speak out against this issue. Take a look at James Brown's message:
We invite you to share this resource. Pass it on to those in your life?friends, family and colleagues. It's sometimes easy to think that domestic violence happens to other people who are far removed from our own communities. But when 1 in 3 women are raped, physically assaulted or stalked by a partner, it's clear that this happens all around us. So please, share this resource and use these tools. Your Voice Counts.
Play with 1BlueString
We also know that 1 in 6 men are survivors of an unwanted or abusive sexual experience in childhood. To raise awareness about this devastating statistic, Joyful Heart is honored to support 1BlueString, an innovative and exciting new awareness campaign from our partner, 1in6, a leading organization providing information and resources to the 1 in 6 men who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their family, friends and loved ones. The concept for 1BlueString is simple: get the string at 1BlueString.org for your electric or acoustic guitar (or both), switch it in for your low E string and when you play—whether you're jamming with a friend or playing in front of dozens, hundreds or thousands of people, share the 1 in 6 statistic. Learn more here on the blog and at 1BlueString.org.