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Every community needs strong voices for ending intimate partner violence and ensuring that survivors within those communities are supported and able to access helpful resources.
Based on our research and our work thus far with the See the Triumph campaign, we have learned that every person can make a difference by challenging the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence within their own communities.
Please read on for five steps you can take today to begin or continue with these efforts:
1. Acknowledge the problem.
The stigma surrounding intimate partner violence thrives on the denial and minimization of the full extent of the problem of intimate partner violence. It is much more difficult to recognize abusive behaviors and relationships when people believe that abuse doesn't exist, or at least doesn't exist in their own communities. Therefore, a first and important step is to acknowledge that intimate partner violence remains a major problem in virtually every corner of our society. One great resource to get started in learning about the scope of intimate partner and sexual violence can be found in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
2. Educate yourself.
You do not need to be an expert in order to become a voice in your community for raising awareness about intimate partner violence and the needs of survivors. However, it is valuable to become educated about the unique dynamics surrounding abuse, and especially about the safety issues involved. There's a lot of information about intimate partner violence available on the Internet, although it's important to ensure that you receive your information from a credible source. One great resource was developed by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and anyone can access their online training on the basics of domestic violence. You can also seek out other learning opportunities in your local community, such as through your local domestic violence agency or college courses available in your area.
3. Initiate conversations.
Intimate partner violence is not always an easy topic to discuss with others. However, these conversations are a great way to raise awareness within your communities. Some of the ways you might initiate these conversations include the following:
4. Offer resources.
Unless you are a trained professional who works in an agency that responds to intimate partner violence, it's likely that you'll need help from others when you learn of someone who has experienced intimate partner violence. Therefore, it is important for you to learn about credible resources in your area so that you'll be ready when such a need arises. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers a list of State-level domestic violence coalitions, which is a great place to start in learning about resources in your area. I suggest you that you reach out to individuals who work in your local community to ask about other potentially helpful resources, such as for basic needs (e.g., food, shelter, and clothing) and educational and career support.
5. Uproot the causes of stigma.
In many ways, this last step of challenging the root causes of stigma is the most difficult. What we've seen in our research is that the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence is deeply entrenched into society, as well as into the psyches of many people. We are working on more research to learn more about these causes, but based on the work we've done thus far, I would suggest that some of these causes can be found in gender discrimination, socioeconomic disparities, family traditions, and inequities in access to resources within communities. To be certain, there are no simple solutions for uprooting these causes. However, each person can take big and small efforts in their own lives and within their communities to work toward broader-level peace, safety, and equality for everyone.
You can be one of the voices in your own communities to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and challenge the stigma surrounding it. Take our pledge today, and commit to taking at least one of the five steps listed above every month in 2015. Join our See the Triumph Facebook community for resources to help you do this.
Thanks for all you are doing to support survivors and end the stigma!
Christine and Allison