Survivors of IPV as Advocates
By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph Co-Founder
For our October series of No Stigma, Only Triumph, I have been thinking a lot about advocacy, and its role in eliminating the stigma that still surrounds IPV. I think it’s a difficult topic in many ways, as perhaps it’s unclear how to be an advocate, what an advocate is, and the types of advocacy one can engage in. Through our research, however, one finding that has really stood out was how you out there really see yourselves as advocates. We were so touched by reading about your efforts, we highlighted these stories in an article entitled, Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence as Advocates for Social Change. With two other authors, we shared many of your advocacy activities, quotes, and examples so that we could help re-envision survivors as advocates and leaders in the movement for social change. Here I wanted to highlight some of the quotes from this article, and offer anyone who’d like to read the full article access to it http://www.psysr.org/jsacp/murray-v7n1-2015_84-100.pdf
You said this about why you advocate:
You said this about what it means to be a survivor and advocate:
You said this about knowing whether you were ready to be an advocate:
You do large-scale advocacy efforts:
You do small-scale advocacy efforts:
Thanks, as always, for reading and supporting our work, and for all of you who shared your thoughts for this article, a special thank you to you!
Finding Your Inner Advocate!
By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph co-founder
It’s October, so this month our focus is on “No Stigma/Only Triumph.” In order to fight the stigma that still persists about intimate partner violence, we need all the advocates we can get! So, today I encourage you to find your own inner advocate. But how do I do this? Where do I start? What do I care about? You might be wondering these sorts of questions, so I will share a little about my own process in hopes that this might help you.
When Christine and I started the See the Triumph project, we knew we wanted to share the stories we’d heard from survivors in our research. We had interviewed a small number of women and were touched by the poignant experiences, messages to other survivors, horror stories of abuse, and ways the women we met had managed to overcome abusive relationships. This was about three years ago, but I remember our phone call after we’d completed the interviews as if it were yesterday! Both of us seemed to know we wanted to do something more than the traditional, scholarly writing about the research, but how exactly this would look we really didn’t know.
One of our first ideas was to create a website to reach a broader audience. We had quotes from the interviews that we thought might work well displayed with pictures and images. We had to make sure that both of our institutional review boards (IRBs) would approve of sharing our research in this way. As the project grew, so did out knowledge of social media, and tools that are available for sharing information and reaching a broader audience. Honestly, when we started, Christine and I did not know much about social media tools, blogging, pledges and petitions, and how to be advocates of a project like this.
Each See the Triumph milestone has been a learning experience, but along the way, one of my biggest take-away’s has been proudly adding the identity of advocate to my role as a university professor. And I have to say, it has been one of the most rewarding identities to claim. I remember learning about the role of advocacy during my master’s program in counseling and feeling intimated about how to advocate, what this would look like in practice, and finding time for this in addition to the other responsibilities of a professional counselor. Today, I want to share some of my own small lessons learned about advocacy through the See the Triumph project. My hope is that by reading some of these, you might think about them as they apply to your own passions and identities as advocates:
These are five simple reflections from my own journey with See the Triumph. My hope is that they might help those of you along the way in your paths towards advocacy.
Thanks for reading, and as always, thanks for supporting our work! Best of luck with finding your inner advocate, or even beginning the process!
By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
On April, 9 members of NC State’s community came together to raise awareness about an important public health concern, sexual assault. Present were members of the faculty and staff, administrators and deans, students who represented members of various fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, residence halls, military affiliations and student groups. I was blown away by the amount of sheer love and support seen that night. As an advocate who works very closely with survivors, I was proud to see that so many students truly care about ending sexual assault on campus.
One of the most powerful pieces of our Take Back the Night Event, was the Clothesline Project. This is a space where we displayed t-shirts created by survivors and allies. Many of the t-shirts were decorated with sayings like, “I am a survivor”, “You can never hurt me again”, “It was not your fault”, “You are strong”, and “You are a survivor, not a victim.” The courage displayed was beyond what I could imagine. As people passing by stopped and looked at these t-shirts, they too were struck by their profoundness. These were created by members of our campus, our pack! One group who was particularly engaged during the night’s events was the Army ROTC. They came to the event in full uniform and in formation, a sight that was truly breath taking.
A common theme heard during both the rally portion of the night and the survivor speak-out portion was the importance supporting survivors of sexual assault. Time and time again, we were reminded of the importance of creating a campus that holds perpetrators accountable and supports survivors. We challenged each other to build a strong campus community where rape jokes aren’t made and, when they are, they are quickly stopped, where survivors feel safe to reach out to staff members to share their stories and make reports, where students feel empowered enough to know how to help survivors of sexual assault, and where we are all knowledgeable about bystander intervention skills.
I must admit that I left the event with a full heart, not because I was saddened by what I had heard, though I most definitely was, but more because I was immensely proud! I was so incredibly filled with love and pride for not only my campus, but for the survivors who were brave enough to share their stories and for each and every survivor that I have ever worked with. When I work with survivors, or when I looked in the eyes of the survivors speaking on stage, I saw just that--a survivor. Not a victim; never a victim!
The point of this event was not only to raise awareness about sexual assault on college campuses, but more importantly, I feel, to give survivors and allies a space where they can speak about their experiences: the fear, the shame, the guilt, the silence, the pain, the pride, the power, the strength, and the growth. I am really proud that we were able to create this safe space for students to gather and speak the truth and share their stories. It is my hope that during this night, during this process, that we helped survivors heal as much as we raised awareness!
How Can We End the Stigma Surrounding Domestic and Sexual Violence: Insights from a Panel of National Experts
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
At See the Triumph, one of our main goals is to end the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence. We’ve heard in our research that this stigma is very real, and it impacts survivors of abuse while they’re in the relationship and can continue long after it ends. We know that this stigma can exist within individuals, families, organizations, communities, and in the society at large. Ending the stigma is a huge task, and we believe that it’s going to take a long-term, concerted effort by a vast network of organizations and individuals working together to really make this happen.
Recently, my See the Triumph Co-Founder, Allison Crowe, and I completed a study to learn from a national panel of experts about the changes they believe need to happen in order to fully end the stigma surrounding domestic and sexual violence. We used what’s known as the Delphi research methodology, which uses multiple rounds of surveys with a panel of experts in order to come to a consensus in beliefs about the topic being studied.
Due to the confidentiality requirements of the research process, we can’t identify the national leaders who participated in the study. However, we can share that they represented a variety of national advocacy organizations that address domestic and sexual violence. All together, 16 participants took part in at least one of the three surveys included in the research.
We asked the participants to share their thoughts on the strategies they believe are most needed to eradicate the stigma surrounding domestic and sexual violence. Our research process then narrowed in on seven strategies that reflected the leaders’ beliefs. These strategies were as follows:
When I think of the large-scale transformation needed to truly end the stigma, I am both excited and intimidated. I’m excited because I know that these changes are possible, and I’ve met so many people doing great work toward this goal. I’m intimidated, however, because I know how big a task lies before us.
Transformation can occur in large-scale sea changes, but it also can occur in incremental steps over time. Breaking down large-scale tasks into smaller, more manageable steps usually helps them to become more manageable. With that in mind, I invite you to look back over the 7 strategies suggested by the leaders in our study. What is one small step based on one of the recommendations that you could address right now? I invite you to share your reflections on this list, as well as the steps you take, in the comments below!
Two Years In, and We're Still Just Getting Started: Reflections on Two Years of See the Triumph
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
New Year’s Day marked the two-year anniversary of See the Triumph. When we launched See the Triumph on January 1, 2013, we were entering into uncharted waters, and looking back, I don’t think we ever could have envisioned the many blessings and challenges we’ve faced along the way...so far. And “so far” is the key--we are proud to reach this two-year milestone, but we know that our work is really just getting started.
Our work has just begun because the stigma surrounding intimate partner violence (IPV) is so pervasive. Thankfully, there are many other individuals and organizations working every day to challenge the stigma surrounding IPV:
Every time a survivor shares their story with others, whether publicly or in one-on-one conversations, the stigma is challenged.
Every time a friend or family member reaches out to help someone they care about who is facing abuse, the stigma is challenged.
Every time a community organization holds events or shares resources about domestic violence, the stigma is challenged.
And every time a national advocacy organization works on a campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence, the stigma is challenged.
We view our work with See the Triumph as part of the fabric of these larger efforts at the local, national, and global levels. We remain committed to an ongoing program of research and advocacy efforts to understand, address, and ultimately end the stigma surrounding IPV. When we first stated See the Triumph, we were focused primarily on disseminating our research. As we’ve grown and built important relationships and connections with survivors, advocates, and others, we’ve come to see the advocacy work as most central to our work with See the Triumph.
We first were inspired to create See the Triumph because of the powerful stories we heard from participants in our research. Now that our research has grown to include hundreds of survivors across multiple studies, we continue to be inspired and learn so much from each new participant in our research, as well as from the many survivors, advocates, and others who’ve become part of our See the Triumph community across our various social media platforms. Although we can’t respond individually to everyone who contacts us, we try to respond to as many as we can manage, and we appreciate every kind and supportive person who we’ve heard from who has encouraged us to continue our work.
As I reflect on our first two years, and especially on this month’s theme of “Transformative Approaches to Ending Domestic Violence and Abuse,” I remember why we started See the Triumph to begin with. The stigma surrounding IPV is a major problem that has implications for survivors (including while they are in the relationship and afterward), professionals who work with them, and organizations that serve survivors and work to hold offenders accountable.
More broadly, the stigma around IPV has detrimental effects for the society as a whole. The costs of IPV on society are high and affect virtually every social system and organization in our communities. The stigma surrounding IPV keeps this issue hidden despite these costs, and it prevents effective responses and preventive efforts from becoming widespread. And, the stigma makes it more difficult for individual survivors to get the support they need to move toward safe, healthy, nonviolent lives and relationships.
The further along we’ve gotten with See the Triumph, the more I’m convinced of the need to end the stigma surrounding IPV in order to really transform the way that violence is prevented and addressed in our society. Looking ahead to our third year and beyond, we’re excited to continue building upon what we’ve started these first two years. We have plans for expanding in new directions this coming year, but we also remain committed to the heart of the work we started with--sharing the inspiring stories of strength and triumph that survivors share with us through our research.
We hope you’ll continue to share your ideas, successes, challenges, and triumphs with us as we move into our third year with See the Triumph! Your support means so, so much to us. We know the work ahead of us remains large. But we are so thankful to all of you who have supported us, partnered with us, and connected with us around our goal of transforming our society into one that wraps survivors of abuse with support and care and that is free from stigma surrounding IPV and other forms of abuse.
By Susan Danielsen, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Unless or until it involves celebrities, politicians, or athletes, domestic violence seems to get very little national attention. Of course, there are some well-known folks who make this topic their platform or cause célèbre; and, by connecting their names to the issue, domestic violence never really leaves our consciousness.
Yet, despite the (seemingly) more frequent news splashes about someone-famous-we-have-never-heard-of-before-this making headlines about abuse, and the omnipresent lists of celebrities who are domestic violence advocates, the topic of intimate partner abuse still seems very distant to so many people.
They don’t get it.
‘They’ are the people who have certainly heard about domestic violence (who hasn’t?), but who have never been affected by it. ‘They’ have never been involved in an abusive relationship, or don’t think they know anyone who has. To ‘them’, domestic violence is an ugly – but abstract-- condition that affects only other people. To ‘them’ the stories of domestic violence are remote and disconnected from ‘their’ world. After all, the faces of famous victims or abusers that reach them through their televisions or mobile devices or computers are pixels on a screen. They are images of people they know only through the media; people who live vastly different lives than they do.
‘Those people’ – the celebrities, the athletes, the politicians, - are not ‘them’ – the teacher, the clerk, the small business owner, the-person-most-would-consider-ordinary.
But, you, local survivor of an abusive relationship, are ‘them’. You are the person who lives next door, the person who works hard for a paycheck, the person who seems to blend in to everyday life. You are NOT the person who has national fame, or an Oscar, or a Heisman. You are just a regular person.
You are not ‘those people’. You are ‘them’. You are…..Just. Like. Us.
We see ourselves in you. We don’t see ourselves in the million-dollar-an-episode-actress, or the world record holder, or the six-term politician who couldn’t figure out how to find the canned soup in a grocery store without a forming a committee and doing a study on the most effective shelf displays.
And THAT is what makes your story of your journey out of an abusive relationship so very, very powerful. You are real. You are us. We are you. We can relate to you. Domestic violence is not so distant anymore: you are the face of someone we know. You are someone we have seen, spoken with, or maybe even touched. Your circumstances, your pain, your courage, are REAL. We know you.
You will still be a part of our lives long after the rich and famous have their news splashes, court case, and any made-for-TV movie. Because we see you in us, you MUST tell your story. And you must tell it often. And tell it loud. And tell it with pride. For your voice is powerful to us than any celebrity’s.
Susan Danielsen is the Public Information Officer for the Greensboro (N.C.) Police Department.
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
If you’re like me, sometimes you’ve read or seen a story about domestic violence in the media, and it’s made you cringe because of how the story was reported or the misinformation it included. Or maybe you’ve also experienced stronger reactions, such as outrage and anger. Chances are, if you’re informed about the dynamics of domestic violence and you care about the issue, you’ve noticed examples of irresponsible--and possibly even unsafe--media reporting about the issue. Examples of practices that I consider to be irresponsible reporting include providing incorrect information about the dynamics of abusive relationships, framing stories in ways that blame victims, and providing details in stories that could pose safety risks for victims.
You can take action to prevent problematic reporting, correct misinformation that is conveyed, and work proactively to promote safe, responsible media reporting about domestic violence. These steps include the following:
Therefore, whenever possible, I suggest that advocates for raising awareness about domestic violence in local communities work proactively, over time to build relationships with reporters and others (e.g., administrators and news directors). With strong relationships with members of the media in your communities, you can work together to learn about the nature of each other’s work, as well as to develop strategies to have domestic violence be covered in safe, responsible ways in your community.
How Can Advocates for Victims of Domestic Violence Raise Awareness of the Problem in Their Communities?
By Doug Clark, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Ray Rice and Greg Hardy have become the most valuable players of awareness about domestic violence.
The star football players are sitting out this season, and maybe longer, because of highly publicized assault cases where women were the victims.
Rice, in particular, focused national attention on the cause because, initially, his punishment for knocking out his fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel elevator was a mere two-game suspension. Public opinion forced National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to order an indefinite suspension of the Baltimore Ravens running back — whom the team subsequently released.
The Carolina Panthers sidelined Hardy, despite his $13 million salary, until his second trial on assault charges, which has yet to take place.
When high-profile athletes attack a woman, the media and the public pay attention. That’s good, and not only because the publicity protects their victims. It also may warn other abusers that public tolerance of this behavior is very limited.
Unfortunately, not every instance of domestic violence will become a national story. Far from it. Most of the time, a simple assault won’t even be reported on an inside page of the local newspaper.
So, how can advocates for victims of domestic violence raise awareness of the problem in their communities?
They actually have some tools at their disposal.
One is simply to develop relationships with people who work in the media. They can contact reporters or editors and offer to comment with a local perspective on a national story or let them know that domestic violence is first and foremost a local story that happens in every neighborhood.
They can provide statistical evidence, which is available from local law-enforcement agencies. A large portion of police calls relates to domestic conflicts, even though news reporters might not recognize that or choose to make it a story. When the numbers are added up, however, domestic violence turns out to be a big story in every city.
There are other ways to quantify the problem. Recently, UNC Charlotte economics professor Stephen Billings authored a study that found domestic violence costs North Carolina $308 million a year. How many people think about domestic violence from a cost perspective, other than victims? But there are medical costs, lost work time costs, police costs, court costs and other expenses that truly make domestic violence everyone’s problem. These facts should be explained to the media.
Of course, providing access to victims is very valuable. It’s also difficult because most victims don’t want to be publicly identified. They also don’t want to compromise potential legal cases by talking with the media. Arrangements can be made to keep names out of the paper or to disguise a subject’s identity in a TV interview. Or former victims may feel secure enough in their new circumstances to go public. Personal stories can be very powerful.
Sadly, if the worst happens, domestic violence murder victims are always named in the papers. If speaking out might help, rather than hurt, before that point is reached, a victim might be brave enough to do that.
Finally, domestic violence is a concern all year long, not only during Domestic Violence Month. Advocates should interact with the media when they have something to say.
Thanks to a couple of football players, the public is listening.
Doug Clark is an editorial writer, columnist and blog author for the News & Record of Greensboro, N.C. He and his wife and have two sons and a granddaughter.
By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph Co-Founder
For the month of November, we are focusing on intimate partner violence, stigma, and the media. One of the ways survivors can de-stigmatize intimate partner violence is to agree to TV or radio interviews and share their stories, sending positive messages about who survivors are, the challenges one faces when trying to leave an abusive relationship, the myths that society holds about IPV, and other messages. The media often wants these interviews, too – getting survivors to speak out and tell their stories is powerful. But for some of you out there, this task might be overwhelming. You might ask yourself, “How do I tell my story in a way that will reach people?” or “What if I get emotional when talking about my past abuse?” Even practical questions such as “How do I know when to stop talking?” or “How do I avoid all the annoying habits I have when I speak in front of an audience?”
The National Resource on Domestic Violence has some excellent tips for survivors on working with the media. Below, I have summarized some of these tips for preparing for a TV or Talk Radio Interview, and for those interested in reading more about any of this, I urge you to visit their web-site: http://www.nrcdv.org/dvam/themes/dvap/PDF/Preparingfor-TV-Radio-Interview.pdf
1. An interview should be a pleasant experience. Do not feel as though you have to agree to be interviewed anywhere you don’t feel safe or comfortable or talk about anything you don’t want to talk about.
2. Before the interview, find out details about the interview such as the following: who will be interviewing you, how long it will last, and what style of interview it will be (for example, will there be questions from listeners, will there be another guest who will be interviewed as well, what the style of the interviewer is?).
3. Before the interview, consider the questions you might be asked. Jot down concise (and quotable!) answers that are authentic to your experience. Remember that anything you say can be quoted.
4. For a radio interview, having notes in front of you is perfectly appropriate if this would be helpful to you to remember your talking points.
5. This is your interview. Consider this your opportunity to deliver the message you’d like to share, dispel myths, or reduce stigma. For example, if you disagree with something the interviewer or audience member says, let the interviewer know and tell why. This can be accomplished by phrases such as: “No, that’s not 100% true, and here is why…” or “In my opinion, the important point is not why survivors don’t leave, it’s why….”
Most importantly, be yourself! Remember you have a story to tell that is powerful and impactful. All of us are responsible for doing our part to de-stigmatize intimate partner violence. The media can be a great way to do this, so if you feel talking with the media is something you want to do, then I encourage you to use these tips to feel ready and willing to have your voice heard! We can’t do it without you.
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
“We need a sea change in how women are portrayed by the media...A strong message that domestic violence is not acceptable needs to be conveyed backed up by punishments for the perpetrators. “ ~ Domestic violence survivor
The above quote from a participant in our research illustrates the significant role that the media plays in shaping people’s opinions about intimate partner violence (IPV). When it comes to raising awareness about IPV, there is perhaps no more effective way to reach the masses than through the media. This includes newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio. And, in today’s digital age, this also includes web-sites, blogs, and various social media outlets.
As media channels have become increasingly integrated, any one of these media outlets likely reaches people across multiple platforms. For example, a video from a TV news story is often posted on the channel’s web-site, which is then likely to be promoted on their social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter.
What does this mean for survivors and advocates hoping to raise awareness about IPV? For one thing, it means that there’s a huge potential for media stories about IPV to reach more people, for a longer period of time than ever before. This is great news, because more people understanding the dynamics of IPV and the resources available to help means there’s a wider network of people in our communities who are equipped to address this issue and support survivors.
On the other hand, media coverage of IPV is not always helpful in raising awareness and educating the community, especially when stories are reported in ways that do not accurately describe the dynamics of abuse, use victim-blaming language, and--perhaps most dangerous of all--pose risks to the safety of victims and survivors.
I saw several examples of problems that can arise when IPV is covered irresponsibly in the media recently with all the news coverage of the Ray Rice and other domestic violence cases in the NFL. These included the following:
We hope to hear from you this month, too. What have been your experiences in working with the media? We’d love to hear the strategies that worked for you in your local communities and beyond!