By Whitney Akers, See the Triumph Contributor
When I interviewed for a previous job, I was asked if I saw myself to be an activist or an advocate. I answered that, in my identity, I found it impossible to separate the two. Through working to facilitate empowerment or access for people whose voices may be silenced, I am an advocate. Through taking a stand, heightening my voice, and increasing my visibility, I am an activist. These lines often intersect. Due to my social location composed of intersecting marginalized identities, I feel compelled to take action through consciousness in behavior and speech, embodying the identity of an advocate and activist in my daily life.
As a woman, I know that I have a role in eradicating the shame and stigma that surrounds sexual and intimate partner violence. I have a role in supporting survivors and helping to deconstruct and de-story the myths our society propagates surrounding intimate partner violence. I believe that violence against women grows from sexist oppression inherent in the inner workings of our society’s foundation. One way I advocate for the respect and safety of women, including myself, is through speaking out against sexual violence I may encounter in a typical day. Sexual violence can consist of overt acts like rape, intimate partner violence, verbal abuse, assault, or groping. It can also manifest in more covert ways or microaggressions, such as instances of sexist interaction that has been normalized as “flirting”, “boys being boys”, or “flattery”.
The other day, I was standing at a taco truck, waiting to get a delicious meal, and a man walked up to me. I immediately sensed him standing very close to me and feeling much too comfortable in my personal space. He began to make small talk about how large my “book bag” was and let his eyes linger on my “book bag” and then move lower. He continued to glance at my backside while poorly attempting to carry on a conversation. I did not feel threatened, instead, I felt infuriated. I squared my body to him, being conscious to take up more space and stare him directly in the eye and told him I had nothing to say to him. As he turned to walk away, he slid behind me, grossly gazing again at my backside as he left. In that moment, I felt gross. I felt like an object. I decided not to sensor my emotions, but to use them to create visibility of this type of quiet violence. I called him out in front of everyone in line. As he was walking off, I raised my voice and told him that he needed to be sure to keep his eyes focused on my eyes and no other part of my body, as my body was not present for his viewing pleasure.
He immediately cast his gaze to the ground and scurried away, but the oddest thing happened around me. I was surrounded by all men, some of them close friends, and they became very still and silent. There was an awkward energy of no one really knowing how to be in that type of charged space. I see this as another part of violence against women. We so often shroud it in silence and secrecy or write women off as “crazy” or “a bitch”, that we are stunned when sexualized violence is exposed. Through my choice to speak, making myself visible and heard, I chose to risk looking like that “crazy bitch”, but I also chose to voice not only that man, but every person in line that sexual violence in any form would not be tolerated.
I believe that everyday activism against sexual violence directly fights against intimate partner violence. Deconstructing sexist interactions and illuminating everyday instances of violence against women can translate to empowerment of the self. Knowing one’s worth and being fearless in claiming it can inspire others to follow suit. Like a domino effect, each act which destroys the silence contributes to building the roar of the collective voice for antiviolence, respect, and honoring of the self and others. Through choosing to speak out when someone attempts to victimize us, through choosing to take a stance of support, empathy, and nonjudgment when a survivor shares their story, we are choosing nonviolence. We are choosing to honor ourselves, all women, all people. We are choosing to not only survive, but to thrive.
After this experience, I was fired up about standing up for antiviolence. That evening, I found an incredible video of one woman who uses art as a medium of advocacy and activism. She addresses a common form of sexualized violence women encounter daily. This is another example of the power and influence of everyday advocacy and activism. You can find the video here: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/361036/stop-telling-women-not-to-smile/
By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
Being an advocate can hold so many different meanings to different individuals. It can be easy to get caught up in trying to have one definition of what it means to be an intimate partner violence advocate , but the truth of the matter is that there is no one definition of an IPV advocate. One advocate's work may look completely different than another but, this does not mean that one is correct and one is incorrect. Or even that one’s work is good and the other’s isn’t . The most important piece of advocacy work, is that you are doing something; that you are speaking up, supporting a cause, or donating your time to help others. As we’ve discussed previously at See The Triumph, IPV affects everybody; therefore, anybody can become an advocate.
Here are a few tips that can help you better become an effective advocate.
Hone in on your area of passion: One of the most important things about being an advocate is being passionate about your cause. You have to truly believe in what you are working towards! Before you decide to become an advocate ask yourself what am I passionate about-- do I want to work with victims of partner abuse? Do I want to work towards changing policies regarding IPV in the work place? Remember,donating a ton of money to help support a cause is not always as effective as using your passion and voice to rally behind a cause and create change. Also, being passionate about a cause does not always mean that it has to have affected you directly. In this case, you don’t have to have been in an abusive relationship to be a great advocate; you just need to have compassion, do some research and attempt to understand what IPV is and how it affects others. Survivors and service providers of IPV need these kinds of allies! The more folks that rally around a cause, the more likely that their voices will be heard.
Educate yourself about the cause: While having passion is key to being a successful advocate, it’s also important to be educated about your cause. For instance, it’s critical for IPV advocates to understand what IPV is, it’s dynamics, and how it affects both victims and other members of our communities. Education does not have to be formal, it can be simply doing research of your own. You can also get a better understanding of the ‘Power and Control Wheel’ or develop an understanding of where local shelters are located and how folks can access them. Reach out to the resources offered in your community. Many times women’s shelters offer different kinds of trainings for those wanting to learn more about IPV advocacy.There are also webinars that offer trainings from the comfort of your own home (many of these are free). One of the best ways to learn about IPV is to listen to those who have been affected by it. Some organizations offer spaces where community members and victims can share their stories .Remember, while education does not have to be formal, you do need to understand what and who you’re advocating for!
Volunteer your time: Local shelters and domestic violence organizations are almost always looking for unpaid help. Typically there are many different roles that advocates can take in these types of positions--sometimes you may find yourself working directly with victims in positions such as working at a safe home or working the crisis hotline, other times you may simply be helping out with things that need to be done around the shelter or organization. Don’t worry, you won’t be thrown into any kinds of these positions, it’s normal for most organizations to provide training for all of their volunteers. If working at a shelter is not something that sounds applicable to your lifestyle then look into other ways you can help. Donate food to local shelters, start a clothing drive or contact your local shelter and ask what they are most in need of. Any time that you give out of your busy schedule is better than nothing.
Band together with other advocates: One voice can certainly make change occur , but imagine the amount of change that a hundred voices could ignite. The really great thing about advocacy is that you are never alone. Research what other groups in your community are doing, and see if you can join their work. Most groups are always looking for more folks to join their cause.
Speak Up and Out: Sharing your knowledge with others is a critical aspect of advocacy work. You’ve taken the time to do research, you’ve spoken with others, now it’s time to get that information out to the public and make change happen. Create an advocacy blog, put a purple ribbon bumper sticker on your car , write a letter to your local congressperson regarding issues you have with our local DV laws or policies ,or attend a rally. Just get the word out! If somebody says something that you don’t agree with about IPV, tell them what they are saying is false and that it is perpetuating the stigma. As an advocate it is our duty to stop the myths and end the stigma related to IPV. Share your message with your family; educate others about the cause--maybe they will even decide to take action too! As mentioned before, it’s important to know the basic facts and how you will answer questions if they are asked. Don’t be afraid to tell somebody the truth if you don’t know the answer to a question--it’s better to say that then to provide the wrong information.
Be Patient: In this day and age, we tend to expect immediate gratification; if we put in the hard work we want to see it pay off right away. However,many times this is not the way that advocacy work works. It takes a lot of work in order to change the way that a society views someting. And it takes even longer to change the myths and stigmas .Remember, just because you don’t see a change right away, it doesn't mean that it isn’t happening. Don’t give up and don’t get discouraged!
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
On Tuesday, I shared a post packed with examples of “big-time” advocacy efforts that people can take to create social changes to end intimate partner violence and the stigma surrounding it. These larger-scale advocacy efforts are so important for taking on the major social forces that fan the flames of abuse in our culture and communities.
But smaller-scale advocacy efforts are just as valuable, and even though they may be viewed as “smaller” than more major advocacy efforts, they can deliver huge impacts and are an important part of the overall picture of the types of advocacy needed to really end abuse.
One of the simplest things that anyone can do to advocate for survivors is simply to listen to their stories when they come to you. Several of the participants in our research mentioned this as a way they view themselves as advocates. For example, one participant said, “I will be there when someone needs me.” Another said, “I simply try to be there for friends/acquaintances who are in abusive relationships.” Given what we know about how isolated survivors can become through the abuse, just think how powerful being there and listening can be.
Beyond listening to survivors’ stories, survivors especially can advocate for others by sharing their own experiences in one-on-one conversations to help other survivors know that they aren’t alone. A number of survivors in our research studies viewed this role as a form of advocacy, including the following:
In my post on “big-time” advocacy, I shared how some people advocate by starting social media campaigns or running Facebook pages. However, social media offers people opportunities for raising awareness about intimate partner violence through less-intensive actions, too. For example, a research participant said, “I share posts, articles, etc on facebook and twitter and pinterest.”
Our theme for the series this month is “Everyday Advocacy.” We want to emphasize the everyday. Some people will truly feel called and motivated to take on large-scale advocacy efforts, and these efforts are sorely needed. But even those advocacy actions that may seem “small” can have a huge impact!
You may provide a listening ear to someone who is experiencing abuse, which could help start the process for them to leave the relationship and change the course of their lives forever. You could share your own experiences with abusive or unhealthy relationships--or overcoming any challenge you’ve faced in your life--and let someone know they’re not alone, and that there is hope. You could share a piece of information with someone in your social media network that helps them recognize an abusive relationship in their own and start to take action to get safe. Small actions can have big results!
I invite you to take some time today to think about one small thing you could do in the next 24 hours to do some form of advocacy toward ending intimate partner violence. You never know what kind of difference you could make!
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
All this month, we’re focusing on things that every person--including survivors--can do to advocate to end intimate partner violence and the stigma that surrounds it. This includes advocacy efforts to support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
Advocacy efforts can be “big” or “small,” although even actions that may seem small can have a huge impact. In another post later this week, I’ll share some ideas for smaller-scale advocacy efforts. But today, I hope to inspire you by sharing some big-time advocacy actions that survivors and others have taken to make changes happen in their communities and society.
Recently, Ali Safran’s story was featured on the Huffington Post. As a survivor of sexual assault, Ali launched Surviving in Numbers to help tell the story of survivors of sexual assault. You can learn more about Surviving in Numbers in the following YouTube video:
We also heard similar stories from survivors who participated in our research who became powerful advocates to help others. For example, several survivors shared that they became speakers to educate others in their community about intimate partner violence:
Advocacy efforts also may take the form of working with organizations to ensure that they are best meeting the needs of survivors. As one example, a participant in our research said, “I have assisted law enforcement in writing policies for effective law enforcement response to domestic violence, testify as an expert witness in civil and criminal cases.”
For those who are interested in learning how to become an advocate, many local domestic violence agencies offer formal advocacy trainings, such as this one in Lebanon, PA. These classes can be very valuable, as one participant in our research said, “I am taking classes to become an advocate. I want to help change the system that is so broken. A system where child molesters keep custody. I want to help other women.” A good place to start in seeing if a program like this exists in your community is by connecting with your state domestic violence coalition (You can find a list through the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).
When it comes to advocacy, don’t be afraid to dream big! Intimate partner violence is such a major problem in society that we need people to advocate for creative solutions that will promote real changes toward ending abuse. For example, one survivor in our research shared her dream with us:
We hope that these examples of big-time, everyday advocacy will inspire you to consider how you might start or become part of advocacy efforts to promote change in your own communities and beyond! Working together, we can all do more to end the violence and the stigma that surrounds it, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable.
By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph co-founder
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– 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 might work well displayed with pictures and images. Now, 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:
1. Own your strengths. When we started this project, Christine and I knew how to do research and write for publication. We used these strengths to develop material that later we edited and transformed so that it could be used in a different way on social media. We did not lose sight of what we already knew how to do, and used these skills as a starting point. So, for those of you thinking of beginning a project, campaign, or advocacy endeavor, consider what you naturally do well, and start there!
2. Acknowledge your weaknesses. Early on, Christine and I had the great pleasure of meeting with Andrew Willis, Executive Director and Founder of the Stop Abuse Campaign. Boy, did he help us learn the ropes for building a website, starting a Facebook page, and a growing a Causes following. He was patient, honest, and helped us understand the differences between academic writing and writing as an advocate for change.
3. Collaborate. An early lesson Christine and I learned is that we couldn’t do this alone. We needed guest bloggers, students, and volunteers to help us with anything and everything on the project. For anyone wanting to advocate for an issue, give voice for those who need strength, or fight for social justice issues, there really is strength in numbers! Find others out there who are doing similar work and see if they might be willing to work with you in small or large ways.
4. Find people you work well with. I have found that my most successful projects have been those where my style of working matched those working styles of the people I was collaborating with. Now, this is not to say that different ways of working can be productive on an advocacy project, but for me, a valuable take-away from the See the Triumph project has been that as co-founders, Christine and I work well together and have similar approaches. When you begin a large advocacy endeavor, chances are you’ll be spending a decent amount of time on it, so for me this has been a very important aspect of the project and a large part of our success.
5. Have fun! Chances are, if you are advocating for a topic, population, or issue that needs advocating for, it is a serious and perhaps upsetting/unfair topic that can feel draining for all those involved. Serious issues that feel like uphill battles can lead to burn out, exhaustion, or feelings of defeat. At See the Triumph we have found ways to promote stories of triumph, uplifting messages, and manage to have some fun along the way, even if it’s just for our own sanity. So, as much as being an advocate demands seriousness and commitment to the issue, it also requires that you take time off, detach for a while, and return feeling refreshed and renewed.
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!
By Sonya Desai, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Adult Victim Advocate, Victim Services Division, Family Service of the Piedmont
Every morning when I wake up, I give thanks for one more day to help someone through a difficult situation. I understand that I have been given an opportunity to be an advocate for those in a domestic violence situation. On some days this requires me to spend the day with a survivor in order to help her obtain a restraining order, assist in finding a safe place for her and her children to live, or develop an extensive safety plan relevant to her situation. On other days advocacy for a client may not require such a hands on approach. Rather, it may be telling a survivor that I am proud of her for coming forward and asking for help. Advocacy looks different for every situation.
As a professional, I am required to have boundaries and ethics when helping a survivor. In saying this, if you are a friend, co-worker, or family member of a survivor, you also should be aware of what you say and do in your role of advocacy. It is a natural tendency to want to help others, but it is also important to remember that the survivor may not be ready for help. We have to allow the survivor to move at her own pace. Give her the time to think and express her emotions. People have different priorities and plans than what we may have. It is important to understand domestic violence and that the survivor knows her abuser better than anyone else. After all, she has survived to this point. We must have faith that she knows what the best plan is for her and her children. Be supportive in what the survivor wants, not what you think the survivor wants.
Ask questions that give the survivor an opportunity to decide what she needs. Here are few examples of questions that are appropriate to ask.
1. How can I help with keeping you safe?
2. What are specific things that I can do to help make things easier for you?
3. How can I support you through this?
We want to give the survivor her control back when asking questions. For a long time she was being controlled by her abuser, so this is an opportunity for her to be empowered.
When speaking with the survivor make sure that you do not promise things that you cannot fulfill. For example, do not tell the survivor that you will attend every court date with her if you likely will not be able to. Court can be a lengthy process which may require time off from work or rearranging your schedule. A better solution is to assist the survivor in finding the local domestic violence agency where an advocate can accompany the survivor to court. Then if you are able to attend some of the court dates, you will become an extra support to her.
When supporting a survivor, please remember that she may change her mind and go back to her abuser. It is important to not express disapproval, as this may push her away from you. You may be the only one that she trusts to tell her story to. When you criticize her, you are telling her that she is not doing it the way that you would do it.
Obviously, if you are reading this blog, your intentions are good in that you want to help someone in need. There will be times when there are no answers to questions or you may not know what to say. It is all right to not have anything to say. Sometimes the best solution is to be still, and listen to her.
The truth of the matter is that the worst thing you can do for a survivor is nothing. In saying this, helping can be the simplicity of your presence. Knowing that she has you, may be all that she needs.
Sonya Desai began working as the adult victim advocate on a joint grant with Family Service of the Piedmont and the Greensboro Police Department in April of 2007. In this position, she assists victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. This assistance involves safety planning, court accompaniment, supportive counseling during and after interviews with Greensboro Police Department detectives, and linking victims to area resources. Desai also assists in answering phone calls to the local 24/7 crisis line. She is an active member of Guilford County’s Sexual Assault Response Team. Desai’s work is not limited to victims. She is a co-facilitator for the Domestic Violence Intervention Program in High Point. This is a jail alternative program designed for men who are convicted of domestic violence related charges.
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
A few days ago, I wrote about the unique, and important, role that survivors can play in advocacy work to address intimate partner violence (IPV). As important as this role is, I want to emphasize that it should always be up to each individual survivor to choose whether or not to engage in this sort of work at any given point in time. Survivors need not feel any pressure--either from themselves or from others around them--to take on advocacy work.
We’ve learned from survivors in our ongoing study on overcoming abuse that there are many reasons why people may choose not to take on advocacy work, and any and of these reasons--even simply that they do not want to do it--are valid and worthy of honoring.
We heard from several participants in our research about some of the reasons they did not want to take on advocacy work.
For example, some felt that it wouldn’t be a good match for their skills:
This is one of the reasons that we would love to see all people consider if and how they can help advocate to end the abuse and support survivors--regardless of whether they have any personal experience with IPV or not. With IPV, we’re facing a massive social problem that has been entrenched into cultures for generations and generations. The more voices that join this cause, the more powerful a message they can send together. However, it is important to honor survivors’ choice whether to join their voices with larger advocacy efforts.
By Sara Forcella, See the Triumph Contributor
Whenever I tell people what field of work I am going into the first question that I always receive is why? What made me want to go into domestic violence advocacy? Each and every time I am asked this I feel as if I’m never prepared to answer. I’m never quite ready to let strangers or even employers into that private space where my answer lies. Never truly ready to become that vulnerable. My response is usually simple, something generic, like “I’m interested in women’s issues” or “I’ve seen people I know experience it”. Yet, by giving these generic responses I’m not being honest with myself or others.
I decided that the only way for me to share my story was to express myself the best way I know how—to write about it. So, for the past few months I tried to write my story, to give those in it justice, to share my past to the best of my ability. But every draft never seemed right. For awhile I set the story aside altogether. Thats when to my surprise, I was asked to share my advocacy story with See The Triumph. It seemed like now was a good time as any to actually put my story into writing. To share what lead me on my journey of advocacy with all of you—the folks who I have shared my work, thoughts and stories with and more importantly the folks who have been brave enough to share their stories with me.
The truth of the matter is that I am lucky enough to never have been physically abused myself. I have dealt with verbal and emotional abuse, but never physical. I’ve had my share of bad relationships, some of which reflecting upon were definitely unhealthy. I’ve been in relationships that involved emotional and verbal abuse, ones that were riddled with issues of power and control, some that had they lasted may have turned violent. But this story is not about my relationships, not the intimate ones at least.
What led me into IPV advocacy were much different kinds of relationships—they were friendships. Back when I was in college (not too many years ago) I noticed so many of my girlfriends stuck in bad intimate relationships. Relationships where sex was forced upon them through manipulation or coercion. Relationships where they were berated or put down. Relationships where phones would be checked constantly and there were accusations of cheating. Relationships that were just not healthy. Relationships in which my girlfriends didn’t even realize that they were being abused or sexually assaulted because they thought these behaviors, these beliefs, were ‘normal’. These were all relationships that I was aware of, yet for some reason I never talked about their dysfunction with my friends, I never urged them to press charges after they were sexually assaulted when they were too intoxicated to even give consent. All of us just saw this as the typically college life, the kinds of things that girls have to learn to deal with. What I soon realized was that my silence, my lack of outrage, was allowing these forms of gender based violence to continue.
One of my friend’s relationship in particular was extremely abusive—it was verbally, physically and emotionally abusive—and I knew this. Watching my friend dealing with the reality of intimate partner violence, and somewhat losing her to it, pushed me to begin my journey as an IPV advocate.
My involvement in this relationship was complex; I was friends with both individuals. At that time I cared about them both and wanted to see them both happy. Seeing them both happy meant that they needed (in this case) to go their separate ways. Which also meant I was stuck in the middle, trying my best not to take sides. As an outsider I thought that breaking up would keep the peace, but it didn’t. Still in my very early twenties, the complexity of this situation was not lost on me. I had no clue where to turn or even what to say to either of my friends involved.
The couple still saw each other and the fighting only increased. Eventually my friend began to come over with random bruises attached to nonchalant stories that usually included phrases like, “It was my fault I…. annoyed him, or he saw me text a boy, or I went out last night”. My brain registered that she felt it was her fault ,yet my heart was telling me something different, that she was not to blame and that she did not deserve this.
I saw this person as strong, funny, confident and beautiful; yet, she saw none of this herself. The first tactic that I used to try to ‘help’ was informing her of this—telling my friend that her partner was a jerk and she could do better. Consequently, this seemed to push her further away from me.
At one point I felt so desperate that I took one of the Domestic Violence Hotline Number’s off of a bathroom wall and gave it to her. With no avail I decided to stop trying—that my voice didn’t matter. Knowing that bashing her partner would do little to help her, or our friendship, I decided to go another route. Instead of saying anything negative I just listened; I didn’t ask questions and I tried not to mention her partner's name. Sometimes I swear I had to bite my tongue so hard to keep from saying anything bad that I swore it might fall off. In keeping silent I sort of helped our friendship, yet I didn’t help my friend who still came over with bruises.
For me this silence, this unspoken elephant in the room, became a way of dealing with my friend’s violent relationship. But what I soon learned was that this silence got me in trouble and it hurt others.
One night, as I spent time with a group of friends my silence nearly suffocated me. While there I began to hear yelling, glass hitting the wall and shattering. I could hear my friend crying. I had absolutely no clue what to do. My first instinct was to grab my phone and call the cops—something I was quickly told not to do. The others said that this happens all the time and that if I was to get the police involved both of my friends would get arrested. I wanted to march down there and stop the fight myself but again I was advised against it. So I did nothing. I remained silent and sat upstairs as a terrified bystander. Eventually, somebody broke the ‘fight’ up, however, nothing about this situation settled well with me.
The next day everybody acted as if nothing happened. When I tried to talk to my friend about it she was embarrassed and avoided the larger than life elephant sitting beside us. It was this ten minutes of silence that I decided I had to do something, and this is when I decided looking into IPV advocacy work.
Looking back on that night I realize that I was a bystander, that I allowed my friend to be harmed. I allowed others to sit back and do nothing—and even worse I allowed them to think that this was okay and “normal”. At the time I thought that my silence would protect me, that it might protect my friendship, but what I truly failed at was protecting another human being. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had stepped in. Would I have gotten harmed? I may have. Would my voice have been heard? It may have. I honestly don’t know, but what I do know is that I cannot allow my voice to go unheard again. I cannot allow others to believe that IPV is normal and that it’s acceptable.
In this case of IPV, like many others, everybody knew about the abuse. It wasn’t a secret. Everybody knew that the couple ‘fought’ and things got ‘out of hand’. Everybody saw the bruises, the broken glass. But, nobody did anything; nobody said anything. This is where I have found my place as an advocate—it is these small moments of silence, the unknown of where to go and who to turn to, that I hope to change. Had I known more about IPV back then, I may have been able to change the situation—or not. But it’s important for me to help the millions of other women and men who are out there dealing with the same things. It’s imperative for me to verbalize to others that abuse is never okay, that it is illegal, and that it is way more than a lover’s quarrel turned giant elephant in the room.