It is important to speak out about domestic violence. Speaking out dispels myths and provides the public and the media with the facts about domestic violence. Domestic violence too often goes unnoticed; a silent crime. Having the public be aware about problems in their communities, state, nation, and world is important to gaining support, followers, and actually getting public policies changed.
Here are some organizations you can get involved with or help bring to your community, but there are many, many more. You can work with a local shelter, local civic group, university entity, etc. to start an already-established organization or event in your community. Some are free to start up and some require a fee.
Clothes Line Project: The Clothesline Project (CLP) is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women. With the support of many, it has since spread world-wide.
Empty Place at the Table: This exhibit demonstrates the devastating result of violence against women and children and helps ensure that these deaths are not forgotten. In a most poignant and visual manner, the exhibit reveals how domestic violence undeniably leaves an empty place at the table.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: Frank Baird created Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® in 2001. What started out as a small group of men daring to totter around a park has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.
Silent Witness: This program aims to end the silence about domestic violence and bring successful programs to every state. Their mission is to promote peace, healing, and responsibility in adult relationships in order to eliminate domestic murders in the United States (by 2010). Their message is one of hope, help and healing for the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. See Implementing Photovoice in Your Community for more resources on how to give a voice to victims of domestic violence.
There are many ways to raise public awareness about domestic violence:
Start a conversation:
Having conversations about domestic violence will be one of the most important tools to public awareness. Sounds scary, huh? We must have these conversations in order to change the world. Whether it is talking with a friend or classmate, putting a few fliers up to start an informal group, talking over dinner with your family… all aspects of these issues are important. Think about how many people you can reach this way: If you know 50 people (which you probably know many more) that know 50 people… that is 2,500 just right there! Talking to people in a way that is engaging and calls for action will really get people fired up about what you’re talking about and think to themselves, “Hey, I didn’t know that and I think this is really important information that many other people should know!” For more resources on starting a conversation in your community, see Conducting Focus Groups and Organizing Study Circles.
Present at a local civic club:
Local civic groups make awesome partners in the push to end DV and spread awareness. Team up with domestic violence advocates and your local shelter to organize a presentation. Talk to a civic group that you’re already a member of or one you believe would make a great partner. In addition, many people who organize the meetings are actively seeking out presenters. It is also a great resource for community members so they can learn about domestic violence and become actively engaged in a thoughtful conversation. Presenters can include trained professionals, volunteers that work at a shelter, domestic violence advocates, teachers who are knowledgeable about the issue, and more. For resources to help you get started on a presentation, see Making Community Presentations.
Sign a pledge:
Creating a pledge is one of the easiest ways to create public awareness about an issue. Explaining the issue to people and having them sign a pledge stating that they support the anti- domestic violence movement, will also create public awareness; whatever it is, will give people ownership in this issue and make them feel more inspired and motivated to get involved while creating that public awareness. It is grassroots campaigns like this that really get the ball rolling.
Share materials to promote interest: Working again with domestic violence advocates and your local shelter, distribute domestic violence materials around the community. These materials include contact information for local shelters, how to obtain help if you are a victim of domestic violence, how you can help a friend or family member, and more. There are many places one can distribute materials such as community bulletin boards, churches, local stores, to people you know, schools, and many more. Be creative! Here are some related tools from the Community Tool Box (a free resource for supporting community work):
Preparing Press Releases
Arranging News and Features Stories
Preparing Guest Columns and Editorials
Arranging a Press Conference
Creating Posters and Flyers
Creating Fact Sheets on Local Issues
Creating a Website
Using E-mail Lists
Increasing Participation and Membership
Troubleshooting Guide: There is not enough community participation
Involving Key Influentials in the Initiative
Domestic Abuse Helpline Services or their phone # 1-888-7HELPLINE
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 1.303.839.1852 or 1.303.839.1681 ßclick on “Resources” then “State Coalition”
The National Center for Victims of Crime
National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
Domestic Violence Facts
Eleven Hundred Torches – Jana’s Call for Action
Developing a Plan for Getting Community Health and Development Issues on the Local Agenda