Valentine's Day is synonymous with love, romance and healthy relationships -- a day of roses, chocolates, nice dinners and embraces.
However, it's important to remember that many women, men and children in our country will experience a vastly different Valentine’s Day, as victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a serious and pervasive social, health and economic problem in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in four women and one in seven men in the U.S. have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in his or her lifetime. The impact of domestic violence extends to millions of children who witness and/or experience abuse in their homes.
In addition to its immediate and devastating trauma, domestic violence contributes to long-term, physical and mental health problems, including chronic pain, migraines, ulcers and depression. Domestic violence also limits victims’ ability to manage other chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.
Next Thursday, Feb. 21, hundreds of domestic violence prevention advocates -- survivors, celebrities, volunteers and leaders from organizations and communities across the country -- will gather for a Day to Connect, Inspire and Heal. This summit, hosted by Verizon in partnership with Break the Cycle, Casa de Esperanza, Men Can Stop Rape, the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Network to End Domestic Violence, hopes to spur a national conversation about domestic violence and uncover new solutions to this critical issue.
Summit topics will include:
- Connecting with the health care community
- Exploring the role of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Engaging men and boys as part of the solution
- Discussing ways teens can prevent dating violence
- Using social media and mobile technologies to educate the public and help those in need
The summit will be streamed live from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. EST. Viewers can participate by submitting questions to expert panelists and moderators, including Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical examiner of ABC News; CBS sportscaster James Brown; and CNN anchor Christi Paul.
This Valentine’s Day -- and every day -- show that you care and have not forgotten the victims all around us who are suffering in silence from this hidden epidemic. You can help by donating old wireless phones and accessories at any Verizon Wireless store to support HopeLine from Verizon, a program that connects victims and survivors to vital resources and funds. And learn how to start a conversation with someone in your life about domestic violence with our Your Voice Counts Action Guide.
All of us, both men and women, can make a difference by speaking up.