Whether you realize it or not, chances are someone you know has suffered the emotional and physical toll of being abused by an intimate acquaintance.
In the United States, one in every three people is impacted by domestic violence. Consider this example. A mid-size sports arena can hold 20,000 fans. That means that nearly 7,000 of them will experience the effects of this social epidemic in their lifetime.
But even though domestic abuse is very real and close to many of us, the crisis of domestic violence operates under a veil of secrecy. A recent study by the Avon Foundation for Women found that most Americans have never had a conversation about domestic violence, even though 22 percent have been victims themselves and 60 percent know someone who has been a victim. Those statistics beg questions of, why? Why the stigma? Why the shame? Why the quiet societal acceptance?
It’s with this in mind that we today gather together at our annual A Day to Connect, Inspire and Heal Summit in Los Angeles to speak out about domestic violence. The event is being hosted by Verizon in partnership with When Georgia Smiled: The Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation, and provides a platform for thought leaders like the National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Network to End Domestic Violence and others to discuss current issues facing the domestic violence prevention community and highlight positive solutions. It brings the issue into the national spotlight and helps shift the conversation from unspoken acceptance to vocal condemnation.
We at Verizon Wireless have a long-standing commitment to this issue. We know there is hope and we know change is possible. Our company’s commitment to combating domestic violence has deep roots dating back to the inception of the HopeLine program in 1995. Since then, we have given more than $77 million in grants to support domestic violence prevention organizations across the country and have donated more than 180,000 phones with wireless minutes and text messaging service for use by domestic violence victims and survivors.
In my view, the answer to the widespread culture of denial around domestic violence in our society is more engagement, not less. The power of one voice is never to be underestimated but the power of all our voices together will forever transform this issue in America. From corporations, foundations and nonprofits; to celebrities, social media stars and thought leaders; to our community groups, families and friends; to you and me – we can all take part in lending our voice to this very important and deeply personal cause. More discussion will bring this hidden society ill out from behind closed doors and into the spotlight. Only then will the stigma begin to fade, the perpetrators be exposed and the quiet acceptance and misdirected shame be eradicated.
If you agree, there’s a way you can help.
In June, Verizon Wireless launched a program through HopeLine called “Because Voices Have Power,” a national campaign designed to inspire widespread discussion about the issue and most importantly send messages of hope to dating and domestic violence victims and survivors. For each message of hope shared, Verizon has committed to donating $3 to local and national domestic violence prevention organizations across the country. To add your voice to the conversation, simply submit a message of hope online at www.voiceshavepower.com, via text at 94079 or through social media using the hashtag #VoicesHavePower.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but domestic abuse is an issue that festers quietly in every neighborhood, in every city on any given day. I hope you’ll join me in leveraging our “voices of hope” campaign and encouraging your community of friends, family and co-workers to do the same.
Thanks for your partnership.
Torod Neptune is vice president of corporate communications for Verizon Wireless.