Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Julie Nauman, VCGCB Executive Officer

There’s a reason you cannot get away from the story of Ray Rice, NFL running back who assaulted his then-fiancé and now-wife. Why has the video been played and replayed, and the incident rehashed over and over, across social media, print media, and television outlets? Yes, Rice is a multimillionaire and celebrity sports figure. But there is a bigger picture explanation: the issue resonates with people.

Domestic violence (DV) affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men. DV victims make up over one-fourth of CalVCP applications annually. It’s a pervasive problem that takes victims of any age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background, and it needs to be more effectively addressed.
In Rice’s case, delayed punitive actions and tendency towards victim blaming on social media have raised a number of concerns about the way our culture views and perceives domestic violence:

  • Why weren’t citizens outraged when Rice was indicted on aggravated assault charges in March? Why did it take tangible video proof to wake the nation to the realities of this crime? And how can we better support survivors and uphold victims’ rights from the get go?
  • Janay Palmer chose to stand by her man and blamed the media for ruining her husband’s career. Her decisions, which led to a fury of criticism, also sparked a worldwide Twitter dialogue in which thousands of victims shared their perspectives using the hashtag #WhyIStayed (and subsequent spinoff hashtag #WhyILeft). Rather than victim blaming, how can we better understand the dynamics of DV and the psychology of abuse?
  • Law enforcement revealed they provided video evidence to the NFL in April, yet Rice wasn’t terminated until TMZ leaked the clip in September. What does this say about society’s tolerance of DV? That it’s more important to uphold a public image than to obtain justice for victims?
  • Rice and Palmer are now married. This prompts the question: Can an abuser be reformed and proceed to have a healthy relationship?

The complex nature of domestic violence makes it a difficult subject to tackle, but—as social media has already demonstrated—together, we can change attitudes and inspire positive action. This October, CalVCP joins millions across the nation in commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As the state’s leading advocate for victims’ rights, we recognize this annual observance as an opportunity to raise awareness, support survivors, and move forward in the fight to end domestic violence.

In support of our DVAM theme, Domestic Violence Knows No Boundaries, CalVCP has released a DVAM Resource Kit. You can be part of the conversation and help educate your communities about the far reaching effects of DV by:

  • Sharing DVAM graphics and web banners online and in email signatures
  • Using the #DVAM hashtag on Twitter
  • Posting provided DV awareness facts on social media
  • Distributing CalVCP’s DV Fact Sheet
  • Printing and hanging DVAM posters and fliers

Domestic violence is not just a personal or family problem but a widespread issue that ripples across entire communities. This October, I hope you will join CalVCP in supporting domestic violence victims and survivors and taking a stand against this pervasive crime.

Julie Nauman is the Executive Officer for the Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board (VCGCB). VCGCB provides compensation for victims of violent crime and helps to resolve claims against the State.