1 is 2 Many Blog

  • Communities Around the Country Mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    Today marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. From its humble origins in 1981 as a Day of Unity, this month has become a time to celebrate survivors, congratulate advocates, empower victims, and mourn the deaths of those lost to domestic violence. Around the country, communities are coming together this month to hold vigils, public awareness programs, survivor speak outs and town hall meetings.

    At the White House, we know that this month would not be possible without the lifelong dedication of those on the front lines. This month we honor the hotline workers who work the night shift to be there around the clock for victims in need. We pay tribute to the shelter workers who show that they care every day and the law enforcement officers who treat victims with dignity and respect when they knock on a door. We acknowledge the prosecutors who take on tough cases and the doctors who screen their patients for domestic violence. We appreciate the community-based organizations who reach people in their neighborhoods and the faith leaders who speak out about ending domestic violence.  Most of all, we honor the women, men, and children who have survived violence.

    Our commitment to survivors is reflected in the Obama Administration’s efforts to raise awareness and prevent domestic violence. Earlier this year, President Obama directed federal agencies to develop policies to assist victims of domestic violence in the federal workforce (read the Presidential memorandum). Through Vice President Biden’s 1 is 2 Many campaign, we released a public service announcement featuring professional athletes and other role models speaking out against dating violence (watch the PSA).

    Through the Affordable Care Act, women in many health plans will have access to domestic violence screening and counseling as a preventative service without co-payments, deductibles or other cost-sharing.  In an effort to save the lives of the three women a day who still die as a result of domestic violence, the Justice Department developed a new project to reduce domestic violence homicides through screening, linking victims with services and developing high-risk teams. Through these and other initiatives, we are doing our part to assist survivors and stop violence before it starts.

  • 18th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act

    On September 13, 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law. This groundbreaking legislation was the result of many years of dedication by women’s advocates and the incredible leadership of then-Senator Biden.   

    I was working as an advocate in Florida, and I remember it well. For those of us on the frontlines, that was the day everything changed. No longer did we stand alone in the fight to end rape and battering. Finally, we had validation from the highest levels of our government that violence against women was a national crisis and a high priority. From that day forward, our local hotlines were inundated with calls from victims who felt they could finally step forward and seek help. 

    Over the next decade, advocates and policy-makers developed powerful alliances to implement the new law. In Florida, VAWA funding helped start domestic violence task forces in rural communities where services were nonexistent. In the isolated mountains of Tennessee, VAWA brought medical and crisis services to rape victims. In Michigan, legal advocates helped victims obtain protective orders. In West Virginia, in the first case prosecuted under VAWA’s new federal crimes, an offender was convicted of interstate domestic violence and kidnapping after beating his wife to unconsciousness and driving her around in the trunk of his car for six days while she was critically injured.

    Today, you can see VAWA in action in local communities all across the country. Through programs funded by VAWA, police officers and prosecutors are trained to understand the needs of victims, specialized law enforcement units investigate these crimes, and transitional housing programs help victims rebuild their lives. As a result, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent since the passage of the Act.

  • Men Stand Up to Stop Rape

    Ed. note: This is the second post in a “Campus Spotlight” series that shares what extraordinary teens and young adults have been doing to help end dating violence across the country and highlight ways YOU can be a strong advocate. This series will feature some of the young people, schools, and organizations that have been working hard to spread awareness, provide resources, and prevent dating violence on their campuses and in their communities.

    The advocacy organization Men Can Stop Rape addresses violence against women by promoting healthy, nonviolent masculinity and proactive solutions that engage men as allies and inspire them to feel motivated and capable of ending men’s violence against women.

    In January 2012, Men Can Stop Rape launched the bystander intervention campaign “Where Do You Stand?” with the help of college and high school students from the Washington, D.C. area. Pat McGann, a Men Can Stop Rape advocate who was present at the launch, believes “there’s a clear, positive role for men to play in prevention that isn’t suggesting that they commit assault but does suggest they have a responsibility to friends and others to stand up to it.”   

    Members of campus Men of Strength Clubs from American University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Washington, D.C. area high schools attended the launch at Georgetown University, during which young men took part in training activities to equip themselves with the skills they need to intervene before sexual assault occurs. The program intends to educate high school and college men on ways to intervene in potentially violent situations through skits and group discussions.

  • The Red Flag Campaign on Campus

    Ed. note: This is our kick-off post of the “Campus Spotlight” blog post series, which will share what extraordinary teens and young adults have been doing to help end dating violence across the country and highlight ways YOU can be a strong advocate. This series will feature some of the young people, schools, and organizations that have been working hard to spread awareness, provide resources, and prevent dating violence on their campuses and in their communities.

    The Red Flag Campaign is a public awareness initiative designed to prevent dating violence by teaming up with colleges and universities across America. The campaign was created in 2005 by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. It has since spread to more than 100 campuses in 27 states. 

    Red Flag Campaign Coordinator Kate Mccord explains, “The campaign uses a bystander intervention strategy—encouraging friends and other campus community members to say something when they see warning signs (“red flag”) for dating violence.” McCord believes that “The bystander intervention strategy sets The Red Flag Campaign apart from other strategies by engaging men as allies in the work to end dating violence. It recognizes and affirms that men are invested in the well-being of their friends and partners and are a critical component to changing attitudes and behaviors that lead to dating violence.”

    Red Flag Campaign Banner

    Arkansas Tech University students participate in a Red Flag walk to raise dating violence awareness. (Photo by Liz Chrisman)

    Colleges have supported the campaign by organizing awareness weeks and blanketing their campuses with red flags. Arkansas Tech University (ATU) students have embraced the Red Flag Campaign on their campus by organizing an annual dating violence awareness week. Julie Mikels-Schluterman, Professor of Sociology, brought the campaign to ATU because it coupled awareness with prevention and covered a diverse array of relationships.  More specifically, Mikels-Schluterman likes that the campaign is “diverse in the relationships it depicts, no matter what sexual orientation or race” and that the “campaign provides scripts on how you should respond if your friend is in an abusive relationship.”

  • Advocates and Athletes Join the Vice President for the Launch of the 1 is 2 Many PSA

    As we wrap up our summer of interning in the Office of the Vice President, one highlight of our experience that really stands out was helping with the launch of the Vice President’s Public Service Announcement (PSA) that speaks out against dating violence.

    In the PSA, President Obama, Vice President Biden, David Beckham, Jeremy Lin, Evan Longoria, Eli Manning, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Torre, and Andy Katz ask all men to step up, speak out, and help end the violence.   The PSA is part of the 1 is 2 Many campaign the Vice President started last year, which seeks to raise awareness and end violence against women. 

    Advocates and athletes came to the White House to join the Vice President for the launch event on June 21. Many young people in the audience that day enthusiastically welcomed the PSA’s message. “I am so glad that there is a 1 is 2 Many campaign because I learned at the event that despite the decrease of domestic violence, teenage domestic violence is on the rise,” said Amber, 16, an advocate from Girls, Inc. who attended the announcement. We were so inspired by all of the young advocates joining with the 1 is 2 Many campaign that we decided the Vice President’s Office should hear their feedback on this important issue.

  • 1 is 2 Many Launches Dating Violence Public Service Announcement

    Watch the 1 is 2 Many PSA here:

    Last year, Vice President Biden launched the 1is2Many initiative to focus on a troubling fact—women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of relationship violence. Having worked to fight violence against women for almost two decades, the Vice President knew that overall rates of domestic violence have been falling, and he heard the numbers about young women as a call to action. He asked the Administration to focus on how we can engage young women and young men in preventing dating violence and sexual assault at their schools, where they work, where they hang out, and where they live.

    As part of that initiative, the Vice President asked young men and women to share their own ideas on how to educate everyone about healthy and respectful relationships. A number of responses contained practical suggestions about improving security and accountability, and giving everyone access to the best information. The Vice President has highlighted the importance of using newer technology by sending the first official text to the recently expanded National Dating Abuse Helpline. Young people can now reach out to the Helpline via text or chat 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Administration also issued the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge, to spur development of mobile applications to reach young people and keep them safe. The winning apps, Circle of 6 and On Watch, make it quick and easy to check in with friends about where you are and what you need, transmit your location via GPS, and connect you to the right resources to get help.

    But the Vice President also heard from young people who said that solving the problem of this violence will require us to reshape cultural views about what it means to “be a man” and who has the responsibility to help stop abuse. For example, Brennan, from Hilo, HI, wrote: “I think it'd be great to come up with profiles of men in our cultural histories who have taken stands to prevent violence and abuse. Respecting women should not be a threat to masculinity, but rather a fulfillment of true manhood.” We couldn’t agree more.

    We also know that research shows that men overestimate how accepted this kind of violence is by other men. And so we thought the best way to get the truth out was to make sure young men hear from other men they respect. We thought about male role models we know, like former Yankees manager Joe Torre, who grew up in a home where his dad abused his mom and who talks movingly about how devastating witnessing the abuse as a boy was for him. We talked to professional athletes who epitomize strength and physical achievement who agree that this violence is wrong and that men must help end it by speaking out. A number of them have now joined the President and the Vice President in a public service announcement that will air this summer on the ESPN Networks, the FOX Sports Networks, MLB Network and NFL Network.