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.
In this PSA, David Beckham, Jeremy Lin, Evan Longoria, Eli Manning, Jimmy Rollins, Joe Torre and Andy Katz ask all men to step up, talk about how wrong it is, and help end the violence. Watch the video here at www.whitehouse.gov/1is2many where you can also catch up on the latest on the administration’s efforts to address youth dating violence and sexual assault.
National Dating Abuse Helpline: If you or someone you know needs help, text "Loveis" to 22522 or visit Loveisrespect.org.
Cynthia Hogan is Deputy Assistant to the President and Counsel to the Vice President.