Consider this: domestic violence and sexual assault do not just impact survivors; these crimes affect all of us. With one in four women experiencing domestic violence in their lives and one in six men being sexually abused before the age of 18, these individuals are not stranger to us. They are our co-workers, our friends, or family.
But too often, domestic violence and sexual assault are hidden and the pain of the individual is unknown, largely owing to feelings of embarrassment, shame, and even self-loathing.
On Thursday, March 7, President Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into law, thereby formalizing help for millions of people who are survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. But we must do more than help those dealing with these problems; we must end them. Towards that goal, there is a profound need to change attitudes and behaviors across the nation.
I write as a proud and passionate advocate for a groundbreaking domestic violence and sexual assault awareness campaign called NO MORE. A graphic symbol designed to brand domestic violence and sexual assault, NO MORE -- like the pink ribbon for breast cancer and the red ribbon for AIDS -- can reduce this stigma by making the issues more visible. With more people using the symbol, sharing the symbol, and seeing the symbol whenever there is a publicized incident of domestic violence and sexual assault, NO MORE can raise radical new awareness that these problems occur around us every day and in every region of the country.
By branding domestic violence and sexual assault, we aim to engage the general public to understand that, like other health issues -- cancer, heart disease -- domestic violence and sexual assault need to be more of a priority. Through this new branding awareness, there is hope that we can, indeed, change behavior and raise the necessary resources for prevention and education.
Wednesday, March 13 is NO MORE Day. Thousands of advocates and supporters across the nation will unite to officially launch NO MORE. Nearly every organization working to combat domestic violence and sexual assault in the nation -- whether their focus is women and girls, men and boys, teenagers, children, minorities, rural or urban communities -- is coming together to say NO MORE -- and I urge you to take action too...
We only need to read the news on a daily basis to understand the vital importance of getting engaged. March 13 also is the start of the trial of two students in Steubenville, Ohio accused of raping of an unconscious, 16-year-old girl. This horrific event is even more disturbing because it is believed that other students may have been present during the crime. Photos were taken surrounding the incident and shared on social media, but no one spoke up or intervened. This extreme case underscores the fact that when bystanders do not take action, we not only do great harm to the victim, we also perpetuate the attitude that there is nothing anyone can do to change the behavior.
NO MORE challenges that assumption. I believe that by using the symbol repeatedly and widely, like any powerful brand , we can convey a powerful message: We all must play a critical role in preventing assault and abuse. On March 13 we are asking all Americans to take the time to:
KNOW MORE. Learn the signs of domestic violence and listen without judgment to the survivors of sexual assault. Get the facts and know the available resources.
Say NO MORE. Break the silence. Speak out. Seek help when you see this problem or harassment of any find in your family, your community, your workplace, or your school.
Share NO MORE. Share the NO MORE symbol with everyone you know. Facebook it. Tweet it. Pin it. Instagram it. Email it. Wear it. Help to increase awareness about the extent of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Ensure NO MORE. Get involved. Volunteer in your community, or donate to a local, state, or national domestic violence or sexual assault organization.
Visit nomore.org. Add your voice. Together, we can end domestic violence and sexual assault.