Sexual and domestic violence is an ongoing epidemic in our society. You may feel your heart sink as you read the local news about a young girl who was sexually assaulted in your town or shake your head in dismay after reading about a victim of domestic violence in your community. You may be asking yourself why this keeps happening over and over again, and you may wonder what can be done to stop this injustice. The issue of sexual and domestic violence is very widespread and multifaceted, but one answer to help end this problem is, simply, YOU.
By being an advocate in your community, you can help to end sexual and domestic violence and improve the lives of others. Think about the survivors that you read about in the news and the survivors that you personally know. Having an advocate stand up and try to end this injustice can mean the world to a survivor, and could also change the life of someone who is a potential victim.
Here are some steps that you can take to become an advocate to help end sexual and domestic violence:
By educating yourself, you will become aware of who is most at risk, how to recognize the signs that someone is being abused, and how to best help someone if you notice signs of abuse. To be the best advocate possible, it is important to be educated about the issues. Check out this free online educational series to learn more about sexual and domestic violence.
Are you a survivor of violence? Would you like to share your story to help raise awareness? You can share your story on a personal level with family and friends, in your community, or via a national platform. By educating others and putting a face to these crimes, it may encourage people to join your cause and help advocate to end violence. Also, speaking out helps to end victim shaming and encourages other survivors to share their own stories and reach out for help.
Bystander intervention is the concept of seeing something and saying something. If you see an act of violence occurring you can speak up to help stop it or you can report it immediately to law enforcement. Bystander intervention is very effective and useful on college campuses, with peer groups, and at social gatherings. You can also learn how to be there for family and friends who may disclose abuse to you.
Educate Your Children
One way to stop violence in our community is to treat it at the source by teaching our children what healthy relationships should look like, and by teaching them at a young age that violence is not an acceptable way to express emotions. By being a good role model for the children in your life, you will help to decrease future violence.
Join a community organization that is committed to ending violence in your community. There are many events to help raise awareness, fundraisers to help victims in need, and even rallies to help change laws—all of which give you the opportunity to make positive change. You can also volunteer to work for a local or national hotline to help victims in need.
Being an advocate can be rewarding yet challenging work and it is important to be mindful and take care of yourself to avoid burnout. With your passion, drive and commitment, creating positive change in your community is possible. Not only will it feel great to be an advocate for yourself and others, but you will also be a part of helping to create a better community for the younger generation—hopefully one with less sexual and domestic violence. Together we can create hope and change!