1.3 million women in the United States are victimized by domestic violence every year. This issue cannot be ignored—it thrives in silence and takes a community to change. Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to shed more light on an issue that has affected so many people. It is a time to mourn those who have lost their lives, celebrate those who have survived, and connect all of us to break the cycle. Human Options wanted to make a meaningful impact in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month by encouraging the community to join our movement and take a stand against domestic violence.
The prevalence of domestic violence in the NFL inspired us to focus our efforts on educating and empowering young men to break the cycle. Human Options believes we need to shift the culture within young male peer groups by bringing light to this issue and providing positive role models in the community. We launched our #StandAgainstDV Campaign during Domestic Violence Awareness Month at four high schools in Orange County—Northwood, Irvine, San Juan Hills, and Corona Del Mar. The goal of this campaign was to engage high school athletes and their supporters to make a public stand against domestic violence. Football players wore purple socks, #StandAgainstDV wristbands, and completed pledge forms explaining why they stand against domestic violence. One athlete wrote, “I pledge to stand against DV because everyone deserves to feel safe.” Cheerleaders, students, faculty, and fans also embraced our campaign by wearing purple and decorating their stadium with powerful statistics.
Human Options also collaborated with Beta Theta Pi at UC Irvine during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This inspiring group of young men dedicated an entire week towards raising awareness for domestic violence. They asked students to sign purple pledge ribbons and show their support on social media. They also hosted a singing showcase with inspirational speakers, domestic violence survivors, and talented students. Their efforts reached hundreds of students on campus. When we asked Miguel Gonzalez, one of the fraternity brothers, about his experience he said, “Our fraternity’s collaboration with Human Options during their Domestic Violence Awareness Campaign was truly an unforgettable and rewarding experience. We took pride in the fact that we were able to bring attention to such an important issue to our campus and were met with an overwhelming positive response and participation from our community. As gentlemen, we were humbled to have been able to use our voices, and provide a platform for others, to stand against domestic violence.”
Lastly, during the month of October, we held our annual Luncheon for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This year’s luncheon focused on how we can help boys grow into healthy, responsible young men. Our keynote speaker, Rosalind Wiseman, worked collaboratively for two years with middle school and high school boys exploring their complicated, emotional world. During her presentation, she explained, “We deny boys a voice that we do not deny girls. It is extraordinarily important if we want to actually change the culture in the ways that Human Options does every day, then we have to be able to address the realities of boys. And that is something we have not done. Boys deserve better. ” Another memorable moment at the luncheon was when Josh Boudreaux shared his touching, inspirational story. During his speech, Josh said, “Mother, you are the most special person in my life. You taught me how to be a man and you taught me to always respect the woman I’m with. I am now engaged and will always honor and cherish Melissa because you instilled those values in me. Mom, you have been abused physically and sexually in your past relationship, but I vow to you as long as I am alive you will never ever go through that, and I know my dad feels the same way. You are the rock of our family and I am making this pledge for women like you. That this small amount I am donating will help them in their most troubled times to one day be in a place you are now.”
Although Domestic Violence Awareness Month is only in October, we encourage everyone to spread awareness and bring light to this important cause all year long. Help us break the cycle by starting the conversation, being an advocate in your community, and supporting prevention programs. Join our movement and stand against domestic violence. Together, we can make a difference.