This October it felt like I was everywhere. From coffee shops, to high school auditoriums, college dorms, living rooms, and everywhere in between, I had the honor of getting to speak to hundreds of people about a very important issue- domestic violence. I was impressed time and time again by how many people came out to events this year; not only is October a busy time for many of us, but domestic violence is a difficult and often taboo subject to talk about. What I have learned from doing this work is that domestic violence thrives in isolation and silence- when we are able to bring this issue into the light and make it part of the public discourse, great change is possible. Thank you to everyone who came to an event or took time to talk about this important issue throughout the month of October- by doing so, you are helping to create that change.
This year I was excited to have so many opportunities to talk to parents about teen dating violence. At Wayland High School I worked with an incredible group of young people who have recently formed a Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) Club; I co-taught MVP classes last spring and this group of seniors (5 girls and 5 boys) decided to take the conversation beyond the classroom and form their own school club. As soon as the school year started, they began meeting to plan a parent night where they could educate parents about teen dating violence, healthy relationships, and how to engage their child in a conversation about dating and staying safe. They opened it up to other schools and to their classmates and had a great turnout of students and parents. The captains of the football team, all part of the MVP club, also had their team wear purple socks to raise awareness of domestic violence during October. I think the NFL could learn something from these incredible young men and women.
I was also excited to get to speak to a large group of mothers who are members of the National Charity League in Wellesley. Many of the women I met at this event have daughters still in middle school, and they were very interested in finding ways to engage their daughters in these important conversations before they even get to high school. We always encourage parents to have these conversations early and often and have great tip cards to support parents in these efforts.
On a very rainy night in late October I met with over a dozen parents and school staff from Concord-Carlisle High School. We are launching a new partnership with this school and have had the opportunity to provide training and support for the faculty and staff. We were so excited to get to bring parents into this important dialogue. One concern that many of the parents raised was the issue of intimate partner violence on college campuses. I was glad to not only be able to talk about their concerns but also highlight some of the amazing work happening on college campuses here in Massachusetts.
Throughout October we had the opportunity to work with local colleges to support their efforts to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and connect their students to resources. Our prevention staff helped to facilitate a discussion following a screening of “Escalation,” an educational film created by the One Love Foundation, at Lasell College. That same night we facilitated a workshop for students at Brandeis University, many of whom work for Residential Life or the campus Rape Crisis Center. I also had the honor of speaking on a panel following a screening of the powerful documentary, “What Happened, Miss Simone?” at Harvard’s School of Public Health. In all of these spaces I learned so much from the participants about the unique strengths and challenges of each school community. This Friday we will continue the conversation at Boston University.
Every time I start a presentation, I tell the group that my job is very simple- I am here to simply start the conversation. The real work happens after… when folks who came to hear me speak continue the conversation in their car, at the dinner table, with their friends, family, and colleagues. The month of October may be over but the need to raise awareness about domestic violence is far from finished. We ask all of you to help us continue this important conversation throughout the year. Check out our Prevention page to request a presentation in your community.