We live in a world of information overload, over-sharing, and often over-exposure. “Infoxication” or “infobesity” or “information glut”--whatever we call it comes down to the fact that we are inundated with information, information, information.
We are never without our phones, pads, tablets, computers and wireless technology. But with all our ‘feeds,’ is the information we are being fed actually what we NEED? Especially with regard to violence in our relationships, “sound-bite size” tweets are not NEARLY enough to help make a difference in the lives of victims of such violence.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 20 people are victims of violence by an intimate partner in the United States every minute. The CDC studies project that each year, more than 10 million women and men will be victims of physical assault and nearly 2 million women are raped every year.
In addition to these staggering statistics, we also note that violence in intimate partner relationships is an “equal opportunity epidemic;” it knows NO socioeconomic, educational or economic boundaries. It happens throughout society.
We also know that the abuse does not always show. Some of the worst violence is not bruises or scratches, but verbal and emotional assaults that can be devastating.
This is not new information—what IS new is how we are addressing it. My role as an advocate in the struggle against domestic violence started as a young volunteer with the Junior League of Dallas working at Genesis Women’s Shelter more than 20 years ago. For someone in the Baby-Boomer generation, domestic violence was not a subject that was readily spoken about. It was discussed in whispers - if at all - and often with a victim-blaming question like “why does a victim stay in a violent relationship?” The violence was shocking, but limited knowledge and resources left it behind closed doors. Not so for the Millennial generation.
In 2014, the Allstate Foundation conducted a survey seeking to understand the attitudes different demographic groups have about violence in relationships. Its findings describe a completely different response for the Millennial generation. According to the study:
• Nearly 40 percent of Millennials say their parents talked to them about domestic violence, compared to a smaller percentage of older Americans, including 23 percent of Gen X’ers and 18 percent of Baby Boomers.
• Nearly 70 percent of Millennial women view domestic violence as a serious issue facing the country, compared to just 55 percent of Millennial men.
• Older Americans, aged 69 or older, view issues related to financial abuse more seriously than the Millennial generation. Seventy-two percent of older Americans believe that not allowing a partner to have access to funds is considered domestic violence, versus just 58 percent of Millennials.
For Millennials, the discussions have always been there. Hard-fought legislation has been put in place for this generation to help provide safety for victims and hold accountable perpetrators of violence. Millions of non-profit dollars have been raised to provide safety and shelter. Better understandings of the impact of trauma have led to cutting edge support and counseling opportunities to help heal the hurt. Millennials have been able to see first-hand video accounts of elevator assaults proving that violence in relationships is NOT the unthinkable.
With this information comes a tremendous obligation. It is not nearly enough to be informed. It is critical that ALL generations join together to end this violence. It must be understood, however, that one hashtag, or one tweet, or even “two game accountability” will never be enough. In order to create long lasting change, we must create a societal paradigm shift that reflects a zero tolerance for violence.
Sharing information can become the most powerful tool in making a difference. But not only should we be sending the right message, we MUST take a strong stand against the WRONG message. As a generation, Millennials do not stand on the sideline. Millennials have opinions and speak up/speak out.
Just prior to the 2013 Super Bowl, the Representation Project launched a smartphone app to expose sexism and injustice in the media. #NotBuyingIt gave consumers the opportunity to voice their opinions regarding offensive ads and engage communities to target companies and pressure big media giants to take feminist issues more seriously…understanding the dangerous correlation between derogatory messages and how society thinks and feels about violence.
Not only should Millennials speak out collectively, ALL generations should know how to recognize signs of abuse and be confident to speak out personally. For Millennials, these types of conversations are more easily engaged. Tools are at our fingertips to send the message again and again and again. Technology can create opportunities for blunt and direct communication, but they must also be patient and supportive.
Even available resources are designed to address the issues in ways in which Millennials communicate.
- LoveIsRespect.org is a national effort that provides a safe space to get information and support through texts, chats and videos. This partnership between the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle offers completely confidential help at our fingertips.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) is answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and refers to services all over the United States.
It will never be enough to just say, “isn’t it a shame” and click through to the next post. We must sort through the information overload and find the core, most important message—domestic violence will NOT be tolerated, and we WILL keep speaking up until every person is safe in their own homes. Have an opinion, take a stand, and GET INVOLVED… our future generations are relying on which information YOU choose to share.