Now is the Time for Moral Leadership in Addressing Campus Sexual Violence

“We’re not going backward in the importance of emphasizing and continuing to address (sexual violence) as an issue on college campuses,” said Carlow University President Suzanne Mellon at a mid-September Southwest PA Says NO MORE event in Pittsburgh.

This statement was met with enthusiastic applause by a standing-room only crowd of university personnel, law enforcement, state and local officials, advocates, students, concerned community members and media. They had joined together to celebrate an impressive collaboration between 13 college and university presidents in the Greater Pittsburgh area to prevent sexual violence. Even as we anticipated changes in US Department of Education guidance to colleges on investigating campus sexual violence, we unveiled a new video series featuring all 13 presidents delivering powerful messages of support to victims and encouragement to come forward, report and ask for assistance.

“Change starts with leadership from the top. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, college and community leaders are stepping forward in bold new ways to work together with a focus on prevention.”

This collaboration first launched in February 2015 when the presidents of 10 Pittsburgh colleges and universities (Carlow University; Carnegie Mellon University; Chatham University; Community College of Allegheny County; Duquesne University; La Roche College; Point Park University; Robert Morris University; Pittsburgh Theological Seminary; University of Pittsburgh) declared campus sexual assault to be a shared priority across the city’s campuses. They committed to work with rape crisis centers, law enforcement, sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs) from several hospitals, researchers and funders to ensure that victims of sexual violence are met with support and to focus on preventing assault from happening in the first place.

Thus far, these schools have hosted an in-depth training for their teams and community partners on Title IX, held a training for all first responders, worked closely with Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR) to ensure that every victim who reports is offered an advocate from PAAR as well as support from Title IX staff. Now, every victim is offered medical care by teams of specially trained SANEs. Title IX coordinators, campus police and municipal police now work closely with the District Attorney to ensure that all victims are responded to promptly and effectively. Last spring, the schools worked together to train 100 staff across 10 universities in the Green Dot model of bystander intervention, an evidence-based model to prevent domestic and sexual violence. More information about these activities is available here.

Leadership in addressing campus sexual violence started a decade ago in Westmoreland County, a suburban and rural area east of Pittsburgh. In 2007, Seton Hill University joined Blackburn Center, a local domestic and sexual violence program in Westmoreland County, to form an institutional partnership aimed at addressing the root causes of sexual assault and domestic violence and preventing these crimes. In addition to a range of campus programming, prevention messages are now embedded in curricula and changes are being measured and evaluated by campus researchers. Since then, the program has been institutionalized and expanded to other area schools—the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg joined the effort in 2014, and initial efforts are underway at Saint Vincent College and Westmoreland County Community College. More information about these efforts is available here.

Change starts with leadership from the top. In Southwestern Pennsylvania, college and community leaders are stepping forward in bold new ways to work together with a focus on prevention. The progress we’ve made gives me hope that, one day, students will be able to learn in an environment free from fear of sexual assault. We’re not there yet, but collaborations such as these bring us closer to the day when we will finally end sexual violence.

Kristy Trautmann is the executive director of FISA Foundation, a charitable grantmaking organization devoted to improving the lives of women, girls and people with disabilities in Southwestern Pennsylvania. FISA, along with The Heinz Endowments and United Way of Southwestern PA, founded Southwest PA Says NO MORE, a regional movement to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Photography by Brian Cohen.

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Join the Purple Purse Challenge: Help Domestic Violence Nonprofits Win $700,000 from The Allstate Foundation

One in four1 American women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime. While most people think only of cuts and bruises when they think of domestic violence, 99 percent2 of all domestic violence cases involve financial abuse. Financial abuse can include abusers preventing victims from accessing money, ruining their credit, harassing them at work so they lose their jobs and more.

That’s why The Allstate Foundation has invested more than $55 million through their Purple Purse campaign, helping women obtain their financial independence and break free from abuse. In June, Serena Williams, tennis champion, entrepreneur and philanthropist, joined Allstate Foundation Purple Purse as the program’s new ambassador. Williams will raise awareness of the often invisible role financial abuse plays in keeping women trapped in abusive relationships and urge the public to help break the cycle of domestic violence.

“Standing up for women’s rights has long been a passion of mine,” said Serena Williams. “I am honored to join Allstate Foundation Purple Purse to bring financial abuse and domestic violence out of the shadows and into the public conversation. I hope people will join the Purple Purse movement and work with us to end abuse against women.”

Each year, The Allstate Foundation hosts the Purple Purse Challenge to support hundreds of organizations that help victims of domestic violence. This year, up to 250 national, state, and local nonprofit organizations will compete for a total of $700,000 in grants and get access to fundraising resources, including an exclusive purple purse. The friendly fundraising competition begins October 2nd, during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Join tennis champion and Purple Purse program ambassador, Serena Williams, to help nonprofits serving domestic violence survivors.

DONATE NOW

Learn more about The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse® Challenge here.

Find a domestic violence shelter in your area at www.domesticshelters.org.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

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Let’s Be Real: Young People are the Future

WHEN I SEE THE NO MORE SYMBOL…

I see the 1 in 3 young people experiencing dating abuse1. I see the couple at the mall who look happy, but in reality he is gripping her hand so tight that her rings cut into her fingers;  the young trans boy whose partner needs to know where they are at all times; the young college student who is “not allowed” to hang out with his friends anymore because it means that he doesn’t love his girlfriend; and the girl whose hookup buddy is threatening to ‘out’ her if she doesn’t have sex. 

When I see the No More symbol, I see the 57% of young people who wait over 6 months before getting help2. I envision our clients at Break the Cycle, coming to us for safety plans, protection orders, and divorce cases; the friend groups at a loss of what to do when they figure out their friend’s partner is beating them; the Facebook and Twitter users who summon the courage to ask us for resources and referrals.

I see youth voices unified and amplified for the causes of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention. I hear their shouts for inclusion, equality, and peace. I feel their ambition, persistence, and passion for change.

When I see the No More symbol, I see the 70,000+ people that have chosen resistance. I see the people who refuse to accept the status quo of a culture that normalizes abuse; men putting aside their learned attitudes of toxic masculinity; women who will no longer sit down and be quiet; non-binary, genderqueer, and trans individuals who know they deserve inclusion in the movement; people of every culture, religion, social class, ethnicity, and identity coming together to create change.

When I see the No More symbol, I see hope. I visualize the young people across the nation talking about dating abuse through the national youth-led movement Let’s Be Real; the survivors who become emboldened to share their stories; the activists who discover strength and community online; the parents and caring adults from the Love Is Not Abuse coalition who find the promise of a bright future for their children in its circle.

Most importantly, when I see the No More symbol, I see youth voices unified and amplified for the causes of domestic violence and sexual assault prevention. I hear their shouts for inclusion, equality, and peace. I feel their ambition, persistence, and passion for change. I see their decisions not to stand by while someone is getting hurt, to share their stories so others can be safe, and to wear additional symbols, like orange, to signify that everyone deserves a healthy relationship.

Help young people say NO MORE to teen dating abuse during the month of February for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month (#teenDVmonth) and beyond. Be inspired by and learn from them; because young people are not only our future, they are today. Learn more about how you can get involved at www.breakthecycle.org.

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​Jasmine Ceja Uribe is the Leadership & Engagement Manager at the Break the Cycle.


1 Vagi, K. J., Olsen, E. O. M., Basile, K. C., & Vivolo-Kantor, A. M. (2015). Teen dating violence (physical and sexual) among US high school students: findings from the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey. JAMA Pediatrics, 169 (5), 474-482.

2 K, Mary (2014). “2014 Mary Kay Truth About Abuse Survey.”

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This week’s roundup of news and inspiring stories!

Local health teacher Andrew Horne creates this awesome scholarly rap to educate his high school students about consent and healthy relationships. Mr. H, as his students call him, says his goal is to help students develop feelings of self-confidence and self-worth and to provide them the tools to make healthy decisions.

Non-profits serving survivors in Portland, Oregon join together to launch a local NO MORE campaign. Learn more and join PDX Says NO MORE. Plus, PA Says NO MORE launched a new statewide billboard campaign inviting men to initiate conversations with children, especially boys, about healthy relationships. portland-says-nomore

This app could change the way domestic violence victims seek help. Hestia’s UK Says NO MORE campaign launched a new domestic violence app that allows users to securely record and catalogue all of their personal incidents of abuse so that the abuser cannot find it and so that the user can safely share that information with the authorities. The app even allows users to locate the nearest support for themselves or another loved one using GPS. Many thanks to Newton Enterprise Consulting for helping UK Says NO MORE develop the innovative app.

Survivor writes a must-read letter to Brock Turner. Channeling the national outrage following Brock Turner’s recent release after serving only half of his already short sentence for rape, activist and survivor Savannah Badalich shared a powerful letter to Turner and others like him.

Powerful film about teen sexual assault and bullying, Audrie & Daisy, premieres on Netflix on September 23. Want to raise awareness of these issues and bring the film to your community? Host a screening by filling out this form today!

A Colorado college student convicted of  sexual assault of a fellow student will not serve any prison time. Read the survivor’s letter detailing the impact of her sexual assault – these are important words we can all learn from. These experiences hit close to home for too many. Learn how to support a friend or family member who has experienced violence.

Collaborative effort dedicated to ending sexual violence in one generation releases first progress report on the state of the movement. Learn more about Raliance at www.raliance.org and read their below.

Read Raliance’s report here

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Memphis Says NO MORE Unveils New Bus PSAs

 

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In Memphis, locals can now see NO MORE PSAs on 20 city buses, thanks to the work of Memphis Says NO MORE and the Memphis Sexual Assault Kit Task Force (SAKT).

Four Memphis Grizzlies players – Tony Allen, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph – are shown saying “NO MORE It’s Not My Problem” – on five MATA buses. Zach Randolph also appears on overhead signs inside all 20 buses. The bus signs also guide viewers to the Memphis Says NO MORE website, where survivors can find local resources, as well as other campaign materials and videos.

Memphis Says NO MORE, a project of the Memphis Sexual Assault Kit Task Force, also shines a spotlight on a larger issue: untested sexual assault kits are a national problem. In 2013, the Memphis task force was created to oversee testing of all untested sexual assault kits and to establish policies for prompt testing of new kits. The task force includes representatives of multiple state, county and city offices, as well as community advocates, including the Memphis Area Women’s Council.

Since its creation, the task force has already accomplished a great deal, including:

  • 13055183_459203864273616_8024190080007810600_oraising $6 million
  • analyzing or shipping 5,986 kits to four labs
  • holding public meetings to update the community, training law enforcement on rape investigation, and advocating for additional investigators and compassionate victim notification

READ MORE LEARN MORE ABOUT MEMPHIS SAYS NO MORE

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How these Young Men Became Allies in Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Prevention

In the first week of July, the NFL piloted a peer ambassador program in conjunction with the second year of its ‘On and Off the Field’ football camp, led by NFL alumni and players and in partnership with London-based charity, Hestia, and UK Says No More.

The peer ambassador program was built with Hestia to facilitate more Photo-10-07-2016-11-21-32-1-1024x850long term, in-community support, by empowering young college players with domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA) and leadership training. Football coaches from local and college teams were asked to nominate players for the peer program. Players were then interviewed and screened. Over three days, the chosen 15 young men, aged 16-24, received DV/SA training structured around the NFL’s four core values of resiliency, respect, integrity and responsibility to team.

With incredible dedication from Lyndsey Dearlove, Hestia’s Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) Partnership Manager, the DV/SA program grew into an innovative and interactive training program which not only fostered participation, discussion and engagement, but sparked a flame in many of the young men. A light was shone on issues which are commonly left undiscussed and in the dark, such as the pressures of contemporary masculinity, stereotypes and privileges. The young men were keen to engage in discussions around bystander challenges and how to recognize abuse and victims of abuse.

“I’ve learnt things about domestic violence and sexual assault that otherwise I may never have known. It has also opened my eyes further to the stresses experienced as a male, which I have been molded by – but not always knowingly. It has also interested me in learning more about male privilege…[and] how to lessen the stresses experienced by other men by being available for talking without judgement.”
– Peer Ambassador

The newly-trained peer ambassadors then utilized their DV/SA training at the two-day NFL On and Off the Field football camp in the heart of the English countryside, at Royal Holloway University. The camp was designed as a safe space for more than 130 young men aged 16-24 to develop themselves both on and off the field, combining the football skills and personality necessary to be a great player and teammate.


Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 4.03.59 PMOff the field
, camp participants had breakout sessions with NFL players and alumni, such as Indianapolis Colts Andrew Luck, in order to learn from their experiences as pro players. They shared important insights on community and character. This reinforced the message of the DV/SA session where, with the support of Hestia and UK Says No More, the peer ambassadors created awareness around domestic violence and sexual assault amongst 130 of their peers. Alongside Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, Dwayne Allen and NFL free agent, Efe Obada, the peer ambassadors led intimate and animated conversations.

On the field, participants solidified the team spirit and trust they had built, taking to the field in high intensity drills, skills and combines with NFL coaches and players.

Following the camp, peer ambassadors will take leadership and DV/SA learnings back to their teams and facilitate peer support groups for their team mates. They will act as points of initial contact and support, with access to the Hestia DV/SA app, Bright Sky, and knowledge of who their peers can turn to for further support.

Jessica Boyd is the head of Gender and Community Development at NFL UK and worked with Hestia and UK SAYS NO MORE to build the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault programme.

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The Vice President of the United States writes an open letter to a sexual assault survivor at Stanford. A California judge’s lenient verdict in her case sparks backlash nationwide.  The survivor’s searing statement about her experience of rape is read verbatim on national television by a news anchor and on the floor of the Congress.

And that’s just our inbox from last week.

Slowly but seemingly all at once, we have reached a new threshold in our struggle to change the culture around sexual assault.  Wherever we go from here, we know that the stigma and shame that long shrouded the issue are finally beginning to lift.  That’s good news…and of course it is not nearly enough if your goal is, as ours is, to end sexual assault and domestic violence once and for all.  But the change has begun, and it is palpable everywhere you look.

What’s changing?  Three very big things.

First, the silence around sexual assault is ending.  As recently as 2013, the national NO MORE study by Avon Foundation for Women found that an overwhelming majority of Americans (73%) had not discussed sexual assault with their friends or even their own kids.  Yet Stanford historian Estelle Freedman writes of the sexual assault controversy in a New York Times op-ed: “The energies unleashed by this case present a potential to reframe the issue of rape.”  From the Oscars to politics to the military, the new normal is to talk about sexual assault – in fact, it is burning up social media like few other social issues today.

Second, the excuses for sexual assault are dying, and we say good riddance.  “But he’s such a nice guy.”  “Well, he was drunk.”  “Well, she was drunk.”  Lame excuses for predatory, criminal behavior that have been around forever may actually have begun to fade.  As the Vice President, a great champion of this cause, put it clearly in addressing the survivor: “What you endured is never, never, never, NEVER, a woman’s fault.”

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Third, and most hopefully, bystanders are stepping up.  The Stanford survivor keeps an image of a bicycle nearby to remind her of the two courageous cyclists who intervened in her assault.  The symbolism “reminds me that there are heroes in the story.  That we are looking out for each other,” the survivor wrote in the statement she read in court.  When people begin to see that they must get off the sidelines and take a stand, we will finally be on our way to NO MORE sexual assault and domestic violence.

While the recent progress is heartening, there is so much more to the story.  The Stanford sexual assault has also surfaced important and complicated questions about social justice.  There is a shocking contrast between the six-month jail sentence for the white Stanford perpetrator, and the 15-25 year mandatory minimum sentencing of an African-American Vanderbilt student convicted of rape this spring. Silence and stigma are not truly over until we hear all the voices – those of the LGBTI community, racial and ethnic minorities, male survivors and others whose pain is often overlooked.

But as we continue to struggle, it’s important to look up every now and then from our work and see where change has brought us.  Now is one of those moments.

Monika Johnson Hostler is President of the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.  Virginia Witt is Director and co-founder of NO MORE, a public awareness and engagement campaign.

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Through Music, Showing the Impact of Domestic Violence on Children

Nina Paolicelli is a singer with a powerful story. Recently signed with SONY RED, Nina is using her voice to help raise awareness about domestic violence. Her song, “Look,” inspired by her childhood experience of watching the abuse her mother endured, aims to help the public understand how domestic violence impacts victims, as well as their families and loved ones. Here’s the story behind “Look,” as told to NO MORE.

How did you get involved with the issue of domestic violence?

I got involved with the issue of domestic violence through a song I wrote called “Look”. I am beginning to share my story through my music.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to make “Look”?

I wrote “Look” about a year ago and built up the courage to record it a few months ago. I felt that sharing my experience would set me free and help others in the process.

What led you to decide to write “Look” from a child’s perspective?

Since I was 5, I had felt a weight on my shoulders. I felt like there was a secret I was keeping. I didn’t quite know the source until I started to write. This song in particular, was extremely therapeutic for me.

Your song, in such a smart and real way, talks about a very common message survivors hear: that they should ignore abuse and instead focus on good things their partner provides (“Yeah, he hurt you, yeah, he pushed you down / But look at what he gave you, don’t be so ungrateful”) – Why do you think people believe this?

I think in today’s world, many people don’t want to believe that something as horrible as domestic violence can happen. Bystanders making excuses for the abuser and/or taking sides is extremely common. More people need to be educated on these topics, even if it makes them uncomfortable.

What do you wish others would have done as you were experiencing this in your home? 

Personally, I didn’t tell anyone what was going on in my home until it wasn’t going on anymore. I thought everything that was happening was normal because that was all I knew. For my mother, I wish that her family would’ve supported her instead of supporting her abuser.

How can others make a difference for domestic violence survivors?

We can help make a difference in domestic violence by believing the victims/survivors which will in turn help them to speak their truth.

 

You can listen to “Look” on SoundCloud, or purchase on iTunes

 

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Ryan Daniel is a country singer with a powerful story.  His song, “Lies and Bruises,” aims to raise awareness of domestic violence and how it impacts victims. The song is making a big impact on the community: it was ranked #1 of The Top 215 New Country Artist Songs of 2015. Here’s the story behind “Lies and Bruises,” as told to NO MORE.

How did you get involved with the issue of domestic violence?

When I was a young boy, I grew up watching my mother being physically and mentally abused for years. Now that I am older and have a voice, I decided to do something about it.

no more pic 20160330_183029-1Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to make “Lies and Bruises”?

I was sitting with a songwriting buddy of mine who had the initial idea of the song. From there, myself, Dwayne Moore, and Barry Best worked closely together to create the song. We just wanted to make sure it was powerful and didn’t beat around the bush. Really just dove right in and said it!

What made you want to address domestic violence through your music? Do you think music provides a way to help people more easily understand domestic violence?

I believe as an artist you have a voice and I think that putting one’s voice in the right place can make a difference. I’m not afraid to touch on this subject and it definitely needed to be said. I certainly do think that music can help people, and “Lies and Bruises” is no different. I remember doing a show for a Women’s Shelter to raise money and a beautiful woman walked up to me. She said she heard my song and left her abusive situation. That’s powerful! As an artist, this is why I do what I do! I hope this song continues to touch and save lives!

Your song talks about finding people who can help a survivor get out of an abusive situation. What do you think we can do as a culture to help people understand the importance of giving survivors that support system?

I believe continuing to raise awareness about domestic violence and the effects it has on all parties involved is important. Raising money for the various shelters and agencies that provide support to victims of domestic violence is also essential.

Were you surprised by anything you learned while you were making “Lies and Bruises”?

Yes, I was surprised at a lot of things. Some that stuck out to me were the number of women that are being abused, the number of women whose lives are taken from domestic violence, how lax the laws are, and the number of people that do not report the incidents.

How can others make a difference for domestic violence survivors?

I think creating an integral support system that heals all parts of the survivor is one of the most important things we can do.

 

Below, you can listen to Ryan’s song, “Lies and Bruises.”

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Speak Out, Save Children, Say NO MÁS

From research on my role in Law & Order: SVU as ADA Rafael Barba, I’ve encountered heart breaking stories that often impact children. Whether children are witnessing domestic violence or other crises, I’ve learned that anyone who steps in to assist a child in crisis can change that child’s life for the better.

As a first generation Cuban American, I have firsthand experience on how our families extend so much further than the circle we grow up in or the house we live in day to day. Friends, colleagues, yes, maestras can be our family. There’s a saying in Spanish, Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres. I’d translate that pretty loosely as Tell me who you hang with and I’ll tell you where you fall. Or who you are. These people outside of our homes can be just as powerful an influence in our lives as our own parents.

When I was 12, I met the woman who would transform my life. My teacher, Beatriz Jimenez, taught me more than language and history. She taught me to imagine life beyond Miami, how to become curious about the world and what I could contribute to it. She was always there for a word of advice or a perspective I hadn’t considered.

In Spanish, the word maestra, teacher, has the same root as the word madre, mother, and, truly, that’s who she became for me: a second mother.

So believe it or not, we – the teachers, uncles, mentors, and father figures – we’re all potentially heroes for the children in our lives. Because of our influence, when we talk to the children in our lives about important issues – especially when it comes to dating and relationships – we have a real opportunity to help shape the kinds of people they’ll grow to be.

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That’s the message of the new bilingual PSA campaign from DECIMOS NO MÁS and it’s true. It’s encouraging all the heroes out there to talk to the children in their lives about healthy relationships as part of a national effort to help end domestic violence and sexual assault.

The campaign, created in partnership with Verizon, Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network, and NO MORE, reinforces that preventing violence and abuse doesn’t only mean intervening when a child in your life becomes entangled in an unhealthy relationship. It also means having conversations with kids even before they start dating, to help them understand what a healthy relationship is and is not.

According to the NO MÁS Study, commissioned by the Avon Foundation for Women, a surprisingly high number of Latin@ parents, 83%, said they were willing to talk to their children about domestic violence and sexual assault.

So how can we transform willingness to talk about a difficult subject, into actual, potentially life-saving conversations? By helping more adults understand what a conversation looks like and giving them the tools to start talking.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1.  Take the initiative. If you watch TV with your nieces and nephews, take time afterward to talk about the positive and negative relationship themes on screen. It can be that easy to get them talking about what they see as healthy and unhealthy.
  2.  If you feel nervous talking about dating and relationships with a kid, it’s ok to admit that. Remember to be open and honest with them (it might even help ease some of the tension). Even more important than having all the answers, is to have an open and honest dialogue. Educate yourself, practice saying the words that make you uncomfortable, and just keep trying. Don’t give up.
  3.  Don’t be afraid to share examples from your own life. Your experiences can be some of the most effective, relatable ways to explain what is and is never acceptable in relationships. Your honesty may be just the thing to help them open up as well.
  4.  Be patient. Sometimes it takes a while for children to get their story out or ask their questions, perhaps because they are young or are just having difficulty asking you about a sensitive subject.
  5.  Listen. Find time to give the kids in your life your undivided attention. Listen to them and let them know they’re important to you, that you respect them and that you’re really invested in their health, safety and happiness.
  6. On the heels of NO MORE Week sponsored by Mary Kay (March 6-12), an annual season of activation and awareness to help prevent domestic violence and sexual assault, thousands across the country answered the call to make these issues a priority. And now we need to continue to do our part. Check in with the children in your life and support them in navigating what it means to have a healthy relationship.

Learn more at www.decimosnomas.org or www.wesaynomas.org.  

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