Memphis Says NO MORE Unveils New Bus PSAs



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


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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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Domestic Violence in the Transgender Community

Domestic violence affects all populations, but the transgender community is victimized at higher rates than the general population: according to a review completed by The Williams Institute, 30 percent to 50 percent of transgender people experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime compared to 28 to 33 percent in the general population.

There are a variety of reasons that transgender individuals are victimized at such high rates, and it is important to understand a few main factors so that we can take steps to change them.

Barriers for the Transgender Community

  • Many transgender individuals have been subjected to abuse from a young age. They may have been rejected by their family for their gender identity, been subjected to emotional abuse because of who they are, or been told that who they are is not acceptable. This baseline of discrimination and violence is something that can increase the risk of trauma later in life.
  • Discrimination and oppression against transgender people often leads to homelessness and lack of family support. They are also disproportionately singled out for police violence as much as three times as often as the general population.

Nathan Brewer, a trauma therapist and crisis counselor at the Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Center at Boston University who is also pursuing his Ph.D. in Social Work from Simmons College, states, “For many queer-identified folks, calling the police is not really a safe option — often it is trading one form of violence for another.” Individuals in these situations often lack avenues for assistance, and without family, friends, or even law enforcement to turn to, it is easy to see how someone can become a target of violence and abuse.

“Disclosing abuse to these providers is less likely because they see them less frequently and feel less comfortable disclosing sensitive information. Many trans* folks don’t want to have their identity medicalized or pathologized, something that happens all to frequently in the medical world.”

Transgender individuals are also often afraid to come forward and disclose abuse in their relationship. They experience negative reactions from medical and social service providers, and given the dearth of attention to domestic abuse in the transgender community, many survivors are unaware their experiences are domestic violence. Typically victims are told that domestic violence is not their fault, and that they did absolutely nothing to deserve the abuse; however, transgender individuals are often not met with that same sympathetic and reassuring response from medical and social service providers. Instead they are often met with the message, “You had it coming,” whether that is being communicated explicitly or being implied.

“Additionally, trans* folks are less likely to feel comfortable with their medical and mental health providers. Even well-intentioned providers often use micro aggressions against this population, or even outright discriminate,” Brewer says. “Disclosing abuse to these providers is less likely because they see them less frequently and feel less comfortable disclosing sensitive information. Many trans* folks don’t want to have their identity medicalized or pathologized, something that happens all to frequently in the medical world.”

But there are ways to support transgender survivors and help end domestic violence.

Supporting the Transgender Community

If you are concerned about a friend or a family member, common red flags to be aware of include:

  • Does it seem as if your friend can’t be an individual apart from the relationship, where their partner is involved in many or all of their decisions?
  • Does your friend’s partner seem jealous or possessive?
  • Does your friend’s partner email, text, or call constantly during the day? Does their partner demand to know where your friend is and whom they are with?
  • Has your friend’s mood or behavior change dramatically?
  • Is your friend exhibiting an exaggerated startle response and/or suffering from panic attacks?

Supporting Survivors

Here are a few simple ways you can support a survivor:

  • Listen closely, believe the survivor, and tell them abuse is never their fault.
  • The goal should always be to work toward a safer place. There are ways to mitigate harm if the survivor chooses not to leave the relationship.
  • Never tell a survivor what they should do, rather help them explore options and decide what feels right for them. For example, ask them if they’d like your help finding a therapist who has experience working with LGBT clients and in trauma-informed practice.
  • Ending an abusive relationships can be dangerous for the survivor, and survivors are best served by safety planning with a professional, friend, or alone with tools that can be found online.

A few helpful resources for the transgender community:

  • Safety Planning Tool PDF: FORGE’s safety planning guide can be used to help someone think through the safety options while living in an abusive relationship or planning to leave one.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: You can anonymously reach trained advocates 24/7 or access other resources and information directly at
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800.656.HOPE or online at
  • The following LGBT specific agencies can help you find resources in your area:
    • TheNetworkLaRed: The Network/La Red is a survivor-led, social justice organization that works to end partner abuse in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, BDSM, polyamorous, and queer communities. Learn more at
    • FORGE: FORGE is a national transgender anti-violence organization providing direct services to transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary survivors of sexual assault as well as providing training and technical assistance to providers around the country who work with transgender survivors of sexual assault, domestic and dating violence, and stalking. Learn more at 
    • The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Program: NCAVP is a national coalition of local member programs, and affiliate organizations who create systemic and social change, working to prevent and respond to all forms of violence against and within lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ), and HIV-affected communities. Learn more at
    • The Northwest Network: The NW Network increases our communities’ ability to support the self-determination and safety of bisexual, transgender, lesbian and gay survivors of abuse through education, organizing and advocacy. Learn more at
    • In Our Own Voices: In Our Own Voices works to ensure the physical, mental, spiritual, political, cultural, and economic survival and growth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people of color communities. Learn more at
Whether we are personally struggling with violence, have a friend who may be, or have not had any direct experience with these issues, it is still important to be aware and sympathetic to this issue. Domestic violence within the transgender community deserves awareness and support. Please, share this article with someone who may need it and advocate for the victims who have not yet shared their voice.
About the author: Megan Dottermusch is a community relations coordinator for 2U, Inc. supporting mental health and advocacy programs for the Masters in Social Work program online at Simmons College. She is passionate about promoting proper nutrition and fitness, combating mental health stigmas, and practicing everyday mindfulness.

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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.


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 or  

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I remember distinctly the moment I finally got it. That I understood. The moment I realized that violence against women was more than just an issue my company, Mary Kay, had taken on as a priority cause twenty-five years ago. That it was my issue.  My problem. That it was a man’s issue. All of a sudden, for me it was finally personal.

I was fortunate not to have grown up in a home with domestic violence.  Had never been in a relationship where violence was prevalent. I was, and am, blessed to be in a loving marriage with three healthy, happy, (and often rambunctious and loud), little boys.

The story I read in the newspaper that particular morning suddenly made it all seem very real. The story was about a young man from a prominent and wealthy family who didn’t take “no” for an answer from his girlfriend one night in the back seat of his car. He was being charged with rape. My judgment was swift – how could he not know better? How could his parents not have taught him what “no” means? And then — oh God, I thought, what if my boys ever did something like that?

There is no such thing here as an innocent bystander.  Because the bystander isn’t innocent if we do nothing – say nothing – don’t insist on change and then act on it.

All of these horrific scenes flashed through my head of one of my now sweet little boys, grown up and hurting another person – hurting a woman. And suddenly, it was all clear to me. It hit home. This is our problem! This is our issue!  This is my issue! There is no violence against women — no domestic violence, no dating abuse — without the abuser.  And that, in great part, historically and statistically, is us! Men. How truly horrific that the only role we men are perceived to have played in this issue, is being the problem!

Men must have another role. We have a larger part to play in the fight to end domestic violence. What I’ve come to fully understand since I read that article, is that it’s just not enough for us men to be good guys. It’s not enough for us to not abuse our spouse, girlfriend or loved one. It’s just not enough to read articles every day about women who are hurt by men who say they love them and for us to be content closing the story with the fleeting thought, “What a shame – glad that’s not me.”

There is no such thing here as an innocent bystander.  Because the bystander isn’t innocent if we do nothing – say nothing – don’t insist on change and then act on it.

If we really want to end domestic violence – we have to stop it before it starts.  We have to change our culture.  Men have to own violence against women as a man’s issue – a man’s problem.  For men to be part of the solution we have to challenge the way we think, the way we behave and talk, the way we raise our children – both our sons and daughters.  We have a responsibility to reach the next generation of men – boys my sons’ age – and challenge the way we look at women and look at ourselves.

As NO MORE Week comes to an end, let’s pledge to continue the conversation – every day. Continue talking to our sons – and other men — about what it means to be a gentleman; talking to our children about what they should expect and not accept in a relationship; and talking to each other about what healthy relationships can and should look like.

For me, that last part is now more important than ever.  Because a new chapter is opening for our family.  My wife and I are expecting our fourth child – a baby girl – to be born any day now.  I pray all of my kids someday find themselves in a safe, healthy, loving relationship and in a culture where abuse and violence are NO MORE!

CraytonWebb_marykay_corporate_social_responsiblity_domesticviolenceCrayton Webb is Vice President of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility at Mary Kay Inc. Crayton oversees the company’s global media and public relations team and is also responsible for Mary Kay’s global CSR and philanthropic efforts. Crayton is chairman of the men’s auxiliary for Genesis Women’s Shelter in Dallas, HeROs (He Respects Others), and was recently appointed to the board of the Texas Council on Family Violence in Austin, Texas.  Follow Crayton on Twitter @craytonwebb.

To learn more about Mary Kay’s commitment to ending domestic violence visit

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The best part of running a small grant-making foundation is that I meet people every day who are doing extraordinary, brave things that they believe from their guts are the right things to do. And my job is to figure out if we can help them. As you can imagine, there are a lot of great days, and every so often, there is a day that changes everything. December 1, 2011 was one of those days for me.

It was the day I heard Dr. Elizabeth Miller, Chief of Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, present some preliminary research findings on Coaching Boys Into Men, a sexual assault prevention program developed by Futures Without Violence in which high school coaches had been trained to talk to their male athletes about healthy relationships and respect for women. The young men learned how to communicate, what it means to consent to intimate acts, what is unacceptable locker room talk, and how to intervene if peers are being disrespectful or abusive. These coaches used their influence to draw a clear line and say, “this is the kind of character I expect from my team.” And it worked. Three months after the end of the 12-week program, boys who participated were less likely to perpetrate abuse and more likely to speak up if they witnessed abuse.

I was stunned. This data pointed to a concrete, reasonable strategy. Prevention of violence against women became tangible for me. On the short drive back to the office that day, my curiosity became a commitment: If there was something we could do, then we had to do it.

Hundreds of men in this region have sought training to challenge the culture that minimizes violence against women as private or personal or inevitable.

For decades prevention almost exclusively meant talking about “risk reduction” or teaching young women to avoid being vulnerable: travel in groups, dress conservatively, watch your drink at a party, recognize warning signs and get out of abusive relationships as quickly as possible. These strategies all take for granted the fact that rape and abuse is inevitable, “boys will be boys,” thus allowing it to continue. The prevalence of sexual assault and domestic violence made us feel helpless and impotent. And we have passed this hopelessness on to our daughters too.

But the tide is turning. The tenor of public response to high profile abuse scandals has been distinctly different over the last couple years. Men are joining women in demanding that abusers be held accountable, and criticizing institutions that fail to act decisively. Growing numbers of high school and college coaches in Southwest PA have begun implementing Coaching Boys Into Men. Hundreds of men in this region have sought training to challenge the culture that minimizes violence against women as private or personal or inevitable.

In the absence of guidance from trusted adults, kids will rely on the sources of information available to them: pop culture, social media, pornography. Too many of our young people fail to recognize that sex without consent is rape. Only a few years ago, a quick drive away in Steubenville, Ohio, we all watched, riveted, as the tragedy unfolded. A young woman was victimized by multiple young A_CALL_TO_MEN_TONY_PORTER_CULTURE_CHANGEmen, and the rapes were documented in real time on social media. Scores of kids saw what was happening while it was happening. If just one of them had objected, had told an adult, had asked for help, things might have taken a different course. This failure to intervene could have happened anywhere, and probably has. The blame and responsibility for Steubenville does not just fall on the young bystanders. In fact, the tragedy highlighted a profound failure of adults to guide and instruct.

It can feel incredibly awkward to initiate conversations with a ‘tween or teen about sexuality and navigating intimate relationships, but we have a responsibility to do so. Most of us can imagine the kinds of adults we would like the children in our lives to become and the kinds of relationships we hope they will find. When I think of the men I hold up as role models, I think of men who have integrity, who are respectful, compassionate, thoughtful and involved partners and fathers. But our culture teaches boys that manhood is about toughness, invincibility, domination – to have no fear and show no emotion, and to treat women as sexual objects to “score.” There is a profound mismatch for boys, as there is for girls. We must articulate the gaps between pop culture and reality. It’s our responsibility to make sure our young people can imagine strong, healthy relationships for themselves, to recognize abuse when they see it, and to have the skills and the fortitude to speak up.

It is in our power to act to end domestic and sexual violence, and it starts by believing that we can. The question is: are we brave enough to act? I think we are.


Kristy Trautmann is the executive director of  FISA Foundation, one of the founders of  Southwest PA Says No More.

Additional resources focused on engaging men & boys:

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This blog post was originally written by our partner campaign, We Say NO MÁS, and posted on their blog. February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, and these conversation tools below are useful in beginning what can be a challenging dialogue. We encourage you to continue the conversations all year.


As children are exposed to new ideas and experiences, it can be hard to know what to say. Nobody has all of the answers; what is most important is to keep your conversations going.

Talk openly.

Encourage open, honest, and thoughtful reflection. Allow children of all ages to express their ideas, expectations, questions, and concerns. Be careful not to dismiss their ideas as “wrong” or “childish.” Rather, encourage dialogue by asking them to tell you more or describe how they arrived at a certain conclusion. Children, especially teens, will look to you for information, advice, and answers only if they feel you are open to their questions and thoughts. It’s up to you to create the kind of environment in which your children can ask questions about any subject freely and without fear of consequences.


“What would make it easier for you to talk to your parents about dating or other sensitive subjects?

  • If my mom had more time.
  • If my dad would hear me out more.
  • If I was closer to my dad.
  • I like when they don’t judge.” 

-From conversations with Latina girls ages 13-17

Talk frequently.

Conversations about sexuality and relationships become easier and more natural with time. And you may make mistakes – accept and acknowledge that, and continue to be clear about your values and help your children make responsible, healthy choices. And some “review” can be helpful; for example: Children who learn best by taking in small bits of information at a time won’t learn all they need to know about a topic from a single conversation. So, for example, let some time pass, and then ask them what they remember about when last you talked. This will help you figure out – together – where to pick up the conversation and how to continue talking about the topics in ways that are most effective for the two of you.

Be the kind of person you want your child to become.

Use language and actions that are respectful, empathetic, positive, and appropriate in your own conversations and relationships with family, friends, and community members. For example, if you are using slang or derogatory terms to describe women and girls, your children are very likely to believe what you say and model your behavior and vocabulary.

Your children are always watching and learning from you because they respect you and look up to you. One child development expert said, “Kids hear about 1% of what we say and 100% of what we do.”

Remember that teens want mutually respectful conversations.

Avoid dictating and lecturing. Share your feelings, values and learn about those of your teen. Questions, debates, and even challenges are signs you are doing things well – it means your children are listening and value your experience, insight, and opinions. But remember that you cannot dictate another person’s feelings, values, or decisions – the best you can do is to love and support your children, including when they choose differently than you would or make mistakes.

Learn more about How to Deepen the Conversation About Healthy Relationships.


1. Rich, M.O. (2014). Communicating with your teen: Avoiding the “should do”. In Reaching teens: Strength-based communication strategies to build resilience and support healthy adolescent development. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

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