#SilenceKills Domestic violence in the U.S.

THE ISSUE

Domestic violence is defined by the Justice Department as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of action that influence another person. This includes any behavior that would intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.

Photo source: Johnston UNC health care

Facts

  • MORE THAN 3 WOMEN are murdered by their boyfriends/husbands every day, according to the American Psychological Association.
  • Nearly 1 in 5 women in the United States have been raped at some point in their lives. Of these, 79% were raped before the age of 25, according to a 2011 C.D.C. report.
  • Nearly 1 in 6 women have experienced stalking victimization at some point in their lives, according to the same report.
  • Around 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 4 men, the C.D.C. reports, have been physically abused by an intimate partner. This includes any form of physical violence, from pushing and slapping, all the way to severe physical abuse, such as punching or hitting with a hard object, beating or thrown against something.
Source: Upworthy.com; Original: "Ann Tagonist"; http://www.upworthy.com/dont-believe-in-the-war-on-women-would-a-body-count-change-your-mind
  • More than 20 people are victims of domestic abuse every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually, according to the C.D.C. report.
  • From 2001 to 2012, more women were killed by their intimate partner than U.S. casualties during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Is there a war on women?
  • The immediate victims are not the only ones suffering. Kids suffer too. According to facts by the Child Domestic Abuse Association, over 5 million children experience domestic violence in their household each year. Children of violent homes often develop psychological problems like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Domestic violence programs, prevention efforts and campaigns, thankfully, do have an impact:

  • According to a study by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, in ONE DAY, 93% of active domestic violence programs in the United States served over 71,828 victims of domestic violence. They were either given counseling and support, found a shelter, etc. #SilenceKills
#SilenceKills

BROAD CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The goal of the #SilenceKills campaign is to highlight the importance of taking a stand against domestic violence, both the victim and anyone suspecting a violent relationship of a friend or neighbor, and inculcate the knowledge that not acting or staying silent costs lives. #SilenceKills does this through three overall goals:

  1. Raise awareness for the issue of domestic violence, and inform young people of the cruel impact and massive spread of domestic violence, creating an environment of awareness where participants understand that it could be happening around them (the target audience for this campaign is young people: from high-schoolers, to college students, graduates and young professionals, ages 15-25 approximately. Young people, of the groups mentioned, are the most active on social media, the bravest and most ideologically driven, engaged with issues, etc. Thus, they are in a great position to act, and are in charge of the future. Targeting them is a great way to spread the message to a relevant population that is most interconnected).
  2. Educate beyond facts. The goal here is to educate individuals, and the community at large, about two principal things: First, taking a stand matters. Nearly every domestic abuse site, government and NGO report, points to the importance of speaking out, saying something to the police, a help center, encourage the victim to speak out themselves, or, as a friend or neighbor of a victim, take a stand yourself. Second, educating individuals and the community to recognize symptoms of domestic abuse, and communicating the knowledge of the different prevention techniques, when to act as a neighbor or friend, etc. (Below, throughout the rest of the campaign and the promotion strategy, more detail will be given about these outreach methods).
  3. Create a unifying symbol for supporting organizations and individuals to identify as advocates of this issue. The #SilenceKills slogan is designed to serve as an identity tag, for people to write it, wear it in the clothes, stick it on their computers, etc. In essence to bring people together. It does not belong to anyone, but all the supporters around the world.
  4. Build an on and offline community around the issue to cement domestic abuse as a relevant, contemporary and urgent issue in the minds of young adults that would then spawn campus organization, professional associations against domestic violence, high school activities, etc. Additionally, the goal Is to expand a network of support and contacts that might be useful in the future.
#standwithher

CAMPAIGN STRATEGY

The campaign will take place from October 1st to October 31st, 2017, given that October is the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The campaign activities will progress throughout the month and the campaign deliverables (provided later) are set to be achieved by the end of the month.

ONLINE ACTIVITY

1) Social media: the use of social media networks will figure prominently into the campaign in order to deliver the message #silencekills, target a young audience, engage with participants, spread facts and statistics, contact national and local media, and spread information about events and support groups. The two major platforms to be used will be Twitter, for its immediate character and its ability to easily reach thousands of readers at once, and Facebook, simply because it is the most popular social media network. Both a Twitter and a Facebook account will be created for this campaign, named "SilenceKills," which will also be the campaign hashtag (#SilenceKills), along with a few others such as #takeastand or #isithappeningtoher (in the "social media outreach" section below, further details are given about the social media outreach campaign at large).

2) Website: a website will be developed where individuals can find statistics about domestic violence, information on symptoms and how to intervene, the telephone number of several domestic abuse hotlines and links to websites (like domesticshelters.org) where victims can find a shelter close to them, as well as links to the different "SilenceKills" social media platforms and the related activities, a donation tag, where a host of organizations will be listed that visitors can donate to, a link to an apparel shop with #SilenceKills branding (benefits would partly go to support orgs), and more.

T-shirts and other apparel available at the online shop
The National Domestic Violence Hotline

One important aspect of the #SilenceKills website is the ability of supporters to take the domestic abuse prevention pledge:

1. I pledge to always defend those that can't defend themselves

2. I pledge to spread the message: Silence kills, take a stand against domestic abuse

3. I pledge to never be complacent and stand up to aggressors, even if they are my friends

As people take the pledge, they would sign on to the website, and their names would be added to the "wall of supporters" at the bottom of the page. This would increase the incentives to take the pledge and spread the word, if people would know that everyone would see their names.

3) Email: Further, as a compliment to the online activity of #SilenceKills, an email list will be compiled from those who sign up on the website and from the events we will be conducting, were a weekly newsletter will be sent with event information, links to social media, the pledge, etc.

#takeastand

OFFLINE ACTIVITY

1) Meetings: Another important aspect of the #silencekills campaign will consist of in-person events and meetings. Having these meetings will allow us to do several things: First, target audiences more specifically (a meeting on specific campuses, high schools, or for specific areas, like meetings at the National Mall in Washington D.C., or Central Park, NYC), second, greatly expand our message with in person conversations between visiting speakers and victims of domestic abuse, and attendees, and finally, collect emails and informations for our lists of supporters, donors, etc. There will be three types of meetings:

  • High School and College Campus Events: Here, the #SilenceKills campaign will partner with on-campus domestic violence organizations and of related issues, like sexual assault. Several types of events can be hosted, such as community discussions with students and professors, sign-the-pledge drives, visibility events, where we invite former victims of domestic violence from organizations like Jane Doe inc. to talk with students, etc. Reaching out to student-led organizations about domestic violence (or related issues, such as sexual assault organizations) to co-host the event would be a great way to expand the scope of the event, as well as reaching out to student news groups like the GW Rival, or the GW Hatchet to cover the event. Another interesting group to partner with for events on campuses is the Avon Foundation for Women and its new National Leadership Institute: Changing the Narrative on Campus Gender-Based Violence.
  • Public DV Co-sponsored Meetings: To expand our message in person, it would be a great idea to reach out to humanitarian and social organizations related to domestic abuse. Public events at public parks, in malls, outside of big sports events or concerts near the area of the event, (to reach a young population, more broad than just students), etc. These events would be organized in cooperation with domestic abuse support groups like the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and their daily events across the country, or any of the following,
Courtesy of NOMORE.org/donate

to host these public meetings and events where attendees would be able to talk to victims of domestic abuse, ask questions, spread information on support hotlines, etc. An important feature of these events could be training for people to learn to handle domestic abuse interventions that could be provided by partnering with local law enforcement in attendance at these events.

  • Promotional Events: This is a special type of event, also designed to promote the #SilenceKills campaign and its issues, that partners with non-domestic abuse related groups. In essence, the objective here is to "pool resources," as it were, with organizations that would attract audiences for other reasons, take advantage of those crowds and campaign the #SilenceKills brand. This would include, for example, partnering with dog adoption foundations (like the Lucky Dog Foundation, that hosts dog adoption events) to take advantage of the many people that would stop to pet the dogs and talk to them about domestic violence issues. Another example would be to partner with animal foundations that visit colleges during midterm season with animals to help students destress, and facilitate conversations on domestic abuse through this channel that would help the campaign reach its young target audience.
Courtesy of Lucky Dog Foundation

2) Flash Mobs: A second type of offline activity would be the "flash mob," a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, like singing and dancing, attracting the attention of the people in the area. The volunteers would then disperse, hand out brochures with information, #SilenceKills stickers, talk to the people that have gathered etc. It is an effective way to bring attention to the issue (sometimes videos of these mobs end up online and garner attention), and can be done in college campuses, high schools, malls, parks and public squares, etc. They encourage interaction with observers. The following video is provided courtesy of youtube user: "Barbara Upton."

#isithappeningtoher

SOCIAL MEDIA OUTREACH

Social media outreach and engagement will be a key component of the #SilenceKills campaign. Combining active Twitter and Facebook accounts that post different kinds of content on a daily basis, with special social media events like twitter rallies, Facebook personal story posts, raffles and competitions, the #SilenceKills campaign will reach a large audience and attempt to expand its following while simultaneously bringing awareness to the issue of domestic abuse.

A) TWITTER

  • Use Twitter to communicate a clear message every day, promoting the #SilenceKills core issues. This tweet would go out daily at 12 p.m. Each day a different tweet is used, sometimes they will include photographs and infographics containing key information, promoting messages with the color purple (the color associated with domestic abuse).
  • Use Twitter to promote the events the #SilenceKills campaign will take part in. To promote the issues, a strict schedule of posting one tweet a week before the event, and another the day before the event is followed. Tweets will also include promotion of the #SilenceKills pledge, and links to the campaign website.
  • Include in every tweet the hashtag #SilenceKills to engage your audience, encourage a channel of conversation over Twitter about domestic violence, and to be able to monitor the activity of that hashtag easily, controlling the daily traffic of the issue on social media. There are other campaign hashtags like #takeastand, or #isithappeningtoher. This last one is designed to put the question in the readers mind and have them think about it in terms of women they might know personally.
  • Tweet out short but powerful real stories that have happened to victims of domestic abuse to call attention to the issue of domestic violence, include the hashtag, etc. These tweets will go out twice a week
  • Conduct a twitter rally that engages a specific topic and bombards followers with a barrage of information, combining statistics, personal stories, etc. Always using the #SilenceKills hashtag.
  • Twitter raffle: Post a Tweet of an upcoming event and offer a $100 Amazon gift card to one lucky follower who retweets the original tweet. Through this you will incentivize people to retweet your post, expanding your reach greatly.
  • Twitter contest: encourage followers using the #SilenceKills hashtag to tweet their own photographs at the campaign account @SilenceKills, with one of the campaign hashtags written (#SilenceKills, #Takeastand) on the palm of their hand. This can be turned into a contest by offering another reward of a $100 Amazon gift card to the most inspiring/creative/fun/relevant photograph. This would inspire competition, promote the campaign and its issues, and engage the campaign with its supporters and Twitter followers all at once.

B) FACEBOOK

  • Use the #SilenceKills Facebook page to post long, detailed stories of real domestic violence, and the experiences of real victims in order to grab the attention of the thousands of Facebook users (a good way to look at this would be a version of "Humans of New York," but with cruel stories of domestic abuse). These would be collected and posted on Facebook every Wednesday at 4 p.m.
  • On Facebook, followers of the #SilenceKills page would be encouraged to invite their friends to like the page.
  • Facebook is also would be useful to compile photos and videos of each of the events that the campaign takes part in. This is especially important for the days after the flash mobs on campuses, where the videos of the mob can be posted (these have a higher chance of going "viral," as they are short, entertaining videos of the mob and the funny or curious reactions the people around the mob might have).
  • In collaboration with Facebook, the #SilenceKills campaign would sponsor a Facebook profile picture filter, encourage Facebook users to place it on their profile pictures, and raise awareness. For this domestic abuse campaign, the filter would be a simple purple tint and a purple ribbon on the lower, right corner. This would last for the 31 days of the campaign, from 1st Oct, to 31st Oct.

C) BOTH TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

  • The #SilenceKills campaign would reach out and partner with celebrities to develop video compilations of these celebrities (actors, singers, politicians, etc.) delivering important messages, containing key statistics about domestic violence, and calling viewers to sign the #SilenceKills pledge, wearing #SilenceKills apparel, etc. It would be promoted both on Twitter, using the campaign hashtags, and Facebook. Here is an example from a domestic violence campaign titled NOMORE:
  • The #SilenceKills PSA celebrity video would have the participants reciting phrases like the following:

"Stand up for victims of domestic abuse, because #SilenceKills"

"Always remain alert for possible symptoms of abuse, because #SilenceKills"

"Take action when she is afraid to, because #silenceKills"

EXAMPLE CALENDAR

DURING THE CAMPAIGN

  • Monitor Twitter on a daily basis, keep track of followers and their increase throughout the campaign. This will help in judging the campaigns popularity.
  • Engage with Twitter users who tweet at the campaign: answer their questions, start debates, post relevant information, always with the mentality of engaging with your audience, always promoting the campaign message through conversation and exchange of information and dialogue. Always ignore "trolls."
  • Monitor Facebook: Keep up with, and respond to, comments on your Facebook posts, engage with your audience, etc.
  • Every week send out an e-mail newsletter including: link to the website and the pledge, a "news alert" that includes any recent developments in legal or social domestic violence related events, information about upcoming events, photographs from past events, and links to the #SilenceKills social media networks.
  • Stay informed about possible legislation that might in any way affect the legal environment of domestic violence.

OTHER CAMPAIGNS

NOMORE

The #SilenceKills campaign is inspired by, and similar in program and action to, the NOMORE campaign, a nonprofit program designed in 2013 to bring awareness to issues related to domestic abuse and sexual assault. It is similar in its media outreach, with a strong presence on social media and other communication mediums. They have an active Twitter presence and have developed PSA celebrity campaigns that use the NOMORE slogan to communicate important and action-calling messages, like the one that is proposed for #SilenceKnows campaign. The also have an interactive website with facts and information, links to their various campaigns, social media outlets, and their personal pledge. Both campaigns are an attempt to create a unifying movement

White Ribbon Australia

White Ribbon Australia is a more complex advocacy organization combating domestic abuse in Australia. Like #SilenceKills, they attempt to bring about change and reduce instances in domestic abuse, but their main focus is, instead of educating to recognize and disrupt a situation of domestic abuse by helping audiences recognize symptoms and educating them about the best ways to deal with these situations, White Ribbon is focused on primary prevention, stopping violence before it occurs, by challenging the deeply ingrained attitudes, social norms and power inequalities that give way to violence in intimate relationships. Additionally, White Ribbon Australia is a government funded program, while #SilenceKills is a nonprofit grassroots movement.

CAMPAIGN DELIVERABLES

  • Reach 10,000 Twitter followers throughout the course of the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This can be achieved through the campaign daily twitter activity, posting constant updates on events, news that occurs in the legal and social fields of domestic violence, the raffles and photo contests promoted, etc. The celebrity support from our PSA campaign has also brought much attention to our social media activity, as many of these celebrities would tweet out their support and tag @SilenceKills on their tweets.
  • Throughout the month, another achievement is becoming a national "trend" twice on Twitter. This means that throughout the campaign, at least in two separate occasions, the hashtag #SilenceKills has become popular on the social media network, becoming, for a short period of time, one of the most used in the country.
  • Reaching over 100,000 #SilenceKills pledge-takers, achieved through our social media promotion, PSA video, Twitter popularity, etc.
  • Achieving 5000 "likes" on the #SilenceKills Facebook page. Key factors for this are the raw, personal stories that would grab people's attention and would be spread around easily, as well as the videos of the flash mobs in public places.
  • One really important objective would be to have collected a comprehensive list of supporters, pledge-takers, event-attendees, etc., that would serve to build a strong network of online support. Perhaps a good idea is to compile also local lists for future local campaigns on the issue, etc.
  • Lastly, have co-sponsored and been a part of at least 10 successful in-person events (these would include campus events, promotional events with dog-adoption agencies and such), that have resulted in productive conversations, positive engagement and strong community-building of young people around the issue of domestic violence.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, #SilenceKills is an educational and communicative awareness-oriented campaign designed to tackle the issue of domestic violence. We believe that the biggest obstacle facing the issue of domestic abuse is the inability of the victim to say something, and the failure of friends or family to act, either out of ignorance of the symptoms that define abusive relationships or of the ways people close to the victim can intervene. In other words, that silence is a crucial factor in these cruel relationships that very often have fatal consequences. #SilenceKills aims to fix that by developing a promotion strategy that will provide available resources to, first, inform young audiences of just how widespread the issue is, second, educate beyond facts, encourage these young audiences to stay alert, look for signs and be prepared to act in the worst case scenario, and finally, create a support community of organizations and young individuals that understand the deadly presence of the issue in our society and have vowed to stand firmly against it.

-Rafael Javier Hernandez Sanchez

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