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When I was invited to be one of 80 people – from the media, government and entertainment – to represent iVillage in the 7th annual "It's Time to Talk Day," created by Liz Claiborne Inc. to raise awareness of domestic violence and teen dating abuse, I jumped at the chance.
During my days as a local news reporter in Albuquerque, I covered too many stories of domestic violence that ended in tragedy. And while at CBS News, I did reports on teen dating abuse and learned how one in ten teenage girls says she has been physically abused by a boyfriend – one in ten! – and how too few teens are talking with their moms and dads about the growing problem. Many of you iVillage readers are talking about the issue, especially in the iVillage Community, with women trying to help other women break free from the cycle of abuse.
The issue is personal to so many people, including me. Someone close to me was in an abusive relationship and her boyfriend wouldn't let her out. Thankfully, she broke free and went on to live a happy and fulfilling life. I shudder to think what could have happened if she didn’t get away.
During a series of interviews I did with leading radio talk show hosts and mom bloggers as part of this national day of dialogue, there was one constant theme -- talking about domestic violence is a way to help raise awareness that it’s happening to people of all ages and from every ethnic and economic background and to encourage the victims to seek help and not to blame themselves. How often does an abused woman or teenager think she’s responsible for the abuse?
But what’s also important here is for bystanders –- all of us -- to be aware. Look for warning signs, report suspicious behavior and encourage every woman and teenage girl "Love Is Not Abuse," the title of a new college curriculum spearheaded by Liz Clairborne Inc. to help students deal with dating violence and abuse on campus.
Let’s talk about domestic violence today –- and tomorrow and the next day -– and keep talking about it. That’s one way we can work towards ending it.