Asking people to “Just Say No” can be an excuse for not doing any more than trumpeting a tired slogan. Without more, it’s a meaningless phrase – an excuse, not to take action.
The Three Rivers Defense logo uses the enzo, an incomplete circle, which symbolizes striving for perfection while realizing that we may never reach it. In that spirit, we strive for systemic change to combat gender-based discrimination and violence but until such change becomes a reality, we train men and women to rely on themselves for protection against violence.
I work with organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union on education, legislation, and litigation to advance equality. As of 2012, I also serve on the board of directors of the Montana Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Recently, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights ruled for Jessica Lenahan (former Gonzales). This was a significant legal victory for victims of domestic violence.
But we still have a long ways to go. Laws, courts, and law enforcement alone cannot assure physical or emotional safety. That’s why Three Rivers Defense provides personal safety training customized for prevention of and protection against intimate partner abuse. Self-reliance often is the most effective protection in this imperfect world.
The holistic approach is to work both on an individual level and to empower people to take safety into their own hands, while working for systemic change on a community, national, and international level.
Increasing awareness of the issue of intimate partner violence, including violence against women, is crucial. Intimate partner violence, including domestic violence, affects every community in the United States, and millions of people in every country worldwide.
Start taking action in your community. Volunteer at or donate to a local shelter or crisis hotline. Educate yourself about the dynamics of abuse. Learn about “why they don’t just leave.” Talk to your local community clubs about the issues. Use social media. Show a movie, like “The Sin of Silence.”
If you are an employer, a landlord, a social worker, or a professional in another service professions, be sensitive to physical and psychological abuse issues. Do not magnify the abuse and violence by discriminating against victims of abuse.
Reach out to a person that you believe is being abused. Offer support without judgment or condescension.
Realize that intimate partner violence can happen to anyone and be inflicted by anyone. It’s not limited to women; men can also be the targets of abuse. Same sex partners can be victims of abuse. Intimate partner violence is not limited to any economic, ethnic, racial, social, or age class. Don’t’ just say “No” to violence; take action instead.
Join us in taking action.