Sharing authentic stories

Often in mainstream media, domestic violence is portrayed as a private matter, without analysis of the factors that allow it to persist or the roles that all of us can play in preventing it. The voices of survivors are rarely heard — or may be exploited.

To begin to change this, the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence (CPEDV) is training survivors, advocates and preventionists in effectively sharing authentic stories with journalists. We support these workshops, where participants say they feel more empowered to move beyond stories of trauma to highlight healing, prevention, policy change, and solutions.

One participant is Victoria Placencia, a family violence prevention specialist who works with California teens on healthy relationships. Her perspective is just one example of the way we can change the conversation about domestic violence:

It is all too familiar to become desensitized to domestic violence statistics. Imagine if we all knew how to play a role in domestic violence prevention instead of feeling the burden that statistics have on us, our communities, and our families.

The responsibility of preventing violence before it starts does not solely land in the laps of professionals in the field; but rather […] with doctors, dentists, nurses, social workers, bus drivers, law enforcement, educators, parents, health care workers, activists, legislators, business owners, entertainers and influencers, and everyone in between. That includes youth and youth leaders.

For instance, students in our teen dating violence prevention program took surveys that let their voices shine through. before and after they complete our teen dating violence prevention program. These voices are not filtered through the loudness of adults telling them what to say. We can all learn a lot from them.

One student said she knows people who are in abusive relationships and never knows how to help them but after learning about setting boundaries, consent, resources, and more, she feels empowered to connect them to resources and advocates.

Another classmate said that bystander intervention, or someone safely stepping in, should happen regardless of gender or who is doing the harm. He added that physical and sexual abuse can have long- term effects.

One student wrote that a person who causes harm can be “someone’s kid, someone’s friend, someone’s family” and that the change they need is not simply to be imprisoned nor socially outcast. He was talking about accountability, rather than alienation.

Through these windows, we can see raw prevention in the making. We see that advocacy does not only belong to professionals or adults. These youth are ready to be active in their role of dating violence prevention. Will you be?

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