Opinion: Grammy message brings domestic violence to the forefront

Smack in the middle of the Grammys, President Obama’s message calling on artists to remind their fans that domestic and sexual abuse are never OK, took many of us by surprise.

This was quickly followed by domestic abuse survivor Brooke Axtell’s heart-wrenching words — that authentic love does not devalue another human being — and Katy Perry’s soulful rendition of “By the Grace of God.”

And all this happened a week after No More’s anti-domestic violence ad during the Super Bowl.

Finally, the conversation about domestic violence and sexual assault is beginning to happen in very public ways, a conversation we at The Center of Family Justice have been having for decades. What happened at the Super Bowl and the Grammys is progress, and we applaud these baby steps that will hopefully cause a tsunami of outrage focused on the abuser, and sympathy and help for the victims.

Axtell, who founded SHE (Survivor Healing + Empowerment), was a young victim of trafficking and as an adult became trapped in an abusive relationship. She is like many of the victims we see daily, who come looking to us for help to leave their abuser. Her words spoke volumes but were also words of hope: She got out, and so can our area’s victims.

The music biz has had its share of domestic violence cases. In 2009, Chris Brown was arrested for violence against his girlfriend Rihanna. We couldn’t help but wonder what impact the Grammys’ domestic violence segment had on this couple, both in the audience.

If you think abuse is overblown, consider these statistics:

• Every nine seconds, there is another victim of abuse in the United States.

• On average, three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in the United States.

• More than 15 million children witness domestic violence each year in the United States.

• One-in-four women and one-out-of-six men are sexually abused in their lifetime.

• A report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds.

• One-in-three girls and one-in-seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they reach 18.

Today, we ask you to visit our new website, CenterForFamilyJustice.org , which is chock full of useful information for victims, in addition to suggestions on how to get help for someone if you think she or he is a victim of abuse.

Axtell asked all victims to reach out for help from their local domestic and sexual abuse center. It’s what she did, and she can now stand before everyone, announcing that there is hope, and there is a way out of an abusive environment.

Call us today at 203-334-6154. Or call our hotlines:

• Domestic violence: 203-384-9559

• Sexual assault: 203-333-2233

• Vedas (Spanish): 888-568-8332

You can also stop into any of our offices:

Our headquarters, 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Or our satellite offices:

Fairfield: Fairfield Senior Center, 100 Mona Terrace. Open: Wednesday, Thursday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., or by appointment, 203-256-3130.

Monroe: Town Hall, 7 Fan Hill Road, Room 213; Open Monday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., or by appointment, 203-452-2800 ext. 1177.

Trumbull: Mary J. Sherlach Counseling Center, 935 White Plains Road, Suite 210, by appointment, 203-261-5110.

Stratford: Town of Stratford Community Services, Birdseye Municipal Complex, 468 Birdseye St. By appointment, 203-385-4095.

We’ll close with Axtell’s words: “Your voice will save you. Let it extend into the night, let it part the darkness. Let it set you free to know who you truly are — valuable, beautiful, loved.”

Debra Greenwood


The Center for Family Justice