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Violence Unsilenced: How To Help and Support Abused Women

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Close your eyes and picture three people you know. Think about the lady who rings up your groceries every week at the store and one of the parents on your kid's sports team. Imagine the woman on the other end of the cable tv service line. Of those three people, one of them is harboring a carefully-guarded secret.

Woman, silenced.

One in three women will experience sexual abuse/assault in their lifetime.

Domestic violence encompasses physical, sexual and emotional assault, exploitation, and coercion. It happens to people of every background, color, and gender. The common thread that runs through domestic violence is the fear and isolation that accompany the abuse, the effects of which lingering long after any scars or bruises heal.

One in three of those women will keep the abuse a secret.

There are any number of reasons why people stay silent about the abuse they suffer — fear, shame, denial, or the desire to protect a family member can all drive a person to silence. For me personally, it was simply the inability to utter those words out loud, "This person I love is hurting me." However, the important question isn't why people remain silent, it's the following: "What can we do to help?"

One in six boys have experienced abuse.

1in6 offers education and training in local communities to raise public awareness and to help therapists and other professionals give the best possible services to men dealing with the effects of unwanted or abusive boyhood sexual experiences.

The epidemic of abuse belongs to all of us.

74 percent of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence, but many don't know how to help or support their friends and loved ones. Violence Unsilenced provides a safe online space where survivors and supporters both can find a supportive, understanding community, and share their stories — in their own words, on their own terms. Read more about VU's origins here.

There is strength in numbers.

Violence Unsilenced works to eradicating the silence surrounding domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape by giving survivors a public voice. 260 survivors have bravely shared their stories on Violence Unsilenced, and more than 11,000 people have voiced support through comments, tweets, and Facebook replies.

In 2011 and 2012, Violence Unsilenced incorporated as a non-profit agency hopes to expand our reach and help more survivors find their voice. We may not be able to eradicate domestic violence, sexual abuse or rape, but together we can end the silence that perpetuates the victimization of women. Together, we can give survivors of domestic violence a place to again find their voice, take back their power and rebuild their lives, stronger than ever.

We encourage you to take the pledge to support the survivors who bravely share their stories on Violence Unsilenced by adding a badge to your website, liking Violence Unsilenced on Facebook, following on Twitter, and most importantly, by voicing your support through comments as often as possible.

If you have been affected by domestic abuse and would like to share your story, please click this link. Violence Unsilenced encourages you to share your story on your own terms. You may remain as anonymous as you need to be for your own comfort and safety.

How will you support women in need this year?

Mr Lady is the author of the blog Whiskey in My Sippy Cup, and serves Violence Unsilenced as webmaster and a member of the Board of Directors. Her survivor story can be found here.

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