While the majority of Americans know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, most have not reached out to help the victims of abuse or discuss the issues with their children or friends, a survey funded by the finds.
Based on a survey of teenagers and adults, (10 pages, PDF) found that 60 percent of respondents know a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault; that sizable majorities of respondents have not discussed domestic violence (67 percent) or sexual assault (73 percent) with friends; and that 73 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 have not talked about domestic violence or sexual assault with their children. While 75 percent of those surveyed said they would step in to help a stranger who is being abused, 58 percent of women who experienced domestic violence and then told someone about it said no one helped them.
"The data shows us that conversations about these issues simply are not happening," said Carol Kurzig, president of the Avon Foundation for Women. "That silence leaves victims trapped by the shame, stigma, and fear that these crimes carry. If we can encourage more people to start talking, we can end that cycle and bring these issues to light in a new way."
To that end, the foundation has announced that it will fund the development of Breakthrough Bystander Behavior Training Programs to help employers educate their employees about the signs of abuse and how to better support victims. As part of the foundation's program, the training will be rolled out in partnership with the coalition, which includes domestic violence and sexual assault service and advocacy agencies nationwide.
"By joining forces with local experts and companies across the country, the Avon Foundation aims to leverage our collective resources to amplify discussion about domestic violence and sexual assault in the workplace," said Kurzig. "Our goal is to build awareness and improve referrals to support and prevention programs for victims and their children. We hope that this program will be a catalyst in the movement to break the silence and stigma associated with gender violence."