Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Hospital Rooms

I was really struck by two news stories I saw this morning – and the stark difference between them.
Here’s the first one – “Iowa Couple Married 72 Years Dies Holding Hands, an Hour Apart.” This couple loved and cherished one another all through their lives…and died holding hands in the hospital. I think their story is a beautiful testimony to love and respect throughout a lifetime.

Here is the other story – “Pekin man in custody after double stabbing Tuesday.” In this story, a man allegedly stabbed his estranged wife and their son (in violation of an order of protection)…he is in custody and his estranged wife and son are both in the hospital.

A tale of two hospital rooms.  A tale of two relationships.  Both started somewhere with people who had promised to love and cherish and honor and respect one another. 
One ended with love and respect.

One ended with violence.
What is the difference?  Why does one person determine to treat those he or she loves with respect and kindness throughout life…and why does another person choose to frighten, injure…and perhaps even kill those he or she once pledged to love?

I don’t know.
I mean I know all of the hypotheses – cultural, sociological, psychological…the latest research. I know all of that.

But at the end of the day I am just overwhelmed by the difference in these two pictures of lives of real people. 
And I think that while the life of Gordon and Norma Yeager is rare….it is closer to what I think we all want to see – a life where people feel safe and secure with those who love them.
And I want to see the day that the life of Shane Rhoades’ estranged wife and child is rarer and rarer…

If you ever wonder if your relationship is as safe as it could be, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline anytime at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or take a look at their website at

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Telling Amy's Story - A Tool for Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace Webinar

In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) is pleased to present Telling Amy’s Story – A Tool for Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace.” This webinar takes place Wednesday, October 26, 2011 from 2:00 - 3:30 PM ET.

Domestic violence does not stop at the door when employees go to work. The CAEPV HopeLine® from Verizon Webinar Series is designed to help increase employer awareness of domestic violence as a workplace issue and offer strategies for employers to recognize and respond to it.

The documentary Telling Amy's Story follows the timeline of a domestic violence homicide that occurred on November 8, 2001. The victim's parents and co-workers, law enforcement officers, and court personnel share their perspectives on what happened to Amy in the weeks, months, and years leading up to her death.

This webinar will highlight how Telling Amy's Story has been successfully used at workplaces as a tool to educate employees and managers regarding domestic violence and how this success can be replicated in other workplace settings.


Mike Mason, Chief Security Officer, Verizon
Kim Wells, Executive Director, Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence

  • Angela Long, Director of Security, Verizon
  • Jayne Mayer, Director, Employee Engagement, Verizon Foundation
  • Yandira Melon, EAP Counselor, Verizon
  • Alphonsus (Fons) Marcelis, Head, HRS Corporate Operations, The World Bank Group

Registration closed on Monday, October 24, 2011. To view webinar resources, to view the recording after the webinar, and for additional information, visit:

To view "Telling Amy's Story," visit

Monday, October 10, 2011

More Than One-Third of Americans Have Never Discussed Domestic Violence

Are you surprised by the results of this new survey by The Allstate Foundation? 

Even though domestic violence affects one in four women in their lifetime, more than one-third of Americans have never discussed the issue with a friend or family member. Three out of five believe that it is a difficult issue to discuss.

This month, The Allstate Foundation and the YWCA are joining forces to break the silence and raise awareness about domestic violence by launching a new campaign designed to spur conversation and make it easier to talk about the issue. Based on The Allstate Foundation's long-term commitment to helping empower women economically to end domestic violence, the campaign encourages individuals to spread the story of the Purple Purse – the Foundation's new national symbol for domestic violence.  

"What many people don't realize is that abuse can be financial in nature such as withholding banking information or controlling a partner's money or misusing her financial identity and ruining a person's credit. This occurs just as frequently as physical abuse," said Michele Mayes, Allstate executive vice president & general counsel. "We are rallying people behind the Purple Purse because it stands for economic empowerment and represents the center of a woman's financial domain. It's also meant to convey the message that it's okay to talk about it – in fact please do."

To spread the message about the power of the Purple Purse, The Allstate Foundation today launched The website appears to be an online shopping magazine, but after scrolling down the page, the user will find a variety of information and resources specific to the issue of domestic violence and financial empowerment. The website serves as a tool to raise awareness and provides a safe and informative place for women to educate themselves. also provides a place for women to start a discussion about domestic violence.

"As the largest provider of domestic violence services in the nation, the YWCA has worked tirelessly to combat domestic violence," says Gloria Lau, CEO of the YWCA USA. "Our partnership with The Allstate Foundation to heighten awareness of domestic violence and launch is another meaningful step in our effort to end this horrible epidemic in our society."

To kick-off the campaign, The Allstate Foundation and YWCA, along with top bloggers, are organizing TweetUps in nine cities across the country. The events are planned in nine cities across the country, including Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, El Paso, Texas, Los Angeles, New York City, Seattle, and Tucson, Ariz.

These events are designed to explain the story behind the Purple Purse, share information about the issue and encourage individuals to help spread the word about the campaign. TweetUp attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from a domestic violence survivor at each event. As an additional incentive to inspire more people to get involved, The Allstate Foundation will donate $100 for each TweetUp attendee, up to $10,000 at each event, totaling a $90,000 contribution to the YWCA.

Individuals across the country are encouraged to participate in the campaign and show their support by carrying a purple purse or bag throughout October, posting their favorite purple purse pics to and downloading the Purple Purse widget available on the website. This widget makes it easy to share Purple Purse content through social media and is designed to ensure that more people in need will be able to get information that can help.

Each year, The Allstate Foundation contributes more than $3 million in grants and programming to support economic empowerment for survivors and to help end domestic violence. Visit and to learn more.

About the Survey

The Allstate Foundation partnered with ORC International to conduct the research on domestic violence awareness. ORC International conducted telephone surveys among a national probability sample of 1,002 adults between September 22-25, 2011.

The sample was comprised of 501 men and 501 women 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. The sampling error associated with a sample size of 1,002 is plus/minus two to three percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

So -- check out ...and keep on spreading the purple!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

What Are YOU Doing For Domestic Violence Awareness Month? (Or…Where Is All The Purple?)

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
I realize it is also a month to recognize a lot of other really important issues -- most notably breast cancer.
But while you see a lot of "pink" around, do you see a lot of "purple"? (Purple is the color that represents domestic violence awareness in the same way that pink represents breast cancer awareness.)

I have seen pink mixers, pink bras, pink baseball bats, pink shoes, pink applesauce containers. . . you name it. But why not purple?
I have some guesses.

A long time ago, no one talked about breast cancer -- they kept it a secret, and somehow it was a "shame" and was somehow the fault of the person who received the diagnosis. But fortunately that has changed, and we no longer blame breast cancer victims. We call them survivors. And we honor them for their amazing courage. And we should.

Now -- with domestic violence, we are not exactly there. We are uncomfortable with it because we are not really sure what "causes" it, whose "fault" it is, what we should do about it, or how to even say something to someone. I don't know all the reasons. I just know this -- it is highly uncomfortable for us.

But put all that aside for a moment.
I think we can all agree that the one place everyone should be safe and secure is in their own homes where they should feel loved and cherished. And I think we can all learn a bit about how to be healthier in our own relationships (which is also a source of discomfort for us, I think) and also learn how to recognize if someone is in a relationship that is perhaps not as healthy or safe as it could be.

I am not sure it "matters" that I "get" everything about someone else's relationship.
I am really clear that no one deserves to be hit. Or slapped. Or to have things thrown at them. Or to be intimidated. Or for their children to be afraid.

Maybe for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it would be good if we could all do what 30 organizations and businesses in Central Illinois did on October 4.  They asked people just learn to talk about this -- not argue about it, not decide if it is a "men's thing" or a "women's thing" -- but just realize it is a thing that impacts everyone.
On October 4, many, many of those people wore purple. One of them told me she wore purple and asked people if they knew why she was wearing that color. If they didn't, she started a conversation with them about it. Isn't that great?

Spread the purple!!!!
(You can get more ideas for raising awareness and making a difference from this simple list of  "10 Things You Can Do About Domestic Violence.")