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Don't forget to register to become an Ally in Truth.

As an Ally, you will be a leader in our community, advocating for domestic and sexual violence victims, armed with education materials to inform your audience on ways to not only recognize victims, but to help them, too.

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Victims and the media

In today's world access to media easier than ever, allowing a broader reach on every topic.  What people hear from news sources, whether it be on TV, online, over the radio, or in the paper, they believe. If this information is skewed or sensationalized, it can influence not only victims, but lawmakers and the community as a whole.

Media coverage of the complex and multifaceted issues of domestic violence ranges from helpful to harmful. To successfully educate the public about domestic violence, encourage them to take action to prevent or reduce domestic violence, or ask them to support the community's efforts, we must work with the media both in response to specific cases and as a proactive measure. In the past, the media has tended to portray domestic violence cases as individualized or isolated, rather than a thematic and contextually societal issue. Often victims were blamed, or excuses are made for the violence. Even today, coverage is typically only seen relating to fatal incidents, as opposed to situations involving emotional/psychological, financial, or verbal abuse, leading to the belief that the latter forms are not abuse at all.

By focusing on the murder or murder-suicide situations, the media may inadvertently be encouraging victims to stay in their violent relationship as the only option seen is one involving death. 

Through education and understanding, Allies in Truth hopes to encourage the media to make a shift in discussion around domestic and sexual violence to one that helps victims through all steps of their journey.

Leaders in Media

Modern media not only has a large variety of forms, it also has a much greater reach in both distance and population. This increase in reach allows leaders in media to have a much greater ability to affect social change. 

Social change is what is needed to end domestic and sexual violence for good. Even starting one person at a time, change is possible with the help of media promoting the proper messaging. Heightening communities' awareness to domestic and sexual violence along with presenting actions to decrease these violent behaviors can lead to major social change in our world. 

Whether you are a news reporter on a local TV station or newspaper, a blogger, have a mass following on Facebook or twitter, you have the ability to increase your community's awareness on the prevalence of domestic and social violence and have the influence to encourage changes in behavior that will decrease the number of abusers and victims. This is a very powerful position you hold in your community and, as an Ally, you will provided with tips and suggestions on how to share with your community the changes needed to end domestic and sexual violence.

What the media can do to help victims:

  1. Focus on the abuser. Social media, talk show radio and other forms of media focus on the woman for staying with a man who hit her. The victim should not be re-victimized. It sends a strong signal to other women that this public judgement is what awaits you if you report your abuser. 
  2. Don't focus on the alcohol or drug use of either the abuser or victim. Alcohol and drug use is involved a significant number of cases, but don't allow alcohol to become an excuse. In fact, sober abusers may be even more dangerous.
  3. Realize your impact. Abuse is a world view, it is not a disease. Your view is reinforced by family, friends, advertising, videos and music. It is reinforced culturally all the time when, for example, athletes beat their wives and continue on with their career.
  4. Don't focus on the end result. Realize that crisis centers and other organizations trying to help victims rarely know what happens to the victim when he/she is done with services. This is because the victim comes to the center in a time of crisis and rarely is the victim's entire world changed just by stepping through the doors. Happy endings make for great stories, but focusing on the strength to leave or report the abuse can make for a good story, too.
  5. Focus on funding. With most crisis centers receiving some grants from varying government agencies, organizations are always at risk of being forced to lay of employees when a federal budget is being created. Let your followers know about cut backs that will force crisis centers to help fewer victims, don't let this change go unnoticed. 
  6. Know the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence in your community. Help your followers understand how many victims are in your area and how to help them. Your local crisis center is a great resource for this information.
  7. Prevention is essential. Report on stories involving people working to prevent future victims. Encourage your followers to contact their local crisis center to figure out how to help their children not become a victim or abuser. Prevention is the only way domestic and sexual violence will ever be eradicated. 

Supporting Victims via Social Media

Social media has created a platform where everyone has an opportunity to express his or her own views, concerns, passions and opinions. Social media reaches millions of people worldwide. 

Social media can also be a beacon of hope to victims of domestic or sexual violence. Having a place where victims and advocates can break the silence and share stories, statistics, resources and ways to help has given victims a more supportive community to turn to. 

How can you help a victim of domestic or sexual violence?

  1. Inform your followers about the local crisis center where help is available. 
  2. Share the needs of the local centers helping victims of domestic and sexual violence. 
  3. Post statistics on the prevalence of domestic and sexual violence in your community.
  4. Don't share news stories that blame the victim or sensationalize the violence.
  5. Encourage people to learn more about violence prevention and how to teach their kids to live a violence-free life.
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News Stations and Newspapers

News stations and newspapers have to be selective on which stories in their community are featured in their limited space or time. The often means the most sensational, unique or unusual stories are featured. When covering domestic or sexual violence, this often means the worst cases are reported on, making a world where people only see the deaths related to this violence or when children are significantly injured. 

There are ways these forms of media can help victims while working to educate society about domestic and sexual violence.

  1. Present the story without sensationalizing it. Don't add flare to a devastating event.
  2. Leave out the bloody pictures/videos.
  3. Make sure any blame presented lies with the accuser, not the victim. It doesn't matter what the victim was wearing, drinking, doing or saying.
  4. Include data about the prevalence of the crimes in the area so the audience can understand this isn't a random act, but something that plaques society.
  5. Provide information about how other victims can get help and about ways parents can raise their children to live violence-free lives.
  6. Do a longer follow-up story about the crimes that includes more in-depth knowledge and resources.

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