According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical abuse by a partner. The coalition also reports that one in seven women and one in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. The month and its initiatives were created in 1987 by The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The organization was founded to “envision a national culture in which we are all safe, empowered and free from domestic violence.” The month is designed to connect those working on issues associated with domestic violence and promote awareness for the issue.
Domestic violence is an issue that crosses gender, race, and social economic lines. It can occur between a parent and child, intimate parents, or close friends. Factors that lead to domestic violence include a lack of access to mental health care and constraints associated with financial abuse.
Domestic violence has a stigma associated with it despite the fact that being on the receiving end of someone’s misplaced aggression is nothing to be ashamed. Survivors are working to lift that stigma by making room for one another to tell their stories in safe spaces online and offline.
And, in Hollywood, victims and supporters are boldly coming forward about facing and fighting domestic violence. Stars including Halle Berry and Tina Turner have opened up about their personal experiences. Others like Raheem Devaughn have committed time and resources to showing support to survivors who are living in cities where statistics are staggering through work with organizations like SafeHouse, the Shani Baraka Women’s Resource Center, and the Essex County Prosecutors Office for Victims Witness Advocacy Program.
Stars have been showing fans and victims that domestic violence can happen to anyone and that survivors can thrive by using their platforms.
See celebrities that have worked to raise awareness through their art and service to others below.
Back in 2009, Carey opened up to Larry King about the mental and emotional abuse she’d experienced in a past relationship, “Abuse has several categories, emotionally, mentally, in other ways. I just think you get into a situation, and you feel locked in — if your situation is similar to one of the situations I’ve been in, which I won’t harp on. … For me, to really get out, it was difficult because there was a connection that was not only a marriage but a business thing, where the person was in control of my life.”
The Barbadian singer spoke candidly to Vanity Fair in 2015 about that infamouse night in 2009 when she was assaulted by Chris Brown and her feelings afterward, sharing, “I just never understood how the victim gets punished over and over. It’s in the past, and I don’t want to say ‘Get over it,’ because it’s a very serious thing that is still relevant; it’s still real. A lot of women, a lot of young girls, are still going through it. A lot of young boys too. It’s not a subject to sweep under the rug, so I can’t just dismiss it like it wasn’t anything, or I don’t take it seriously. But, for me, and anyone who’s been a victim of domestic abuse, nobody wants to even remember it. Nobody even wants to admit it. So to talk about it and say it once, much less 200 times, is like … I have to be punished for it? It didn’t sit well with me.”
Berry regularly speaks out about her experience with domestic violence and is known for her work with the Jenesse Center, a non-profit domestic violence prevention and intervention organization. In 2015, during the organization’s “Imagine” benefit, Berry opened about witnessing her mother’s abuse, “I saw my mother battered and beaten many years of my life and I felt helpless…And that’s what connects me to this organization. I have an understanding, a knowing. I feel like I have something that I can impart to these women. It seems like I’ve overcome it, but I really haven’t. In the quiet of my mind, I still struggle. So while I’m helping these women, I’m helping myself through it, too. And that’s largely why I’m here.”
Turner’s abuse at the hands of Ike Turner is well-known in Hollywood and in 2005 she spoke candidly with Oprah about the abuse she faced, “He liked to show the public that he was in control and that he was a woman hater. He also liked for his women to get up and walk across the floor for display so that other men could see what he had. I didn’t know how to get out of the whole situation. There were many times when I picked up the gun when he was sleeping. “
The Seattle Seahawks quarterback’s Why Not You Foundation launched a campaign in 2014 to bring awareness to domestic violence. “Pass The Peace” was a viral campaign that called on celebs to donate to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The campaign launched around the time the NFL was facing criticism of how it handled Ray Rice’s scandal. Wilson wrote in a Player’s Tribune op-ed, “As NFL players, we do not play a gentle game. But our hits, our anger, our aggressive behaviors need to be regulated and confined to the field. Recent incidents of domestic violence have forced The League, its fans and the players to take a hard look into our collective conscience. “
Back in December, Lozada talked to the ladies of The Real about her experience with domestic violence and shared advice with women who were victims as well. Lozada suffered abuse at the hands of her ex-husband Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson, during a segment on Kansas City Chiefs player Tyreek Hill pleading guilty to assautling his pregnant girlfriend, Lozada told the audience, “My heart goes out to the victim and I know people, please don’t tweet me telling me ‘This happened 4 years ago, get over it.’ It’s something that stays with you forever, okay. So, my thing, my main concern is, is for the victim,” adding, “Honor yourself and do the right thing because we all know, if it happens once, it’s going to happen again.”
Jackson opened up to The Huffington Post about the abuse she faced at the hands of her ex-husband Jack Gordon, revealing, “He felt that he owned me and he controlled me, he abused me, he did all these things to me and I never thought that I would get away…I want women to know that…you can live your life, you can regain and re-own yourself and be free and do whatever you want to do. You can start over as long and as many times as you want until you feel that you’ve gotten it right.”
During an E! special with Giuliana Rancic, Leakes shared her experience with domestic violence. The reality star talked about the abuse she faced at the hands of her son Bryson’s father, saying, “The first person to really say ‘I love you’ a lot became my abuser. He hit me and then later on he would say ‘I love you’ and I thought that this must be what love is.” After an insane situation in which Leakes was forced out of the house at gunpoint she realized, “I cannot do this any longer for the sake of me and my child.” She says Bryson’s father has since acknowledged what he did.
In 2014, following the release of footage showing Ray Rice abusing his fiancée in an elevator, Robin Givens opened up about her own experience in an op-ed for TIME. Givens, who suffered abuse during her marriage to Mike Tyson, wrote, “Today we are in world where we are far more connected and involved in each other’s lives thanks to social media. Women who are abused can see they’re not alone. I only left my marriage when I felt like I was going to die physically or die emotionally. It’s just amazing what becomes your normal. One day you wake up with a knife at your throat. Another day, your shoes are all torn up. But I did leave and I didn’t take one dime from my husband. I left my house, and I even left my underwear. I just wanted my life. I was very confident that I could make my way on my own. And I did.”
Singer KeKe Wyatt spoke to ESSENCE in 2012 about her experience in an abusive relationship and stabbing her ex-husband in self-defense, “People won’t understand until they walk in my shoes. I felt so bad for what I did, but I couldn’t let it consume me. It was my faith in God, and my family that helped me through this. Those are the people that really know what happened, and they don’t judge me.”