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Celebrity Setbacks in the Fight Against Domestic Violence

Are pop stars and athletes being held accountable for setting bad examples of healthy relationships?

The use of power and control over another person is often shown graphically in our daily news with reports of physical, emotional and sexual assault and violence. On too many occasions, this horrific violence results in the lives of innocent victims and their children being taken away abruptly by homicides, and the perpetrators ending their lives by suicide. In the San Diego region for the year of 2011, we lost 24 victims to intimate partner violence, including mothers and children who were beaten and strangled to death or murdered by the husband or father who then died by suicide. As alarming and unimaginable this reality is for the families of loved ones lost, we all play an important role to prevent this devastation from happening again in our communities.

As a society, everyone loses with the overwhelming impacts of domestic violence. In addressing this serious issue, we ask, are we demonstrating what it means to be a role model and how our media plays a role in the prevention of domestic violence? As domestic violence has no boundaries, what role do we all play to help prevent and end the cycle?  Victims who experience violence very often feel a sense of loyalty to their abusers because they have bonded in their relationship and desperately want the relationship to succeed. Victims often forgive their abusers because words matter and they want to believe the person they love is sincere in their apology and that the abuse will stop. Unfortunately, unless professional assistance is sought in the relationship, the abuse will continue over and over again.

Operation For HOPE Foundation is faced with many challenges as we continue to collaborate for awareness and work with our partners in educating communities on stopping domestic or intimate partner violence and abuse.

One of the many challenges Operation For HOPE is faced with involves numerous domestic violence incidents that we continue to see or read about in the media involving role models and celebrities who are abusers of domestic violence. How can we educate our communities and children against exploitation and abuse when celebrity athletes and pop stars are impacting our lives each day by being abusers in intimate partner relationships? Just as words matter, role models matter, too.

You may recall the names of many celebrity athletes or pop stars that have been in the media and involved in or convicted of domestic violence incidents including Chris Brown, Mike Tyson, O.J. Simpson, Ka’Deem Carey, the recent murder/suicide of Jovan Belcher, Tito Ortiz, Mike Alvarado, Ryan Leaf, Brian Giles and many others.  As some look to these individuals as role models are we sending the message we need to portray in the media?  Abuse and violence against another person has serious consequences and will not be overlooked. As celebrities or high profile individuals, they made a difference in their careers to inspire adults and youth, building confidence in many and being leaders or investing in great causes.  Sadly, as much as they once led, the biggest role they can play now is to get involved in the awareness campaign about the prevention of domestic violence to send the message that this happened to them and they will play a role to make it stop! They should be saying it loud and clear and emphasizing “do it now” before it ruins your life and the ones you love.

Are high-profile individuals given an unwritten double standard? Do they really care about the examples they are setting, especially for our children, who are the most vulnerable in these situations and look up to these role models for guidance? Should we strive to achieve a higher level of standards for celebrity athletes or pop stars due to the influence they have on our society? As we work together to end domestic violence we need to ask serious questions. What happens to the parameters and perception when the aggressor of abuse is a celebrity and how the media chooses to cover the abuse? What role do you play if the celebrity is not held accountable? No one—not even celebrities or pop stars—should be allowed to fail the standard of conduct as a role model. Everyone needs to be held accountable for their actions and seek the needed help to prevent it from happening again. This is the standard we as a society need to follow as we continue to educate our communities to prevent and end domestic violence.

How do we reach children who are victims in witnessing domestic violence in the home and someone who is living in fear of the person who says they love them?
Operation For HOPE Foundation is honored with support and partnership in the creation, launch and distribution of several awareness and prevention poster campaigns (PSAs) with celebrity athletes and high-profile individuals to send a message in communities throughout the nation about how to seek help to break the cycle of domestic violence.  Several athletes and role models have teamed up with Operation for HOPE Foundation to make a difference in our communities, create positive change through a message that is specifically written to reach out and offer support to individuals who are impacted by the serious issue of domestic violence abuse. These celebrities include: Pro skateboarder Tony Hawk, All-Time Saves Leader of MLB Trevor Hoffman, 2006 NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, NBA All-Star David West and more: Operation for HOPE poster campaigns.

Let’s continue to unite in the prevention and education of relationship violence.  Together we can strive to break and end the ugly cycles of domestic violence.

We would like to especially reach out to all the celebrities and pop stars and ask them to do their part and play a role to set the stage by being the role model to their fans and supporters. Celebrities need to take notice and responsibility for the role they play in shaping how our youth perceive relationships. Celebrities need to step up to that higher level and be held accountable for their actions. Let’s set the stage to encourage those that look up to celebrities as mentors and guide the audience to be free from violence or any abuse. Please work with our communities on being a leader and taking a strong stand against violence.

If you live in fear because someone is or has threatened to harm you or someone you love, no matter who they are, these behaviors are not your fault and not OK. To reduce risks and to understand what’s happening, act now to seek safety and assistance. Find resources at operationforhope.org

Organizations to call:

· National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233

· National Dating Helpline, 1-866-331-9474

· National Center for Victims of Crime Hotline, 1-800-394-2255

· San Diego Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-888-385-4657

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