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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States. Rarely have we seen in the past any one October providing us with so much evidence of the scope and depth of domestic violence, cutting across so many age, educational, economic, cultural, racial and religious/spiritual perspectives and strata as this October already has, and we are only 10 days into the month so far. Additionally, the prevalence of abusers and predators hidden among us all is also being revealed, as we are almost daily confronted with yet another discovery of violence:

The ongoing discoveries of abuses at the hands of clergy within the Catholic Church and the failure of the Vatican to adequately address those abuses while actively attempting to silence the victims;

The steady stream of media reports of the abuse, assault, rape and murder of women and girls around the world whether they live in war zones such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the former Yugoslavia or in ostensibly more peaceful communities;

The National Football League’s series of scandals involving high profile players accused and convicted of both domestic and sexual violence and the organization’s failure to effectively respond to several of those cases;

The current United States federal investigation of 55 colleges and universities for mismanagement of sexual assault on campus coupled with the 2014 development of the White House task force, Not Alone, to address the issue;

The growing number of disclosures of athletes, within colleges, universities and high schools, who have been abused and assaulted within their athletic programs since the conviction of former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky for 45 counts of sexual abuse in 2012, as well as

The continuing threat of abuse and assault within youth programs and community groups such as religious and spiritual programs, the Boy Scouts and even daycare facilities.

The scope of the violence itself is as shocking as each individual case with which we are almost daily confronted.

The focus of today’s public conversation around both domestic and sexual violence makes it necessary for me to comment. The scandal surrounding the NFL’s management of players who have been indicted on abuse charges, including Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson, as well as Rice’s wife’s response to the video showing him knocking her out cold in an elevator, among other high profile, non sports­ related cases, has now led to a near constant address of this issue of domestic violence by major media, even prompting Meredith Vieira to reveal today why she stayed in an abusive relationship when she was younger. Meredith breaks her silence.

As a survivor of both forms of violence and an activist working for over 25 years to address them, I feel compelled to simply ask that we all stop for a moment and consider the questions that the media and some of us are asking in the face of this current public conversation. The core question we might ask here is NOT “Why does/did SHE stay?” The core question is “Why does HE abuse?” And how do WE, individually and collectively, participate in actively addressing the violence itself with the goal of reducing it and ending it together?

We are at a threshold of potential enormous forward movement in confronting this violence and the questions we attend to will largely impact the progress we might make. All peace to each one of you today, especially every man, woman and child who is living with violence or has already survived it.

All peace to each one of you today. Dora

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