Speaking Out Online About Domestic Violence - the Root
When aspiring model Mori Montgomery posted photos of the horrific injuries she allegedly sustained at the hands of her boyfriend, she shocked cyberspace. But she may have done more than that. Her courage may play a role in ending the stigma that often silences survivors of domestic violence.
Besides actual violence, the silence that accompanies domestic violence often can be just as destabilizing and damaging to families and communities. In a landmark 2006 article Essence magazine highlighted the startling rate of family violence in Prince George’s County, Md., an affluent enclave with a sizable black population. The fact that so much pain was occurring within a community that looked so perfect on the outside jolted many, and resulted in one of the first candid public discussions of the way silence and shame perpetuate violence in communities of color. Subsequent articles in the wake of the Essence article in outlets like the Washington Post highlighted community-wide campaigns to better address the issue. But silence and the stigma that accompanies victims who speak out have remained obstacles in efforts to end domestic violence.
Yet social media is increasingly giving victims a voice. In January social media was credited with saving the life of a woman allegedly beaten by her husband. After the assault, he ripped out the phone line. The victim then photographed her injuries and posted the photo on Facebook with the message, “Help please anyone,” leading her friends to call the police and to her husband’s arrest.