Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the U.S. In fact, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than muggings, car accidents and rapes combined. Robin McGraw, founder of When Georgia Smiled: The Robin McGraw Revelation Foundation, has made it her life’s mission to help empower women and to stand up for anyone who is being abused or neglected. She joins The Doctors to introduce The Aspire Initiative, a free domestic violence education curriculum to reduce the level of intimate relationship violence in the U.S.
Domestic violence is a type of abuse that usually involves a spouse or partner, but can also involve a child, elderly relative or other family member. It may involve physical violence, sexual violence, threats of physical or sexual violence, or emotional abuse, which can lead to depression, anxiety and social isolation. Domestic violence occurs among people of all ages, races, gender, religion, sexual orientation and levels of income and education.
Robin explains that the mission of her non-profit organization, When Georgia Smiled, is to create and advance programs that help women and children, especially those affected by domestic violence, to live healthy, safe and joy-filled lives. As the inaugural program of When Georgia Smiled, The Aspire Initiative aims to reduce the level of intimate relationship violence and instill the importance of bystander responsibility.
Designed for three different age groups — tweens, young adults and adults — the free program is available in English and Spanish. There are three sections to the Initiative's curriculum. "The first is What's the Real Deal," Robin explains, "and that's where we define what abuse really is. And the second is Stop It before It Starts, and lastly, and I think maybe most importantly, is the section on Take Action. This is where I teach you how to exit an abusive relationship safely, and how to stay safe once you are out." This last section is particularly important, says family medicine physician and sexologist Dr. Rachael Ross, because 70 percent of domestic violence occurs when the victim attempts to leave.
The curriculum also includes brave stories from domestic violence survivors, as well as the Abuser's Playbook, which lists common excuses abusers give victims to condone their actions.
Built for use on smartphones, the Aspire News app is a major development in domestic violence safety, and is the first of its kind. The app is disguised as a normal icon and even has a decoy home page, so you'll be safe if your abuser takes your phone.
The most important feature of the Aspire News app is called the GO Button, which you can activate the moment you are in danger. Once activated, the GO Button will send a pre-typed or pre-recorded message to multiple trusted, preselected contacts, or even 911, saying that you are in trouble. Additionally, once the app is activated, your phone will begin recording audio of everything that is going on in the room, which can be used as evidence for any legal proceedings that may stem from the incident.
Robin emphasizes that it's important to always have your location services activated, as many of the app's features require it. For example, the app can be used to locate the shelters and resources closest to you.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).