Peace Over Violence ran a campaign for violence prevention called the 100 WAYS, 100 DAYS CAMPAIGN. This campaign looks at violence prevention in a new and different way, asking individuals to choose peace rather than violence each and every time they have an opportunity in their daily lives.
Peace Over Violence has worked for 40 years providing intervention and prevention services related to sexual assault and domestic violence against women and children. Long ago we realized that helping people heal from sexual assault and domestic violence is just the tip of the iceberg. We had to work to eliminate sexual assault and domestic violence, to keep it from happening in the first place. But all forms of violence in our society are interconnected. For instance, experiencing or witnessing domestic violence in childhood increases the likelihood of joining a gang, which in turn supports violence against both intimates and strangers; and being sexually abused as a child dramatically increases the likelihood that a person will as an adult be a rape victim, will be involved in a violent intimate relationship, or will become a molester and perpetrate the bitter cycle of injury and injuring.
The true scope of the damage done by childhood violence is demonstrated by this one statistic: 90% of the prison population experienced or witnessed violence as children. We realized that we cannot work to eliminate sexual assault and domestic violence in isolation, without regard for the connection that these particular manifestations of violence have to other forms of violence in our society. If we want to empty our prisons, to be safe in our homes and our communities, and to build healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence, we have to protect children from experiencing or witnessing violence, or get to them as soon as possible after that experience and teach them that there is another way to relate to others. We have to teach them that VIOLENCE IS LEARNED and can be unlearned, that violence is a choice, and you can CHOOSE PEACE OVER VIOLENCE.
This realization of the interconnectedness of violence led to our final realization, our epiphany: ONLY BY ACTIVELY CHOOSING PEACE CAN WE—not only those of us who work at Peace Over Violence or who work in the social services, but all of us in the human race—OVERCOME VIOLENCE. The only way to eliminate interpersonal violence from our society is for each of us as individuals to choose peace every day, in every choice we make, in every action we take.
How we can each work actively to foster peace in our lives, our communities, our nation and our world? What can we each do in our daily routines to choose peace? Here are just a few ideas:
- Mentor a child
- Question stereotypes
- Be an ally, stand up for someone else
- Donate to a social services charity
- Listen actively
Think about your typical day. How can you start your day with PEACE as a priority? What can you do to avoid having “fight or flight” chemicals flood your system? How can you soften tension? How can you increase your own feelings of warmth and well being and the sense of well being in those around you?
We start to build peace as an internal exercise. We first increase our peaceful feelings toward ourselves, and then we extend those feelings outward to others. Our work at Peace Over Violence is to choose peace over violence in our own lives and to enable and encourage others to choose peace as a personal matter. That is the purpose of the 100 Ways, 100 Days Campaign. Studies have shown that it takes about 100 days to form a new habit. If you don’t already choose peace as a personal practice, we ask you to make a commitment to engage actively in choosing peace in your own life for 100 Days, and help us spread the message that we can all, each day, CHOOSE PEACE OVER VIOLENCE.
Start this way: If you know someone who is a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence, please give her these hotline numbers: in the greater Los Angeles area, (213) 626-3393, (310) 392-8381 or (626) 793-3385; elsewhere, (800) 656-HOPE.