Verizon Foundation debuts anti-abuse effort

NEW YORK: The Verizon Foundation has launched a campaign it hopes will encourage men to speak out against domestic abuse.

NEW YORK: The Verizon Foundation has launched a campaign it hopes will encourage men to speak out against domestic abuse.

The “Your Voice Counts” campaign differs from other anti-domestic abuse efforts in that it largely targets men over 35 instead of women and teenagers, said Binta Vann-Joseph, marketing director at the foundation.

“When it comes to adult males, especially ones outside that college age range, it's rarely an audience we're hearing from,” Vann-Joseph said. “I think there is a gap there.”

Approximately one in four women and nearly one in seven men in the US have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The foundation hired Finn Partners to aid the effort, and the agency is supporting the initiative through media relations and other means. Earlier this month, Finn Partners launched a national healthcare practice headed by Miriam Weber Miller, senior partner and director at the firm. Other partners on the campaign include anti-violence groups A Call to Men and the Joyful Heart Foundation.

The push is connecting both men and women with online resources they need to talk about domestic violence in their communities, to seek help for victims, and to prevent further acts of violence and abuse.

To promote the effort, the foundation is using a series of public service announcements featuring CBS and Showtime sportscaster James Brown, which are posted on Verizon's YouTube channel and the campaign's microsite.

The organization feels that Brown has the "commanding voice" that resonates with men and hopefully encourage them to take action, Vann-Joseph said.

In the PSAs, Brown speaks with both male and female survivors of domestic violence who share testimonies. He also emphasizes the important role that men play in preventing domestic violence.

The campaign also includes an action guide with concrete steps for what men can do to prevent domestic violence and intervene where it is suspected. The guide includes examples of how to start conversations with others, including friends, co-workers, children, survivors, coaches, and students. It also has facts and statistics about the issue, including who it affects and in what ways.

The online action guide also helps users share suggested messages and information via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Internally, Verizon is heavily targeting its 194,000 employees via webinars, guest speaker presentations, as well as an employee newsletter and intranet site, Vann-Joseph said.

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