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Recognize and Respond

Avon Foundation for Women Launches Employer Training Program to Help Bystanders Become Upstanders When Suspecting Abuse

Emily Dearring - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Three Nonprofit Agencies Selected to Receive Avon Foundation Grants Totaling $500,000 to Launch Program

New York, NY (November 25, 2014) – Today, on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Avon Foundation for Women announced the launch of See the Signs & Speak Out: Become an Upstander, a series of new employer training programs to educate employees on how to recognize and respond to domestic violence, dating abuse, and sexual assault. The new training programs, free to employers of all sizes including corporations, small businesses and government or nonprofit agencies, are designed to further public conversation about this epidemic and encourage safe and effective bystander interventions to reduce violence and assault.

The training series, funded by a $500,000 Avon Foundation grant, will provide quick and accessible online tools that will help bystanders who witness or suspect abuse to take action and safely intervene. Each of the grants will ensure a comprehensive approach for trainings focused on children, teen and adult victims – with the goal that bystanders can become upstanders when armed with the educational tools to do so.

“Domestic violence and sexual assault are both silent epidemics in America. Every day, three women die at the hands of a boyfriend, husband or ex,” says Cheryl Heinonen, Avon Foundation for Women President. “According to a recent Avon Foundation-funded survey, 60% of Americans admit to knowing a victim of abuse and 80% believe it is a problem in our society, but limited conversations are taking place about the issue. It’s time to change the startling statistics by empowering bystanders– co-workers, family, friends and even strangers – to get involved and become upstanders. It’s also time to stop asking why victims stay in violent relationships, and instead start asking what we can do as a society to help.”

See the Signs & Speak Out: Become an Upstander grants were given to the following organizations:

  • Ohio Domestic Violence Network has received a grant of $250,000 to focus on how starting conversations can prevent domestic abuse and sexual assault and assist both female and male victims.

  • New York Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Children has received a grant of $125,000 to launch a training program on how to protect children from domestic violence and repair the damage.

  • JWI has received a grant of $125,000 to launch a training program on how to talk to teens and young adults about dating abuse and relationships.

The full training programs and individual courses can be found at

Ready to Become an Upstander?

- Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Today, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network and the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence are launching See the Signs, Speak Out, an online training program designed for employees to intervene in domestic and sexual violence situations in the workplace.

See the Signs, Speak Out empowers you to safely intervene as a bystander and make a difference. To highlight just a few of the resources available:

- Are you concerned that a colleague or friend might be a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault—but you don’t know how to reach out? Watch our video vignette on how to support a victim.

-Or, maybe you have witnessed problematic behavior—but you aren’t sure how to safely intervene to help. Take the 20-minute course on bystander intervention and learn how to safely intervene to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault.  

-If you are an employer, check out the video vignettes for supervisors, including how to address an employee who may be perpetrating domestic violence or sexual assault.

We’d love to hear how you plan to use these tools. Leave a comment below, or drop us a line at!

National Business Group on Health Recommends Comprehensive Business Response to Domestic Violence

- Thursday, November 13, 2014

We already know that domestic violence and sexual assault have a huge impact on our economy, with some estimates that it costs the U.S. economy more than $8.3 billion annually. The National Business Group on Health recently published a white paper that takes a comprehensive look at the importance of addressing intimate partner violence as a workplace issue.

Some of the report's highlights:

- Health care costs for domestic violence victims, including medical and mental health services, amount to more than $4.1 billion each year

-Only 30% of U.S. workplaces have formal violence prevention programs in place, and of those, less than half have policies that specifically address violence occurring at the work site.

The report makes several recommendations about ways that businesses can take action. Some of the Business Group’s suggestions include creating a multidisciplinary task-force, developing corporate policies, and introducing training programs. We couldn’t agree more, and we encourage companies to take part in our See the Signs, Speak Out training as part of a comprehensive strategy to address domestic violence and sexual assault.  

Male Peers Make a Difference in Preventing Sexual Violence

- Monday, August 18, 2014

A recent story from NPR highlights the power of peer groups in preventing campus rape.  In particular, the article discusses the success of a bystander intervention program that encourages male peers to take action to prevent sexual violence. As the story stated, the overwhelming majority of men don't commit rape; when they speak out they can make a real difference in their communities. In the same way, our goal is for the See the Signs, Speak out program to empower individuals to intervene as bystanders to stop sexual violence before it happens. Consider taking our online courses so you can help to make a difference too.

Don't stand by while you could be the key in preventing abuse. Please use our materials, take our courses, and encourage others to do the same.