It began as a training tool for prosecutors and law enforcement, but now the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) wants to share it with you.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the CDAA is set to roll out a unique series of videos on its YouTube channel over the next few weeks.
It's an issue that crosses racial and ethnic boundaries, transcends traditional survivor gender roles, and is inclusive.
The stories are different, but the moral is the same.
"Our goal is to empower these victims," said Greg Totten with the CDAA. "We want this to be [a] life preserver of sorts."
Totten explains the district attorneys' upcoming five-part YouTube series "Swim Again" began as a training tool for prosecutors, funded in part by the California Office of Emergency Services.
But the association quickly realized the stories and interviews could serve a much greater purpose: help stop the cycle of domestic violence.
"The single greatest thing we could do to reduce violence in our communities is impact the problem of domestic violence," Totten said.
The series is filled with striking stats that many survivors may not realize.
In addition to survivors, one episode focuses solely on abusers – revealing how different abuse can look from home to home.
One man says he genuinely didn't believe he was an abuser until he got treatment.
"Men are taught at an early age to take on that superior role," he says in the video.
Another man says he initially refused court-ordered therapy and chose to serve a longer sentence.
"I needed my violence. I needed that side of me because I wasn't done running the streets," the other man says in the video.
When he finally got help, it was his choice.
"I needed something that would anchor me from the inside," the second man says.
The series also features male survivors and survivors from same-sex abusive relationships.
And Allison Kephart from WEAVE – which provides crisis intervention, among other survivor services – says non-traditional abusive relationships can be even more dangerous.
"Because we know that you're facing many other barriers to safety," Kephart said. "You're facing concerns about being judged or not being taken seriously when you report the abuse."
Kephart says that while everyone's journey to finding support is different, there is help for everyone – and it doesn't discriminate.
"It also underscores why it's so important to have different communities reflected in a training video in a series of training videos like this," Kephart said.
The DA's Association hopes the series goes far beyond training to help survivors and abusers recognize themselves — and seek help to stop the cycle of violence.
If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) can point you to local resources in your area.
The first video in the series preemies October 3, 2023, on the California District Attorney Association YouTube channel. They will roll out a new episode every Tuesday in October.
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