Quarterback combats abuse in new campaign

Joylyn Yang, Staff Reporter

Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback Russell Wilson is known for throwing touchdown passes on the football field, but he has recently gained attention for passing something else: peace.

Wilson’s “Pass the Peace” campaign is the first initiative of his new foundation called the Why Not You Foundation. In a recent interview with Seahawks writer Clare Farnsworth, Wilson explained that he hopes the new movement will raise awareness about domestic violence and funds to help survivors. To do so, Wilson challenged Seahawks fans to donate at least $2 to The National Domestic Violence Hotline in his Pass the Peace video that was released on Oct. 2.

The goal of the foundation is to empower people to work for change and to make a difference in the world, Wilson said in the interview with Farnsworth. According to Wilson in a letter to “The Players Tribune,” the idea behind Pass the Peace is simple: it’s a promise to share the love, to take care of someone and to be there for someone.

“It is great to see people getting involved in helping to stop any type of abuse,” said Kirk Smalley, Stand for the Silent founder. “Especially since professional athletes like Wilson are heroes to many kids.”

Wilson’s outreach doesn’t only affect adults but adolescent victims of domestic violence too. According to Love is Respect Dating Abuse Statistics, one in three adolescents in the U.S is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a number that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence. We want to lower these numbers, and there are many ways to make a difference, said Julie Youdovin, Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable Outreach and Program Coordinator.

“Students can get educated about the topic and spread the word through social media and even share information on morning announcements,” Youdovin said.

Oftentimes, people view helping a cause as donating money to an organization; however, there are multiple other ways to support causes. Spreading the word or simply being there to help a friend makes a huge difference in the community, social worker Janet Sushinski said.

“It is important to let survivors know that someone is there for them,” Sushinski said. “Often times, they feel like the abuse is their fault when it isn’t. What students can do is, if they see warning signs, encourage the friend to seek help. It’s beneficial to just talk about it, whether its with a social worker, parent or friend.”

When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture women who have been physically assaulted. However, not all abusive relationships involve violence. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is equally as destructive.

“We want to help, support and empower people who are in any situation where someone else has taken all their power away from them,” Youdovin said. “Rather than use the word ‘victim’, we refer to these strong individuals as survivors.”

Domestic violence isn’t going to disappear tomorrow or the next day. The more that we choose not to talk about it, the more we shy away from the issue, and the more we lose, Wilson said.

Ultimately, the objective of the campaign is to influence others to do as much as  they can to help. The Why Not You Foundation will be initiating future campaigns for many other causes and hope to aspire individuals to make a difference.