Silent Knight Raises Domestic Violence Awareness

Isabel Hanewicz, RHStoday Editor-in-Chief

Story By Natalia Ayoub

Domestic violence is rarely a topic of conversation in high schools. If you walk down the hall during a high school passing period, it’s not uncommon to overhear talk of drugs, alcohol or even sex. But not domestic violence.

There seems to be an eternal shadow, a never-ending silence that looms over it. It’s a crime that affects many individuals, yet somehow we seem to avoid its discussion.

Silence doesn’t change anything. The facts speak for themselves- domestic violence is a worldwide problem. And it’s not going anywhere.

25% of all women will fall victim to domestic violence at some point in their life and every year, three million American men will fall victim to physical assaults.*

The third leading cause for homelessness in the United States is domestic violence.*

Of the many adolescents who experience rape or physical or sexual abuse, 50% will attempt to commit suicide.**

One in four high school girls have been physically or sexually abused, and are therefore 6 times more likely to contract a sexually transmitted infection or become pregnant.**

How to Prevent Domestic ViolenceInfographic I. Hanewicz

Domestic violence happens. It is a big deal.

However, many people, especially teens, are uneducated on the matter.

“The very first thing that I think youth need to know is that they need to find a good sense of themselves, a good love of who they are. Secondly and just as equally as important is finding people in their lives who can love them unconditionally and who can respect them,” said Sunny Hall, who works at The Crisis Center.

“The third thing is they have to include those people in their decision making and make sure they know what is going on. I got very teary when the crowd started to cry because you all did this work and my team is here to support it.”

In an effort to raise awareness and draw attention to the topic of domestic violence, Robinson hosted the “Break the Silence” basketball game. During a regular season game vs. Durant, fans in the gym remained completely silent from the moment the players were introduced until the ninth point was scored. Counselors provided by the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay were also present. In addition, students were encouraged to donate any household items to The Spring, the certified domestic violence center for Hillsborough County.

“Often times, people may not believe someone who is coming out and telling their story. We’re in a society where people kind of like want to judge all the time so it can be a scary place for a survivor to share their story,” said Angelina Rivera of the Crisis Center.

“I also think that there isn’t enough awareness. Not too many of us are talking about it, and you guys are here, doing it and building that awareness so that helps a lot and is going to bridge that gap.”

It was like any other basketball game, with fans eagerly watching in the stands, except without cheers, instead expressing their excitement through hand movements and claps. The players, coaches and referees continued to make calls, but the stands remained silent. When the ninth point was scored, the crowd erupted, breaking the silence.

A video of the crowd breaking the silence. Video N. Ayoub

The Crisis Center has domestic violence victims make t-shirts to help express their emotions, some of which were displayed at the game.

Editor’s Note: The content in these images may not be suitable for all audiences, especially with those sensitive to topics such as rape and abuse. 

“These t-shirts are survivor inspired. These are actual quotes and sayings from survivors who are empowering themselves and are writing these down to build awareness,” said Rivera. “Sitting here I actually noticed so many people stopping and looked disturbed because the information on here is so profound, and it’s so real. This is the type of awareness that we should continue to spread. And this is where it comes from- their story, their healing.”

The Knights beat Durant 79-77. For both teams, however, the event was more than a game of basketball. It meant taking a stand against an issue that most people are unwilling to discuss.

Breaking the silence means speaking out for those who can’t speak for themselves.

“Me and my partner, Katie Cassedy, are running this event. This is our CAS project. Instead of like a [toy] drive, we wanted to do breaking the silence becase domestic violence really isn’t talked about,” said Andrew Petterson (’16) “Staying silent for the first nine points of the game represents how women stay silent through their domestic violence and they don’t come forward. Then when we break the silence after that ninth point, it represents people coming forward and actually making a difference, by coming forward and escaping that prison they were in.”

Scroll below to view a Storify of tweets from the game.