Lifetime Television has enlisted the help of the Congressional Women's Caucus and 10 nonprofit women's organizations to launch an all-out war to stop violence against women in the U.S. and around the world.
Through the new campaign — titled "Our Lifetime Commitment: Stop Violence Against Women" — the network hopes to publicize hotlines for domestic violence and rape crisis counseling; encourage the enactment of legislation to protect women; and spread the message among both men and women that the victim is never to blame in an act of physical abuse or sexual assault.
Beginning this month, Lifetime will televise public service announcements to address findings that nearly one-third of American women report that they've been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives; that one in five adolescent girls has been physically or sexually abused in a dating relationship; and that every two minutes, a woman is sexually assaulted somewhere in the U.S.
"The statistics are very mind-blowing and really tug at your heart," Lifetime vice president of public affairs Mary Dixon said. "It's important to support our viewers on issues that they experience."
Lifetime president Carole Black asked the network's public-affairs department to create the anti-violence campaign. Last August, the company gathered about 70 women's advocates in Washington and asked for their input on the wide-reaching effort.
"That was just the beginning of the dialogue," Dixon said. "We are very humbled to have partners who have been in this movement since the 1970s."
Some of the campaign's activities will deal with the changing condition of women in Afghanistan, Dixon said. For instance, Lifetime last month hosted a gathering that brought a handful of Afghani women together with women's advocates from the U.S. who gave them advice on how to get the interim Afghan government to address their rights.
Later this spring, one of Lifetime's PSAs will feature Beau Bridges and Blythe Danner, who star in a Lifetime original movie We Were the Mulvaneys, about how a family is torn apart after their young daughter is raped at a school dance.
The network plans to send out 41,000 educational kits to U.S. high schools to teach juniors and seniors how to discuss the issue.
"It's not as easy to talk about rape or domestic violence" as it is to address some other women's issues, such as breast cancer, Dixon conceded. "That's one of the reasons we want to talk about it."
Another original program that supports the campaign is Fear No More. The Brooke Shields-hosted documentary profiles five women who became activists after they were violently attacked.
On Feb. 25, anti-violence themes will run through the network's Sunday-night lineup of original dramas. The Division's storyline will follow an older woman who is the victim of the domestic abuse, Strong Medicine
will show the importance of a rape kit following an attack and Any Day Now
will deal with the trauma of an attempted sexual assault.
PSAs and Lifetime's Web site (www.lifetimetv.com) will list domestic-abuse and rape-crisis counseling hotlines. The network also created 2 million laminated cards that list crisis-hotline numbers.
"It's not necessarily the victims themselves who make the first call," Dixon noted.
Lifetime's nonprofit group partners in the campaign include: the global organization V-Day; National Domestic Violence Hotline; the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Family Violence Prevention Fund; and Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, among others.