Photo Credit: Marcus Steele
Domestic abuse is a problem that can carry on from childhood to adulthood. It will only continue its violent cycle unless it is resolved early. MAD21 is a nonprofit organization engineered to assist DV (domestic violence) victims, especially now with the pandemic that reinforced nationwide lockdowns and have forced people to spend more time at home. Because of this, household abuse has increased.
The U.S. reports more than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) have experienced physical violence, been raped and stalked by an intimate partner in their lifetime. That’s nearly 20 people per minute, averaging annually to 10 million women and men. Domestic violence is real, and it affects children, parents, and the elderly. There is no specific race or age group that is not subjected to domestic violence. It can happen to anyone; whether they’re in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship, they will experience some form of domestic abuse, either physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual abuse by a spouse or intimate partner.
MAD21 was created to prevent, support and educate against all forms of domestic violence, beginning with the youth helping them recognize “red flags” and promote healthy relationships to save their lives. The organization teaches that “love does not hurt” and that “it’s not the victim’s fault” the abuse is happening. MAD21’s mission is to teach people that it is more important to remove themselves from this situation than to risk their lives due to their comfort zones, whether it’s staying for the children or financial reasons. Remember, “living another day is what’s most important.”
The cycle must be broken. If not, abusers continue to believe that what they’re doing is an entitlement, can be justified, or expect their actions won’t be reported. Believing that they got away with the abuse the first time, abusers start to feel that they have power and control over the situation. They think it’s okay. In most cases, they isolate the victims from their family and friends, leading victims to normalize the abuse and give a false belief that what they’re being subjected to is an act of love.
Recently, MAD21 has supported Marcus Steele, a man whose family has just lost a loved one due to domestic violence. His sister was in an unhealthy relationship that no one knew of. Despite the danger, she would later on marry this person. The family welcomed the unknown and didn’t know anything. It seems she was enduring everything on her own. What they knew was that he seemed nice and took her on lavish trips. However, they were horrified when they learned that he threw gasoline all over her before setting her on fire. Steele’s sister was able to escape the house and make her way to a nearby firehouse, where she was taken to a nearby hospital and received some treatment but later on passed away from the severity of her wounds.
Since the incident, Marcus Steele has been sharing his sister’s story with a picture of her in her last days, advocating and hoping to save others from experiencing domestic violence. He pleads, “Tell someone you need help, find someone you can trust. Get help and start ‘Living to Love’ and mainly love yourself enough to break the cycle of your abuse”.
As MAD21 continues its movement to support victims, they have made drastic steps by starting a fundraiser campaign called “Living to Love” to raise awareness of “red flags” so others won’t have to endure the abuse that Marcus Steele’s sister went through.