DASAS launches podcast to shed light on domestic, sexual violence

Published 8:19 am Thursday, April 4, 2019

SOUTHWEST MICHIGAN — In today’s media-saturated world, there are more ways than ever for organizations and businesses to share their message. One local organization has taken advantage of this by taking to the airwaves to spread their mission and the stories of the individuals they work with.

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services, an organization serving St. Joseph, Van Buren and Cass counties with the objective of leading efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault in southwest Michigan, recently launched its first podcast, “I’m Not in an Abusive Relationship.”

The podcast, which launched this Wednesday, will speak with survivors of sexual and domestic violence as well as experts in the field to educate the public about topics relating to abuse and to allow survivors to share their stories, according to DASAS staff. Currently recorded episodes cover the topics like of the #MeToo movement, myths of sexual assault and the history of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, among others.

“I’m Not in an Abusive Relationship” is produced locally by WBET Sturgis and will release new episodes every Wednesday on most podcast apps and at dasasmi.org.

“We are going to talk about some of the dynamics of abuse while also providing information on resources and the ways that they can seek and find help,” said DASAS Executive Director Rose Ludwick. “The idea is to help people recognize [abuse] and have something to relate to.”

According to information compiled from Edison Research Infinite Dial 2019, Nielsen and iTunes, there are more than 660,000 podcasts available to listen to worldwide, and 51 percent of Americans said they have listened to a podcast before, with 32 percent of Americans having listened in the last month — and those numbers are climbing.

As podcasts are gaining popularity throughout the U.S., DASAS officials said they hope that “I’m Not in an Abusive Relationship” will help them to reach a wider audience.

“I know how popular podcasts are just as a listener,” said Dan Moyle, a DASAS board member and podcast director. “I listen to podcasts driving down the road or while I am doing something else. … They are a pretty powerful medium right now.”

More than offering a trendy way to spread their message, DASAS officials said that a podcast was the right direction for the organization to go as they believe the spoken word is a powerful way to share stories and make an impact.

Moyle can remember vividly when he heard the six words that inspired him to pitch the podcast. It was at last August’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser hosted by DASAS. At the event, a DASAS volunteer and survivor of domestic abuse spoke at the event and shared her story. The words she shared that stuck out to Moyle were: “I’m not in an abusive relationship.” In her speech, the woman explained how even though she was in an abusive relationship, her thinking had been warped to believe that her abuser’s behavior was normal, which make it hard for her to seek help and get out of her situation.

Moyle said that hearing those words and the story straight from a survivor affected him in a way that he does not believe another medium, like reading, would have. It was then that he got the idea to create a podcast so others could be affected the same way he was, and so that other survivors might hear it and know they were not alone.

“There is something about a conversation — a story — that connects us,” Moyle said. “Having a conversation or listening to a conversation is such a powerful connector. If I’m a survivor, and I hear someone else telling their story, I can really see myself in that story, and connect with it.”

Other DASAS officials agreed, adding that they hope by listening to the podcast, both survivors and the general public and be educated about domestic and sexual abuse.

“We want people to know what is going on and there are options and resources available,” said Deborah Hackworth, director of Advocacy Services for DASAS. “We want to reach people, and we think this is the right way to do that.”

“There are things even I have learned [by recording the podcast],” Ludwick added. “There are really important things we are covering that people need to know.”

Although the podcast is still in its infancy, DASAS has big plans, with both Ludwick and Moyle saying that they want to be listened to throughout the state — and even the country.

“I would like to see this listened to around the country and to inspire other organizations to start something similar,” Moyle said. “I want to see stories everywhere where people can share their stories of survival and hope. My hope is that those that find themselves in an abusive relationship take away the hope that there is life on the other side. Whatever their partner has told them, whatever their abuser has told them, it is not true. They are wanted, smart, beautiful and deserve things. I want them to be inspired, and I want supporters to be inspired to help.”

“I can’t wait to see what comes of this,” Ludwick added.