Victor Rivas Rivers breaks the silence on domestic violence
Domestic violence activist, actor, athlete and best-selling author Victor Rivas Rivers traveled to SMU-in-Plano to share his personal experience with the matter, the importance of raising awareness and to excite and empower audience members to become activists.
Audience members traveled far and wide to hear River’s presentation on domestic violence. Sarah Feuerbacher, clinic director for the SMU Center for Family Counseling, once drove three hours to hear Rivers speak.
“He’s my hero, he’s amazing,” Feuerbacher said. “We want to make sure SMU raises awareness about family violence and Victor Rivers is the best to do that.”
Rivers began his presentation with a statement: “I’m not a women.”
He continued to clarify that although he is a man, he still calls domestic violence his issue by challenging men to stand up to its evils.
“A real man is one who joins a movement to love and protect women, to stand up and respect women,” said Rivers.
But this principle sharply contrasted with the husband in a story he shared: a husband constantly and without reason, violently abused his wife, who also completed the duties around the home, held a full time job and cared for her children. While carrying laundry, the mother collapsed and was sent to the hospital for her injuries in what doctors call a “near-death experience.” She registered as “Jane Doe” in fear of backlash from her husband.
He also shared the story of a boy who busted through the doors of a police station, ripped off his clothes and showed police officers his welts, burns and bruises. The boy cried, “Please, you have to stop my father from hurting my mother and my siblings!”
“File a complaint,” responded the officers, because they knew that was all they could do.
Rivers revealed that he was the boy in the story and the mother was his very own.
During his childhood, his father physically, verbally and psychologically abused him, his siblings and his mother. Time and time again, they reported the domestic abuse to the police, pleading for the officers to arrest his father, but they replied saying they can only make an arrest if he killed one his siblings, or if one of his siblings killed their father. The officers continued to state that the domestic abuse in Rivers’ household represented a private family matter.
Rising from the pain of his childhood, Rivers became a successful author of a book titled “A Private Family Matter,” a middle finger to the phrase that constantly prevented his family from getting the help they desperately needed.
Fortunately, at the age of 15, Rivers sued his father, escaped from his torture and was sent to a foster home.
Encouraging and empowering Rivers, unofficial advocates, who Rivers likes to call his angels, guided him out of darkness and into the light. From the numerous teachers and counselors in high school to the three families that helped raise him, these angels and advocates believed and supported him through the rough road that he was being forced to travel on.
Now he is calling on SMU and society to stand up and speak out against domestic violence, to become activists and give children who remain trapped in abusive households a voice.
Rivers wants activists to understand that domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue; it isn’t a mother’s issue, it’s everybody’s issue. It’s an issue that revolves around changing the social stigma that domestic violence is a private family matter because it’s more than that.
According to Rivers, domestic violence represents an inhumane act of violence that hurts more than just the body, but also the soul. Rivers said that while the body heals miraculously, the soul may never close the wounds that household abuse cuts open.
Audience members resonated with his words and plea. They were impressed with Rivers’ resilience and found his lecture inspiring.
“I really enjoyed it, I loved the message he conveyed and how positive it was despite the tragedies in his life,” said attendee Taylor Edwards.
To hear more about Rivers’ story and his work as an activist, visit http://www.victorrivers.com/victor/activist.html.