In the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds, and one in every three women is assaulted at some point during her lifetime. For some, this issue is easy to ignore, but at Cabrini University, this violent epidemic is at the forefront of its social justice work.
On Wednesday, Oct. 12, Grace Hall Atrium hosted guests for the 12th annual Domestic Violence Symposium, featuring keynote speaker Troy Vincent Sr. The Barbara and John Jordan Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence presented Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele with the Jordan Center Award for Resilience and Advocacy, for his work in combating domestic violence.
A Life of Service
In addition to the award presentation, Cabrini celebrated the five-year anniversary of the Jordan Center’s creation
Under the guidance of The Center’s Director, Dr. Colleen Lelli, the Jordan Center has made major strides in combating domestic violence, most notably, with the state of Pennsylvania’s “It’s on US” grant. This $30,000 grant was implemented to provide educational opportunities for students, and help athletes consider ways to prevent and educate students about sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and the importance of bystander intervention.
The Jordans have devoted their entire adult lives to the fight against domestic violence, and their mission with the Jordan Center is to educate youth about this serious issue.
After years of volunteering in domestic violence shelters, John Jordan noticed that the statistics related to assaults were not getting better. He knew he had to change his tactics, and that started with Cabrini University.
“I knew that we had to start educating the younger population,” Jordan said. He noted that Cabrini is known for its education program, and the next generation of teachers should be educated on how to spot victims of abuse in their own classrooms.
The education of teachers is the heart of the Jordan Center’s mission, with the goal of ending violence in the lives of men, women, and children.
For Jordan, his devotion to fighting for this cause came at a young age, after witnessing his mom suffer from domestic violence. It’s a connection he shares with former Philadelphia Eagle and current Executive Vice President of the National Football League, Troy Vincent Sr.
“I was introduced to domestic violence by the sounds of flesh hitting flesh, and the moans of my mother being hit by my stepdad,” Vincent said in his speech. He was just eight years old when he found his mother lying face down in a pool of blood on the bathroom floor.
Vincent recalls knocking on his neighbors’ doors for help, often to no avail. Frequently, he was forced to run to a pay phone at the bar across the street to call 911.
Vincent felt a tremendous amount of shame during this time in his life, as everyone around him seemed to know what was going on, but nothing was done to help remedy the situation.
The emotional impact on Vincent’s mental health was extreme, and he recounted dribbling a basketball for hours on end to get the sounds of violence out of his mind. These assaults came to a head when Vincent was 11. “My mom had a full cast around her head for a year, and could only eat through a feeding tube,” Vincent said.
This was the definition of a toxic relationship, as Vincent’s mother, Alma, genuinely believed her partner’s beatings were acts of love. With Vincent’s help, Alma escaped the destructive relationship, and with that, Vincent found his life’s calling. “The day she left my stepdad, I promised her I would never stop fighting for her and other victims of abuse,” Vincent said. At the age of 16, he gave his life to Jesus Christ and began his mission.
Vincent said his journey as a football player and executive was far less important to him than the fight against domestic violence. However, he could never have anticipated how his mission came full circle. “My wife, daughter, and son are all victims of abuse,” Vincent said. He recalled the pain he suffered when his daughter revealed to him she was raped.
“This was the kind of conversation that, as a parent, you better know what to say, because it will quite literally bring you to your knees,” Vincent said, tears streaming down his face.
How to be part of the solution
Speaking up is crucial to solving this problem, and Vincent believes this is men’s problem to solve. The theme of men needing to be better ran throughout the lecture. “Staying silent means you are complicit,” Vincent said.
He also raised the issue of bystander intervention; Vincent said we cannot be like the community members who ignored his mother’s abuse.
Statistics on violence against women have stayed virtually the same for the last 20 years, which is another reason Vincent warned that we must all remain vigilant. He described hearing, “locker room talk,” and often called out his fellow NFL teammates for making inappropriate comments about women or objectifying them.
As an executive, anything remotely inappropriate Vincent heard male colleagues say about female colleagues was taken seriously which led to Vincent stopping meetings to call out coworkers for their comments.
“We as a society love violence, and domestic abuse is all about power and control,” Vincent said. He emphasized that getting verbal consent is imperative before engaging in sexual situations.
Domestic abuse is an obstacle both Jordan and Vincent have overcome and devoted their lives to. “We need more men in this world like you, John, and I could not be more grateful for your efforts,” Vincent said.
If you or a loved one has been affected by domestic violence, please do not hesitate to contact the Jordan Center.
The subject of a previous photo was misidentified and the photo has been removed. We apologize for the error.