Merchant Offers Support For Anti-Abuse Campaign

ALBANY – A celebrity from Jamestown is the new face of a statewide campaign to put an end to instances of domestic violence.

Natalie Merchant, a Jamestown native and multi-platinum singer, has teamed up with the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to champion its new public service announcement entitled, “Don’t Do Nothing.”

On Wednesday, Merchant attended a screening of the PSA at the Linda WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio in Albany. Now living in the Kingston area, Merchant said her involvement with the project came about after witnessing Gwen Wright, executive director of the state’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, speak at a local One Billion Rising rally – calling for an end to violence against women and gender equality.

“That was quite awakening for me,” Merchant said. “I learned of a startling statistic that morning, that one in three women worldwide will be either raped or beaten in their lifetime. But what shocked me even more was that women in my own community were not immune.”

After personally meeting with Wright, Merchant said she was motivated to plan a large community awareness event that included prosecutors, victims and advocates. She said both awareness and funds were raised through the events, providing much-needed financial assistance for two local women’s shelters and supplementing the creation of the PSA.

The PSA is aimed at friends and family members of domestic abuse victims, and focuses on various aspects of domestic abuse from both a victim and an outsider perspective. The 25-minute video is available on YouTube to be viewed in three separate segments: identifying abuse, planning for safety and getting involved. To view the PSA, search for the official NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse channel on YouTube.

“It takes a community working together – families, friends and neighbors – to light the path to safety,” Merchant said. “We all need to speak out, and take away the cloak of invisibility from crimes of domestic abuse. These crimes that happen behind drawn curtains and closed doors need to end, and they will end when people know that help is available.”