This month’s Inspirational Interview is with US sports celebrity, Chris Johnson. Chris Johnson, a major player with the Baltimore Ravens, has come forth to utilize his celebrity status to step up and speak out to end violence against women and girls. Two years ago, after the death of his sister by her abuser, and the injuries suffered by his mother during the attack, Chris decided to speak out about domestic violence. He realised that with his celebrity status and role as a sports mentor, he can lend leadership to the cause to end violence against women. Chris is focusing on the power that bystanders have to step up and speak out against violence of any kind directed toward women and girls. His goal is be a role model to men and boys to not abuse women and to not tolerate abuse and disrespectful comments toward women.

Following the death of his sister and the serious injuries to his mother, Chris took a break from football (The Raiders) to take in and and take care of her two children. He then returned to play for the Ravens, winning his first Superbowl.

Chris took time out of his very busy schedule to speak to us about his work and to share his thoughts about the role of men and boys in stopping violence against women.

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photo by Baltimore Ravens/Phil Hoffmann
photo by Baltimore Ravens/Phil Hoffmann

1. How and why did you become such a vocal advocate and supporter of stopping violence against women?

I have seen men physically and verbally abuse women and I felt that I needed to speak out to tell these men that this is not right. I have seen my sister abused on two different occasions and she died after being shot by her abuser and it made me want to help women know that they do not have to accept abuse.

2. Why do men and boys need to step up to stop violence against women?

Men need to speak out against violence because they are the main perpetrators. As a celebrity with a high profile, I have the stage to speak out and make a difference, and hopefully people will listen to what I have to say. It is never right for violence to happen and men need to step up and start speaking out.

3. What are you yourself doing now to support the cause to stop violence against women?

I am using my status as a high profile celebrity to put a stop to violence against women. I know that people often see or hear violence happening but don’t do anything about it. As a Christian man and a father, it is my right to speak out about this and make people see that they can make a difference. I want to show men what real men are about, that they do not need to put their hands on women and that they are lesser for doing so.

4. In your opinion, how can men and boys can step up to stop violence against women? (i.e. What sort of actions can they immediately take to do so?)

Men need to use common sense and practice self control. They need to walk away from their anger and not use their strength to hurt anybody.

5. How do you think whole communities worldwide can help stop violence against women?

photo by Baltimore Ravens/Phil Hoffmann
photo by Baltimore Ravens/Phil Hoffmann

Groups of men in all cities and states need to step up together and take steps to control and reduce domestic violence. There are many men out there that are starting to be vocal about this issue and if we keep talking about it, more men will join the fight. Men need to stop being bystanders when they see abusive behavior. If they stop laughing at offensive statements and actively give advice and redirect each other, the cycle of abuse can stop. I try to model this positive bystander behaviour when I am around groups of men and speak out against offensive comments and behaviour.

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