The National Football League found the spotlight reserved for violence on the field being shared with stories of off-the-field violence involving several of its players. The Ray Rice video and news accounts of other players involved in family violence have riveted the nation’s attention. Will we look back at this time as a turning point in efforts to recognize domestic violence as a critical and pervasive social problem?

Domestic violence has been a primary focus of Family Services since 1978. Working in partnership with others from law enforcement, the judicial system, social services, legal assistance, healthcare, and education, Family Services has played a lead role in establishing a model system of response and care for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Forsyth County.

Family Services has recently adopted a strategic vision that commits the agency to “create a community in which all families and individuals are free from the threat of family violence and sexual assault.” Achieving this goal will require the involvement of all sectors of the community.

Domestic violence is not a private family matter of concern only to a select group of agencies and institutions. As the NFL has discovered, domestic violence is a public health issue for which all organizations are accountable.

Inevitably, the public’s current preoccupation with domestic violence will be supplanted by the next brutality or celebrity crisis to dominate the news cycle. The real work will not occur over the air waves but on the ground, by a community dedicated to altering the cultural norms that for too long have silenced or discredited the voices of victims.