More than 300 Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Brasilia, Brazil, and surrounding areas organized a variety of activities to raise public awareness and fight against domestic violence on August 28, 2021. Adventist schools across the region and beyond also took part in the day-long activities.
The initiative is promoted annually in eight South American countries, including Brazil. The campaign also encourages forums, educational fairs, one-time events, and anti-violence programs throughout the year. Although the campaign has a different focus each year, it always seeks to make people aware of the need to respect and value women, children, and the elderly.
Anny Gill, who leads Adventist women’s ministries across the Central Plateau of Brazil, shared that several initiatives were scheduled, including forums, parents’ schools, and education-against-violence events. “Today, more than ever, we need to continue our efforts to support people suffering from violence and abuse,” Gill said. “We planned and selected our actions very carefully to be very effective.”
The campaign also uses magazines, printed materials, lectures, and social networks to promote the prevention of family violence. Gill emphasized that the project’s primary goal is to help victims talk about violence and overcome it. “We understand that when the victim speaks up and protests, she inhibits the aggressor,” she said. “When victims stop being silent, it is easier for the abuse to stop.”
A Life Changed
Eduarda Fonseca* found out about the project in 2019. She was standing at a bus stop in Brasilia when volunteers approached her. “I was going through the worst moments of my life,” she shared. “My former partner used to beat me and beat up my two daughters, a 6- and a 4-year-old.”
Fonseca said she didn’t know what to do. “I felt lonely and unsupported,” she said. But then she got a copy of a church-sponsored magazine on the topic of domestic violence. Fonseca decided to file a report.
Fonseca ended up seeking a restraining order against her former husband, so he could not get close to the children. “It was a relief,” she said. “Today, I help other women who are going through this kind of situation. We cannot stay silent. We need to act,” she said.
The Adventist-driven campaign, which around the world is known as “Breaking the Silence,” operates in neighborhoods through lectures with professionals. “We encourage people to talk with counselors. We shared testimonies of people who went through a similar situation and were helped," Gill said.
In the Novo Gama district, the Adventist congregation in the Pedregal neighborhood is known to organize an annual motorcade to promote the event. Program coordinator Alvany Fonseca said that in 2021, cars were decorated with balloons and banners reading “Say ‘No’ to Violence.”
“The motorcade was about 10 kilometers [6 miles] long,” she said.
She added that leaders organized lectures in schools and associations this year, encouraging victims to report the abuse. “When we get to know about a case [of abuse], we guide and refer the victim to the relevant agencies,” she said.
*Real name withheld.