Nicole Beverly often doesn’t have to be asked twice when it comes to speaking out about domestic violence, but this request was different.
When the Ypsilanti Lincoln football coaches approached her about using a home game in October to help Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it was almost too close to home for her.
Beverly is a clinical social worker, domestic violence survivor and awareness advocate. Her oldest son, Myles, is a junior tight end on Lincoln’s team — and the last thing Beverly wanted to do was make her son uncomfortable in front of his peers.
“She was like: ‘Are you OK with this?’ ” Myles said. “I just think it’s important for people in our school to know about it. That kids aren’t alone, that they’re not the only ones that have gone through it.”
Myles was about 9 when his mother became a domestic violence victim. The youngster had a helpless feeling as he watched his mother being repeatedly beaten.
“It was scary,” Myles said. “There wasn’t a lot I could do, my dad being a 6-4, 300-pound, ex-D-I athlete, it was a struggle. So I couldn’t really do much about it.”
But now he is doing something about it, along with his mother.
Monday, a tree in front of the Lincoln football stadium was decorated with 110 purple ribbons. Over the past three years, between 75 and 110 people in Michigan have died from domestic violence. Michigan is 10th in the country in domestic violence homicides.
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Beverly addressed the school’s student athletes Wednesday and asked them to sign “No Violence-No Silence” pledges, which will be displayed throughout the school for the remainder of the month. The pledge encourages people to speak out when they see any form of domestic violence at any level.
“She said you can help stop it or help stop it earlier from happening if you see it and speak out on it and call people out on it,” Myles said. “You see boyfriends bullying their girlfriends, you see them pushing them. But a lot of that really doesn’t happen at Lincoln.”
During Lincoln’s game tonight against Ann Arbor Huron, fans are encouraged to wear the color purple.
Myles didn’t hesitate when his mother asked him about using the football game to raise awareness of domestic violence, because sports was something that helped him through a difficult time in his life.
“It was pretty stressful, but playing sports year-round helped me through that,” he said. “But it was always in the back of my mind when I was playing. It gave me a little bit of drive.”
Now the drive is to try to eliminate domestic violence, and Beverly is proud that her son is taking a proactive approach to the problem.
Myles said it took him a few years before he could talk about the domestic violence he witnessed. He still isn’t entirely comfortable talking with others about it, but gradually he is coming forward.
That is why he was happy to go along with his mom’s role at Lincoln this week.
“I think she’s a real good role model for me and my little brother,” he said. “I think her speaking out on her own gives me and my little brother a lot of confidence to talk about it.
“We can stop domestic violence.”