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SAIV SourceBook

SAIV is a Public Service Project Coordinated by the Center for Partnership Studies

Introduction and Invitation

We invite you to join in one of the most urgent enterprise of our time: constructing solid foundations for global cultures of peace. This is the goal of the Spiritual Alliance to Stop Intimate Violence (SAIV), founded by myself Riane Eisler, and Nobel Peace Laureate Betty Williams. The mission of SAIV is to stop violence in family and other intimate relations, which is the training ground for the violence of war, crime, political repression, and terrorism.

The Pandemic of Violence

Intimate violence devastates the lives of millions, wreaking havoc on families, communities, and society at large. It affects us all, not only because of its enormous health, social, and spiritual costs, but because ending it is essential to creating a more peaceful and equitable world.

A recent United Nations study reported that violence against women and children is the most pervasive violation of human rights in the world today. In the United States alone at least four million women a year are physically abused, with up to 70% of female murder victims killed by their male partners, and it is estimated that violence against women is even higher in some world regions. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), each year 40 million children under the age of 15 are victims of family abuse or neglect serious enough to require medical attention. However in reality, these statistics are most likely to be greater. Many women and children fear disbelief, are ashamed, or are terrified of the possibility of further violence, and thus often do not report abuse.

Building Cultures of Peace

The United Nations declared the years 2001 to 2010 the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World. This declaration recognizes that a lasting peace requires attention to much more than international agreements. It recognizes that moving to a time when peace is not just an interval between wars requires that we understand what kinds of cultures are peaceful or warlike, and that we join together to apply this knowledge.

Drawing from cross-cultural and historical studies, we today have a much clearer understanding of what kinds of beliefs, behaviors, and institutions support or inhibit relations based on mutual respect, empathy, and nonviolence. We know that habits of violence in the global family of nations cannot be changed without changing habits of violence in the foundational day-to-day relations between men and women and parents and children.

It is in intimate relations that people learn to accept the use of violence to impose one's will as normal and right, or to relate to others in empathic, mutually respectful, nonviolent ways. Throughout history, and cross-culturally, the most violently despotic and warlike cultures have been those where violence, or the threat of violence, is used to maintain domination of parent over child and man over woman. We see this connection in the European Middle Ages, in Hitler's Germany, and in the Taliban's Afghanistan, and in other so-called religious fundamentalist cultures both Western and Eastern. It is a disturbingly familiar pattern found in both secular and religious cultures; and if we don't learn from history, we're doomed to repeat it.

Taking a Stand

We invite you to use this Sourcebook to break cycles of violence in all relations - from intimate to international. SAIV focuses attention on the link between intimate and intranational and international violence. It is a call to spiritual leaders, both well known and grass roots, to spread the message that intimate violence will no longer be condoned. Religious leaders have moral authority. Their authority can help end the epidemic of intimate violence that blights, and often takes, the lives of millions of women and children worldwide. SAIV provides materials to raise consciousness among leaders and policy makers as well as men and women worldwide through the SAIV website and sourcebook.  

With your active participation, SAIV can be a major stepping stone toward a better future. What follows are resources that you can use. For example, through the nine-week reflection, discussion, and action guide based on The Power of Partnership , you can engage your friends, colleagues, and communities in the essential process of personal and cultural transformation.

Cultures are human creations. They are dynamic, interactive, and not immune to external stimuli. They can be changed. However, fundamental changes will not happen overnight. There will continue to be resistance. But, if we do not address the cornerstones of violence and abuse, we will not have the foundations for a more equitable, peaceful, and sustainable future. Working together with courage and persistence, we can each help lay foundations for cultures of peace worldwide.

Riane Eisler
President, Center for Partnership Studies, human rights activist, author of The Chalice and The Blade , Sacred Pleasure , Tomorrow's Children , The Power of Partnership , and The Real Wealth of Nations .

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