Victor Rivas Rivers – I Am The Child The Village Raised: Why Domestic Violence Is Everyone’s Issue

In this presentation, veteran film actor, Victor Rivas Rivers asks the question, “How are the children?”—a phrase derived from a traditional Masai tribal greeting. The message behind this greeting is that if the children are well, then so is the entire community. Rivers uses his personal story of surviving an abusive home to address a host of issues that impact children throughout their lives. While acknowledging strides made by child advocates in a variety of settings, this presentation is a call to action for all members of the community to seek a much-needed coordinated response to violence—so that when asked how the children are doing, our society may collectively answer that the children are thriving.

About Victor Rivas Rivers

A veteran star of more than two dozen films, Victor Rivers may be best known for such roles as Magic Mike, the prison gang warlord in the cult hit “Blood In/Blood Out,” Eddie Murphy’s sidekick in “The Distinguished Gentleman,” and Antonio Banderas’ ill-fated brother in “The Mask of Zorro.” He can be seen in the award-winning “What’s Cooking?” – a film that celebrates family, diversity, and food – and appears in “The Hulk,” the Ang Lee directed blockbuster. On television, Victor has guest-starred on such hit shows as “Modern Family,” “C.S.I. Miami,” “24,” “Miami Vice,” “Jag,” and “Star Trek.” Victor has a couple of upcoming films: Slipping into Darkness” and a Netflix romantic comedy, “Let It Snow.”

Born in Sancti Spiritus, Cuba, Victor came with his family to this country at the age of two, enduring horrific child abuse and witnessing domestic violence on the level of torture at the hands of his father. At age fifteen, Victor took the then-unprecedented legal action against his father, going on to live with a series of foster families. Thanks to the intervention of his community, he turned his life around dramatically – going from hard-core gang-member to senior class President and lettering in four sports. He attended Florida State University on a full four-year football scholarship and was mentored by Coach Bobby Bowden. A team captain and scholar-athlete, upon graduation he was drafted by the Miami Dolphins with whom he played as an offensive lineman for their 1978/79 seasons.

In 1999, with a successful career and family of his own, Victor decided to break his silence about his childhood. He chronicles his story of survival in his memoir, A Private Family Matter. Though much has improved over the past thirty years, domestic violence remains the most under-reported crime in America, which is often called “the Quiet Crime.” For this reason, Victor has chosen to lend his voice and his story to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) – a social change organization representing statewide coalitions, developing public policy, and spearheading efforts to provide more direct support to programs through information, research, funding, and training.

As National Spokesperson for the NNEDV, Rivers hopes to raise awareness that domestic violence cannot be treated exclusively as a woman’s issue; rather, he insists, it should be everyone’s issue. His ultimate survival and personal success convey the importance of intervention by others who helped him break the cycle of violence, something Victor hopes more people will do by taking a stand against our greatest yet most curable social disease.


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