Altamash Iftikhar is the President and Founder of i-appreciate.org, a non-profit organization that was established to raise awareness for domestic violence and is actively involved in helping victims of domestic violence.
1 ) What inspired you to reach out and raise awareness for Domestic violence?
I was actually having lunch with a good friend of mine who was running a hedge fund at the time. We were bouncing business ideas off of one another and he really liked this idea that I had for a clothing line. I thought that I should try and tie the clothing line in to a worthy cause so that other people could benefit from it as well. After some more brainstorming, I thought it was best to ditch the idea of a small business and to establish a non-profit organization.
I get the question, “why domestic violence” a lot. The reason why I chose domestic violence is because it is something that is not talked about, yet happens every minute of every day to both men and women alike. Most people associate domestic violence as a woman being beaten by a man, but that isn’t the case. Domestic violence can be in the form of physical abuse, mental abuse, or sexual abuse. Domestic violence occurs in every religion, to every race and to both women and men. It was with this that I hoped to establish i-appreciate.org as an organization that unites people of all different backgrounds throughout the world to stand up for good and stand up against evil.
2 ) You’ve interviewed a couple of rap and hiphop artist, a genre with the stigma of disrespectful lyrics directed towards women. What do you hope to convey to the public through these interviews?
I grew up on hip-hop music and still remember the first cassette (yeah, I’m that old) that I ever bought. Comparing music, and especially hip-hop music, from back when I was younger to now, I definitely noticed the lyrics changing and being more disrespectful to women. So I thought I would start to interview different artists and get their perspective of domestic violence and why artists portray women in such a manner in their music. I think the artists that I have interviewed thus far have some tremendous insight and also helped to spread the word both about i-appreciate.org and also about domestic violence to their large fan base.
You can check out interviews with K’naan and Immortal Technique on our youtube page at http://www.youtube.com/iappreciateorg
We hope to have more interviews up with artists as well as other people in the near future.
3 ) Do you offer counseling or any sort of support for victims of DV?
We currently do not have an organized counseling service set up for victims of DV. Right now, we are focusing on expanding our volunteer base and networking with other DV organizations throughout the world to help strengthen the DV network. However, if anyone does need help they can contact us through our website (http://www.i-appreciate.org) and I will do whatever I can to help them out. Most recently, I had a woman from England contact me asking for help to relocate to the United States to help flee her abuser and to give her kids a new start. i-appreciate.org is working with her and another organization to make that relocation possible.
We are here to help in any way possible for those who need help. We are selling shirts to help raise money to publish literature to educate the public as well as help fund domestic violence shelters worldwide. It is our sincere hope that someday we may establish a scholarship fund for kids who grew up in a household where DV was present to help put them through college. This, of course, can not happen without the help and support of everyone out there so we encourage everyone to get involved.
4 ) Does poverty contribute to the likelihood of DV?
There currently is some research going on to see if poverty is related to the likelihood of DV. So far, most of the studies show that women who are on welfare are more prone to domestic violence because of the prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse. However, I think we need to be careful not to have the mentality that DV only occurs in “poor” households because that would be detrimental to the movement against DV.
5 ) What is a simple, everyday thing one could do to raise awareness or contribute positively to the problem of DV?
That’s a great question. They could get involved with i-appreciate.org. We are always looking for people around the world who are willing to send out e-mails, hand out fliers or try to sell shirts to their friends and family. Also, they can add us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/iappreciateorg) and join the FB group (i-appreciate.org) along with inviting as many people as they can to join.
Most importantly, they can do some research about domestic violence and talk to others about it. They can discuss how 3 women and 1 man die as a result of domestic violence every day or how between 3.3 to 10 million children witness some form of DV every year. Talking about it is just the beginning of what they can do, but we must be active as well.
6 ) If one is aware of instances of DV frequently occurring to a family member or a friend, how should one go about helping?
Another good question. They should talk to that person and be there for them. They should be very careful not to lecture them, but to explain to them that they are too beautiful of a person inside and out to take such treatment from someone who claims they love them. Ever since launching i-appreciate.org, I have had a few individuals contact me who were in similar situations. Luckily, all of them realized their worth and got out of the relationship before it was too late.
Tell them to ask themselves that if someone truly loved them, would they treat them like this?
There is no guarantee that this will work, but the most important thing is for you to be there to support your friend or family member. And if things begin to escalate in front of your own eyes, then either get more people involved or contact a local DV organization and/or law enforcement.
7 ) What is the most shocking statistic you have come across during your research about DV?
I think that the most shocking statistic that I have seen thus far was that 1 in 5 teen girls have experienced abuse by their partner. This statistic made me shiver and angry and is one of my motivating factors to do whatever I can to help empower the survivors of domestic violence and eradicate it so that future generations can live in harmony with each other.
8 ) What advice do you give to those who stay in relationships of DV because they fear they cannot leave?
I would tell them to reconsider their own worth. To realize that they are far too precious and beautiful of a person to go through such an ordeal. That, no matter what they think, there is someone out there who will treat you like the king or queen that you truly are. That this is no way to be treated by someone who you love. That if they truly loved you, they would do everything in their power to never hurt you emotionally or physically.
And lastly, to leave, and never look back even for one second. Because if your partner can abuse you once, then they most probably will abuse you again in the future…
9 ) Why did you choose the name i-appreciate.org for your project?
I chose the name i-appreciate.org because I wanted a name that embodied our mission statement. I wanted to have an organization that had people of every religion, race and socioeconomic class to promote good and stand up against evil. I wanted each and every person to appreciate other individuals and want to genuinely help and be there for them.
–Thanks for the interview but I have to ask one last question…
10 ) Being a native of Chicago, having been through the Jordan years, what’s it like to see the bulls unable to get out of the conference semis in 11 years?
Haha, well this answer will definitely get me in trouble with all of my Chicagoans out there. I was born and raised in Chicago and firmly believe that it is the greatest city in the world. Having said that, I have to admit that I was never a Bulls fan (not even during the Jordan era). I was always a New York Knicks fan (yeah, don’t ask how that started, just always loved them) so I used to get teased and made fun of a lot (especially when I would wear my Starks or Ewing jersey).
Having said that, I can’t really talk trash about the Bulls (especially with the state that the Knicks are in). I think they have a good group of players but still need that one go-to scorer on the team to be the anchor of the team. Meanwhile, I’m praying and holding my breath to see Lebron sign with the Knicks in 2010. Then, I can start talking trash (I hope…). Go Knicks 🙂
Learn more about Altamash Iftikhar and ‘i-appreciate.org’ at http://www.i-appreciate.org