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New Channel 5 show centers on domestic violence, finances

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Michelle Y. Graves, host of the long-running show “The Power of Money” on Dayton’s public access station, DATV, is teaming up with Yellow Springs’ own Channel 5 to present “Breaking the Silence,” a seven-part series on the topic of domestic violence.

The series begins airing Tuesday, April 16.

Graves, a 40-year financial guru and consultant who was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989, graduated from Antioch College’s Washington, D.C. satellite school in the 1970s and resides in Cincinnati.

Her DATV show, “The Power of Money,” centers financial education as a tool of empowerment for everyday people. The show airs in multiple cities in the United States, including New York City and Philadelphia.

Graves told the News in a recent interview that she’s a firm believer in the impact of nonprofit public access television as a vehicle for social change, and has devoted much of her life’s work to supporting women in gaining financial stability and freedom.

Michelle Graves, longtime DATV host of “The Power of Money,” brings “Breaking the Silence” — a five-part series that focuses on domestic abuse, particularly through a financial lens — to Channel 5 beginning April 16. (Submitted photo)

“Why did I do a whole thing about domestic violence? Because most of these women and children are in economic bondage,” Graves told the News.

In an Oct. 2023 blog post, U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women Director Rosie Hildalgo framed the crisis of domestic violence in the United States in stark terms, referencing 2016–2017 data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“41% of women and 26% of men stated that they had experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and experienced intimate partner violence-related impact,” Hidalgo writes. “Domestic violence rates are even higher for American Indian and Alaska Native populations, Black individuals, people from communities of color, those with disabilities, and LGBTQI+ individuals.”

Although “Breaking the Silence” — produced as a sub-series of “The Power of Money” — primarily focuses on the financial impact of abuse on women with children, Graves said she considered expanded definitions of abuse in the series, with discussions related to psychological and caregiving and health outcomes. The program also spotlights resources and social services available to people needing help leaving situations of abuse. For the series, Graves interviewed domestic abuse workers, doctors, survivors and healthcare advocates.

Graves encapsulated the issue of domestic violence within other challenges that women face, including “equal pay for equal work” and the financial sacrifice of deciding to be a stay-at-home mother.

“How is a woman ever going to be on par, even in retirement, when she never was paid what her male counterpart was paid? That’s the first thing,” Graves said. “Those years you sacrifice for children, caregivers, you pay for that — not him. If you are on Social Security and he dies, you get the lower part, that’s what remains for you. You don’t get his check; you get the widow’s portion. How is this right? How is this not morally repugnant?”

Tying these factors together, Graves — known for her ability to make difficult financial jargon accessible to audiences — said financial dependency is a key reason why women sometimes stay in abusive relationships.

“Is your sense of social requirements that people should be in environments that are balanced and life supporting [for] their children involved? Or, maybe, from the capitalist perspective, children mean nothing other than they are a labor pool for the future?” Graves said. “What really struck me was that the underlying theme across all of the conversations really did come down to, in part, an economic scenario.”

Channel 5 Station Manager Ben Guenther told the News he decided to bring “Breaking the Silence” to the village to bring awareness to the impact of domestic violence on both individuals and communities.

“I think it’s important to air this series because the issue of domestic violence remains a serious one,” he said. “You never know who might be struggling with an abusive partner, and it can be a frightening prospect for victims of domestic violence to come forward. The stories contained in these episodes just might be what sparks the courage needed for someone to get out of a terrible situation.”

Graves, who grew up in the close-knit mountainous Kentucky community of Falmouth, credited her upbringing for some of her independent streak and desire to empower.

“There were all kinds of people in those hills, and we were bound together,” she said. “As I look back, the commonality of community and sharing and caring, that resonates in everything I do.”

She also credits DATV and her producer of 10 years, Melissa Constantine, with the successful completion of “Breaking the Silence,” as well as “The Power of Money.”

“I don’t want to get through this interview without acknowledging the support of DATV in Dayton, which has been in the public access business for over 40 years,” she said.

“Breaking the Silence” will air on Spectrum Channel 5 and, with parts one and two airing Tuesday, April 16, 7 and 8 p.m.; parts three and four Thursday, April 18, 7 and 8 p.m.; and parts five, six and seven Saturday, April 20, at 7, 8 and 9 p.m.


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