By now, chances are you've heard of Meathead Movers, the moving company that helps victims of domestic violence escape their abusers for free. After its partnership with Los Angeles' Good Shepherd Shelter went viral earlier this month, the company received a veritable torrent of attention from news outlets all over the country applauding its community. While most businesses would likely capitalize on the Internet's capricious attention for their own gain, Meathead Movers has chosen to keep the focus on the victims with a new social media campaign, the #MoveToEndDV.
As with most social media campaigns, the premise is simple. Using its newfound fame, Meathead Movers has challenged other businesses to pledge to support its local domestic violence prevention shelters in whatever way they can, whether that's with time, money, products, or services. According to a spokesperson for the company, CEO Aaron Steed decided to invite other businesses to join the effort against domestic violence after Meathead Movers went viral. All the attention "made Aaron realize that this initiative is so much more than what Meathead Movers is doing," she wrote over email. "This is about how businesses nationwide can get creative and use their resources to figure out how to make a difference in their local communities."
Although the company's initiative has only recently begun making headlines, Meathead Movers' Erin Steed writes that it has been providing services free of charge for over a decade.
"This commitment began organically when we first started in the late 1990s and began getting frantic calls from victims looking to flee. We cemented our first shelter partnership [with a shelter] in 2001," Steed tells Bustle over email. "Now, when we open a new Meathead Movers location, within the first week our CEO, Aaron Steed, is reaching out to local shelters to offer this service."
As far as Steed knows (and as far as my own research can turn up), Meathead Movers is the only business to formally aid domestic violence victims, although it did receive an email from a victim describing how movers helped her sneak out at 2 a.m. This was just one of an "overwhelming" number of emails sent to the company from victims expressing their gratitude for the partnership, along with inquiries from other businesses asking how they can help and requests for more information.
"It’s been so rewarding to see how many people take time from their busy days to email us just to share their stories and express gratitude for what we are doing," Steed writes. "[The] office was blown away when the first message from Australia came in!"
Along with the massive number of positive responses, however, came sobering reminders of why the company performs the service in the first place.
"The most chilling thing that has happened as a result of the attention this has garnered was an email that came in asking for help. The victim had to outline the few moments she was able to check her secret email account without getting caught," Steed writes. "It really made it hit home the importance of the work that the incredible shelters we partner with do... Receiving that email strengthened our resolve to keep doing these moves and encouraging others to do the same."
With the #MoveToEndDV, Meathead Movers aims to do exactly that. "As a result of a feel good story that started a lot of conversation, we can motivate other businesses to offer tangible, lasting help to victims of domestic violence," Steed writes.
Everyone can help in some way or another: Individuals can donate or volunteer, and Steed pointed out that those who know a victim personally can "devise code words and signals (porch lights, curtains open/closed a certain way) so he or she can let you know help is needed."
Businesses have plenty of options as well — donating products like laptops or free panic buttons, providing services like free tutorials on how to use the Internet anonymously, or waiving rental fees are just a few examples of how they can do their part to end domestic violence. In fact, the #MoveToEndDV is already making a difference in the local community.
"We had a police chief let us know that any time we are doing a move in his city, they will be there to watch out for our Meathead Movers team and the victim," Steed writes. "We have an esthetician who is now offering free haircuts and makeovers to victims, whether they need an esteem boost or a new look in an attempt to conceal their former identity. A CPA is offering free tax preparation services. An auto shop is offering free oil changes and repair work to get cars in working order so victims can flee."
Considering the stranglehold domestic abusers often have on their victims' finances, these services could literally save a life. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between 21 and 60 percent of victims lose their jobs for reasons related to abuse, and financial security has been reported as the number one predictor of whether they can leave safely leave their abusers. Furthermore, an average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partner in the United States, and domestic violence accounts for over 20 percent of all violent crime. Considering one in four women and one in seven men report enduring abuse at some point in their lives, chances are you know a victim of domestic violence personally, although you may not realize it.
To get involved, just head over to the Meathead Movers website, or consider donating to any of the links below.
"Honestly, we’re just movers. We’re literally called Meatheads," Steed says. "If we can figure out a way to help, any business can."