I’ve done this work now for about 20 years and I’ve played a lot of different roles and held a lot of different positions. Now, as ED, I see my job as pivotal to ensuring that the organization is thriving. I show up every day to ensure that we still exist and there’s still funding so that people always have a spot to go to when they need help. I show up not just so that survivors have a place to come, but also so that the staff is supported as well. I hope to use my position to make this a nice place to work for the people who have to come in and hear very traumatic things.
The intersections with other movements are everything. The people who come to us for support are human beings first. They are survivors of DV, but they also have other identities and face many other challenges. We see people who are dealing with immigration status and racism and stigmatizing rhetoric — all of that comes together and makes their situation that much harder, more oppressive, and difficult to untangle it all. The onus is on us to figure out the whole picture. What other things do survivors have going on in their lives? And then find other options and organizations to support all of those pieces. We’ve done a good job of identifying other forms of violence and oppression in the lives of our participants. Not recognizing these intersections muddies community response. If I’m talking to a person of color, someone who is African American for instance, am I going to tell them to go to the cops? I have to understand that could be far more complicated for them than it would be for me as a white woman. It’s really important that we understand our privilege doing this work, and be mindful of the fact that what might feel safe for us as an advocate might not always feel safe for the survivor we are supporting. What if I am talking with a trans woman of color? This group of people are among the most targeted and marginalized in the country. I’m doing a disservice to that survivor and the transgender community if I over-simplify their situation and assume they have the same access and comfortability to services that I would as a white, cisgender woman.
I think there’s a misunderstanding that because we work in this field we have the “answer” to ending domestic violence, and we don’t. We do what we do, and do it well, but we’re not the be-all-end-all, and there isn’t just one solution.
Among the organizations that we work with outside of the field, there is a common understanding that people are being oppressed in some way — physically, emotionally, economically — and that there are opportunities that don’t exist for some that exist for others. Our shared goal is to level the playing field and create equal access. Everyone deserves to get a fair shake, not be endangered just for being who they are.
I think there’s a misunderstanding that because we work in this field we have the “answer” to ending DV, and we don’t. We do what we do, and do it well, but we’re not the be-all-end-all, and there isn’t just one solution. We’re dealing with same issues that other fields and movements are dealing with in that we have very limited capacity and resources. More progress and impact will require the involvement of many others in the community. Never lose belief in the individual power of change. You have the power in you to make a decision. Don’t underestimate or undervalue your ability to be involved and make a difference. To be a friend or family member or person, you hold the power to help a survivor. Anyone can be a potential advocate and part of the solution. You can still provide support even if you don’t have expertise or all the answers. The survivor ultimately holds the answer to their own success. You don’t have to figure that out for them, but you can still help.
Never lose belief in the individual power of change. You have the power in you to make a decision. Don’t underestimate or undervalue your ability to be involved and make a difference.
To end domestic violence, we need to destroy the patriarchy, get rid of queer and trans phobia, and stop white supremacy. We need to get rid of the idea that money is everything and get rid of overbearing and oppressive systems and –isms. Without those, there would be more outlets for support. There’d be equality. People would believe that they’re not defined by who they love or the color of their skin or how much money they have in the bank. They are worthy because they are a human being and want to help those around them. I don’t know how we’re going to get there without overcoming existing barriers, -isms, and divisions.
In a world without DV, people would be happier and feel safe in every single way you can be safe — safe walking down the street, safe going on dates, safe being who you are. Trust wouldn’t be something we dole out with such rigidness. It would be a more equitable more harmonious world. We’d have closer and more connected communities and networks. Where we live would look completely different — unlike now, where you live in a certain neighborhood because you make that much money. If we got rid of DV, we could get rid of other types of violence too and there would be more art, music, and bravery. Every member of the community would believe we’re all in it together.