The Government Shutdown’s Impact on Survivors of Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence

As the nation enters the fourth week of an unnecessary partial government shutdown, federal funding for vital services to sexual assault and domestic violence survivors will come to an abrupt halt. As agencies cut back expenses to maintain essential crisis services, many of their other services and programs that provide vital support, resources, and healing are being temporarily reduced or eliminated.  

In Virginia, federal funds from the Department of Justice (DOJ) are the primary source of funding for these sexual and domestic violence services. These funds support crisis hotlines, accompanying survivors to hospitals in the wake of violence, legal advocacy and representation, emergency housing and transportation, trauma counseling for victims of all ages, direct financial assistance, and more. 

Domestic Violence shelters face an additional barrier since many of them rely upon funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for vital homeless prevention, shelter operation, and transitional housing services. Both DOJ and HUD are closed and staff that were brought in temporarily to process funding requests will be furloughed this week. 

 

Intimate Partner Violence is More Likely to Occur When Couples Are Under Financial Strain

Virginia is one of the jurisdictions most heavily impacted by the furlough which has resulted in curtailment of pay for more than 800,000 federal employees and the loss of work for an untold number of contractors.  Should the shutdown continue beyond January 25th, some of the more than 1,000 employees of Virginia’s Sexual and Domestic Violence agencies will also face the prospect of furloughs. 

Families that suddenly lose a substantial portion of their income, whether single parent households, couples with children, individuals responsible for elderly family members, or adults without dependents, can quickly tailspin into financial crisis. 

Two thirds of adults in the US have less than $1,000 in savings — and those losing their income as a result of the shutdown are no exception.  The financial stress of not being able to pay bills, heat your home, purchase fresh food, or keep your children in safe care while you are out of work can become a point of volatility in relationships. For survivors of intimate partner or sexual violence who are in the process of recovering from violence, financial stress triggers trauma responses that jeopardize healing. 

 

This Shutdown is Irresponsible and Dangerous to Our Communities 

No matter your politics, the partial government shutdown is unconscionable.  It jeopardizes public safety.  The shutdown throws individuals and families into crisis, and then pulls the rug out from under crisis services. It is not acceptable to demand that essential federal employees work without pay (something that would NEVER be tolerated in the private sector) and then refuse to do the job of governance.   

 

Your Support is Vital to Your Community Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Agencies 

Make a contribution to your community Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence agencies today! If you don’t know the name of your local agency, you can find the name and contact information on our web-site in the Help/Resources section:  Virginia SDVA Directory. 

Every dollar that you donate will stretch services a little further as the shutdown continues.  Agencies have had to cut back direct financial assistance for needs as varied as legal representation, trauma counseling, housing and medical care but local support could make a big difference.   

There may also be some unique needs for other types of donations or for volunteer help as agencies cut costs for travel, supplies and other semi-critical expenses. If you are available, reach out by phone or email and offer help.  

 

Policy Leaders Need to Hear from YOU 

You can also support your community Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence agency by reaching out to your Congressional representatives and the President to tell them to end the shutdown.  The budget impasse is a manufactured crisis.  The sad reality is that this crisis is being fueled by a xenophobic and racist policy proposal (i.e. the wall). We need both a budget AND thoughtful and compassionate immigration reform, and our Virginia policy leaders are capable of both. 

This is also an important time to let your state legislators know that increased state funding for Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies is key to sustaining life-saving work throughout the Commonwealth. Please join us on Wednesday, January 30th, for Legislative Advocacy Day as we lift the voices of survivors and advocate for policies that will help prevent violence and ensure conditions where every person has the opportunity to thrive. 

Register For Legislative Advocacy Day (January 30th) Here: https://actionalliance.salsalabs.org/legislativeadvocacyday2019/index.html 

Find and Contact Your Representatives Here: https://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/ 

Reach Out to the President Here: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/ 

 

 

Kristi VanAudenhove is the Executive Director of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She has been a leader in coalition work, advocacy and policy for nearly 40 years.  

Act. Honor. Hope.

Please join the Action Alliance as we HONOR three leaders who have taken extraordinary ACTION to bring about the change necessary to end sexual and domestic violence. Their leadership offers HOPE for a better tomorrow.

Our Emcee for the event this year is:  Amanda Malkowski, co-anchor of Good Morning Richmond and 8News at 9.

This year we honor:

Delegate Christopher K. Peace and Senator Janet D. Howell

Delegate Peace, who has served in the House of Delegates since 2006 and Senator Howell, who has served in the senate since 1991 have together demonstrated bipartisan leadership and perseverance to secure an historic increase in sexual and domestic violence funding. Together they model an unwavering commitment to secure much needed funding to stabilize services, restore hope and build trust for survivors across the Commonwealth.

Fran Ecker, Director of Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services 

Ms. Ecker has been an exemplary steward in the development of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Grant Program that included the first-ever formula funding for sexual and domestic violence agencies. This funding was significant to stabilize sexual and domestic violence victim services throughout Virginia. Her active commitment to improving services for victims is evidenced by her accessibility and collaboration with those closest to the work and efforts to institute an efficient and responsive administration of funding so programs can focus on service delivery and program development rather than be buried in administrative burdens.

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We also honor and celebrate the commitment of these Action Alliance supports and welcome them as new Lifetime Members in 2016:

Dee Berry   –   Angela Blount   –   Liz Cascone   –   Richard (Tony) Cesaroni   –   Marva Dunn   –   Abigail Eisley   –   Aly Haynes-Traver   –   Sherre Hedrick   –   Kate McCord   –   Nancy Olgesby   –   Katherine Rodgers   –   Carla Ryan   –   Anna Claire Schellenberg   –   Karl Schellenberg   –   Rebecca Schellenberg   –   Richard Schellenberg   –   John Shinholser   –   Jennifer Underwood   –   Betsy Williams

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To purchase tickets to the event; please click on here

To see the silent auction items please go to  www.givetoactionalliance.org

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

The Power of Advocacy

In Virginia, sexual and domestic violence agencies (SDVAs) utilize a system called VAdata to capture information about the services they provide and the needs of people who access those services. For folks less familiar with VAdata, it is an incredibly useful data collection system that leads many an advocate to groan (show of hands if you love filling out data forms…anyone?) Although data collection can feel burdensome to advocates busily providing crisis intervention, counseling, and support to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence, it is an often under-rated tool for advocacy.

Advocacy Works-FINAL11x22-2.jpgSo, what does VAdata have to do with advocacy? Since 2009, VAdata has included a data collection component, called Documenting Our Work, that tracks information on the range of services provided by SDVAs and the impact these services have on survivors and communities statewide. Documenting Our Work is unique in that survivors have the opportunity to tell us in their own words how their lives have been affected by the advocacy they have received from Virginia’s SDVAs.

This summer, the Action Alliance looked at the Documenting Our Work data from the past 5 years and the results resoundingly affirmed what we already knew to be true: ADVOCACY WORKS. Survivors consistently report that SDVAs help them build trust and restore hope. The overwhelming majority of survivors tell us they receive the help they need, whether that be help finding safe and affordable housing, help with immigration concerns, or help addressing emotional needs in the wake of traumatic life events.

Advocates are on the ground each and every day providing vital services to survivors and may not always get to hear about how powerful and life-changing is their work. We want advocates to know that, through Documenting Our Work, survivors consistently report that these services are making a huge impact in their lives. Don’t take my word for it – here are just a few examples of what survivors have said:

  • “The staff has shown me unending kindness and helped me better accept myself in this situation.”
  • “I know I am not alone.”
  • “They left me feeling empowered.”
  • “They are very positive and helpful people here. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their help.”

Want to see the data? We created this cool infographic to illustrate the power of advocacy in Virginia.

Kristen Pritchard is Prevention and Evaluation Coordinator at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, Virginia’s leading voice on sexual and domestic violence. She received her B.S. in Psychology and Human Services from Old Dominion University in 2012 and her Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015. Kristen travels across the state of Virginia to provide training and technical assistance to organizations on various issues such as reproductive coercion, healthy sexuality, and trauma-informed advocacy.

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Hybrid Courses, Micro-modules, Video-streams, and Retreats…Oh My!

Training Institute 2.0: We’re Mixing Up Our Learning Strategies in 2017

The Action Alliance Training Institute has been responsive to the needs of our field for 20 years and was developed through thoughtful leadership and deep listening to our members and allies. That listening has found us traveling all over Virginia to provide practical information and build advocacy skills; to host critical conversations about changes in our field and how social justice and anti-oppression approaches impact our work; to strengthen relationships between local partners in regional and community-based learning environments; and to respond to emerging trends in survivor advocacy while addressing growing diversity in size and scope of staff at the local and state level. The Action Alliance’s commitment to experimentation has brought us to Training Institute 2.0 which will launch in 2017 and will include more opportunities for engagement using various methods and technologies.

In 2016, we utilized webinar technology to provide opportunities for experts from across the country to join advocates in their offices and for advocates to engage directly without having to travel to a conference or session in another state or county for that matter. We hosted Lunch ‘n’ Learns to give SDVA staff a chance to dig into specific concepts and have conversations over lunch whether they were in Richmond or Radford. We began the development of online courses that will become the backbone of our hybrid class model which includes in-person and online learning opportunities. These courses will include synchronous classes (real-time virtual or in-person classes that occur at a specific time and are led by Action Alliance faculty/staff) and asynchronous classes (self-paced work moderated by Action Alliance staff).

We are excited about being able to provide critical information to advocates and staff across Virginia in ways that meet the needs of our members and help to ensure survivors are able to access competent, consistent services regardless of their location. We will be launching online courses throughout 2017 and we will also be launching several online communities of practice for individuals who are interested in learning more from peers in similar roles at other agencies. We envision space for SDVA staff to share tools, problem-solve together, learn from each other, and build relationships across geographic barriers. Directors will have a space, prevention staff will have a space, legal advocates will have a space, and more! If you are interested in seeing an online community of practice around a particular role you have, please let us know. Email us at training@vsdvalliance.org; we’d be happy to discuss the variety of cohorts we can create together!

Staff have been hard at work testing our live-stream options for meetings and trainings this year. We look forward to being able to offer more opportunities for live-stream and to increase the ability for individuals to actively participate in training activities from their desk. The Action Alliance launched its Training Institute Micro-Site this year and will continue to use this platform for all training registrations, materials and resources from trainings, and as a portal to various communities of practice. You can view the site by clicking here. We aren’t the only ones who continue to experiment with how we deliver training and information to the field and anyone interested in this work. We learned a lot by watching how the School of Social Work at SUNY Buffalo developed and launched its MSW Online Program. We’ve seen the explosion of online learning in recent years related to everything from first grade mathematics to graduate level physics.

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Action Alliance Training Institute Microsite

We also recognize that for a lot of our work and critical conversations you just need face to face time. That’s why we remain committed to offering a robust calendar of basic and continuing advocacy trainings, advanced topic summits and conferences, and of course our Biennial Retreat which is on deck for June 2017. Our staff and faculty are also available to provide customized trainings on request across Virginia. We encourage our members to work regionally to identify needs and submit training requests together for maximum impact. Interested in learning how to bring a training on request to your organization or community, visit our microsite here for details.

The Action Alliance Training Institute consistently seeks to experiment with new ways to offer invigorating and exciting learning opportunities in person and online in order to deliver forward-thinking and accessible education, training, and resources to SDVA staff, allied professionals, and members of the community who work on the front lines to address and prevent sexual and domestic violence. Our offerings, whether virtual or IRL (in real life), are based on 3 “lenses” – Racial-justice; Trauma-informed; and Asset-building and focus on enhancing the experience of training participants regardless of the topic or modality. We are excited to learn and grow with you and hope to be in community with you either in person or while you’re at your desk next year!

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Staff from Project Horizon, Safehome Systems, and New Directions discussing trauma-informed advocacy at a recent on-site Training on Request

 

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Trisha Smith

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
My involvement with anti-violence work falls under special interests I have related to trauma, grief, psychological adjustment, and brain injury as a result of physical violence. I am particularly interested in the process that transforms individuals into reaching their optimal potential and high levels of well-being.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I would love to expand my knowledge on the diverse set of issues faced by survivors of violence as well as to further develop my lens of empathetic understanding and ways of expressing it through counseling techniques.

What is the latest book you’ve read and would you recommend it?
I have only just started reading; The Brain That Changes Itself. It is a very interesting read so far, and it is brain-related so of course I would recommend it!

images (4).jpgIf you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
I would be a tomato, because there is an idea of ambiguity often tied to it: is it a fruit or a vegetable? Toe-may-toe or ta-ma-toe? It connects to my liking of abstract ideas and belief that no absolute truth exists.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?

  • Northern Virginia area,
  • scenery in the Shenandoah Valley (e.g. Skyline Drive), and
  • Richmond.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it?
Pictures of my girlfriend (Chelsea) and dog (Bentley), headphones, and my laptop.

What is the most incredible view you’ve ever seen?
Beaches of St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
Working as a part of the hotline team, I am looking forward to “holding space” for callers and equipping them with resources and tools. I am also looking forward to ways in which I might be of value in expanding hotline services in the future. In terms of the Action Alliance as a whole, I am excited to explore the different caucuses that exist as well as engage in discussions with coworkers related to intersectionality, oppression, and anti-violence.

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

Trisha is a crisis hotline specialist with the Action Alliance. Trisha uses the pronouns she/her/they. She is currently a second-year student in the Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling Master’s program at VCU and hopes to someday become a Licensed Professional Counselor. Trisha is completing an internship with the Department of Counseling at Safe Harbor, in addition to an with the Brain Injury Association of Virginia. 

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call.

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

New Law: Person’s Subject to a “permanent” Protective Order

As of July 1, 2016, a new law went into effect: 

Persons subject to a “permanent” Protective Order may not possess a firearm.

 What does this mean? Here are answers to frequently asked questions: 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why is this legislation significant?

Domestic violence and firearms are a lethal combination. This new law is a critical step forward in limiting access to guns for perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

The new legislation brings Virginia in line with current federal law, which has prohibited for decades possession of a firearm for persons subject to protective order.  The problem is that it was virtually unenforceable at the state level because only federal law enforcement and prosecutors have the authority to act on federal law. This meant that it was very difficult—if not nearly impossible—to effectively remove guns from perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

The legislation provides an additional safety measure for victims choosing to seek a Family Abuse Protective Order against someone who owns a gun.  Prior to this legislation, there was no impetus on localities to address the presence of firearms in domestic violence.  The new law provides law enforcement, prosecutors and the courts a new tool for removing firearms from these dangerous situations and demands systemic action to ensure that violations of the law are enforced.

This policy alone will not eliminate intimate partner homicides, but it is an important and necessary step to reducing these preventable deaths.

 

2. What does the legislation do?

Prior to the new law, persons subject to a “permanent” Protective Order were prohibited from purchasing or transporting a firearm, but not prohibited from keeping firearms they already had in their possession.

The new law prohibits possession of a firearm for persons subject to a “permanent” Family Abuse Protective Order (the type issued after a hearing and lasting up to 2 years). Respondents have 24 hours to sell or transfer all guns or face being charged with a felony.

3. What does the legislation not do?

The new law only applies to “permanent” Family Abuse Protective Orders.

The new law does not apply to:

  • emergency or preliminary Family Abuse Protective Orders;
  • emergency, preliminary or “permanent” Acts of Violence Protective Orders issued by the General District Court. The “Acts of Violence” protective orders are not intended to address domestic violence.  They apply to situations where the individuals are not current family or household members, or are not former family and household members with a child in common.

The new law does not provide a plan for implementation.  It does not prescribe or layout a process for the voluntary or involuntary removal/surrender of firearms. It also does not describe a process for safely and lawfully returning firearms after the Protective Order has expired.

4. What issues should your community be discussing regarding implementation?

Because the new law goes into effect July 1, 2016 and does not tell localities “how” to make it happen, it is important that localities begin having discussions about how the new law will be implemented.  Below are a few key issues to consider:

IDENTIFICATION: 

  1. How will the courts identify respondents who possess a firearm?
  2. Will judges ask about respondents during the protective order hearing whether or not they possess firearms?
  3. Will petitioners be asked if the respondent owns a firearm? Will they be asked during the hearing?  Will a question be included on the petition?

NOTIFICATION: 

  1. How will respondents be informed that they are prohibited from possessing a firearm? Verbally?  In writing?
  2. Will respondents be notified at the time of issuance? At service? Both?

REMOVAL/STORAGE:

  1. There are numerous methods for removal: voluntary surrender, search and seize or a hybrid of the two. What removal options will be used?
  2. Will respondents be ordered to surrender firearms by the courts? To whom?
  3. What follow up is in place to ensure surrender/removal? Will the courts hold a review hearing to ensure removal within 24 hours?
  4. Will law enforcement inquire about firearms at service and allow voluntary surrender at time of service?
  5. Will law enforcement have the authority to search and seize at service of the order?
  6. What role can a respondent’s attorneys have in surrender and compliance?
  7. Once firearms have been surrendered or removed, where will they be stored and by whom? Law enforcement? Third party?  Firearm dealer?
  8. What is the process for storage? Receipt for firearms—proof of surrender? Fee for storage? Liability issues re: damage while in storage?
  9. What qualifications or procedures are needed for third party storage?
  10. What happens to unclaimed firearms?

RETURN:

  1. What, if any, process will be in place to notify petitioners if firearms are returned?
  2. What, if any, process will be in place to ensure firearms are lawfully returned? For example, not returned to a prohibited party?

For more information on the above, including best practices from other states:  http://efsgv.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Removal-Report-Updated-2-11-16.pdf

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picture: DCJS

5. What’s next?

Key stakeholders will be convening soon to discuss numerous issues surrounding the effective implementation of the new law and to develop guidelines to assist localities. In the meantime, we encourage localities to consider policy, procedural and practice changes needed to enforce this new law to protect victims and help respondents comply.

Questions? Contact:  Kristine Hall at khall@vsdvalliance.org or 804-377-0335

Kristine Hall is the Policy Director at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. She has supported Anti-Violence work for over 20 years.

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call804.377.0335

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

Meet Rachael Kaufman 

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?  
I think that anyone who experiences a violent crime (whether sexual, emotional or physical) deserves to be believed and supported. I want to be part of the movement that is advocating for survivors of specifically sexual and domestic violence to be heard and supported by their friends, families, communities, and institutions with which they interact following their experience.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I want to learn anything and everything from my peers and supervisors who have been doing this work for much longer than I have. I am specifically interested in learning more about the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) hotline and the LGBTQ+ Helpline, as I am less familiar working with those populations.

If you had one box for all your stuff, what would you put in it? 
I would put in a few favorite books, my hammock, and all my camping gear just in case of the next apocalypse.

Rachael_kneedeepinmud

What is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it? 
The last book I read is called the Vegetarian by Han Kang, which is about a Korean woman who wakes up one day after a nightmare and decides to be a vegetarian. Subsequently, she suffers persecution from her family, doctors, and society at large. I would recommend this book because I literally had no idea what was going on the whole time I was reading the novel; however, after lots of thinking and googling, I began to understand the narrative’s complex critique on bodily autonomy, cultural norms, and vegetarianism. It is a fascinating, exciting, and short read that will definitely keep you guessing. TW: sexual/domestic violence

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why? 
I would be spaghetti squash because it is super fascinating and cool because it looks just like a regular squash but then it produces great faux-noodles. I would love to aspire to be a fascinating and cool person, and like the spaghetti squash, I have some hidden talents.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia? 
I love, in no particular order…

  • the incredible views of the Shenandoah Valley,
  • all the murals throughout Richmond, and
  • the colonial reenactors at the WAWA in Williamsburg

What is the most incredible view you have ever seen? 
The best view I have ever seen is when I was backpacking in Australia. During our final day of our 30 day excursion, we climbed up a huge plateau where we had an expansive view of the entire Kimberley region which is almost completely uninhabited. There are rolling grasslands and I could see crazy Australian wildlife like kangaroos hopping around. As an added bonus, there was a huge waterfall at the top which housed awesome swimming holes that were super cold despite the 100+ degree heat.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
I am so excited to be a part of an organization that holistically addresses the issue of domestic and sexual violence in Virginia. I am so excited to learn more about the Action Alliance’s training and advocacy opportunities, while also being able to do direct service on the hotline.

 

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998

Rachael is a student at VCU working on her Master in Social Work, hoping to ultimately find a career working with college students on preventing and addressing the issue of sexual violence of their campuses. During her undergraduate time at William and Mary, Rachael studied Anthropology, which was an incredibly fun, although not the most practical, major. She was able to complete a honors thesis for her major about discourse surrounding sexual violence, analyzing how language about sexual violence affected the attitudes and behaviors of students and staff on campus. In her free time, Rachael loves to color in her adult coloring book while watching the newest Netflix show she has found. She is also an outdoor and travel enthusiast, having been to 6 out of the 7 continents for different outdoor adventures. She is still hoping to check off Antarctica one day! 

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

Meet Mariah Leonard

Why do you do this Anti-Violence work?
Everybody deserves to feel safe and I want to help ensure that. So many survivors are silenced or feel they do not have a voice. This needs to change. I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to be in this position where I am the one to pick up the phone and talk with people who just need a listening ear and someone who cares. I could not ask for a better position to be in for myself.

What would you like to learn your first year on your new job? 
I want to learn various ways to assist survivors and how to better help them by educating myself about other agencies and get involved. I would like to take more training on different topics and learn everything I can. I feel like this job will give me so much that I can hold onto for life.

If you were a vegetable what would you be? Why?
A pumpkin because it is used in so many things and is loved by just about everyone. Pumpkin bread with a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks is the perfect combination on a fall day.

What is the latest book you have read and would you recommend it?
Left to Tell. I would highly recommend this book. It is written by a woman describing how she survived and somehow kept her strength while in hiding during the genocide in Rwanda.

What are the 3 things you love about Virginia?
1) There are some pretty great restaurants here. Shyndigz for one has the best dessert, specifically their chocolate peanut butter cake!
2) I am close to the mountains and the beach.
3) I love history and Virginia is full of it.

What would be the title of your autobiography?
“How Did that Happen?: Trying to Figure Out How I Got Where I Am”

185620_10150161686131495_6825047_nWhat is the most incredible view you’ve ever seen?
Standing on a mountain top overlooking Syria is the most beautiful and treasured view I have. I have seen many things, but it is definitely my favorite.

Lastly, what excites you most about your new job at the Action Alliance? 
The people here are fantastic and supportive, the environment is welcoming, and I get to spend my time listening to people who are taking a huge step and reaching out for help. I think I have the best job.

Mariah Lenoard is Crisis Hotline Specialist at the Statewide Hotline through the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. They work part time with Goochland Parks and Recreation and volunteers with Comfort Zone Camp and Goochland Free Clinic and Family Services. Mariah loves to read, watch Netflix, and workout. 

Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline – 1 (800) 838-8238 | 24/7
Confidential chat  … Text (804) 793-9999
LGBTQ+ Partner Abuse & Sexual Assault Helpline – 1 (866) 356-6998
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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

 

 

We Can Do Hard Things

 In the wake of recent headlines, you may be asking yourself, like many of us: What can I do? Where do I start?

 Violence against African-Americans is not new – but these days it is in the forefront of the media and our growing collective conscious. We, as Virginians, can look back across history and see the cumulative effects of trauma experienced by African-Americans. We see this compounded over time and connected to experiences of and responses to sexual assault and domestic violence. We wonder about our capacity as individuals, as advocates, as communities to make lasting change, to create space for healing. We think – this is too big, too hard. We think, what can I possibly do anyway?

Our response is this – everyone can do something. Not everyone can or will march in rallies. Not everyone will work with legislators and policymakers. Not everyone will write inspired editorials that capture national attention. But everyone can do something.

i can do hard things       ***********************

We invite you to commit, right now, to spending August 10-12 in Richmond with us at The Warmth of Other Suns conference.

This groundbreaking conference is the first of its kind in Virginia and is a must-attend for anyone working in the anti-violence field. It is not limited to people of specific ethnic or racial identities and it is not limited to people who are far along in anti-oppression work.

You will learn. You will think. You will engage. You will be inspired. You will consider again and again (and then re-consider) the connections between racism, oppression, privilege, and violence towards our African-American communities in Virginia.

And by doing all of these things, you play a vital role in preventing, healing, and ending the violence that has afflicted our communities for far too long.

We look forward to a time of deep learning, connecting, reflecting, and healing together with a diverse and thoughtful group of participants.

Please join us – be a part of something bigger than yourself and take action with us today.

Warmthofothersuns.org

richard wright

To check out other training opportunities, click here.

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Joining the Action Alliance adds your voice to making change in Virginia. Start your membership today or call 804.377.0335. 

To inquire about submissions for blog, please check the submissions page for requirements or email colson@vsdvalliance.org

Advocacy Day with NNEDV

That day the sun was out and the wind was blowing hard, but underneath the capitol you would not know it. It was the day that Hillary Clinton was named the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States, that Prime Minister Modi of India was visiting Washington, and that the powerful and articulate survival letter published in response to the Stanford sexual assault trial on BuzzFeed was circulating among the public consciousness. I was there for National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Advocacy Day, along with other advocates from across Virginia to meet with our State Representatives. I felt inspired to be part of the communication process while seated with strong and committed women long at work and dedicated to using their voices advocating for those experiencing violence as a very real part of their daily lives.

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courtesy NNEDV

Come the new fiscal year, the additional funding made available will hugely affect available services that have previously been lacking. We both thanked our representatives for their part and expressed the importance of stabilizing future funding. Once survivors are able to access these essential services it would be detrimental to cut them off again as the budget fluctuates from year to year. Advocates involved in local programs were able express just how these resources are going bridge the gap for the survivors in their own communities on the ground. For example: did you know that previously there was only one dedicated therapist for sexual assault in Fairfax County with a population of over one million? Did you know that in South West Virginia there was only one court advocate for the region commuting hours in a day from one court house to the next and being forced to deny support to countless survivors? This will change for the better with new funding, Charlottesville as well as its’ surrounding counties will be able to engage in prevention work for the first time in a long time.

There is still much to be done. The tone of some meetings were most concerned with instances of false accusations of rape or how our cause threatens gun accessibility, conversations that demonstrated why we were there. We are still forced to turn away many seeking services– on one day in Virginia we turned away 170 families due to a lack of funding. We also face the issue of separating the needs of survivors from the general homeless population, when it comes to shelter policies. Striving to keep survivors in their homes when violence or assault is occurring, or realistically getting a plan in place within the 30 days’ time allotted for emergency shelter, is impractical for those we serve. Transitional housing allows for continuation of the supportive services this population requires, whether it be due to ongoing legal cases, pressing health concerns, or newly gained control over personal finances. The next fiscal years’ funding has not yet passed. It is being held up due in part, to “controversial” LGBTQ issues that are attached. Little time is left before break and then campaigning will begin for the upcoming election. In years like these it may be best to hope that the bill from last year carries through, and know that so much relies on those who occupy the seats in house, senate, and the presidency.

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Sen. Leahy and Sen. Crapo – picture courtesy of NNEDV

Charlotte Hoskins is an intern in Development, Communication, and Policy at the Virginia Action Alliance. She is an advocate for caring about human diversity as much as biodiversity and allowing people to tell their stories. She has volunteered and worked with organizations dedicated to empowering community. 

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