In the Beginning: Perspective of Mothers of the Movement

I have been a member of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (Action Alliance) for approximately 30+ years. Therefore, I have been a member since the late 80s. I became a member as a survivor and then gradually moved into various aspects of the Women’s Movement which has been synonymously linked to Virginians Against Domestic Violence (what the Action Alliance was called in the early years and their acronym was VADV). The sexual assault state coalition at that time was called Virginians Aligned Against Sexual Assault (VAASA). Both of these organizations merged into one organization approximately ten years ago.

My rationale for becoming active within the coalition in the late 80’s derived from their “fundamental principles” pertaining to victim services and how these principles fed my need to fight oppression and the passion to become familiar with every aspect of victimization. I devoured research and I still have an insatiable appetite for any and all research pertaining to victimization and trauma and recovery. I became the chair of the Women of Color Caucus (WOCC) and watched the caucus blossom into a membership of 40 women which thrived for three years. During that time I was facilitating support groups for a non-profit, creating my own non-profit, reading and participating in as much of the field of domestic and sexual violence and stalking as I could. I watched VADV morph into a viable organization of women who saw their dream of shelter structure and service delivery come true.

However, somewhere a transition occurred and the core of our work began to be dictated by what was beneficial to becoming renowned versus what is best for survivors. Upon reflection I cannot really put a finger on the actual time this occurred but it was the wave of the future which tended to narrow the scope of service delivery and impose restrictions and requirements that affected how we viewed provision of services to victims. The feeling of family and comradery was replaced by the mechanics of output and accomplishment. A few of us maintained contact and managed to preserve a sense of purpose, while some of us abandoned the vision of healing many future survivors, for the viability and aggrandizement of an organization. This happens to many organizations as growth becomes the goal opposed to being a viable entity in which output and productivity embraces the needs of the victims; promoting healing on a continuum while constructing and maintaining a place where victims’ voices are heard.

We should remember that we built our foundation on the mantra “Peace on Earth Begins at Home”. If we do not alter our course and remember our historical journey, who was at the table in the beginning, and the longing we had to maintain the belief that we are stronger together, we will lose our vision of our future. We believed strongly in diversity and maintaining ideologies which challenged the “majority culture” as we practiced the essential components of cultural competence and victim driven services. We have gravitated toward embracing the mainstream societal influences while overlooking or not comprehending this is not always beneficial to victims, especially the underserved populations. Is not this what sank the Titanic? The disaster was not caused by the icebergs. Yes, that is what caused the ship to sink but the captain’s belief that his ship was unsinkable caused him to stay the course which took him straight into danger. I urge us all to be aware of the distress warnings being heard from those who were tossed overboard for the good of the coalition. No organization is infallible. If we do not heed the cries of the survivors we will capsize. It is not what is seen that takes us down, it is what remains hidden.

Reverend Patricia Jones Turner, MA is a preacher, pastor, teacher, poet, trainer, counselor, educator, writer, and a motivational speaker who guides those who participate in her workshops into self-enlightenment.  Rev. Jones Turner says, “One cannot transcend the ‘world’s’  perspective without confronting and accepting our own inadequacies. It is in the acceptance of our ineptness that we come to understand we control nothing but should seek to give everything; thus fulfilling our destiny and accomplishing our purpose unto Heaven.” 

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Our guiding principles  As The Alliance conducts its work, it is essential that survivors, the interests of survivors, and those impacted by sexual assault and domestic violence are at the forefront of all decision-making.

Interested in learning more about advocacy and prevention? Our Training Institute delivers forward-thinking and accessible education, training, and resources for professionals working on the front lines to address and prevention sexual and domestic violence. Register here for trainings.

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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

Go-VaData!! A Sherrie Goggans Legacy Project

 

After 20 years on the staff at the coalition, Sherrie Goggans retired from the Action Alliance at the end of December 2015!! You are invited to honor Sherrie’s work by making a contribution to her Legacy Project: Go-VAdata!!! 

VAdata is Virginia’s premiere data collection system documenting the services provided by Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies as well as the impact of those services. Twenty years ago Sherrie was hired to coordinate the development of a new data collection system because the system that was in place for domestic violence services was not Y2K compliant (remember Y2K?). Her leadership, curiosity and hard work resulted in Virginia establishing the first web-based sexual and domestic violence services data collection system in the nation. VAdata has continued to be an innovative system–one of the first statewide systems to meet federal confidentiality requirements, adaptable to a changing funding landscape and continuously evolving to meet the needs of SDVAs.

G0-VAdata is yet another innovation that will meet the needs of advocates “on the go.” Virginia’s amazing advocates seldom do their work at a desk–often, they are out in the community as they provide crisis intervention, advocacy and support.

Your contribution will make adapted versions of the data collection forms available to advocates from their cell phones, tablets and other mobile devices–making it super simple to document services that are provided in court, in the classroom, at the local community center, or even over a holiday meal!!

Please join us in wishing Sherrie well in her retirement and by honoring her work through a contribution before the end of 2015 toward the goal of $2,000 to make Go-VAdata a reality!!

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. 

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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

 

Happy New Year 2016!

 

As the Action Alliance begins our 35th birthday year we are transitioning our Alliance in Action communication from the electronic newsletter you have received over the past few years—to a blog.

35 Years!! I remember 35.

I remember my friends who were worried about inching up on 40, past that magic half-way mark to likely death, given the average life-expectancy at the time. As “thirtysomethings” we were certain that 40 was a line of demarcation between being young, risk-taking social justice warriors and stodgy professionals focused on our retirement accounts. We were worried about our mortality, and we were even more worried about crossing that line. My worries had an added dimension. I would lay awake in bed at night and think about all of the changes in my life since the time I left home at the age of 18 and I would get exhausted just thinking about going through that much change again…and again if I lived to be 70!!

So now the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance is inching up on 40. As with so many non-profits that were started nearly four decades ago to bring an end to violence against women and girls, we have been through many big changes over the years. We find ourselves in a similar phase of our generational lives as “thirtysomethings,” questioning whether we are moving irrevocably from our movement roots as agents of social change to a professional service delivery system. Sexual violence and intimate partner violence are still pervasive in our communities. The progress that we have made establishing rights and services is not equally accessible to people of all genders, races, ethnicities and abilities.

So we must continue to take the risks-to demand justice-to promote deep and meaningful change. We must continue to build upon the knowledge we have gained and at the same time we must dig down deep and be fearless about leaving behind those strategies that we now understand to be flawed. Four decades of work have also taught us that this is a long journey-one that requires thoughtful strategy, sustained effort, and time for reflection, regrouping and recharging. 

We are envisioning this blog as a new way of communicating with our members and with the world on a broad range of topics. We plan to inspire, educate and amuse; in the process we hope to spark your curiosity, connect you to our work and rouse you to action. Whatever your age, whatever your experience, whatever your dreams for how we might all get to a future without violence…we hope that this blog will speak to you, we hope that you will share it with your friend and we hope that you will speak to us.

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. 

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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