By Danielle Marse-Kapr, YWCA USA Communications & Marketing Director
Growing up, I had the same impression many people have. Men who commit sexual violence are notably bad people. They hang out in back alleys or drug your drink from across the bar. You can spot them in a line up. They aren’t your friends or family. They aren’t people you trust.
We made history last night through our local elections! We are thrilled to see so many “firsts” during this election season, particularly as many of the firsts were women and people of color. This is what progress looks like. This is what representation and an inclusive democracy could look like.
This week in Seattle, Washington, YWCA USA convened 43 leaders representing 30 YWCAs from around the western U.S. as part of our annual geo-network meeting. By hosting these smaller “geo-networking” meetings in each of our five designated geographic networks, we are bridging the distance between our national and regional work by supporting capacity-building opportunities, promoting collaboration, harnessing our collective action and strengthening our communication efforts. Furthermore, for the first time, our national board of directors intentionally held their quarterly meeting to coincide with a geo-networking meeting, allowing the opportunity to share ideas, promote transparency and elevate our united voice.
October 1st, 2017, was a terror filled night for America. The act of violence that occurred in Las Vegas was undeniably horrific; and sadly, we’ve experienced it before. At YWCA Alaska, we cannot in good conscious ignore this opportunity to address how violence surrounds us, and who most often perpetrates this violence.
YWCA Alaska’s mission is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, while promoting dignity, peace, freedom and justice for all. To live out our mission we are compelled to respond to this attack by using this national dialogue to address violence and create the safer world we imagine.
Five years ago, I became the victim of a stalker who sent thousands of harassing and threatening messages to my email and across several online platforms. I spent countless hours talking to police, prosecutors, domestic violence advocates, my state delegate, therapists, and doctors; attending court proceedings; and attending state congressional meetings as a result of his harassment, which included rape and death threats, comments about the windows in my home, and a surprise visit to my workplace. I had binders full of documentation, but it wasn’t enough. Because all of this was viewed as “just” cyberstalking, few officials were willing to take the violence I was experiencing seriously. One police officer told me he couldn’t help me, responding, “Well, he hasn’t threatened to chop you up into little bits or anything yet,” and one judge asked me, “Can’t you just not go online?”
By Lily Eisner, YWCA USA Public Policy & Advocacy Intern, Summer 2017
One day last spring, vandals scrawled messages threatening sexual violence in common areas and stole several pairs of women’s underwear from laundry rooms in a sorority at my school, Dartmouth College. The horrific message shook the entire student body. Copycat messages and thefts began appearing around campus. Off-campus apartments began to keep their doors locked—a strange occurrence for the trusting New England town. The Dartmouth community was going through a terrifying time. And yet, for the first time in my college experience, I saw a student body that was finally taking sexual violence seriously.
By Sharon K. Roberson, President & CEO YWCA Nashville & Middle Tennessee
A few months ago, Maria had one arm in a sling, while the other carried her infant baby.
The beating from her husband had put her in the hospital, and now that she was being discharged, she couldn’t go home. She had someone beside her though, the man carrying her bag into the Weaver Domestic Violence Center.
That man who escorted Maria to safety was the Metro Nashville police officer working her case. Without his kind insistence, guidance and protection, we know from our long experience at the YWCA that Maria and her child likely wouldn’t have made into safety.
At YWCA, we know that not all violence is acknowledged or responded to equally and that some victims go unrecognized altogether. That’s why for more than 20 years, we have set aside the third week in October as a Week Without Violence to raise awareness around ending violence against women and girls with the World YWCA.
At YWCAs across the country and around the world, we are focusing on ending gender-based violence, which recognizes a spectrum of violence that overwhelmingly impacts women, and includes intimate partner violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and harassment. Gender-based violence impacts the lives of countless women and their families and continues to be pervasive across the United States. The statistics are disturbing:
The numbers are staggering. We all already know this. One in four women will become a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. Every two minutes someone is sexually assaulted. One in three women experience gender-based violence. It is long past time that we change this — and you can help create a culture where gender-based violence is no longer a reality. This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, join YWCA from October 16 to 20 for Week Without Violence and make a difference.
Last Saturday, YWCA USA was proud to be a sponsor of the March for Black Women and the March for Racial Justice. As our CEO, Alejandra Castillo said in her blog last week, “when women of color lead change, everyone is elevated with us.” This was certainly on display last weekend as thousands of black women, racial justice advocates, and allies took to the streets fighting for the common goal of building an intersectional racial justice movement to challenge and undo racism, white supremacy, sexism, gender oppression, anti-immigrant oppression, class inequality, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and the oppression of people with disabilities. Black women and people of color led the organizing of the marches, the development of the platform, and the programs at each march and throughout the day itself.