Casey Harden, Senior Vice President of Strategic Initiatives and Membership for YWCA USA
By Casey Harden
Lady Gaga’s performance at the Oscars elevated the experiences of victims of sexual assault and moved millions to tears — including me. I immediately posted a link to the performance on Facebook, with the caption “Sexual abuse and violence is an epidemic — mostly silent and always sinister.”
But as I wrote those words, I became aware that sexual abuse only seems “silent” to me because I have spent the majority of my life in the United States — in other parts of the world the sexual victimization of women and girls is spoken of as easily as the weather, and often taken no more seriously.
YWCA helps over 500,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault every year.
In February of 2002, I had left my abusive partner and was living on my own with my two teenage daughters in a motel. I was working overnights for the Department of Transportation and struggling to do it all on my own. It was hard, it was isolating, and it was a scary time. My ex-partner was stalking me, and I had to lock my daughters in the hotel room at night, instructing them to call 911 if he ever came there.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Over the years this month has provided us all the opportunity to reflect and refocus on the experiences of survivors of domestic violence and untangle the issue from the tired public debate: the NFL responses, the Chris Browns, and the persistent question, “why does she stay?”
By Desiree Hoffman Director of Policy and Advocacy, YWCA USA
When the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decides cases, they set precedents in interpreting the Constitution and federal laws, precedents that all other courts, both state and federal, must follow. In the realm of legal equality, there are several legal provisions that feminist lawyer, Catherine MacKinnon argues, currently guarantee against discrimination including the 14thamendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which she contends they have “gone as far as they will or can to produce equality of sexes in life.”
The issue of domestic violence has received a lot of attention in recent weeks, in large part due to the Ray Rice case. Millions of Americans saw the graphic video depicting the type of violence against an intimate partner that usually occurs only behind closed doors. That case has brought home to many across the country a fact that domestic violence prevention advocates confront every day: domestic violence remains prevalent in the United States. While violent crime in this country has steadily declined over the past two decades, a significant proportion of the violence that remains occurs in the context of domestic or intimate partner violence, a burden that overwhelmingly falls on women. Although women are murdered less frequently than men, they are much more likely to be killed by domestic or intimate partners than men are. From 2001 to 2012, 6,410 women were murdered in the U.S. by an intimate partner using a gun—more than the total number of U.S. troops killed in action during the entirety of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
In an event at the White House last month, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden launched the It’s On Us campaign in partnership with Generation Progress.
In a culture where one in five women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college, it is more important than ever to engage in discussions that create a shift in the way we think about, talk about and act around sexual assault.
By Qudsia Raja Advocacy & Policy Manager of Health and Safety, YWCA USA
Violence against women impacts the lives of countless women and their families across the United States. Women and girls of all ages, income levels, racial and ethnic communities, sexual orientations and religious affiliations experience violence in the form of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, trafficking and stalking.
By Caitlin Eckert, LSW Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, healingSPACE, YWCA Bergen County
Seeing violence as being preventable, instead of inevitable, is the first major push to successful program implementation for adolescents. The beginning phases of violence prevention start by activating individuals, family systems, schools, communities, and regions in not only recognizing the factors that contribute to power-based violence amongst individuals, but also examining protective factors that may serve as a buffer.
By Katie Stanton Social Media & Online Engagement Manager, YWCA USA
The YWCA Week Without Violence™, held annually every third week in October, is a signature initiative created by YWCA USA nearly 20 years ago to mobilize people in communities across the United States to take action against all forms of violence, wherever it occurs. Each year, YWCAs all around the country host local Week Without Violence™events and create a public dialogue about violence, in all of its forms.
For our blog carnival this year, we asked: How we can come together to #workagainstviolence?
Twenty years after the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was put in place to try to protect women, its value is more important than ever—and as needed in lesser populated regions of the country as it is in cities. Such is the case in Montana, where the entire state’s population only recently hit the 1-million mark.
Through its campaign, “Reaching Every Woman®,” YWCA Billings helps victims of domestic violence understand how to obtain help and enlists the community in getting the word out about the problem and available resources.