Design by Andria Waclawski

Design by Andria Waclawski

Last week we marked Equal Pay Day. It is the day that represents how many days into 2014 women must work to make as much as their male counterparts did in 2013. And as this day came around again, I just had to say: sigh.

In 1963 we passed the Equal Pay Act. Then, women were making on average 59 cents for every dollar a man earned. I’m here to tell you that we have made progress. Today a woman earns on average 77 cents for every man-dollar. So it’s taken over 50 years to close the gap by $0.18! Wow. We MUST do better.

This year on Equal Pay Day, President Obama signed two executive orders to help expose wage discrimination. That’s a step in the right direction. But the very next day the Senate failed (again) to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act, with some claiming unequal pay is a myth and political tactic. It’s true that lower wage jobs often employ more women, and women’s pay—more often than men’s—is affected by taking leave for the care of children. This accounts for some of the gap, but not all of it. Even in occupations where women are the majority of employees, the men in those occupations Make. More. Money. What?! Gender discrimination happens on the job, whether it’s about wages or hiring and promotion practices.

I’d like to live in a world where women can make decisions about their relationships without regard to the financial impact of those decisions. A world where no one must choose to stay in a relationship they would otherwise end because staying means having a warm place to sleep and food for their kids. When we ensure that women have equal pay, are treated fairly at their jobs, and have opportunities to compete for higher paying jobs we create safe and peaceful communities.

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

In an interview with Debbie Reese, Colorlines explores how the representation of Native people in children’s books perpetuates problematic stereotypes.

Tuesday was Equal Pay Day—the day for women across the country to mark the outrageous reality that it took us working into April of 2014 to make the same amount that our male counterparts earned in 2013.

Our friends at the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center and the Seattle Mariners have teamed up with Macklemore on a new anti-bullying campaign. Check it out!

La unión hace la fuerza. Esta frase me ayuda a concentrarme en la meta trabajando para eliminar la violencia contra las mujeres. El mundo lo veo a través de esta frase y sela diferencia que hace nuestra energía colectiva. Algunos ejemplos:

  • Los trabajadores agrícolas de Sakuma Berry Farms querían mejores condiciones de trabajo y lograron con éxito su meta al organizarse;
  • VAWA se volvió a autorizar el año pasado, con protecciones para todos los sobrevivientes, entre ellos los inmigrantes, indígenas y  LGBTQ debido a que el compromiso de las consejeras alrededor de la nación fue con todas las sobrevivientes no con un grupo en específico;
  • HB1840, la cual limita el acceso de armas de fuego a los abusadores, se aprobó por unanimidad en nuestra legislatura estatal después de que consejeras y supervivientes se unieron a hablar.

Todo esto no sucedió por arte de magia. Son sólo algunos ejemplos de lo importante que es trabajar juntos para lograr un objetivo específico. ¡Podemos hacerlo! Los cambios son posibles, los cambios son reales, y los buenos cambios puede suceder si nos unimos y organizamos.bigfishlittlefish

Yo soy parte del movimiento en contra de la violencia doméstica, soy parte de un movimiento que quiere poner fin a la violencia y traer la paz, la igualdad y las oportunidades para todos, independientemente de nuestro sexo, raza, etnia, o clase. Cada acción que tomo a diario, me recuerda mi compromiso, de que no estoy sola en esta lucha soy parte de algo más grande.

Te invito a que me acompañes en la creación o en ser parte de algo significativo, que mueva tu corazón, y te haga sentir parte de algo más grande que tú. Ser parte de algo que hace que nuestro mundo, el tuyo y el mío, un mejor lugar.

WSCADV esta organizando la caminata de Refuse To Abuse® 5K en el Safeco Field el próximo 19 de julio. Este es un evento donde nos reunimos por un objetivo común, para inspirarnos juntos y recordar que la violencia doméstica se puede prevenir y que juntos podemos de manera active crear paz. ¡Únete a nosotros! ¡La unión hace la fuerza!

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“La unión hace la fuerza.” (United we are strong.) This Spanish quote helps me focus on the goal in my work to end violence against women. I see the world through this lens and know that our collective energy makes a difference. For example:

  • Farmworkers at Sakuma Berry Farms wanted better work conditions and successfully organized to achieve their goal;
  • VAWA was reauthorized last year, with protections for all survivors, including immigrant, Native, and LGBTQ people,  due to the commitment of advocates around the nation to all survivors not just one specific group;
  • HB1840, limiting abusers’ access to guns, unanimously passed our state legislature after advocates and survivors spoke up together.

None of these happened magically. They are examples of how important it is to work together towards a specific goal. We can do it! Changes are possible, changes are real, and good changes CAN happen if we organize and unite.

I am part of the domestic violence movement; I am part of a movement that wants to end violence and bring peace, equality, and opportunities for all regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or class. Every action I take on a daily basis, I remind myself of my commitment, that I am not alone, and that I am part of something bigger.

I invite you to join me in creating or being part of something meaningful, that moves your heart, and makes you feel part of something bigger than yourself. Be part of something that makes our world, yours and mine, a better place.

WSCADV is hosting the Refuse To Abuse®  5K at Safeco Field onJuly 19th. This is a time where we come together, for a common goal, and inspire one another with the knowledge that domestic violence is preventable and together we can proactively create peace. Come join us! United we are strong!

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Louis C.K.’s opening monologue on Saturday Night Live tackled women’s rights and how ridiculously problematic it is to call men’s tanks “wifebeaters.”

For you satire fans, the Onion “reports” on how tough it is on men that companies like Dove are promoting realistic images of women’s bodies.

The UK’s Prison Reform Trust released new research on the strong link between women’s crimes and their experience of domestic and sexual violence. They found that women’s crimes were “more likely than men’s to be linked to their relationships” and discuss the importance of using that finding to improve the police response to domestic violence.

I have been hauling around a rotting corpse of an experience for 19 years.

I used to think that the only way to deal with the terrible and tragic thing that happened was to forgive the person who did it. My partner’s brother murdered his wife, then called our home and engaged us in a conversation that twisted and turned between reality and delusion for 45 minutes before he abruptly hung up and killed himself.

boyholdingheartIt was indescribably traumatic. Of course, I can only speak to my own experience of it.

I’ve heard lots about the healing that comes from forgiveness. The Archbishop of forgiveness himself, Desmond Tutu, who knows about atrocity, says, “To forgive is the highest form of self-interest. I have to forgive so that my anger and resentment and lust for revenge don’t corrode my own being.”

And I get that intellectually. But forgive? Forgive has not worked for me. Some acts are just unforgiveable. And he’s dead, so there is nobody to forgive.

Dead or not, I found myself spending a lot of life energy keeping the hell in my imagination fully staffed, and molten hot for one lone inhabitant. I could not let go, replaying the scenario ten thousand times over in my mind trying to work out an alternative to the reality—an increasingly distant history—that would not budge.

Enter meditation practice and some ancient (but new to me) advice about what to do when forgiveness is beyond reach. Over the course of the past four years, I’ve attended retreats and spent many hours cultivating a wiser way.

I discovered that I am far from alone. The more I explored my interior landscape, and the more I heard from teachers, the better I understood the universal nature of this kind of struggle.

The trauma blew a hole in my heart—and I could not come wholeheartedly back to my life without mending the wound. I found out it was not necessary for me to forgive, but rather to wake up to other thoughts and actions that would relieve the pain.

First among them: putting it down. Simply, carefully, putting it down. I do not have to struggle, repress, or resolve anything. Time has passed, things have worked out in quite miraculous ways—some of which I had a hand in, most of which I didn’t. Any time I even begin to think about the pain, I recognize that I can just let it go. If I find myself way down memory lane thinking sad or scary thoughts, I retrace my steps and get on a healthier path of more fruitful thoughts.

No forgiving necessary.

Simply, put it down.

This afternoon, Governor Inslee will sign ESHB1840 (concerning firearms laws for persons subject to no-contact orders, protection orders, and restraining orders) into law. We issued the following press release after it unanimously passed the Washington State Legislature.

Last night the Senate approved ESHB1840, a bill that prohibits domestic violence abusers with protection orders against them from possessing a firearm, with a   49-0 vote. The bill unanimously passed the House last month, sending a strong message from the legislature that they support victim safety and recognize the importance of keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence abusers legally deemed too dangerous to have them.

Abusers’ access to firearms increases the lethality of domestic violence and makes it more dangerous for friends, family, and law enforcement to safely intervene. “Domestic violence is about control; the abuser controlling the victim’s life,” said Grace Huang, Public Policy Coordinator for the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “For some victims, getting a protection order is the first step in taking their lives back. And that’s threatening to the abuser and where we often see guns come into play.”

A national research study found that a domestic violence victim is five times more likely to be killed when there’s a gun around. In Washington State, guns are by far the most common weapon used in domestic violence homicides—more than all other weapons combined.

“When a victim gets a protection order and is separating from an abuser, the violence can escalate. Removing firearms at this point is critical for victim safety,” said Huang. “We thank the legislature for furthering the protections of domestic violence victims in this important way.”

Our Fatality Review project just issued its annual report of the number of people across Washington State who died as a result of domestic violence last year. I drafted a press release of the findings before I ever saw the report. I planned to fill in the exact numbers once I got them from my colleague, but figured I already knew what the stats were going to tell us. 2000FR-Cover

We’ve been collecting this data since 1997. And every year, the numbers are eerily similar to the last. It seems no matter what else happens in a year—other violent crime going down, the economy getting better or worse, new laws passed—the domestic violence murder rate stays relatively steady. It’s incredibly sad, and I guess I’ve been feeling pretty hopeless about it.

But this year turned out to be different. A total of 35 people died in domestic violence fatalities. This is significantly fewer than the 54 deaths the year before, and the lowest in the 17 years we’ve been keeping track. I had to re-write the press release, but also re-think my assumptions.

Even though I truly believe domestic violence is preventable, and I see great work happening all around me, at the end of the year I don’t expect to see that reflected in the homicide numbers. Why not? I suppose it has to do with how complex the problem of domestic violence is and the slow pace of social change.

Every single life lost to domestic violence is one too many, and my heart aches for all those we lost this past year. But I feel encouraged at the same time. Maybe this is the start of a trend. After decades of work to end domestic violence, maybe it is time to expect change.

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