People who are abusive only use the amount of force necessary to maintain dominance in their relationship.

When I say this to someone, I often see them pause in their reaction. Most people imagine that abusive people are out of control, or lash out when angry. And that the use of physical abuse―like hitting, slapping, punching, or forcing sex―is frequent and consistent over the length of the relationship. From that perspective, the idea that they “only use the amount of force necessary” doesn’t make sense.

But survivors tell me that their partners are often manipulative and violent in ways which do not include physical violence. No matter how an abuser’s behavior looks to an outsider, their tactics are deliberate. Like embarrassing a partner at a party or undermining their participation in religious activities. Or sabotaging a survivor’s connection with their child. Taking a child and disappearing for a couple of days is an effective way exert control over a partner. Also charming other people to get them on the abuser’s side, like the abusive partner I heard of who gratefully and coolly greeted law enforcement with “oh, I see you’re here to help me with my wife. She’s disoriented because she’s been in a car accident.”

Abuse can be pressuring a partner to have sex to prove their commitment to the relationship. Or asking a partner not to call friends or family because it interferes with their relationship―a subtle way to isolate someone. And if that doesn’t work, scaring friends or threatening a family member until the survivor returns to the relationship.

Any time we question a survivor―it doesn’t seem that bad, you say he doesn’t hit you, he doesn’t seem out of control―it gives the abusive person even more power. When we really listen to and believe a survivor’s experience, we take power away from the abuser. It’s one thing we all can do to make a difference for survivors and their children.

Nine things to know

Nueve cosas a saber

Like many of you I am worried about our country’s future. It’s all-consuming. In an attempt to be informed and not retreat to the places where my privilege protects me, I’m digesting as much as I can about the coming changes. IT’S SO HARD. I realize that I have to give myself some space to feel sad and scared as well as mad and ready to fight for all the people that are being threatened by the new proposed federal policies.

We often encourage advocates who are working with survivors to remember to take care of themselves. To do the things they need to do to come back the next day with renewed energy and focus to help others. I am realizing that I must do the same now if I’m to be any use at all to the work ahead. And there is quite a lot of work ahead.

I’m not a religious person, but I confess to LOVE the Christmas holidays. I love houses covered with twinkling lights, puffy fake snow in store windows, and giant trees filled with glittery ornaments. I’ve decided one way I can stay energized to pay attention and act for justice is to dive into the holiday season early. Christmas carols are going to fill the house and head’s up neighbors―my yard is about to get lit. And I’ve found the perfect thing.

This. Holiday. Dragon.

blow-up holiday dragon

Isn’t she amazing? So if you are feeling like I am, take care of yourselves so that you have the energy to stay tuned in and to show up. Holiday Dragon, bring us joy and light our path.

114 million Americans have no paid family leave “I went back to work 4 weeks after I had my baby because I couldn’t afford to stay home any longer. Even though my baby was in the NICU for a week and needed me, I had no choice but to go back to work.”

Gwen Ifill, Host Of ‘Washington Week’ And ‘PBS NewsHour,’ Dies “When I was a little girl watching programs like this — because that’s the kind of nerdy family we were — I would look up and not see anyone who looked like me in any way. No women. No people of color,”

Transgender Americans Organize to Update IDs before January “By Friday, had become a significant database of trans-positive legal resources for lawyers, notaries, and paralegals who are up for pitching in to help trans people update their documents. There’s also a link to an official fund so people can donate to cover the costs of document updates for trans people.”

Hay un mañana, siempre hay un mañana. Y será uno mejor, uno que podamos construir juntos, uno que represente los valores de amor y bondad. Yo creo eso. Quiero creerlo y elijo creerlo.

Hoy, después de las elecciones, yo y todos los que me rodean están tristes, exhaustos, enojados, cansados. Es como si hubiéramos sido derrotados, pero no lo estamos. No lo estamos. Los tiempos están cambiando: estamos siendo testigos de un proceso de transformación en nuestra sociedad, en nuestro país.

Soy parte de un movimiento que cree en ser proactivo no reactivo, que trabaja en la comunidad como un todo y crea los cambios necesarios para un mundo donde nuestros hijos puedan vivir en entornos saludables y alcanzar su pleno potencial rodeados de amor y oportunidades para ser mejores. Bueno, hoy, muchos de los valores que creo y enseño a mi hijo todos los días no se reflejan en el presidente electo. Muchos de los valores y sentimientos que hay por ahí son el total opuesto a los  míos. No es un momento feliz; sin embargo, representa una oportunidad, una oportunidad para transformarnos.

Ves, cuando queremos transformarnos necesitamos profundizar en el núcleo de lo que necesita ser cambiado―necesitamos una metamorfosis. ¿Sabías que cuando la oruga se está transformando en una mariposa, se licúa dentro del capullo? ¡Lo sé! Es un proceso asombroso, y no importa que se disuelva completamente porque su ADN sabe transformarse en una hermosa mariposa.

stars in the skyBueno, nuestro país está en estado líquido ahora mismo. Nos sentimos vulnerables, rotos, tristes, enojados, sin sentido de la rectitud o con brillo, pero es necesario estar en ese estado. Es necesario estar en esa oscuridad. He oído decir que “sólo cuando es lo suficientemente oscuro se pueden ver las estrellas.” Así que soltemos y transformémonos―vamos a confiar en que nuestro ADN nos llevará a ese estado final donde hay luz y esperanza y está rodeado de amor y de los valores en los que creemos. Somos fuertes. Podemos hacerlo. Este momento de nuestras vidas es una oportunidad para profundizar nuestro trabajo y reflexionar sobre nuestros valores a cada paso del camino.

Si eres padre/madre, no tengas miedo hoy, no estás solo. Habla con tus hijos, sé honesto con ellos y guíalos desde un lugar de esperanza y amor. Vamos a mostrarles a nuestros niños que nuestros valores son importantes y que esos valores van a ser los que guían nuestras comunidades y transforman nuestro país. Es un momento decisivo para todos nosotros, para nuestro país, y no vamos a sentarnos como observadores, no vamos a llorar ni a escondernos. Vamos a unirnos para actuar, movernos hacia adelante y transformarnos juntos.



There is tomorrow, there is always tomorrow. And it will be a better one, a one that we can build together, one that represents the values of love and kindness. I believe that. I want to believe it and I choose to believe it.

Today, in the aftermath of the election, I and everyone around me is sad, drained, angry, tired. It is like we were defeated, but we are not. We are not. Times are changing―we are witnessing a transformative process in our society, in our country.

I am part of a movement that believes in being proactive not reactive, that works in community as a whole and creates the necessary changes for a world where our children can live in healthy environments and reach their full potential surrounded by love and opportunities to be better. Well today, many of the values that I believe and teach to my son every day are not reflected in the elected president. Many of the values and feelings that are out there are the total opposite of mine. It is not a happy moment; however, it represents an opportunity, an opportunity for transformation.

You see, when we want to transform we need to go deep into the core of what needs to change―we need a metamorphosis. Did you know that when the caterpillar is transforming to a butterfly, it liquefies inside the cocoon? I know! It is an amazing process, and it doesn’t matter that it completely dissolves because its DNA knows how to transform into a beautiful butterfly.

stars in the skyWell, our country is in a liquefied state right now. We feel vulnerable, broken, sad, angry, without sense of rightness or a brightness, but it is necessary to be in that state. It is necessary to be in that darkness. I’ve heard it said that “only when it is dark enough can you see the stars.” So let go and transform―let’s trust that our DNA will bring us to that ultimate state where it is bright and hopeful and surrounded by love and the values we believe in. We are strong. We can do it. This moment in our lives is an opportunity to deepen our work and reflect on our values every step of the way.

If you are a parent, do not be afraid today, you are not alone. Talk to your children, be honest with them and guide them from a place of hope and love. Let’s show our kids that our values are important and that those values are going to be the ones that lead our communities and transform our country. It is a decisive moment for all of us, for our country, and we are not going to sit and watch, we are not going to cry or hide. We are going to come together to act and move and transform together.

It is 3:00pm on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. In a few minutes I will go home for a solitary (and introvert nerd) evening of channel surfing through the election returns. I must confess that I will be relieved when it is over, although we cannot be certain of when, exactly, it will be over.

audre lordeFor the past several weeks, I have been pondering and, sometimes haunted by, the words of the late great writer activist, Audre Lorde: “your silence will not protect you.” In the early days of our movement, this was a mantra among survivors―survivors of gender-based violence, racial injustice, and myriad forms of oppression and hate. The phrase continues to surface during times of struggle, protest, and bold creativity. And lately, I have been practically choking on them.

How could it be that I―as someone who craves a better path forward and wants desperately to practice the beloved community we whisper/speak/shout about―have been so silent about the vitriolic atmosphere that enveloped all of us during this election season? I have been anxious and agitated, painfully aware of my leadership of a 501(c)3 that is prohibited from endorsing (or rejecting) or seeming to endorse (or reject) candidates for elected office. There have been daily cautions about what we can and cannot say, and fear about appearing to be partisan. Through it all, I have felt that I compromised my own commitment to speak the truth, to confront misogyny and racism, and to stand with immigrants, people with disabilities, and communities of all faiths. My silence does not protect them. It does not protect you. And it does not protect me.

The presidential campaign brought me to the edge of tolerance. The spin, the analysis, the polling. The recordings, debates, interviews, videos. And all the while, Audre’s voice in my head: “your silence will not protect you.”

Tomorrow, Wednesday, November 9, 2016, I will go to the office. I hope (read that as BIG HOPE) that we can put the election fatigue behind us. I hope we can celebrate a historic moment for what it is. Silent no more. Forward we go.

OMG―it’s Election Day y’all! Thank goodness! I know I’m not alone in being officially OVER it. Now it’s time to vote, panic, and act―whatever the outcome.

No matter what ends up happening today, we are all responsible for creating the world we want for each other. I want a world that is kind and just so tonight, like most other nights, I’ll be reading to my children. I’ll choose books that broaden their horizons, challenge them to think differently, and encourage them to be the bright shiny stars that they are.

miss rumphiusI recently found this list: Books to read to your kids if you want them to be kind and brave (yes please!). And I was excited to see one of my family’s treasured stories included! I have read Miss Rumphius to my kids many times because I love its central charge: “You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”

In this book, Alice grows up hearing stories from her beloved grandfather and longs to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and live up to her grandfather’s request to do something to make the world more beautiful. And she does. She travels the world (I love an independent woman!), lives in a house by the sea, and after much thought (and a little luck) finds her way to making the world more beautiful. She plants lupines all around her and makes her mark. Lupines are a beautiful metaphor for all of us trying to figure out how to make a lasting impression.

I find this book comforting and stirring. It allows for us to be who we are and also challenges us to do something for the greater good. It is a helpful reminder that each of us can resist. Each of us can stand up and do something; we just have to find out what our something is. For me, working to end violence and create justice makes the world more beautiful and I am doing my darndest to make it happen. For Miss Rumphius, it was planting lupines. I am curious to see what it will be for my children. What will it be for you?

LupineSo go home tonight and watch the returns. Then snuggle up with your favorite little person and read a book. Together we can read, resist, and love a little harder, no matter what tomorrow brings.

We bring you this post by Kendra Gritsch, our Domestic Violence Housing First program specialist, and Marie Sauter, Advisor to the Director, Pacific Northwest Initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, from their blog, Impatient Optimists.

Imagine you live in a home where you don’t feel safe. An abusive partner threatens you and your children – but leaving home means uprooting your child, possibly losing your job, and leaving everything behind. You are stuck: do you choose an unsafe home or no home at all?

Domestic violence has long been a leading cause of homelessness for women and children. Service providers in the domestic violence field are beginning to identify more effective ways to work with survivors of domestic violence who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless – by providing supports specifically tailored to help survivors become safer and more stably housed.

In 2009, the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and many other partners to launch a five-year pilot project testing the Domestic Violence Housing First (DVHF) approach to promoting survivor safety and stability. This marked a major change in the way service providers work with domestic violence survivors. Instead of imposing a pre-determined set of services that each person may or may not need, along with a set of conditions that must be met before housing is available, DVHF is a survivor-driven approach that asks the individual what they need right now. Survivors get to decide which services and supports they receive, and choose where they become stably housed.

DVHF includes mobile advocates bringing one-on-one services to locations that are convenient for each survivor, flexible financial assistance, connections to other community services, and landlord engagement to remove barriers to housing. This coordinated approach gets survivors into stable housing as quickly as possible – often bypassing the shelter system – and then provides ongoing support as they rebuild their lives.

Thirteen domestic violence programs across Washington State – urban, rural, and tribal – piloted the DVHF approach, and found that a significant majority of survivors either safely retained current permanent housing or quickly accessed new housing. The housing and support from advocates meant that survivors could get a job, enroll in school, and heal from the violence they had experienced. Safe and stable housing let children be children again, so they could stay in one school, have their own space to do homework, and invite their friends over without fear. With a place to call home, survivors and their children went from surviving to thriving.

We applaud these thirteen pioneering agencies and the many others who have followed their lead in Washington State and beyond. A recent investment of $2 million dollars from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the U.S. Department of Justice further validates the work of these pioneers by supporting WSCADV in collaborating with Dr. Cris Sullivan to conduct research that seeks to demonstrate what we’ve learned: DVHF prevents homelessness and increases safety and stability for parents and children who are domestic violence survivors.

Survivors seeking services from four agencies in King County and Yakima County (LifeWire, New Beginnings, YWCA of Yakima and Lower Valley Crisis and Support Services) will be invited to participate in a longitudinal study to better understand how DVHF services can optimize housing stability for survivors and their children. Armed with this research, the domestic violence field will be better positioned to forge new alliances with housing/homeless service providers and attract new resources to support their evidence-based DVHF services.

Every person deserves a safe place to call home. This research will advance our knowledge of what it takes to get us there.

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Is My Job Forcing Me To Tell A Happy Story About Rape? “…The pressure comes from our sound-bite society. Domestic violence is complicated, and we often have to make it less complicated if we want to get people interested in our work.”

‘Going Flat’ After Breast Cancer “In promoting the surgery, doctors cite studies that suggest breast reconstruction improves a woman’s quality of life after cancer. But some women say that doctors focus too much on physical appearance, and not enough on the toll prolonged reconstructive procedures take on their bodies and their psyches.”

This Anti–Lean In Pioneer Is Teaching Men How to Behave in the Workplace “I am teaching men to actively work to end patriarchy,” she says. “The point is to eliminate privilege and my approach is, hey, you believe that this is the right thing to do.”

Some stories that caught our eye this week:

Abortion Is Health Care, So Why Aren’t Crowdfunding Sites Treating It as Such? By naming abortion access as “divisive,” YouCaring offered a flippant dismissal of those in need of important and imperative health care. And to be clear, abortion is health care.

How We Tell Campus Rape Stories After Rolling Stone Reporters must resist looking for a particular kind of story or a particular kind of victim. This is, perhaps, part of the problem with what happened at Rolling Stone. In the very first paragraph of the CJR report, the authors of the report write that Erdely found Jackie when she was “searching for a single, emblematic college rape case.”

The Link Between Oil Pipelines and Sexual Assault Survivor-led art and activism group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture put together this infographic showing how the construction of oil pipelines—like the one proposed near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation—could contribute to an increased risk of sexual assault for Native women.



pro-activo-buttonEstamos a punto de terminar el mes de acción en contra de la violencia doméstica pero creo que deberíamos seguir siendo proactivos durante todo el año, no sólo en octubre. Para ser proactivo, hay muchas cosas que puedes hacer en este momento, y el votar es una de ellas. Votar es muy importante sobre todo porque éste es un año de elecciones presidenciales. Es cierto que el gobierno por sí solo no va a solucionar o resolver el problema tan fuerte de violencia doméstica y sexual en nuestra sociedad. Sin embargo, la administración que sea elegida tendrá un impacto sobre el financiamiento de los servicios que están disponibles para los sobrevivientes de violencia doméstica y sexual. Tu voto cuenta. Tu voto tendrá un impacto y puede hacer la diferencia.

Al final, sea quien sea el ganador de esta elección, nosotros continuáremos trabajando para hacer de este mundo un mundo mejor. Estamos en esto juntos. Vamos todos a asumir al 100% nuestra responsabilidad de poner fin a la violencia doméstica y así crear una comunidad de amor para todos nosotros.

Para hacer tu parte, puedes:

  1. Registrarte para votar―si ya lo has hecho, ¡genial! Entonces ofrécete como voluntario y ayuda a otros a registrarse.
  1. Reta a tus amigos, familiares y a ti mismo―cada vez que escuches algo que no está bien, llámalo por su nombre. Por ejemplo, cuando un niño golpea a una niña en el parque y la excusa es “es niño” o “son niños”, se proactivo y di “Eso no está bien. Esa es una conducta abusiva”. O cuando una estudiante es atacada sexualmente y todo el mundo se centra en lo alcoholizada que estaba, de nuevo, se proactivo y di ” Eso no está bien. Alcoholizada o no, ella tiene el derecho a ser tratada con respeto”. Todos los días escuchamos este tipo de comentarios, por lo que hay muchas oportunidades para iniciar estas conversaciones.
  1. con tus hijos―los niños son muy inteligentes y por lo general están escuchando todo lo que está sucediendo alrededor de ellos así que toma un momento para hablar con ellos, pregúntales sobre lo que escuchan y así sabrás lo que están entendiendo. Luego ten una conversación con ellos sobre el respeto y el consentimiento. Es importante que los niños comprendan que hay ciertos comentarios que no son aceptables. Nuestros niños están siendo influenciados por el medio ambiente. Depende completamente de nosotros si queremos que ellos estén bien informados y conscientes.
  1. Infórmate―La información es poder, la ignorancia es peligrosa.
  1. Ve y vota el 8 de noviembre



proactive-buttonWe are about to end Domestic Violence Action Month but I believe we should continue to be proactive all year long, not just in October. To be proactive, there are many things that you can do right now, and voting is an important one especially since this is a presidential election year. It is true that the government by itself is not going to fix or resolve the pervasive issue of domestic and sexual violence in our society. However, the administration that is elected will have an impact on funding services that are available for domestic and sexual violence survivors. Your vote counts. Your vote will have an impact and it will make a difference.

In the end, whoever the winner for this election is, we will continue working to make this world a better one. We are in this together. Let’s all take on the responsibility of ending domestic violence and creating a beloved community for all of us.

To do your part, you can:

  1. Register to vote―if you have done that, great! Then volunteer and help others to get registered.
  1. Challenge yourself, your friends, and family―every time you hear something that is not accurate, call it out by its name. For example, when a boy hits a girl in the playground and the excuse of “boys will be boys” is used, say “That’s not OK. That is abusive behavior.” Or when a girl is sexually assaulted and everyone focuses on how drunk she was, again say “That’s not OK. Drunk or not drunk, she has the right to be treated with respect.” Every day we hear these kinds of comments, so there are plenty of opportunities to initiate these conversations.
  1. Have conversations with your kids―kids are pretty smart and they are usually listening to everything that is happening around them so take a moment and talk to them, ask them what they are understanding. Then have a conversation with them about respect and consent. It is important for children to understand that there are certain comments that are not acceptable. Our children are being influenced by the environment even if we do not want it. If we want them to be well informed and aware, that is up to us.
  1. Inform yourself―Information is power, ignorance is dangerous.
  1. Go and vote on November 8th.