I just can’t even…

Today I saw the story of a woman who was shot and killed by her (recently) ex-husband who is a police officer. And I got angry and started to write about how leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time, and about how the news reports didn’t even call this domestic violence. I started to write about how this murderer’s fellow officers saw the whole awful scene take place and waited it out for 30 minutes, so they could end this situation without using deadly force despite the fact that he was yelling and brandishing his gun. I probably don’t need to tell you that he is white. But as I wrote, I got so depressed about the amount of work we need to do to end the violence. Sometimes it’s hard to stay hopeful.

So I just can’t write that post today. Instead I’m going to tell you how excited I am about a 5K run. (For those of you who know me, you can pick yourself up off the floor. I still only run if being chased and occasionally for the bus).

For the 4th year, WSCADV in partnership with the Seattle Mariners is hosting a 5K run/walk at Safeco Field. Yes, it’s a fundraiser. But it’s really turned out to be so much more. Over a thousand people come together on one day—some because they love to run, some because they have a personal connection to the issue—to have fun and rally for healthy relationships. How great is that?! One runner said “By far the most fun event all year!” See? Working to change this culture of violence doesn’t have to be depressing. I am excited because the hope that springs from the Goodwill Refuse To Abuse 5K at Safeco Field will refuel me. It will inspire others. Bringing people together to have fun and talk about healthy relationships is a great way to carry on the conversations that we want—no need—to be having to change the culture of violence.

#WhyImVoting

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I have a confession; I don’t have a perfect voting record. I looked it up and there it was, in my face, elections in which I simply did not cast my ballot. This sent me down a spiral of self-criticism, I mean, what was wrong with past me!?

But today is Election Day and I have another chance. Women have a lot of reasons for why they are voting and guess what? Voter turnout for women is high, and it’s no wonder. Reproductive rights, equal pay, access to quality education—there is a lot at stake.

Here in Washington State we have dueling gun safety initiatives and key state legislative and congressional seats that are up for election. By voting I participate in making sure dangerous people are prevented from accessing guns, and I get to choose representatives who will fight for essential services for struggling families and survivors of domestic violence. I get to actively influence the political structure and decision making, all of which impacts my current life, my future, and my beloved community.

I’m sure I had a lot of excuses for not voting in the past, but really what matters is that I voted today. I voted because I believe we should be paid the same as men, that we should be able to make decisions about our own bodies, that survivors of violence shouldn’t be more vulnerable because it’s too easy for their abuser to illegally get a gun, and that services are available to those who need them the most. This is #WhyImVoting. So get out there and vote too, because your voice matters!

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Guns laws and violence against women – A recent anaylsis shows that 57% of mass shootings in the US involve incidents of domestic violence.

The New York Times goes in-depth on one woman’s attempt to get support from her college after a sexual assault – it’s disheartening.

Kacy Catanzaro’s jaw-dropping feats of strength are in the news this week, but it’s the encouragement, respect, and awe from her fellow competitors that really make us love this story.

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Anyone who has worked with domestic violence victims has tons of stories like the ones in this New York Times op-ed.

We can’t get enough of movies and songs about male characters who won’t give up until they win the girl, but we all know that it’d be creepy if men did this in real life, right?  Robin Thicke doesn’t.

“If they find it, they’re going to play with it.” A funny take on kids and guns.

 

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Like so many recent episodes of gun violence, the rampage in Santa Barbara raised the familiar questions: Could the violence have been prevented? Could we have seen this coming?

National conversation about how misogyny fuels gun violence is new, but the story line is old. It is echoed in the majority of mass shootings that involve domestic violence. Start with a man who feels he is entitled to attention, sex, or loyalty from a woman. He feels victimized and then enraged when he doesn’t get it. Easy access to guns makes that rage deadly.

Discussion about whether better mental health intervention could have prevented the Santa Barbara killings were still fresh when a shooting at Seattle Pacific University prompted the same questions. Last week, Seattleites faced an unprecedented choice between a vigil for victims at SPU and another on the same night, this time asking whether homophobia fueled the murder of two young men.

Experts and pundits differ on how to read warning signs. But the consensus seems to be if we somehow could see the danger in advance, we would act to stop it. Of course dangerous people shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, the story goes, but we can’t tell who is dangerous until it’s too late. If we could, we would intervene.

Baloney.

Right now, all over the country, courts and law enforcement have specific information about thousands of people who pose a serious threat of violence. What’s more, courts have heard evidence and issued orders that make it illegal for these people to have guns. Often, the court has specific information that the dangerous person owns a specific gun, and has threatened to kill someone with it. So what happens to get illegal guns away from these known dangerous people, after all the dots have been connected? Next to nothing.

It is illegal under federal law for an abuser served with a Domestic Violence Protection Order to have a firearm. With few exceptions, the law is simply not enforced. Among the victims of domestic violence murders studied by the Washington State Domestic Violence Fatality Review, a handful had Protection Orders in place because the abuser had threatened murder or suicide with a gun. Courts and law enforcement did nothing to actually get those guns out of dangerous hands. Out of the thousands of victims who petition for Protection Orders in Washington each year, only a tiny minority even ask the court to take away the abuser’s guns. That’s not because the rest aren’t afraid. It’s because they know it’s useless to ask.

Ironically, California lawmakers are looking to Domestic Violence Protection Orders as a model for a new “gun violence restraining order” that would allow courts to temporarily remove guns from people who have been identified as dangerous. But one thing we have learned from efforts to disarm abusers is that these laws don’t enforce themselves. Getting results takes coordination, political will, commitment at every level, and (of course) money.

The good news: it works. One California county hasn’t had a domestic violence murder since they put an aggressive plan in place to take guns out of the equation.

In the wake of a mass shooting, consensus that we need to do something is easy to come by. But the long uphill battle to use the tools we already have in place tells a different story. If we put what we know into practice, then strategies for preventing domestic violence murders can be a model for stopping the violence that shares so many of the same roots. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We just need to get it rolling.

La unión hace la fuerza (United we are strong)

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!

Improving effectiveness of domestic violence protection orders and safety for victims

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.”

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Researchers observing people’s behavior in bars found no relationship between men’s aggressiveness and their level of intoxication. Instead, they found that men were targeting women who were intoxicated.

One of my favorite websites—Scarleteen: Sex ed for the real world—isn’t making enough money to stay afloat. So they’re going on strike. Wait, how do you go on strike if you’re self-empl0yed?

It’s been a big week in our state legislature, with much to celebrate and much to stress about. In the good news category ESHB 1840—which prohibits abusers with a Protection Order against them from possessing a firearm—passed unanimously! This is an important step in making these orders more effective for survivors of abuse. But survivors also need housing to be safe and stable. Thanks to Senator Steve Hobbs for sharing with the Seattle Times how funding cuts to housing will have a devastating impact on survivors.

Another thing survivors of abuse need to be safe and stable? Food, diapers, toothpaste. Now who would possibly take issue with that? Jon Stewart will tell—or rather show—you.

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

The lethal combination of domestic violence and guns has been the topic of many news stories this week: a domestic violence survivor shares why a bill in Washington State is so important for victim safety, and a recent study finds “females are uniquely (negatively) impacted by the availability of a firearm.”

Punishing survivors won’t stop sexual violence.” Seriously, it won’t. So let’s stop doing it.

Three tribes will now have criminal jurisdiction over non-Native defendants in domestic violence cases. This is part of a Department of Justice pilot program following the re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act. “The pilot project—and VAWA itself—is a big acknowledgement of tribal sovereignty.”

News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

Jacksons Food Stores launched their “Give the Gift of Peace” campaign yesterday. This is an incredible multi-state effort to raise awareness and money to end domestic violence. Thank you Jacksons!

Rory Graves—Seattle mom and social media coordinator at ParentMap—shares her experience of growing up in a home with guns and domestic violence.

Selfies: the epitome of self-indulgence or “an aesthetic with radical potential for bringing visibility to people and bodies that are othered.”