Ms. RCW

As a young person I was never interested in politics. I have vague memories of sitting in civics class trying to keep my eyes open while some teacher droned on about government, democracy, and the political process. I did the bare minimum to get a good grade and then I moved on.

Considering how bored I was, it’s funny that I now do public policy work. Why was civics so excruciating? Well, I was never good at learning by sitting and listening to someone talk. Knowing there are many people like me, a few of my co-workers and I created a fun tool to use at our lobby day. It’s simple, it’s visual, and it’s fun. So take a look and learn how laws are made in Washington State. And then share it, because when we understand the system we can make our voices heard.

#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!

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.

My kid is going to pick the next president?

“Hey mom, I’ll be voting in the next presidential election!”

I had to stop and think about that for a second. Besides my initial reaction of “oh my god, you will be an adult in four short years,” this was an exciting moment. Look around you, if you have any 14-year-olds in your life, imagine them voting in 2016. What do you want them to know about the political process? I want my teenagers to engage politicians and tell them what they think. This is part of their political capital.

I asked my daughters if they knew who their representatives were. They knew Senators Murray and Cantwell but not Representative Jim McDermott. That’s more than I knew when I was 14—I wasn’t even thinking about voting. Young voters are a powerful bloc, but only if we encourage them to vote.

I can think of a couple of practical ways to do this. Take them to one of the many lobby days in Olympia. Walking around the capitol and talking directly to politicians demystifies the political process. Encourage the 14-year-olds you know to send an email asking their representative about an issue that’s important to them. And, just plain old conversation: talking around the dinner table, in the car, or on the bus. In our family, we just talked about healthcare issues that are important for women, marriage equality, legalizing marijuana, charter schools, and the presidential candidates. These conversations are lively and I always learn something new about how my kids look at the world.