Ser Pro-activo (Be Proactive)

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.

 

 

 

 

Opinión vs. acción (Opinion vs. action)

Estamos en año de elecciones, inevitable no hablar de esto. Hoy más que nunca es necesario ser responsables de nuestros actos e involucrarnos como ciudadanos, es un deber y un derecho que tenemos para poner nuestro granito de arena y ser parte del cambio en nuestras comunidades, en nuestro país, y elegir juntos un buen liderazgo.

Escucho cientos de comentarios diarios sobre el ambiente político de hoy en día, en los medios de comunicación, en el trabajo, con mis amistades, en casa, en fin, y va a incrementarse conforme se acerquen las elecciones. Pero ¿qué tanto estamos siendo responsables? ¿Qué tanto estamos haciendo nuestra parte? Es sumamente sencillo hacer comentarios, enojarnos, y tener una opinión pero eso no es suficiente.

Tu Voto Es Tu VozSi realmente queremos que nuestra opinión tenga un impacto, y queremos que haya cambios sociales, justicia, avance, que se tome en consideración a todos y cada una de las personas, si queremos que realmente se refleje lo que este país es y puede ofrecer, entonces involucrémonos, informémonos, y si tienes el derecho de votar, hazlo. Tu opinión cuenta pero tu acción crea un impacto y genera cambio.

Alguna vez leí algo sobre reglas básicas de convivencia y recuerdo que iban algo así: ¿llegas? Saluda, ¿te vas? Despídete, ¿recibes un favor? Agradece, ¿prometes? Cumple, ¿ofendes? Discúlpate, ¿no entiendes? Pregunta, ¿tienes? Comparte, etc. Simples ¿verdad?, muy sencillo. ¿Quieres un líder que refleje tus valores? entonces haz algo al respecto.

****

We are in an election year, it is impossible not to talk about it. Today more than ever we need to be responsible for our actions and engage as citizens. It is our duty and our right. We need to practice it and be a part of the change in our communities, in our country, and together choose good leadership.

Every day I hear hundreds of comments on the political atmosphere in social media, at work, with my friends, at home, and it will increase as the elections approach. But how responsible are we being? Are we doing our part? It is extremely easy to comment, get angry, and have an opinion, but that is not enough.

If we really want to make an impact, create social change, have justice, make progress; if we want everyone to be taken into consideration;; if we want  leadership that truly reflects what this country is and what we can offer; then commit, get involved, get informed, and if you have the right to vote, do it. Your opinion is important but your action creates an impact and generates change.

I once read something about the basic rules of coexistence and they go like this: if you arrive somewhere, say hi; if are you leaving, say goodbye; if you receive a favor, say thank you; if you make a promise, fulfill it; if you offend someone, apologize; if you do not understand, ask; if you have, share, etc. Simple, isn’t it? So if you want a leader who reflects your values, then do something about it.

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.

Lunch at Nordstrom

Our executive director’s  first job at a domestic violence agency was at New Beginnings in Seattle. On Wednesday, she was invited to speak at their benefit lunch at Nordstrom. Here is the speech she gave at this event.  

New Beginnings is my alma mater, and I mean that in all seriousness. While I could say, simply, that my first domestic violence “job” was at New Beginnings, what is more important to say is that my education about domestic violence, my learning about the impact of violence in the lives of women and girls, my commitment to ending violence—perhaps not in my lifetime, but most definitely in my son’s lifetime—my trust that our collective humanity will prevail, and my gratitude for those moments when survivors experience justice and freedom and hope . . . all of that is rooted for me at New Beginnings, when I was hired 30 years ago for the graveyard shift (which I believe is now called the “sunrise” shift).

To say that the times have changed, and that New Beginnings is a different organization now, would be a tremendous understatement. The stories about our early days of working 35-hour shifts in a dilapidated house are best told over cocktails, but that formative time is the backdrop of my remarks today.

I have the privilege now of the long view. In 1982, we did not imagine that domestic violence would be everyone’s business. I had no idea that, one day, I would be in the flagship Nordstrom and, I should say, wearing an outfit purchased at Nordstrom, talking with hundreds of concerned and supportive people about what WE can do to stop domestic violence. In 1982, there were no events. There was no money. There was nothing like this.

For me, the past 30 years have been both challenging and deeply rewarding.  I have witnessed the worst and best of human behavior. I carry with me the names and faces and stories of brutality, the lists of the dead, the courtroom proceedings, the fear and grief and rage. But I also carry the courage of women, the pride and love of mothers, the resilient laughter of children, and the voices of men who call for a better manhood.

I try to hold all of it. Not one and then the other. All of it. All of the time. I don’t think of it as a burden. No. I think of it as a privilege and a promise.

In this country, we now have over 3,000 organizations that provide support for domestic violence survivors. We have state and federal laws that make domestic violence a crime and that authorize important funding for shelters and other community programs. We have innovative school curricula that teach young people about healthy relationships. We have thousands of advocates and tens of thousands of allies who work hard to save lives and change communities. There is a great deal to be proud of, and yet . . .

And yet. On February 5th of this year, Josh Powell killed his 2 sons, 7-year- old Charlie and 5-year-old Braden, and then killed himself. Josh Powell’s estranged wife, Susan Cox Powell, is still missing and presumed dead.

There are certain events that stop time. When we are left with the questions of: Where did we go wrong? And how on earth could this have happened?  That was my experience on February 5th.

Josh Powell and his father, Steven Powell, had been in the news for quite some time. Josh was considered a person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, and Steven had been arrested on charges of voyeurism related to his sexual abuse of young girls and consumption of child pornography.  Charlie and Braden were in protective custody and CPS was involved.

The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) has conducted a child fatality review of the case, and recently issued its findings and recommendations. After a review of the available facts, DSHS concluded that the deaths of Charlie and Braden Powell could not have been anticipated.

I and many of my colleagues have a different conclusion. Early on, we whispered that Josh Powell had killed his wife. With his father in jail and his world falling apart, we whispered that he might kill himself and take his children with him. We whispered because we had no proof. We whispered because we don’t want to be too cynical or negative. We whispered because we understood that Josh Powell was innocent until proven guilty, and we worried that Charlie and Braden would be innocent until dead. We whispered because we might be wrong or, worse, we might be right.

Whispering is only slightly louder than the silence that we at New Beginnings 30 years ago vowed to end. Charlie and Braden Powell have reminded me of my obligation not only to pay New Beginnings back, but also to pay it forward. Charlie and Braden demand that I use my voice. And so I want to ask you for 3 things.

First, when you are asked for your contribution to New Beginnings, please dig deeper than you think you can. And after you have made your gift, tell someone about it. You don’t have to say how much. Just say that you did it and why. Not in a whisper, but with all the clarity and purpose you can muster.

Second, vote with all of your conscience. Use a Sharpie. March your ballot to the mailbox and pray for a good outcome.

And third, join me in going to the theme of this luncheon and beyond. “It’s Everyone’s Business to Stop Domestic Violence.” Make it your professional business by having good policies and practices that support and help those who experience abuse and harassment. Think about what you can do in your job, both formally and informally, to make a difference. As I was coming up the escalators, I was thinking about how much access Nordstrom has to people. And how much influence. My own experiences here of marketing, customer service, fitting, alterations, and dare I say returns, as well as the friends I have who work here, mean there are so many opportunities for what we know about domestic violence and what we know about Nordstrom to intersect. And this is true in every business and workplace.

Make it your personal business by going further. Take a chance. Take a chance with your family and with your friends. Take a chance in your neighborhood and at your school. Take a chance with your team, in your congregation, at the grocery store.

Take a chance on compassion. Take a chance on hope. Take a chance on who we really are and the power we have when we call and work and live for an end to the violence.

Don’t whisper it. Say it. Shout it. Sing it. Bring it.

A change is gonna come, yes it will.

Get-out-WHICH-vote?

Photo by Fiona B.

Ilene told me, that her mother told her, that she has a friend who said her husband tells her how to vote.

I have no right to find that alarming. Because if it were legal for me to wed my girlfriend of 26 years and make her my wife, I too would be guilty of telling my wife how to vote.

Basically what I have going on here is a glorious mental gyration where I think a man who tells his wife how to vote will steer her wrong. But a lovely twist of internalized sexism gets me thinking “if he were, by some miracle, a feminist, it would be okay for him to tell her how to vote.” Meanwhile, if I, as a woman, tell my wife how to vote, I’d automatically be casting two votes in women’s interest.

Ha!

I got a total kick out of reading Erin Gloria Ryan today. She is one funny woman and if you have not had a good laugh recently read What the hell does ‘the women’s vote’ even mean?

Apparently what is true is true. Women vote all over the map. Men vote all over the map. And if anyone were to parse out the voters who identify as neither a woman nor a man, we’d find out this demographic votes all over the map.

If we plant those facts pretty squarely in our thinking, how would we proceed in the upcoming election to get-out-the-vote? Say we wanted to re-weave the safety net, work for nation-wide and world peace, bring respectful dialog back into civic life, and lots of other things that are good for women and children. How could we attract voters of like mind? And I mean voters who actually, you know, vote.

I would sure love to hear your opinion about that. Could you vote if you wanted to? Do you? Do you know people who care about women’s issues who could vote, but don’t? Shed some light on this.