Collaborating for Change

“Many hands make light work” – that’s a phrase you don’t hear enough, right?  If we’re being honest, sometimes many hands also make quite a mess of things.   As someone who tends to want to do things for herself with little help, I sometimes find the collaborative nature of our work to be a bit challenging.  It’s very tempting to want to control a situation and have things done exactly as you want them.  So, it’s good that over the past 16 years in this movement to end violence I have learned to appreciate the value that collaborative efforts bring to our work.

 I experienced this first hand when I went from working at a dual center (one that offered services for both sexual violence and domestic violence survivors) to a stand-alone rape crisis center.  I admit I had found my niche.  I loved being able to focus my time on one issue.  I became comfortable in my sexual violence prevention silo.  But when it came to the problems in the community we served, it was clear that we needed to join forces with our sister organizations working to end intimate partner and other forms of violence.  After all, one need only look at the list of risk and protective factors that these issues share to know that it is important to think about how we can work together to end sexual and intimate partner violence.  Those partnerships were so important and not only benefited our community and the people we were serving, but also helped to increase my understanding of - and appreciation for - the art of collaboration.

I am so happy to see examples of these types of partnerships playing out on the state and national landscape.  One example is the work currently happening in Ohio. The recent report, Riding Tandem on the Pathway to Prevention, outlines how both the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the Ohio Domestic Violence Network have joined forces to create - along with other key organizations in the state - the Ohio Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Consortium.    Members of this consortium have joined forces to make sure that the prevention of both sexual violence (SV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) is a priority in the state.  Are there limitations and challenges to this collaborative approach?  Of course.   We know that in some respects, the IPV and SV movements have some shared history and philosophy, but there are also areas where the two movements diverge (which the Riding Tandem report does a nice job of explaining).  But the bottom line is that there is a commitment from all members to carry out the unified prevention plan for the state of Ohio.   I look forward to seeing this play out.

Is your organization working collaboratively with partner organizations to prevent sexual violence in your community?  Let us know about it by commenting below.