This blog is a guest post by Casey Keene, Director of Capacity Building and Education, at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.
Awareness is good. It’s consciousness – getting something on the radar. And as they say, it’s the first step.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence acknowledges that awareness is not and simply cannot be our end game when our goal goes so much further than that. What we ultimately want are healthy families and communities. And what it will take to get there is social change.
So how do we get from awareness to social change? We need to take action.
1. Learn to weave. And if you’re already a weaver, weave more.
While one person can be powerful, through collaboration we can multiply the impact of that action to create the expansive change we are looking for. One strategy for strengthening our collective impact is to look to others who are committed to social justice – those who share our common goals of fostering healthy families and communities. Allies in economic justice, early childhood education, health promotion, faith communities, and other community service sectors work towards this goal every day. Activists working towards racial justice, LGBT rights, reproductive justice, and suicide prevention are bringing us closer to a culture that values human rights, autonomy, respect, and nonviolence. Our work intersects when it comes to our shared vision, but also when it comes to common risks and protective factors. These are the threads that weave our work together.
2. Acknowledge the complexity of the puzzle, then work to dismantle its pieces.
Efforts to examine the root causes of domestic violence emerge primarily from our movement’s prevention work. In this arena, it is clear that domestic violence is linked to a web of oppressive systems – racism, xenophobia, classism, ableism, sexism, heterosexism, and others – and that our charge is to dismantle these constructs in order to create a more just and peaceful society. This is the common ground that connects us to others working towards social justice. And this is the reason that we must embrace an intersectionality of oppressions lens in our approach to ending domestic violence.
This year, the national DVAM campaign is looking to elevate conversations about the importance of an intersectional approach to our work, and the value of linking with partners across social justice movements to move our mission forward.
While this model is in alignment with the public health approach to prevention, it is also keenly important to victim services as it responds to the real-life experiences of survivors, whose stories, identities, and challenges are multi-faceted and complex. "Intersectionality is a framework that must be applied to all social justice work, a frame that recognizes the multiple aspects of identity that enrich our lives and experiences and that compound and complicate oppressions and marginalizations” (Uwujaren & Utt, 2015). It is critical that both our prevention and intervention strategies embrace this analysis and infuse it into our movement’s work.
3. Listen, evaluate, then stretch and reach further.
Join us as we explore the importance of bringing a racial justice framework to our efforts to end domestic violence, why racial justice matters in the prevention equation, and how we can foster healthy communities through collaboration. We’ll also be engaging with partners at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance to discuss intersectional work as white allies, and with Women of Color Network, Inc. to learn how advocates can take action to help bring the margins to the center.
Bring these critical conversations to your agency. Evaluate your organizational practice models through an intersectional lens. Begin to establish new partnerships with those who are working to foster your community’s health. Find ways to strengthen your collective impact.
This October, we invite you to be part of the equation by moving beyond awareness to action with us.