October is Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month
Each October, preventionists and advocates commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. The theme for this year’s DVAM is “No Survivor Justice Without Racial Justice.” PreventConnect staff Ashleigh Klein-Jimenez and Tori VandeLinde share their personal reflections on DVAM 2021 and what prevention means to them.
Ashleigh Klein-Jimenez: Before I came to PreventConnect and ValorUS, I worked at a rape crisis center in my local community as a preventionist. Back then, Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month was a really important time to highlight the collaborative efforts between the local rape crisis center and the local domestic violence agency. Our organizations believed that we were stronger together — both in advocacy and prevention — and DVAM (and SAAM!) was a time to shine a light on that publicly. I still look at DVAM as a time to draw connections and NRCDV’s theme this year draws a clear connection between racial justice and domestic violence prevention. Domestic violence is connected to all forms of violence and oppression is a root cause. To me, DVAM is a time to renew and reignite my commitment to a prevention framework that centers on dismantling anti-Blackness, racism, and all other forms of oppression that fuel inequity.
Tori VandeLinde: For me, Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month has evolved from rushing around to make sure I had on purple nail polish every October 1st to using this time to set intentions and directions for the year ahead to prevent domestic violence. The annual themes from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence have been my guiding light on this. So this year, to me, DVAM 2021 means grounding any and all prevention work in anti-racism and advancing racial justice. How am I showing up every day, in work and beyond work, to act in ways that advance racial justice and survivor justice? How am I centering Black survivors, Indigenous survivors, and survivors of color in domestic violence prevention in October and every month? I still rock the purple nail polish where I can, but now, DVAM and every October is an opportunity to realign myself with the needs and direction of the movement.
What does domestic violence prevention look like to you?
Ashleigh: Domestic violence is complex and preventing it is complex too, but it is possible. It’s been exciting to see the evidence grow in terms of what works to prevent domestic violence. CDC’s Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Life Span: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies, and Practices explores prevention activities with the greatest potential to prevent domestic violence. PreventConnect has hosted many web conferences since the release of this technical package to dig deeper into the strategies and approaches featured. Two of the strategies from the technical package, creating protective environments and strengthening economic supports for families, are specifically aligned with racial justice. To me, domestic violence prevention looks like people having everything they need to reach their full potential.
Tori: Domestic violence prevention, to me, looks like everyone has the access and means to everything they need to survive and to thrive. The evolution of economic justice for domestic violence prevention in the last few years has been inspiring and fascinating to witness and participate in. The research domestically and internationally on the benefits of things like increased pay or paid leave on the primary prevention on domestic violence is so encouraging because to me, in order to create healthy, safe communities, that means domestic violence prevention is not only about healthy relationships, but is also about the necessary economic supports that ensure everyone has what they need to thrive. And, economic justice and economic supports are so broad that I feel like it widens the net of potential partners, allies, and connections in domestic violence prevention. Megan Simmons of Ujima Inc. does a great job explaining this, and we were lucky enough to have her on a web conference to dive into all these connections, and how economic justice and racial justice are interconnected.
What is one thing you’re listening to, watching, and/or reading that aligns and supports the theme of DVAM 2021 “No Survivor Justice Without Racial Justice?”
Ashleigh: I have found a lot of value in two new resources that link health equity to violence prevention. First, Prevention Institute and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) released A Health Equity Approach to Preventing Sexual Violence. Addressing underlying factors that contribute to violence and safety, like racism, is one example of a health equity approach to preventing violence. Second, NRCDV and NSVRC released Back to Basics: Partnering with Survivors and Communities to Promote Health Equity at the Intersections of Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence. This report centers stories of survivors at the intersections of systemic racism, violence, and oppression, and includes a call to action to preventionists to commit to a health equity approach. Both of these reports have enhanced my understanding of violence and the way forward and they completely support DVAM’s 2021 theme.
Tori: I am all about @NRCDV’s Twitter account! They are constantly posting resources, podcasts, and Twitter chats about the connections between survivor justice and racial justice and how preventionists can take action. They have such a wealth of resources, and they are a great model for national organizations acting on their values of racial justice and uplifting voices from the field. I’m also re-watching Resonance Network’s session from the 2021 National Sexual Assault Conference, “(Re)Imagining a World Beyond Sexual Violence: Embodying Action.” The storytellers do an amazing job of centering their prevention on hope, joy, and thriving, and this recording has helped me maintain the hope that is inherent but sometimes not always immediate in prevention work.
Check out PreventConnect’s podcasts with the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence on DVAM 2021, and register now for our upcoming October web conference on economic supports to prevent sexual and intimate partner violence.