By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
All this month, we’re focusing on things that every person--including survivors--can do to advocate to end intimate partner violence and the stigma that surrounds it. This includes advocacy efforts to support survivors and hold offenders accountable.
Advocacy efforts can be “big” or “small,” although even actions that may seem small can have a huge impact. In another post later this week, I’ll share some ideas for smaller-scale advocacy efforts. But today, I hope to inspire you by sharing some big-time advocacy actions that survivors and others have taken to make changes happen in their communities and society.
Recently, Ali Safran’s story was featured on the Huffington Post. As a survivor of sexual assault, Ali launched Surviving in Numbers to help tell the story of survivors of sexual assault. You can learn more about Surviving in Numbers in the following YouTube video:
We also heard similar stories from survivors who participated in our research who became powerful advocates to help others. For example, several survivors shared that they became speakers to educate others in their community about intimate partner violence:
Advocacy efforts also may take the form of working with organizations to ensure that they are best meeting the needs of survivors. As one example, a participant in our research said, “I have assisted law enforcement in writing policies for effective law enforcement response to domestic violence, testify as an expert witness in civil and criminal cases.”
For those who are interested in learning how to become an advocate, many local domestic violence agencies offer formal advocacy trainings, such as this one in Lebanon, PA. These classes can be very valuable, as one participant in our research said, “I am taking classes to become an advocate. I want to help change the system that is so broken. A system where child molesters keep custody. I want to help other women.” A good place to start in seeing if a program like this exists in your community is by connecting with your state domestic violence coalition (You can find a list through the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).
When it comes to advocacy, don’t be afraid to dream big! Intimate partner violence is such a major problem in society that we need people to advocate for creative solutions that will promote real changes toward ending abuse. For example, one survivor in our research shared her dream with us:
We hope that these examples of big-time, everyday advocacy will inspire you to consider how you might start or become part of advocacy efforts to promote change in your own communities and beyond! Working together, we can all do more to end the violence and the stigma that surrounds it, support survivors, and hold offenders accountable.