What Will It Take to End Violence Against Women and Girls?

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What Will It Take to End Violence Against Women and Girls?

By Barbara Paradiso
Director of the Center on Domestic Violence for the University of Colorado Denver and Board Member of the YWCA of Boulder County

Barbara Paradiso
Barbara Paradiso

I have been debating this question in my mind ever since I was first informed of the YWCA USA Blog Carnival on the topic. There are so many ways to go about responding to this question. Has what we have been doing over the last 40 years worked?

Certainly it has made change. “Battering” and “domestic violence” are household terms now. According to the most recent National Crime Victimization Survey published by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012, the rate of reported instances of violence or abuse between two partners in intimate relationships dropped by 64% between 1994 and 2010.  Many people associate that drop in numbers to the passage of the Violence Against Women Act in 1994, which encouraged a more aggressive response to domestic violence by the criminal justice system and increased resources for victim support.

That’s good news; yet, in my home state of Colorado, more than 10,000 people were turned away from shelter programs in 2012 for lack of space (nearly twice the number of people that were served in shelter, and a 50% increase over those turned away in 2011) and, at minimum, 42 domestic violence-related deaths took place. A full 60% of Americans now report knowing a victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

What will it take to end violence against women and girls? Honoring the past and courageously moving on:

  • Moving on beyond an adversarial and racially-biased criminal legal system toward justice that is compassionate, accountable, victim-driven, and community-based;
  • Moving on beyond ridged, single issue service programs, and recognizing the intersections of vision and values shared with many social justice organizations, as well as the intersections of need among the women, children and men that we serve; and,
  • Moving on beyond complacency, embracing the radical roots of the Battered Women’s Movement, to loudly challenge dominance and oppression.

The work to move on, in these ways and more, takes many forms. However, the bottom line common to all anti-violence work is actually quite simple: build community, practice respect, and grow all children with love and care.

Barbara Paradiso has worked on behalf of victims of domestic violence and their children for more than 30 years as an activist, advocate and administrator. She currently directs the Center on Domestic Violence for the University of Colorado Denver and is honored to serve as a board member for the YWCA of Boulder County. 

YWCA Week Without ViolenceThis post is part of the YWCA Week Without Violence™ 2013 Blog Carnival. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ywcaWWV