Last week, we engaged thousands of supporters from across the country and around the world for our annual Week Without Violence, a global movement to end violence against women and girls. This year’s theme, Beyond Resilience: From Surviving to Thriving, challenged us to move the conversation about gender-based violence past the focus on survivor’s endurance, and towards centering healing and renewing our collective commitment to addressing domestic and systemic violence.
Throughout the week, YWCAs across the country held events in their communities to provide information to locals, resources to survivors, engage in dialogue, and advocate for policies that support building a thriving future for survivors. YWCAs and our national partners also participated in our Week of Action which began by challenging others to collectively Imagine a World Without Violence, where we encourage our supporters to take a selfie (or group photo) using one of our customizable signs and share what a world without violence means or looks like to them. We were happy to have a tremendous amount of support from Morgan State University SAAC and Knoxville County Court Clerk Office.
On Tuesday, YWCAs and our supporters stood with survivors during our Day of Action by sending hundreds of letters and logging dozens of phone calls with Members of Congress on issues critical to supporting survivors and their families, and urged legislators to take action both locally and nationally to address gender-based violence and declare racism a public health crisis. Additionally, YWCA held an exclusive Federal Agency Roundtable where the YWCA network asked questions and heard from key administrative offices including the White House Gender Policy Council, Center for Disease Control, DOJ Office on Violence Against Women, DOJ Office for Victims of Crime, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Lastly, Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta provided closing remarks and applauded the work YWCAs do every day to prevent gender-based violence, uplift communities, and support survivors.
On Wednesday, YWCA Interim CEO, Elisha Rhodes and Rachel Thomas, CEO, Option B, came together on Facebook Live to hold an intimate conversation about violence against women, the work YWCA does to support survivors every day, and how we can collectively advocate for the support and resources that survivors and communities need to feel empowered as they move beyond just surviving to thriving.
On Thursday, during our culminating virtual town hall event we challenged ourselves by Reimagining the Role of Resilience for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. The event opened with welcome remarks from Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-06), and included speakers from B.Y.E./Community Resilience Project, Esperanza United, Ujima, National Center on Domestic Violence, and Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence and featured a special performance from India.Arie! Additionally, YWCA USA announced that YWCA Clark County, YWCA Missoula, YWCA Western Massachusetts, and YWCA Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia were awarded with grant funding to strengthen their existing gender-based violence programs and the survivors in their communities. If you missed it, watch it here.
On #FeelGoodFriday, we shared stories of survivors who moved from surviving financial and domestic abuse to thriving with the Moving Ahead Curriculum by The Allstate Foundation. After a week of action, on #SelfCareSaturday we invited providers, survivors, activists, and allies across the country to rest and share the ways we practice self-care in your own life, family, and communities!
We hold great gratitude and thank all of those who supported and participated in making this year’s Week Without Violence a success! Whether it was local or national, in person or virtual; YWCAs, partners, and supporters from around the world chose to stand for survivors and center their healing and discuss how we can collectively work to open pathways for survivors to build thriving futures for themselves and their families.
But our work is not over yet! Help us build on the momentum from Week Without Violence to ensure survivors, their families, and communities across the country maintain the support, funding, and resources they need to uplift survivors as they build futures for themselves! Join us and urge your Members of Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), pass the Family Violence Prevention Services Act (FVPSA) (H.R. 2119), and cosponsor the resolution to declare racism a public health crisis (S. Res. 172/H.R. 344). We are on the cusp of major change for survivors and their families, but we can’t do it without you! Please continue to add your voice to the chorus of survivors, providers, and allies that are working to build a world without violence. In the words of our panelist Carole Warshaw, Director, National Center on Domestic Violence, engage with us, because the “solutions have to be collective. We are all in this together.”
If you or someone you know is in an unsafe situation, find a YWCA in your area or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also log onto thehotline.org—or text LOVEIS to 22522.
You are not alone, and help is available.