We Say Her Name

by Michelle Polek

Charleena Lyles called the police to ask for help. That’s one of the supposedly basic concepts that many of us instill in our children: when you are in danger, call the police. Memorize 911. If you are lost, find a police officer. They will help you. In most horror movies, the arrival of police sirens and lights signify that safety has come at last. Here at SafeChoice, I am currently charging several of our donated phones that we always have on hand to give to survivors. These phones don’t have a messaging plan – their sole purpose to have a way to call 911. Calling the police is an important part of many domestic violence survivors’ safety plans. But calling the police is not a safe option for everyone.


“I Am Jane Doe” Screening and Panel Offered Local Insight into Human Trafficking

by Emily Ostrowski

Last month 75 people gathered at Kiggins Theater in Vancouver to watch a free screening of the critically acclaimed documentary “I Am Jane Doe” put on by YWCA Clark County, in partnership with the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVE), and the Clark County Human Trafficking Task Force.

The film, narrated and produced by Academy Award nominee Jessica Chastain examines the crisis of human sex trafficking through the lens of young women who are survivors, as well as their mothers who work to seek justice for their daughters, and the thousands of other families that have been hurt, and left unprotected against human trafficking.


The Classic Wines Auction Continues

by Kate Sacamano

Since 2008, YWCA Clark County has been a proud partner with four regional non-profits and the Classic Wines Auction to raise funds for our five core programs. What makes this event ideal for our organization is that we can almost double the investment of our sponsors and donors through the generosity of all of the attendees.

Clark County has been represented very well with over 100 guests supporting YWCA Clark County annually. Each year the event raises over $3 million for all five non-profits, and this year YWCA Clark County will receive $420,000 from the March 3rd auction. Thank you to everyone who helped make the auction a success, and to those donating their time and treasure every step of the way.


Young Women Receive Scholarships from YWCA

by Brittini Allen

Four high school seniors have been selected to each receive a $1,500 scholarship from YWCA Clark County in support of their future educational endeavors. Nkem Aduka, Jordan Ledbetter, Sophie Muro, and Elizabeth Rupp consistently demonstrated strong leadership qualities in alignment with YWCA Clark County values throughout their high school careers. Each student has contributed extensive volunteer hours to their schools, local nonprofits, faith-based organizations and their community as a whole.


The Cycle of Abuse and Homelessness

One of the most important factors in helping domestic abuse survivors escape their abusers is their ability to find safe, affordable housing. Unfortunately, this often proves a difficult task. Not only do abusers frequently exert control of their victim’s finances, but available low-income housing is at historic lows both locally and nationally. Many individuals who seek to escape their abuser often find themselves without a place to call home.

Domestic abuse is, in fact, the leading cause of homelessness among women. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), more than 90 percent of homeless women are victims of severe physical or sexual abuse. Often times, it is in their attempts to leave their abuser, and having nowhere else to turn, that is the cause of their homelessness.


Standing Against Racism with Camara Banfield

by Sharon Svec

In April, YWCA Clark County joined more than 500 groups across the country to demonstrate solidarity towards a mission to eliminate racism. Hosted by The Women’s Leadership Center of YWCA and the Diversity Council of WSU, this year’s event focused on a very important theme: Women of Color Leading Change. Despite outpacing other groups in college education, leading social progress in their communities, and often being the primary breadwinner in their households, women of color are consistently underrepresented in positions of leadership. But there are tangible steps we can take together.


The Power of Prevention

By Emily Ostrowski

YWCA Clark County is dedicated to empowering and supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, but our aim is to also change the pervasive culture of violence that contributes to these issues in the first place. We do this in part by actively engaging our community in prevention programs that seek to stop violence before it starts.

I just don’t have what it takes to volunteer

Rachel Pinskey, Volunteer with Nichole Peppers, Director of Volunteer Development.

Of course you do! You believe in the mission of YWCA Clark County and you have some skill or another at which you excel, and which you enjoy doing. Now, how do those skills line up with the needs of YWCA?

2017 Classic Wines Auction Raised Record Revenue

Thank you to our sponsors, guests and donors who helped make this our best year yet at Classic Wines Auction. Along with our four nonprofit partners, we raised $3.5 Million to support our programs which serve thousands of women, children and families in the Vancouver/Portland area.

It is not too late to support YWCA Clark County!

We have limited seating available for private wine dinners hosted by our generous supporters.

Register by March 27th for a special gourmet dinner at Janis and Dan Wyatt’s on May 18th featuring Ledson Winery, or for an overnight package in downtown Portland with dinner at Headwaters, wine from Basel Cellars Winery and a special after-hours tour of the Wyeth Collection at the Portland Art Museum on October 27th.

If you have any questions, please call Kate at 360-906-9123.

Survivor Jailed After Filing Protection Order

By Michelle Polek

A woman who is also an undocumented immigrant was recently arrested in El Paso, Texas. The impetus for her arrest? She had been seeking a protection order to keep herself safe from her abuser. The survivor’s lawyer noted that it was very possible that the woman’s abuser had provided the tip to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that she would be in the courtroom that day.

When I read about this for the first time, the words swirled in front of me. My stomach dropped. Anger and helplessness swelled on behalf of all the program participants we work with: the survivors who are navigating fear of the immigration system on top of the daily trauma that violence brings.      
Domestic violence is an issue that affects all communities. The intersection of domestic violence and immigration status, however, creates additional obstacles for survivors – and more tools for abusers
to exploit.

Threats and intimidation around deportation are ugly but coldly effective ways that abusers hold power over survivors. If the abuser has legal status and is a survivor’s only means to obtaining status, abusers may withdraw or threaten to withdraw that support. Survivors are often isolated in their new country without a support network, and other immigrants in the community may fear becoming involved with helping survivors – threats of deportation can extend to them and their families, too. Regardless of their own legal status, abusers may threaten to report undocumented survivors to ICE, creating a climate of fear that at any moment, the survivor might be arrested and deported. And abusers often triumphantly keep their children.

The children of survivors also suffer when the threat of deportation is so tangible. They may themselves be undocumented and included in the abuser’s threats of deportation. They may be living daily with the anxiety that at any moment, their parent will be taken away.

There’s no reference to children in the El Paso arrest. However, this survivor has another important layer of oppression to her experience: she is a transgender woman. I mention this aspect of her identity because it is important to recognize that transgender women (particularly transgender women of color) experience violence at a disproportionate rate, including in their relationships. In 2012, 14 percent of all victims of domestic violence homicides were transgender women of color.

I am grieving the fact that, in this moment, I feel that I can’t ethically encourage undocumented survivors to seek protection orders as a way to stay safer. This arrest has created a wave of fear that is echoing across families and networks of survivors and communities with undocumented loved ones. When we make conditions unsafe for survivors to report violence, we are empowering the people who are perpetrating that violence. We are sending a clear message to survivors that their safety is not a priority to us.
This is unacceptable.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, SafeChoice is here to help. Our hotline is available 24/7 at 360-695-0501. You can walk into our community office (located at 3609 Main Street) to meet with an advocate from Monday-Friday, 9am-3pm. All of our advocates have immediate access to translators over the phone. We also have a Spanish bilingual advocate, Beatriz Velasquez, who can be reached at 360-906-9148.