Stand with DVAM

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By Grace Maute

Recently, a survivor and her children came to our shelter fleeing domestic violence. When they first entered shelter, YWCA Clark County advocates provided them with crisis intervention, safety planning, and emotional support as they adjusted to their new living situation. The oldest child, who was experiencing PTSD symptoms due to the prior living situation, was able to work with the children’s advocacy program advocate in therapeutic activities and play with other children in the shelter.

The mother worked with the family support advocate who helped by providing emotional support and helping her understand what her options were moving forward for housing, income, and other essentials. The shelter was also able to help with providing culturally-specific hygiene products, food, clothing, transportation, and gift cards for miscellaneous needs. These supports ensured that the survivor was able to focus on creating a sustainable financial plan for her future without having to worry about where her next meal was coming from.

Shelter advocates were able to provide the mother and her children with a referral to a local housing program. There, they received short-term rental assistance and housing move-in costs. When they exited shelter, they entered into a permanent living situation.

After exiting shelter, we received an update that the family was doing well and that they had all begun family and individual counseling. The woman had secured employment and was beginning to rebuild their lives as a family. This success speaks to the importance of tangible support for survivors. SafeChoice recognizes that survivors know what is best for themselves and their families.

Each day, through your support, YWCA’s SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program provides a wide array of services to survivors and their families. Oftentimes, when and if survivors make the decision to leave an abusive situation, they have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to get back on their feet.

SafeChoice works to help ensure that families are able to rebuild their lives following violence and abuse. However, we are also cognizant of the fact that a lot of people do not fully understand domestic violence, nor do they understand what healthy relationships are and how they should look and feel. Much of the relationships that are modeled in popular culture are not reflective of equitable and balanced relationships.

In marginalized populations, there are also additional factors that make it difficult for domestic violence survivors to access help. In the Deaf and hard of hearing community, for example, communication often poses a challenge, as does a lack of understanding of the culture and dynamics of Deaf and hard of hearing communities.

For Domestic Violence Awareness (DVAM) month this year, we partnered with the Southwest Washington for the Center the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SWCDHH) to bring awareness to the specific dynamics of intimate partner violence within the Deaf and hard of hearing community. On October 18th we invited the community to join us at the SWCDHH for a workshop entitled Healthy Relationships Start with All of Us. The community engaged in conversation regarding healthy relationships and domestic violence. The focus was on the Deaf and hard of hearing community, but the information was pertinent to everyone. We are thankful for this partnership and the community support to further awareness.

As today wraps up DVAM we want to share how you can continue to take a stand in ending violence again women.  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides critical funding for YWCA Clark County’s SafeChoice Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs.  It is set to expire on December 7th.

We need you to take action now to support the needs of survivors:

Will you join us in taking a stand?