At a survivor speakout we hosted this year, a survivor of sexual violence said these powerful words about sexual and domestic violence survivors: “We are told we should be silent when it’s inconvenient for those in power.” It’s true there is a long legacy in the United States of silencing, shaming, and ignoring the voices of domestic and sexual violence survivors. Yet, in 2018, the world watched as survivors refused to be silenced at an unprecedented scale, and the sexual and domestic violence community both in Arizona and nationwide stood with survivors and elevated their voices.
The momentum of the #MeToo Movement continued into 2018, where we witnessed the issue of sexual violence get both local and national attention, beginning with numerous Arizona women coming forward publicly with sexual harassment claims against former Representative Don Shooter, and ending with the dramatic Senate Judiciary Hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In both instances, we were inspired by the courage, resiliency, and tenacity of survivors who refused to be silenced, who advocated for change, and who came together to support each other with love and compassion.
In response to these situations, ACESDV stood with survivors fighting to keep perpetrators out of positions of political power. We held survivor speakouts and solidarity circles, provided advocacy and referrals to survivors through our Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Helpline, and engaged in community actions and media interviews demanding accountability for perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence. We watched as the experiences of survivors were dismissed and disbelieved, reinforcing the continued need for advocacy and education. We are guided by the wise words of a survivor speaking in a solidarity circle during the hearing of Judge Kavanaugh: “Feel your anger and your sadness, in that – is your power.”
In 2018, we were dedicated to using our power to address the roots of violence and transform our society into one centered around equity, diversity, interconnectedness, and fierce love. We know if we want to end sexual and domestic violence, we must engage men, stand with survivors of color, and empower youth. Accordingly, 2018 was the founding year of our Men Against Patriarchy and Oppression (MAPO) Committee, a male-led workgroup focused on ending toxic masculinity, changing harmful gender norms, and providing new avenues for men to get involved in the movement to end gendered violence. It was also the first year of our Youth Advocates Institute, a youth-led initiative building youths’ leadership and advocacy skills in order to promote culture change and healthy relationships among their peers. In addition, ACESDV worked with grassroots partners to build community capacity to connect LGBTQ migrant survivors and immigrant survivors with services, and educate community members about consent, bystander intervention, and healthy sexuality.
Over the past year, we were reminded more than ever how important it is to stand with survivors and continue the fight to end sexual and domestic violence. We are incredibly grateful to do this work. While our efforts can sometimes seem daunting, ACESDV is dedicated to supporting survivors and centering their experiences to create meaningful social change. We need your help to do so. In the powerful words of one sexual assault survivor: “We have to fight for compassion, love, and support in a world where it’s dying.”
With your gift, you are sending a message that you too #BelieveSurvivors and will continue to be in solidarity with the 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men who have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, and the 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men who have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Other ways your gift can help:
$35 enables one Victim Services Specialist to spend one hour on the phone with a survivor of sexual or domestic violence.
$50 supports one hour of public policy advocacy at the Arizona State Capitol.
$100 sends one domestic violence advocate to the 40-Hour Sharing Experience domestic violence training.
$250 sponsors materials for the Young Advocates Institute Southwest youth-led social justice camp.
$500 supports travel assistance for one rural ACESDV member program to attend a training.
$1000 sponsors an entire 5-day Sexual Violence Core Advocacy Training.
Consider purchasing a paper peace dove through the Gift of Peace Campaign at Jacksons Car Wash and Food Stores throughout the Metro Phoenix area through December 25th. Purchases using your Fry’s Reward Card are also great, as is shopping through AmazonSmile. Every little bit will support us as we head into 2019.
Thank you for your continued support of our mission to end sexual and domestic violence in Arizona by dismantling oppression and promoting equity among all people!
Allie Bones, MSW
Chief Executive Officer