Champions of Change: Working to End Domestic Violence

Uploaded by whitehouse on 20.10.2011

Erin Hannigan: Hello, everybody.
How are you doing?
Audience: Great!
Erin Hannigan: My name is Erin Hannigan, and I am with the Office of Public
Engagement here at the White House.
And I would like to welcome you all,
both all of you in the audience, our Champions and all the
viewers online, welcome to this wonderful event.
We're really excited to be here today to honor these wonderful
Champions and the work that they all do.
Before we get started, I just wanted to remind everyone in the
audience here today to please mute your phones.
If you have any cell phones or Blackberries,
please put them on mute.
I also wanted to make sure that all of you here today and
watching online can learn more about our Champions' Future
Today and any of our past Champions by going to
You can learn more about past Champions,
and our Champions of Today will be featured next week so you can
learn more about them in detail on that website next week.
There is also a great source of information on the topic we are
discussing today at
So I urge you all to check it out.
Finally, I would like to get started so we can have a great
conversation today with our Champions.
I'm very excited today that we have a special guest opening
today's event.
Our first speaker today is Valerie Jarrett.
Valerie is Senior Advisor to the President and is the Chair of
the White House Council on Women and Girls.
So please join me in welcoming Valerie to the stage.
(Valerie Jarrett greets the Champions)
Valerie Jarrett: Wow; well, hello, everybody.
Welcome to the White House.
We are delighted to have you here.
I bring you greetings on behalf of President Obama, who I hope
you all know is such a strong supporter of our efforts to
combat domestic violence.
The Champions for Change program is one of our favorites.
It's just good news.
And it's a way for us to recognize people who aren't
always at the front of the headlines getting the accolades
that they deserve, but people who are just working so hard to
try to bring about positive change in our communities.
It gives us an opportunity to highlight their hard work and
their successes and their achievements from people of all
walks of life all over the country,
and so I am particularly delighted to be here today with
all of you.
Could we have a round of applause for our Champions?
Because of our Champions and because of all of you who care
about this issue and who are here with us today or watching
as we stream this, the world is a better place due to
your efforts.
And there are so many women and children across our country who
are safer today because of you.
So on behalf of the President, I thank you.
I also want to thank Lynn Rosenthal,
who is heading up our office in the White House.
First time ever!
First time ever a president has had a position such as this in
the White House.
And I also want to thank you Susan Carbon,
who heads up the office in the Justice Department.
Susan, congratulations to you as well.
Last year, I had the honor of standing with the President and
the Vice President over in the residence when we had a forum
here on the White House focusing on domestic violence.
And it was an unprecedented government-wide effort,
as well as including so many stakeholders and advocates in
the community and it was -- I still remember because we all
cried that day at some of the very touching stories that were
shared with us -- we announced our efforts to improve legal
assistance and public housing protections for domestic
violence victims.
In addition, we spoke about the importance of protecting
children and breaking the cycle of violence.
As Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls,
I am proud to say that the Obama Administration will continue to
find new ways to protect American women as they so
bravely try to combat domestic violence.
And we're going to continue to be inspired by your bravery,
your compassion and your tireless efforts for this cause.
We are absolutely convinced that under this administration we can
make a huge difference.
And the reason why is that we're going to do it not alone,
but we're going to do it with all of you.
We are sure that if working together an issue that belongs
front and center, because it touches so many families across
our country, we can combat it together.
And so I thank you again for everyone who is here,
everyone who cares so much about this issue as we do,
and for our Champions.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for what you do on behalf of
women, children, and your community each and every day.
And on behalf of the President, we want to give you the
recognition that you so much deserve.
So thank you very much.
And I'm going to turn it back over to Lynn.
Lynn Rosenthal: Good afternoon.
Audience: Good afternoon.
Lynn Rosenthal: As I look out at all of you, I always feel like we should have,
like, a purple fashion show or something like that.
Because you all look so beautiful!
I do have my, you know, purple on my wrists here.
But thank you so much, Valerie.
It's a privilege to work with you every day in your role as
Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls.
And I want to thank all of you here for joining us for this
domestic violence awareness month.
It was 30 years ago this month that the National Coalition
Against Domestic Violence convened the first day of unity
to raise awareness about this problem.
And ever since that day, every October we have gathered to
mourn those who have died, celebrate those who have
survived, and talk about the challenges that lie ahead.
There are none better to help all of us rise to meet those
challenges than our 14 Champions for Change who are here today.
So another round of applause for all of them.
But when I look out at all of you who are here and the folks
who are watching online and all the people I've met as I've
traveled around the country this October,
I have to tell you that to me, you all are Champions;
the work that you do is lifesaving.
October is also a wonderful time to reflect back on the very
humble beginnings of this movement.
The first shelters were women's living rooms.
The first hotlines were home phone numbers.
Women came together and they began talking and sharing their
experiences with violence.
And they realized that they could help each other.
And what followed is one of the most remarkable movements for
social justice that this country has ever seen.
These women raised money.
They built shelters.
They trained law enforcement officers.
They wrote legislation.
And they transformed the community response to domestic
violence and sexual assault.
The Vice President has often said that the women who started
this movement are his heroes.
And I echo that.
But yet today, in spite of all of our work,
domestic violence still causes more than two million injuries
to women every year and more than $8 billion to our economy
in lost productivity and other costs.
And we also know that our young people are the most at risk.
It's our young women, ages 16 to 24,
who have among the highest rates of dating violence and
sexual assault.
Last year, as we celebrated the 16th Anniversary of the Violence
Against Women Act, Vice President Biden said we are
going to have a whole new awakening on this issue for
young women and for young men.
And we have!
This summer, Vice President Biden convened a Cabinet-level
meeting to task federal agencies with coming up with concrete
actions that they could take to address dating violence and
sexual assault.
That same day, we announced our Apps Against Abuse Challenge to
technology innovators to team up with advocates to develop new
ways of using technology to intervene and prevent violence.
And I will tell you, we have some wonderful submissions.
People have asked me, can an app really help end abuse?
But I've seen the partnerships that have been created between
technology innovators and advocates;
those partnerships will change the world.
And we will announce the winners of the Apps Against Abuse
Challenge within the next month.
Last month, we also announced the expansion of the National
Dating Violence Helpline to be available by text,
chat or phone, 24 hours a day.
We want people to reach out for help in the medium that they
feel the most comfortable with.
So I'd like to ask our representatives of the National
Help Line and their partnering organization "Break the Cycle"
to stand and be recognized.
Thank you.
As we were preparing to meet our Champs today, I was also
personally very struck by the voices that we would not be
hearing today; by the people that we've lost over the
past decade.
And so, on this very special day we want to begin by remembering.
First, we remember the three women who still die in this
country every day as a result of domestic violence.
These women are not strangers.
They're our mothers, our daughters, our sisters,
our coworkers, our neighbors and our friends.
We also want to remember the key activists and leaders that we've
lost through illness and accidents over the
past ten years.
We begin by remembering Susan Schechter,
who we remember for her innovative work in connecting
domestic violence and poverty.
We begin by remembering Lupe Serrano,
who taught all of us so much in her work in organizing within
the Latino community.
And Lupe taught us that true change is organic from
within communities.
We remember Diane Reese, who spent her life organizing and
working and building the empowerment of women in
rural Appalachia.
We remember Jon Cohen from the New York City Batterer
Intervention Project, who never stopped reminding us of the root
causes of violence against women.
We remember Sandra Camacho for teaching us about the
connections between women, children and community.
And finally, we remember Paul and Sheila Wellstone.
Sheila Wellstone devoted her life to this issue.
She traveled around the state of Minnesota and visited battered
women shelters.
She sat around kitchen tables and listened to the words
of survivors.
She brought those experiences to Washington, D.C.
And Paul Wellstone brought them to the U.S. Senate.
Their deaths were not a footnote in history, but rather a major
loss for all of us who care about social justice.
So we want to take just a moment in silence and in remembrance.
Thank you.
We are saddened by these losses, but we also know that their
passion and their commitment is carried on in our
Champions of Change.
And so we turn to them now.
I'd like to tell you a little bit about this very
distinguished group on the stage,
but then they're going to tell you more about the work that
they do every day.
Suzanne DuBois -- oh, they all deserve a huge round of applause
so I'm going to ask you to --
So I'm going to ask you to hold it now until the end.
I also want to say again that these 14 people represent all of
you up here on this stage.
And I feel that way every day when I walk in the White House.
I walk in here with all of your stories.
I walk in here with the stories of all the many survivors I've
met over the years.
I walk into this White House every day with those stories.
Suzanne DuBois is the Executive Director of the Jeanne Geiger
Crisis Center in Newburyport, Massachusetts.
She is here today because of her innovative work in preventing
domestic violence homicides.
Next to her is Dave Thomas.
He's being honored today as a law enforcement trainer.
He considers ending violence against women as his
calling in life.
And we're joined by Misty Thomas,
who is a member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska and is
here today as a representative of the New Beginnings House,
a shelter that has been many years in formation and just had
their open house last month.
We're joined by Nicole DeSario, who is honored today for her
role as a youth advocate and President of the MASK Theater
Company, which she will tell you more about today.
And next to her is William Kellibrew, who many of you know.
William is a child survivor of violence and he is one who has
turned his tragedy into triumph by teaching others about abuse.
We're joined by Sharon Stapel, who is honored today as the
Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project,
one of the first in the country to address domestic violence and
sexual assault in the LGBTQ communities.
And we're joined by Johanna Orozco.
Johanna is a teen educator and survivor of dating violence.
She is honored today for using her personal story to help other
young people escape abuse.
And next to her is Vincent Lazaro,
someone who's known me for quite a long time and I've known him
for his work as a law enforcement trainer.
He is honored today for his innovative work in using
technology to hold offenders accountable,
and also for his commitment to supporting children who have
witnessed domestic violence.
And we're joined by Amelia Cobb.
Amelia is honored today for her work promoting the leadership of
Historically Black Colleges and Universities in preventing
dating violence and sexual assault.
And we're joined by Kabzuag Vaj, who is honored for her work in
bringing the Hmong community and other people of color in
Wisconsin together to end violence against women.
We're joined by Becca Stevens.
Becca is an Episcopal priest.
And she is honored today as a founder of Magdalene House,
a residential community for women which she's going to tell
you more about.
And we're joined by Lena Alhusseini who is the Executive
Director of the Arab American Family Support Center in
New York City.
She is honored today for her work in preventing domestic
violence, her work on child protection,
and human trafficking.
And we're joined by Meg Schnabel,
who many of you have admired over many, many years.
Meg is one of the first in the country to begin talking about
economic empowerment as a strategy to help women
escape violence.
She is being honored today for her innovative training in
bringing economic security and hope to survivors of
domestic violence.
And we're joined by Cherelyn Homlish,
who is here today as a representative of People's Place
in Delaware, an innovative shelter using a trauma-informed
approach to services.
So I want to ask you once again to give a big round of applause
to all of our --
And now they're going to tell you more about their work.
I'm going to join them on the panel and we're going to start
with Suzanne.
Suzanne DuBois: Okay.
So, first of all, I'm honored to be here.
My name is Suzanne; I'm the CEO of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis
Center in Newburyport, Mass.
And I've been there for 18 years.
But I was interviewed a few days ago and a reporter said,
you know, I'm not surprised that you are a survivor.
I've always found that if you scratch an advocate you'll find
a survivor.
And my story is not very different.
I mean, that certainly applies to me.
And so my story actually started in the '80s.
I was in my 20s, I was young, I was inexperienced,
I was married to a man, and I did not recognize the signs of
abuse until it became very physical.
And during that time, we lived in California,
and he was a commercial fisherman,
so I welcomed those times when he would be gone for days or
weeks at a time because I was in peace.
And I was driving to work one day and I heard a radio
interview and it was a woman who was opening a battered
women shelter.
And I thought, that is so awesome.
I probably didn't think awesome.
But I thought "cool," probably.
That is so cool.
How wonderful that someone is going to do that and how
wonderful because people must need resources like that.
I don't know who they are, but they must need them.
And so days later, my husband came home and that was the first
time I realized, wow!
She is really talking about women like me.
And I always felt quite lucky that I escaped that relationship
with not a lot of the fanfare.
He went on one trip.
I came back to New England and that was kind of the end.
So I felt I was done with that and I went on to my life,
and -- until Nicole Brown Simpson was murdered.
And to me, that was a decade later and it was a huge wake-up
call for me because I felt like even though I had been a victim,
there was a lot about domestic violence I didn't know.
And I really thought, well, here is as women who had all of these
resources and she couldn't keep herself safe.
She couldn't stay safe.
And what it did was it inspired me to volunteer at our local
women's crisis center, which is where I work now.
And I had been the executive director for about three years
when one of our clients was murdered.
And at the time if you run a nonprofit,
I think there are times when you start thinking,
am I good at this job?
Is this the right job for me?
Am I doing a good job?
And when Dorothy was murdered, I thought, well,
this isn't the time to start wondering am I doing a good job;
it is time to get to work.
And what we really started to think about,
and as an organization, I had a lot of depressed long-term
advocates who came to me and said,
I don't know what we're doing!
She came to us.
We knew she was in danger.
We couldn't save her.
What are we doing?
And so we began to try to figure out,
what were the gaps in the system?
How did this case slip through our fingers?
How did she end up dead?
And using the research of Dr. Jacqueline Campbell,
we created the high-risk team model which really prevents
domestic violence homicide by doing three things:
One is containing offenders and holding them accountable.
It is ensuring that victims have access to
comprehensive services.
And it is changing the system so that we're no longer looking at
victims who are in high danger as your only recourse is to go
into shelter.
And so what happens if women can't or won't go into shelter,
do we have another option?
So that is the basis for the model that we created.
And we're looking forward to continuing the replication of
this model.
Thank you.
Dave Thomas: Good afternoon.
It's so good to see so many people in the audience that
I've had the great pleasure to work with over the years;
because I think we all know collaboration is really the key.
And I came into this field being someone who had everything,
incredibly loving family, loving parents,
and -- but early on I knew to whom much is given,
much is owed.
And I really -- the seeds of my passion began back in the second
grade when I was down watching TV and a news flash came on the
screen, Martin Luther King has been assassinated.
And I went up to my father, and I said, dad,
who is Martin Luther King, and my father being the educator
that he is said, go to the library and you come home and
you tell me who Martin Luther King is.
That's where Dr. King started as my hero, all through growing up;
I had pictures of King on my walls.
And I had quotes of King.
In fact, anybody who knows me hears me throwing out quotes all
the time of Dr. King, because it inspires my work.
Then, you know, I went on to college and I was still looking
for how to channel my passion, and as a junior,
first semester junior year, I stumbled into a women's studies
course, and even though I was a double major,
majoring in business and in history,
I started learning a side of history that wasn't taught
across campus.
And it was eye opening.
And wanting to graduate on time, I knew I couldn't have a third
major, but I started working towards a minor
in women's studies.
And it -- you know, in my senior year,
I was president of the student government,
and one of the fraternities on campus in their infinite
wisdom decided to show an X-rated film on campus,
and I was struggling, what can I do, I got to do something.
I remembered back to what Dr. Markovitz had said in my
first, women in perspective, and I knew I had to do something.
I went, I studied that constitution and came back the
next Tuesday, and when I gave my communications,
I read an executive order that I drafted the night before that
forbade X-rated movies at Towson University.
And that was in 1983.
And today, X-rated movies cannot be shown at that school
because you have to have a two-thirds majority vote of the
student body to override an order like that.
And thus say violence against activists was born.
I graduated and I actually became an advocate before I
became a cop.
And I became cop because it was the best way that I knew I could
go on the front lines and be a true ally and find ways in order
to combat violence against women.
In 1986, it wasn't a popular theme,
but I wanted to start a domestic violence unit.
You know, who thunk it.
I thunk it, because I knew that Martin Luther King said the arc
of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward what?
That's what we're all about.
And, you know, it's been an incredible journey.
I'm a devout optimist and we're going to keep getting things
right, we're going to keep doing things right.
I've been -- I've been incredibly blessed to have my
beautiful wife with me here.
And, you know, when I think of her,
I think of a song by Clint Black that any -- in the song he talks
about she's half the man I am, and that's my wife.
Thank you.
Misty Thomas: (speaking in Siouan)
(in English): It is a great honor to be here with you today.
I shake your hand with a good heart.
And my name is Misty Thomas, I am from the Santee Sioux Nation
in Nebraska, and I'm also a descendant of
the Tlingit of Alaska.
And I am the director of Social Services for the Santee Sioux
Nation, and within our department, we're a small tribe,
so I have a lot of -- I have APS, CPS, ICWA -- no.
Family preservation, independent living,
we have an AmeriCorp program, and we have Horse Grant.
And when I started -- and also the domestic violence and sexual
assault program.
When I started, when I back home to work five years ago,
I had two main goals that I wanted to see for my tribe,
and one was a domestic violence shelter,
and the other one was a horse program.
I'm not going to talk too much about the Horse Program today,
but those are my -- the two babies that I have besides my
other two babies at home.
But I guess my journey began about ten and a half years ago,
and when I was in school and I had met my husband,
and many -- again, just like anybody else,
the sign were there, but I didn't know.
I was even going -- as I was going through these classes and
everything and learning about it,
I didn't realize that I wasn't going to be able to get myself
out, not until -- actually this last few months has been very
difficult for me.
In July, we obtained the facility for our -- our
the Otokahe Teca Tipi, which means New Beginnings House.
And that was also the same month that my husband left.
And so it's very, very, very raw still.
But I wanted to get through today without crying.
But we got the shelter in July.
It's a beautiful seven-bedroom home located on our reservation
in Northeast Nebraska.
We have a very small reservation.
Right now we have about 12 beds available.
We have our first client already.
We had our open house on September 20th.
And we have a lot of very strong support that came to support us,
and it's been an amazing journey so far,
and I know it's only beginning.
Already, you know, there's lots of -- there was a lot of bumps
in the road just to get the facility.
And we had -- we're still experiencing it,
we're trying to get our security system in place,
our policies and procedures, everything like that,
but we do have our first client, and so it's an honor
to be here today.
Thank you.
Nicole DeSario: Thank you very much for speaking.
And thank you, everyone, that's here today.
I am truly honored to be here with all of you.
You've been doing amazing work for probably longer than I've
even been alive.
So my name is Nicole DeSario, I am 16 years old,
and I go to Montgomery High School in --
Yes, yeah, I was expecting that.
Yeah, I go to Montgomery High School in New Jersey,
and I am a student advocate and educator for teenage
relationship abuse.
I am the founder of and president of a group in my
school called MASK Theater, which stands for Montgomery
Advocates for Solidarity and Kindness.
I first started to become involved in relationship abuse
education about a year ago where I did my first seminar at a
local middle school.
Appropriately the first time that New Jersey recognized
February as teen dating violence awareness and prevention month,
that was this past February.
Additionally at the same time I contacted local representatives
and championed a bipartisan bill, 82920,
that mandated that grades 7 through 12 have teen dating
violence education incorporated into their health curriculums,
safe dating education, starting September 2011 school year.
So following the passage -- that bill was signed into law by
Christie on May 5th and --
That was very exciting.
So following the signage of that bill,
I wanted to create a sustainable program where I could continue
educating students in my own community about teenage
relationship abuse.
So I created MASK which is a theater group that educates
students in interactive manner using discussions and performing
presentations that we adapt through the anonymous
submissions that teenagers in our own community give to us on
our blog page that we have online, or they
can email us, too.
It is also a group where we are educated and certified in
relationship abuse education, because we have connections with
a local agency called the Resource Center of Somerset.
Tony Winchatz, the director of community affairs there gave us
-- gave all the members of my club a training program that
certified them in this education.
So a big concept of MASK theater is -- a goal that we have is to
go to different schools in our community and try to implement
our program into their school so they can be a resource and
support group for the students, and they're in school as well.
And so that's one of our goals that we want to do.
Additionally, we have this vision of working with the
Resource Center of Somerset in creating a nonprofit
organization that will be available to any student in our
community for -- specifically geared toward teenagers,
because I feel that it's a population that isn't given --
is kind of neglected when it comes to relationship abuse
education, and one in three teenagers will experience an
abusive relationship at least once.
And so our goal is to combat relationship abuse in teenagers
by creating an unity in our own community.
William Kellibrew: My name is William Kellibrew, and I'm just honored to be here.
And when I think of a room like this,
I think of how grateful I am to be here, because in 1984,
it was a different room.
I woke up to the terrifying sounds of my mother screaming.
And from that moment on, she -- she was murdered,
shot right in front of me.
I also witnessed my 12-year-old brother get murdered,
and had to beg for my life at gun point from a killer who had
been released from prison from serving an 11 and a half-year
sentence for second-degree murder, and we didn't know that.
So it was after that, in fact, the day after that,
my grandfather actually shot his neighbor in front of me.
This is July 2nd, 1984.
And on July 3rd, 1984, my grandfather shot the neighbor.
And then the 4th of July came, and you can imagine what I had
to go through hearing the gun shots all over again and all
over again.
And so by the age of 13, I was -- I was completely drained of
my dignity, completely drained of my respect,
respect for myself and respect for others,
and I wanted to take my life.
And at 13, I wanted to jump off of a bridge.
But I said -- something happened,
I gave William another chance that morning as I looked over
the bridge, and I made it to the school.
And an assistant principal named Charles C.
Christian called my grandmother who -- he made an emergency call
to my grandmother who made an emergency call to Children's
Hospital where I met my first therapist at 13.
And after three years of suffering,
I started my road to recovery.
And that was Christine Pierre who was a social worker.
So for social workers out there, your work counts.
And just recently after 25 years,
I just got a chance today to publicly thank her.
I never seen her since that point.
And today I thanked her and I also thanked my assistant
principal publicly, it was the first time I had seen them since
my childhood.
So give them, you know, just that round of applause.
And since then, it's been a long road to recovery,
but I -- but I took up the mantle over the past few years
and have, you know, really steered the way pour others who
have suffered through the kind of violence that I've witnessed.
And I realized that we have to take a look at our -- we have to
put your mask on first, I always think about the airplane,
you know, you have to put your mask on before you can apply it
to somebody else next.
And the Surgeon General always talks about that.
And the flight attendants.
But we have to do that.
And for a long time, I've been putting other people's masks on,
but I decided to put mine on, and now I've got it tight and
in place.
And so at my university, there were two professors,
Clarence Davis and Professor Barbara Harvey who started a
foundation called the William Kellibrew foundation.
I'm not even the founder.
They started it, but what it did to me was it put my name on a
marquee and say you're responsible, you're accountable.
And that's what I've been doing ever since.
And today, we champion a collective and coordinated and
proactive approach, the same kind of approach that Christine
Pierre used, the same kind of approach that Charles C.
Christian used and my grandmother used to get
me and nurse me back to health.
And today the mission of the organization,
we are a resource for individuals in institutions
committed to braking the cycles of violence and poverty.
We realize poverty also plays a huge role,
because my -- my mother was on welfare when she was murdered,
and we fought hard to get to where we are today.
But I wouldn't be here today if my grandmother didn't jump in at
the age of 10 and she took us on.
And she's never looked back.
And she's in the audience today, by the way.
Thank you. Ms. Delores Short.
Sharon Stapel: My goodness. I just need a moment.
First of all, I want to thank Lynn and everyone at the White
House for this extraordinary recognition.
And I have to say that I'm just completely overwhelmed by the
talent and brilliance and strength of the people that
I'm sitting with.
So I'm very honored.
My name is Sharon Stapel; I'm the executive director of the
New York City anti-violence project.
And our mission is to work with lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transgender, queer and HIV affected people who experience
hate violence, sexual violence or domestic violence through a
combination of direct services, community
organizing and public advocacy.
Our principles that we operate under are safety,
support and self determination, and we work with survivors to
create programs that we think are particularly effective in
LGBTQ communities, including perhaps that we have in the
Bronx and in Queens to work with transgender people of color who
are experiencing violence that is unique to both their sexual
orientation and their race and ethnicity.
We also work with survivors of violence through our speaker's
bureau where we teach survivors the speaking,
leadership and activist tools that they need to become
anti-violence activists in their own rights.
And we also work -- we provide the first and,
as far as we know, the only mixed gender and LGBTQ inclusive
support group in working with survivors of intimate partner
violence which provides folks with the space to explore both
the violence and how that impacts their
identities specifically.
Sometimes, though, I was thinking about -- about
the innovation and why we do the work.
And sometimes I think the most radical work that we do is
actually the simplest, which is to make LGBTQ people visible in
this work and in the conversation that we
have about domestic violence.
LGBT people have very few safe places in this country.
We face almost daily discrimination,
bias and lawful discrimination against ourselves and our
communities because of who we are and who we love.
And in the midst of that, we also experience intimate partner
violence at the same rates that every other community
experiences it, in 25 to 33% of our relationships.
I made notes, because Lynn told us two minutes,
and I wanted to pay attention to that.
And while there are unique issues that affect LGBTQ
survivors, at the root of all of this,
we have the same issues that everyone else has,
which the power and control that abusive partners have over those
who are being abused in a relationship.
And despite our similarities in that way,
one of the big differences that we experience with the rest of
the world is that we don't find the same treatment or support or
welcome environment when we try and seek help to address the
violence that's in our relationships.
And we at AVP know it can be complicated to talk about
violence outside of the boxes that we've sort of identified
as the paradigms that we talk about violence.
So we talk about husbands and wives and we talk about
girlfriends and boyfriends, and we talk about men and women,
but when we do that, we exclude every LGB -- excuse me,
every LGBTQ person who is listening to that conversation
or who is in that room or who is a part of that discussion,
because that's not the paradigm that we live with.
And so part of what we want -- part of what the New York City
antiviolence project does is create a space for people of
be exactly who we are.
And part of what I have to say to you today is we know as
allies you work with us to end violence.
And we work with you to end violence.
And that is our goal to prevent any other person from ever
experiencing intimate partner or sexual violence.
What we need from you as our allies is to create the space
for us to be exactly who we are and to love exactly who we love
while we are dealing with this violence.
So that's what I ask of you today.
And thank you again very much.
Johanna Orozco: Wow, I am very touched and honored to be here.
You guys are amazing people and I'm sure I'm going to continue
hearing more amazing stories on the way.
But my name is Johanna Orozco.
I am 22 years old and I have worked for the Domestic Violence
and Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland, Ohio.
I am a survivor as well as I am a teen educator.
And what I do is I share my story with teenagers
in the high schools.
I share my story with them.
My story goes back four years ago.
I was in an abusive relationship with my
ex-boyfriend for two years.
I went through the emotional, verbal and physical abuse.
Leaving my relationship finalizing it, my ex-boyfriend
came back and raped me at knife point.
Two weeks after I reported it, my ex-boyfriend came to my house
and shot me in the face with a sawed-off shotgun.
So I share my story with teenagers and I tell them
what a healthy relationship is, what an unhealthy relationship
is and how to get out of it.
How is the safer way to get out of it?
And I was blown away -- doing my work for two years now.
Blown away of that I was never by myself.
I thought I was always alone and I was never alone,
because there are thousands and thousands,
just in Cleveland and just in Ohio that are going through
something like this.
And I wanted to do more.
I did not only want to share my story,
that wasn't enough for me.
So what I got to do was, I got to help pass two laws in Ohio.
House Bill 10 is that now teens are allowed to get protection
orders, if they are in an abusive relationship or being
stalked or bullied.
That's there for them to have now; something I couldn't get
in my time of need.
And then I also, as Nicole also mentioned in Cleveland,
almost going to be a year now that now teens are going to get
education in their high school from grade 7 to 12 on what teen
dating violence is.
So I got to do all that work.
And I will continue to doing all my work and all of you have
inspired me and teenagers throughout my way have
inspired me to continue doing what I do.
So thank you again for being here.
It has been an honor.
Thank you.
Vincent Lazaro: Thank you all for coming.
It says so much to victims, the fact that you're here.
Nicole, I'm a 30 year police veteran and yes,
I'm one of those ones who does more domestic violence work than
than the years that you have been born.
But I will say that for all the times that I've been stabbed and
shot at as a police officer, but for the sake of people
like Nicole, William and Jo, and the other victims that are out
there, I will be glad to risk my life, if I can help them.
I started as a young child with immigrant parents and
my father was a tough old Sicilian and we had a lot of
rage that he came with and office times we would quietly
sneak and put clothes in a bag and walk down to the bus stop
and go stay at my uncle's house where it was safe.
And I could always see that I had a kind gentle mother and I
could always see into your soul the hurt that she had that she
didn't deserve.
And I made it my mission to be a police officer to
help other people.
And the first time I can remember going to a woman who
called because of domestic violence she couldn't talk to
me, but I could see in her soul the same hurt that my mother had.
And I made it my mission to do domestic violence at work as a
police officer to reach as many victim as possible and to try
and develop a coordinated response,
because it was imperative that we hold the abuser accountable
for unforgivable acts, but it was also more significant to
protect the children to provide safety for the victim and to get
that victim into services that she probably didn't know were
out there.
And if she had heard of them we needed to connect
her to those services.
I was fortunate to become a police officer in Palm Beach
County Florida in the sheriff's office where the sheriff said to
run and help victims.
And where in 1997 we had 10 domestic violence homicides we
took an aggressive approach.
We made public awareness to those victims that were hidden
behind closed doors know that we wanted them to call,
that we were there to hold the abuser accountable,
but more importantly to make safety our number one priority
for that victim.
We were able to reduce domestic violence homicides.
We got grants to provide the photographs of the victims and
the crime scene for the judges at first appearance.
And I'm pleased to say today I'm very proud that that agency has
carried on as many other agencies in Florida,
where I'm from have done where they have grown to protect the
victims and put the victims in shelters when necessary,
provide services that connection for the victims.
And much to my greater satisfaction,
I've now left police work to go to work for Lynn's old agency at
the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence where there
are miracle worker there.
There's someone manning that hotline in 3:00 o'clock in the
morning waiting for a victim to call.
So I am here representing them, also representing police
officers and prosecutors and advocates who will
reach out to victims.
But I'm only just a small piece of the puzzle.
Because the victims are the true heroes.
Thank you very much.
Amelia Cobb: Hi everyone, my name is Amelia Cobb and I'm so excited to be
here and share this experience with all of you all.
I'm actually president of The Wright Group where I help the
human services consulting group that comes together and
mobilizes communities to make a change.
We have two national projects on violence against women.
One of them is ending violence against women,
the HBCU project, which is one of my just projects I love in
just energy, not that I don't love all of them,
but I love students.
And I stand here today, I always get asked this question which is
why do you this work?
And I'm going to get to that in a second.
But the key reason why I focus on HBCU is because I'm standing
here today because of the silent student who cannot talk or the
mother or father who's working endless hours to send their
child to school and they don't have the money but they are
working and they want their child to be there
in a safe environment.
So, I started the project with a group of people who also went to
HBCU's and came together with a little bit of seed funding from
the office of women's health, and moving forward today we've
been able to mobilize the project to reach nine schools.
And we have a signature project every year that we do which is
three days, three ways.
And within 48 hours we are able to mobilize up to 7,000
students to take a stand around sexual assault.
We do this in partnership with Denim Day USA.
So we have been official sponsors and partners with
them for the last year.
But we actually create these programs, you know,
from the ground up.
So more or less it looks very different at every HBCU.
This past year we've been able to do case compositions with the
school of business to actually look at how schools of business
in academic institutions can actually begin to address
violence against women as a whole from a social norms
campaign and a marketing campaign.
I think for me, I got in this work and I represent
the bystander.
Oftentimes you hear victims who are advocates, which is great,
we need all those stories.
But what I've learned in the last ten years is that we have
so many bystanders who either don't know what to do or don't
know how to let their voice be heard.
And I stand here as a bystander who was a teen,
who was a roommate, who was a college mate and who in the last
five years I found out is a granddaughter.
So I think that if you remember anything about what I do and my
project, just remember that I am a bystander and bystanders
can actually make change.
Kabzuag Vaj: Hi, my name is Kabzuag Vaj and I'm actually
from Madison.
I was born in Laos.
Before I start I have to shout out to a few people because they
voted me to come.
So as a collective we had to decide who was going to come and
so they voted for me to come and with that I have to say hi to
all the Freedom, Inc. staff, especially the youth staff,
and also hi to my one and-a-half year old because he doesn't know
yet, but making sacrifices so that he can have a different
future and a different world to live in.
And so, I have to say hi to him and the many, many,
other single mothers who are out there doing this work because we
sacrifice a lot so that our children and our sisters and
our mothers may have a different world to live in.
And so, I just want to say that.
And also with that a thank you to my mother for always being
there and supporting me and taking care of my kid while
I'm away.
So they always think I'm on vacation.
So, now that we are live streaming it I
guess she can see.
But with that said I want to say that I too am a survivor of a
history of women who are warriors before me, a survivor,
a niece of an auntie took her own life back in the home
country because people seemed to think that domestic violence is
an American thing or domestic violence is a new age thing.
And I want to say that it looks very different in
different communities.
And so, my auntie who took her own life because there was no
option at that time.
And she wasn't in a very abusive marriage and kept coming back to
my father and them for help.
And they kept sending her back to her husband.
And so finally she took her own life and then my mother's own
story of saying I had enough and one day just fought back and my
father after that never touched her again because she was like I
just had enough.
And then my own story of I've had enough.
And so I'm here today to say that it is possible and that
advocates are survivors, are victims,
and sometimes they are just bystanders.
But the majority of the time we are not only survivors of our
own community's, patriarchal system,
but as women of color we are survivors of the mainstream
system that often is more oppressive in many
different ways.
So that leads me with my work with Freedom, Inc.
in that like we are not here just to talk about interpersonal
relationships and violence against us from people who
are supposed to love us.
We are here to also address the violence perpetuated against us
from the system, that's supposed to protect us.
And so, ten years ago in Madison,
which is predominantly white, but there's a small few of us,
population of Southeast Asians were refugees who came to this
country as a result of the end of the Vietnam War.
I was born in Laos as a refugee child,
survived the famine during the war,
survived the years in the refugee camps and then am trying
to survive the U.S., right.
And so, with that said, I stand before you and speak on behalf
of the people that I love and care about,
who may not be able to speak for themselves because of language
barriers, because they have lost their lives to domestic violence
or other war claims or other violence against women and
children to say that there has to be a different way of
creating a different world.
And that is that it's not enough to just create services.
And that there has to be social shift,
there has to be new social norms and that men along with women
have to be a part of that, and that is not enough for me that
we create services, but that there has to be a actual shift
in your mind.
There has to be a shift in our hearts because this -- I'm not
here to stop domestic violence or to see how
many people I serve.
I'm here to end that, because if we don't look at it --
-- so I say that to say that if you're trying to end something
you don't just create services.
You need to look at the root causes.
And the root causes are patriarchy,
it looks different here.
But in my community I know what is looks like and we need to
like combat both of that.
But I want to end with saying that there are many, many,
women in Wisconsin that I get to stand on their shoulders today
and that is of course the people that I work with at Freedom,
Inc., because they do the day-to-day work.
And also collective of Hmong women who on a daily
basis we have to hold our community accountable for how
they treat us as women, as daughters, as girls.
And until we do that, within our own communities,
how can we hold our people accountable.
And then as a person of color in Wisconsin,
I also have to stand with my sisters of color to hold
the system accountable.
Because without those two changes, it's a revolving door.
And as a survivor, as a victim, as a, you know, my history
depends on those changes and so -- I want it different world
for my son, but I also want to think the national organizations
who have always been behind me and always been supportive.
So thank you for allowing us to be here to share a little bit of
our inspiration to you all.
Becca Stevens: I carry into this how it's space the gratitude of a community,
and it is comprised of hundreds of women who have survived
violence; in rape, in childhood trauma and prisons and
trafficking and prostitution and streets.
And bear witness to the truth that in the end love is the most
powerful force for social change in the world.
We are also grateful that you recognize the work of Magdalene,
residential communities of women who have survived all of that.
And Thistle Farms, its social enterprise,
Magdalene began in 1997; we opened our first doors and
offered sanctuary to five women.
We took no federal or state money and relied on the
gratitude for all those who had received some mercy in our lives
for what we had survived.
We have six homes and communities.
We have our Thistle Farms community.
It's comprised of 35 women who are residents and graduates of
those residential programs.
Free housing for two years.
Every department of the company is led by a woman of Magdalene.
We have whole bath and body care,
all natural product line that goes to 200 retail stores.
We have partnerships now with sister communities in Ghana,
in Kenya and Rwanda.
And we teach the model in cities all over this nation.
It is a great privilege to be here.
And on behalf of all of us we are so grateful and it really
gives me renewed courage to go back out and seek out those
other hallowed spaces in this world where the truth of the
consequences of the universal violence on women's bodies takes
its toll on individual backs and love still endures and heals.
Lena Alhusseini: My name is Lena Alhusseini.
I'm the executive director of the American Family
Support Center.
Again, like everyone else I'm, you know,
really so honored to be here today especially for a little
girl from Jerusalem.
I'm also an immigrant.
You have no idea what a big deal this is.
I'm here with my heroes, because when I tell you
my story you'll know.
So let's give you a little bit.
My first job, that was 25 years ago,
so I'm another one of those who's been around a long time.
The first job I ever had I was working in a hospital in the
Middle East.
And one of my cases came in, it was a 13 year old
who was pregnant.
So looking through her paperwork her husband
was a 42 year old man.
So I had been living abroad not in my country for a long time.
So I had no idea.
So I went to my boss, I said this is child abuse.
This is a 13 year old who is pregnant.
He's like, you know, this is the law.
There's nothing you can do about it here.
There's, you know, what else can you do?
She's pregnant and that's her husband by law.
So that was my first experience with child
abuse and all of that.
The second experience would be getting women and children who
are abused, beaten up with marks and what have you and there was
no legal remedies.
All we could do was fix them up and take them back home.
There's nothing we can do about it.
So in time, my frustration grew and I became more of an
activist, and I was lucky enough to work in Jordan and work with
Queen Rania and open the first child protection organization
in Jordan.
Actually, it was at the time in the Middle East,
and that was the late '90s.
And we had no clue about this kind of work.
We were just, you know, responding to the issues that we
saw in our community.
So we were getting the kids, you know, like everybody else,
we had -- we had physical and sexual, everything, emotional.
So the first problem we had was convincing our community we had
those same issues.
You know, always the first response is like,
we don't have this kind of thing.
Obviously, of course, we do like everyone else.
But we quickly realized with every child that came in,
the mother was also a victim as well.
And also we didn't -- we still don't, actually --
have an infrastructure in the Middle East.
There is nothing you can do about it.
She can come in and she'll be broken, you know,
have broken arms or what have you,
and there is nothing for her to do.
So I had always known about how, you know,
I wanted to learn more and I wanted to learn in a country
where there was an infrastructure.
And I had always grown up knowing that the United States
had the best kind of system in place and I went to many of
you, I'm sure.
So I came here to learn from you what we can do as a community to
help my own people and Arabs and Muslims to really sort of
develop programs to address our own issues.
Because our issues are a little bit --
you know, in our community -- and sounds like very --
you know, immigrants we have many similarities.
Our community isn't really open to a woman speaking up against
domestic violence or child abuse.
What happens if you do speak up, your own family isolates you.
Your own community isolates you.
There is no shelters, there is no --
you know, there is nowhere for you to really go.
So it is not just -- it is not just being afraid of the --
of the offender or the person who is abusing you,
it's also being afraid of your own family,
because there is nowhere for you to go.
Oftentimes when there is issues of sexual abuse,
or what have you, the woman has to be fearful because of honor
killings from her own family as much as the other person.
And this is very true here in the United States.
So we have been doing -- since I have been here in the United
States, I have been very lucky.
I have been working at the Arab American Family Support Center
and we decided from the get-go, we are going to really tackle
those issues.
And tackle them with integrity.
And really, you know, push the boundaries,
but really address the issues we know were in our community.
So we were very lucky.
We got the ground for culturally sensitive programs,
which was like wow, a gift from Heaven.
Because it allowed us to do something no one has
done before.
We were able to work on domestic violence and sexual assault,
knowing our community, knowing the issues of, for instance,
honor killings, knowing that if a woman speaks up, the next day,
if she is like 14 or 15, they can take her back home and you
never hear back from her; international child abduction;
all of these issues.
But we have also been very lucky to have been able to work on
issues of teen dating.
Of course, to this day, you asked --
many Arabs and Muslims and, you know, "our kids don't date."
Obviously, they all date like everybody else.
But then our kids are at a disadvantage,
because they can't go back home and talk to their parents.
And they don't know how to keep themselves safe.
And if somebody's abusive to them, they kind of take it.
Because the worst thing that can happen in the world is mom and
dad will find out.
Because that could turn really ugly with honor and all of that.
And they can be taken back home at 11 or 12,
and you don't know what is going to happen.
So that was one of the things we have been very, very,
very proud to do.
I don't know of any other organization that does this.
And we have helped -- we have had over 400 clients in like a
year and a half and we have -- we are so proud of the work we
have been doing with teen dating and with domestic violence.
But one of the things I am very proud about is by doing this,
we have allowed others back home and in the United States to open
up -- to open up about this issue.
So we have been actually getting calls from Arab and Muslim
countries to learn from what we have been doing here that has
been successful with the Arab and Muslim community here in the
United States.
So I feel, you know, every single one of you,
you are actually changing the world for the better.
Because your work allows others to open up and talk about
the issues.
But allows them to learn and build on what you have done.
So -- and, you know, violence begins at home.
If we can stop violence in the home,
imagine what we can do for society.
So thank you all very much.
And --
Meg Schnabel: Wow.
That is hard to follow.
My name is Meg Schnabel.
And I want to share just a couple of things about
myself today.
First of all, I am the executive director of just an
amazing organization.
Redevelopment Opportunities for Women in St. Louis, Missouri.
It has been doing a lot of work at improving the lives for low
income women by increasing financial capability.
We know that there is just such a strong connection between
poverty and abuse.
And it is that connection that is driven the work that we are
doing in our organization.
I think about 15 years ago when I was working in a shelter
program, so much of the funding that started to come into our
work was about units of service.
Let's start increased counseling services.
I mean, so many foundations and local funders wanted us to do
work around increasing counseling services,
because if we can only counsel those women not to get in those
relationships, everything will be better again.
Well, we certainly have learned a lot.
And one of the things I knew at that time was I didn't want to
do that anymore.
Women were telling us over and over again,
that they needed assistance around economic work.
For the past 15 years we have seen amazing things done;
the Allstate Foundation, The National Network To End Domestic
Violence, and many local organizations have been
increasing services, delving into looking at how we can
improve our economic advocacy work,
create new and innovative interventions and partnerships
with folks around the country.
And that is what we have been doing and I have been
focusing on.
The second thing I just want to say is --
I mean, it is just amazing to think 25 years.
I mean, that is how long I have been in the battered women's
movement, but I am remaining so committed and passionate and it
is because of this inner connection we have with
one another.
When I sit in this room and listen to these stories,
truly it is so inspiring.
I wish I could take everyone in my organization -- well,
we kind of are, right?
We are streaming this -- and hear these stories because this
is what is so inspiring about keeping us going every day.
Because it is very tough, it is very challenging.
There are so many barriers in so many ways.
The other thing I wanted to say is I have had such
amazing mentors.
And I know we put some folks up on the picture screen early.
I just look at those men and women, amazing people,
and people who are still living today.
Amazing people.
Feel like you are a mentor.
I mean, I know that when we get old, which I feel like I am;
I mean, I am always still really inspired by the people around
me, but believe that you are a mentor to someone else.
We need to bring more people into this movement and see the
difference that we all can make together.
Thank you so much.
It is so exciting to be here.
And I am so proud to be among all of you.
Cherelyn Homlish: Hi, I am Cherelyn Homlish from Delaware.
We are really happy to be here.
And we didn't realize we are actually pretty close and we can
come any time you need us, so --
And I'm not here for the work that I have done.
I am here for the hard work that staff have done to change a
shelter program from a traditional program to a very
different kind of a place.
And I have just really appreciated the people that have
come along that have helped to influence that and to have
helped to make that happen.
For years, I worked in shelter programs where women complained
about what it was like to be in a shelter,
where they really struggled with all of the rules that shelters
had, where they felt like people didn't really understand what
they were going through and the struggles they had
with their kids.
And we all knew there was a different way.
We just didn't know what that was.
And a woman came years ago to Delaware called Lydia Walker.
Not Lenore Walker, but Lydia Walker.
And she really challenged us to look at the shelter and how we
were doing our work and really challenged us to move away from
the idea that the women were suffering from mental health
disabilities, from addictions, and look at what they were
really suffering from, which was trauma.
And we didn't have the language back then.
We just talked about what was going on with them.
And she came back and did a workshop called,
"Whose House Is It, Anyway?"
And really made us think about why we were doing things the way
that we were doing.
And, yes, we were receiving the money and we were the stewards
of the shelters, but they weren't our shelters.
They belonged to the women.
And we wanted to find a way to give that back to them.
And so luckily, we ran into a woman, Sandy Bloom,
who works out of Philadelphia in Community Works,
and she had a model that we could adapt.
And it had already been in place in psychiatric facilities and
residential facilities.
It was just starting to be looked at in domestic violence
shelters and in homeless shelters.
And so we quickly started to work with her and we're lucky
enough to have her come frequently and be able to work
with us and it changed everything.
And we went from sitting down with women and going over pages
and pages of rules and making horrible decisions about who got
to stay in shelter and who didn't,
to looking at why they were there and who needed shelter.
And why they needed shelter.
And what our job was to keep them in shelter and to
keep them safe.
And that became the question, how do we help you to be safe?
And it just has made a huge difference.
We are very excited about it.
It is still incredibly hard work.
Probably harder than it was before where you just made a
rule, somebody broke the rule, you told them to leave and
you were done.
But it has made a huge difference I think in the lives
of the women we work with.
Certainly in our lives in terms of how proud we are of what we
do and how much difference we feel like we made.
And I just want to acknowledge one of the staff that is
here with me.
Marcey Rezac is our director of two of our shelters.
And has worked with me to make sure that we keep the
model in place.
It is daily a struggle.
Very much.
And I just want to acknowledge her.
Thank you.
Lynn Rosenthal: Thank you all so much.
There is so much here.
I wish we had a day with each of you.
And you have done an incredible job of linking the wisdom of the
past with the vision for the future.
So I think of Dave and Vince and Meg who have been doing this
for so long.
And then the new leadership of Nicole and Johanna and William.
So I feel like the future of this movement is in
very good hands.
I want to start with an issue that all of you touched on and
that is the risk of domestic violence homicide.
And, Suzanne, you know that you really have influenced a lot of
us here in our thinking because you are one of the first to say,
these homicides are predictable, they are preventable.
So I want to ask you and then have others jump in from your
own perspective, what has been the most effective part of your
high risk teams?
And what is it that other communities can learn from what
you have done?
Suzanne DuBois: The most effective part has really been --
and I am sorry, I forget.
Somebody here said, and I think it was Susan --
Sharon; thank you -- talked about the connection between
innovation and simplicity.
And the wonderful thing about the high risk team model is
while we certainly view it as innovative because we are
getting incredible outcomes, it is a very simple system.
And it really, it is about coordination of efforts.
It is about speaking the same language that I will describe
quickly the paradigm that was in place before the high risk team,
and I think most of you will recognize this.
We were all doing our jobs and we were doing them very well.
The crisis center had great trained professional advocates.
The law enforcement departments that we were working with were
attentive in doing their jobs.
The court was doing its job.
But we weren't coordinating the efforts.
We weren't speaking the same language.
And I think that the piece about the high risk is when we began
to -- when we introduced Jacqueline Campbell's research,
we used that as our common language.
And that transformed our ability to communicate.
It increased our, really our credibility with our partners
and we for the first time I think became true partners.
And before that I would say that we were limping along.
And what happened was without that coordination,
huge gaps were opened up that allowed offenders to continue
to offend.
Speaker: So Dave and Vince, from the law enforcement perspective,
can you tell us a little bit about how law enforcement can
help prevent domestic violence homicides?
Dave Thomas: Most definitely.
We have had a great experience in Maryland with the lethality
assessment program.
And what we found, we had 24 of us come together from
different stakeholders.
We stopped working in silos and started communicating.
We communicated together to build the instrument and then
with the implementation we made certain that once we found
information we were directly going to local
service providers.
And collaborating with them to provide information
to individuals.
Because it is more than prediction.
It is about safety and prevention.
And it is about being able to communicate to that individual
sitting on the -- on the other side of the table or the other
side of the room.
Not only am I scared for you, but this is why I am
scared for you.
And getting that person connected to services.
The fatality reviews and different things had told us,
many of these individuals didn't even know services existed.
And as you have heard from some individuals sitting here today,
didn't even realize that others were out there that they could
reach out to.
So it is about getting them to services and realizing that the
coordinated community response is absolutely the way --
the way to go.
The more the seamless response, the more seamless that it is,
the more we can keep women and their children safe.
And hold perpetrators accountable.
Lynn Rosenthal: Well, and let's talk about your data.
Both of you.
So Maryland in the past three years has reduced its domestic
violence homicide rate by 41%.
Dave Thomas: Double digits.
Lynn Rosenthal: Double digits.
And you have had no domestic --
Suzanne DuBois: We've had no -- so our team -- it's in our seventh year
of operation.
Before we had ten domestic violence deaths.
We have had zero homicides and the wonderful thing is that 92%
of the victims have been able to stay safely in their own homes
without having to flee, which has been phenomenal.
Lynn Rosenthal: I want to turn to Vince and then I will have William
jump in here.
But, Vince, in the projects you were doing where you were
uploading photos to First Appearances,
do you think that that played a role in reducing domestic
violence homicide?
Vincent Lazaro: Absolutely.
One of the key elements included in that was, okay,
we had the offender in the back seat of the car,
in the police car.
But now we needed to attend to the victim.
Putting that victim in touch with services,
if the lethality was there, to get an advocate to the scene.
To take over from there.
To act as her guide to get her into shelter,
to get her protected, to get her into services.
Those photographs just emphasize not only to the officer,
but to the victim herself.
Sometimes that victim doesn't realize the severity because
they have been living with that violence for years and years.
To bring attention to it and now bring it to the attention of the
courts, the prosecutors, to hold that offender accountable.
But to raise that level, in a coordinated community effort,
that was the key.
Getting people to work together, to recognize how significant.
If it was a simple battery, it was still significant because
there were numerous times that that victim was traumatized over
and over again.
So that was the key.
Lynn Rosenthal: William, as someone who survived this level of violence,
what would you add to this discussion?
William Kellibrew: You know, at the point a victim wants to leave a relationship,
that is the most lethal time.
And it was for my mother.
She was on the run for a week.
And what played a major role in her --
in Marshall capturing her, was that my sister and my brother
who were younger, we weren't -- didn't have a safety plan.
My mother wasn't aware of what that was.
And we couldn't frame domestic violence and they told the
killer where she was.
And so he found her two blocks away and brought her back home
and killed her.
So safety planning is important.
And as we travel across the country,
The Kellibrew Foundation travels across the country,
talks to youth and young people about being safe.
About recognizing signs.
About my story and what kind of things changed.
And I always get students come up to me and tell me what is
going on in their lives.
But I think that preventing it, you know,
starts with educating our children and victims and
survivors about lethality and what is --
what is happening around that, so I think it is important
to do that.
Awareness is really the key.
My mother had plenty of opportunities at the welfare
office to be engaged on the issue.
She always took my report card there and talked about school,
but what -- what did that office do to talk about
domestic violence?
And in '84 it was a different world, we know.
But today -- but today I see in D.C.,
we have this collective effort in the D.C. Coalition Against
Domestic Violence.
And organizations like Safe Shores where when I --
and just briefly, when I -- when I -- when I was a child,
I went straight to the police department.
But now, children are taken and all of the --
all of the services are surrounding the child.
And that is what is important.
Take a child where they are safe and they don't have to tell five
different stories -- five stories --
one story to five different people.
Let's think about that.
And children are often the ones missed.
When officers or authorities reach the scene,
they go straight for the victim and they miss the kids
who are there.
We have to engage our children more.
Lynn Rosenthal: You know, I want to turn to both -- Sharon, Kabzuag, Lena,
all of you, you know, how do we make sure our work on preventing
domestic violence homicide is rooted in culture and community,
that it is culturally sensitive work?
Kabzuag Vaj: In the state of Wisconsin right now, we are -- within --
from home advocates, what we're doing is,
we're going to different parts of Wisconsin where there is a
high incident of murder, homicide, suicide,
due to domestic violence.
We are actually engaging the community about conversations of
root causes.
And asking what the community think the root causes are,
what have they done in the past that we can take as lessons
learned, and what were some of the signs that they saw if they
have heard or have seen or have experienced domestic violence
And so taking that data, I think then we can start to work within
our own communities.
Again, I think there is two prong here.
One is to hold your own community accountable.
Because often time what we see is when other --
when outsiders come and hold your community accountable,
it's not effective.
So taking a Hmong man who may have beaten his wife and locking
him up is only going to cause more stress.
Now, can we come up with a community accountability plan
where we can hold him accountable so that he knows?
And in the Asian community, it's all about saving face, right?
So if that is about saving face, one of our youth said,
why not make my dad pick up garbage in the Hmong community?
Well, that sounds like a really good plan because he'll be
embarrassed and he might not do it again, right?
But these are like -- I think -- we have to hold folks in our own
community accountable in the way that they can see that
we're holding them accountable.
And then we have to hold systems accountable for how they treat
our folks.
Lena Alhusseini Very similar, in our case, I mean we've been working
a lot on community outreach and education.
So we have -- over the -- when we first started this work,
we would go to our imams and our priests and imams and
we would ask them, you know, would you be interested in
working with us or talking about domestic violence.
They didn't want to have anything to do with it.
Now five years later, they're all asking us for more
information because they've learned, you know,
and they've seen and they've evolved.
Their thinking has changed because of the work out there
on domestic violence.
So holding the community -- it has to be organic.
It has to come from the community that's changed
for them to accept it.
It can't be imposed from others.
It has to be -- we have to own the change as well.
But we've also been working a lot with -- and in our case,
for instance, again, it's a little bit different because
there's a fear from your own family and there's equally from
the aggressor's family.
So it's two way.
So what's been happening is leadership in our community,
imams and priests have been stepping up and have been
helping these women.
We've had women go to shelter.
We've had many cases of women leaving their aggressor,
their batterer.
And they've done very well.
And you know what?
That kind of opened it up for others.
They see hope.
So we have good success stories.
And that kind of allows others to believe that they can leave
and that they can be safe.
On the other hand, we also work with so many different
city organizations.
We work with the NYPD.
We work with hospitals.
We work with schools.
I mean, we offer classes for credit at high schools.
And most of the kids that come to us are Arab and Muslim,
because they don't get this information anywhere else.
But they can get it in the school without their families
finding out.
And then they can be safe as well.
So allowing them to get information in their language,
seeing that this information is coming from people who
understand their culture, that really makes a difference.
But engaging both our community and the other community as well,
and allowing everybody to see that we can all help make each
other safe together.
But we just have to understand each other and we have to just
work together.
So that's what's been successful for us.
Sharon Stapel: I'm a huge fan of the community accountability models.
But I want to take a step back for the LGBTQ communities,
because I think the first thing that needs to happen is that
this country has to recognize our relationships.
And until our relationships are recognized,
then we're not in any of the statistics about how
you prevent homicide.
And we're not in any of the data about how
domestic violence occurs.
And I want to take a minute to acknowledge Victoria Cruz who's
here with me today.
She's one of our senior domestic violence counselor advocates.
And Vicki started at ABP first as a client and then
as a volunteer and now as a staff person.
And one of the things that Vicki does is go through newspapers to
see if there are reports of people who were roommates or who
were living together but are of the same gender,
to see if there might be something around intimate
partner violence.
That's how we get our information about homicides.
So when you start with the premise that we don't even get
federal government recognition for our relationships,
you can't really talk about homicide prevention until you
start talking about recognition of relationships.
And then I think all of these models sound fantastic,
but we need to be included in them.
Lynn Rosenthal: I want to make sure we get -- we have time to
talk about youth.
And we have Nicole and Johanna and Amelia.
Tell us what's working when you reach out to your peers.
You've done such amazing work at such a young age.
What do you do to inspire other people to get involved?
Nicole DeSario: Well, I definitely have to credit the devotion that,
honestly, I wasn't expecting when I first started.
I was a 16 year old kid and I'm trying to enlist like my friends
to join this club that's about a really important issue,
teenage relationship abuse, that most people don't recognize and
frankly probably don't care about.
But when I started talking to more people about it and
everything and getting them to come to the club meetings and
getting them to come to the training programs over the
summer and so many people showed up, I was just like,
you're here, you're supporting.
And it's creating this unity that I honestly
had never expected.
So I have to credit a lot of like the progress of the club to
just the other people, the administration,
who have shown their support, the administration of my school
that's helped make my club legitimate.
Everyone, it's been like a big group project.
Lynn Rosenthal: And how did you get the administration to respond?
Nicole DeSario: I had to contact them over the summer too.
And it is a school system, you have to work within the school
system and everything.
So it is a process.
But from the start, they were interested in the subject so I
contacted my vice principal, Mr. Paba [phonetic].
And honestly, just working with him to go through all the steps
of getting the club legitimized, it was,
it just was going through the whole school process.
Lynn Rosenthal: And Johanna, you're working in the community,
you're doing school based work, you're working youth groups.
And you also, I should tell you all Johanna appeared with the
Vice President on The View last month.
And one of the things that you talked about on The View
was early warning signs and what it is parents and friends
and community members need to know about the early warning
signs of abuse and how they can help teens.
You want to talk a little bit about that.
Johanna Orozco: Well, luckily since we got the bill passed,
House Bill 19, we got 11 county collaboratives.
And that project -- it's called The Tina Project which got
teachers, community, law enforcement, advocates,
everyone just want to be involved and they
are very interested.
Some of the warning signs that we do, you know,
that we speak about is mainly the change of the character of
the teenager.
Basically, for my example, I was in high school.
I was a very lively person, outgoing.
I would get in trouble in class for talking too much.
Got good grades, always got involved.
And then in times in my relationship, you know,
I changed.
I became very isolated, stood quiet, didn't get involved.
And I think that is one big thing, the change of the person.
And to recognize and to actually -- not ignore them,
but actually, you know, sit down with them and say, what's going
on, you know, or what can we do to help you?
And I think that would be very, very important.
And also with law enforcement -- and I have to, you know, give,
you know, kudos to you and all of you that actually get
involved right there and then, right when you hear.
You give them resources right there from the very beginning,
and that's something that I didn't get.
And I think that's something that all law enforcement should
do is to right there, give the victim the resources,
because that's very, very important.
And also when it comes to like pediatricians,
they need to get involved because right from the beginning
they say they're not afraid of asking the most personal
question they can ask anyone, are you sexually active?
So they ask that question to give you all this information
about birth control.
Why not ask about, are you dating,
how is your relationship going?
And also, while you're handing them out birth control,
all this information about birth controls or telling them how to
put on a condom, also give them information about what a healthy
relationship is, how can you get out of it or do you know a
friend, how can you help them?
And so, I think that would be very important to get everyone
involved because this isn't something you can't
do on your own.
You have to get everyone together and do it.
Lynn Rosenthal: Amelia, I want to bring you in on this because you work
on college campuses and we're very aware of the high
rates of both sexual assault and dating violence that happen
among young people --
Amelia Cobb: And stalking.
Lynn Rosenthal: And stalking in college.
So, tell us what's been most effective for you
in your work on campus?
Amelia Cobb: Well, I'll be honest.
Our project doesn't do anything new that's never been done.
We just do three things different.
One, we actually let our students define their
relationships themselves, how they define it,
from a sexual perspective but also a personal perspective.
Two, we also have the engagement of men in the conversation.
And then lastly, we pull in the health component by asking them,
how do you define health and how do you define your relationship.
So I think, if anything, what's working is having the conversation.
There's a misconception that youth or college students
-- and by the way, who don't want to be called youth or
teens -- but that they don't have a lot to say on this issue.
They have more to say than you can ever imagine.
It's just how do you ask the question and what platform do
you give them.
So we give them a platform to tell us.
Infuse hip hop, infuse fashion.
Infuse health, infuse their careers.
And so that's really what's working is we actually really
just, with every school, find out what is the culture
of that campus, because every HBCU is not the same.
So I think you just have to go into that community,
that campus, and let itself define itself.
And then, from there, you can get a lot of the answers,
and a lot of things will work.
Lynn Rosenthal: Misty, we've heard about so much innovation tonight.
But we are also very aware that shelter services and protection
of women in shelter is still critically important.
It sounds like there are a lot of challenges for you all in
getting your shelter up and running.
What was the hardest part of that and what do you suggest to
other communities that are still trying to do that?
Misty Thomas: I guess, for us, funding.
With federal funding, there's no construction.
And so we had to find innovative ways of working around that and
working with the funding agencies that we have.
And to be able to actually get the facility with the funding
that we have within the guidelines that are set forth,
you know, for us.
Lynn Rosenthal: Right. Thank you all very much.
I think that's all the time we have for this dialogue.
But I wanted to note, Cherelyn, how important we believe your
trauma informed care is, and Meg,
what you're doing to build economic security.
And Becca, your social enterprise model is incredibly
-- it's fascinating, it's important.
And I urge everyone to Google it and look up --
Speaker: -- Thistle Farms.
Lynn Rosenthal: -- and hear about all the great work Becca is doing.
So your words have been incredibly powerful today,
your stories of survival.
You've linked the past with the future.
You've given hope to survivors.
But most importantly, you've helped us envision a future
where violence no longer exists in our homes.
So thank you all so very much.
And now I would like to turn it over to Judge Carbon who's
going to close our program today and leave
us with her remarks.
Judge Carbon is the director of the Office on Violence Against
Women within the Department of Justice.
So come on up.
Judge Carbon: Thank you so much, Lynn.
And I want to thank, as well, Valerie Jarrett.
And standing in this room, I also want to acknowledge the
Vice President and the President who have been extraordinary
leaders on this work.
We wouldn't be here but for them and, in particular,
the leadership of the Vice President who,
as we all know because we all love the man,
was the author of the original Violence Against Women Act that
has inspire and let all of this come to being.
And we are extremely grateful and want to honor and recognize
him and the administration and all of the good work
that's being done.
But let me just say, it's not a very profound statement but wow!
I mean, just wow!
Sitting here in the audience, having the privilege of
listening to all of you is truly moving and truly inspiring.
And it is such a unique privilege to listen to what
is happening around the country in every community
in every population.
And I know there are many more we could have up here in the
time we have.
This is an extraordinary blend of people here,
and I want to thank all of you for doing what you are doing
because it's champions like you who are moving the world.
And we really are privileged and grateful to what you are doing.
So I want to thank all of you.
It's this month that we as a collective nation focus
our attention on domestic violence because this is
Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
But it truly is the work that is happening in communities across
the country and by people such as yourselves who are really the
ones who are making the difference in what we do.
And I know that I speak on behalf of all of my colleagues
at the Office on Violence Against Women.
If they could just stand and be recognized because they're
helping with this work as well here.
We are your partners, and we partner with Lynn.
And I'm seeing people from OEC also, as well and others in the
Department of Justice here and many of our other partners out
here as well who are making this work happen and changing the
lives of so many people in such a profound way.
But you're spending your life's calling doing it
every minute of every day.
And we are immensely grateful for that.
The leaders, you're the champions.
Your title here is the champions.
You're the ones who provide the impetus and the energy and the
passion and the intelligence behind this work.
And you're the ones who drive the movement and what will
change in future generations coming above us.
And as I sit back here and I'm listening to 16 year olds here
and I'm feeling like I'm more than three times your age,
it's incredible to think of what you've done already at such a
young age.
You should be immensely proud.
Nicole, that's just amazing here.
But you all give further meaning and you give real significance
to the work around ending violence against women.
And it's hard to stand here and not be inspired by somebody like
Dave Thomas, a man who considers fighting violence against women
his calling in life.
And I have known Dave for a very long time.
Dave was part -- he's somebody I would call
a protection order guru.
He was part of the effort that the President recognized a year
ago at the White House -- a protection guide that has
changed the way we deal with civil protection orders around
the country and now has been translated in many different
languages, including Chinese and Arabic, around the world to use
as a way of helping to prevent domestic homicide.
Getting a protection order truly does make a difference.
And I thank Dave for that work.
As Lynn indicated, at OVW, we also had this morning our own
domestic violence awareness month program.
And many of you were there, and I was so pleased to see this.
And at this month, this morning, we focused our attention on
domestic homicide.
And we were joined at that point by Deputy Attorney
General James Cole.
And I want to quote what he said because it is so telling and so
instrumental to us here today.
He said, and I quote, "Attorney General Eric Holder and I
believe that it's essential for the Department of Justice to
lead the effort toward understanding how we can better
serve victims of domestic violence and how we can prevent
these terrible crimes from occurring in the first place."
That's leadership.
That's saying we need to be out in front preventing,
not just reacting but preventing.
And we've heard that from so many of our
speakers here this morning.
But I also have to say -- and I deeply resonate with the
sentiments of Kabzuag.
And by the way, I'm from Madison.
So it's great to hear somebody from Madison speaking about this
and good to see that somebody like you is making things
happen and change in Madison.
But to hear what you say, that we really need to be at the
forefront of making the change happen,
you are out there leading that change and saying,
this is what we need to do to make that happen.
So I appreciate your leadership in this.
And then this morning, it was the words of William Kellibrew
who also joined at our event that really inspired me most.
Now, for those of you who were there,
if you've ever been inside the Great Hall at the Department of
Justice, you know what a massive room this is.
It's a two-story room.
There are alcoves on the top.
When William spoke, you could have heard a pin drop.
He didn't need a microphone.
Everybody was so focused on his words.
And they were so powerful and so moving.
And those words will stay with us forever.
So thank you, again, for speaking,
and for your family and your grandmother being here.
Thank you.
I'm really very, very honored that you are here.
The fact that he underwent the unspeakable tragedy that he did
and stands before us today as an international advocate for peace
is a testament to his resilience and his spirit.
And he's nothing less than a champion to me.
So thank you.
Champions need vehicles to make this change happen.
And there are programs across the country,
many of them are represented here today in our audience here
today, that act as the vehicles for that change.
And at our office, at the Office of Violence Against Women,
our programs aim to build that coordinated community response,
again, what all of the speaker's talked about here today.
And it's that coordination across systems and,
as Cherelyn is saying, creating new systems,
that will make change happen, that will encourage victims to
have the courage to come forward because it's very difficult
going to a perfect stranger saying, I need help,
this happened to me.
To file a complaint, to improve prosecution of sexual assault
cases, domestic violence cases, to work on issuance
and enforcement of protection orders,
these kinds of programs improve our civil justice systems and
they improve our criminal justice systems.
And all of this together is tied to homicide prevention, indeed.
And as well as I look across the range of champions here,
we have such a blend.
And I want to comment just on the fact that we have men
standing here and so many men in the audience.
And that is one of, at our office,
our newest programs and one of the most exciting programs we
have because it speaks to a broad recognition that everybody
is in this effort together.
And we will never ever end violence against women if we
don't have men with us.
And I see Neil sitting in the audience as well.
We need everybody at the table representing every conceivable
constituency, just as we have everybody here,
to make that change happen.
And I know that all of that is true because I know it from the
research that documents this.
And I know from our field work when we go and visit the
programs like this that we are making change happen.
So let me thank -- in particular,
I want to highlight a couple who work with us in particular,
Sharon Stapel, the executive director at the New York City
Anti-Violence Project for your courage to speak;
Lena Alhusseini, executive director from the Arab-American
Family Support Center, talking about what happens abroad
because those lessons are so important here because all of it
is happening intermixed; Suzanne DuBois,
the chief executive of the Jeanna Geiger Crisis Center
is so critical as well.
Thank you.
And Vincent Lazaro of the Florida Coalition,
thank you for leading as a law enforcement officer and showing
us what we need; Becca Stevens, the founder of Magdalene and
Thistle Farms, the importance of reaching out through faith
community as well, important important partners in this effort;
and Meg Schnabel, the executive director of the Redevelopment
Opportunities for Women in Missouri.
We are across the country with such a mixture of people.
Your organizations have been recipients of our federal grant
programs at OVW, and I know again, speaking for our office,
I couldn't be more proud of the work that you're doing and that
you continue to do because you're changing lives every day.
Another area that the deputy attorney general focused on this
morning and that's extremely important to me is the issue
of domestic violence in Indian Country.
And I'm grateful that Misty Thomas has come and,
in the short time, has been able to share a
little bit of information.
And I'm interested and anxious to learn more about the brand
new New Beginnings House.
Our department is working on proposals that we are now a part
of and hope to be in the reauthorization of the Violence
Against Women Act as we approach our third reauthorization,
clarifying that travel courts will have full civil
jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders.
That's critical.
We want to bridge those gaps so that we can truly address
violence in Indian Country because it is so long overdue.
So I don't think I need to tell any of you this,
but I would be remiss if I didn't close by saying,
keep it up.
Keep up the good work, and keep up with good fight,
because we desperately need all of your work to continue keeping
communities safer in what we do.
I want to especially encourage professors and educators we have
up here, the likes of Dave and Amelia and Cherelyn and among
others of you here to support your students and encourage them
to do research and encourage them to engage with
practitioners in the field.
We just had another roundtable bringing researchers and
practitioners together.
That is so critical that we share the information
that we are learning.
And again, to remark on the leadership of Nicole and
Johanna, to think that in your young age you have accomplished
what one of my life long dreams has been,
and that's to have a k-12 violence prevention curriculum.
And you've done it.
So hallelujah!
You are going to be our future legislators,
our future leaders -- whatever you are;
you are going to be rock stars.
You already are.
So congratulations to you!
So our sincere thanks to all of you.
We close this afternoon with a renewed sense of purpose,
a renewed commitment to what we do.
Through your examples as victims, as survivors,
as practitioners, as researchers, as friends,
family members, colleagues, supporters,
we are in this effort together.
We are going to address this.
We're going to end violence against women
and men and children.
We're going to do it because we're going to do it together.
And we're not going to stop until we've
accomplished our goal.
And I hope you will leave this afternoon understanding that
with these champions up here, there's not a person in this
room who is also not a champion.
I personally thank all of you for what you're doing.
You're making a huge difference.
Thank you, Lynn, for the opportunity to be here.
It's a unique privilege.
Thank you.
Lynn Rosenthal: Thank you all.
Thank you. Thanks to our champions.