When I reflect upon the names of all of the sexual violence and domestic violence organizations that I have worked and volunteered for over the last 30 years, I see how many of the names were “against” something. Very few organization names described what we we working “for.” Then I saw the recent announcement from the Family Violence Prevention Fund that they are changing their name to Futures Without Violence:
Our name is now our vision. Our mission remains to prevent and end violence against women and children around the world.
This follows a trend I have noticed over the last several years. For example, just in California over the last few years the Los Angeles Commission On Assaults Against Women become Peace Over Violence, El Dorado Women’s Center became the Center for Violence-Free Relationships, Mountain Women’s Center became the Center for a Non Violent Community, Marin Abused Women’s Services became Center for Domestic Peace, STAND! Against Domestic Violence became STAND! For Families Free of Violence, Tahoe Women’s Services has become Tahoe SAFE Alliance and United Against Sexual Assault in Sonoma County became Verity.
These new names reflect a renewed emphasis on prevention and what organizations are working for instead of what they are working against. Now I see phrases like “peace” and “violence-free” replacing “women” and explicit reference to the violence itself in their names. I think these changes do not minimize the importance of addressing sexual assault and domestic violence; these name changes contextualize the work to end violence more broadly and emphasize reaching toward the goal of each organization’s vision.
When we selected Building the World We Want to Live In for the title of the 2010 National Sexual Assault Conference, we decided to focus on what we are working for. Ending sexual violence and domestic violence requires more than opposing abuse; it requires standing for something.
What do you think about these name changes?