October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). Domestic violence can include isolation from friends and family, threats, physical abuse, coercion, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, and rape within the home. DVAM highlights the impact and ongoing work to address domestic violence in our communities. The conditions which lead for violence to culminate have been exacerbated by sheltering in place mandates, economic uncertainty, and limited access to community support. 

Advocates in the fields of domestic violence and sexual violence have long understood the strong connection between our movements and have been at the forefront of crisis intervention and support. In fact, within the state of California, a majority of our Rape Crisis Centers serve as ‘dual agencies’ meaning they provide services to victim survivors of both  domestic and sexual assault. In order to best serve survivors, this natural merger, or practice of reciprocal advancement, allows our Centers to provide wrap around services and cements our commitment as California’s Safety Net. 

Reciprocal advancement intentionally recognizes the differences between domestic violence and sexual assault, and instills a need to support and advance the issues in unison, especially during financially challenging times. To sustain the movement to end violence against women, it is necessary to raise the profile of the issues together through policy, fund development, direct services, media and prevention. We work with our partners such as  the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, and others to enhance coordinated services and overcome operational and ideological barriers that have formed over the years. 

Ongoing collaboration provided our collective movements with some big wins for survivors this year:

  • Nationally, Congress passed legislation to fix the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), and prevent hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to victim services programs around the country.
  • In California, an additional $100M was approved for domestic violence and sexual assault programs that provide victim services funded by VOCA.
  • Additionally in California, $15M will be provided to programs that specifically focus on domestic and sexual violence prevention efforts.
  • Federal and state policy to reform the criminal justice system, and increase resources for survivors of domestic and sexual violence beyond traditional law enforcement responses.

We also published:

  • Meet the Movement, a toolkit that makes the initial connections between the sexual violence movement to others like racial equity, health equity, economic justice, immigrant justice, etc.
  • Support for Survivors, an extensive update of our 200 page manual for advocates across the country.
  • And coming soon, Collective Power: A Community Blueprint for Rape Crisis Centers

In the month of October, we honor those who advocate on behalf of survivors and amplify the voices and stories of those who have experienced harm. It is a time to all be involved and take collaborative action to prevent and end domestic violence. 

Get involved with DVAM Activities:

Read More about Reciprocal Advancement: http://www.calcasa.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/CALCASA-BSU-FieldsRep_FINAL.pdf