Over the past forty-three years, NCADV’s work has centered the most pressing needs of domestic violence victims and the advocates who serve them. Since our beginning, evolutions in NCADV’s mission and leadership along with the formation of other critical national organizations working to eliminate domestic violence has led to advancements in our focus. This blog post, which is the second in a series, will take a closer look at NCADV’s work and what we do currently. By the time you finish reading this blog, you will know how NCADV educates, advocates, and raises awareness in service to our mission.
The first pillar of NCADV’s work focuses on the national policy-making process to influence lawmakers to consider domestic violence victims and survivors in the laws they pass. Most of this work centers around three critical and essential measures, including Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), the Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA), and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). (Learn more about each of these in NCADV’s blog post, “Why Increasing Federal Funding to Domestic Violence Programs Matters”). Occasionally, other priorities emerge and need to be addressed; for example, when NCADV was crucial in the development, introduction and passage of the Fix NICS Act in 2017 to improve submission of domestic violence records to the background check system. Gaps in domestic violence records allowed adjudicated abusers to keep firearms, despite evidence-based research showing that guns increase the likelihood of femicide. The public policy office also works with Federal agencies to improve their responsiveness to the needs of survivors.
The second pillar of NCADV’s work revolves around educating domestic violence advocates on emerging issues and recommended best practices. As an organization with a national reach serving advocates from all 50 states, each with its own training process and standards when it comes to domestic violence advocacy, we see the result of a lack of a national standard, which is an uneven patchwork of advocacy training that varies from state to state. To help overcome this disparity, NCADV offers educational opportunities through our annual conference, #AdvoChat webinar series, and special projects like DisarmDV.org to help supplement and continue the education of domestic violence advocates and other first-responders (for example, prosecutors, law enforcement, social workers, etc).
Finally, the third pillar of NCADV’s work is to raise awareness of domestic violence with the general public. It’s important that we continue this work because of certain perennial comments and questions that haunt conversations about domestic violence -- for example, people questioning why a victim stayed instead of asking why the abuser abuses, or assuming that all that is involved in leaving an abuser is the decision to leave instead of recognizing all the barriers (e.g. affordable housing) that may be preventing a victim from leaving. It’s not enough for NCADV to raise awareness about domestic violence, how often it happens, and where victims can turn for resources; we are here to challenge the very cultural assumptions that underline most people’s thoughts and actions when confronted with domestic violence.
NCADV’s work in raising awareness takes different forms and shapes. Our most visible month of the year is October, which is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, when we not only raise awareness with the public, but also provide resources and guidance for advocates and organizations across the nation as they bring awareness and enlightenment to their communities. NCADV’s Survivor Speaker’s Bureau is another awareness-raising tool; the bureau connects survivor speakers with events in their communities while creating dialogue around issues related to domestic violence. NCADV’s Survivor Speaker’s Bureau recently celebrated a milestone when it added its 500th member to the bureau! Finally, NCADV’s twin projects Remember My Name and Memorial Monday recenter conversations on intimate partner homicide back to the victim. Remember My Name accomplishes this by cataloging and listing the names, ages and states of the previous year’s victims of intimate partner homicide. Memorial Monday achieves this recentering by refocusing attention away from a victim’s death and the circumstances surrounding it to memories of their life as shared by family members and friends.
NCADV’s policy, projects, and programs all work towards our work of educating, advocating, and raising awareness among multiple audiences. In the next blog post of this series, we’ll be exploring some misconceptions about our organization and clarifying “myths” on NCADV.