Voices Rising Sessions Roundup: A Potpourri of Topics

Voices Rising, NCADV’s national conference on domestic violence, begins in a few short weeks in Providence, Rhode Island. Our team has been working hard and the office has been buzzing with conference chatter. And soon we will be able to share that buzz with you! In this blog post, we’re rounding up the remaining workshops, plenaries and pre-conference intensives attendees will be able to enjoy.

Read on for session descriptions on a potpourri of topics, including activism, domestic violence as a human rights issue, engaging men, firearms, healing for survivors, impact of oppression, law enforcement, organizational transformation, and teen dating violence prevention.


Getting Out the Vote: Election Efforts in a Polarized Environment

Non-profits are often reluctant to get involved in anything that might appear to be partisan. There are many activities that non-profits can participate in, however, to help register people to vote and provide education to help make voters informed of the issues. This session will discuss efforts at federal, state and local levels that are being undertaken to mobilize Boards of Directors, staff and volunteers, program recipients, and supporters in voter registration and education efforts. 

(PLENARY) #SurvivorSpeaks: Amplifying the Voices of Survivors of Domestic Violence
The #MeToo movement has given survivors of sexual violence a chance to be heard and has made some progress in changing the way people think and talk about it; however, despite overlaps in the topic, survivors who shared stories of domestic abuse via the hashtag experienced less positive impact. In an effort to destigmatize domestic violence in ways similar to the destigmatization of sexual assault via #MeToo, and as a reflection of our mission to amplify the voices of domestic violence survivors, NCADV has implemented the #SurvivorSpeaks hashtag.

#MeToo shows us that cultural and social change is obtainable when the conversation is made accessible to all who are affected by sexual violence. Our hope is that #SurvivorSpeaks will empower survivors to come forward with strength and share stories that need to be told bringing awareness to this issues that impacts millions of women.

Join us as we hear Jennie Willoughby, Laura Cowan, and Zaida Hernandez explore what #SurvivorSpeaks means to them and how opening the doors to deeper conversations about domestic violence will help shift societal assumptions around the issue of domestic violence.

(KEYNOTE ADDRESS) Voices Rising! Advocacy, Activism and Action

As advocates, we may not organically think of ourselves as activists, nor do we necessarily feel our experience and day-to-day interactions with victims and survivors fall under that umbrella. But our voices, our experiences, our perspectives and the sheer wealth of knowledge we can offer to shift the paradigm around how our society views and responds to domestic violence is critical. If you are an advocate you ARE an activist, and victims and survivors need you now more than ever.

(PLENARY) We Choose All of Us: Youth Organizing to End Gender Violence
Wonder what it looks like for young people of color to organize in rural states to end gender violence fueled by multiple systemic oppression? Join us to hear Idaho Coalition staff and youth activists share how we are creating an inter-generational collaborative to shift social norms in Idaho.  Learn the five core elements of youth organizing and how we are centering the lived experiences of historically marginalized youth and communities in our work. Explore our We Choose All of Us campaign rooted in self-reflection, storytelling and art, and community practices of coming together as whole human beings.

Coordinated Community Response

(INTENSIVE) Access to Justice for All Victims: Language Access and Meaningful Collaborations

The National Resource Center on Reaching Underserved Victims of Crime, a project funded by The Office of Victims of Crime, in partnership with the National Coalition against Domestic Violence is offering a pre-institute to its conference attendees.

This pre-institute has been developed with the intent to provide a deeper understanding on why language access is necessary when working with all victims of crime, and more specifically with victims of domestic violence. It will also cover the obligations that service providers have in the community in regards to the provision of language access for those who are Limited English Proficient or for those who identify as Deaf and hard of hearing.

Given that language is just one element of culture, we can’t refer to it without providing an overview of how it ties with Culture and what it means to be culturally responsive. The collaborative nature of the advocacy work these days also has created the need for stakeholders to conduct more inclusive collaborations. We will explore how to make those collaborations more meaningful, for all those involved in the coordinated community response and for those who are not at the table of discussion.

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Domestic Violence as Human Rights Issue

(PLENARY) Home Truth: Using International Human Rights Advocacy to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

This plenary will highlight the courage and national/international advocacy of Jessica Lenahan (formerly Gonzales), whose three young daughters were killed after being abducted by their father in violation of a domestic violence restraining order in 1999. Devastated, Ms. Lenahan filed a lawsuit against the police, claiming they did not adequately enforce her restraining order, despite her repeated calls for help that night. Determined to make sure her daughters did not die in vain, Ms. Lenahan pursued her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and an international human rights tribunal (the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights), seeking to strengthen legal rights and improve protections for domestic violence victims. A new documentary film, Home Truth, chronicles Ms. Lenahan’s pursuit of justice, shedding light on how our society responds to domestic violence and how the trauma from domestic violence tragedies can linger throughout generations, as well highlighting the courage, resiliency and leadership of survivors to work for social change.

This plenary session will highlight the efforts of Jessica Lenahan and her legal team’s petition against the United States before the Inter-American Commission, claiming human rights violations by both the local police department, who failed to protect Ms. Lenahan and her children, and by the US courts, which failed to provide her with a remedy. Clips from the film will be used to provide narrative and chronology of this landmark case. This session will also address the development by the Department of Justice (DOJ) of groundbreaking Guidance on Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. This Guidance seeks to build on the coordinated community response model reflected in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Finally, this session will describe local initiatives that have been inspired by Jessica’s case, including “Freedom from Domestic Violence” Human Rights Resolutions in 30+ municipalities across the U.S.; the “Cities for CEDAW” campaign; and the COURAGE in Policing Project (COURAGE = Community Oriented and United Responses to Address Gender Violence and Equality). 

As a result of this session, participants will be better able to:

  • Question society’s view of domestic violence as a private tragedy and reframe DV as a human rights violation that demands governmental accountability.
  • Identify the opportunities in their own communities to introduce and support the implementation of local resolutions recognizing domestic violence as a human rights violation and to work on the “Cities for CEDAW” campaign.
  • Develop an understanding of recent Department of Justice guidance on gender-biased policing and investigations of gender bias in several police departments.
  • Recognize the potential of these developments to enhance police and community responses to domestic violence and learn about resources for community mobilizing developed through the COURAGE in Policing Project.


HOME TRUTH - A Feature Documentary by Katia Maguire and April Hayes

In 1999, Colorado mother Jessica Gonzales experiences every parent’s worst nightmare when her three young daughters are killed after being abducted by their father in violation of a domestic violence restraining order. Devastated, Jessica files a lawsuit against the police, claiming they did not adequately enforce her restraining order despite her repeated calls for help that night. Determined to make sure her daughters did not die in vain, Jessica pursues her case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and an international human rights tribunal, seeking to strengthen legal rights for domestic violence victims. Meanwhile, her relationship with her one-surviving child, her son Jessie, suffers, as he struggles with the tragedy in his own way. Filmed over the course of nine years, HOME TRUTH chronicles one family’s pursuit of justice, shedding light on how our society responds to domestic violence and how the trauma from domestic violence tragedies can linger throughout generations.

Engaging Men

(INTENSIVE) Challenging Privilege, Empowering Change: Engaging Men in the Movement to End Violence Against Women and Girls

Engaging men to break the silence and changing the culture of men’s power and privilege are both critical to ending violence against women and girls. But how do we engage and seek change at the same time? What does that look like? This intensive session will allow for an open and dynamic exploration of the approaches to, and challenges of, enlisting men as allies in this work. The format will be facilitated conversation—creating space for participants to have focused and in-depth dialogue, each bringing their own questions, experiences, and best practices to the table. How to balance and align meaningful efforts to promote healthy masculinity with the ultimate goal of preventing men’s violence against women will be an underlying theme.

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Removing Firearms from Domestic and Intimate Partner Violence Offenders, and Keeping Guns Out of Their Hands

Learn about the most recent research on specific aspects of firearm surrender protocols combined with domestic violence protective orders, and the impact of those on rates of intimate partner homicide. We'll share best practices that can be practically applied in any community, as well as provide specific guidance on their inclusion in your community.

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Healing for Survivors

(KEYNOTE ADDRESS) And So I Stayed: Finding Peace and Healing Beyond Abuse

Join writer and speaker, Jennie Willoughby, in an intimate discussion of domestic violence and recovery.  She will recount her experiences of the very public unveiling of the emotional and physical abuse she suffered during her marriage* as well as discuss her pathway to healing.  The remarks will take place with respect to the greater implications of abuse by those in positions of power and the added barriers this creates to coming forward and seeking help.

*Jennie was married to Former White House Staff Secretary, Rob Porter, from 2009-2013.


Healing Interpersonal Violence Through the use of Trauma Informed Yoga

Come prepared to move whether on your mat, on your chair or in your mind. Experience the benefits of Yoga as you learn about the neurobiological effects Interpersonal Trauma has on the brain, nervous system and physical aspects of the self. Through experience learn how yoga forms, and breath work can help increase self esteem, body awareness, a sense of competency. Yoga can also decrease symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD. Explore how poses and breathe create new neuropathways to that create a new mind- set as well as a new relationship with body regulation.


(INTENSIVE) We Are Survivors: Finding and Using our Voices for Lasting Change

It is in the best interest of the people who abused us to keep us silent. Finding our voices, using our voices, and being heard is a critical part of breaking the isolation we experienced, of healing, and positioning us to take our places in the domestic violence movement. In this survivor intensive we will explore being silenced, the “social” silencers in place to this day and how, with our “Voices Rising,” we can make lasting changes.

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Impact of Oppression

Unrapable: Racism, Hypersexualization, Sexual Violence, and the Black Woman
In consideration of the socio-ecological model of health, it is important to assess how social determinants impact the health outcomes of specific populations of people. In particular, intersectional racism and sexism among Black women must be examined. The oppression and monolithic representations of Black communities, and the commodification and hypersexualization of Black women's bodies render Black woman vulnerable to victimization and shamed into silence. In order to better serve Black women and create better outcomes regarding IPV, it is imperative that these determinants be addressed.

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Law Enforcement

(PLENARY) "The Best Way to Keep Her Safe is to Make Him Stop” - The High Point Model Case Study

For nearly a decade, the city of High Point, North Carolina has been succeeding with an inter-agency, community-based model of ending domestic violence by holding offenders to account in the public square and in private. Led by law enforcement, the model has been shown to deliver remarkable results by nearly eliminating homicides and reducing offender recidivism. In this plenary session, we’ll screen a documentary about the program, and afterwards you’ll hear directly from the Chief of Police and the Director of Victim Services who have been with the program from the beginning. Then, for the first time, you’ll hear an Assistant U.S. Attorney speak about the success a county in South Carolina– nearly three times the size of High Point–  is having replicating the program in what was once the worst county in the country for domestic violence.

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Organizational Transformation

(INTENSIVE) Onwards: Understanding Inclusion, Navigating Accountability, Practicing Nonpunitive Conflict Resolution, and Building Transformative Leadership

This workshop is intended to support organizations and communities in better upholding values of inclusivity, and creating cultures of transformational healing to reduce the impact of gender-based violence. It will break down the different facets of intersectional violence affecting transgender people, and bring awareness to the resulting negative socio-economic impact on the individual and the larger interconnected communities.

The Presenters will share stories of trials and tribulations from their individual and collective walks of living the values of a prison abolitionist, practicing transformative and restorative justice principles, and guided by the very act of self-determination.

Using concrete examples, from their own work of building leadership capacity within impacted communities, Presenters will share models and strategies on building transformational leadership capacity and tangible resources, and will put forth examples of what it looks like to put theory into practice, and center the experiences of the most impacted in ones walk towards collective liberation.

The workshop will also engage in exploring the path forward in building intentional and sustainable prison-abolitionist frameworks for addressing potential harm and sexual violence within social justice communities, while holding on to the lessons of harm-reduction, restorative justice, and healing.

Teen Dating Violence Prevention

Advocating for Healthy Relationships: Exploring How to Take A Stand FOR Healthy Teen Relationships

NCADV, the national voice of victims and survivors of domestic violence, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of digital content and professional development for K-12 classrooms, have collaborated to launch Take A Stand FOR Healthy Relationships: A Teen Dating Violence Prevention Curriculum – an initiative funded by a contribution from the Verizon Foundation – to provide classrooms nationwide with tools, information, and lesson plans aimed at helping their students understand and develop healthy relationships, recognize dynamics of teen dating abuse, and learn how to safely ally for themselves and others who may be experiencing abuse.
Available at no cost to classrooms nationwide, Take A Stand FOR Healthy Relationships ( provides middle and high school classrooms with educational resources and immersive program tools, including self-paced modules and interactive lesson plans that focus on teaching students how to understand and build healthy relationships, reject abuse, and safely ally for themselves and others experiencing abuse. Additionally, information and support resources and materials are provided to educators and students on the topic of teen dating violence and how to best support those experiencing or witnessing abuse.


To see the full list of workshops, plenaries, and pre-conference intensives

Download the Sessions Guide


To stream the plenaries and keynotes at Voices Rising,

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Posted by Lynn Brewer-Muse at 12:00
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Effective October 6, 2022, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) have joined together. To learn more about this exciting venture, to expand the eco-system of holistic and inclusive support for survivors and advocates, please visit Project Opal.