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Jane Doe Inc. and The Network/La Red Imagine a World Without Domestic Violence

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Jul 8, 2014

Massachusetts' Jane Doe Inc., a coalition of 60 domestic violence provider organizations across the state, have teamed up with The Network/La Red to launch the "I Want a World" campaign, asking members to envision a world free of domestic and sexual violence. They launched the program on June 24, with a sneak peek on June 14 at Boston Pride to spread the word.

"Through a creative visioning process we developed the 'I Want a World Campaign,' for members to get involved and assess their own work and inclusivity, and as a vehicle for them and general public to be able to talk about a vision for what the world would look like if domestic and sexual violence were not present," said Debra J. Robbin, Interim Executive Director of Jane Doe, Inc.

Robbin said that The Network/La Red are both member programs in the Jane Doe Inc., but that they are also an incredible leader around issues of LGBTQ domestic violence. They provide a lot of training, technical assistance and community mobilization around issues of sexual and domestic violence as it impacts the gay community.

"We have been working with Jane Doe, Inc. for many years helping them have a better understanding of queer and transgender domestic and sexual violence," said The Network/La Red Executive Director Beth Leventhal. "It's all about how they can move their membership along in terms of understanding, accessibility and outreach to LGBT survivors."

For the past year, they have been working on the coalition’s obligation to address all forms of domestic violence and to take leadership with a statewide event -- as an example, she pointed to Jane Doe’s White Ribbon event targeted to have men help end domestic violence.

"We needed to an event just as big as the White Ribbon event, but targeted to our community," said Leventhal. "But we wondered how to do something that reached out to the LGBT community and also improved current access for survivors in other member programs."

The creative component is a big part of the "I Want a World" program. Several people have already submitted videos to bring attention to the launch, and the website is now open for people to post videos of their own poetry, artwork, performance or songs.

"It’s a really unique blend of creativity on a very important social issue around safety, health, respect and raising visibility," said Robbin. "It’s very exciting, because we already have a constituent base, and it’s exciting for organizations to use this assessment tool to rate where they are. They can come in as Champions or Supporters, and that gives those individual organizations an opportunity to mobilize their staff, board and constituents."

Over twenty member organizations from Jane Doe Inc. have already signed on as either Champions or Supporters of this campaign to demonstrate their commitment to providing culturally appropriate and accessible services to the LGBQ/T communities.

Champion organizations have made their services and programs fully LGBQT inclusive, have attended one or more LGBQT trainings and are committed to on-going inclusive screenings and trainings. They include the Center for Prevention and Recovery, Center for Women and Community, DOVE, Inc., Family and Community Resource Inc., HarborCOV, IMPACT Boston, Renewal House, REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, RESPOND, Safe Passage, The Second Step and Transition House.

Supporter organizations have committed to working toward meeting criteria in The Network/La Red’s LGBQ/T assessment by December 2015. They include Casa Myrna, DV/SA Program of Newton Wellesley Hospital, Community Advocacy Program at CCHERS, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Independence House, Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, and Voices against Violence YWCA of Central Massachusetts and YWCA of Greater Lawrence.

At the June 24 launch event, there was a station for people to make a video in the vein of the "It Gets Better" videos, outlining the kind of world they want to see. People could fill in a blank sign, take a photo, and upload it on the site.

"Having done this work for a very long time, it’s really different in that it’s a positive approach of what do we want, and not just what we’re against," said Leventhal. "Because partner abuse and assault are so much related to homophobia, racism and violence, it’s a way to say ’I want a world free of this.’"

In the fall, Robbin said that they would take this program to college campuses, reaching out to young people who may not know what healthy relationships should look like.

"It was important to us to talk about the intensity and enormous issues around domestic violence, and to promote a vision," said Robbin. "This enables us to have a voice, and it allows providers who already engage to think about their place in broadening their vision and improving the accessibility of their services, and for the LGBT community to raise awareness about issues around domestic violence."

Leventhal said that while a few domestic violence programs just don’t want to deal with LGBT abuse issues, most are on board.

"There has been a sea change in the domestic violence movement... and many groups are working hard to truly be accessible, not just in name but in all parts," she said. "I think this is another way to make it easier for people to really help see that this benefits them, that it’s not just about those people over there, but that queer and trans people are part of every community."

For more information, visit http://iwantaworld.janedoe.org/

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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