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“There Were Children in That House.” How I #SeeDV: Danna Lewis

dvam-2016-blog-4My boyfriend goes into the kitchen, and there are dishes in the sink. I’m sitting on the couch, aware that this is one of his only pet peeves. The instantaneous trigger reaction begins, and my whole body begins to pump adrenaline. Then I take a breath, then another deeper one, and remind myself that this is now. This is my boyfriend, the most gentle, loving man I have ever known. The trigger reaction, locked deep within my molecules, comes from living with a man whose reaction to dishes in the sink very likely could have been screaming anger, dishes being thrown and broken or even physical violence – all of this inflicted on my mother. I lived with that man for the first eleven years of my life.

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I #SeeDV at Every Intersection: Heather F.

dvam-2016-blog-2I’ve been with The Hotline for four years, and in that time I’ve learned a number of lessons. The one I want to share with you today is that everyone, every kind of person, is affected by domestic violence and relationship abuse. There are a lot of myths out there, like that only poor people get abused, or only people of that race deal with domestic violence. But, the heartbreaking truth is that severe intimate partner violence will affect one in four women and one in seven men at some point in their lives. There’s no question that everyone knows someone who has been affected by domestic violence. And, relationship abuse doesn’t exist in a vacuum; it’s not like if someone has an abusive partner, nothing else in their life can be difficult. If that were the case, it would be so much easier for survivors to get help!

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Help Others #SeeDV in October

dvam-2016-blog-1October is here, which means it’s time to raise awareness about domestic violence! Although domestic violence is an important issue year-round, Domestic Violence Awareness Month serves as a reminder to all of us that our stories and our voices matter. We must come together and help the world #SeeDV.

This year, we want people to know that there is no “typical case” of domestic violence. It can affect anyone, regardless of who they are or where they can from, and every person’s story is unique. With more than 12 million people affected by intimate partner violence in the U.S. each year, chances are you know someone who has experienced abuse. That’s why it’s important to understand the issue and know how to help someone you care about.

How Can You Get Involved During DVAM?

Share How You #SeeDV
Why is domestic violence an important issue to you? This October, let everyone know how you #SeeDV. Be sure to follow this blog as we share different perspectives on domestic violence from survivors, advocates and others in the field.

Attend Our Webinar
Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or background, and the experience is different for every survivor. In this webinar, survivors will share their unique stories and experiences, as well as what helped them and what did not. We’ll also discuss ways to support the survivor in your life. Reserve your spot for Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT!

Pass the Peace!
Join Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson as he raises awareness and funds for domestic violence and dating abuse prevention. Learn how to participate here.

Wear Purple on Oct. 20
Show your support for domestic violence survivors and raise awareness by wearing purple on Oct. 20. Organizations and individuals around the country will be participating, including The Hotline. Go purple for DVAM and share your pictures on #PurpleThursday!

Tune in to Our Facebook Live Event
We’re often asked what people can expect when they reach out to The Hotline. In this Facebook Live event, Hotline advocates will be sharing their experiences and answering questions about their work. Join us on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.

We hope you’ll share how you #SeeDV with your friends, family and community this October. Be sure to follow The Hotline on social media for DVAM 2016 updates and ways to get involved!

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We #SeeDV at the Intersection of HIV/AIDS and IPV

dvam-blog-4This post was written in partnership with Kaiser Family Foundation’s Greater Than AIDS initiative

According to recent studies, one in three women experiences intimate partner violence (IPV). For women with HIV, it is one in two.

While IPV is a major issue for many women in the U.S., there is less discussion about the concerning connection with HIV. Women with an abusive partner are more likely to have forced and/or risky sex and may be less able to negotiate the use of protection, putting them at increased risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The depression that often accompanies abuse can make it harder for women living with HIV to keep up with medications or stay connected to care. For some, sharing one’s status may increase abuse or bring on violence.

In most cases, deciding to tell someone that you have HIV is a personal choice. However, in the case of sexual relationships, it is a legal requirement in many states. There is no one best way to tell someone. Similarly, there is no sure way to know how those you tell will react.

The Well Project, a leading organization supporting women living with HIV, has some advice for disclosing safely:

  • Share your status with your partner before becoming intimate. If a person feels they were put at risk or lied to, the risk of violence may be greater.
  • Choose a public place with many people around. Find a spot that is private enough to have a conversation, but public enough to get help if you need it.
  • Consider having a friend with you.
  • Bring your partner to meet with your health care provider.

To bring more awareness to this issue, The Hotline, the Well Project and several other organizations have partnered with Kaiser Family Foundation’s Greater Than AIDS initiative to launch Empowered: Women, HIV and Intimate Partner Violence. For this campaign, Tonya Lewis Lee, lawyer and women’s health advocate, moderated a conversation with five women living with HIV, all of whom have experienced abuse from a partner.

Their conversation explores issues like understanding risk, getting help, finding love again and strategies for staying healthy. Campaign materials such as posters, flyers and a discussion guide are available for download here.

Watch the full video here.

We hope that this campaign brings wider awareness to this issue and lets women living with HIV in abusive relationships know that they are not alone, and that help is out there.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, we can help. Call The Hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or chat here on our website daily from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. Central.

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I #SeeDV as a Reason to Take Action on Gun Violence: Katie Ray-Jones

dvam-blog-3Today I am proud to announce that I have joined the Women’s Coalition for Common Sense, a new coalition founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions. This coalition brings together women leaders from across industries who share a commitment to combating gun violence and domestic abuse. In its work, the coalition will focus on advocating for action on commonsense laws that protect women and families from gun violence, and address the lethal links between access to guns and domestic violence. Our goals are to:

  • Prevent stalkers and abusers from having easy access to guns;
  • Close the background check loopholes in our federal laws that let felons and domestic abusers legally buy and own firearms; and,
  • Strengthen existing laws and ensure lawmakers and stakeholders have the resources and training they need to prevent and address gun violence against women.

Firearms have always been part of the story of domestic violence and what abusive partners can do to their intimate partners. Women in the United States are eleven times more likely to be murdered by a gun than women in other high-income countries, and abused women are five times more likely to be killed by their abuser if the abuser owns a firearm. In 36 states, more than half of intimate partner-related homicides of women in each state involved a gun.

Our advocates hear shocking stories every day. What becomes clear from these stories is that firearms violence is not just about homicides. It is a tool that abusive partners use to control and torture their intimate partners. In our 2014 survey on the use of firearms in domestic violence situations, 67% of respondents believed their partner was capable of killing them, which creates enough fear to keep victims from leaving. Of the respondents whose partners had access to guns, more than 1 in 5 said their partners had threatened to use a firearm to hurt the victims, their children, pets or other family members.

Knowing these numbers, and with other instances of gun violence continually in the headlines, the time for action is now. We need everyone in the community – including employers – to be aware of this deadly issue and understand how they have a role to play, whether they are a business or faith leader, someone who provides housing in the community, someone who provides financial assistance, or someone who is a good friend or work colleague willing to support the survivor as she tries to deal with the violence.

If there were a rash of burglaries or muggings in our communities, we’d be advocating for police and the courts to take action. Firearms violence in intimate partner relationships is another crime that we shouldn’t accept as something that just happens.

We can change this. We can help victims become survivors. We can’t afford to do nothing. We need to act now.

Learn how you can get involved at Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Katie Ray-Jones is the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.

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I #SeeDV As an Issue We Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk About: Cameka Crawford

dvam-blog-2One of the defining moments in my career happened just a few short months ago. I was speaking to a group of young women in college about healthy relationships and how to recognize the signs of dating abuse. The conversation became a little personal, and I began talking about a past relationship. While the relationship was not abusive, my partner exhibited unhealthy relationship behaviors. By telling my story, I opened the door for the women in the room to share their own to stories and support each other.

After the event, one of the women approached me and thanked me for being honest about my relationship. What stood out for me wasn’t the fact that she thanked me. It was that she said that I looked like I had the “perfect” life and wouldn’t be the “type” of person who would be in an unhealthy relationship. That single moment showed me the power of sharing our stories.

By openly talking about domestic violence and dating abuse, we can dispel the myth that there is a “type” of person who experiences abuse. Domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects all types of people – no matter their race, gender, age, education or income. There is not one “type” of domestic violence victim or survivor. Every situation is unique.

Also, when we speak out, we are acknowledging that domestic violence is a widespread issue that affects every community. Seeing a story play out every once in a while in the media can make it seem like domestic violence doesn’t happen that often. Well, it does. Domestic violence affects more than 12 million people each year in the U.S. With so many people in our country affected by abuse, we can begin to see the real and urgent need to expand resources, education and prevention efforts.

Finally, sharing our stories helps other victims and survivors feel less alone. Talking more openly about our experiences, when we feel safe doing so, might encourage others to come forward and find support. After all, abuse is never the victim’s fault, and no one ever deserves to be abused. The only person to blame is the person who chooses to be abusive. When we as a society understand this, we will go a long way in helping to erase the shame and blame that can keep victims and survivors from seeking help.

Today, and every day, I am committed to speaking out about healthy relationships, domestic violence and my own experiences. I hope you will join me and share how you #SeeDV with your friends, family, classmates and coworkers. By doing so, we can work together to create a society that doesn’t stay silent about domestic violence or ask why a victim would stay in an abusive relationship. We can shift the conversation and eventually create a world where domestic violence doesn’t exist.

Cameka Crawford is the chief communications officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline and its youth-focused program, loveisrespect. For more than a decade, she has been committed advancing the communications and marketing efforts for corporate and nonprofit organizations.

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This October #SeeDV with The Hotline

dvam-blog-1October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)! This month serves as a reminder for people in communities across the country to renew their commitment to preventing and ending domestic violence, which affects more than 12 million people in the U.S. each year. Although domestic violence is an important issue year-round, DVAM is an opportunity for all in the movement – from organizations and coalitions to survivors, friends and family members – to come together, amplify our stories and help the world #SeeDV.

Over the past year, the conversation about domestic violence has expanded and, in many ways, become more nuanced. People are learning more about the complexities of abusive relationships, including why it’s so difficult for victims to leave and how our society can better support people who have been abused.

At The Hotline, we #SeeDV every day. We’re seeing that domestic violence intersects with a variety of issues, including HIV/AIDS, firearms policy, law enforcement response and corporate social responsibility. During DVAM 2015, we will be shedding light on these issues with a few of our partners:

  • The Hotline is one of several organizations partnering with Kaiser Family Foundation’s Greater Than AIDS initiative to explore the intersection of HIV/AIDS and intimate partner violence (IPV). The campaign launching this month will include resources, a discussion guide and a video of four IPV survivors sharing their stories of living with abuse while HIV positive.
  • The Hotline will partner with Americans for Responsible Solutions for a joint webinar at 2 p.m. CT on Oct. 27. The webinar, entitled “A Deeper Conversation: The Intersection of Firearms and Domestic Violence,” will take a look at how the presence of a firearm in an abusive relationship intensifies the fear of abuse victims. It will also explore what can be done to provide greater protections to domestic violence victims and survivors. To register, click here.
  • For many years, Verizon has been committed to bringing attention to domestic violence and supporting survivors through its HopeLine program. Throughout October, Verizon will offer an exclusive line of purple accessories and will donate a portion of each sale, up to $100,000 to The Hotline. To learn more about HopeLine, visit their website.
  • Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is launching a second Pass the Peace campaign, which seeks to raise awareness and funds for The Hotline. Learn more about the campaign and how you can participate here.

We hope you’ll share how you #SeeDV with your friends, family and community this October. Be sure to follow The Hotline on social media for DVAM 2015 updates and ways to get involved!

Find us on:

Twitter
Facebook
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Happy New Year From The Hotline!

It’s been an amazing year of milestones for the hotline, and we couldn’t have done it without the kindness and generosity from all of you. We are so grateful to our supporters who helped us create healthier families and communities 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The hotline saw growth and change in 2013:

  • This summer we answered our 3 millionth call, a somber milestone that allowed us to reflect on the people we’ve been able to help and the work that still needs to be done.

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  • In October we revamped our website… and launched online chat services! Victims, friends and family now have a new way to interact with an advocate and get help safely, quickly and anonymously from any device with internet access.

  • In October we asked, “How do you see DV?” and the responses were more than could’ve imagined. We featured blog posts by everyone from Denver Broncos’ Chris Harris, Jr., to Jasmine Villegas.

  • Our loveisrespect advocates have seen a record number of young people reaching out for help via text (“loveis” to 22522) and chat.

  • Vice President Joe Biden stopped by our Austin, TX headquarters during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Check out this great recap of his visit.

  • We launched the 24/7/365 Society. A pledge of $1,000 a year for three years secures a place as a founding member of the society, recognizing your constant support of victims of domestic violence.

  • We participated in Giving Tuesday for the first time ever. On December 3rd our advocates and staff joined together to build a Gingerbread Hotline. With each donation we added a fun item to the hotline, representing how each gift builds and strengthens our ability to help more survivors, families and friends.

  • In December, the Avon Foundation for Women offered to match any gifts we received, up to $200,000. This was a great opportunity, because each gift did twice the good.

It’s been a great year of change, and we’re looking forward to what the coming year will bring. From all of us here at the hotline, we’re so appreciative to have a strong community of supporters and friends working to build a world of healthier relationships. Thank you for helping us serve 24/7/365.

Remember that we’re always just a phone call or chat away. 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Wishing you a safe, happy and healthy new year.

 

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I See DV As An Important Public Health Issue

This is our final How I See DV (#SeeDV) post to wrap up our 2013 Domestic Violence Awareness Month campaign. We are so grateful to everyone who participated and supported our efforts in October.

Today’s How I See DV perspective is written by Cora Harrington, the founder and chief editor of The Lingerie Addict. The Lingerie Addict is a fashion blog dedicated to lingerie, and has been featured on the websites for CNN, Vogue Italia, Forbes, and Time. Cora is a former domestic violence advocate, sexual assault crisis line worker, and family advocate for victims of violent crime. She currently lives and works in Seattle, WA.

coraIn the last few decades, issues affecting health, and, in particular, women’s health, have taken center stage. From Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October to American Heart Month in February, people are talking more and more about ways to get healthy and stay healthy. That’s a wonderful thing, and I’m glad these conversations are happening. But there’s still one issue that is all too often ignored in the discussion about health…and that’s domestic violence.

While anyone of any gender can be affected by intimate partner violence, 85% of domestic violence victims are women, and 1 out of 3 women in the United States will experience domestic in her lifetime. For African American women and Native American women, those percentages are shockingly higher; almost 50% of Native American women have been beaten, raped, or stalked by their partners, and intimate partner homicide is one of the leading causes of death for African American women aged 15 to 35.

More women require medical attention for domestic violence than for rape, muggings, and accidents combined, and domestic violence during pregnancy is the #1 cause of maternal mortality (maternal deaths) in America. Imagine. If we had these kinds of numbers for any other disease – heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes – people would be protesting in the streets demanding an immediate solution. But since the issue is intimate partner violence (a “personal matter” or a “domestic dispute”), the response, all too often, is just more silence.

I’m not a medical professional or a first responder, so I don’t see domestic violence on the “front lines,” so to speak. Nor am I a Domestic Violence Advocate (though I used to be). So if you’re someone like me reading this, who has a job that has nothing to do with intimate partner violence or sexual assault or the healthcare field, how is thinking of domestic violence as a public health issue possibly relevant to you?

Because a public health perspective helps to give a framework for both understanding DV and for talking with and being supportive of survivors of DV.

Sometimes, when a victim of domestic violence attempts to confide in a friend, that friend is less than supportive.  Often, victims of domestic violence are asked why they don’t “just leave,” and have to cope with people implying that enjoy or even like the violence because they’re still in the relationship. However, those kinds of statements would be unthinkable for any other health issue.

No one would ask a cancer patient if she liked having cancer because she needed time to explore treatment options, make a treatment plan, or because she chose to reject one treatment in favor of another. No one would tell a PTSD survivor that he enjoyed having PTSD because he took awhile to find a therapist, tried multiple therapists, or even stopped and started therapy more than once. No one would tell a stroke survivor that she must have enjoyed having a stroke because she was concerned about her physical limitations or because she had financial worries. So why are these assumptions okay for survivors of domestic violence, many of whom have been physically and verbally battered into physical and emotional injuries? They’re not.

I’m not saying survivors of domestic violence are sick or unwell. Nor am I encouraging others to adopt a patronizing attitude towards them. I just think it’s worth thinking of other ways to frame this problem…and its solutions. After all, you probably know someone who’s dealing with domestic violence right now.

Sources:

https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/usermanuals/domesticviolence/domesticviolencec.cfm
http://www.americanbar.org/groups/domestic_violence/resources/statistics.html
http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-domesticdating-violence
http://www.nhcadsv.org/uploads/WOC_domestic-violence.pdf
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/10/22/2818051/women-color-domestic-violence/

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I See DV as an LGBTQ Issue

We know that today is November 1, but really, shouldn’t every month be Domestic Violence Awareness Month? We have two more #SeeDV posts, including today’s thought-provoking piece from Tasha Amezcua and Ursula Campos-Johnson of the New York City Anti-Violence Project.

avpJulio was scared to call the police.  Last time he called, they refused to take the report.  His partner Jim’s violent tactics were escalating.  Jim made Julio feel isolated and ashamed of being gay, often reminding him of how his family kicked him out. Julio couldn’t reach out to his friends for help because all of his friends were Jim’s friends, too.  Jim told Julio he would kill him if he tried to leave.  Julio called a few domestic violence shelters.  Most turned him away because he was a man.  Finally, after many calls he was accepted to a shelter that had very little experience sheltering LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV).

Once in shelter Julio began attending mandatory group counseling for shelter residents.  The group’s theme was “women supporting women,” so he felt out of place.  When he finally spoke up in group about the violence he experienced, the residents mocked him.  He tried to make friends in the shelter, but was greeted with homophobic remarks by staff and fellow residents. Julio looked to his caseworker for support, but all she could offer was that he should practice empathy, since he and the residents have similar experiences.  Despite the homophobia of the residents and staff, Julio continued to attend group because he really needed the support and the shelter, and it was nearly impossible for him, a young gay man, to find another DV shelter that would accept him.

The anti-violence movement, and society at large, often make assumptions about the identities of IPV survivors.  The assumption is that women are victims of IPV and men are abusive partners.  For Julio and many LGBTQ IPV survivors, these personal biases result in institutional barriers that can lead to a survivor disengaging with services, if they are even able to receive services in the first place.  Without full access to safe IPV services, including shelters and counseling, an LGBTQ identified survivor may feel as unsafe in the shelter as in their abusive relationship.  In accessing services like shelters, many LGBTQ survivors of IPV experience secondary trauma, by service providers, shelter staff, and other shelter residents, either through overt homophobia and transphobia, or through more subtle barriers to critical services, like women-only support groups or heteronormative intakes.

The stakes for LGBTQ IPV survivors are high.  It’s often difficult to imagine the deadly reality of IPV in LGBTQ communities when we’ve been socialized to believe that all the victims are ciswomen (cis or cisgender is a term used to describe people who, for the most part, feel that their gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.  Cis is often used as a prefix, i.e. ciswoman) and all the abusive partners are men.  So, here are the facts: IPV occurs within same sex relationships at the same rate as in heterosexual relationships, with a 25% to 33% prevalence rate.  People of color, transgender, gender non-conforming people, and young people are disproportionately affected by IPV in LGBTQ relationships.  The 2012 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs Report on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and HIV-Affected Intimate Partner Violence found that people of color made up the majority (62.1%) of IPV survivors.  Transgender survivors were two (2.0) times as likely to face threats/intimidation within violent relationships, and nearly two (1.8) times more likely to experience harassment within violent relationships.  The 2012 report also found that youth and young adults were close to two times (1.8) as likely to face anti-LGBTQ bias in IPV tactics as compared to non-youth.

LGBTQ people are dying as a result of IPV at a higher rate than ever before.  2012 saw the highest recorded number of LGBTQ IPV homicides: 21 in 2012, 2 more than in 2011, and 15 more than in 2010.  Nearly half of LGBTQ IPV murder victims last year were gay men.

Key to reaching and providing effective support services to all survivors of violence is understanding that IPV survivors can be queer, transgender or gender non-conforming, straight or gay men, lesbian or bisexual women, or gay, lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual transgender people.  The people who harm are as diverse in gender and sexual orientation as the survivors we serve.

At the New York City Anti Violence Project (AVP), we collaborate with many IPV/DV service providers who historically serve heterosexual cisgender women.  Making the transition to all gender and sexual orientation inclusive can seem like a daunting task.  To offer support, AVP coordinates the New York State LGBTQ Domestic Violence Network, in which AVP staff and other network members support each other toward a shared commitment to “work towards the inclusion of LGBTQ survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence, specifically regarding LGBTQ shelter access and inclusion.”

Expanding accessibility to services for LGBTQ survivors is only possible because of the legacy of the battered women’s movement, feminism, and the hard work of domestic violence service providers. This is where we came from.  This legacy opened shelters, insisted on visibility, and increased safety for many women survivors.  Now it’s time to broaden access to ALL survivors of intimate partner violence, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.  This is a call to action for all of us, but especially service providers, to shift our understanding of who can and does experience intimate partner violence.  With the reauthorization of an LGBTQ inclusive VAWA, it is time that all DV service providers realize the deep impact IPV has on all people, including LGBTQ survivors and victims.  Only when we can expand our understanding of who can be a victim or a survivor can we begin to expand our services, including shelter, to all survivors of intimate partner violence.

Please note that the National Domestic Violence Hotline works hard to find a solution for all of our callers. Please call us if you need support or help at 1-800-799-7233.

About Our Contributors

Ursula Campos-Johnson is a New York City native, mixed race Latina, and survivor of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Ursula has worked with LGBTQ survivors of violence for over five years. Ursula is dedicated to promoting social justice within and outside of systems for many marginalized communities, especially Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, HIV-affected (LGBTQH) survivors of IPV, and youth impacted by violence. Ursula has done this through program development, direct services, and training and education. As an Intimate Partner Violence Counselor Advocate at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), Ursula has created a unique support group model for LGBTQH survivors and victims of IPV and has lead an initiative at AVP to create a culturally competent IPV assessment model, inclusive of intersecting identities and free of assumptions around a binary understanding of gender identity. Ursula has provided workshops and trainings on intimate partner violence, sexual violence, hate violence and gender-based violence and their intersection with other forms of oppression, including poverty, sexism, heteronormativity, heteropatriarchy, and racism for service providers and community members. Ursula has presented at the Columbia School of Social Work, Columbia School of Nursing, CPS, the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter and has provided trainings to youth service providers at The Door, and Ali Forney Center. Ursula is currently an MSW candidate at Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College.

Tasha Amezcua, the Intimate Partner Violence & Sexual Violence Community Organizer in AVP’s Community Organizing and Public Advocacy department, supports coordination of statewide and local community organizing, public advocacy and policy programming related to LGBTQ intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Tasha develops and coordinates intimate partner violence and sexual violence programming and survivor-informed campaigns, conducts outreach to LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities in New York City, and develops the leadership of LGBTQ and HIV-affected community members and survivors to participate within organizing and advocacy campaigns. Tasha works to maintain and grow the work of the New York State LGBTQ Domestic Violence (DV) Network and provides technical assistance, training, and recruitment to the DV Network and serves as a liaison between AVP and the DV Network. She attended Columbia University, majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies, with a concentration in Queer Theories. Tasha, a femme-identified queer Chicana survivor of violence, is originally from Santa Ana, CA, but has called New York City her home away from home since 2003.