Exploring the connectedness of health in our communities and imagining a better future
Oct. 25, 2022 | Issue #29
At Blue Shield of California Foundation, our vision is to invest in domestic violence prevention solutions that make lasting change in the lives of survivors, families, and California communities. One example is a new funding opportunity
to advance restorative, community-based approaches to prevent domestic violence. And, this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Foundation is contributing to changing the conversation about domestic violence with the launch of LetsEndDV.org
. This resource, grounded in our core belief that domestic violence is healable and preventable, highlights the visionary work that community and field leaders are taking on to end domestic violence.
I invite you to visit LetsEndDV.org
and hope that when you do, you will share the resources with people who may benefit, and inspire others to get involved.
Please consider forwarding this edition
to a colleague or friend.
||Lucia Corral Peña
Senior Program Officer and Co-interim Chief Program Director
Domestic violence is a matter of public health
Domestic violence is broader and more common than many of us realize. And while it is traditionally thought of as a private family matter or a criminal justice issue, it is a public health issue that we all have a role in preventing. One sector that can play a unique role: health care.
A recent Politico article shares a new approach by clinics and medical centers to identify, treat, and ultimately reduce domestic violence.
Medical professionals have often recognized domestic violence and treated survivors, but a systemic, holistic, health-focused response in health care settings could do so much more. This could include practices like routine screenings and conversations with patients about healthy relationships. For providers practicing this, it also means forming ties with domestic violence organizations so they can point patients toward the right resources.
For approaches like this to be successful, changing policy is important. As Medi-Cal prepares to launch its Population Health Management Program next year, it can adopt trauma-informed strategies — our grantee partners at Futures Without Violence have developed one such program — to help health care providers and their patients talk about and access resources that support survivors and prevent domestic violence.
Let’s talk about domestic violence
Understanding of domestic violence is growing — two thirds of Californians realize that domestic violence needs to be discussed and addressed at a societal level. But many aren’t sure how to do this. Only one in four Californians who have experienced domestic violence say they felt supported by their family and friends. If we understand that the root causes of domestic violence go far beyond any individual or family, and see it as a public issue, we can change how we talk about it: openly, with compassion, and without shame.
Whether it’s starting a conversation with your own family around the kitchen table, or spreading the word on your social media, the more that we all bring the issue of domestic violence into the light, the better we can address it. Each of us can play a role in creating healthy conversations around domestic violence: where survivors can come forward, where families can heal, and where the cycle can be broken.
“So let’s care, let’s be proactive. We are the solution.”
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness in women. In fact, 57% of women in California experiencing homelessness report domestic violence as the primary cause. California Partnership to End Domestic Violence shares a video from Yenni, a survivor who faced homelessness, as she explains the need for community support.
“The reality is that currently, family shelters are at capacity, which means there’s a waiting list. So for every family that is helped, there are about three to five waiting for that same spot,” Yenni says. The U.S. Justice Department recently announced $225 million in grants to support coordinated community responses to domestic and sexual violence. CPEDV received part of this funding, which will contribute to solutions for the future.
In the meantime, Yenni explains how couch surfing with friends might seem like an option, but it can be traumatizing for children to not have a consistent place to sleep. “I can tell you from experience, sleeping on a couch with a 1-year-old was retriggering and very difficult to do,” she says. “This is what survivors face when they leave an abuser.”
Fear of homelessness is one of the top reasons survivors return to (or never leave) a person who is harming them. We all need a roof over our heads, and for survivors, that can mean staying in an abusive relationship just to keep themselves and their children housed. Access to safe, affordable housing is critical for families’ health and preventing domestic violence.
The story behind LetsEndDV.org
How can we change the conversation about domestic violence? That’s a challenge that the communications team at the Foundation took on this year. A months-long project stretched our thinking, challenged us to listen more than ever, and incorporated voices from multiple contributors. We are proud of the work so far, but we are still learning. Our latest blog post tells the story.
You’d think with domestic violence affecting so many of us, it would come up. Of course, it’s in there, in the family talk. Sometimes in blazing absence. Sometimes only with confidants. It’s so private, what happens.
A common occurrence, but not a common topic.
When the conversation does surface, it’s catastrophic. The murder, the courtroom drama, the missing person. The sensational ending to a story with no beginning or middle.
Pull back, widen the lens. That’s my job — to help people see the surroundings as they think about domestic violence. How did the story get to that crisis point? What happened before the end?
What are the factors that lead to such heart-breaking, maddening situations?
Well, for one thing, our society prizes violence and dominance. It’s everywhere — in our language, our stories, our heroes. We also have rigid gender norms, and even though these vary across cultures, women are often subordinate to men. Men are expected to dominate others and be in charge. Don’t get me started on our ideas about romance. Being swept off your feet, never giving up, accepting that love hurts, that love is possession.
That’s only the beginning.
Read more in our behind-the-scenes blog.
This month at Blue Shield of California Foundation
Domestic violence is everywhere, but it is also healable and preventable. That’s the message of hope Blue Shield of California Foundation is sending this Domestic Violence Awareness Month, at LetsEndDV.org.