The organizing work that helped to develop today’s response to
domestic violence included a specific focus on criminalization
and law enforcement responses that we are still reckoning with to
this day. While it created legislation to protect some from
intimate partner violence and establish it as a social issue, it
also created structures and funding that formalized and required
relationships between domestic violence and law enforcement
agencies. This approach has continued to underinvest in
prevention and community healing—including frameworks originating
from Black, Indigenous, Native, and Activists of Color. We now
know that multiple solutions are needed to address a wide
spectrum of survivor needs.
The mainstream movement is now coming to terms with the harm it
has caused by creating spaces that are not safe for and cannot
serve all survivors. Locally, domestic violence survivors,
advocates, and preventionists are identifying systemic inequities
and innovating toward alternatives while policy advocates
work to ensure that legislation at national, state, and
community levels are constantly being improved to include the
needs of all survivors and communities. Our new blog series,
Alternatives to the Criminal Legal System, highlights powerful
examples of reasons and methods for these alternatives.
For our latest issue, we share methods of enacting change
throughout the various levels of our society. Cat
Brooks from the Anti Police-Terror Project shares
her first-hand narrative as a survivor of violence from an
intimate partner and the carceral system and framework of
community organizing she champions today. Tunisia
Owens and Nishara Gunasekara
elaborate on the discriminatory history of the criminal legal
system and offer ways to confront that history through
organizational and policy change.
If you haven’t already seen read our May installment, view
the work of previous authors: Delphine
Burns and Dalia Ochoa-Navarro
contribute one example of working with people who have caused
harm, sharing learnings from launching their Positive Solutions
pilot program. Tonjie Reese speaks up about the
systemic inequities that specifically affect Black girls and send
them down the school-to-prison pipeline. Liz
Zambrano tells her story of survivorship, how the
criminal legal system failed her, and how she felt empowered to
join an organization that works to identify a variety of policy
goals that are safe and responsive for all.
We acknowledge that multiple solutions are needed to end violence
in all forms. We can move toward this vision of healing and
collective liberation by centering the needs of LGBTQ+, disabled,
Black, Indigenous, Native, and Survivors and Communities of
I was 17 when I met him. In the rooms of a 12-step
program. Scared. Alone. Confused. He was 28 and my
sponsor’s boyfriend. Charming. Funny. Handsome. I didn’t realize
I was being lured in until I was trapped. Though that’s not
what I would have called it then. I was a kid. I thought I
was in love.
The verbal abuse started first. A “bitch” here. A “whore”
there. A slow wearing down of my confidence. An
erosion of myself esteem.
Domestic violence affects everyone, across racial and
ethnic backgrounds, gender expression, sexual orientation, and
socioeconomic levels. That being said, domestic violence
overwhelmingly affects communities of color and women.
Specifically, Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic 1 women are subject to domestic violence at
higher rates than White women (source).
I wish I could say I am the first person in my family to be
affected by domestic violence, but I am not. I believe I am the
first to start breaking the cycle that has tormented my family
for generations. During my journey, I’ve learned law enforcement
and the criminal justice system only help to an extent. To help
you to protect yourself & your children, find resources and heal
deeply entrenched abuse patterns reinforced by cultural and
societal beliefs, you need to find the proper support.
There is a right of passage Black women go through before
reaching adulthood – we realize that people may treat us like
we’re twice our ages. Even before reaching adulthood, we’re aware
that we have to be more responsible than other kids, and there
will be times where we have to prove our innocence. For many of
us, we were very young when we learned to fight, escape, and
protect ourselves. Growing up, my loved ones prepared me for any
and every adversity they thought I might face – even the ones
they created. They knew, and I later learned, about the war
against Black girls.
While the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to the
way we at Monarch Services traditionally run our
programs and serve clients, we have been able to adapt and
adequately serve our clients, both individually and in group
settings. One example of this success is the long-anticipated
launch of the Positive Solutions program.