May 12, 2014
Sunday, May 11th was Mother’s Day—but the celebration of mothers does not stop there. May 11th also marked the beginning of the 12th annual National Women’s Health Week, coordinated by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health. This week-long, nationwide health care initiative is dedicated to mobilizing and empowering women and girls across the country to make their mental and physical health a priority. This week of national health observance is a time to raise awareness about women’s health, to foster greater understanding about what it means to be healthy, and to encourage women everywhere to take active steps to live a healthy lifestyle.
April 29, 2014
NNEDV recognizes May 1st as Law Day. Originating with the American Bar Association in 1957 and later recognized by President Eisenhower in 1958, Law Day is meant to underscore the importance of the law and legal processes, and to recognize how they contribute to the freedoms that all Americans share.
At NNEDV, we see the critical impact that laws have in securing safety and freedom for survivors of domestic violence.
Research indicates that, "because legal services help women with practical matters such as protective orders, custody, and child support, they appear to actually present women with real, long-term alternatives" to abusive relationships.  Access to civil legal services is one of the most significant factors in explaining the decline of domestic violence, and one study found that an increase in the number of legal services available for survivors is associated with a decrease in intimate partner homicide. 
Despite the importance of legal services, almost 70% of domestic violence and sexual assault victims must appear in court by themselves because they cannot afford or access legal representation.  According to NNEDV's National Domestic Violence Counts Census, 58% of programs were able to have an advocate accompany a victim to court and only 12% of programs were able to assist victims with legal representation on the survey day. In the past year, 50 domestic violence programs reduced or eliminated their legal advocacy services and 69 programs reduced or eliminated their legal representation services.
On Law Day, we recognize the valuable role that laws and legal systems play in our national, state, and local response to domestic violence. Not only does the law help individuals, but it is also used to hold the entire system accountable. We are mindful that navigating the legal system can often be challenging and overwhelming for survivors of violence, and there is still more work to be done to ensure that our laws meet the needs of all victims.
Check out these amazing resources that help make the law more accessible for and responsive to victims:
- WomensLaw.org, a project of NNEDV, provides state-specific, easy-to-understand legal information and referrals to survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, as well as to their friends, family members, and advocates. Through the website, survivors can access comprehensive information about matters such as restraining orders, divorce, child custody, and support in their area – and can write in to the Email Hotline to receive more specific information.
- The American Bar Association Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence works to increase access to justice for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking by mobilizing the legal profession. Through their publications, resources, and trainings, they help grow the capacity of attorneys to provide high-quality representation to victims.
 See: Farmer, A. & Tiefenthaler, J. (2003). Explaining the Recent Decline in Domestic Violence. Oxfords Journals; MacFarlane, J. et al. (2004). Protection Orders and Intimate Partner Violence: An 18-Month Study of 150 Black, Hispanic and White Women. American Journal of Public Health, 94(4), 613-618.
 Reckdenwald, A. & Parker, K.F. (2010). Understanding Gender-Specific Intimate Partner Homicide: A Theoretical and Domestic Service-Oriented Approach. Journal of Criminal Justice, 38, 951-958.
 Carter, T. (2004). Pour It On: Activists Cite Rising Need for Lawyers to Respond to Domestic Violence, A.B.A. Journal, pg. 73.
April 29, 2014
The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) just released 2 new inforgraphics that show how technology is being misused by abusers against survivors, in addition to how victim service agencies are using technology in order to help survivors. Through a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, NNEDV conducted a survey of more than 750 victim service agencies across the United States, including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is one of the most comprehensive reviews of what survivors are telling victim service providers about how abusers misuse technology to harass, stalk, and harm.
April 25, 2014
Last month the transitional housing team at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) hosted and presented, along with other national presenters and local programs as panelists, a Voluntary Services Training in Washington, DC for Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Transitional Housing Grantees.
Survivors of domestic violence often face a lot of barriers when escaping abuse, including accessing housing. For some survivors becoming safe may mean entering a shelter or transitional housing program. Shelter typically houses victims up to 60 days while transitional housing may give them a place to live for up to 24 months. During this time, survivors may receive financial assistance for rent, utilities, childcare and other necessities allowing them an opportunity to heal and increase their economic stability.
However, often time's programs institute a number of rules and policies which can mirror the characteristics of an abusive relationship, such as dictating when survivors and their children can eat and sleep, when and where they should be going, who they can see. Often abiding by these rules is a requirement for survivors to remain safely housed. Program structures that recreate the dynamics of a controlling environment can revictimize survivors during a time when they are seeking freedom and safety.
All OVW transitional housing programs are required to provide support services on a voluntary basis. This means participation in services such as clinical counselling, peer-to-peer counselling, support groups, employment training, and referrals to outside agencies cannot be a condition of being eligible for, or maintaining housing. This approach also recommends reducing the amount of rules and policies thus giving survivors the power to make their own decisions. The voluntary services approach is a nationally-recognized best practice that is now a requirement under VAWA and Family Violence Prevention and Services (FVPSA) funding.
This two-day training offered information on how to provide housing and support services that are trauma-informed and survivor-focused. It also offered an interactive space where programs discussed positive experiences or challenges with incorporating the voluntary services approach in their programs. NNEDV and OVW's goal is to provide practical methods and resources to implement this approach as well as challenge grantees to meet the individual needs of each survivor.
In our more than eight years providing support and guidance to transitional housing service providers, survivors have reported that their time in transitional housing is more meaningful and supportive because services are suited to their specific needs. NNEDV recognizes the complexities of offering services specifically tailored to each survivor and we commend these programs for their effort and commitment in this work. NNEDV works daily with local domestic violence and sexual assault programs, state coalitions, and other homeless service providers to provide resources and education around creating programming that does not dictate a survivors experience in their program but rather allows them to partner with each survivor to best meet their needs. It is our hope that grantees will continue to explore ways to engage with survivors and analyze success without mandating services.
April 17, 2014
State and territorial coalitions have played a unique role in our nation’s response to domestic violence. Their history is rooted in the battered women’s movement and the values that define this movement, including working towards social justice, self-determination, and ending the oppression of women.