Reflections on 2021: NNEDV’s Year in Review
December 21, 2021
A statement from Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO:
For more than 30 years, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)’s priority has been to create a social, political, and economic environment in which domestic violence no longer exists. This past year was a busy one in fulfilling that mission. In 2021, NNEDV staff, member coalitions, local programs, and survivors grappled with seemingly endless challenges: the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, an economic downturn, horrific acts of racist and antisemitic violence in our nation’s capital and across the country, and a divisive political climate. The stress and fear resulting from these concerns are still very real and have created ripple effects that will continue to impact all of us for many months to come.
Yet, 2021 continued to be a testament to the resilience of our staff, member coalitions, local programs, and the survivors they serve. The year also brought us sparks of hope: the long-awaited vaccine rollout, a new Administration and Congress committed to supporting survivor-centered policies, and a public reckoning with oppression and violence. We worked hard to ensure that NNEDV was centering the needs of our coalition members, focusing on the most marginalized survivors, and examining systems that fail survivors. NNEDV has continued our important work through all the challenges of the past year, and I am immensely proud of everything our teams accomplished during this difficult time. Read on to see just a bit of what we accomplished together in 2021.
As we reflect on everything we accomplished this past year and look forward—with hope—to the new year, I am excited about the future of our work. We rely on the generosity of our supporters to sustain our work to make domestic violence a national priority, change the way society responds to domestic violence, and strengthen domestic violence advocacy at every level. As we look ahead to 2022, we remain committed to this work, and we believe—despite it all—in a future where every home is a safe home. Please consider making a gift to help us support advocates and survivors in 2022 and beyond. We thank you for joining us in this work.
Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President and CEO
We worked with Members of Congress and national partners to ensure survivors received COVID-19 economic impact payments, even if an abusive partner had stolen or withheld these funds. Knowing that financial abuse occurs in 99% of abusive relationships, we moved quickly to ensure these payments would help survivors rather than provide additional means of harm and abuse.
We continued to convene monthly COVID-19 calls for domestic violence, sexual assault, and tribal coalitions to relay information, strengthen services for survivors, and offer a shared space. We also continued to produce and send regular editions of the Coalition Digest, sharing COVID-19-related resources and trainings with coalitions.
As we welcomed the Biden-Harris Administration, we developed executive branch recommendations and priorities to help reduce gender-based violence. We urged the Administration to make real strides in reducing gender-based violence during this challenging time, by investing in strategies to advance access to safety, justice, and economic stability for survivors while reducing reliance on systems that are not helping all survivors.
Our team also developed legislative priorities for the 117th Congress:
With these goals in mind, we celebrated a number of significant legislative victories, including:
- Passage of the American Rescue Plan, which included new and robust support for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and culturally specific services.
- Passage of the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (“VOCA Fix”), which secured billions in victim services funding and has long been one of our top legislative priorities.
- Development of Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations packages, which reflected many of our funding priorities, including increases in Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) and Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) funds.
- House of Representatives passage of the Family Violence Prevention and Services Improvement Act, which bolsters existing programs and closed gaps in the current law and was one of our top legislative priorities.
- Progress on VAWA reauthorization, which included additional funding for culturally specific providers, more investment in prevention and restorative justice, and restoration of tribal jurisdiction. Negotiations are ongoing in the Senate.
In June, we hosted our annual Advocacy Days (sponsored by Facebook, now Meta) with nearly 200 coalition staff members, local advocates, and survivors from 37 states. They met with more than 150 Congressional offices and heard from Congressional staffers on a panel I moderated. We were honored to be joined by Rosie Hidalgo, White House Senior Advisor on Gender-Based Violence and Special Assistant to the President, who provided closing remarks.
In July, I was honored to join our Policy team at the White House as President Biden signed the VOCA Fix legislation. We couldn’t have achieved this significant victory without the voices of our member coalitions and the hundreds of national, state, and local organizations that urged members of Congress to take action on the VOCA Fix.
With President Biden at the White House for the VOCA Fix bill signing
Throughout the year, we have been a thought leader to the White House Gender Policy Council (GPC), which released the groundbreaking National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality on October 22. Part of this plan will be for the Administration to also release the first-of-its-kind National Action Plan on Gender Based Violence. We have been instrumental in the plan’s formation and I was honored to speak at the White House’s Informing the Development of the US GBV National Action Plan: A Civil Society Forum earlier this month.
Capacity Technical Assistance
Throughout 2021, we provided intensive, individualized training and technical assistance (TA) to our 56 state and territorial member coalitions to ensure they could continue to support survivors amid all the challenges of the year. From support through leadership transition, new staff orientation, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities, we worked hard to meet our members’ wide variety of needs.
We continued efforts to center racial equity in our work with coalitions, including holding ongoing meetings between myself, NNEDV leadership, and the Coalition Executive Directors of Color. The purpose of the work is to support leaders of color, center their voices, and connect, organize, and strategize around reducing barriers and advancing racial equity. We also have been working on development of our Indigenous Peoples’ Toolkit in partnership with the Alliance of Tribal Coalitions to End Violence (ATCEV) and Pouhana ‘O Na Wahine (PONW) to assist FVPSA state administrators and coalitions in working with Tribes, Tribal Coalitions, and native and Indigenous organizations, partners, and communities.
In November, we held our Annual Meeting and Leadership Summit. Our theme this year was Resilience, Healing, and Community and we worked hard to ensure we were focusing on the needs of our coalitions during this time, with an emphasis on supporting leaders of color. In addition, we presented Isabel Martinez Santos with the 2021 DREAM Award, honoring her outstanding commitment to survivors and dedication to meaningful change through her work at the Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Collaborative Approach to Housing for Survivors
In partnership with the DV and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium, we continued to respond to survivors’ emerging COVID-19 housing needs and programs’ TA requests around accessing the resources provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and on-going HUD Continuum of Care DV/SA Bonus funds. Our regular DV Coalition Housing calls grew from eight to 25 participating coalitions, helping to disseminate best practices and innovations, inform NNEDV’s work and priorities, and record levels of increased access to direct housing assistance for survivors. We formalized our partnership with HUD technical assistance provider TAC and worked with local communities to establish policies and procedures to increase access for survivors eligible for the new HUD Emergency Housing Vouchers passed in the ARP.
We also worked to center racial equity and inclusivity in our housing systems change work. Both the pandemic and the nation’s racial reckoning highlighted the centrality of housing to safety and well-being; housing and shelter are urgent needs, and demand for our assistance was steady during 2021.
Domestic Violence Counts
In May, we launched our 15th Annual Domestic Violence Counts Report during a virtual Congressional briefing that was viewed more than 2,000 times. The briefing was supported by honorary co-hosts Representatives Gwen Moore (D-WI), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), and John Katko (R-NY), with Representatives Moore, Fitzpatrick, and Jackson Lee giving remarks. I was also honored to moderate a panel featuring survivors and experts from across the country as part of the briefing.
The report (sponsored by The Allstate Foundation and Facebook, now Meta) found that, on September 10, 2020, 76,525 adult and child victims of domestic violence received lifesaving services from local domestic violence programs. Tragically, on that same day, victims made 11,047 requests for services that programs could not provide because they lacked the resources they desperately needed.
A #DVCounts story from an advocate in Colorado
Our 16th Annual DV Counts survey day took place on September 9 and we look forward to releasing the results and report in early 2022. We know programs have been incredibly strained under the conditions of 2021 and we appreciate their willingness to help us gather this important data each year.
In March, we hosted our 4th annual Economic Justice Summit (sponsored by Major League Baseball and The Allstate Foundation) and we were excited to welcome 206 advocates and allies from across the country to discuss topics including: the impact of COVID-19 on marginalized communities; the role of communities in ending domestic violence; and how advocates can better serve immigrant survivors.
With longtime partner The Allstate Foundation, we worked on a number of exciting initiatives throughout the year, including:
- Creating an online, virtual version of our signature Moving Ahead curriculum in order to reach new audiences of survivors and advocates;
- Convening the Domestic Violence and Economic Justice Advisory Council, bringing together representatives from national allied organizations to advance survivors’ economic empowerment and financial well-being, identify policy and programmatic gaps, and strategize ways to expand awareness and solutions;
- Providing a variety of economic justice-related webinars and trainings to organizations, along with ongoing support for our Moving Ahead coalition grantees; and
- Cultivating Moving Ahead grantee stories for a feature on our website: NNEDV and The Allstate Foundation: Creating Change through The Moving Ahead Grant Program.
A story from a Georgia survivor supported by the Moving Ahead Grant Program
During the year, we distributed 340 new credit building microloans through the Independence Project, providing a pathway for survivors to improve their credit score, increase access to lower-interest lines of credit, and improve access to safe, affordable housing opportunities. Improved credit is an important step towards the financial stability necessary for survivors to move from short-term safety to long-term security and an economically sustainable, independent life.
We announced a new partnership with Black Women’s Blueprint to update the training materials and resources available in the Positively Safe Toolkit. Our aim was to highlight racial disparities and cultural differences, including a lens on varying stigmas and reflecting the life experiences of survivors to create more accessible, engaging content. Additional new partnerships included SisterLove and the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD).
We launched the Untold Stories awareness campaign in May to center the voices of survivors living with HIV, highlighting their resilience and amplifying the ongoing need to dismantle stigma.
A quote from one of our Untold Stories participants
In November, we were excited to be awarded a $300,000 Corporate Grant Award from Gilead Sciences, Inc. to support Positively Safe. This third year of increased funding will help us address social determinants of health and improve health equity among populations disproportionately impacted by the dual epidemics of domestic violence and HIV/AIDS.
In partnership with Futures Without Violence, we wrapped up season one and launched season two of our Expanding the Continuum podcast. This year’s episodes addressed health equity, partnership building, confidentiality, improved service provision for survivors living with HIV, and more.
We continued to develop materials for TechSafety.org and provide trainings to help advocates, programs, and coalitions respond to survivors’ ever-changing needs and concerns. These efforts were bolstered by a number of new and ongoing partnerships, including with the Coalition Against Stalkerware, the Confidentiality Institute, the Justice, Research and Statistical Association (JRSA), Kaspersky, NortonLifeLock, and Uber.
In July, we hosted our 9th annual Technology Summit (sponsored by NortonLifeLock, Facebook, now Meta, Apple, Kaspersky, Airbnb, Malwarebytes, and Match Group) with more than 630 registrants from 43 states, 3 territories, and 6 countries engaging in pivotal conversations about emerging issues at the intersection of technology and domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Topics included how issues like the digital divide, non-consensual image sharing, access for survivors with disabilities, privacy, and tech use in the pandemic impact survivors.
An important reminder from our Safety Net team about tech and abuse
In October, we announced the release of a new report, Tech Abuse in the Pandemic & Beyond, looking at the findings from a needs assessment of the field that included the participation of more than 1,000 advocates and legal systems professionals.
Throughout the year, we continued to provide trainings, webinars, and other resources to grantees. Most notably, we worked extensively to develop and launch NNEDV’s first e-learning platform this year, with more than 300 users participating in the first few months alone. We’re looking forward to adding more content in 2022.
We partnered with ProLiteracy and several consultants to assess some commonly used documents from the Transitional Housing Toolkit for plain-language accessibility, ensuring these important materials are as helpful as possible for survivors and advocates.
Having free legal assistance available through our groundbreaking WomensLaw Email Hotline has always been crucial for survivors, but never more so than during the pandemic. Throughout the year, we helped 4,852 people on the Email Hotline, sharing legal information, referrals, and emotional support with survivors and their loved ones. As the volume of emails on our Spanish Email Hotline rose, we were also excited to recruit Spanish-speaking volunteers to increase accessibility and meet survivors’ needs.
In January, we were honored to receive a Celebrating Solutions Award for Excellence from the Mary Byron Project. This award recognized our innovation, leadership, and services to victims of intimate partner violence and helped our team continue critical work to provide free state-specific, plain-language legal information through the WomensLaw Email Hotline and WomensLaw.org.
A thank-you note from a WomensLaw Email Hotline user
In May, we launched our second series of Online Information Clinics (OICs). These OICs covered the topic of custody and included both recorded sessions and free live chat opportunities for survivors. Overall, we reached hundreds of viewers and chatted with more than 140 survivors in 40 states and territories.
Development and Communications
This year, we launched a new sustaining donor program—Voices Against Violence—to increase monthly giving to NNEDV. Building on this momentum, we also partnered with the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence (PCADV) on an #Every1KnowsSome1 Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) campaign leading into Giving Tuesday and our #GiveForDV end-of-year fundraising campaign. This partnership helped us elevate the conversation around domestic violence and engage coalitions and local programs in new and meaningful ways. We had our best Giving Tuesday ever, raising more than $10,800 from individuals. For the second year in a row, NNEDV’s Board of Directors also pledged a generous $10,000 match.
The announcement for our DVAM 2021 theme: #Every1KnowsSome1
Across our teams, we were awarded more than $4.7 million for six federal grants to support the for the Safety Net, Transitional Housing, Housing Policy, and WomensLaw teams. We are grateful for this federal support to keep our work going.
In October, we received a tremendously generous pledge of $500,000 from Match Group. CEO Shar Dubey publicly announced the donation during Domestic Violence Awareness Month with an op-ed in support of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2021. We are so excited by this new partnership with Match Group and grateful to them and our other 2021 corporate and foundation sponsors who support so much of our critical work.
During the year, NNEDV’s content on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter generated more than 8.7 million impressions and more than 562,000 engagements, and our email newsletters reached nearly 26,000 subscribers. NNEDV was mentioned in more than 2,700 unique press pieces, with more than eight billion total impressions at a total advertising value equivalency of nearly $77 million. Media highlights during the year included:
- A Call to Action to End Violence for the New Administration (Ms. Magazine, January 19)
- Congress Moves to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act (CNN, March 9)
- In The Wake of COVID-19, Many Are Experiencing Escalating Domestic Abuse. Here’s How to Help A Loved One (Women’s Health, April 22)
- Chris Brown is accused of more violence against women. Are we ready to cancel him yet? (USA TODAY, June 23)
- Expanded definition of domestic violence could help survivors recover from financial abuse (Yahoo! Money, September 22)
- Congress must reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, and my company will help make it happen (Fortune, October 13)
- The Texas Abortion Ban Handed Abusers A Whole New Tool To Control Their Victims With (Yahoo! News, October 27)
- A wrinkle in MLB’s domestic violence policy may complicate a Trevor Bauer suspension (Los Angeles Times, November 1)