Meet the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
What is it like to do domestic violence work in California?
Due to the size and diversity of California, domestic violence work is extremely varied and always evolving. We are a state of large, metropolitan areas, as well as small, rural areas. Our state includes desert, mountain, and coastal, border, and urban, suburban, and rural environments, and is home to Native Americans, immigrants, refugees, migrants, rich, poor, and middle class people. According to the most recent estimations in the US census, 44% of Californians speak languages other than English at home. In San Francisco alone, residents speak 185 different languages. Asian Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, Latinos/Hispanics and multiracial people represent 66.3% of the population. 27% were born in another country.
We must continuously look within our own movement to deepen the relevance and effectiveness of services for all survivors and communities, especially the most marginalized. Every day, we strive to build an advocacy platform informed by intersectionalities and the need to re-balance power differences. We know that challenging the status quo will ultimately lead to increased health and safety for survivors and their families, thus creating a more equitable and just world.
What impact does your unique California context have on this work?
We are proud that California is home to the largest number of immigrants in the nation. It is very important that advocacy be tailored to the language and cultural needs of each community. This has led to the rise of innovative work in culturally-specific organizations, as well as a recognition that all organizations must strive to be culturally responsive. We have woven these needs throughout our policy advocacy, mobilizing to fund culturally-specific work in the state budget. We have also invested significant energy into a technical assistance tool that helps organizations create a roadmap toward increased equity—now available to all domestic violence organizations throughout the nation (more on this below)!
Though California is the fifth largest economy in the world, deep inequality still exists. In metropolitan areas, the cost of housing has skyrocketed, leaving too many survivors at risk of homelessness. As one advocate said, “The rental market is very tight in San Diego, with a very low vacancy rate of less than 4% and 3% in LA County.” This has led the Partnership to advocate for a range of solutions like flexible funding for housing. We have also secured the funds needed to dive deep into the Domestic Violence Housing First model.
What are the biggest barriers that survivors face in California?
For the last year and a half, our ability to serve immigrant survivors has been undermined by the Trump administration. Advocates throughout the state would tell us that their clients were in a heightened state of fear because of the increased number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents and the anti-immigrant rhetoric that accompanied it. We knew that this was having a chilling effect, preventing survivors from seeking help—so the Partnership decided that we needed to have a prominent role in passing the California Values Act, which limited entanglement between public safety efforts and immigration enforcement. A federal judge recently upheld this law after our state was sued by the federal government. Our coalition added our voice by partnering with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights and submitting an amicus brief.
Another barrier that many survivors experience, including immigrant survivors, is access to services, housing, work, and transit systems in rural areas. Limited employment options can make it difficult to attain independent living. In spite of these challenges, domestic violence organizations also draw strength from rural environments. The Partnership’s Far North region comprises a vast area of land, where agriculture, ranches and livestock are frequently survivors’ livelihood. Natural resources are often incorporated into service provisions and safety strategies, such as subsistence fishing, hunting, off the grid living, and interacting with National and State Parks and National Rangers. In addition, Far North membership agencies generally state that they have strong collaborations within their community systems, districts and jurisdictions due to the small town relationships that often develop. Often the same people that they work with in systems are also people they know in their neighborhoods and families.
What’s happening in California that you’re excited about? Proud of?
Achieving Historic State Budget Wins
We recently worked together with the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault to increase state funding for sexual and domestic violence prevention. What we achieved together was unprecedented—both in our collaboration and in final allocations to the state budget. Because of our policy advocacy, California’s general fund now includes $5 million for the Rape Crisis Program and $5 million for Family Violence Prevention Program. In a state that once had only $46,000 in funding to address sexual violence and nothing to prevent domestic violence, this is a significant step forward. California is now poised to make real progress in supporting survivors, families and communities beyond emergencies.
Enhancing Cultural Responsiveness
Over the past three years, the Partnership has engaged in deep exploration of cultural responsiveness in domestic violence work. We have learned that it involves understanding not only the societal oppressions faced by various groups of people, but also learning about the strengths and assets inherent in each community. This understanding must then be reflected in program services, staffing, philosophies and policies.
The cultural landscape of California is evolving, and there is a hunger in domestic violence organizations to become more equitable spaces for survivors and employees. Specifically validated for the domestic violence field, the Cultural Responsiveness Organizational Self-Assessment (CROS) tool is the first of its kind, developed by the Partnership, Blue Shield of California Foundation and Luminare Group. Now all domestic violence organizations nation-wide can use an engaging online system to create more survivor-centered systems of care, grounded in the unique cultural and social realities of domestic violence survivors, their families and their communities.
The Cultural Responsiveness Organizational Self-assessment supports agencies to:
- Deepen insights as to the way in which culturally competence practice is being weaved throughout the organization.
- Provide a snapshot of the organization with regard to where it is now on a developmental continuum for which there is no end-point.
- Help organizations understand their strengths as well as identify areas that may benefit from attention and improvement.
The toolkit is designed to allow any organization to engage in reflection. Identifying strengths and areas for attention, it includes a comprehensive survey assessment, summary report, and facilitation guide for action planning. Learn more today at http://www.cpedv.org/cros-survey!
Expanding Housing Options for Survivors
In an effort to meet survivors where they are, and provide an option for permanent housing in California’s expensive market, the Partnership took big steps to invest in the Domestic Violence Housing First model. We followed the lead of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, bringing the promising results of their pilot to California. After helping secure state funding to try on this approach, seven programs saw impressive results: Michigan State University’s Dr. Cris Sullivan found that 100% of survivors secured stable housing. By 2019, our state will have 64 past and present DV Housing First grantees.
Are there any champions in California that you’d like to thank or celebrate for their record or work on domestic violence?
Over the years, our legislative champions have helped re-establish shelter funding after it was line-item vetoed, secured a new state allocation for prevention, and put their time, energy and political weight to address needs of incarcerated and immigrant survivors. Many of our state-level champions have become Members of Congress, carrying with them a commitment to survivors on Capitol Hill. We are grateful to each legislator who has made California a safer, more inclusive place.
We must also extend our sincere thanks to the Blue Shield of California Foundation—the largest private funder of domestic violence programs in the state. The Foundation has provided consistent, flexible funding for essential community work—and has also provided the resources needed to keep California on the cutting edge of approaches that will serve more survivors, build leadership throughout the field, and spark the culture change needed to end domestic violence.
How is your coalition working to end domestic violence?
The Partnership promotes the collective voice of a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals, working to eliminate all forms of domestic violence. As an advocate for social change, we advance our mission by shaping public policy, increasing community awareness, and strengthening our members’ capacity to work toward our common goal of advancing the safety and healing of victims, survivors and their families.
If your coalition was a musician or music group, who would you be and why?
We’d be Sly and the Family Stone, because we are diverse, unique and talented and are focused on propelling work with Everyday People.
Learn More about the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence: