Meet the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence
Meet the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV):
What is it like to do domestic violence work in Michigan?
Michigan is a large state with a tough Midwest character. While there are many challenges (see below) we have the most amazing advocates and Executive Directors who are committed to serving survivors. We feel privileged to serve and support the remarkable programs that keep going on despite so many challenges throughout the state.
What impact does your unique Michigan context have on this work?
The state of Michigan has 83 counties covering 97,990 square miles and a total population of just under 10 million people. It is hard to overstate the geographic and population diversity of the state. From the urban core of Detroit to Michigan’s extremely rural Upper Peninsula, Michigan is a microcosm of the complex issues that arise throughout the United States.
Michigan (tying with South Dakota) has the poorest rural counties within the Snow Belt and simultaneously houses the 18th most populated city in the United States – Detroit. Michigan has programs serving rural communities without plumbing as well as a primarily minority city (Flint) undergoing a clean water crisis.
Michigan ranks 6th in the nation for human trafficking rates based on state and national crisis line calls and is at or above the national average for almost all of the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) data on intimate partner violence (IPV) and sexual violence (SV). Michigan’s population is 14.2 percent African American, 6.4 percent immigrant, 5 percent Latinx, and includes 12 federally recognized tribes. The income disparities spread across the state have our lowest county’s per capita income at $16,084 and the highest at $56,138; poverty rates span from 31.5 percent in the highest county to 6.2 percent in the lowest county. Alongside these demographics, the Michigan State Police Michigan Incident Crime Reporting data for 2016 reports 92,823 incidents of IPV, including 116 fatalities, putting our current incidence rate cross the entire population at .5 percent. The complex geography makes doing this work complex. Simply put, Michigan is a large poor state with a failing infrastructure, with areas of the state having unique needs that are not necessarily the same throughout the state (imagine the Upper Peninsula, which may require outreach by snowmobile, compared to urban Detroit, which has the highest poverty rate in the nation). The coalition works hard to make sure that the entire state’s needs are met.
What are the biggest barriers that survivors face in Michigan?
Michigan was hit hard by the 2009 economic recession and has recovered much more slowly that the rest of the country. This means funding and support for survivors has been slow to recover, resulting in significant barriers for survivors in accessing services, particularly affordable housing (a lack of jobs and supports makes finding appropriate housing hard).
What’s happening in Michigan that you’re excited about? Proud of?
The coalition has twin initiatives we are very proud of. We have begun an internal anti-oppression group, UMOJA, to ensure we inculcate intersectionality into everything we do. UMOJA has become a statewide leader in ensuring that we address intersectional barriers to survivors inside our movement and externally.
Concurrently, we have started an Emerging Leaders cohort – a yearlong in-person and web-based training for 25 emerging leaders in the domestic violence and sexual assault movements in Michigan. This is designed to prepare the cohort for nonprofit management, leadership, intersectionality, and ethical communication. Preference in the cohort was given to persons of color, LGBT, and rural applicants and the curriculum built for this cohort is being informed by UMOJA’s leadership. To prepare for this, UMOJA conducted interviews with leaders of color to identify specific areas that were barriers to success to further inform our curriculum.
Are there any champions in Michigan that you’d like to thank or celebrate for their record or work on domestic violence?
We are deeply thankful for the leadership of Lori Stone. Lori Stone is a survivor and founding member and served six years on MCEDSV Board. Lori has made multiple visits to provide education, outreach, and testimony to state and federal legislators and policymakers. Lori has been invited to provide testimony to Congress on housing and economic justice issues. Lori has also represented MCEDSV at White House events and her survivor experience was highlighted by President Obama.
Lori has presented numerous times throughout our state at professional trainings and university classes (often without compensation) to share her expertise both as a survivor of childhood and adult domestic violence and sexual assault, and also as an advocate for other survivors. Lori Stone was also a spokesperson for the Allstate Purple Purse Campaign – her experience was featured on a campaign video. Lori Stone is a mother of six and returned to school earning a BSW from Madonna University and an MSW from the University of Michigan.
How is your coalition working to end domestic violence?
The coalition has adopted three core tenets for the entirety of its work – all the work we do and all presentations have to be intersectional, trauma-informed, and survivor-centered. Among the intersectional issues we embrace, we see poverty and economic justice as a central issue for ensuring survivors have long-term safety. We are committed to supporting our member programs in our complex state.
If your coalition was a musician or music group, who would you be and why?
We love the group Garbage, and also the single Bleed Like Me with its complex lyrics about the nature of trauma and pain. We have created a community of care within our coalition and we believe in being open about our survivorship, mental health, and the need for authenticity to do this work. Also, Garbage’s (read nothing into the name) blend of pop and grunge reflects the complex blend of personalities (and generations) at the Michigan Coalition.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
MCEDSV is very proud of its work, including its prevention work. The coalition has been awarded the Delta Grant for fifteen years and this iteration, Delta Impact, is an effort we are particularly proud of. Delta Impact will look at outer layer prevention, including economic justice and the effect of social determinants of health on the toleration of perpetration. It is deep and exciting work and together with the direct intervention supports we give our member programs, important to the field.