Meet the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
What is it like to do domestic violence work in New Hampshire?
One of the best things about New Hampshire (NH) is the collaborative way in which we approach this work and the multidisciplinary partners, including law enforcement, community service agencies, attorneys, and providers, we’re fortunate enough to work alongside to ensure the best coordinated community response to domestic violence in our state. In New Hampshire, we receive among the lowest state appropriations in the country for domestic violence services, but with thrift and ingenuity, our member programs know how to stretch a dollar and always go above and beyond to meet the needs of survivors.
What impact does your unique New Hampshire context have on this work?
As the host of the first primary in the nation, we’ve had unique opportunities to connect with candidates and their surrogates from across the country to showcase our work. During the last presidential cycle, the NH Coalition had the opportunity to hold multidisciplinary roundtable discussions with numerous White House hopefuls. The NH Coalition was also invited by the NH Republican Party to be the featured charitable organization of the 2016 Republican First-in-the-Nation Town Hall featuring all of the major GOP candidates for president.
There is significant cultural variety in New Hampshire with communities ranging from extremely rural small towns to coastal cities, and the services victims need, and community resources available, vary a great deal across our state. Collaborating with our 13 member programs to develop and implement statewide programs and policies that adequately respond to the diverse needs and realities facing victims has led to innovative solutions.
What are the biggest barriers that survivors face in New Hampshire?
Public transportation is woefully lacking, which can have a chilling effect on victims in rural areas accessing the help they need. The northernmost county in our state, Coos County, is the largest and most rural of the ten counties in New Hampshire. This entire region is served by just one crisis center. As such, one advocate could easily spend an entire day getting a victim to and from court for a protective order.
What’s happening in New Hampshire that you’re excited about? Proud of?
Last fall, we successfully launched the Economic Empowerment Program of New Hampshire (EEPNH), an innovative program addressing financial abuse. With support from a grant from the Allstate Foundation, the NH Coalition and its 13 member programs facilitate financial literacy programming and a matched savings program statewide, supporting survivors as they leverage themselves out of financial abuse. A substantial portion of this economic empowerment work is carried out by members of the AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program, an AmeriCorps program that also focuses on access to housing for survivors. The matched savings program provides survivors who save as little as $200 with the opportunity to have those funds matched, creating a critical emergency fund available for their use. Although this program is in its first year, we’ve already seen the positive impact it’s had on survivors and how effective it has been in eliminating barriers for survivors seeking to leave their abuser.
Are there any champions in New Hampshire that you’d like to thank or celebrate for their record or work on domestic violence?
Here in New Hampshire, we are incredibly lucky to have tremendous champions in our congressional delegation. Former New Hampshire Governor and now-US Senator Jeanne Shaheen, former New Hampshire Governor and now-Senator Maggie Hassan, Congresswoman Annie Kuster, Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, and former NH Attorney General and former US Senator Kelly Ayotte are all fierce leaders in our work to end violence and better respond to the needs of victims.
We are also fortunate to have dedicated allies working in law enforcement, our county attorney’s offices, and the NH Department of Justice who are champions for victims and go above and beyond in creating a safe and supportive environment for all Granite Staters.
How is your coalition working to end domestic violence?
In addition to our economic empowerment work and matched savings program, we are working to end domestic violence in a number of ways, including:
- Statewide Partnerships – Being a small state and going on our 41st year of advocacy as a coalition, we’ve been able to establish strong working relationships with a number of allied organizations from various sectors. As an organization, we represent advocates and survivors on a variety of statewide commissions, committees, and task forces designed to end domestic violence in our state and improve community response. Such groups include: The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee, The Domestic Violence Advisory Committee, and the New Hampshire Campus Consortium Against Sexual and Interpersonal Violence. In particular, our statewide Campus Consortium is unique in that nearly every college and university in our state is represented, along with multidisciplinary partners like the Coalition, local crisis centers, and the NH Attorney General’s Office. With members from Title IX offices, student conduct, counseling and wellness, and campus security working alongside allied organizations to develop and implement prevention and intervention strategies to address interpersonal violence on our college campuses.
- Granite State RESPECT Week (GSRW) – In 2017, we launched GSRW, a teen-centered prevention and awareness campaign that takes place in middle school and high schools across New Hampshire during Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. This year’s initiative was made possible by HopeLine by Verizon and the TJX Foundation. GSRW aims to raise awareness about teen dating violence, connect teens to support services, promote healthy relationships, and foster a culture of respect in NH schools. Last year, 40 schools participated in GSRW, nearly 28,000 NH students were engaged and educated, and we were able to make first-time connections between 11 schools and their local crisis center.
- AmeriCorps Victim Assistance Program (AVAP) – Since 1994, the AVAP program has filled gaps in victim services throughout NH. AVAP is a multi-agency collaboration designed to address critical service needs in our communities and justice systems by ensuring services and education are available to victims of domestic and sexual violence throughout NH. AVAP is part of the national service program, AmeriCorps, and members are specially trained to address financial abuse.
Is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to share?
We’re grateful for the commitment and resilience of the fierce advocates and volunteers working to support survivors and eliminate domestic violence in our state. We’ve had the honor and privilege of working with countless brave survivors and their families who have shared their stories, testified before the Legislature, and supported our work in an effort to improve systems and create positive change. We look forward to another 40 years of advocating alongside these remarkable Granite Staters.
Learn more about the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence: