Our Shared Story
In the late 1960s—in multiple countries including the US—the women’s movement made visible the experiences of women living with violence and mobilized a grassroots response.
Over the subsequent four decades, the efforts of the women’s movement gained government support and funding, and expanded to include formal services such as shelters, rape crisis centers, crisis hotlines, and advocacy organizations. These services saved lives and laid the foundation for change.
However, today, the need for these crisis services often far outstrips available resources, and fewer people believe that more of the same is the answer. Simply put, the best efforts to help have failed to stop the problem. Among advocates, activists, policymakers, and community leaders, there is a push to move beyond our reactive stance to a focus on root causes and social norm change—a growing interest in new solutions that leverage community assets with a focus on violence prevention.
Over the past 40 years, preventative, community-led initiatives have been evolving. Community members have been coming together to challenge the social norms that tolerate violence—by resisting injustice, supporting each other, building power together, healing and re-envisioning, and practicing new ways of being in relationship, family, and community.
Some of this has been happening within organizational and programmatic settings, some within informal settings and people’s social networks. Much of this work has emerged from communities of color, immigrant communities, and LGBTQ communities—communities in which “mainstream” formal services and response strategies are often undesirable, inaccessible, and/or culturally irrelevant. Still, most of these organizing efforts—including some of the most innovative—are not visible to the broader movement, have been bypassed for funding, and remain isolated even from each other. Yet, with courage, creativity, and commitment, the community members leading these efforts persist.
Now, at last, global perspectives are shifting. Prevention methodologies from the US and abroad with roots in activism and mobilizing communities are proving their effectiveness—peaking the curiosity of practitioners, community members, funders, and government entities.