On January 6, 2021, our state and nation watched a violent, racist attack on our democracy at both the Washington State Capitol and the U.S. Capitol. These displays of white supremacist violence were horrifying, but not surprising, and they contribute to an environment that allows domestic and sexual violence to continue.
We could not help but notice the stark contrast of the law enforcement response to this violence versus the response to protests for Black Lives Matter, disability rights and healthcare, and at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. As we said last year in our statement of commitment to Black lives, “The legacies of slavery and unfulfilled civil rights, colonialism and erasure, hatred and violence, have always been in full view. Turning away is no longer an option. Superficial reform is not enough.”
Survivors of abuse and survivor advocates recognize and understand the tactics that are being used by some elected officials, including the President, and extremist supporters: intimidation, gaslighting, use of privilege to avoid arrest or other consequences, violence, and then denying, victim-blaming, and minimizing. People who use abusive tactics often feel entitled to power and control over others. If no one holds them accountable for their abuse, they are emboldened and escalate their violence as a result. We refuse to be silent.
As coalitions dedicated to ending domestic and sexual violence, we call for an end to violence in our homes and communities, and institutional abuses of power that systematically take away people’s freedom and safety. We join Futures Without Violence, Western States Center, and many others in calling for accountability for elected officials who enabled this violence. And we join the NAACP, Human Rights Campaign, Japanese American Citizens League, GLAAD, the Anti-Defamation League, and other civil rights and anti-violence organizations in calling for the removal or resignation of the current President from office.
The global COVID-19 pandemic, increased domestic violence, and the pandemic of systemic racism are overwhelming, but we set our sights on a shared purpose: for all people to live and love freely without fear. The promise of liberty, freedom from violence and economic hardship, and a better future for all keeps us going. That is why we’re focused on strengthening our communities by supporting direct services and preventing domestic violence, and examining and dismantling the roots of systemic oppression in this country. Together our communities can transform a culture born of violence into one that values liberty, love, resilience, and justice.
We will continue to uphold the truths, needs, challenges, and dreams of individuals harmed by sexual and domestic violence. And we will locate that work in an unflinching commitment to Black, Indigenous, immigrant, and economically struggling families. Living a life free of violence is a basic human right. It’s time to live up to our nation’s promise of fair treatment and an end to systemic racism.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are complex issues, but we all have a role to play in creating safer communities. You can make a difference:
- Join us in supporting Western States Center’s pledge to defend our democracy.
- Recognize that displays of white supremacist violence can be traumatic for survivors of abuse. Support is available 24/7. Stay connected to those you are concerned about.
- Talk to friends and family about the dynamics of abuse and how an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, and lack of accountability in our culture allow domestic and sexual violence to continue.
- Learn how you can play a role in creating safe, loving, and joyful communities.
Our struggle is not one that lasts for one day, one week, a few months, or a few years. It’s the struggle of a lifetime, of many lifetimes, if that’s what it takes to build a beloved community.Congressman John Lewis
Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs