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Organizing to END domestic violence in the Desert Southwest

As the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is stalled in its reauthorization vote, ten women gathered in Las Vegas in Julyto take part in a powerful training to help build a UMC campaign to end domestic violence.

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Leaders in the Desert Southwest Annual Conference (DSWAC) came together to participate in a training simulation called “In Her Shoes”, aimed at giving participants a unique personal perspective on the barriers that victims of domestic violence face.

The DSWAC United Methodist women have been working on the interconnecting issues of domestic violence and human trafficking and this training was the first in a series that leaders hope will raise awareness on the issue of domestic violence and help start a conversation about barriers victims face their own local communities and how UMC members can play an active role in addressing those barriers.  “The simulation helped the participants to gain some understanding of the struggles faced by women caught in Domestic Violence. The conversation afterward helped us think about ways to respond to what we learned,” said Glenda Hill from Flagstaff Federated. Other participants reported feeling surprised when they realized the lack of resources that are available to victims and many realized that emotional abuse can be just as immobilizing as physical abuse.

The women who participated committed to facilitate future training opportunities in their own communities around the Annual Conference making use of the several versions available in the “In Her Shoes” training toolkit (Economic Justice, Teen Dating Violence, Immigrant and Spanish language) as well as to begin the conversation in their home congregations by placing DV help-line posters in church and area restrooms as a simple gesture of help for victims. Participants were also reminded of the urgency of taking action to help pass VAWA on the national level.

This important piece of legislation is currently being stalled because the two chambers of Congress have not been able to agree on either version that has been put forth. As a UMC community that cares about protecting all victims of domestic violence, action is needed to help push VAWA through its current stalemate. 

Advocates are asked to call (202)224-3121 and to ask their Congress person to support the Senate version of VAWA that protects all victims by including protections for LGBT and immigrant victims as well as victims who live on tribal lands.

For information on hosting your own “In Her Shoes” training, VAWA or how to get started in your area, contact Erica Johnson at ejohnson@umc-gbcs.org.