The fall can be a hectic time but every year, October presents an unique opportunity for survivors and advocates to bring the issue of domestic violence to the forefront of the public’s attention. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and to say the women is Sanctuary’s Survivor Leadership Program were busy, would be an understatement.
See the many ways these survivors worked to educate their communities this past month and learn more about Sanctuary’s Survivor Leadership Program.
1. Marching in the Brides’ March
Survivor Leaders marched in the Eighteenth Annual Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk, more commonly known as the Brides’ March. Each year, survivors and community advocates march from Washington Heights, through the South Bronx and into Harlem in memory of Gladys Ricart, a Dominican woman from Washington Heights, who was murdered in New Jersey on September 26, 1999 by her abusive former boyfriend on the day she was to wed her fiancé.
2. Training fellow survivors
Sharing personal experiences of abuse can be extremely challenging. Through our Survivor Leadership Program, these women have learned how share their stories in a way that is safe and empowering for them and informs those they’re speaking to about the various forms of abuse. Last month, these Survivor Leaders led a Domestic Violence 101 training and instructed a group of survivors at the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic and Gender Based Violence on how to do the same.
3. Telling stories through dance
Through Sanctuary’s partnership with Gibney Dance, a number of survivors are exploring storytelling through movement and dance. The photo above was taken following night two of Cracks of Light, a special Domestic Violence Awareness Month performance that is hosted each year by Gibney.
4. Press Interviews
Escaping domestic violence is never easy, but for undocumented immigrant victims the challenges can be unique. Leticia spoke candidly with Telemundo in mid-October about her experience with abuse. Deputy Director of Sanctuary’s Legal Center, Linda Lopez, provided additional information and context about the U Visa and other forms of relief that are available to undocumented immigrant victims of gender violence.
Hospitals can be important points for intervention when it comes to domestic violence. Survivor Leaders passed out information on the signs of abuse and Sanctuary’s services to medical professionals and patients at the Kings County Hospital; reminding everyone that abuse can take many forms and that help is available.
Survivor Leaders know that in order to effect change, we must engage everyone, especially those who control important levers of power. Kristin (center) trained New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (NYS DOCCS) employees on domestic violence, an experience that the vast majority of people in New York State prisons have in common.
About the Survivor Leadership Program
Recognizing the importance of advocacy in the healing process for many survivors and the value of survivor expertise in community engagement, Sanctuary first launched a leadership program for survivors back in 1998. This initiative, known as the Mentors Program, trained dozens of survivors to use their experience as survivors to educate their communities, mentor other survivors, and become public speakers all while maintaining their safety and practicing self-care.
Last year, the Mentors Program was renamed the Survivor Leadership Program and in August, we brought on our first-ever Survivor Leadership Coordinator to manage the Survivor Leadership trainings, a growing and increasingly active alumni group, and all survivor leadership activity at Sanctuary.