IDVAAC turns 10—Looking back and looking forward
ou can’t plan where you’re going without fully appreciating where you’ve been. That is how I look at the work of IDVAAC as we approach our 10th anniversary. I am really proud of what we collectively have accomplished. At the same time, I’m excited about where we are going.
A few of the accomplishments that are worthy of note:
- We’ve sponsored conferences on a wide range of topics related to domestic violence in the African-American community throughout the United States.
- We’ve sponsored conferences and projects in more than 10 major cities in every region across the United States.
- We’ve also had the opportunity to do focus groups in all of these cities. This has allowed us to compare special challenges and solutions implemented throughout the country. Please check out the article on page 6 about the report we completed this summer on the research we did in the San Francisco Bay Area.
- We’ve covered a broad spectrum of issues specifically related to domestic violence in the African-American community, including:
- The intersections of race, class and gender.
- African-American institutions and domestic violence.
- The role of African-American leaders.
- The effectiveness of pop-culture interventions.
- How to bring partners together to work toward a common goal.
- Effectiveness of culturally specific treatment interventions.
- Health and mental health consequences of domestic violence.
- Substance abuse and domestic violence.
- A Southern perspective.
- Black Men: What do we know, where do we go?
Hear a child's cry
This issue is dedicated to our most recent conference called “African- American Children and Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention: Stop and Hear a Child’s Cry.”
Research shows that African Americans experience disproportionately high rates of domestic violence compared to other racial and cultural groups. Some estimates place the rates as much as twice as high. Therefore, African-American children are exposed to significantly higher rates of domestic violence than their white counterparts.
Intimate partner violence, child abuse, neglect and substance abuse are closely related issues faced by the African- American community throughout this country. These issues lead to higher rates of out-of-home placements through the child welfare system and to higher levels of juvenile delinquency
Research has also shown that families experiencing domestic violence are six times more likely to come to the attention of the child welfare system. And that it can interfere with parents’ capacity to be effective in their parenting roles and with child development.
It is not unusual for children who have been exposed to domestic violence to exhibit signs of trauma, including developmental delays, nightmares, depression, and a higher likelihood of becoming perpetrators or victims of abuse themselves.
Meanwhile, the IDVAAC conference on June 6-7 gathered experts and representatives from a variety of specialties, and featured presentations, panel discussions and workshops addressing domestic violence and the impact it has on African-American children. In addition, survivors of child abuse and family violence shared their personal experiences and made recommendations for prevention and intervention strategies. Check out the article on pages 2-4. Soon our Web site will include a summary of conference proceedings.
Our next conference
Our conference next summer will focus on domestic violence and the hip hop generation. We plan to host it in New York City during June 2004. We are inviting record executives, journalists, DV practitioners and academics and performance artists. This fits with our vision for IDVAAC’s future. During the past 10 years, we’ve learned a lot. We know that building healthier communities is a complex issue. We also recognize that domestic violence affects each generation and that to be effective in dealing with this issue, we have to provide messages, methods and approaches that are multigenerational and accessible to the general public.
Remembering the Wellstones
It has been just a little more than one year since the death of U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, his wife Sheila, their daughter Marcia Wellstone Markuson, a U of M faculty member Mary McEvoy, and others.
Many of you know that both Paul and Sheila were long-time supporters of the domestic violence advocacy movement, and of IDVAAC. In fact, we presented Sheila with an award for her ongoing support of the Institute’s work at our June 2000 conference in St. Paul.
When Paul became a Minnesota senator in 1990, Sheila wanted to use her platform as his wife for positive change. When she worked as a librarian in Northfield, she saw a lot of dialogue in the media about the tragedies that resulted from domestic violence, but little or nothing about causes and solutions.
Although she was discouraged from taking on the topic of domestic violence by her political advisors due to its controversial nature, she didn’t back down. She spent almost a year visiting shelters, talking with victims, shelter staff and judges, law enforcement officers and social service providers, according to the Nov. 6- 19, 2002 Minnesota Women’s Press. She gained incredible insight because she was a committed listener.
I am grateful for the support and leadership provided by both Sheila and Paul. And I was honored to be one of the advisors to the formation of the Sheila Wellstone Institute, which was established to focus attention on violence against women and children.
According to the Wellstone Action Web site at http://www.wellstone.org/swinstitute/index.aspx, it will reflect Sheila's emphasis on turning the best ideas and practices into public policy recommendations and meaningful action at a state and national level.
On the anniversary of the Wellstones’ deaths, we wish their families well and are comforted by knowing they are with us in spirit. IDVAAC will continue to build on their work as we move into our second decade