After a colleague pointed out that White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal had written a commentary I was anxious to read it hoping that domestic violence and stalking resources were going to be changing in 2011 or that there were plans to improve resources "something"...alas there was nothing except more rhetoric and zero substance.
While I am sure that Lynn Rosenthal has good intentions like the many who are paid directing and working for the "DV Institutions" of today, however good intentions won't help to save lives only actions will. Right now domestic violence and stalking resources are failing victims and I cannot turn my back on them or the families of the loved one's lost until DV REFOR M (domestic violence resource reform) becomes reality.
Domestic violence (DV) victims continue to suffer and die at the hands of their abusers—and even one victim who suffers or one life that’s lost to domestic violence is way too many. Yet the victims of domestic violence and their children are not getting what they need from the organizations that have been established to help them. Quite simply, victims are falling through the cracks . In the United States and in the 21st century, there simply is no excuse for this.
The appointment of Lynn Rosenthal as White House Advisor on Violence Against Women (VAW) signals recognition on the part of the White House that the critical problem of domestic violence needs a higher profile. Ms. Rosenthal has the opportunity to spearhead real, effective change that will save lives and give victims renewed hope—if she provides strong leadership and uses her position to enforce accountability on the part of agencies that provide services to victims.
More specifically, what kinds of change should Ms. Rosenthal make? Here are the key steps I think she should take:
1) Implement uniform protocols and procedures in every state to ensure that every federally and state-funded domestic violence victim organization operates under the same standards—standards that ensure that victims are not turned away and get the help they need.
2) Appoint a liaison in each state that victims and their advocates can contact to voice concerns and complaints when victims are refused service or do not receive the assistance they need, as well as report positive experiences. The state liaison does not necessarily have to be a public official (such as California Domestic Violence Committee Chair Fiona Ma). It could be a representative of any one of the many non-profit organizations—such as Survivors in Action—or state coalitions willing to serve as a clearinghouse. Today’s technology permits many things to be accomplished quickly and effectively, making it possible for such a clearinghouse to begin operating rapidly and at minimal or even no cost.
3) Form a national oversight agency or committee, reporting to her, to which state DV agencies and resources would be accountable and would report what is and isn’t working, and to which state liaisons could escalate grievances that cannot be resolved at the state level.
4) Provide strong, effective leadership for the many non-profits, volunteers, and other individuals who are eager to bring about domestic violence resource reform. To be effective, all these resources need to be marshaled and organized. Lynn Rosenthal, along with an effective oversight committee, can provide that leadership and organization. I am happy to offer my services and those of Survivors In Action to serve as a liaison to the White House, help form an oversight committee, and organize the wealth of resources committed to this cause.