During Sexual Assault Awareness Month, State Coalitions Identify Patterns of Abuse, Highlight Need for Investment in Community Safety, Local Advocacy Programs, & Centering Survivors

During Sexual Assault Awareness Month and in the wake of multiple allegations of domestic and sexual violence against a city council member in Wisconsin’s state capital, Black & Brown Womyn Power Coalition (BBWPC), End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (End Abuse), and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA) identify patterns in the context of domestic and sexual violence. The coalitions call for investment in community safety, funding and support for local programs advocating on behalf of survivors with particular emphasis on those most impacted by systemic violence, and centering survivors in calls for accountability.

“When someone uses harm in the context of domestic and sexual violence,” says End Abuse Executive Director Monique Minkens, “common patterns include gaslighting and performative allyship – aligning themselves with organizations and publicly-facing stances meant to show their solidarity with the very people they have harmed, but without substance when it comes to acknowledgement of harm or changes in behavior. When there is an imbalance of power, it is the community’s responsibility to ensure that anyone impacted by violence is believed, supported, and offered meaningful opportunities for healing.”

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “gaslighting” is a form of emotional abuse that causes a victim to question their own feelings, instincts, and sanity. This results in feeling unable to trust their perceptions of reality and being more likely to remain in abusive relationships.

The coalitions stress the importance of investment in community safety and accountability measures outside the legal system, noting that many survivors of violence – especially those impacted by other forms of oppression like racism, xenophobia, and homophobia – may seek justice and healing outside the courts. This, they say, is where our communities have opportunities to enact practices of restorative and transformative justice, centering repair and harm reduction.

“Accountability and healing can look as diverse as the survivors do,” said WCASA Interim Executive Director Kelly Moe Litke. “With investment in prevention efforts and local programs who support survivors in our communities, we can center processes of healing for those who have been impacted by harm and those who have used harm – but only if acknowledgement first takes place.”

The coalitions stress consideration of repair options that include being honest and forthcoming about harm caused, stepping out of leadership positions when appropriate, and demonstrating changed behavior – including via support options for those who have used harm.

“It’s not about punishment,” said BBWPC Executive Director Pa Thao. “It’s about supporting every community member, while first considering those most impacted by power imbalances, systemic oppression, and acts of harm. We must hold ourselves accountable as community members supporting survivors, as well as holding abusers accountable.”

“We must walk the talk,” said Minkens, “by believing survivors, investing in local programs, and looking for meaningful methods of accountability and healing.”

For those experiencing domestic or sexual violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1−800−799−7233) and the National Sexual Assault Hotline (1-800-656-4673) are available 24/7 for support. A list of local Wisconsin domestic violence victim service providers can be found at www.endabusewi.org/get-help. A list of local WI sexual assault victim service providers can be found at www.wcasa.org/survivors/service-providers. A list of local WI Black and Brown culturally-specific domestic violence and sexual assault victim resources can be found at www.bbwpcoalition.org/resources-in-wi.

Note to Media:

Media contact:  Elise Buchbinder, Communications Director, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (End Abuse) | 608-255-0539; eliseb@endabusewi.org

The Black and Brown Womyn Power Coalition, Inc. (BBWPC) is a statewide radical feminist non-profit that organizes with Black and Brown advocates and their communities across the state of Wisconsin. Our mission is to build the capacity of Black and Brown advocates and their communities to end violence against womyn, queer, and trans folx and young people. Through leadership development, technical assistance services, building of strong, connected, and supported networks, and being visible we will build a radical BIPOC womyn, Queer, and Femme led feminist movement in Wisconsin to end gender based violence.

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin: The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (End Abuse, www.endabusewi.org) is the leading voice for victims of domestic abuse in Wisconsin. At End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, we educate shelter and program volunteers and advocates, law enforcement, legislators, and community members to provide safety and support to survivors. We strive to shift Wisconsin from the attitudes and beliefs that cause domestic violence to values of mutual respect and equity, and we partner with communities in the effort to prevent and end domestic abuse. 

WCASA is a statewide coalition and membership agency, dedicated to providing support and complimenting the work of Wisconsin sexual assault service provider (SASP) agencies, that are working to end sexual violence and offer support, advocacy and information to its victims of sexual assault and their families. WCASA works to ensure that every survivor in Wisconsin gets the support and care they need. WCASA also works to create the social change necessary to end all forms of sexual violence.

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