Posted on October 22, 2021 at 6:00 am
Everyone deserves to be in a safe and healthy relationship. Unfortunately, one in three women and one in seven men in the Spokane region are not experiencing safe and healthy relationships (source: Spokane Regional Health District, “Changing Our Forecast: State of Women and Children in Spokane County” PDF, 2019).
The impact domestic violence has on our community is exponential, with Spokane experiencing the highest rates of domestic violence in the state of Washington. That is why the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition (SRDVC), along with over 50 community partner agencies and businesses, are determined to end the violence.
SRDVC, with the financial support of Providence Health Care, Multicare, Numerica Credit Union, Kalispel Tribe of Indians and Northern Quest has been spearheading the End the Violence Campaign throughout the Spokane region. Many community members have seen the billboards for End the Violence with powerful imagery of people’s eyes. Many more have heard and seen the radio and TV spots tackling domestic violence myths and spreading information.
These public service announcements are targeted specifically to change attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and behaviors around domestic violence.
Along with public service announcements, SRDVC has been distributing thousands of copies of a resource flyer (PDF) that lists places to call if you need help. These flyers have been distributed through utility bills; with meal distribution through 2nd Harvest, Women’s and Children’s Free Restaurant, WIC offices, local restaurants, businesses, and partner agencies; and on the End the Violence website.
The “End the Violence Toolkit for Businesses” was developed out of an expressed desire in the community and from businesses for help in identifying and addressing domestic abuse in the workplace. With funding from Providence Health Care, we are designing an online toolkit to provide resources and support for businesses and organizations to improve the way they are addressing and responding to abuse in the workplace. The online platform will assist business owners, managers, HR personnel, and coworkers to better support survivors and their families as they can recognize the signs of violence, respond with trauma-informed responses, and offer appropriate local resources.
In addition, the online toolkit will serve the general community in raising awareness for issues around domestic violence including those directly experiencing domestic and family violence and those witnessing signs or acts of domestic and family violence. SRDVC anticipates that this tool will help the Spokane region better coordinate the way our community is collectively addressing domestic violence. Keep an eye out for the toolkit on the End the Violence website.
The Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition, in partnership with local community organizers—the Red Skirt Society, River Warrior Society, Spokane Community Against Racism, artist Lexi Hanway, local Colville Confederated Tribal member and descendant of the Northern Arapaho Tribe, and Nimiipuu Protecting the Environment—launched billboards around Spokane County and Lewiston/Clarkston Valley in a campaign to bring awareness to the violence against indigenous people.
Nationally, homicide is the third leading cause of death for Native Americans 10 to 24 years old. Of the 103 missing Native American persons identified by the Washington State Patrol as of April 2021, half of the cases (52 people) originate in Eastern Washington. In Spokane, 5 of the 9 cases involve children between the ages of 14 and 17. Sadly, we know these numbers to be an undercount of the true magnitude of the crisis facing our Tribal and urban Indian communities.
Artist Lexi Hanway organized the photography project and brought together 10 Indigenous women from the region to downtown Spokane to participate in bringing awareness to the project: Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Hanway shared, “I put them in a setting where people all around are living their happy lives, yet Native women have this issue going on that is so overlooked that we feel drowned out by society.”
The photos from the project have been shared on social media, and when local organizers discussed alternatives for safe outreach during COVID-19, the possibility of a billboard campaign was presented. Organizers immediately reached out to Hanway to work together and continue efforts to bring awareness to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.
Hanway’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women images have been a central part of SRDVC’s billboard campaign throughout the Spokane region. The images have also been featured in local tribal casinos as well as on gas pump tops. We are looking forward to sharing this important message by carrying it over into Native American Heritage Month in November.
Children who have been exposed to trauma might show up at school and exhibit problem behavior or have other problems. The Handle with Care program ensures that a child’s school counselor is aware that the child was involved in a traumatic situation or experience that involved law enforcement.
The school can offer interventions and support as is necessary such as clothing, food, a place to rest, postponement of tests or assignments as necessary, and someone to talk to or referral to counseling—all while maintaining confidentiality. This program is part of almost every school district in the Spokane region and is conducted through partnerships with the Spokane Regional Health District and local law enforcement.
SRDVC and Stop the Silence Spokane have brought together over 38 local businesses, primarily food and drink establishments, as Awareness Partners for our Purple for a Purpose drink promotion. Each establishment is highlighting one or more purple drinks, food, and/or desserts in support of raising awareness in our community. Purple is the color of the official Nationwide Domestic Violence Hotline ribbon, so highlighting a purple drink or food during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October is a perfect and easy way for businesses and community members to show their support.
We encourage everyone to visit these establishments throughout October. Together we can increase awareness of domestic violence in our community and also show support for the hospitality businesses that have been hit so hard during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking forward, SRDVC envisions a time when everyone in the Spokane region lives in safe and secure homes without violence. We are committed to eliminating domestic violence through collaboration and partnerships that focus on awareness, education, prevention, and accountability. As a coalition, we’ve partnered with over 50 other agencies, businesses, individuals, and organizations to end the violence in Spokane.
SRDVC is a nonprofit organization operating on grants and donations. If you would like to get involved or donate, please visit our website at www.endtheviolencespokane.org
Taffy Hunter is the Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition. She is a writer, blogger, and speaker with experience as a legal and family advocate for those who have experienced domestic violence. Her educational background in human services and early childhood education make her a strong domestic violence advocate and educator. In Taffy’s free time, she enjoys traveling with her four teenagers, raising her flock of ducks, and working on DIY projects.