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3. Strengthen Outreach and Education to Wisconsin Communities
Once communities are thinking about domestic violence, they can be part of the solution to end it.
I ncreased resources are needed to allow domestic violence victim service providers and community-based organizations to educate communities and foster increased public awareness about domestic violence and the services that are available to victims. In the last reporting period, victim service providers were able to hold 1,811 community education presentations, reaching 129,091 Wisconsinites. While that is a lot of people, we still have to reach the other 98% of the state. Community engagement efforts should incorporate strategies to shift the attitudes and beliefs that cause violence. Once communities are thinking about domestic violence, they can be part of the solution to end it.
Although statistics vary, most domestic violence victims do not come forward to seek help from victim service providers. For example, a large study in Chicago found that only 18% of domestic violence victims sought help from a domestic violence agency. Victims do not come forward for help for a variety of complex reasons: fear, isolation and hopelessness; a lack of knowledge about resources in their communities; or, a sense that there are not services available that relevant to their cultural background, racial, ethnic or gender identity or sexual orientation.
Often the most difficult time for a victim to reach out for help is when help is needed the most.
Domestic violence is not the problem of the domestic violence victim advocates. It’s not a problem that belongs to the police or to the courts. It’s the problem of our entire state. It’s a problem for anyone who wants his or her daughter, son or other loved one to be able to grow up to be always safe in his or her home.
Reaching every victim and every child requires that every person in Wisconsin live in a community that is knowledgeable about domestic violence and the help available for victims. When we promote community engagement, not only do we break the silence that allows abuse to continue; we plant the seeds of long-lasting social change by fostering values of equality, human dignity and mutual respect.
To reach current victims and prevent our children, friends and family from becoming future victims, we must empower communities to change.
Support domestic violence victim service providers to be organizers and leaders in community-wide efforts to raise awareness and promote prevention activities.
Fund opportunities for statewide and local public awareness campaigns that involve a diverse range of leaders and stakeholders.