On October 16, 2019, the YWCA held a briefing entitled Breaking Intergenerational Cycles of Domestic Violence and Trauma, which featured community-level panelists representing YWCA programs across the nation. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) spoke about his work with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to reauthorize the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA), which aims to provide vital services for victims of domestic violence and their children. He stated that “We must all work together to end violence in our homes and communities,” and stressed the importance of advocates advancing this issue by speaking to congress about the prevalence and consequences of domestic violence.
• Katie Parent, a Crisis Services Program Manager from YWCA New Hampshire, spoke about their local ACEs program called ACERT, a program focused on intervention for children exposed to violence.
• Arelis Gandarilla, Director of Community Based Domestic and sexual violence program operator of the YWCA of Northeastern Massachusetts, described how they use CAPTA resources for their work on child welfare and domestic violence.
• Linh Tran-Phuong, Crisis Intervention Manager at the YWCA Silicon Valley (California), told a story of how they were able to provide a client survivor of sexual and physical abuse with wrap-around services and supports throughout their years of interactions with her.
• Melissa White, Staff Attorney at the YWCA Annapolis and Anne Arundel County (Maryland), detailed her personal experiences interacting with the YWCA as a result of her abusive father harassing her mother as a child lead to her decision to become a lawyer specializing in cases of domestic and family violence.
Approximately 15.5 million children live in families where partner violence has occurred at least once in the past year, with seven million children living in families in which severe partner violence occurred. The results of such exposure to partner violence are devastating, with 16,458 children who have lived in a domestic violence shelter or transitional housing facility, while another 6,430 children sought services at a non-residential program in 2008. Additionally, some studies have noted the significant overlap between domestic violence and child welfare involvement, with child welfare systems having historically struggled to identify and support families experiencing domestic violence. Fortunately, organizations are working to address the disconnect between child welfare and domestic violence by providing resources that better serve these families.
Catherine Beane, Vice President of Public Policy and advocacy at the YWCA USA, outlined the organization’s priority policy issue areas by highlighting the following recommendations:
• Reauthorize and fully fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
• Reauthorize and fully fund the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA)
• Cosponsor and pass the Resilience Investment, Support, and Expansion (RISE) from Trauma Act