To the editor:
Imagine a world with no domestic violence — where no Rhode Islanders have their lives cut short by abuse, where children do not witness this violence, where our …
To the editor:
Imagine a world with no domestic violence — where no Rhode Islanders have their lives cut short by abuse, where children do not witness this violence, where our communities are not traumatized by these horrors. Imagine a Rhode Island without court hearings or hospitalizations resulting from abuse, where years of counseling and support wouldn’t be necessary because no lives are upended by domestic violence. What does it look like?
Imagine all the lives we’d save — the way communities would thrive, the way children would spend time playing and laughing rather than in hours of counseling working through their traumas. Imagine all the heartache, energy and time we would save in a Rhode Island without domestic abuse.
In the movement committed to eradicating domestic violence, we aspire toward a future where victims’ services are unnecessary because domestic and sexual abuse is no longer inevitable, and where all people are able to live safe, healthy lives in vibrant communities, but decades of chronic underinvestment has forced our movement to focus on short-term solutions that address the most critical and urgent impacts of domestic violence as we support survivors in their journey to safety.
In the near term, the recovery and resiliency of survivors — particularly when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic — will depend on significant investment to get survivors who need us to long-lasting safety, allowing them to rebuild their lives and thrive after abuse. Survivors are often the “invisible population” facing life-threatening danger and inequities. This reality existed before COVID-19, and has only been intensified by the short-term and long-term impacts the pandemic has on victims and their families.
Domestic abuse, compounded by the pandemic, has left Rhode Islanders physically, emotionally and financially harmed. The Women’s Resource Center and the other member agencies of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence have the expertise and experience to do this work. We need increased investment to meet the immense need in our communities. Recovery must focus on a meaningful short-term infusion of resources to support and improve services for victims.
With the American Rescue Plan Act funding, we also have a once in a lifetime opportunity to make substantial changes that can prevent domestic violence for future generations — and we must act on this immediately. The resilience of survivors and communities will require courageous leadership and a willingness to propose what we know we need to do to end domestic abuse.
We must make impactful investment in both an adequate response to abuse and in preventative factors including safe, affordable housing, financial equity, livable wages and access to quality health and child care in our communities. These kind of supports can stop abuse before it starts.
We can end the cycle and prevent domestic violence for futures generations — if we act.
Jessica Walsh is the executive director of the Women’s Resource Center, a member agency of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence, that has been serving victims of abuse and their families for over 40 years.