In March 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women hosted a convening of state domestic and sexual violence coalitions leadership and state administrators to talk through improved responses to the STOP Formula Grant Program. These bi-annual meetings are hugely important as they provide the opportunity for domestic and sexual violence coalitions the occasion to gather with state administrators to receive guidance and best practice approaches that are occurring throughout the country. Participants can then take this information and think through how these ideas and tools can be applied to their work in their own state. The STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program, is awarded to states and territories to enhance the capacity of local communities to develop and strengthen effective law enforcement and prosecution strategies to combat violent crimes against women and to develop and strengthen victim services in cases involving violent crimes against women. In Connecticut, STOP Grant Funds are provided to, among other things, support comprehensive community and statewide responses to victims of domestic violence.
Of particular interest at the meeting was a presentation by Olga Trujillo, J.D., Director of Education and Advocacy for the National Latin @ Network, a project of Casa de Esperanza. Trujillo is a speaker, trainer and author on issues involving intimate personal violence, child abuse and trauma. Trujillo shared her personal experience as a survivor of sexual and domestic violence to highlight her interest in turning the violence she experienced in her home into helping other survivors of trauma and changing the way communities respond to domestic and sexual violence. During her talk, Trujillo expressed that when she was growing up in an abusive home, her survival was impacted by the kindness of certain individuals in her life which served to build strength and resiliency.
According to the National Latin @ Network, one in three Latinas have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. There is emerging literature to the field which indicates that there are culturally specific approaches to surviving intimate partner violence – embedded in strength and resilience strategies – which are being used by Latin women. Among the multiple strategies identified, it is recognized that Latin survivors view familial and social connections as vitally important, avoidance of the violence by “talking the batterer down,” and defense tactics such as teaching children to call the police as ways which help them manage the violence.
The opportunity to learn more from the field about emerging trends and best practices, especially around the recognized importance of culturally specific responses for communities of color, is essential to coalition leaders as they work to ensure that services in their states are the most well positioned to meet the comprehensive needs of survivors.