YWCA Week Without Violence: Building a Safer & More Just World

YWCA Week Without Violence: Building a Safer & More Just World

Building a Safer & More Just World

According the the New England Journal of Medicine, around one in four women and one in ten men experience some form of intimate partner violence; violence such as physical, emotional, psychological or sexual abuse. While such violence persists within all communities, it disproportionately impacts Queer, Trans, Black, Indigenous, and communities of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated conditions, as stay-at-home orders have increased economic instability and a lack of social support, victims of abuse are finding it harder to leave abusive relationships. In addition, research shows that Black and Brown individuals are less likely than white individuals to seek help through the legal system when experiencing intimate partner violence; due to the long history of police terror that has perpetuated cycles of violence and harm, resulting in distrust of the criminal legal system.

As a Latinx, formerly incarcerated woman made it particularly difficult for me to seek help while in an abusive relationship. I found that there was a lack of resources for survivors that did not involve the police or the criminal legal system. This put me in a juxtaposition because my past experiences with law enforcement and the judicial system had never been positive; yet I felt forced to rely on a system that has failed to protect me in the past. Fortunately, I was able to utilize on campus resources at UC Berkeley, starting with the Social Services Counseling department in the TANG Center, and from there was directed to PATH to Care; a campus organization that leads efforts to rid our community of sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault, that centers survivors in providing pathways to healing, as well as promoting education to the community around violence and harm prevention. It was through this community that I was given access to services that allowed me to leave the relationship and end the cycle of abuse I was experiencing. Although I was ultimately liberated from the relationship, I still feel compelled to support others such as myself that find themselves in the dichotomy of being a survivor of intimate partner violence that does not condone incarceration.

Personally, I believe there is a violent myth in our ideologies that assumes acts of violence can only be resolved with punitive punishment. As a survivor of violence, I do not support the reliance on traditional law enforcement and I believe that harm must be met with community accountability and a path towards healing. Re-imagining public safety begins with the willingness to acknowledge, learn about, and uplift the work that Black, Indigenous, and communities of color have been doing to resist police terror for decades, including building out community-based models to address harm, while actively working to divest from the prison industrial complex, to re-invest resources back into our communities for housing, education, and healthcare; the things that actually keep us safe.

In an effort to connect my personal struggles to a movement that addresses both intimate partner violence and the violence of systemic racism, I joined the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland’s Student Leadership Board. Each year the YWCA Berkeley/Oakland hosts our annual Week Without Violence Campaign that works to raise awareness about community-based transformative justice initiatives working to transform harm and end colonial, systemic, racial and gender-based violence. This year, we will be uplifting the work of local organizations who are working towards a more safe and just world, where our collective liberation can be realized; these organizations include PATH to Care, Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, and the UC Berkeley Underground Scholars.

To me, joining the YWCA’s Week Without Violence campaign allows me the opportunity to uplift my voice, and share resources with the community for continued learning and action. We invite you to join us for our virtual YWCA Week Without Violence campaign as an opportunity to engage in this important conversation, and to learn from organizations who are working on the ground to build community-based solutions for a future where all of our communities can be safe, healthy, and free.

This year’s Week Without Violence will take place virtually the week of Monday October 19th-Thursday, October 24th, 2020. To learn more, join our events and get involved, please visit https://bit.ly/3jK2Dni and follow us on Instagram @ywcaberkeleyoakland.

Week Without Violence Events: Event Flyer
Monday, Oct. 19 from 5:30-6:30pm – Building Healthy Relationships & Violence Prevention Workshop, hosted by PATH to Care Center
Tuesday, Oct. 20 from 4:30-7:30pm – Text Bank for Prop 15: Schools & Community First
Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 5:30-7:30pm – Sista Cypher, organized by Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth, is a positive realm for creating art and uniting in sisterhood. This Black, Indigenous, POC and intergenerational circle is your next step to healing while building bonds with other women and femmes. October 21st will feature guest healer, Priestess Yeye Luisah Teish guiding us in ceremony and ancestral wisdom as we reflect on a Week Without Violence.
Thursday, Oct. 22 from 10-11am & 5:30-6:30pm – Empowering Our Future Workshop, hosted by the UC Berkeley Underground Scholars.


In Love and Solidarity,

Natalie Verducci
UC Berkeley Class of 2022, Sociology Major
Member & Organizer, YWCA Berkeley/Oakland Student Leadership Board
Coordinator & Recruitment Chair, Berkeley Underground Scholars