Devils Spark Change is dedicated to intentionally and thoughtfully choosing the kinds of service areas that we devote our time and energy to. While directing service towards things like environmental issues is great (and we love that, see our Catalina trip this past fall), there’s certainly a difference between a trip centered around our beautiful earth, and a trip centered around something as sobering as domestic violence. It is certainly a heavy theme for a service trip, and it can be a very difficult thing to talk about. It’s also difficult to imagine that a small team could make any sort of impact on such an elusive issue. But the fact of the matter is that avoiding the topic is one of the things that perpetuates it. And the more that we step out and confront these issues, the more swiftly we will see change. And that is what we are striving for in DSC. And so, for all these reasons and more, we have chosen to take our Martin Luther King Jr. weekend trip to Prescott, Arizona, to work with Stepping Stones, a nationally renowned non-profit that works tirelessly to provide relief and resources to victims of domestic violence.
Many people are unaware of the severity and prevalence of domestic violence because its victims are often silenced. Below are some statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) that show a little more of why this issue is so pressing to us. NCADV reports that:
- In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked. Stalking causes the target to fear she/he or someone close to her/him will be harmed or killed.
- On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive approximately 20,800 calls.
- Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24
Because we know that domestic violence is an overwhelmingly underreported issue, these statistics just give a glimpse of how big of an issue this is. And the first step that anyone concerned with it can take is to educate themselves on the prevalence of domestic violence, and then learn the warning signs. In doing this ourselves, DSC as a club took the Escalation training put together by One Love, a foundation created to spread awareness and educate about domestic violence. We highly recommend this training for anyone who is interested in learning about the signs of an abusive relationship.
So why did we choose Stepping Stones specifically for our MLK trip? In choosing our service locations and partners, we always want to make sure that the organization we are working with has similar values to us, especially when it comes to not assuming that outsiders (to any issue) know better how to solve the problem than those actually living it. We are all certainly in agreement on that. Stepping Stones is a non-profit organization whose mission is to end domestic violence, homelessness, and other forms of victimization. Stepping Stones is committed to promoting “individual self-sufficiency, personal growth, self worth, and resiliency in the women and children” by encouraging those that they help to assess their needs, educate for change and empowerment, and establish healthy relationships with those around them. Those working at Stepping Stones Agencies believein “upholding victims;’ rights and validating traumatic, exploited, and victimizing circumstances.”
Stepping Stones Agencies accomplishes their goals through several programs and services, including an emergency shelter, a transitional living program, and a HelpLine. They are “committed to responding to women and children who need a therapeutic and advocacy response due to family violence, sexual assault, homelessness, neglect or exploitation.” In their therapeutic responses, Stepping Stones Agencies does not shy away from hard truths in an effort to allow individuals to “make significant changes in their lives and the lives of their children.” Stepping Stones also takes special note of children victims, calling them “primary victims” whose well being is of utmost importance.
We are very excited to serve with this wonderful organization that is doing such needed work for victims of domestic violence. In addition to this being a great opportunity for service, we know that we have so much to learn about domestic violence and those whom it affects, and we are all looking forward to taking everything we learn back home and back to ASU campus where we can continue to educate and make a difference even after the trip.
NDADV Stats: https://ncadv.org/statistics
OneLove Escalation Training: https://www.joinonelove.org/act/escalation-workshop/
Stepping Stones Agencies: http://steppingstonesaz.org