The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) held its annual Congressional Advocacy Days in June, and I was delighted to participate as an Ortner Center summer intern. When Congress begins annual budget negotiations, NNEDV gathers advocates from across the country to lobby for appropriations to help victims. This year (2017), NNEDV focused on two pieces of legislation that provide substantial funding for domestic violence shelters across the country – the Violence Against Women Act and the Victims of Crime Act. The goal is to ensure continued funding to protect as many survivors of violence as possible.
Advocacy Days was a uniquely gratifying experience because women and men from around the country came together to work with a single purpose. Some of the advocates were survivors of violence, and all participants promoted safety and assistance for women nationwide. After several days of training, discussion, and learning about challenges specific to certain areas of the country (for example, needs of tribal communities), advocates gathered at a Congressional Reception. Moving speeches about the impact of domestic violence on individuals and communities were given by Senator Heidi Heitkamp and Senator Amy Klobuchar.
During the summer internship, I worked primarily with NNEDV’s Safety Net Project. The Safety Net Project seeks to enable women to use technology (for example, social media) without fear of a partner stalking, harassing, or threatening them via that technology. I helped create a curriculum to train judges about technology-related stalking and abuse and how the law can be used to address such cases.
My research at the Ortner Center helped me understand domestic violence on an individual level (how one partner can stalk another) and on a city level (an overview of violence against women in Philadelphia). My internship at NNEDV gave me insight into the national scope of domestic violence. I saw how a national organization promotes its cause, lobbies for action, and educates the legal system about technology-perpetrated violence.
Moving forward, I will continue my involvement in the field of domestic violence. I graduated from Penn in the spring and now work in health care consulting, which gives me a chance to incorporate information about domestic violence survivors into work on health care disparities. As the Ortner Center continues its work with NNEDV, I will aid the partnership however I can!