Healing is prevention for future generations

two people holding hands

Everyone has a role to play in preventing domestic violence. At the Foundation, our vision is to invest in prevention solutions that make lasting change in the lives of survivors, families, and communities. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence requires working across generations, and long-term solutions must create opportunity for economic security, address childhood exposure to domestic violence, and promote healing. This expansive work is grounded in equity and dignity, partnership, integrity, and possibility.   

A multigenerational approach to domestic violence prevention offers comprehensive solutions that recognize the effects of domestic violence beyond two intimate partners, considering its consequences for whole families and communities. For communities of color with fewer resources, it is essential that solutions acknowledge the many structural and societal factors that influence the health and well-being of each person, family, and community. The Foundation’s strategies reflect the broad scope of domestic violence and work to address its root causes.  

Nearly two out of three adults in California are affected by domestic violence, either as a survivor, as a person who caused harm, or through a friend or family member. It is an issue that impacts children, extended families, and entire communities through its complex relationship to deep-rooted social conditions such as racism and gender and economic inequities. These problems are enabled by systems and societal norms that can cause harm and create obstacles for marginalized communities. But, when rooted in equality and equity, systems also can open doors to healing, well-being, and opportunity. 

Healing and safety can break the multigenerational cycle of violence.  

Our prevention vision aspires to do more than stop bad things from happening; we seek to transform systems that perpetuate violence and to create new conditions and opportunities for positive health outcomes. One example is Healing Together, a campaign that is shifting the narrative of accountability away from punishment-only solutions and toward one grounded in community, healing, and transformative justice. Launched in 2019, Healing Together centers on a vision to create safe and accountable communities focused on gender justice, racial equity, and healing to end domestic violence. From the beginning, the initiative has been rooted in deep partnership with leaders in the domestic violence field to create systems change solutions that advance racial justice, reflect survivor experience, and meet the needs of communities and families of color.

In another transformative effort, with safe and protective environments that prevent gender-based violence, we can build spaces for healing and ensuring the resilience of girls. Girls and young women of color, and gender-expansive youth, often face systemic barriers such as patriarchy, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and elitism. Alliance for Girls is redefining what safety means, while helping to create a future where one’s well-being is based on belonging and acceptance. In this context, young people find safety when they can build trusting relationships and have the freedom to be themselves.

Domestic violence is a health equity issue. 

Progress to end domestic violence requires a broad range of solutions from the community to the systems level. Public systems — such as our health, housing, employment, child welfare, and criminal justice systems — can and must be more responsive to the priorities and needs of the communities most impacted.  

In health care, it is vital to treat the immediate needs of patients, but attention must also be paid to preventing poor health in the first place. The same is true for domestic violence. Investing in prevention, healing, safety, and resilience not only addresses what families need to survive, but also creates pathways for them to thrive and make choices. For this work to succeed, survivors, families, and communities affected by domestic violence must be directly engaged in building solutions and hold systems accountable for that change.

Looking to the future

Four years ago, the Foundation invited 16 community leaders to co-create ideas that reimagined prevention of domestic violence. They were invited to think beyond what supports or current models were in place, and instead to consider what could be. The result of that hard and creative work is the Foundation’s $1.2 million investment in three of these new ideas in 2021. These initiatives have a few core principles in common: they center lived experiences, leverage community strengths, and are designed around a core belief that those closest to the issue have the power to drive change. 

When we envision a future free of domestic violence, we see everyone — every community, every institution, and every system — doing their part to continue toward a vision of hope and healing. Domestic violence is an issue that affects all of our lives, so it is up to all of us to work together toward preventing it, for this generation and those to come.

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