Monday, September 25, 2017

A View from Up on the Balcony

Little did the founding mothers know when they incorporated in 1977 under the name Marin Abused Women’s Services (MAWS) that their vision would become the basis for a thriving, life-saving organization.  In the words of our champion founder, Honorable Judge Kay Tsenin, “We wanted a place where women could be safe, get the help they needed, and maybe gain the skills necessary to support a living wage.” 

Over time, we grew this vision, and this vision grew us.  Not willing to be idle or satisfied with addressing only the immediate needs of domestic violence victims, MAWS’ Board of Directors pioneered ongoing strategic planning processes to generate long-term frameworks for transformational social change.  The experience we gained working with more than 210,000 women, children, and men over the past 40 years has deepened our analyses of why violence against women exists and how violence is used by men and women in heterosexual, LGBTQ, and teen/young adult relationships. 

During our four decades of ever-expanding and deepening work, we have been at the forefront of developing several groundbreaking programs in the country: transitional housing, teen dating violence prevention training, an intervention program for men who are violent, sector liaisons as part of a comprehensive community response network to domestic violence, and, most recently, intervention and support services for teens and children exposed to domestic violence (a program called In This Together).  

Our strength and success is attributed, in part, to our core commitment to staying true to our organizational “north star” – being survivor-defined.   The experiences of individuals impacted by domestic violence continue to guide us to the next evolutionary step towards fulfilling our organization’s purpose. The recent growth and expansion of In This Together, for example, can be traced back to what survivors told us they needed: support for healing their relationships with their children, and support for their young teens to learn new ways to build healthy and safe relationships. 
In 2010, we changed our name to Center for Domestic Peace (C4DP) because we wanted our name to reflect our vision of transforming our world into a place where domestic peace is possible – and where all relationships and families are healthy and violence-free. As our new services have developed over the past few years, we have witnessed, and are witnessing, a deep healing of families that will forever alter their futures.  Kate Kain, Deputy Executive Director, who has been leading the development of these services, said it best: “Our In This Together group therapy program for children and their non-abusing parent has moved the needle from families being traumatized by fear and hurt from violence to a place of renewal, trust, and joy.  To see the transformation of these children and their parents as they free themselves from the abuser-controlled family system is nothing short of breathtaking.” 

Our dedication to moving the needle forward these past 40 years has fueled and deepened our capacity and commitment to transforming lives, one individual, one family, and one community at a time. In reflecting on our four-decade long journey of saving lives, we remember all those who have been impacted by domestic violence, whose experiences continue to teach us how to grow a world where relationships based on domestic peace are the new norm. And we thank and celebrate each and every person who has been a part of this journey with us.

Donna Garske
Executive Director

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