Uniting a community to cut out domestic abuse
November 6, 2008
Donna Bartos, founder of Girls Night Out to Cut out Domestic Abuse and the Purple Ribbon Council.
As a survivor of domestic abuse, Donna Bartos of Peoria, Arizona, feels obligated to fight this kind of abuse and help heal the emotional, mental, and physical wounds of those affected by domestic violence. Bartos founded Girls Night Out to Cut Out Domestic Abuse and its companion agency, Purple Ribbon Council, in Peoria, to bring together a national network of survivors, domestic abuse prevention organizations, grassroots advocates and everyday people across the U.S. to break the silence, break the cycle and save lives. As part of the agency’s mission to inspire everyday people to become a part of the solution to cut out domestic abuse, Bartos is leading a dialogue-to-change effort in Peoria, starting with a pilot dialogue. This is her story of how the dialogues are progressing so far.
“Our Purple Ribbon Study Circles on Domestic Abuse and Domestic Homicide pilot project is wrapping up in the next few weeks. To sum it up: truly remarkable! The Study Circles process not only works, but it appears to be working well for this issue.
“I am co-facilitator for the pilot Study Circle group hosted by the Peoria Police Department which is one of eight Study Circles "test" circles taking place in the Phoenix Metro area. This Purple Ribbon Study Circle has not only inspired ‘a-ha’ moments among participants, but it has also helped to shift the perceptions about domestic abuse.
“For example, a police officer came into the study circle frustrated with victims for not showing up for court to prosecute their abusers. After listening to a survivor's perspective and reasons why most victims do not show up to court (because the abuse, harassment and stalking usually escalates after a court hearing) the police officer shared that he ‘gets it now.’
The dialogue has also pinpointed clear gaps in prevention, response, and approach to ending domestic abuse in Peoria and has already resulted in several ideas for change that will be the focus in the last session.
“Another participant came to the group thinking domestic abuse was only physical and said that she only knew one person who experienced it. At the end of the first session she shared that she now understands what domestic abuse is and knows many people who are currently in power and control relationships.
“The dialogue has also pinpointed clear gaps in prevention, response, and approach to ending domestic abuse in Peoria and has already resulted in several ideas for change that will be the focus in the last session. We anticipate that the action ideas from every group will be powerful and realistic to implement with the new collaborations formed as a result of this pilot process.
“On the evaluation end, Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy is our Pilot Project Evaluation Team. They have donated $5,000 in-kind to conduct the evaluation which will be reported after our November 15th Action Forum. Their focus is pre and post-participant evaluation, facilitator assessments, and action.
Our plan is to have 250 Arizona residents go through the process and then share it nationwide and internationally.
“We have already had requests for the Purple Ribbon Study Circles dialogue from advocates in Nevada, Oklahoma, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut, as well as a request to convert the dialogue into culturally appropriate language for immigrant populations. In addition, we were just contacted by a psychologist in Australia about how to bring the Purple Ribbon Study Circles to a suburb of Sydney. Our plan is to have 250 Arizona residents go through the process and then share it nationwide and internationally. We will track all activity and results for the purpose of building a central best practice sharing network of all who have successfully implemented new programs, policies, or ideas as a result of the Purple Ribbon Dialogues.
“All of us involved in this groundbreaking project are enthused about the potential for truly impacting social change from the bottom-up and contributing to the mission of breaking the silence and the cycle of domestic abuse to ultimately save lives.”
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