Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Give Joy, Give Love, Give Back

What is the best way for you to give back to the cause of ending domestic violence? Donating money is great but investing your time is even better. In my last post I talked about our Holiday Gift Drive, which is a great way of giving back and in this post I will brainstorm more ways of giving back.  

Ask: Calling or emailing a DV organization to ask them if they need volunteers is a great start. I have found many great volunteer jobs this way.

Offer: They don’t know what you can help with? Offer your talents. I am a communications professional so I offer my skills to help non-profits with causes close to my heart. Sometimes organizations don’t even know they need help. My mother volunteers for a soup kitchen in California. They are a great cause and my mom wanted to spread the word about the organization. She asked for a brochure and believe it or not they didn’t have one due, in part, to lack of funds. So, guess what we did? My mom and I jointly wrote and designed their brochure. With their new brochure they can engage volunteers, donors, and people in need of services. Your volunteer work doesn’t have to be long lasting. A simple project will do wonders for any DV organization!

Do: Just do it! It probably isn’t going to take long. What’s a day or two or even more for the greater good of the community? You’ll make friends while volunteering and, trust me, you will sleep better at night knowing you helped someone. If you help turn one DV victim into a survivor, you’re helping all whose lives they touch and will continue to touch in the future.

Talk it Up: Imagine if all your friends donated an hour of their time each week for a month at a DV organization. If you have 5 friends, that’s 20 hours a month.  You and your friends have now made the same impact as a part-time employee, which most organizations need but don’t have the funds to hire. So, tell your friends about the wonderful work an organization does. Make it a fun activity for you and your friends.  You can volunteer together at a walk or other event. It will be worth your time when you see how you help others.

For ways to find out how you can help DCCADV, visit our website here, or call us at (202) 299-1181. You and our organization will be glad that you did!

~Saira Saim 
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Add Another Name to Your List on Black Friday

Will you be setting an alarm for 3:00 a.m. this Friday in preparation of the 4:00 a.m. doorbusters? Every year there is always huge anticipation as people kick-off their holiday shopping season with  Black Friday deals--plasma T.Vs, fancy digital cameras, DVD players, clothes will be marked down to irresistible prices. I am already hearing of ‘leaks’ where a certain store is selling T.Vs for an unbeatable price. Who will you be buying for this year?

I’m sure your family and friends top the list and you’ve put a lot of thought into what you will get for each and every one of them this year. While I wish you the best of luck in surviving the crowds this Black Friday and finding the perfect gifts for everyone, I want to remind you of another name to put on your list-- DCCADV’s Holiday Gift Drive.

DCCADV holds a Holiday Gift Drive every year to provide gifts for families living in emergency shelters and temporary housing. Donors can adopt one or more families and donate gifts from their wish list. So, this holiday season, enjoy the spirit of giving, adopt a family today and add them on your shopping list!

For those of you who want to avoid the crowds but still want to buy gifts for the drive, remember Cyber Monday is Monday, the 29th of November. You can buy from the comfort of your own home and make someone’s Holiday more special!

Call (202) 299-1181 today for more information on participating in the drive or click here to visit our website.

Note: Pictures are from DCCADV's 2009 Holiday Drive!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awareness at an Early Age—My Journey to Becoming a DV Advocate

It seems as if I’ve been a DV advocate all my life. I’ve never been shy to speak up against violence or demeaning behavior towards anyone. I often wonder and I’m often asked why I am passionate about the anti-DV movement, as I have no personal connection with this issue. I have never witnessed domestic violence and I’m very grateful to say that I’ve never been in a violent situation either, so why am I so passionate about ending DV? When I think about this, I always think back to the time I was 14 years old....

When I was 14 a DV organization came to my school to bring DV awareness to 8th graders. They talked about how women and young children go through difficult adjustment periods after suffering from domestic violence. That was the first time I felt like I needed to help someone who I didn’t even know. I remember going up to them after their presentation and asking them if I could volunteer in some way. I was told I was too young and to come back when I was older. I hated being too young to make a difference, too young to help someone in need. Is there really an age for that? As an adult and an advocate I now know the risks and liabilities of involving young kids, but I was an ‘old’ young kid and really wanted to do something. I truly wish I had found a way around the system, made a difference, or even tried to make a difference on my own scale, but I didn’t. I just waited to be old enough.

As a teenager I wanted to volunteer at shelters, but because of privacy issues I couldn’t find any in my area. So, I waited some more. In college I interned at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. This really opened my eyes to what I could do to make a difference. This internship made me realize my life goals as a non-profit professional and DV advocate. I knew I had to raise awareness for this cause so I became a walking, un-hired PR person for this cause. I’d talk to anybody that would listen and anybody that wouldn’t listen about DV and I loved every minute of it!

Now, with DCCADV, I have an opportunity to do something about DV. It is a passion and will be for the rest of my life. All of this is because someone tapped into my emotions at the age of 14. I have always thought youth advocacy is really important. Some schools whole-heartedly participated in Purple Thursday by wearing purple. Here at DCCADV, we were touched to see the sea of purple in pictures. Do you think reaching out to kids at this age will make a difference? Will we end this cycle of abuse with the next generation? What do you think we can do to engage youth in our cause? 

~Saira Saim 
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Internet Safety Efforts

There has been a lot of buzz about cyberbullying lately. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that cyberbullying is also a form of dating violence. Many teens and pre-teens feel that they are subject to relationship violence or bullying on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Here are some statistics on digital teen dating violence: 
  • 10% of youth said a romantic partner has prevented them from using a computer or cell phone.
  •  6% of boys and girls say their romantic partner posted something publicly online to make fun of, threaten, or embarrass them.
  • 10.4% of boys and 9.8% of girls said they received a threatening cell phone message from their romantic partner.
  • 5.4% of boys and 3.4% of girls said their romantic partner uploaded or shared a humiliating of harassing picture of them online or through their cell phone.
Click here for more information

Thankfully, some positive efforts are being made to prevent digital dating abuse from occurring and are creating ways of escape for those that are suffering from this issue. I recently came across a Facebook app that is a resource for anyone that needs help. By installing this application, teens can report any sort of abuse or bullying to Facebook officials. Once they report the abuse they will be connected to professionals and counselors in the area of help they need.The areas help is available in are: cyberbullying, suicide and depression, child exploitation, child abuse, runaways, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, hate issues, and suicide prevention hotline for gay and questioning teens. Click here to install the “Find Help” app on Facebook.

Another positive campaign for internet safety was launched by the Ad Council on Nov. 3, 2010. The Ad Council announced it’s Internet Safety Coalition with AT&T, Google, IAB, Microsoft, The Wireless Foundation and Other Industry Leaders to educate you about online safety. I personally love their campaign slogan which is: "If You Wouldn't Wear It, Don't Share it: Beware What You Share." For their campaign, they have launched videos and pictures of teenagers (adults can benefit from this as well) wearing white t-shirts with black writing with messages like: “English Test Sucked…Cheat Sheet Ruled.” Their message is that nothing is private when it goes online. If you are not willing to share any sort of information with more than a certain group of people then don’t post it online.


Check out their video:

Hopefully, with the launch of this campaign girls and boys will think twice before posting graphic pictures and revealing information about themselves on social networking websites. In turn, I’m hoping it will reduce teen digital dating violence. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

~Saira Saim

 Department of Communication and Organizational Advancement

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Unexpected Healing Powers of the Kid’s Movie: How to Train Your Dragon

If you don’t have a toddler, it would have been easy to miss the DreamWorks film, How to Train Your Dragon, which was in movie theatres earlier this year and just  came out on DVD. The film is about a Viking community (the island of Berk) where dragons have killed people and people have killed dragons for thousands of years. No one questions it – dragons are bad, Vikings are good.

For me, after watching the film, I’ve come to see the dragons as a metaphor for the thoughts in my mind. My dragons are thoughts like these:

-          I’m annoying.
-          I’m crabby.
-          I’m too moody.
-          I’m overly-intellectual.
-          I talk too much.
-          I argue about everything.
-          I’m exhausting.
-          I’m a brown-noser.

Believe me when I tell you, I had lots of evidence to support these beliefs and a community of people the size of Berk who would agree with this assessment. Chief among that community was my ex-husband who would use these personality traits to justify his attacks on me. It worked well, because I hated these aspects of myself as much as the Vikings hated the dragons.

Back on Berk, one (overly-intellectual) teenager named Hiccup shot down a dragon and injured him. This gave him to opportunity to look a dragon in the eye before killing him and in that moment he saw that the idea “Dragons are bad” was just a thought and it wasn’t fact. He saw that it was a story and in that moment, his fear and hatred of dragons turned into love. He lets the dragon live and begins to plot how he will save the injured beast.

Later that day when his father tells him the time has come for him to start killing dragons, Hiccup says my favorite line of the movie: “Um, no, dad, I’m really very extra sure that I won’t.”
Do you have any idea how hard that would be to say!?!? That is courage! You can imagine the pressure on him – the whole community – thousands of years – hundreds of loved ones killed by dragons; and here was this fishbone of a kid with a twinge in his gut that maybe, just maybe dragons weren’t so bad.

Like Hiccup, I spent many years plotting to kill my dragons. I read books, went to therapy, and ultimately decided to love myself despite being born with a terrible personality. I continued my death wish with these aspects of myself.  I believe that loving these horrible traits in myself would make them bigger. That the whole island of ME would be overrun by dragons and that the dragons would kill all that was good in my life.

It never occurred to me, that if I looked into my own eyes, I would get the glimmer that Hiccup got: “This is just a thought, and I can change a fear-based thought by adding my love.”

Now, that’s not to say changing a thought is easy.

My story about myself was strong. While I didn’t think I deserved to be hit or ridiculed, I kind of agreed I was annoying and needed to be fixed. I understood my attacker’s frustration with me because I shared that frustration.  And I felt that anyone who agreed to be with me romantically deserved some sort of a medal.

What I’ve learned from the movie How to Train Your Dragon is that no matter how much evidence you have a situation is terrible and unreversible (and Hiccup and I both had a lot!) if you can find the love, you can change the thought.

It turns out the Dragons on Berk weren’t so evil after all. They were enslaved by Red Death, a demanding, parasitic dragon who probably had dragons of his own! And all those “terrible” personality traits of mine, they came from my well-meaning need to protect myself -- just like the dragons killing humans came from their need to feed Red Death. Once I understood that, it was easy to love those traits. And as I’ve come to love my crabby, moody, annoying self, as if by magic, I’ve become remarkably less crabby, moody, and annoying!

So, what’s your dragon? Maybe it’s just a thought….

Angela Lauria is a domestic violence survivor, a blogger, and a life coach.

DVAM 2010 Highlights

Check out the wonderful slide show DCCADV's Community Education Fellow, Andrea Gleaves created:
1 in 4

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DVAM 2010 in Review

As you know October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) observed this month with untamed enthusiasm! We did many things to honor the victims and survivors of DV. Here’s a brief recap of a few of my personal favorites!

-      DVAM Kickoff  

Did you see one of us on Oct. 1st in front of your metro stop? DCCADV staff kicked off DVAM 2010 by spreading awareness of our 1 in 4 campaign. We handed out a brochure, a DVAM events calendar and of course, candy to metro goers all day long!

Hello Cupcake

We tapped into D.C craze for cupcakes to raise DV awareness. Who could pass up such a sweet deal? Helping the DV cause while satisfying their sweet tooth. The purple ribbon cupcake was designed, produced, and sold by D.C’s famed cupcakery, Hello Cupcake! For two days D.C enjoyed a purple ribbon cupcake feast. Proceeds went to our organization so we can serve D.C ‘s DV survivors and advocates better.  A big thank you to Hello Cupcake for their sponsorship!

-      Eat in Peace

Eat in Peace was a first just like many of our programming this month. Hank’s Oyster Bar, a popular D.C restaurant sponsored this event by giving their proceeds to DCCADV so we can serve the community better. Again, a huge thank you to Hank’s Oyster Bar for your generosity!

Purple Thursday
2010 was the fifth year D.C went purple for a Thursday. This year’s Purple Thursday was bigger and better! D.C was wearing purple to show their support of domestic violence victims and survivors.  We also had two contests, one for the DV community and one for our online community. We had an overflow of pictures in our inboxes of people and offices wearing purple. We thank YOU for that!

On Purple Thursday, a joint press conference was held by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Councilmember Kwame Brown.  The conference was held on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building on the beautiful Thursday afternoon. A powerful assembly of speakers were present including, Councilmember Kwame Brown, DCCADV ED, Karma Cottman, and D.C survivor Dr. Angela Lauria.

~Saira Saim
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Winner Is.....

The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence thanks all that participated in our contest (link to contest post). In the two weeks of the contest, our facebook followers have increased from 98 to 198 (and growing!) and our twitter followers have increased from 52 to 95! We thank you for your support and your enthusiasm in all our Domestic Violence Awareness Month programs.
This afternoon we had a drawing of the participants to determine the winner of the $75 gift certificate to the Tabbard Inn restaurant. So, without further delay, the winner is…

Albert Dadspride

Albert, please email ssaim@dccadv.org to collect your prize!