National Network To End Domestic Violence
Kelsey Ryland is a summer policy intern at the National Network To End Domestic Violence (NNEDV). NNEDV, a social change organization, is dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists. NNEDV was created to be a national voice for statewide coalitions to ensure that the needs of domestic violence survivors are heard on Capitol Hill. As a summer policy intern Kelsey will help facilitate NNEDV’s annual advocacy day conference, attend national task force meetings to ensure that the Violence Against Women Act is reauthorized, and work on appropriations for domestic violence programs. She was a domestic violence advocate with AmeriCorps for two years before coming to law school. This summer internship is closely aligned with her commitment to working with organizations that are trying to end violence against women. Kelsey hopes to practice public interest law after graduation, working with the intersections of domestic violence and reproductive justice.
July 5, 2012
My first week in DC started off with a bang. The policy team I am working with went from a team of two to a team of six with the arrival of four interns. There was no time to waste, we were preparing for NNEDV’s annual advocacy days and there was plenty to do! The policy team had been hard at work and we needed to put the finishing touches on all of our materials. The following week advocates from across the United States arrived on Capitol Hill for NNEDV’s Advocacy Day 2012. Advocates came to DC to meet with their Members of Congress; we asked them to put pressure on their Congressperson to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
It was an incredible opportunity to be in a room with women and men from across the country who are all fighting hard to end violence against women. I was able to attend a few meetings with the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence as they met with members of Congress from Washington. It was quite eye opening to hear members of Congress and their staff discuss how the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has become politicized. VAWA was first drafted in 1994 with the help of now Vice President Biden. VAWA has been reauthorized in 2000 and 2005 with little to no opposition. It has been disheartening to witness the fight that is taking place in Congress over a bill that provides life saving provisions and funding for people who are trying to leave an abusive partner.
The importance of this work became very clear to everyone at our advocacy days when it was announced that one of the state coalitions would not be joining us; the coalition director’s sister had just been killed by her boyfriend. It was an incredibly sobering moment and one that made our mission on Capitol Hill clear. This moment has stuck with me as I move through the more mundane tasks of my internship. It may seem like writing one more thank you letter to a member of Congress or sitting in one more strategy call is not making the biggest impact, but all of these tasks together are part of a web of tasks that are helping to make our communities safer and free from violence.
Journal Entry #2
I was sitting in on one of many conference calls when my boss hit the “mute” button. She calmly turned to my fellow interns and me and said “we are going to the White House on Thursday to meet the Vice President; there is a security form in your e-mail that you need fill out.” We all looked around at each other, confused by the nonchalant attitude of my boss. We left the room, raced back to our desks, promptly updated our Facebook statuses, and snapped photos of the confirmation e-mails from the Office of the Vice President of the United States.
A few days later we attended the Vice President’s event. Vice President Biden was debuting a public service announcement (PSA) to combat teen dating violence. The PSA was called “1 is 2 many” and was made in conjunction with high profile athletes. The event started with a speech from Lynn Rosenthal, White House Advisor on Violence Against Women. Then Jimmy Rollins from the Philadelphia Phillies spoke and introduced the Vice President. Both Ms. Rosenthal and Jimmy Rollins shared personal experiences and why ending violence against women is so important to both of them. The Vice President’s speech was genuine and inspiring. Vice President Biden shared a story about his Father always telling him that that the worst thing a man could ever do was to raise his hand to a woman. The Vice President used this story to illustrate the need for a culture shift. We need to begin to create a culture where intimate partner violence is not tolerated; a culture where the person who is the abuser experiences shame, not the abused.
It was an honor to not only hear the Vice President speak, but to also be in the same room with advocates who have been working their entire careers to end violence against women. There was a sense of hope in the room, that maybe things are changing and there is hope that we can live in a world where violence against women ends.