Press Releases
  Donation Helps Wingspan Domestic Violence Project Expand

June 15, 2002

Tucson, Arizona: The staff and volunteers of the Wingspan Domestic Violence Project are here to listen, 24 hours a day. And now we're more accessible than ever.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Amazon Foundation, our volunteer program is expanding to address social change. Domestic Violence Project Director Cathy Busha uses the image of a tree to explain the project's vision: "Providing direct services to victims of domestic violence is only clipping the branches, which will quickly grow back. In order to truly work against violence in our communities, we need to address the roots of violence, which lie in the abuse of power and are tied in with societal oppressions, particularly racism, sexism, and homophobia."

The Wingspan Domestic Violence Project currently provides 24 hour crisis intervention, advocacy, and support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims of domestic violence in Southern Arizona. We are the only program in Arizona the specifically serves the LGBT Community. In addition, we also provide community education and outreach on issues of domestic violence in the LGBT communities. We also offer a volunteer program that provides extensive training to community members who are interested in serving as volunteer phone advocates. After completing the 16-hour training, volunteers are ready to answer the crisis hotline.

We live in a society that values power and encourages the abuse of power. Most people are trained from an early age to attain power any way they can. Societal structures of oppression help to exacerbate power inequities. People who are oppressed through racism, sexism and homophobia may turn to partner abuse as a means to feel more powerful, and people who possess societal privilege may abuse their partners since they feel entitled to exploit others. The keys to fighting this system lie in exposing and dismantling the system of power abuse and combating societal oppressions such as racism, sexism and homophobia.

We are expanding the Community Action Program by developing a curriculum on the politics of violence that empowers our volunteers to work against violence as community activists. The new training sessions focus on the politics of domestic violence, including policies, lobbying, and organizing on a local and statewide level, and on building the volunteers' organizing skills. We also facilitate in-depth discussions on societal oppressions and power structures and how they relate to societal violence. While initial trainings focus on domestic violence, we will introduce discussions on the politics of other forms of violence as the project continues. Specific topics include influencing legislation, building coalitions, Internet activism, anti-racism, and anti-heterosexism.

We encourage participants to attend meetings of the Coordinated Community Response Team (CCRT), a coalition of governmental and non-governmental organizations that coordinates local responses to domestic violence. Training sessions include brainstorming on how to influence bodies such as the CCRT to move away from their essentially heterosexual model of domestic violence.

After training these community members, we provide organizational support for their activities. We facilitate the brainstorming of key areas to address, including the development of an integrated action plan if participants are ready to create one. We also provide the organizers with telephone access, copying, supplies, and Internet access through Wingspan's facilities, and with additional funding for their activities (e.g. mileage for local travel, printing) through a small Community Organizers Fund.

If you are interested in volunteering for this progressive program, please call or email us at 520-624-1779 or wdvp@wingspanaz.org.