Towards Thriving Cover

October 20, 2016

Over the last two weeks, we have had the privilege to be in community with over a hundred of our Idaho Coalition tribal and community domestic and sexual violence program members. Our experience was that the Regional Movement Building Conversations were generative and a wonderful opportunity to re-connect with one another. We shared the Idaho Coalition’s Strategic Framework to guide our work and our vision of the changes we want to see in the world – what we are working toward.

Our time together reflected our values of compassion and interconnectedness in the ways we listened and learned more about one another. During each conversation, many of you were leading boldly by asking big questions like “how do we demonstrate value and spark deep interest in the collective movement forward to liberation of the last girl?” or “how do we expand our work without alienating partners?” or “what does offender accountability look outside of the criminal justice system?”

There were also deep conversations about our values and concepts around social equity, understanding that equity is different from “equality,” in which everyone has the same amount of something (resources, opportunity) despite their existing needs or assets. In other words, whether you are two feet tall or six, you still get a five-foot ladder to reach a 10-foot platform.

We also engaged in conversations around collective liberation and how we want to move forward together knowing our humanity is connected to the liberation of the most marginalized person in our community, the last girl.  The last girl is conceptual and represents the person in our communities that has been historically pushed out by the dominate culture and has the least access to resources and opportunities. For example, in Idaho the last girl could be someone who is Latino, Native American, or a refugee, a person who has a disability or a person who self-identifies as LGBTQ.

In the spirit of movement building, we are excited to come together for a Statewide Movement Building Conversation on November 2nd and 3rd where we will go deeper into the bold questions and explore the questions we asked about what excited you, what concerned you, and what are the possible pathways for programs toward a shared purpose horizon.  We are so honored to have Lynn Rosenthal, former White House Advisor on Violence Against Women for these generative and exciting conversations.

We fully embrace this opportunity to continue grow, connect, and build a bigger “we” with you all.  Please join us and register soon!

Towards Thriving,

Kelly Miller
Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence


Training and Events

Statewide Movement Building Conversations  
SAVE THE DATE! Statewide Movement Building Conversations
Idaho Community & Tribal Domestic Violence Programs – November 2nd & 3rd, 2016

We are excited to announce that Lynn Rosenthal, Former White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and most recently with the National Domestic Violence Hotline will facilitate our conversation and share her perspective on the essential role of community and tribal domestic and sexual violence programs to create social change.

Register Now

Priest River Ministries

Tending the earth and eating healthy food- self care!

Tending the earth and eating healthy food- self care!

Priest River is a northern mountain town of 1700 people, nestled in one of the most beautiful places in Idaho. Despite the scenic beauty, the Priest River Ministries two staff and more than 32 qualified volunteers have their hands full working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and other community members in need of services and healing.

“The work is so diverse – almost never textbook,” Rhonda Encinas, Director of Priest River Ministries says. “We get a lot of calls outside the parameters of domestic and sexual violence, but when we work with people in need, we also feel that we are helping prevent future trauma.” For instance, Priest River Ministries provided shelter and ongoing support to a woman with Fetal Alcohol Effects due to being at a high risk for sexual assault. A young man was provided respite childcare and basic skills training as a new single parent of an 8-month-old baby during the time the mother was in prison. And recently a woman came to Priest River Ministries for help on her resume, interview clothes, and job interview skills (by the way, she got the job). Priest River Ministries provides three shelters, a thrift store, food pantry, mobile advocacy, a crisis line, and ongoing ministry/case management.

Volunteer-run Thrift Store

Volunteer-run Thrift Store

When interviewed, Rhonda emphasized that although she is often the face of Priest River Ministries, she does not “make it happen”. (Anyone who’s ever met Rhonda knows she does make a lot happen!) “The 32 plus volunteers are an incredible blessing. Thanks to volunteers, there are two counselors providing free services, a play therapist facilitating the children’s support group, childcare workers, teachers, advocates, painters, plumbers, carpet cleaners, drivers, and more.”

Volunteers keep the thrift store and the community computer lab open, and provide tutoring, job skills prep, and more. Community members are encourage to come in to the computer lab to email or check Facebook. This provides a critical community service as many people in the area do not have access to Internet. There’s also a lovely child center, with free childcare for anyone, Tuesday through Thursday 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. “However – the man who had that 8 month old and hadn’t parented him until just days before – we told him we’d provide respite anytime during the week when our office was open. We just wanted to do what we could to lower his stress, to help this little baby.” (Mom was so grateful to Priest River Ministries for this, she volunteered at the store when she was released from prison!) The words “organic” and “flexible” came to mind throughout this interview.

Rhonda shares that there are upsides and downsides to being a faith-based domestic and sexual violence provider. “Being a ministry, we simply serve the community, which is anyone in need. We have more freedom to do this than some other programs. We can provide shelter for a man and his son who are just passing through. We can navigate the system for a homeless minor.” There are definite struggles with being faith-based program too. While much of the community support the work of Priest River Ministries, some faith leaders actively preach against their program, saying they advocate divorce and other harmful things, and that people should not seek them out. When people have to go against their church to seek safety for themselves and their children, it makes a bad situation worse. Rhonda works to change these attitudes, but also knows that she must carefully choose her battles, and maintain her energy for the long haul.

Dogs: Beloved Companions

Dogs: Beloved Companions

When not “doing the work”, you might not find Rhonda – because she is likely up in the forested mountains, hiking around with her 4 dogs, or spending time with her husband, 8 children, and 11 grandchildren. She understands that self-care is key to sustainability.

Media Literacy

We are familiar with the ways mainstream media and culture under-represent women in positions of power and influence in America. We know that we are living in a world where media shapes our cultural norms and the messages we send our young people, especially girls. We know that media places value in a woman’s beauty, youth, and sexuality. At the same time, men are learning that their success is tied to aggression and hyper-masculinity. You would be challenged to find positive messages for women and girls, let alone messages of empowerment for young women of color or individuals who are gender nonconforming.

We know the media plays a powerful role in dictating our social norms. Those social norms allow gender violence- domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking to flourish. But what can we do, on an individual level as advocates or better yet on a community level to challenge these messages?

Individuals can:

  • Stop consuming media that objectifies and degrades women
  • Go see movies that are written and directed by women. Women and Hollywood has some great ideas.
  • Use the hashtag #NotBuyingIt on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to call out disturbing advertising
  • Use your personal social media accounts to spread positive messages about girls, women and individuals who are gender nonconforming

As a community and organization:

  • Screen Miss Representation and The Mask You Live in. Check out The Representation Project website for ideas!
  • Choose suppliers, distributors and partners that promote and empower women as leaders
  • Create opportunities for mentorship and networking through community events

As a movement, we can begin to change the social norms that devalue women and girls and individuals who are gender nonconforming. For more ideas, contact Jeff .

On the Banks of an Idaho River: A Case for Primary Prevention

There is a parable often used which provides context and a better understanding of primary prevention-think of an angler fishing on the bank of one of Idaho’s beautiful rivers. As the person is fishing, they see another person in the middle of the river, floating downstream, struggling to stay above the waterline. The angler discards their pole and reaches out to the person struggling for help, barely able to pull them ashore to help. And, just as the angler is tending to the recently saved and gasping person, another and another, and another are seen scrambling in the middle of the rapidly flowing water, desperately needing assistance.

The angler calls for help, and receives many people and resources to that bank of the river, and they all begin trying to pull the tens-of-hundreds that turn into tens-of-thousands of people coming downstream, pleading for help. Even with the increased amount of resources at the bank of the river, the realization falls over the helpers that there are far too many people struggling in the river and the helpers are feeling exhausted, and they know their skills are limited. The reality of the circumstances are that many of the people in the river will not be able to be pulled ashore, and will continue downstream, struggling to stay afloat.

Historically, our movement and the system reflects this intervention-and response-based approach, leaving the resources depleted and many, many people sinking downstream-and disproportionately, women and girls of color from low socioeconomic circumstances.

As prevention practitioners in the broader movement to end gender violence, and with a public health lens, we have continuously been exploring how we move resources farther up the banks of the metaphorical river-to the place just before the location where the people are falling into the water-primary prevention. We, as a collective, have known for many years that there are a handful of socially and structurally imposed attributes of populations that unfortunately determine positive health outcomes for whole populations-the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call it social determinants of health (

We understand that race, gender, and economic class/status (i.e., poverty), overwhelmingly determine a person’s access to a positive and healthy life, free of violence and oppression! For example, we understand that white, cisgender, heterosexual men who are wealthy have a far greater likelihood for positive health outcomes than do poor, trans, women and girls of color. Why? Because, based on the societal structures in place-gender, race, and class define the hierarchy of the populations that retain access to resources with the least number of barriers to reach those resources.

The most effective approach to primary prevention of gender violence is to intentionally re-allocate the resources by moving upstream of the river and identify the place where the largest numbers and rates of people are falling into “the river”. In other words, by centering solutions and resources on the communities that are most impacted, we will engage in the most effective strategy toward eventually preventing violence.

Radical Self-Care

Don’t Eat Lunch at Your Desk

Don't Eat Lunch at Your Desk ImageFun (and gross) fact: Did you know that the average desk and keyboard have more germs and bacteria than a toilet seat? And yet, so many of us consume our lunch hovered over our desks. Many of us have fallen into this (literally) nasty habit because we have limited time during the day and we’re trying to maximize every minute we’re at work. But, the reality is, by failing to take a lunch break we eliminate the opportunity for spaciousness and for our minds to reset and recharge.

Today’s Challenge –
Eat your lunch somewhere besides your desk! This gives you a chance to practice spaciousness, get-up, stretch and change your surroundings for a short while.

Deepen Your Practice –
Sharing a meal with other people is a time-honored way of connecting to our own and each other’s humanity. And, even if you must talk about work instead of the last great book you read, the unstructured nature of lunch can open up space for creativity. Notice what becomes possible when you eat lunch with someone else today.

Idaho Coalition Store Materials

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