In the wake of the tragedy in Sutherland Springs, you may feel motivated to take action. Our statement in response to the mass shooting included a series of recommendations about what needs to change if we want to prevent this type of violence. Here are some ways people can take action to make a difference.
To ensure serious repercussions for perpetrators of domestic violence
Tell your senator to co-sponsor U.S. Senate bill S1539
Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act of 2017. Currently, federal loopholes allow convicted stalkers and those under temporary restraining orders to buy firearms. In addition, a so-called “boyfriend loophole” only prevents domestic abusers from purchasing a gun if they were married to, living with, or had children with the person they abused. Senate bill S1539 would close these loopholes and keep guns away from domestic abusers and stalkers nationwide.
Tell your legislators to support Texas HB866
Lethal Violence Protection Order. Family members would be able to request a hearing before a judge to outline threatening behavior. A legal proceeding would determine if guns should be taken out of the hands of the potential abuser and prevent them from purchasing firearms for up to a year.
Tell legislators to take guns away from domestic abusers
Federal law does not specifically require abusers convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors to surrender their guns even if they have become prohibited from possessing firearms.
Ensure that judges are telling domestic abusers that they can no longer purchase firearms
A report in Maryland found that judges failed to inform convicted domestic abusers that they were prohibited from buying guns 99 percent of the time.
Find your legislator here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Zip.aspx
Provide better support for victims
Now more than ever, we need to change the societal norms that so often turn a blind eye, condone, and breed violence and abuse as acceptable means of coercive control over another person.
SAFE is asking all men to publicly commit to ending the cycle of violence by signing the SAFE Pledge here.
What you can do every day:
- Personally, you can support survivors by believing them, telling them the abuse is not their fault, and helping them to find services and resources if they want or need them.
- You can also volunteer or provide material or financial resources to the organizations helping survivors and preventing violence.
- Break the cycle by supporting vulnerable youth and increasing their skills for safe and healthy relationships. Children exposed to violence are at increased risk for victimization and for repeating abusive behaviors in their own relationships.
To change societal norms that condone violence
- Become an ambassador in your community to prevent violence before it occurs. You can educate others about the signs and impact of domestic violence, as well as the services available in the community.
- Talk to your children, your nieces or nephews, your neighbors, and other young people about healthy relationships, what consent is and is not, and what to do if you see or hear about unhealthy behaviors.
- Hold your friends and family accountable when you witness sexist or harassing behavior, such as catcalling or making sexist remarks or “jokes.” Domestic violence and sexual assault do not begin with physical violence, but microaggressions such as these that are tolerated by society can escalate.
- Keep these conversations going. While this situation is filling the news cycle, we cannot let these important conversations about domestic violence and child abuse fade in the upcoming days, weeks, or months.
To work with SAFE
- Contact our Community Education team about ways to get involved with violence prevention in the Austin community.
- Volunteer opportunities: SAFE has several volunteer opportunities, ranging from direct service care to special events.
- SAFE Holidays: SAFE depends on generous sponsors and volunteers to assist with creating joy during the holidays for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and exploitation, and child abuse. We currently need volunteers to organize and wrap thousands of gifts.
Whether or not you are able to take action on these recommendations, we must work together to address and prevent all forms of violence. The connection between domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, and mass shootings will only become more acute unless we as a community take action to stop the cycle of violence.