Coalition creates culture to end domestic violence
By Marijke Fakasiieiki
The End the Violence Coalition invites the community to change the conversation about domestic violence to create a culture of prevention and support for survivors.
"We need to believe survivors when they disclose abuse. Listening, being involved, volunteering and supporting fundraisers all contribute to solutions," said Annie Murphey, executive director of the coalition.
The coalition has existed in various forms since the 1990s. It is a partnership among more than 50 organizations including victim advocacy, law enforcement, government officials, nonprofits and community members.
Its vision is for all people to live in safe and secure homes.
Through collaborative leadership and networking, the End the Violence Coalition (also known as the Spokane Regional Domestic Violence Coalition) focuses on providing individuals and families affected by domestic violence with the support and structure they need to change the conversation about domestic violence in meaningful ways.
Annie brings together insights from her faith and social services to address issues and daily concerns about domestic violence in the region.
"For me there is an interesting dichotomy and intersection between religion and violence," she said. "Stories in the media intersect with that.
"My faith and my family's faith are part of who we are and, for me, my value system circles around having all people treated with dignity, respect and love," Annie explained.
"Related to domestic violence, love shouldn't hurt. I reflect on those values and how we support people and meet them where they are. Some people have not learned healthy communications and interaction skills," she said. "Parents often discipline the way they were disciplined. There is much work to do around this, in different settings, including the faith-based communities."
Annie completed a bachelor's degree in sociology with an emphasis on criminology in 2005 at the University of Montana in Missoula and a master's degree in social work in 2007 at Eastern Washington University.
Before working at the coalition, she worked with treatment agencies, Spokane County Juvenile Court and then with the NEW Educational Service District 101 as a licensed social worker related to substance abuse disorders with youth and adult trauma.
The coalition was granted nonprofit status in 2019 and immediately launched the End the Violence Campaign, airing the "End the Violence" documentary in September. The End the Violence campaign raises public awareness using billboards, bus benches, TV and radio as well as in-person training to educate the community around the issue.
Starting in leadership at End the Violence Coalition in March 2020 when the pandemic hit, Annie focused on work with various agencies and people, especially essential workers, to figure out the community's landscape, share resources for victims and families, and understand what was happening in the community.
In her work with addiction treatment, she had engaged in prevention work in terms of how to "move upstream on these issues" by recognizing how mental health, substance abuse and homelessness are interrelated.
She also acknowledged that the #MeToo movement has opened awareness across the U.S. and "that all around us are women who have their own stories and experiences with dating, sexual and domestic violence."
Annie reported that one out of three women and one out of 10 men in the Spokane region will be victims of domestic violence in their lifetimes. End the Violence Coalition defines domestic violence as "violence or abuse in any form, by one person against another in a domestic (family) setting and involves intimate partner violence, which is one specific type of domestic violence."
The coalition's website includes a power and control wheel further identifying violence as including physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse, as well as intimidation, isolation, minimizing, blaming, coercing, threatening, using privilege and using children.
"Spokane can change and can create change on this issue," Annie said.
"In 2023, we are ready to launch an educational toolkit that business owners and managers can use to recognize domestic violence victims in the workplace and tools to provide resources to victims and help workers in unhealthy relationships," said Annie.
End the Violence Coalition has also partnered with Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in the region, advocating for the new Indigenous People Alert System, the first of its kind in the nation. The campaign supports networks and connects with the Superior Court and the Department of Corrections through the Domestic Violence Felony Court Initiative.
The coalition collaborates with schools and treatment providers on youth violence prevention and intervention through the Center for Disease Control.
Handle with Care (HWC) is another prevention initiative that started in 2020 with Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) and Spokane Public Schools (SPS). When a child has been identified at the scene of a traumatic event, police, as part of their routine reporting and documentation process, electronically notify designated school administrators that a child needs to be "handled with care."
HWC's goal is to be sensitive about trauma and how to share information, knowing children's early experiences can impact their ability to participate in school, graduate and achieve their potential in their lifetime.
Through SPS, End the Violence received CARES Act funding from Spokane County commissioners. HWC is now in 11 of 18 county school districts, including border districts that relate to the Spokane Police Department.
The HWC program has had an impact in the Yakima School District, which had about 1,600 referrals in 2021, its first year there.
The program also includes Clark County, Kitsap County and New ESD101. The plan is to gain statewide adoption through a grant from Better Health Together. A bill is before the 2023 legislative session.
Annie explained how health outcomes are affected.
"Those who experience domestic violence are more at risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer," Annie added.
Research on health outcomes indicates the need to provide the whole family with tools for healing and transformation to help children be healthy and reduce risk factors in adulthood, she said.
The coalition seeks to share resources in person, print and online with businesses, congregations and organizations, as they try to change the conversation on domestic violence and increase support for families who are impacted in this region.
The coalition is hosting the first annual End the Violence Conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Wednesday, Feb. 28 to March 1, at Spokane Community College, 1810 N. Greene. Kelsey McKay, an expert on domestic violence, will be the keynote speaker.