homeblogCategory ArchiveVoices from the FieldOur Statement on Political Violence

Voices from the Field

Our Statement on Political Violence

January 13, 2021
Reflection of the US Capitol in lightly windswept water

TAKING A STAND

It’s not often we make public statements about news events not directly related to our work of serving child victims of abuse. Yet what took place here in Washington, D.C., last week was no ordinary event. Just blocks from my house and to National Children’s Alliance headquarters here on Capitol Hill, a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol as lawmakers were in session to certify the election, killing one Capitol Police officer, Brian Sicknick, with a fire extinguisher. Since Wednesday’s event we have learned that another officer, Howie Liebengood, despondent over the Capitol breach, has tragically died by suicide. Our hearts go out to the families, friends, and colleagues whose lives these officers touched, and whose lives may have been saved by them. It was a deadly, tragic, and foolish event that we condemn.

First, I will say that this episode is not only a stain on our nation’s history, it is also domestic terrorism. Our entire Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) model rests on the rule of law. There is no excuse for political violence of any kind, nor for the murder of police, for terroristic threats, or for terrorizing lawmakers and the entire D.C. community.

We cannot with the one hand work with our respected partners in law enforcement while on the other hand tolerating in any way anyone that encouraged, supported, or engaged in the events that led to their injury and deaths. There is no place for domestic terrorism or support for it in the CAC movement.

Much more likely, we, our colleagues, and our partners are instead struggling with these events as a trauma trigger, as a source of worry at the very beginning of a new year that was supposed to be better. I encourage you to check out this self-help tip sheet from the National Mass Violence and Victimization Resource Center on coping with the January 6 events. Perhaps the most affirming thing you can do right now is call in to your members in Congress, connect with your newly elected representatives if you have any, thank them for their service, let them know you are rooting for them and for democracy, and ask them as they start back up their work to ensure that the needs of our vulnerable children are met.

Call your U.S. representative and your two senators and ask them to support the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) fix we’ve been calling for for weeks. We have already accomplished so much together with your powerful advocacy to get a VOCA fix done to ensure some $150-200 million in critical federal funds get to kids who need services through CACs. It’s important to know that every phone call, every email, every meeting you’ve held has mattered immensely. It has moved this issue front and center for Congress. Now, we have to get it over the finish line.

This VOCA fix has wide bipartisan and House and Senate support to get this done. We are so close, and it is up to all of us to keep the pressure on. What’s more, both parties need this win as a sign to those who would like to split us apart, that the Congress can still unite to get important work done.

Keep calling your elected representatives, keep contact with their staff, ask them how they’re doing, thank them for their courage, and ask them to reaffirm their support for getting this done in January.

Know that we are with you, pulling together for that better future for kids.

Photo of a smiling girl in her mom's arms

INSIGHTS

Children’s Advocacy Centers (CACs) work through the strength of partnership—no single professional or agency can counter child abuse on their own, and survivors need and deserve support when abuse comes to light. Being a good partner means being a good active listener, and active listening is the main medium in which CACs do their work. …

Nick Bratvold with Senator Thune and NCA's Denise Edwards in the senator's office, standing in front of flags.

HOW-TOS FOR LEADERS

In some ways, legislative advocacy is like toilet paper: You don’t really think about it until it’s absolutely necessary. You usually forget to include it in your budget, it feels a little funny to talk about in public, and, frankly, you can never have enough of it. This wasn’t how I always felt. When I …