Having just celebrated our 43rd year, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) is the oldest national grassroots organization working to end domestic violence and advocate for survivors. Since our beginning, evolutions in NCADV’s mission and leadership along with the formation of other critical national organizations working to eliminate domestic violence has led to advancements in our focus. This blog post is the third in a series exploring more in depth NCADV and our work. We’ve already learned about who NCADV is and what we do, but now it’s time to clarify what we do NOT do, also known as debunking the top seven myths about NCADV.
Myth #1: NCADV Provides Funding to Domestic Violence Organizations and Survivors
Many people believe NCADV distributes funding and grants to organizations, can help fund special projects like documentaries or campaigns, or can offer direct cash assistance to victims who need resources to escape an abusive partner.
As much as we would like to do so, NCADV does not redistribute funding, does not fund special projects, nor are we able to provide direct cash assistance to those in crisis. All monies received by NCADV are used to fund the organization and NCADV programs and projects.
Myth #2: NCADV Receives Lots of Funding via Government Grants
This is probably the biggest misconception about NCADV, there is a belief that we are a well-funded organization with a large staff and unlimited resources at our disposal.
The reality is that NCADV’s staff is much smaller than many organizations doing this work. But this mighty team of staff members keeps the organization advocating and educating. Our annual budget, which is a fraction of other national organizations in the violence against women work, is primarily funded by individual and private donations, membership dues, and sponsorships. Currently, NCADV receives no Federal or state grants.
Myth #3: NCADV Acts as an Authoritative Body for State Coalitions, Programs and Shelters
Some people think that NCADV acts as an authoritative or governing body for state coalitions and all the shelters and programs within that state. They approach us with concerns about how things are operating on the ground in their local communities.
In other words, they’re looking to “speak with the manager.”
We can listen to these concerns, and at the end of the day, we have no authority to remedy these issues.
If you have concerns about an individual program or shelter in your area, a great place to start is with that organization’s board of directors. Most programs and shelters belong to their state’s coalition, so checking in with your state coalition is another place to start.
Myth #4: NCADV Provides Legal Advocacy and Support for Survivors
Some people believe NCADV has attorneys or legal experts on staff who can advise victims and their lawyers on active cases making their way through the court systems.
NCADV does not employ any attorneys or legal experts for the purposes of providing legal advocacy or support for domestic violence victims. Local domestic violence programs often have legal advocates on staff and local legal service organizations may also be able to help. Additionally, the Battered Women’s Justice Project and the ABA Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence may have resources that can help.
Myth #5: NCADV Possesses the Authority to Mandate Systems Change
Here’s a common line of questions we receive at NCADV … “You should just tell the schools to implement your healthy dating curriculum in their classrooms … Child custody judges shouldn’t be allowed to give abusers custody of kids they can harm … There should be more affordable housing available to victims needing to leave.”
We agree and advocate on these issues and many more. But when it comes to changing the systems put in place to support domestic violence victims, we are in the same boat as the rest of you. NCADV does not have any type of authoritative power to mandate systems change in the face of problems, aside from the work we already do -- education, advocacy, and awareness-raising.
Myth #6: NCADV Operates the National Domestic Violence Hotline
Myth #6 takes us back in time and NCADV history. Here’s what happened.
In 1987, using funds from Johnson & Johnson corporation and a national fundraising effort called Shelter Aid, NCADV established the first national toll-free domestic violence hotline. However, one year later, due to NCADV’s strong opposition to apartheid, the NCADV returned the funding to Johnson & Johnson, who had maintained investments in South Africa. The operation of the national hotline was transferred to the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic Violence while NCADV sought other funding sources.
It wouldn’t be for another eight years that the National Domestic Violence Hotline was established as its own entity and opened in 1996. During its first month of operations, they responded to almost 9,000 calls, an average of almost 300 per day. Today, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to provide essential tools and support to help survivors of domestic violence so they can live their lives free of abuse. People who contact The Hotline can expect highly-trained, expert advocates to offer free, confidential, and compassionate support, crisis intervention information, education, and referral services in over 200 languages.
Myth #7: NCADV Offers Direct Services to Victims and Survivors
Like some other national anti-violence organizations, NCADV does not provide direct or crisis services to victims and survivors of domestic violence. Rather, we center our information, efforts and programming on responding to the needs of those who work most closely with victims of domestic violence in their local communities so they may be better positioned to quickly and effectively assist those in crisis. We are survivor-led, and this perspective informs and shapes every aspect of our work including our programming, projects and federal policy efforts.
Our nationally recognized educational services, webinar trainings, legislative activities, partnerships, conferences, resources, and programs reflect the complex needs of victims and survivors and provide both services and support to victims and survivors of domestic violence and useful assets to the advocates and allies that work with them daily.
The last NCADV program to offer direct services to victims, our Cosmetic and Reconstructive Surgery program, closed in 2018. This should not suggest, however, that the work we do doesn’t matter or is unimportant.
Consider it from another perspective: A local hospital’s emergency room is the first stop for most patients having a heart attack. It is imperative to keep that ER open, but it’s also just as important to study the root causes of heart disease and failure so that we can work towards preventative efforts moving forward. A community grappling with domestic violence absolutely needs a shelter and programs nearby to serve victims in crisis, AND we need someone examining the larger issues at play so that there’s an end to the cycle, as well as educating advocates and advocating to eliminate the root causes.
We hope this clarifies some misconceptions about NCADV out there. In the final installment of this blog post series, we will review how people like you can help NCADV and our work.