Identifying Shared Principles

Although the movements to respond to domestic and sexual violence and to runaway and homeless youth have different histories, resources, and benchmarks for success, a number of shared principles have been identified. 

These shared principles – reflecting common values and beliefs – represent a strong foundation on which to build effect collaborations between RHY and DV/SA programs at the local, state, or regional levels.

Supporting Creative, Committed Partnerships: | Back to Top

Both the RHY and DV/SA have a long history of working through community partnership and collaboration.  Within the domestic violence movement, DV/SA state coalitions and local Coordinated Community Response (CCR) Teams have been organized.  Within the RHY field, state and regional networks are also common. These networks, coalitions, and coordinated efforts not only provide support to local programs through shared training and technical assistance, but also support networking and collaboration with other systems.  Over time, by sharing information and resources, these partnerships have been able to foster creativity and further define how local programs can more effectively provide services to cross system populations.

Honoring, Valuing and Involving the Individuals We
Serve:| Back to Top

RHY programs generally meet their clients while they are living in a crisis, or otherwise unstable, situation.  Similarly, this is certainly also true of DV/SA programs.  Both routinely come in contact with and provide services to individuals and families that have had deeply traumatic experiences with profound implications for their short- and long-term safety and well-being.  Providing support to the individuals and families with whom we work to help them achieve their goals, both RHY and DV/SA programs must remain committed to honoring, valuing, and incorporating their experiences into the work and constantly adapting and enhancing responses in the face of new realities and knowledge.

Creating Justice through Social Change: | Back to Top

The DV/SA and RHY movements both evolved from grassroots activism in the 1960s and 1970s. During that time, and much like today, activism was centered upon raising society’s awareness of the injustice underpinning violence and homelessness and advocating for the rights of two disenfranchised populations.  Safety and Justice were important outcomes in both movements. In the DV/SA field, the focus was on protecting victims of domestic violence, providing safe havens, and creating new legal, social and economic options to enhance safety. In the RHY field, a commitment to defending youth who were being unjustly punished and/or incarcerated and supporting community systems to foster safe, nurturing alternative to the justice system framed the work. Through the 1980s and 1990s, services were further developed and defined, with funding for programmatic initiatives increasing. Each movement has traditionally supported the individuals and families they served in advocating for themselves and joining with others to continue the work. Today, both movements continue to grow, refine their services, and empower future generations of activists.

Creating Safety and Fostering Trust: | Back to Top

RHY and DV/SA programs rely on a process of open, honest communication in order to build trust and a feeling of being safe with those seeking help. They actively invite participation and teamwork with individuals coming to programs for services. At the core of these trust building efforts is actively believing participants as they tell their stories. Both runaway and homeless youth and victims of relationship violence have endured and survived ‘unbelievable’ and often humiliating abuse and violence, for which they are often blamed by perpetrators, their families, and society alike. Societal misconceptions about the reality of the lives of runaway and homeless youth and domestic and sexual violence victims often leave both even more isolated and vulnerable to continued abuse.

Building Autonomy through a Strengths-based
Model: | Back to Top

DV/SA and RHY fields are both rooted in a strengths-based model of service that builds on the resiliency and strength of individuals surviving abuse and mistreatment. This model is based on the belief that building upon their individual strengths, both victims of relationship violence and runaway and homeless youth can and will continue to make courageous choices to change their lives for the better, as they define what that change looks like.  Domestic violence practitioners define this philosophy by terms such as survivor-defined advocacy, self- empowerment or self-determination. The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence uses the phrase “Who’s driving the bus?” to communicate that it is the victim’s individual journey and DV/SA advocates are navigators when called upon to assist. RHY providers refer to this approach as positive youth development. Regardless of what it is called, employing a strengths-based model includes empowering individuals and families, through support, resources, and options, and involving them in making decisions that affect them. This also includes decision-making regarding program development to enhance services and supports available to each vulnerable community.

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