Welcome back to ICADV’s blog! As we relaunch, we are taking the opportunity to discuss our tagline – “One Mission, One Voice” and what it means within this Coalition and within the move to end violence here in Illinois.

The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADV/ILCADV) was founded in 1978, the same year the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) was officially founded, and just two years after the first statewide domestic violence coalition, was founded in Pennsylvania. The gender-based anti-violence movement grew organically, and often simultaneously, around the country by survivors helping other survivors. There was no other assistance – no laws, no funding, and no safety.

These coalitions were formed despite the differences of opinion about how best to respond to people experiencing domestic violence. Some people felt there just needed to be a safe space for a period of respite and then the survivor could go back to their life. Others recognized that finding safety was a matter of life and death and no one else was stepping up to help.

Regardless of the approach, a system of round the clock response began to develop. No matter the time or day, if someone needed assistance, they could call a local hotline and get shelter. However, this safety was very dependent on whether there was a local shelter or services. When the people providing the safety and services began to connect with each other, that’s when coalitions developed.

Coalitions are powerful social change agents. When a critical mass of advocates says to policy makers, “we must have laws providing safety and we must have funding for adequate response,” the common voice cannot be ignored.

Here in Illinois, we have achieved much in terms of developing responses to gender-based violence. There is a strong network of providers so that no matter where one lives in the state, help is just a phone call away. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) is one of the strongest in the nation in regard to who is covered and what remedies are available to build safety. We have significant state and federal funding that is not available in other states and community-based services that are designed to respond to the needs of different populations, but we still have a way to go before any survivor can access what they need to build a safe future.

The linchpin to the success our system of providers has achieved to date is our capacity to work together to gain funding and adequate statutes for safety and accountability. When individual providers seek these things without the connection of their colleagues, they weaken the entire system. Seeking funding for services or trying to pass laws that do not take the needs of the entire state into account is short sighted and will lead us down a path of less achievement. Remaining a coalition with One Mission, One Voice will allow us to continue to gain safety and accountability for all Illinois families.