Thursday, February 9, 2017

Move For the Movement in Orlando

Every year, almost always the week after Easter, End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) hosts an International conference where multi-disciplinary partners have the opportunity to learn from nationally recognized experts in the field of sexual assault about ways they can better support victims in the criminal justice system. 

Attendees commonly say they leave the EVAWI Conference feeling refreshed, invigorated, and ready to take on another year of this work.  There is an energy throughout the conference that is palpable.  The days are long and for many the nights are longer, but as tired as a person leaves the conference they leave with the tools and the feeling that each one of us has the power make a difference in the fight to end gender-based violence. We share the belief that we can affect change in the communities we serve.

Law enforcement officers, forensic nurse examiners, victim advocates and prosecutors share tables, meals and adult beverages. Viewpoints are shared, and sometimes debated at length, and the result is an increased understanding of one another’s role in the process.  Through extensive networking professional alliances and often life-long friendships are forged.  No one leaves the conference unchanged.

I have attended all but one conference in the last ten years. Historically the conferences have fallen at just the moment I have felt like throwing in the towel and letting someone else fight the fight. Like many, I arrive at the conference location with tense shoulders and a heavy heart.  But within just a few short hours I meet up with like-minded individuals who have become my conference family and my shoulders begin to relax.  Over the course of three days we share stories, laugh, and sometimes cry at the battle each of us fight on a daily basis.  We talk about how to make things different, plan for the future, and never let things like time, politics, or money curtail the dreams we have of making this a world free from gender-based violence.

This year, in Orlando, EVAWI is hosting a Move for the Movement 4k Run Walk n' Roll on April 20, 2017.  It is a way for conference attendees, community members, and traveling hotel guests to unite with one another and run, walk, or roll in solidarity to support the united desire to end gender-based violence. 

I invite you to make plans to join us bright and early the morning of April 20, 2017 to show your support.  The 4K begins at 6:45 AM.  If you cannot make it to the conference, or are not an early riser, please consider making a donation to the organization.

We look forward to seeing you in Orlando in April!

Catherine Johnson, EVAWI Director

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