The original toolkit came from a 3-year period from 2006 to 2009 when CI joined with partner organisations in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Asian Women’s Shelter, Shimtuh, Narika, and La Clinica de la Raza and others (a full list of contributors is in the toolkit).
These organisations worked together to create an approach to domestic violence and sexual assault. All had years of experience working in mostly immigrant communities on these issues, and wanted to create options for people experiencing violence, especially for people who couldn’t or didn’t want to turn to the State. CI wanted to know:
- How can family members, friends, neighbours, co-workers and community members act to end violence that people they care about are experiencing? In the toolkit these are community allies (you might have heard them called bystanders or social networks).
- How can we use our connection and care for people who are harmed by violence to provide safety and community?
- How can we provide greater safety for people harmed by violence, whether or not they stay with or need to be around the people who have harmed them?
- How can we get people who are causing harm to stop, repair the damage they have done, and change their behaviour so that they become part of the solution?
- How can we change violent behaviour by using our connection and care for people who have caused harm, rather than by using threats, punishment or policing?
- How can we change common beliefs, practices and skills to respond to, end and prevent violence?
- How can we use all of the above to create the safe, respectful and healthy communities that we want?
These questions called for a new approach to interpersonal violence.
CI called this project the Community-based interventions project. The aim was to create a new vision for violence intervention, to work with people experiencing violence, and to develop a model and tools from that work.
From the beginning, CI offered a community-based approach. It mostly involved asking questions that would lead people to find the resources they needed among their own friends, family and community, and find answers from what they knew about their situation of violence, their values and their goals.
CI answered requests from people dealing with interpersonal violence who wanted something different from other domestic violence or sexual assault services. CI worked together with them to find the ideas, tools and lessons in this toolkit guided by questions and values. It was experimental. Each situation was unique. But some key questions led to responses that fit their values and needs. The people coming to CI worked out what they wanted and needed without being told what they should do. They found support in friends and family members coming together to think about their situation of violence and to create strategies for change.
CI helped by asking questions and guiding a process for people to come up with their own responses and resources. Instead of telling people what they should do, CI were helping people find their own expertise within a confusing and emotional situation. It is a facilitated model.
- Self-reflection and clarification (What is going on?)
- Thinking about safety (How do you stay safe?)
- Finding help among friends, family and community (Who can help?)
- Working out goals (What do you want?)
- Supporting people who were harmed (How do you support the person who was harmed?)
- Thinking about what they wanted from the person doing harm (How do you support the person who caused harm to take accountability?)
- Finding ways to work collectively with their community (How do you work together?)
- Moving through what could be a long and winding process towards their goals (How are you doing?).
The CI toolkit that this website is based on is the result of that project. It contains the model CI built together with partners and those who sought help. It includes tips and information. We expect that it will be used and improved on by all of you in your own situations of violence and your own communities.