In Solidarity

At CASS, we are dedicated to building spaces that treat all individuals with dignity and respect. We work every day to challenge power imbalances that enable the unequal treatment of people in public spaces.

It’s an especially important time to recognize the importance of countering state violence — violence enacted by a government or its institutions—in this mission.

Today, our new factsheet illustrates that state actors have long been perpetrators and facilitators of gender-based violence. Sexual assault is the second most common form of police violence, following excessive force, and the issue has been on national agendas since 2007.

This violence is disproportionately experienced by marginalized populations including women of color, transgender women, those living with mental illness, and undocumented immigrants.

It’s clearer than ever that addressing the role of the state in perpetrating violence must be part of our work toward the safety of all.

This weekend, CASS will join the Women’s March on Washington in an anti-racist, anti-street harassment contingent marching for safe public spaces for everyone.

If you’ve followed the news, you’ll know that the march has drawn criticism for many legitimate reasons: co-opting a 1997 march led by black women, lacking focus, and censoring the input of women of color. At its conception, the march was billed as a feel-good exercise for white women that excluded and ignored minority voices.

As a more experienced team of organizers took the reins (read: thanks to the physical and emotional labor of women of color), things have improved. Last week, the Women’s March released a policy platform that many of us felt we could get on board with.

It’s not perfect, and our concerns persist. But it’s a step in the right direction.

We are excited to be part of a march that will bring many into the fold and amplify the call for safe public spaces.

We will continue our commitment to building communities in which people of all backgrounds, identities, and experiences can feel safe. We will resist racist policing, violence, and other forms of state-sanctioned oppression that target people of color, sex workers, and other disenfranchised communities.

We are proud to stand up for black, Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQNC, and immigrant women, and so many others who have been on the receiving end of hate and harassment. We are honored to recognize their past, present, and future legacies in defending human rights.

We will continue to call out white feminism and other exclusionary agendas when we see them, and work to build movements that center the most marginalized identities in our community. We believe that activism is divisive, inefficient, loud, and uncomfortable — and necessarily so.

See you on Saturday.

#DVAM: October Is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Thousands of advocates, allies, and survivors are speaking up this Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).

Like all forms of abuse, domestic violence is fueled by silence. It thrives when communities do not recognize problematic behaviors or speak out against systematic patterns of power and control; and it is thwarted by awareness, action, and support.

What can you do to spread the word this month and help to end domestic violence? Add your voice to building safer communities by participating in the DVAM Week of Action with us!

October 17 – Media Monday
Participate in the #31n31 campaign challenging perceptions about domestic violence on social media.

October 18 – Twitter Chat
Join a Twitter chat hosted by NNEDV from 2-3pm using the hashtag #CenterEachOther. Questions will be sent out in English from @NNEDV and in Spanish from @WomensLaw.

October 20 – #PurpleThursday
Wear purple to show your support for preventing and ending domestic violence! Share your images with us using #PurpleThursday and tagging @SafeSpacesDC and @DCCADV

October 22 – Shout-Out Saturday
Celebrate the people you admire who speak out for survivors and use their voices to make a difference.

Ongoing Activities
For a full list of ongoing activities for the #SpreadLoveDC campaign (including chalking, social media posts, and more), click here.

We also encourage you to share your stories with us, or seek help and resources from the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV), the National Street Harassment hotline, and D.C.’s crime victims hotline.

“Real Love Never Devalues”

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. In honor of the month, CASS is participating in Respect Week DC (February 8–12)

Volunteer and activist Melissa Yeo shares her perspective below.


There’s nothing quite like falling in love with someone.

You want to spend all your time with them. Like roads to Rome, every thought and conversation seems to lead to this one person. And every text, snap or call from them is like a tiny firework in the middle of your day.

It’s so easy to feel flattered when someone is asking for all your attention and time, or when someone constantly wants to know what you’re up to. It’s so easy to change the way you look or act to please somebody you love, and who you want to love you.

Speaking from experience, it’s really easy not to notice when these requests and efforts start to become manipulative and disrespectful. Especially—at the risk of sounding old and jaded—when you’re young.

This week is Respect Week DC—part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention Month, a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teenage and 20-something relationships.

Respect Week DC

That abuse might look like checking your phone to monitor who you’re texting. Threatening you for smiling at a friend. Insulting you or saying you don’t love them because you won’t have sex with them. Blaming you for anger they can’t control, so you end up apologizing when they physically hurt you, whether that’s forcefully grabbing your arm in public or hitting you at home. It is a terrifying, confusing and isolating thing to be torn down by the person you love, but it will happen to a third of teenagers in America before they turn 21, and it happens to nearly half of college women who date.

Dating violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. It happens in the contexts of racism, heterosexism, classism and other forms of institutional oppression that compound each other and contribute to a devastating sense of trauma, fear and desolation. Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence IPV)—almost triple the national average—and in 2012, 14 percent of IPV homicide victims were transgender women of color.

Like harassment or rape, abuse has nothing to do with whether someone loves or desires you, and everything to do with control, insecurity and disrespect for emotional or physical boundaries.

If you think you might be in an unhealthy relationship or know someone who is, do something to change that today, this week, this month. Visit loveisrespect.com, chat with a peer advocate online, text loveis to 22522 or call 866-331-9474.

Real love never devalues. You’re not crazy; you deserve better. It’s never okay, and it’s never your fault.

Taking action to change your situation does not need to be scary. It can be small, and it can happen right now.