Shifting the Lens: Transforming Our Approach to Domestic Violence The 2016 California Statewide Domestic Violence Conference


  • Double Tree Berkeley Marina 200 Marina Boulevard Berkeley, CA, 94710 United States

Victim safety and offender accountability have been central figures in the domestic violence field over the last few decades. As a result, we’ve seen significant expansion in crisis responses and legal interventions. When we look at a snapshot depicting our statewide response to domestic violence, these crisis responses and legal interventions appear as the predominant images in our picture.

What happens when we shift the lens and look at domestic violence with a broader view?

While our crisis responses and legal interventions typically look like victims leaving and offenders going to jail, when we refocus the lens:

  • We see many survivors who want to keep their families together and the efforts they’re making to find effective solutions that increase safety while supporting healing
  • We see people who use abuse to maintain power and control that want compassionate help to change their behavior
  • We see families struggling with the weight of multiple pressures and layers of oppression
  • We see resilient communities pulling together in strength to improve their neighborhoods
  • We see activists uniting around common concerns
  • And we see opportunities for multi-disciplinary allies to think creatively, take risks and try new approaches

We are at a momentous time when all involved in the domestic violence field have the opportunity to step back, shift the lens, broaden our focus and see the bigger picture. All across the state people are engaging in critical conversations and raising questions such as:

  • How can we meet families where they are?
  • How has the traditional victim vs. offender framework impacted families?
  • What might it look like to offer supports that aren’t dependent on the victim leaving or the offender going to jail?
  • What do we hear from communities about the impact and effectiveness of our current intervention approaches?
  • What do we mean by “accountability” and what does it actually look like?What role does “healing” play in our work with individuals, families and communities?

These and other provocative questions are essential as we shift our lens to see a bigger picture and draw a more comprehensive, more responsive and more effective domestic violence vision for our state. At this conference we seek to gather a diverse group of advocates, community organizers, mental health counselors, child and family champions, educators, legal experts, allied professionals and leaders from other intersecting movements – bringing together all our best wisdom and thought:

  • Together we’ll answer some of these critical questions
  • We’ll also raise more provocative concerns and solutions
  • Ultimately, we believe the answers lie in our shared analysis

This year’s conference is about getting the right people in the room together to Shift The Lens -- so we see the issue of domestic violence through a broader community landscape where strengths and collaborative solutions are revealed.