By Kathryn Wisniewski | Photographed by Valerie Tobias
From letter-writing with the National Organization for Women in the 1970s to volunteering for the Women’s Transit Authority in college, Patti Seger has been fighting to end violence against women for 35 years. She continues that work now as the executive director for End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin.
“All of our work has focused on how to provide services to people who have been victimized,” says Seger.
The nonprofit provides support for domestic abuse programs throughout the state, through training and other resources. They also work with state agencies to develop policies that support victims of domestic violence. They use a “lead-follow-follow-lead approach” when working with programs throughout the state. Through this collaborative method, advocates learn from End Domestic Abuse which, in turn, learns from the programs what works at the community level.
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin also works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop projects to prevent domestic violence.
Their prevention initiative focuses on promoting healthy relationships among youth and raising awareness for domestic abuse before it happens. They now have a statewide youth council of 100 teens. These teen ambassadors work at their schools to form clubs and foster discussions about supporting healthy relationships and educating their peers on issues of domestic violence.
Seger says witnessing the work the teens do “gives you hope for the future when you listen to these kids talk about their hopes for a safer world.”
Through their teen advisory council and their lead-follow-follow-lead protocol, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin is learning from the people of Wisconsin in order to give back their support and expertise.
As Seger says, everybody and every community can play a role in supporting victims and addressing domestic violence in their communities. Through statewide collaboration, End Domestic Abuse works “to support everybody to be safe and thriving.”