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Gender-based violence groups issue nuanced statement on Speaker Welch

Thursday, Jan 14, 2021

* Wednesday evening press release…

The following is a joint statement from the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE), and The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence:

“We offer our congratulations to Speaker Welch on his election to become the next Speaker of the House. We celebrate that the new Speaker is a Black person and we are seeking to work with him and all of his colleagues to end gender-based violence. Earlier today, we invited Speaker Welch to meet with us to identify shared policy goals to decrease gender-based violence, which includes domestic violence, sexual harm, and human trafficking. We appreciate his previous legislative work to support survivors and marginalized people, including his support of the Ensuring Success in School Law, the Reproductive Health Act, bills to support restorative justice options, among others. We hope this work continues in his new role.

“Domestic violence and sexual harm are often done by people we care about and respect, and appropriate accountability does not require the vilification of anyone. We are particularly conscious that many survivors do not seek help for fear of derailing the life of a person who harmed them—which helps nobody. While our culture must do more to treat survivors with dignity and respect, dignity and respect are not finite resources. Accountability should be expected but should not require that a person who has erred be excluded from engaging as a successful member of the community, particularly if they can play an important role in helping decrease all forms of harm.

“We specifically believe that recent public reporting related to Speaker Welch creates an important opportunity to engage in critical dialogue and collaboration. As leaders in our community, we want to model a restorative process for survivors and service providers that results in a shared vision for ending gender-based violence in Illinois. The revelation of previous allegations against Speaker Welch provides us with the opportunity to demonstrate that supporting and believing survivors does not require demonizing people who have caused harm, or who have been accused of causing harm. While we do not work directly with the specific survivors in the identified cases, we believe them. We hold our belief in their veracity alongside our belief that Speaker Welch can restore trust and be an accountable and effective leader.

“As a final note, we want to acknowledge that the ways our society has long dealt with domestic violence and sexual harm are just as fraught as the ways in which it has dealt with race and race inequality. Black men tend to be vilified, while Black women are not believed. As a community, we firmly believe that criminal justice reform and improving our community responses to gender-based violence are mutually supportive, not conflicting, goals.

“Our sincere hope is that our community and Speaker Welch can meet to discuss shared priorities. This moment allows all of us, particularly our elected officials, to seek collaboration and understanding, and identify ways to stand with and support survivors. Our coalition has many ideas on how to do just that—in this legislative session and beyond.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon E Moose - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:24 am:

    Too bad most Americans don’t get nuance

  2. - Notorious RBG - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:28 am:

    This is an incredible statement. I hope that Speaker Welch embraces the invitation to engage in this dialogue and prioritize these policy goals.

  3. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:28 am:

    Countdown for the attack dogs who have gone after me for saying this same thing, “Black men tend to be vilified, while Black women are not believed.”

  4. - Hahaha - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:29 am:

    He gets nuance because he is a Democrat. Period.

    We all know that, right?

  5. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:30 am:

    Wow, this sounds like the victim response of a person scared of their attacker. They should be in the business of forcefully condemning domestic violence and workplace intimidation.

    Mind boggling.

  6. - State worker - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:39 am:

    Exactly. Our justice and survivor support systems are a disaster for everyone. They do not serve the goals of public safety, prevention of harm, accountability, or restoration. That’s because people are so harmed by these systems that they avoid reporting or engaging with them.

    We need legislators to do the hard work of repairing these systems instead of passing harsher and harsher laws that never address these social and personal breakdowns. With Madigan gone, it will be much easier for legislators to do that.

    Madigan played a role in that spiral (so many laws that were introduced for the appeal of direct-mail flyers.) Hopefully, we can start an era of rational policies. Interpersonal and community violence is endemic in the whole state. Families in every community need good programs and policies, not more stigma and punishment that prevents people from getting help.

  7. - 1st Ward - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:40 am:

    While reading had to remind myself this isn’t The Onion.

  8. - anon2 - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:45 am:

    Lang must be wondering where CAASE was when he faced a dubious accusation and was forced out.

  9. - JakeCP - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:46 am:

    ====He gets nuance because he is a Democrat. Period.

    We all know that, right?====

    Exactly, we know that their reaction would be entirely different if Welch were a Republican…

  10. - EssentialWorkingMom - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:51 am:

    ==They should be in the business of forcefully condemning domestic violence…==

    They’re in the business of bringing attention to the issues on their agenda and getting help from the powers that be in state government for protecting the people they are working to protect. If that means playing the cordial card for the press/public, then I don’t see how it is any different from any other arena of politics. From the way I read it, they’re ready to play ball. How this actually turns out, whether in their favor or not, only time will tell but they’re playing the hand dealt to them which I can imagine wasn’t an easy thing to do.

  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:52 am:

    ===They should be in the business of===

    Who are you to say this?

  12. - Amalia - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:54 am:

    Listen to victims, all victims. Be fair in process of each case. Each case is to be considered for the facts of the case, not other cases.

  13. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:56 am:

    Because it’s in their name? The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence

  14. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    And growing up in a household full of domestic violence and intimidation.

  15. - Horseshoe Voter - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 10:58 am:

    They’ve put into words what I’ve been trying to wrap my mind around. What an incredible statement.

  16. - State worker - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:03 am:

    This is not new information or analysis. And it is not politically-motivated. Many victim advocates, survivor groups, scholars, and treatment providers have been saying it for decades: people will not be helped and can not get help when systems are broken.

    Many victims want the abuser to get help. Many want the family restored and reunited, rather than shunned and stigmatized. Stigmatizing and shaming people (people in your family) makes it harder to report and get help.

    Not to mention that when people go to police for help and protection, they are often treated terribly. Systems are not working and it is providers who know this.

  17. - pool boy - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:09 am:

    “Black men tend to be vilified, while Black women are not believed.” #Me Too movement has helped a little,(Bill Cosby).

  18. - FTR - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:13 am:

    If I were a House Dem I’d be holding my breathe right now. The media is now retroactively conducting what is usually a pre-election vetting process. What’s more, media outlets are often reluctant to be the first to jump out with she-said, he-said sexual harassment stories. That bar has already been crossed. Maybe nothing new comes to light, but this is going to be a nervous week or two, particularly for the Dem Women’s Caucus.

  19. - State worker - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:29 am:


    Right. They are against domestic violence, a goal we all share.
    That means actually addressing it and preventing it. That means understanding that domestic violence takes place in families and people need help, hope, and restoration.

    Families are resilient and many want to move on together after interpersonal abuse and violence, not simply throwing away the key on a person. But, whether they stay together as a family or not, they need meaningful support, not dysfunctional systems.

    For those who do want separation, we don’t help anyone or public safety by shunning and stigmatizing people. Domestic violence is common, you can’t just shun it away. That doesn’t work to prevent domestic violence. It perpetuates it.

  20. - Nuke the Whales - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:31 am:

    ==He gets nuance because he is a Democrat. Period. We all know that, right?==
    After conservatives engineered false allegations against Robert Mueller, Pete Buttigieg, and Joe Biden? Maybe? Perhaps if conservatives had not weaponized the subject in bad faith in the hopes of “Dems in Disarray!” the reaction would be more forceful.

  21. - KnopeWeCan - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:45 am:

    Speaking from a more general perspective and my own experiences, it is not unusual for abusers to have been victims and to perpetuate the cycle of violence and abuse. Hurt people hurt people. It is more beneficial to see people admit wrong, get help, heal, and focus on redemption than to vilify and exile people. People do not like nuance though.

  22. - Moderate Mom - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 11:50 am:

    That statement was some amazing verbal gymnastics. We are not talking about a man who was in a bad place when he was young, made a mistake, got help, and turned things around. We are talking about a man who has an alleged 20 year pattern of assaulting and intimidating women. Why can’t we have a Speaker who isn’t affiliated (allegedly) with some kind of crime? Is it really that hard?

  23. - Jibba - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:16 pm:

    ===Why can’t we have a Speaker who isn’t affiliated (allegedly) with some kind of crime?===

    Step 1 was to replace Madigan, a Herculean task that required some compromise. Getting a better Speaker (if needed) will be much easier now.

  24. - wondering wendy - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    Thanks Moderate Mom…..they couldn’t find anyone better???? I am still so shocked that the Black Women Caucus approved him…..amazing…..

  25. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 12:30 pm:

    At it’s most basic level, I would expect advocacy groups against domestic violence to be able to condemn domestic violence in statements like these. The fact that they didn’t, to me, indicates that their statement, with all its nuance comes from a place of fear.

    This isn’t to say that there isn’t room to heal and move on, I fully support that. But in my opinion this nuance is the exact opposite of what victims should expect from groups that are supposed to represent and support them

  26. - Sling - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 2:27 pm:

    == We are talking about a man who has an alleged 20 year pattern of assaulting and intimidating women.==

    And I assume you were allegedly there?

  27. - anon2 - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 3:23 pm:

    == People need help, hope, and restoration. ==

    Which is more difficult when such people deny they ever did anything to need help for.

    == It is more beneficial to see people admit wrong, get help, heal, and focus on redemption than to vilify and exile people. ==

    Did he ever admit wrong?

  28. - Ferris Wheeler - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 3:40 pm:

    Just as there are those whose loved ones who have been murdered who support the death penalty while others oppose it, victims of domestic abuse and their advocates have a wide range of views.

    They have a right to a wide range of views.

    If they do not view “condemnation” as some define it as necessary or productive, that is their right.

    No one can speak for all victims, but we can speak to all victims and tell them we are sorry for their suffering and hope for their healing.

    It took courage for Phenomymous and Rep. Cassidy to reveal their past pain, and while I may not agree 100 percent with them, I am hopeful for their healing.

  29. - State worker - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 3:51 pm:

    I hear you. And there are so many ways to think about what should be said and what could be said. Maybe we just need more conversations about it. We CAN agree that it would be good if our policies actually helped people.

    Everyone is different. None of us can speak for everyone. But we also can’t assume that everyone, or even most victims or victim advocates, want punitive policies.

    A survey of Illinois victims, including violent crime victims shows so much dissatisfaction with current systems, including with approaches that don’t rehabilitate, restore, or otherwise help people.

    We need a huge gateway to people seeking help, safety, support from abuse OR because they are at risk to abuse OR both.

    And I personally believe we should let people move on with their lives. If they are doing great now, let them continue to do great.

  30. - Veil of Ignorance - Thursday, Jan 14, 21 @ 4:16 pm:

    I wouldn’t have recommended this choice by House Dems, but now that they’ve gone down this road it’ll be on the Speaker to engage groups like this and show a deep commitment to a range of priority issues. Hope he’s serious on term limits for leadership, but wonder what period of time. No more than decade? MJM definitely skewed my ability for any reasonable point of reference.

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