Gender-based violence continues to be a growing global crisis. Our team focuses on awareness, advocacy and activism.


Welcome to the blog for Ending Violence Against Women. This is the place to learn more about this important topic and actions we can all take in the continuing battle to:

  • educate our members and other U.S. citizens on the massive  issues related to gender-based violence,
  • activate individuals to become involved in the fight to eliminate such violence and 
  • advocate for the legislation and other necessary efforts to combat a crisis which, particularly since Covid, is becoming worse on all fronts. 

Initiatives:
Violence Against Women

 

Team Leader: Marnie Delaney
Contact: [email protected]


Pathways to Safety International: When leaving is the only option

One night in 1998, Paula Lucas made a desperate promise: God, if you help me get out of here, I will help other women in the position I’m in right now. Lucas, an American citizen living with her Lebanese husband in Abu Dhabi, UAE, had tried before to escape the escalating threat in her abusive marriage. She was frightened not just for herself – “I was close to death at one point” – but for the safety of her three young sons. But that night, through what Lucas calls the intervention of “angels” – a pickpocket who stole her husband’s passport while he was on a European business trip, delaying his return – she was able to locate the boys’ hidden passports, cash a check and flee.

The return to family in Oregon, however, was nothing like the respite she’d hoped for. With her husband in pursuit, threatening to kill her and claim custody of their sons, Lucas and the boys lived for a time in women’s shelters. Yet her promise held. “I was talking to everyone I met in the shelters,” she remembers. “Like this is ridiculous, this shouldn’t be happening to women.” Some kindly reminded her that probably what she needed was to find a job. But Lucas knew even then that this would be her job: Helping Americans living and travelling abroad break free and find justice from gender-based violence. “I was obsessed,” she says.

Setting up the agency that would become Pathways to Safety, while still on the run, required focus, plus a few more angels along the way. Lucas met the founder of Voices Set Free, a non-profit helping women in prison for killing their abusive spouses; she met social workers, lawyers and activists. Eventually these efforts paid off in grants to fulfill Pathways’ mission to provide tools and resources for women in situations like the one Lucas had to navigate on her own, in a country not her own. 

Getting help in a foreign country brings extra challenges from language to legal differences – in the UAE, for example, rape victims can be punishable under the law – to cultural stigma to limited access to bank accounts.   

What about support from one’s own embassy? “Homeland Americans don’t get it,” says Lucas. ‘Why don’t you just go to the U.S. Embassy?’ they ask. ‘They’ll help you.’ That’s the Hollywood version.” The version Lucas heard when she went multiple times to the embassy in Abu Dhabi, was, ‘If we report this, Paula, we’ll create an international incident.’ I was naïve in thinking, I’m American; my kids are American. We’re protected.”

The creation of an agency with the necessary global reach took ongoing funding, both private and governmental. Between 2010 and 2013, Pathways to Safety was funded as an initiative through President Obama, followed by a five-year grant through the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. But five days before it was up for renewal in 2017, Lucas got a letter from Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General. There would be no more money. “They were concerned about our ‘progress,’ says Lucas. “At that point we were in the middle of helping between 400-500 victims around the world.” 

Pathways continued to cut overhead, but in May 2019, “We had to shut everything down.” (Information, referrals and the most essential service of all -- emotional support -- are still available.)  What hasn’t shut down, however, is Lucas’ resolve to resurrect the agency in some form, possibly making greater use of virtual services. The issues and the urgent attention they require haven’t gone away, especially in the time of COVID, which Lucas says “has only emboldened abusers.” She’s not going away any time soon either. 

The GWC’s Ending Violence Against Women action team will host Paula Lucas and Keri Potts of Pathways to Safety on November 23, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Event to be posted soon.

To learn more about Pathways to Safety, go to: https://pathwaystosafety.org 

Why stay? There are always reasons

If one has never been abused, it’s nearly impossible to understand why anyone would stick around, accepting the unacceptable. It’s complicated, is the only answer. 

Love, the thing that makes the world go ‘round, can be paralyzing. Survivors remember the promising beginning, when the partner was kinder, gentler. Most victims don’t want the relationship to end. They want the abuse to end.

Terror works. Abusers are good at instilling a sense of foreboding, that what might happen next will be even worse than the terrible present. Things only escalate when a survivor attempts to leave.

Money, if one has no access to it, does not make the world go ‘round. Abusers may tightly control household income, destroy a survivor’s credit history and forbid working outside the home.

Isolation – a disconnected phone, no contact with friends and neighbors – ensures that no one outside knows what’s going on inside. 

Not him! If the abuser is a high-ranker in the community – religious leader, politician, doctor – it will be harder to convince others that this person is capable of domestic violence. Abusers can be charmers, “great people.”

Shame flips blame to the victim, eroding a sense of self and identity, distorting cause and effect.  It’s the end product of ongoing abuse.


No Time Like Now for New Gillibrand/Moore Bill

For survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the No Time Limit for Justice Act has been a long time coming. Introduced last month by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and U.S. Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), and co-sponsored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the bill aims to incentivize states to eliminate their statutes of limitations for criminal prosecution and civil suits filed by victims.  

These statutes have long been a major obstacle for victims seeking justice. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), a child in the U.S. is sexually abused every nine minutes – that’s about one in nine girls and one in 53 boys under 18. Yet only 12 percent of these crimes are reported to authorities each year, with the majority – 60-80 percent – reported only later in life. And while the federal criminal code doesn’t impose a statute of limitations for child abuse, the majority of states do – North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming are the sole exceptions – depriving survivors of the right to seek justice. For instance, Massachusetts sets an age limit of 53 for presenting a case and disallows anything longer than seven years between a public admission and going to court. Perpetrators are protected. Children continue to be endangered.

“Several statutes of limitations on the state level end in as little as three years after the crime is committed, an unreasonably small window for victims to hold their perpetrator accountable,” said Rep. Moore. “By motivating states to end these burdensome legal barriers, we’re allowing victims to [exercise] their basic right to seek justice and to help them heal from enduring trauma.” ([email protected])

The motivation to lift those statutes will come in the form of a five percent increase in federal grants under the Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors (STOP) Program, which trains both law enforcement and prosecutors handling sexual abuse cases. States will be eligible for this funding if they eliminate their statutes of limitations. But the bill promises so much more than monetary benefits. For survivors previously stymied by the system, the bill, “empowers child abuse victims to seek their day in court on their own terms, whenever they should choose to move forward on their paths toward healing,” Sen. Gillibrand said. ([email protected])

Click the links to send Senator Gillibrand and Representative Moore your words of support!


VAW Project: Call for Volunteers!

The Violence Against Women Project is urgently seeking volunteers to gather information that will help American women overseas who are victims of violent situations.
We’re looking for a minimum 6 month commitment, a passion for this cause, and people who are team players.
Either email us at [email protected], or join one of the upcoming Zoom calls . We look forward to meeting you!

VOCA Fix shores up bipartisan support

Sometimes bipartisanship works.

When the VOCA Fix to Sustain the Crime Victims Fund Act of 2021 (H.R. 1652) passed – 384 to 38 – in the U.S. House of Representatives this past March, it was a rare demonstration of not just bipartisan support, but bicameral agreement as well. Introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the bill seeks to prevent further cuts to victim service grants, already drastically diminished in recent years. 

Supported by a disparate group of Democrats and Republicans, such as Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), H.R. 1652 seeks to bolster federal funding for agencies serving victims of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, drunk driving and trafficking. The aim is to “fix” how the Crime Victims Fund (CVF) is financed since it is not supported by taxpayers, but through federal criminal monetary penalties, which fluctuate annually. The House-passed bill addresses funding issues to ensure this lifeline will continue to be there for those who need it.

“Due to the rapidly diminishing balance in the Crime Victims Fund,” Senator Durbin explained, “victim services are already being slashed in states across the country, and some programs and services may see close to a 100 percent cut within two years.” Many worry that victims in rural communities will be especially impacted by these cuts, if Congress does not act decisively. 

To this end, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) spoke to her colleagues from the Senate floor in mid-June. Her message: We can’t afford to wait. “This has been a hard time for us. But for those who are trying to serve victims, those that are trying to serve the most vulnerable at an exceptionally vulnerable time in their lives – it makes it ten times harder,” she said. “Our providers are exhausted. They are burnt out. And now they are faced with massive cuts. We simply cannot fail them. Can we look past the politics on this? Victims’ advocates are saying: ‘Please don’t use us as the political lever here.’”

To pull the lever on this critical legislation, contact your U.S. senator and voice your support here.


Call to Action: The Military Justice Improvement and Increased Prevention Act

Immediate attention needed from across the globe - You CAN make a difference.

OUR GOAL IS TO HAVE EMAILS SENT BY NEXT WEEK SO PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON TO YOUR MEMBERSHIP ASAP!!

We have shared our support of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s MJIA legislation -now called The Military Justice Improvement and Increased Prevention Act (MJI-IPA) with you over the past several months. At this very moment, we have the opportunity to help push it over the finish line!

This legislation has been introduced consistently since 2013 and has, just as consistently, been blocked in the Senate. We believe that there must not be any further delay in implementing the changes reflected in the Military Justice and Increased Prevention Act. This past week we saw major shifts in support and greatly increased possibility for passage. Senator Gillibrand has worked hard to refine and strengthen the legislation, now called The Military Justice Improvement and Increased Prevention Act. As a result, it has gleaned additional co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle (see the New York Times article below for more information on this powerful coalition which has continued to grow.

The object of Senator Gillibrand’s plan is to create a fair and impartial military justice system, for all felonies (rape, murder, child abuse, etc), to create a professional system, less subject to unqualified or improperly motivated decision-making.

In essence, it removes the power to make investigative and prosecutorial decisions from the purview of 3% of Commanders within the accused’s chain of command and puts them into the hands of professional, trained senior military prosecutors.

For more comprehensive background information on the MJI-IPA go to: https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/mjia

Ways to help ensure the necessary changes are made:

1. CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TO THANK THEM OR TO ASK FOR THEIR SUPPORT

Use the link below to find the latest position of your Senators (and a direct link to send messages via their email and twitter).You can be sure that every communication is being counted and will count.

It is critical that our messaging be positive - Use a light touch. Aggressive advocacy will backfire. Our targets currently are Whitehouse, Sinema, Rosen and Carper. BUT again, a light touch is imperative.

FYI - On the chart it appears we have the 60 votes needed. But that is just a list and certainly no guarantee. A lot can happen between now and the conclusion of the process which will occur over the coming month(s). This is the time to both solidify support and increase the numbers.

https://www.protectourdefenders.com/senate/

The link below is a fact sheet if you’d like to incorporate more specifics in your message. But don’t worry! That you’ve taken the trouble to contact them is what matters most.

https://www.protectourdefenders.com/factsheet/

2. SEND A LETTER TO YOUR LEGISLATOR

Here is a link to obtain addresses:

https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

Sample letter for survivors:

Dear Senator ______, I’m a US Air Force veteran. Like so many service members, I left the military after I was sexually assaulted. All I ever wanted to do was serve my country. Thousands of servicemembers and civilians are sexually assaulted each year. Sadly, the number of reported sexual assaults keeps rising, and the number of convictions is falling.

To fix our military justice system we need to put the prosecution of serious crimes like rape and murder into the hands of trained military law professionals. I urge you to support veterans like me by voting for the Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act. Thank you.

Sample letter for general public:

Dear Senator ______, I’m writing to you about the issue of sexual assault in our military. Today, the Department of Defense reports increasing sexual assaults by servicemembers, but decreasing conviction rates. Despite years of Congressional inquiries, thousands are raped or sexually assaulted every year. In many of those cases, the assailant is someone in the survivor’s own chain of command. Only a small fraction of the perpetrators are ever held accountable for their heinous, violent crimes.

The bipartisan Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act is designed to professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes like sexual assault, and to remove the fear that survivors of military sexual assault experience when deciding whether to even report these crimes. A Pentagon survey found that 64% of survivors say they have experienced some form of retaliation for reporting the crime. Please vote for the Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act

3. USE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA to ENCOURAGE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO CONTACT THEIR LEGISLATORS

Tag your Senators if you can because their staff monitors social media mentions.

Sample Tweet: Senator @MittRomney, will you stand with military sexual assault survivors to pass the Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act? Veterans like me need your help! #MeToo #MeTooMilitary #IAmVanessaGuillen #MJIIPA

Below are links to articles and videos you can use as posts:

https://www.protectourdefenders.com/new-york-times-gillibrand-makes-major-push-to-reform-military-justice-system/

https://www.protectourdefenders.com/remarks-from-protect-our-defenders-president-don-christensen-at-the-senate-armed-services-committee-hearing-on-sexual-assault-in-the-armed-forces/

https://www.facebook.com/DemsAbroad/videos/28886917629236

4. SEND A LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Amplify your voice and reach the public and your legislators.

This doesn’t need to be a massive missive.

Sample letter for survivors:

Dear Senator ______, I’m a US Air Force veteran. Like so many service members, I left the military after I was sexually assaulted. All I ever wanted to do was serve my country. Thousands of servicemembers and civilians are sexually assaulted each year. Sadly, the number of reported sexual assaults keeps rising, and the number of convictions falling.

To fix our military justice system we need to put the prosecution of serious crimes like rape and murder into the hands of trained military law professionals. I urge you to support veterans like me by voting for the Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act. Thank you.

Sample letter for general public:

Dear Senator ______, I’m writing to you about the issue of sexual assault in our military. Today, the Department of Defense reports increasing sexual assaults by servicemembers, but decreasing conviction rates. Despite years of Congressional inquiries, thousands are raped or sexually assaulted every year. In many of those cases, the assailant is someone in the survivor’s own chain of command. Only a small fraction of the perpetrators are ever held accountable for their heinous, violent crimes.

The bipartisan Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act is designed to professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes like sexual assault, and to remove the fear that survivors of military sexual assault experience when deciding whether to even report these crimes. A Pentagon survey found that 64% of survivors say they have experienced some form of retaliation for reporting the crime. Please vote for the Military Justice Improvement & Increased Prevention Act.

Here is another sample:

:https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#search/denise.dpca%40gmail.com/KtbxLxgNKCnmdTjlrpNdJGnGvgcTFmkcPL?projector=1&messagePartId=0.1

IF YOU HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT WITHIN A MILITARY CONTEXT, YOU MAY CHOOSE TO SHARE YOUR STORY WITH LEGISLATORS VIA A SHORT VIDEO

The testimony of victims has been very powerful and has built support among the growing group of “pro” legislators. Protect Our Defenders (with whom we have been working) has set up a process:

https://www.protectourdefenders.com/upload/


They have our backs. It's our turn to have theirs

By Denise Roig, DA Canada

If Protect Our Defenders (POD) has anything to do with it, military justice will no longer be an oxymoron. Three members of POD, the pre-eminent organization protecting the rights of those in the U.S. military, recently brought their message of justice and change to a Global Women’s Caucus panel for Sexual Assault Awareness Day. Hosted on Zoom by GWC’s Ending Violence Against Women action team, the event highlighted recent promising strides – particularly the proposal sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Jackie Speier – to combat sexual assault and other sex crimes in the military. 

POD was founded by Nancy Parrish in 2011 in response to the vacuum of awareness around these issues. Reaching out to a “small band of friends and survivors” – including fellow panel members, Colonel Don Christensen and retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant Paula Coughlin – Parrish has built a formidable organization of advocacy, policy and action. “The U.S. military is arguably the largest and most powerful employer in the world,” said Parrish, explaining that marginalized women are the largest demographic currently joining up, in part for the economic and educational boost the military offers. “Still there is a systemic lack of concern – even a hostile climate – for women.” Too often, she added, women’s military careers are “life destroying.”

Coughlin knows too well the damage inflicted on military women, especially those who speak out. Victim-blaming, she said, keeps people from seeking help. Coughlin was the whistleblower in the Tailhook scandal in 1992 when 83 women and seven men were sexually assaulted at a gathering of U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps members in a Las Vegas hotel. “Victims have no rights,” Coughlin said. “I had no advocate. It was all about me, not the defendant. ” One of the most “galling” aspects of Coughlin’s experience involved a meeting between her convening officer and the perpetrator’s minister, who vouched for the man’s good character. “He couldn’t have done that,” the minister claimed.

The biggest stumbling block to justice for victims is that the chain of command still has complete control over the process. “It’s basically still a kangaroo court,” said Coughlin. “There was no way I was ever going to get an attorney.” There’s a failure, she said, to see the bigger picture, “to see that our military is deeply compromised by criminal activity.” Coughlin left the Navy in 1994 with serious PTSD and debt after retaliation for her truth-telling. (Sixty percent of victims face retaliation if they speak up.) She is now a vocal advocate with POD. 

As is Don Christensen, retired from the U.S. Air Force and chief prosecutor in many of these cases from 2010 to 2014. “We know the pitfalls in our military justice system,” he said. “The military likes to control the narrative, telling victims they can’t talk to the media. A commander can overturn any conviction for no reason.” Most commanders like the people who serve under them, he added. “The average commander has never spoken to a victim in his life.”  Decreasing the chances of a conviction further, 80 percent of victims are not informed of their right to have a non-military legal prosecutor. And of course, there’s the opposing side. “Defense communities are always finding loopholes in whatever we propose. We’re constantly playing a chess game with them,” said Christensen. “But we’re like a dog with a bone.” 

That game is being doggedly challenged by the Military Justice Improvement Act, Gillibrand’s proposed legislation. As Ann Hesse, chair of the Global Women’s Caucus, wrote in a letter to Democrats Abroad members late last month, “The object of Senator Gillibrand’s plan is to simplify the military justice system, particularly as it relates to crimes of sexual assault and harassment, to make it more professional and less subject to unqualified or improperly motivated decision-making.”

It makes simple and irrefutable sense. However, even with the backing of some generals, not all are on board, including some female generals and status-quo Republicans in the Senate. “Who could be against this?” asked Marnie Delaney, during the course of the panel discussion. (Delaney is a member of DA France and chair of GWC’s Ending Violence Against Women action team.) “A lot is just inertia,” said Christensen. “And the idea that the answer is prevention, not punishment.” 

Other reasons are that stricter, legislated consequences would upset the “good order and discipline” mentality of the military, while another argument against is that you can’t deal with issues like this while in combat. Christensen couldn’t disagree more: “All the moving parts of a justice system need to be present even in a combat zone.” Based on his years of litigating sexual assault cases, he admitted, “There’s a shallow understanding of military justice inside the military.”

So the fight goes on inside and outside the armed forces. “We’re truly at a crossroads,” said Parrish. “It’s the first time ever that a president of the United States has expressed his support for major change.” When asked if he’s behind the fight against “systemic, legal, injustice in the military, President Joe Biden responded unequivocally, “‘Yes, yes, yes!’” 

But the President and Congress will “need our support to get this to the finish line,” said Parrish. Currently, the Senate vote is edging close to the 60 needed to support Gillibrand’s resolution. Already there’s partisan support, with Senators Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders on board. “We have to push it over the top.”

“We like to push things over the top in Democrats Abroad,” said Delaney, as the panel came to a close, with Hesse adding, “We have our marching orders now.”

Watch POD’s presentation to the Global Women’s Caucus, April 6, 2021.

Support Democrats Abroad’s Military Justice Improvement Resolution which is behind Gillibrand’s proposal. Updates here.


Reauthorizing VAWA: Once Bipartisan, Today a Fight for Rights and Protections

 

“A matter of justice and compassion.” That’s how President Joe Biden describes the issues at the heart of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA) of 2021. The issues include: sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking and sex trafficking. It’s a piece of legislation Biden knows top to bottom, having authored the U.S. federal law as a Delaware senator in 1994, under then-president Bill Clinton. Reauthorizing this signature piece of legislation – which now includes protections for Native-American, LGBTQ and immigrant women – is one of Biden’s first-100-days promises. Those protections translate into money and resources, protections ever more critical in the time of COVID, with domestic abuse numbers spiking.

Last month, Reauthorization of VAWA (H.R. 1585) narrowly passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, with only 29 Republicans breaking ranks to join their Democratic colleagues. With the thinnest of majorities in the U.S. Senate – a majority of one really – Democrats face an even tougher fight to ensure these protections for half the country’s population. “This should not be a Democratic or Republican issue,” Biden said recently. Apparently, it is. 

A bit of history:

Read more

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

The Global Women’s Caucus Violence Against Women Action Team hopes you will join us in observing Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The impact of sexual assault and other forms of sexual violence is felt universally throughout the world. No segment of society is unaffected, although some disproportionately suffer more directly than others. There is no country free of this raging epidemic, and the United States is certainly not a leading light in the prevention or prosecution of sexual crimes. 

Read more

RED ACTION

Reauthorization Of The Violence Against Women Act  

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is a U.S. federal law, signed by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994.  It was authored by then-Senator Joe Biden (DE), and co-authored by Representative Louise Slaughter (NY). It was passed in Congress (234/195 House, 61/38 Senate).

The law established a budget (initially $1.6 billion) to: 

  • Investigate violence against women crimes 
  • Prosecute perpetrators of such crimes
  • Impose requirements for restitution to victims by perpetrators
  • Provide reparations, if prosecutors opt not to prosecute a crime

Extensions of the Law were passed in 2000, 2005 and 2013. In each case, there were changes which met with varying degrees of opposition, generally from Republicans and organizations such as the NRA and other conservative groups.  In 2019 reauthorization was defeated in the Republican Senate.

Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is on President Biden’s 100-day agenda, and set to be taken up by the House the week of March 18th.

CURRENT SITUATION

  • The House will take up and vote the week of March 18. Passage is expected but not guaranteed, therefore contacting Representatives is urgent.
  • We’ll be watching the Biden Budget to demonstrate his priority on this legislation
  • Senate battle will be difficult with opposition based on 1) the “boyfriend loophole”  2) indigenous people and immigrant components and 3) partisanship
  • The challenge is to demonstrate a strong commitment to this legislation, and make sure to only support legislators who recognize its importance, including all of the “controversial” elements.

CALL to ACTION

Contact your representatives in Congress to urge their support for reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Here are sample messages, however, we encourage you to add any message about your personal connection to this issue with which you feel comfortable.  This will increase the impact of your message.

Short version (appropriate for quick messages or for supportive legislators): 

“Violence against women and girls is a human rights violation, and a deterrent to an equitable and peaceful world. It is devastating and its impact is enormous and widespread. I support the Violence Against Women Act and call on you to support it as well.”

Extended version:

“The crisis of gender-based violence continues to grow, far outpacing available resources (many of which have been disappearing for lack of funds). The need for funds to prevent, prosecute and provide resources to victims is overwhelming and Congress has not done enough to provide these resources to all Americans.  This unending culture of violence has serious impacts on the majority of the population, either directly or indirectly, and inaction is not acceptable.  I support the Violence Against Women Act and will demonstrate that support with my vote. I call on you to support it too.”

Ways to contact representatives:

  • Email
  • Phone call
  • Postcard

Find your Representative here and your Senators here

Encourage your family and friends, both in the US and abroad, to do the same.  Also, encourage anyone who can possibly visit the local or DC office of their legislator to do so in a more dramatic show of support and importance.