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Message from Director Carbon: April 2012

I have been pondering how to write this message, my last monthly Director’s Message.  Those of you who know me know that I think through speeches, presentations, and other important communiqués (oral arguments, for example, in an earlier life) when I run.  And Washington has provided an exquisite landscape for running – the Mall at sunrise, the Washington Monument by moonlight, the Capitol and the White House – the heartbeat of the nation.  On my last run, it struck me that despite all of the Office’s accomplishments over the last two years – the work on  VAWA’s reauthorization, our innovative homicide reduction initiative, elevating the discourse of sexual violence to a new level, the new UCR Summary Reporting System definition of rape, launching the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative (SADI), exploring reform for family courts wrestling with domestic violence, our expansion of work in the international arena -- all I really want is to use this last message to express my gratitude to all of you. In the two years that have passed so quickly, I have had the good fortune of meeting many extraordinary people from around the country – advocates, law enforcement officers, professors, researchers,  prosecutors, judges, members of the military, inspiring young people – and have been enriched by their knowledge and dedication to serving survivors.  They are tireless in their efforts to improve the systems in which they work so that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, and, ultimately, so that there will be fewer experiencing the violence that brings us to a common cause.  I have also been blessed to reconnect with people I’ve worked with and learned from in years past.  From metropolitanMiamito rural Alaska,San Diego to Boston, and everywhere in between, there are so many working diligently and creatively to end violence against women in all its forms.  The names are too numerous, but they include US Attorney Brendan Johnson (South Dakota), Sgt. Jim Markey (Phoenix), Casey Gwinn (San Diego), and (ret.) Lt. Mark Wynn (Nashville) who was so instrumental in helping to change the FBI definition of rape.  There are many others – Maureen Sheeran, Sarah Buel, Loretta Frederick, Cheryl Thomas, Joanne Archambault, Rebecca Campbell, Jennifer Long, to name just a few. I want to recognize the men who stand with women to change the world – Neil Irvin, Victor Rivers, and Joe Torre, among many others.  Their leadership is invaluable. I want to acknowledge sexual assault and domestic violence advocates who understand that victimization comes in all forms and who work so hard every day, sometimes against the tide, to ensure safety – Monika Johnson Hostler,  Sue Else, Cat Fribley, Delilah Rumburg, Anne Menard, Carol Post, Helen Jane Brown, Bonnie Brandl, Nicole Witt, and the thousands of others at the local, state, tribal, and national levels – you can never be thanked enough. Deepest thanks go to Lynn Rosenthal, the first-ever White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, my colleagues at the Department of Justice, and the amazing, dedicated staff of OVW who give new meaning to working “24/7”.  Their dedication is rooted in the conviction that together, we can end this most insidious social injustice – violence against women. Perhaps the greatest impact over the past two years was inspired by the survivors and their painful stories.  I am humbled by their strength and courage to help us learn what we, as individuals and representatives of the government, can and should do to protect, intervene, remediate, and ultimately prevent these unspeakable acts of terror, and the tragedies that claim too many lives.  To paraphrase the Vice President:  even one is too many.  People like Michelle Corrao, Anne Ream, Olga Trujillo, and the friends and family of Theresa Butz who formed The Angel Band -- you have changed my life. So whether we work in Washington, DC, on the Sioux Reservation in South Dakota, or in Nome, Alaska, whether we work as advocates, judges, or prosecutors, whether we work for the government or a nonprofit, whether here or abroad, and whether as professionals or because we are concerned friends, neighbors, and relatives, it is my hope that we continue this work, so that those who most need hope – those who have suffered in silence – will be able to reach out and find support and systems that work.  We all share in this responsibility, because if we do not, then we are complicit in condoning that which we profess to condemn.  Thank you all for your support.  It has been a profound honor to represent this Office.  Thank you for all you have done and for all that I know you will continue to do. With deepest respect and gratitude,  Susan B. Carbon Director  
Updated April 27, 2017