Wynona Ward grew up in poverty on a rural back road in Vermont where family violence was common. She and her husband drove long-haul trucks. She began to realize she could combine her vocation as a trucker with the desperate need for victims of domestic violence in rural communities to have access to legal and other services. In 1998, Ward founded Have Justice-Will Travel (HJWT) with a grant from the Vermont Women’s Fund and a fellowship from Equal Justice Works. The idea was simple: HJWT would provide free legal services, with Ward traveling rural backroads in her 15 year old Dodge pickup truck. HJWT is now an innovative, mobile, multi-service program that assists victims of domestic abuse through the legal process, from the initial interview and relief from abuse order through self-sufficiency and independence. Ward speaks about her personal journey growing up with domestic violence and the work that does today throughout Vermont to end generational cycles of abuse. (July 13, 2016 broadcast)
Between 1994 – 2014, half of all Vermont homicides were a result of domestic violence. Steps Against Domestic Violence — formerly known as Women Helping Battered Women — provides services to those affected by domestic violence in Burlington and Chittenden County, Vermont. Established in 1974 as Women’s House of Refuge, StepsVT fielded 4,800 hotline calls in 2015 and provided services including housing, counseling, and education to many more. StepsVT executive director Kelly Dougherty discusses the warning signs of an abuse relationship, the changing face of domestic violence in Vermont, and the four decades of work of her organization. (July 13, 2016 broadcast)
1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Vermont’s domestic violence agencies served nearly 9,000 victims of abuse in 2012 and fielded over 12,000 hotline calls. Janice Santiago talks about her work with Women Helping Battered Women, which assists domestic abuse victims in Chittenden County. She speaks about her own experience with domestic abuse and the face of domestic violence in Vermont today.
“His True Self”: A transgender Vermonter’s story
Jesse Ray Thomas is a 20-year old transgender person in St. Albans who was recently profiled in a moving story by Natalie Handy in the St. Albans Messenger, “His True Self.” Jesse speaks about his challenge growing up transgender in Vermont, the emotional struggles and suicidal thoughts that he and other trans youth often have, and his joy at embracing his true identity.