Welcome to Part 2 of our January Inspirational Interview with Ashley Rumschlag, CEO and President of DomesticShelters.org.
Ms. Rumschlag joined the Theresa’s Fund/DomesticShelters.org team in 2017 after over a decade in the hospitality industry. Her work for DomesticShelters.org includes helping launch the Purple Ribbon Awards, a variety of website enhancements and building impactful partnerships. She is a trained domestic violence advocate, supporting victims and survivors who reach out to DomesticShelters.org. For Ashley, the best part of working with this organisation is the opportunity to solve problems that otherwise might not be solved for domestic violence survivors.
In this part of the interview, Ms. Rumschlag discusses the organisation’s efforts to diversify their online content to reach people needing information about domestic violence, as well as how they continued their work during the pandemic and what men and boys can do to help stop violence against women and girls.
Part 1 of this interview was published on 30 January 2022.
6. With the Coronavirus pandemic still raging on, the rates of VAW including domestic violence have been surging worldwide. What are some of the strategies that DomesticShelters.org has adopted in order to continue helping women and girls during this pandemic?
As a 100% virtual organisation we were uniquely positioned to help. We didn’t have to navigate the same roadblocks as other in-person organisations and were able to keep moving forward providing critical resources via our website.
When we saw in-person trainings being cancelled, we worked with the Academy of Forensic Nursing to host a Q&A with a highly trained medical professional to help DV professionals as they created all new protocols for their client and employee safety. We’ve continued this programme and have offered 20 webinars to over 8,000 DV professionals on topics like strangulation, traumatic brain injury, and drugging of an intimate partner, all at no cost to attendees.
7.How do you think men and boys can help to end violence against women?
Our organisation is a great example of how men and boys can help. While over time the organisation has become women-led, Theresa’s Fund is the passion project of Preston V. McMurry Jr. Preston started the foundation in 1992 and led the effort to raise millions of dollars that helped to expand shelter capacity in his home state of Arizona.
He recently published a book titled “I Love You. Goodbye.” that chronicles his life and relationship with the love of his life, a survivor of childhood domestic violence and abuse. His hope for the book is that it will encourage more men to think about how they can help end violence against women. (The book will be available on Amazon later this year.)
8.Tell us about DomesticShelter.org’s plans for the future. What campaigns, programmes, or projects do you have coming up in the next 5 years?
We plan to continue to grow the ways that we support domestic violence programmes and shelters. We know they are the lifeblood of the support system created for victims and survivors. We’re working on creating programmes and projects that directly impact their work and make it easier and more efficient to provide services.
The heart of what we do will always be providing easily accessible information about domestic violence. We’re investing a lot of time and resources into making sure the people who are searching for answers can find them by leveraging search engine optimisation strategies. Part of this includes diversifying the types of content we create, going beyond just the written word to include more videos, podcasts, interactive tools, and more.
9.How can The Pixel Project’s supporters engage with and support the efforts of DomesticShelters.org to stop violence against women?
Share, share, share! The more people that know about DomesticShelters.org the better. You never know who may be experiencing abuse. A well-timed article on their social media feed or an email with information about a nearby program could be the turning point that helps them find safety. Sign up for our weekly newsletter to stay in the loop as we create new content.
You can also nominate a local organisation or person for a Purple Ribbon Award. The recognition really does make a difference. After two years of Covid, we’re all a little drained. Winners from last year shared that the award “re-energised” their efforts and commitment to helping the people they serve.
10.In your considered opinion, how can we end violence against women for good?
To me, ending violence starts with understanding it. By that I mean understanding the dynamics of power and control, the barriers to leaving, and so many other aspects of domestic violence that are misunderstood. When people know more, they do more.
That’s why I’m so passionate about the work we’re doing at Theresa’s Fund, leveraging the internet to help better educate the world about domestic violence.