As part of our series highlighting our network members, meet an organization making a difference in the lives of survivors. In this conversation, we speak with TEWA Women United’s Executive Director, Corrine Sanchez.
What brought you to the work of supporting survivors and sexual violence?
The reality of how many Native women and girls will experience sexual violence in their lifetime. It is highly disproportionate to the total population of Native women and girls. This for us is a direct impact of colonization, religious inquisition and genocidal policies and practices of this country. And, as a survivor myself, I believe that working together as survivors, organizations, governments (Tribal, City, County, State and National) and community members, we can change and transform this reality.
What do you currently do in your position to support survivors of sexual violence?
Tewa Women United for 20+ years provided direct services to survivors such as access to healing modalities, facilitating multi-disciplinary teams, creation of protocols, offering counseling, and forensic interviewing services. A few years back, we did a shift to focus on prevention. Since the passage of VAWA and many other laws as well as shifting in funding over the years, we have seen many more programs/ projects providing direct services to survivors of sexual violence in our communities and we saw very few focused on prevention. We also saw a very minimal shift in prosecution rates, this was very discouraging. We did some reflection and feel in our hearts that prevention of sexual violence is where transformative potential exists.
How can we support loved ones who have been impacted by sexual violence?
One way to help loved ones impacted by sexual violence is to believe them, Receive and believe what they are wiling and able to share with you. It is not your role to investigate or determine if they are telling you the “truth”. Then listen to what they are saying they need. And, let them know honestly what you are able and willing to do or not do. Just having one person believe them is a huge thing.
What advice would you give advocates working with Latinx survivors of sexual violence during the pandemic?
That abuse and violence thrives in isolation and silence. The pandemic is an ideal situation for sexual violence to occur. I would like advocates to know that they do not have to solve all the issues that exist. This is not something for just one person to do. We are more than likely to see a jump in statistics. We all need each other. The pandemic also brought forward creative thinking and approaches, do not give those up as we move toward re-emergence and recovery.
How do you practice well-being and self-care?
I practice well-being and self-care in relational-tivity to others. Zooming with friends and family helped me get through the pandemic. Sharing with those close and trusted few helped me get through my darkest times as a survivor. Also, my belief in my spirituality and prayer helps center and ground me. I know that I am an introvert. I need my alone time and I need my friends/ family time. And it is ok to set boundaries around my time. I also love binging on Medical Dramas.