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Working withcommunity to End Domestic Violence

Shifting community norms to end domestic and interpersonal relationship violence

“The importance of doing what we call in the movement ‘primary prevention’ [in the schools]— which is not waiting until something turns bad but proactively helping to teach younger folks healthy relationship behaviors so they’ve got those skills built in — [is invaluable]. By the time [students] reach adolescence and, ultimately adulthood, they’re already practicing consent, they’re already practicing empathy.”

Former Director of Community Engagement and Prevention Education Stephen Montagna, Project SAGE

About Project SAGE

Domestic violence/intimate partner violence knows no boundaries. It affects individuals from all walks of life — regardless of socioeconomic, cultural, educational, and religious background — and is experienced across sexual identities and gender expressions, in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. Since 1979, Project SAGE (formerly Women’s Support Services) has been educating the community about interpersonal relationship violence. The non-profit domestic violence agency — serving Connecticut’s Northwest Corner and surrounding communities in New York — is mission-driven to create social change to end interpersonal, relationship violence by challenging attitudes and beliefs about power, control, and gender norms and by advocating for victims and survivors.

Free and confidential programs run the gamut from prevention education, community engagement and training to individual and family support — including an emergency shelter, individual counseling, legal advocacy, and parenting groups; their crisis hotline, answered by certified domestic violence counselors, is open 24/7, 365 days a year. Project SAGE works with clients regardless of their choice to stay in a relationship or to leave.

Our Work with Project SAGE

After glimpsing their potential to think beyond the day-to-day services they provide to the community, we invited our colleagues at Project SAGE to “dream” — and they accepted. What began with funding from FCH to support ongoing (and ultimately an expansion of) their prevention efforts, has evolved to include recent grants for general operating support and a grant through our Capacity Building Grant Program to facilitate the organization’s recent name change and rebranding process — a critical part of their strategic plan. 

Our partnership with Project SAGE is unique for their interest in thinking more strategically and willingness to plan more boldly about their role in the community at large. This work is often unfunded through state and federal dollars. Along the way Project SAGE has continued to evolve and iterate — through their interest in expanding their prevention programming they’ve begun to develop big-picture strategies within the community to cultivate the conditions that reduce interpersonal relationship violence.