When you think of the YMCA, a gym or a pool probably come to mind. It’s a building made for conditioning the body.
At the YWCA, its goals are more about conditioning the human spirit.
“What we want to do at the YWCA is really normalize conversations about getting support if you’re a victim,” says CEO Renita Robinson. “Conversations about letting people know that this isn’t OK. We’re not going to stand for this anymore.”
It’s a safe space… allowing people to turn over a new page. A survivor herself, Renita Robinson dedicated 30 years of her life helping victims of domestic abuse.
“You can hardly meet a woman who hasn’t had some experience with a sexual overture that was unwanted or possibly some level of disrespect just because she’s a woman.”
Victimization early in life can hold people back. She believes the more we talk about the uncomfortable topics of racism and abuse, the better we’ll end up making our tomorrow.
“I think as women demonstrate that they have a voice around those things, we give little girls and little boys permission to say, ‘Yep, this isn’t OK,’ and ‘This happened to me and I need help.'”
She says it takes about seven attempts for someone in a domestic violence situation to get out.
“When you give people a space to think clearly because domestic and sexual abuse is actually very disorienting, and so when you give women a safe place so that they can quiet down and even think–that starts the healing.”
There are more than 200 YWCAs in the country, all carrying the same promise: eliminating racism, empowering women, words that continue to motivate her to make a difference.
“We want to be in a relationship with the community, so that the community pours out of here into the families, into the neighborhoods, and into the broader communities so that change happens like we know it can.”