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Roundtable with Senator Bob Casey on VAWA, The Violence Against Women Act

Senator Bob Casey held a roundtable on VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) in Bucks County last Friday May 4th, 2019. VAWA is being reconsidered for funding. Senator Casey asked if a sexual assault survivor would be willing to come to the roundtable to share about the importance of VAWA funding to the panel.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity I had to represent thousands of American women and children that have gone/are going through abuse and trauma, and also to represent the organization where I go for therapy, NOVA.

I have been going to NOVA, Network Of Victims Assistance Bucks County, PA, 1-800-675-6900, for the last six years. NOVA gives support and information securely and confidentially. Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) supports, counsels and empowers victims of sexual assault and other serious crimes in Bucks County and works to prevent and eliminate violence in society through advocacy, training, community education and prevention programs. They get some funds from the VAWA. NOVA staff and other organizations that protect victims’ rights and provide programs that help with therapy, legal assistance, housing assistance, and other services were there as well.

It was very hard to listen to the stories of horror from survivors, but it was important to take notes of the things we need to improve and fight for in the United States. Some of the things we covered were prevention, information, early education in schools, and the large loopholes in the Court systems that don’t protect women and their children from violence.

I opened my heart when I shared my testimony and also my suggestions and claims for our safety and healing process. I have attached what I said for you to read.

My name is Alicia Markowitz. I like to present myself as a fighter, a thriver. But I once was a victim and then after that, a survivor. I’m proud of being the voice of hope for thousands of Americans that have been victims of sexual assault and violence. We didn’t ask for this, for this crime, it happened to us. Sexual assault, domestic violence, abuse, trauma, takes your life away. It cuts your wings off. Smashes your self-esteem leaving a pit in your chest full of guilt, fear and confusion. A broken brain, a broken mind, a broken spirit. The world turns black and without hope because you don’t know how to restart your life, you don’t know how to fix it, you don’t know you actually can. Can you imagine breaking your legs and not get a cast to heal? Can you walk with broken bones? No. That’s how a victim of abuse walks around. That’s how they go to work, raise their children. On top of that, when we need help it’s impossible to afford, so more to add to that pile of darkness.

When I first got to NOVA I had no idea the bright future I had ahead of me. They offered me the path of healing, they offered me the other side of fear, which is love and freedom. What do we want for this society, for this country, for our families, for our cities, communities? Broken brains? Broken spirits? Broken minds? Or people that can use their full potential to be the best professionals, the best parents, the best brothers and sisters, the best neighbors to contribute to this amazing society, to this amazing life? That’s what these funds offer, that’s what these funds make happen. Because when victims of violence and assault heal they are unstoppable, they blossom in their greatest way, they grow as their best version of themselves. I have seen many women do it in my trauma groups, at NOVA, and here right now I offer my own example, my own testimony.

Today after a long journey I have three amazing children and a wonderful husband. I provide them a healthy and loving life and example because I overcame the hardest things, the pain that causes the injustice of being hurt in a profound way. But it’s possible, you can do this, we can do this with your hand, with your help we can contribute to this society, with this country, we can give the best of ourselves and we’ll never fail. The power that healing gives us after going through something so hard it’s unstoppable. Now I’m writing a book with the mission to help others, I have a blog to heal abuse and trauma, I’m working on several projects to help others, to give my hand and my knowledge to make a better country and a better world.

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