Senator Leanna Washington

Senator LeAnna Washington: Saving the Abused Women of Philadelphia

Senator Washington tells her life story as a survivor of domestic violence and how she's working to help every victim in Philadelphia start over

Melanie Yvette

by Melanie Yvette, October 05, 2012

Senator Leanna Washington

Senator Leanna Washington

such as Women Against Abuse, Lutheran Settlement House and Women in Transition. Victims can get resources on shelters and safe housing and things like that. Sometimes people just need somebody to talk to, because everybody who calls the hotline is not ready.  They may have just been beat or frustrated or depressed, so the hotline can be a lot of things for a lot of people. But if you do want to leave and you do feel like your ready, the Women Against Abuse have several shelters that they can go into. There is an opportunity for obtaining self-sufficiency, which is your own housing, furniture, and the resources that you need to live a different life. But you have to be committed.

EBONY: What do you think is the biggest misconception about domestic violence?

SW: That only a type of woman gets beat. Let me tell you something, domestic violence has no face. And my thing is: if they push you they’ll slap you. If they slap you, they’ll punch you. If they punch you, they’ll kill you.

EBONY: Wow, that is such a raw and honest statement that many women just may not understand. Can you tell me more about the walk, how did it come about?

SW: It didn’t start out as a walk, it started out as a resource conference for women who were in drug and alcohol programs, half way houses and things like that. But I didn’t think we were really reaching the masses. The women with the “big secret” weren’t being reached. So we started the walk, and we will mark the 5th annual walk this October.

EBONY: How do you plan to expand the conversation about domestic violence beyond Philadelphia? What else do you hope to accomplish?

SW: I hope to be standing on a soap box in a mall in a parking lot going from state to state, telling my story. I came from poverty to two PhD’s to House Representatives to the State Senate, where there are only two African American women and I’m one of them. Just my story alone might make someone say, “you know what I’m getting out of this relationship”. My goal ultimately, is to wake victims up and say to them, “you don’t have to take it anymore”.

EBONY: Straight from your heart, what can you tell to the woman reading this story, who is in an abusive relationship, and who is asking the question: "but how can I get out?"

SW: You've got to make up your mind that you’re ready, because you can get out. The real questions is: Will you stay out? You have to make up your mind that you’ve had enough. I had enough when I left my ex-husband. So when you make up your mind your going to leave, you got to make up your mind you’re not going back. They need to contact an agency in whatever city, town or state that they’re in to find out what kind of resources are there for them. We have these national programs they can always call.

EBONY: How can people who may be emotionally detached from domestic violence, help battered victims?

SW: They can always go to my website which is They can join the walk.  Of course they can call my office here in Philadelphia, because you know I’m a soldier. That number is: 215-242-0472. They can go on my website and get more information on the walk and find out how to donate money. The funds we raise for the walk goes to the hotline. We are always in need of support. 

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