Friday, January 4, 2013

Meet Cecily Griffus

By Sharon Svec

Sherri Bennett, Executive Director at YWCA signs her e-mails with the phrase, “Strong Alone. Fearless Together.” In each newsletter we’ve introduced you to one strong volunteer from our fearless team. In 2013, we will introduce you to our strong staff, but you can still meet our great volunteers in the volunteer venue. With more than 600 people actively involved in YWCA Clark County, we cannot feature every staff, or volunteer. Our hope is that by meeting a handful of us each year, you will feel the passion and hope that runs through all of our veins and makes us “Fearless Together.”

This month, meet Cecily Griffus, LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and queer) Advocacy and Dating Violence Prevention Specialist. Cecily has been with YWCA for 4 years. She started as an intern with the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program in 2008. Since that time, she has grown to be an expert in violence prevention. Cecily serves on a number of YWCA committees. I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with her on our upcoming Dynamics of Oppression Training, and found her endless passion for humanity to be remarkable. Cecily specializes in culture-specific advocacy and prevention for dating youth and the LGBTQ community.

Cecily Griffus
Teen dating violence is common in Clark County, with most abuse taking the form of manipulation, isolation, verbal abuse and threats. Stalking is another form of violence, and is also common in Clark County. Cecily emphasized that “Stalking is NOT romantic.” She continues with the stark fact that one in 12 women is stalked in her lifetime and over 75% of attempted femicides were preceded by stalking behavior by the perpetrator towards the victim.

Cecily believes an upstream approach to ending violence is integral to ending violence in our communities. With increased violence and mixed messages in the media, Cecily feels it’s difficult for youth to understand the elements of a healthy relationship. As a prevention educator, she can serve as a guiding voice among the confusing messages, but she emphasizes that anyone can help, “If they are in the position of a teacher, parent, or otherwise in direct contact with youth, they can talk to kids about the reality of abuse and try to be a role model as a healthy, safe person that those kids can look up to.  If they have money to donate, they might donate to research efforts on effective violence prevention programs.  If they have time to donate, they might become a volunteer for SafeChoice or a similar program to further the work that is being done to prevent violence.” Teens and youth today have their own culture, and because Cecily is able to relate to this group it makes her prevention-related messages easy for this group to understand.

Just as teens have a culture, so does the LGBTQ community. As an LGBTQ advocate, Cecily uses her personal experiences and cultural-specific resources to relate to survivors from this minority group. She stated that, “A survivor who identifies as LBTGQ may not feel comfortable working with someone who is not from the LBTGQ community.” Like services provided to Latina or senior populations, the existence of a culturally specific advocate can be a huge deciding factor in whether or not the person will even approach an agency for services.

The work that Cecily does for this community aligns well with her personal goals of helping to advance effective prevention education, integrating information and solutions to relationship violence in to mainstream culture, and eliminating a need for domestic and sexual violence services. If you too are interested in violence prevention, or want to learn more about dating violence and LGBTQ-related services you can contact Cecily at 360 696 0167 or

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