“If we don’t speak up and advocate for ourselves, nobody else really does that for us.” –Shawn Partridge MCN Family Violence Prevention Director
Deviney Luchsinger/ Multimedia Specialist.
Citizen receives DOJ award for her work at FVPP
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — Muscogee (Creek) Nation Family Violence Prevention Director Shawn Partridge was sorting through her emails when she opened one from the U.S. Office for Victims of Crime that said she had been nominated for the National Crime Victims’ Service Award.
After a several month-long vetting process, she learned she had won.
“It’s an honor,” Partridge said. “But for me, instead of an award focused on me and my work…I see it more as recognition of the work of a number of people.”
Partridge was nominated for the award by Oklahoma District Attorneys Council Victims of Violent Crimes (VOCA) program monitor Sandra Thompson.
Partridge said Thompson had conveyed to her the reason she nominated her was Partridge’s ability to set an example for her staff and others, never backing down from a challenge and asking the tough questions.
Partridge said she does not wait on people to invite her to the table to address the issues, but instead makes her voice heard.
She said often tribes are not included in the discussions and decisions made on the state and federal level that affect Native people.
Reflecting on the work she did with FVPP, she said her proudest accomplishment is being a part of impacting change in policy with her work on the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.
She said she was proud of the whole process, from getting Muscogee (Creek) citizens involved and signing petitions at the grassroots level to watching President Barack Obama sign the reauthorization of VAWA.
But she said what makes the job worth it for her are the connections she builds with the strong women she works with in their journey to recovery.
“It sustains me,” she said.
Partridge said winning the award has been emotional. At first, she was uncomfortable with being in the spotlight.
“This work is more than just me,” she said.
Although a proud moment, she said it also has been bittersweet for her. Partridge has lost both her parents. Her mother passed away a little over a year ago and she said it is hard not having her parents be here for this.
She said they raised her to be strong-willed and to have a “big mouth.” She said she uses these characteristics, which are usually seen in a negative light, in a positive way to make change for others.
One of those changes was starting a local sexual assault nurses examiners program to reach more victims of sexual violence in the MCN jurisdiction.
“If we don’t speak up and advocate for ourselves, nobody else really does that for us,” she said.
Partridge will travel to Washington, D.C. to accept the award at the National Archives.
While she is there, she plans to visit Capitol Hill to talk about issues she believes tend to be ignored. She said it is important to seize opportunities to amplify Native voices and let the unique needs of the tribe be known.