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Domestic violence advocate Bettie Williams-Watson recognized for her work with MLK Medal of Distinguished Service

Summary

Over the last three decades, Williams-Watson has become an advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, focusing on survivors in the African-American community

Story

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Bettie Williams-Watson has been a community activist for over 30 years, but for many in our community she has been a lifeline for those fleeing domestic and sexual violence. For her work as a voice for the survivors of domestic violence, as well as providing critically needed, culturally relevant services for perpetrators, Metropolitan King County Councilmember Larry Gossett today recognized Ms. Williams-Watson, presenting her with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Medal of Distinguished Service.

“Ms. Bettie Williams-Watson has raised awareness of these traumatic acts particularly within the African American community,” said Gossett. “Yet, due to her understanding of the historic trauma and fragmentation African American families have experienced throughout our 400 years, she understands the need to provide culturally effective awareness and interruption upstream, therefore providing programming for perpetrators as well. She has clearly raised consciousness in terms of sexual and domestic violence awareness.”

In 1987, Williams-Watson became a Volunteer Coordinator for what was then the New Beginnings Shelter for Abused Women and Children, and eventually worked in a number of other capacities including Shelter Advocate; Community Advocate, and Community Advocacy Program Director. Williams-Watson soon helped create the first support group in the State of Washington for Older Abused Women, and developed groups at Shoreline, Central, and Greenwood Senior Centers.

Over the last three decades, Williams-Watson has become an advocate for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, focusing on survivors in the African-American community, including working with three faith communities in developing Multi-Communities, a faith-based program that aids domestic violence survivors. Williams-Watson has also worked with Solid Ground, Northwest Family Life and the Salvation Army. She has also worked with batterers, creating a Domestic Violence Treatment Prevention Program for at-risk male teens in 12 community and/or school-based settings for kids, ages 9-18 and being the co-lead of the only African American Batterers Treatment groups for men, ages 20-50+ in the Rainier Valley. Her current project is Closing the Circle: Ending Silence and Shame in Predominantly African American Faith Communities, which focuses on African American boys as allies in their own healing and well-being, a step toward reducing high levels of gender-based violence.

Williams-Watson’s work has been recognized locally and nationally. She has received the Ginny Nicarthy Award for Excellence in Advocacy by King County Coalition Ending Gender Based Violence and has been a National R.O.S.E. Award Nominee. She has been recognized by the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, as well as the King County Sexual Assault Resource Center for groundbreaking work in addressing domestic and sexual violence through the use of faith communities.

The annual presentation of the MLK Medal of Distinguished Service is the Council’s way of thanking those who have made a particularly strong impact on the county and to encourage others to renew their dedication to serve their community.

This is the third year Councilmembers have recognized individuals in their districts who have answered the question asked by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “What are you doing for others?”

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