Pennsylvania State Senator LeAnna Washington (D-Phila./Montgomery) shared her story of rising from a victim of domestic violence to a passionate advocate for others during a recent visit to Woodrow Wilson Middle School. The nonprofit organization Need Indeed invited Washington to speak to seventh-grade students at Woodrow Wilson as part of their year-long project on forms of relationship violence.
Washington recalled being a teenage mother, high school dropout and victim of domestic violence. She encouraged the students to tell someone if they are being abused or if they know someone else who is a victim.
“If you know that someone is doing something wrong, tell somebody,” Washington said. “Don’t allow anyone to touch you in a way that you know is wrong and keep it a secret.”
Washington told the students they need to take responsibility for their actions, too.
“Picture yourself in the middle of a circle,” she advised. “You can’t let things into that circle that will hold you back in life. Don’t hate somebody because they hate you. Don’t fight somebody just because they fight you. We are responsible for what we do and for finding our own path in life.”
In Washington’s final advice to the students, she stressed the importance of speaking out for themselves and seeking help.
“You can’t allow abuse to control you; it could destroy your life,” Washington said. “Don’t keep it to yourself. There is help available to overcome incest, rape, and domestic violence.”
Washington represents the 4th District, which consists of parts of Montgomery County and the City of Philadelphia. Washington has served in the Senate for six years, since May 2005, when she won a special election. Prior to serving in the Pennsylvania Senate, she served from November 1993 to June 2005 in the PA House of Representatives, representing the 200th legislative district. Washington currently serves as Democratic Chair of the Senate Aging and Youth Committee. She also serves on the Democratic Policy Committee as the Deputy Chair, as well as the Community, Economics, and Recreational Development, Finance, State Government, Urban Affairs and Housing, Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committees. Washington is also a member of the Children's Trust Fund Board.