Tell Your Representatives What’s Important to You
Whether it’s your representatives at the Virginia General Assembly or U.S. Congress, your elected officials want to hear from their constituents (that’s you!) – the people they represent within their respective districts.
Find Out Who Your Legislators Are
Every person living in Virginia has two representatives in the Virginia General Assembly: a State Senator and a Delegate, and three representatives in Congress: a member of the House of Representatives and two U.S. Senators.
You can use this link to find out who they are, including contact information, if you aren’t sure.
Craft Your Message
When calling, emailing, or writing a letter, it’s important to have a clear message: why are you contacting your representatives? Usually, the main objective of our issues is to encourage our legislators to support or oppose a bill or set of bills before them. Offices keep records of how many phone calls, letters, and emails they receive concerning various issues.
It’s important to make sure your support or opposition on a particular issue is heard. This is the time where you can personalize an issue. If you work with survivors of sexual and domestic violence or with young people to prevent violence, why would you want your representative to support or oppose a bill? How does this help to shape a world that we want, a world without violence?
Stay on Message.
- Whatever way you engage your representatives, keep it short and stay on message. If you have 30-60 seconds to speak on the phone, what is the most important thing you want them to know? If you are calling regarding a specific bill, specify the bill and why you support or oppose the legislation. If you have a personal story it can be challenging to do them justice and keep it short.
- Remember that the staff are very busy during legislative sessions and may not be able to read a five-page email or speak on the phone at length. If you’re having trouble figuring out which details to focus on, try practicing with a friend. Based on your experience with sexual assault and domestic violence, think about what the most important message is relative to the bills up for consideration. How would your life, your family, or your clients’ lives be impacted if the legislation you are advocating for is put in place?
- Most importantly – how can your representative help? These are tough issues and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by them. There is hope, though – the General Assembly can pass legislation to help survivors and prevent violence. And your legislators really value your input, as community-based advocates, as change-makers, as survivors, and as constituents in this legislative process. It’s your superpower.
For more information – including ready-to-use email, social media, and phone scripts – on making contact with your legislators, refer to our handy Legislative Advocacy Guide.
Each January, advocates from around the state gather in Richmond, VA to speak up for survivor rights and policies that support healthy and thriving communities. Each and every voice is important. We encourage you to join us in person or advocate by email, phone, and social media as we inform legislators on the issues that matter most to survivors and advocates statewide!
Check out our Legislative Advocacy page for more info.