Friday, August 21, 2009

For Jane

While 100 people gathered together the last few days to discuss how to better serve domestic violence victims in Cuyahoga County, a woman, "Jane", was murdered in Cleveland - in the name of domestic violence. Pausing for a moment to remember her and all victims, we reiterate the reason we are gathered together. There are too many injuries and murders stemming from domestic violence and we, as a community, need to make this a priority. And let's not forget that more than half the residents in our shelter are children. Children who see, hear, witness and experience violence and abuse in their own homes. The effects are devastating and we need to break this cycle. DVC saw an increase in all of our programs (except shelter due to maximum bed capacity) and our 24-hour Helpline jumped from 14,000 to 18,000 calls annually. This is outrageous and we need to invest in prevention, education and intervention to help create healthier and peaceful homes. Please help us by doing your part. Speak up, offer support to a victim you know, volunteer, donate... whatever you are inclined to do -
just please do something... for Jane, her family and all of the others impacted by domestic violence everyday.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Cupboard

It is very difficult to create a PSA that does not "offend" the public or is not too graphic. Domestic Violence is an issue that includes horrendous graphics everyday. There is part of me that wants the world to see what we see. Because if the community saw and heard what we at Domestic Violence Center see and hear - I think everyone would be outraged. When people are outraged, they often take action - whether it is talking about it with others, volunteering, donating, or writing legislators. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence created a PSA that raises awareness, makes its point, but is creative in "showing the violence". Click the link below and tell me what you think.

The next PSA is graphic - but makes an excellent point. Which PSA do you think best gets the message across.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Domestic Violence Recognized by Obama

Yesterday, Obama named a Domestic Violence Adviser to place the important issue of domestic violence back on the national agenda! Alleluia! This woman gets it. She totally understands the complicated issues involved in domestic violence for both victim and offender.

Time Magazine reported: "In announcing the appointment of Lynn Rosenthal, Vice President Joe Biden said that creating the job allows the White House to revive a focus on domestic violence issues. The White House said Rosenthal will advise President Barack Obama and Biden and work with government agencies to ensure that violence against women isn't ignored and the perpetrators are held accountable. A former director of a women's shelter, Rosenthal was executive director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence from 2000 to 2006. And she worked as director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence."

I am VERY EXCITED to hear this. It gives me great hope that with an emphasis on domestic violence, we may see some real progress in our society. Is it possible that we may put more resources into prevention and intervention of domestic violence? Imagine that! No really.... imagine that....

Domestic Violence is a preventable crime - meaning there is so much more we can do to reduce domestic violence in our society - IF we choose to focus our energy and resources there.

People often ask what keeps me working in this field that is tough, tragic and includes stories filled with overwhelming pain. My answer? Progress. Progress toward safer homes and safer relationships. And this step, my friends, is progress.

Friday, June 26, 2009

DV homicides of women increase

The U.S. Department of Justice just released in June, 2009, the latest study that indicates the trends in domestic violence over the past few years. It reads: "According to the Supplementary Homicide Reports of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program in 2005, 1,181 females and 329 males were killed by their intimate partners. Intimate partner homicides constituted 30 percent of all female murders (1976-2004), and 3 percent of all male murders (1976-2005). The proportion of female homicide victims killed by an intimate partner is increasing."

What do we need to do as a society to decrease homicides of domestic violence? After working in this field for years, and seeing that we are making some progress, this study clearly indicates that things are not getting better for victims - they are getting worse. This obviously concerns me greatly - not just concerns me - but I am angered and saddened at the disparity in which we make domestic violence a priority - or should I say not a priority. As a country, we can send astronauts into space, we can find cures for diseases, and use technology for innovation, - which are all very good - and I know we can reduce domestic violence - but it is not a priority on the agenda.

Domestic Violence Center's experience clearly indicates that when domestic violence is in the news, or DVC is on TV, our hotline calls increase greatly. At times, they have doubled. So, one step we can all take is to make sure that we are always talking about it - that we are writing about it - that we are showing it and not hiding it. Another step - is to increase the funding for domestic violence programs. DVC is bursting at the seems with a great demand for services. A third step is to affect public policy and work for social change and systems change. But how can we serve more people in danger and in crisis - how can we keep women, men and children safe - when there is not an increase in funds for victims? This is such a critical issue when we are talking about people's lives and their safety.

Do you have any outlets that we can talk or write about domestic violence - print, radio, news?
What are your ideas about increasing funding? This is a community problem, as the costs are high - and we would like to hear your ideas. Lets work even harder at making domestic violence a priority - so the next report that comes out shows a decrease in DV homicides - not an increase like now.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


A wave of commonality was clear when I was reading an article about the domestic violence allegations against Denver Broncos Brandon Marshall. According to the Denver Times, the first police report made against him by his former fiance was in 2006, with many others since then, and eventually police found her with several cuts on her lip. The domestic violence spans 2 years and 3 states. I don't know the facts, anymore than what I read in the paper, but the victim's mom said she received a phone call 2 years ago from the Bronco's organziation to see if she could persuade her daughter to smooth things over with Brandon.


To smooth things over, to patch things up? Shouldn't they be looking at what they can do to change Brandon's behavior? What about domestic violence treatment for him? Don't they realize that domestic violence is a crime? Would they say that to their sister, mother, daughter, if they were in an abusive relationship ?Encourage her "to make nice"? The scary part of that questions is that for many, the answer would be yes.

He was originally given a 3 game suspension - which - surprise, surprise - he was able to cut that down to 1 game suspension.

The victim then voiced how alone she feels. Her motivation in going forward in pressing charges is “I don’t want to see him do it to nobody else. And that’s really why I’m doing this today because I feel like somebody has to stand up and stop him from doing this, because the Broncos haven’t done it. The NFL hasn’t done it. The Atlanta Police Department hasn’t done it. Somebody has to do it.”

I don't know what the Atlanta Police Dept has done - maybe they did a great job - and maybe they did not - but it is very common for victims to feel like they are in this alone - and they want others to stop him, because they know they cannot control the offender's behavior. Even police know that with their power, authority, and guns - they cannot make him stop. But at least we can hold him accountable. It is very frustrating and depressing for a victim to feel that he/she is taking steps toward safety - but they don't feel the rest of the community is.

I understand what she is saying - we hear that ALL TOO OFTEN from victims. Brandon is on trial next month. Lets hope that the community shows support - and holds him accountable - more than they talk about his football talent. Lets hope that he gets the message that kicking a football around is okay - kicking a woman around is not.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Let us not forget the staggering statistics

Domestic violence is pervasive in our country - we know that. But what many do not know is that pregnant women carry a high risk of homicide from their abusive partners. The Gloucester Daily Times reports on a study of pregnant women and injury-related deaths from 1990 to 1999 conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and found "that homicide was the leading cause of death (38 percent), more than motor vehicle collisions (26 percent) and drug overdoses (20 percent). In Massachusetts there have already been 14 people murdered by an abusive partner since Jan. 1 of this year.

It seems that batterers take advantage of a victim when they are most vulnerable. Not only do they instill fear in the vicitm, they put them down so much that eventually many victims begin to think the abuse is their fault. And they especially escalate their tactics when the victim is pregnant. How low can you go? That is my question. While victims wind up working very hard at "how not to make the abuser angry", the abuser will ALWAYS find something to get angry, or yet enraged about.

We, as in the genral public and in awareness campaigns, need to find a way to talk with victims and let them know
  • it is not their fault,
  • there is help
  • and we are here for them.

We, as in the community. We cannot do that however, as long as there are people in our society who keep blaming the victims. They say - well why doesn't she leave? She is asking for it. She provoked it. She could leave if she really wants to. These are all victim blaming phrases and questions. When someone asks these - I know they are speaking about something that they really don't understand. Because once you understand the complexities related to domestic violence and the impact of victimization, you don't ask those questions or make those statements. You wind up saying things like "How can we get the message across to victims to HELP them, not blame them? How can we show our support as a society?

In Massachusetts, as the Legislature debates next year's budget, they are considering the public safety benefit of a tax increase to support prevention services that help keep children and families safe during these challenging times. This is one way to reach out to more victims. This may not be the answer for everyone or every state. But at least they are searching for answers. Please help DVC and Ohio search for answers so that we may support victims, hold abusers more accountable and decrease domestic violence. Any ideas? Please share them with me. I am always looking for new, innovative and creative ways to help victims.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Teen Prom efforts are bittersweet

This is a story that is bitter sweet. The sweet part is the activism and campaign of a small group of high school students - who are charting a new path toward change. The bitter part is that so many of their peers are clueless.

I would love to personally congratulate the group of teens at Arcadia High School in California for being pro-active and encouraging respect for all girls and women. Because of their efforts, "Twenty songs that refer to women as "hos" and other derogatory names won't be played at the Arcadia High prom Saturday night", reports Pasadena Star News. Thanks to the efforts of senior Madeline Conrique and fellow members of the Women's Health and Issues Club who made an agreement with school administrators limiting songs with misogynistic themes and lyrics. "Some of the songs call women `bitches' and `hos,' or refer to them as objects and treat them like animals," Conrique said. "We find that offensive." A petition circulated on campus since last week asked students to support banning misogynistic songs from the prom; it garnered 130 signature

The Pasadena Star News reports:
The issue first came up a few months ago, when club members viewed two episodes of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in which Winfrey asked members of the hip-hop community if they felt their lyrics were degrading to women. But educating their peers turned out to be difficult. One classmate launched a text message chain imploring students not to sign the petition, club members said. Some students felt the club was trying to ruin their prom. "The girls, surprisingly, were turned off," Conrique said. "They were telling us that we were ruining their prom and that they liked to dance to those songs." The club members now hope that the effort they launched this year translates into a "misogyny free" dance next school year. "I think we definitely made some progress," said Conrique. "We are not trying to silence anyone. We just want people to listen to the lyrics."

"We are just trying to advocate for respect", said senior, Lani Luo.

It is clear that many of the teens do not yet fully understand the damaging effects of lyrics which advocate for disrespect of women. The comments from teens are usually along the lines of: "Listening to lyrics that are degrading to women, doesn't make me want to go out and hit a woman". They don't realize that this is one way our society condones disrespect for women - which establishes a belief that women are "less than". And in many cases, this IS what leads to violence against women. Most offenders "hold it together" with their friends and family, and save the violence for their girlfriend or wife. This fact speaks volumes.

Do they not realize that 1 out of 4 women will be abused in their lifetime? If they don't, we need to keep that statistic out there - and keep telling the stories.

And that - is on all of us!