One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

Why Do They Stay? May 4, 2012

Filed under: child custody,divorce,domestic violence,financial control,Why do they stay? — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:11 am

A few weeks ago we blogged about SPENT, an online program that challenges users’ notions of poverty as they attempt to survive life’s challenges as a low-income individual.  We urged our readers to test themselves and play.  That got us thinking; why not create our own questionnaire that challenges our readers to think about why victims stay in abusive relationships?  Leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as simply walking out the door.  It is a process, and the motivations and results vary according to each woman or man.

Imagine you are a victim of domestic violence and answer Question 1.  Then, follow along as you begin to think about why victims of domestic violence might stay in their abusive relationships.  Click on “RESULT” to learn more about how the scenario can affect a victim of domestic violence and the statistics surrounding that affect.

  1. Are you married to your abuser? (If yes, go to Question 2)
    RESULT

    Are you dating but living together with your abuser? (If yes, go to Question 2)
    Are you dating but living apart from your abuser? (If yes, go to Question 3)
    —-
  2. Do you have somewhere at which you can stay if you decide to leave? (Go to Question 3)
    RESULT

    Do you have the financial abilities to afford to rent an apartment or home? (Go to Question 3)
    RESULT

    —-
  3. Do you have a child or children? (If yes, go to Question 4.  If no, go to Question 6)
    RESULT
    —-
  4. Is your abuser the father or mother to your child(ren)? (Go to Question 5)
    RESULT
    —-
  5. Do your children require child care? (Go to Question 6)
    RESULT
    —-
  6. Are you employed? (Go to Question 7)
    RESULT
    Are you unemployed? (Go to Question 7)
    RESULT
    —-
  7. Do you have health insurance? (If yes, go to Question 8.  If no, go to Question 9)
    —-
  8. Is your health insurance dependent on your continued relationship with your abuser? (Go to Question 9)
    RESULT
    —-
  9. Do you speak English?
    RESULT
    Are you non-English speaking?
    RESULT

These few questions reflect just some of the situational reasons why a victim may stay with her or his abuser, but there are a multitude of emotional reasons as well.  Some of these include fear of the abuser, love, believing no one can help, or being isolated from friends and family members by the abuser.  Ultimately, it is the victim’s choice whether she or he wants to leave an abusive relationship.  Safety should be prioritized.  We must validate the experiences of the victim and allow her or him to make her/his own decisions.

We would love to hear about your experiences following along with this blog post.  What are some other things that may keep a victim from leaving an abusive relationship or keep her or him from speaking out about her/his experiences?  Leave your comments below.

 

Apps Against Abuse May 1, 2012

Filed under: cell phones,dating violence,Options for Help,rape prevention,safety — Women's Studies Intern @ 9:45 am
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It seems like smart phones are becoming more and more common these days.  Education and awareness of interpersonal violence is also spreading as well.  Have you ever wanted to combine the technology of a smart phone with ways to promote education and prevention of  sexual assault or dating violence?  Well, there’s now an app for that.  Two apps actually.  Circle of 6 is an iPhone app that is designed to serve as a mobile way to look out for your friends and help get them out of uncomfortable or unsafe situations.  It aims to prevent sexual assault and rape.  The Love is Not Abuse iPhone app serves as an educational tool for parents.  The app simulates digital dating abuse and provides a multitude of resources for users who want to learn more about dating violence.  Both apps are free.

Circle of 6 is one of the winners of the White House Apps Against Abuse Competition.  The White House released a statement saying, “Young women aged 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, while one in five will be a victim of sexual assault during college.  Many of these assaults occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances.”  This is where Circle of 6 can help.  It is designed for college students and is modeled after the idea that there is safety in numbers, even if you might be separated from your friends at the time you need help.  After downloading Circle of 6, users must choose six trusted friends from their contact list who live near them.  A text message is then sent to these six notifying them that you have put them in your circle.  The app is very simple and uses icons to represent actions so no one around you can see what you are doing.

With just two taps, users can immediately send text messages to the six people in their circle.  The user can send a message asking friends to call and pretend they need the person in order to serve as an interruption and chance for her or him to leave.  The user can also ask for her or his six friends to come get her/him because she/he needs help getting home safely.  GPS technology allows a Google Map to be sent with the message so friends know exactly where to go.  Phone numbers for national hotlines are pre-programmed into the app, and local hotline numbers can be entered as well.  There is also a button that will send a message to everyone in your circle to let them know that you have received help and are safe.  Circle of 6 provides young people with concrete strategies to support each other and stop sexual assault from occurring in their circle.

Love is Not Abuse was started in 1991 by Liz Claiborne Inc. to help combat domestic violence.  The Love is Not Abuse App “is designed to teach parents – in a very real way – about the dangers of teen dating abuse and provides a dramatic demonstration of how technology can be used to commit abuse. Over the course of the experience, text messages, emails and phone calls will be received real-time, mimicking the controlling, abusive behaviors teens might face in their relationships.”  It is often hard to begin to understand what victims and survivors of dating violence go through, and this app gives a small glimpse into what forms of digital abuse a teen might face.  Users can select different examples of abuse they wish to experience, such as threats, excessive contact, sexting, and privacy invasion.  For the forms that the app is unable to simulate, users can watch short video clips that provide examples of that type of abuse and the effect it can have on a teen.

The app provides immediate, concrete, steps for parents to take if they are concerned their child may be a victim of dating abuse or may be an abuser.  It offers suggestions for how to talk to your teen about dating violence and tell them that no one deserves to be abused.  This app challenges the notion that all abuse is physical.  You often might not be able to tell if a teen is involved in an abusive relationship just by looking at her or him.  Even if you are not a parent, it is a great app to check out because it allows you to experience first-hand some of the forms of abuse victims of dating violence are facing and also learn more about dating abuse.

There are positives and negatives to all apps, so we encourage all iPhone users to download the Circle of 6 and Love is Not Abuse apps and see if they would serve as good resources for you.  These apps provide two more ways that we can help make sure our friends and family members are safe in their relationships and provide them with concrete ways to escape a potentially violent situation.

 

“Take action every day – some small dose at a time.” – Jeffrey Gitomer April 18, 2012

Filed under: Allies,community education,domestic violence,donating,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:30 am

Domestic violence can be a scary or unfamiliar topic for many of us.  Alarming statistics, violent stories, and personal experiences compel many people to want to help victims and survivors.  But, maybe you don’t have a specialization in advocacy or violence prevention?  Perhaps you don’t have enough free time to complete training or make a long term commitment?  Those things are not necessary to make an impact.  Everyday people doing everyday things can help prevent domestic violence and provide assistance to victims and survivors.  Below are just a few ways how we can all help.

Use Your Skills to Donate or Help Others

Do you enjoy sewing, quilting, or cooking?  Try contacting your local shelters and organizations to see if clients are in need of food, blankets, or other homemade materials.

Do you love children?  You can offer to provide child care for a friend or family member going through a tough time.  Especially if this person has left an abusive partner, finances and access to child care may be limited.  Try contacting shelters and advocacy centers in your area to see if they are looking for volunteer child care providers, too.

Do you have a special talent or belong to a performance group?  These Canadian Ballet Companies created a special performance to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence and donate to their local centers.  Dance or theater performances are great ways to educate your community about interpersonal violence and the affects it has on victims and their loved ones.

Brooklyn student Damien Bielak created 1,000 paper cranes for child victims of domestic and sexual violence.  He donated the cranes to Safe Horizon’s Manhattan Child Advocacy Center who will pass them out to each child who visits them.  In an interview Bielak stated, “I want people to know we should use our abilities and talents to benefit others.  Even simple things can make a big difference in people’s lives.”  Take what you love and use it to help others.

Are you an attorney?  Consider dedicating pro bono hours to a domestic violence victim.  Through Legal Aid of North Carolina, attorneys can choose what types of cases to which they want to donate their time, including domestic violence cases.

Or, you can simply donate!  Donating grocery gift cards, food, infant supplies, and more can greatly help out a survivor in need.

Team Up With a Local Organization

Are you a student looking for a rewarding volunteer or internship experience?  There are tons of local, state, and national advocacy agencies that look for dedicated interns year-round, which can be found by searching the internet and checking in with career services counselors.

Need a new and interesting topic for a research paper or project?  By researching a topic relating to interpersonal violence you can not only educate yourself on the topic, but also inform your teacher and classmates about these important issues.  These students at Pepperdine University teamed up with a Family Violence Response Team to raise awareness and money as their senior capstone project.

Attend or Host an Event or Fundraiser

Do you love to organize community events?  Or maybe you’re already in the process of planning one now!  Consider holding a fundraiser or community education event that centers on the interests of your community members that will focus on domestic violence or benefit domestic violence agencies.  This could range from holding bake sales to a local Dancing with the Stars competition like these folks did in Athens, Georgia!  Think of possibly dedicating a church focus group to discussing healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.  FVPC offers education programming for various community organizations.  Learn more about it here!

Be sure to also keep a look out for our blog posts and local newspapers, which will notify you of interesting and informative community events throughout the year!

Shop

Nowadays, there are many stores and companies that make it a mission to support non-profit organizations.  Be on the lookout for products that donate a portion of their profits to organizations committed to combating domestic violence, like Mary Lowry’s The Earthquake Machine, which helps benefit the National Domestic Violence Hotline and loveisrespect.org.

iGive is a website that donates to your favorite cause, like the Family Violence Prevention Center, every time you shop online at over 900 stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Gap, and Staples.  Simply by completing a short registration, iGive will donate $5 to your cause and an additional $5 at the time of your first purchase.  Additionally, up to 26% of your purchase cost will be donated to the cause you choose.

Listen and Believe

You do not need to be a trained advocate to help a friend or family member who is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers some great advice on helping someone who is being abused.  The tips, which can be found here, include listening and validating his or her words and experiences, being non-judgmental, and acknowledging that he or she is in a very difficult and scary situation.  Believe what he or she shares with you and offer your support.

Remember that our 24/7/365 hotline (919-929-7122) is available to not only victims and survivors, but their friends and family members as well.  If someone confides in you and you are unsure of what to say or how you can help them, don’t be afraid to give us a call.

Don’t Be Silent

A great way that we can all help combat domestic violence is by not remaining silent about it.  By actively speaking out against domestic violence we can all help to erase the stigma of silence that can pressure victims and survivors to not seek help or share their experiences.

Use social media to reach out to a lot of people by posting interesting articles relating to interpersonal violence or your opinions on dating and domestic violence and how it is treated in schools, in the media, in the law, and in society.

Start conversations with friends, family members, co-workers, and church members about relationships and violence.  Talk to your children about domestic violence and tell them that no one deserves to be abused.  Don’t laugh at inappropriate jokes and speak out against victim-blaming comments.  Don’t condone domestic violence with your silence.

Catherine Pulsifer, author of Be a Possibilitarian states, “You can adopt the attitude there is nothing you can do, or you can see the challenge as your call to action.”  It all starts with one decision, one action.  No matter who we are or what we do, we can all do something to prevent domestic violence.  Challenge yourself to act in whatever way possible, because all of us doing small things can make a very big difference.

 

Troubling Fatherly Advice from Too $hort April 13, 2012

Filed under: childhood sexual abuse,dating violence,rape,sexual assault — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:21 am
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Earlier this year, XXL Magazine, a hip-hop magazine that is popular with teenagers, posted a video on XXLMag.com of rapper Too $hort offering fatherly advice to middle- and high-school aged boys.  In recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month we have decided to dedicate this blog post to discussing the troubling messages offered in Too $hort’s video, the effects they can have on his audience, and why we should care about this issue.

In the video interview, Too $hort details a scene of sexual violence.  He offers male viewers “a couple of tricks” to achieve what he calls “mind manipulation.”  He urges his audience to “[push a girl] up against the wall or [pull] her up against you while you lean on the wall,” insert a spit-covered finger into her underwear and rub her “general area down there” to “watch what happens.”  He never mentions consent.  The video caused an immediate uproar and was subsequently removed from XXLMag.com, who issued an apology

While Too $hort’s video focuses on sexual assault without specifically mentioning dating or domestic violence, research shows that 40-45% of victims of domestic violence are experiencing or have experienced sexual assault at the hands of a current or former partner.  Too $hort urges his audience to use force to gain control over a girl and manipulate her into getting what he wants.  This scenario exemplifies characteristics of an abusive relationship, which can be illustrated in the Power and Control WheelCoercion, intimidation, and force are examples of behaviors that can create an imbalance of power in a relationship and results in one partner having more power and control over the other, evidencing an abusive relationship.  Sexual violence affects our clients and potentially the young adults we reach out to in our Start Strong programs.

Videos like this cause us to stop and think about the messages that permeate pop culture to affect the opinions and actions of kids and teens.  Stars such as Lady Gaga, who advocates for LGBTQ rights, and America Ferrera, who promotes positive body image, can serve as great role models for teens.  However, Too $hort, who has produced explicit songs such as “Gettin’ It”, “More Freaky Tales”, and “Porno B*tch”, is sending a dangerous message.  Dani McClain, a writer for MomsRising.org, believes that “Too $hort’s rhetoric implies that hypersexuality and manhood are one and the same, and implies that consent isn’t required for sexual contact.”

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are real problems that teen and pre-teen American girls are facing.  A 2011 study conducted by the Association of American University Women shows that one in four adolescent girls are the victims of sexual assault or harassment in the seventh through twelfth grades.  Another recent study by Black Women’s Blueprint reports that three out of five black girls experience sexual assault at the hands of black boys and men by the age of eighteen.   93% of juvenile sexual assault victims know their attacker.

Too $hort has taken to Twitter to express his opinions on XXL Magazine, his video, and the public’s response. [In response to the criticism he’s received, Too $hort has posted statements concerning the video on Twitter.  On February 14th he wrote, “Sorry if it offended U not sorry for telling a bad joke.”] Why not do the same?  How do you feel about XXL Magazine’s response?  What do you think the posting of the video says about how our society and the media treat sexual violence?  Organizations, such as MomsRising and We Are the 44%, have asked for the resignation of XXLMag.com’s Editor in Chief Vanessa Satten and Too $hort’s completion of education and sensitivity training on sexual assault and rape, among other things.  What would you like to see happen in response to Too $hort’s troubling video?  Share your thoughts!

 

Volunteer Spotlight: Karen Roque April 10, 2012

Filed under: volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 9:00 am

FVPC provides numerous invaluable services to residents of Orange County, many of which would not be possible without the hard work and dedication of our volunteers.  For this month’s “Volunteer Spotlight” we are highlighting Karen Roque and the great work that she does for us.

How long have you been volunteering and what do you do/have you done with us?

I have been at FVPC since September of 2011.  That fall, I volunteered mostly as a Community Educator with the Start Strong program and as a Spanish Interpreter in our office.  I have finally completed Hotline Advocate training and have started taking shifts as an Advocate.

How did you learn about FVPC?

I heard of FVPC through a few friends on campus as well as OneAct training.

Why do you volunteer?

I volunteer because I have seen the direct impact of the services the agency provides.  Our services can truly make a difference in a person’s life.  Not only that, but I am a very service oriented person and I enjoy being able to give back to the community and help those in need.  It has always and will always be a pleasure of mine.

What have you learned (about yourself or others) by volunteering here?

I have learned the true meaning and power of listening, and how life changing it can be if we just sit and listen to someone’s story.  I’ve also learned about the prevalence of domestic violence in our community and the limited amount of resources available.  However, the commitment and dedication of the staff and volunteers are really able to drive the goals and mission of the organization forward.

What’s in your future?

I will be pursuing my MPH degree at UCLA this fall.  My hope is to continue my service towards victims of domestic violence.

What would you tell prospective volunteers?

I would tell them that it can be a challenging but very rewarding opportunity.  For me, personally, it has been life-changing as I have kind of changed direction in terms of career aspirations.  Also, it is important to not take work home with you!  While you are in the office, give it your all to be the best advocate you can be, but once you are out of the office, make sure you take care of yourself :)

Thank you so much for all of the work that you do, Karen!  We wish you the best of luck at UCLA!

 

Upcoming Events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 3, 2012

Throughout the month of April several student and community organizations are sponsoring events in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).  These events aim to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate individuals and communities on how to prevent sexual violence.  The full list of SAAM events can be found at http://saam.web.unc.edu/.  Below, we have highlighted a few events that are occurring in the near future.

On Wednesday, April 4th, Project Dinah is hosting a film screening of Not My Life, a documentary about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.  The screening is taking place at 7:00 in Bingham 317.

Professor Matt Ezzell from the Department of Sociology at James Madison University will be giving a multimedia presentation on “Consuming Inequality: Gender, Media, and Violence.”  The event takes place on April 9th at 5:00 in Gardner 105.

On April 9th, from 7:00-9:00, in Dey 210, One Act is sponsoring an event titled “Checking In: What Bystanders Can Do to Prevent Relationship Abuse.”  The workshop focuses on how students can be active bystanders and support their friends in situations involving abusive relationships.

Please spread the word about all of these great events!  We hope that you can attend and that you further explore all of the opportunities offered to students and community members throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

 

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 March 29, 2012

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was originally passed in 1994 in response to the prevalence of domestic violence and the pervasive effects that it has on victims’ and survivors’ lives.  The Act is set up to be authorized about every five years and was thus reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 (S.1925) was introduced in the Senate on November 30, 2011 and appeared before the Committee on the Judiciary on February 7, 2012.  VAWA is set to be brought before the Senate in the near future, possibly even this week.

Upon introducing VAWA on the Senate Floor, Senator Leahy, the Sponsor of the Act, made a statement urging all Senators to support VAWA.  He stated, “[VAWA] seeks to expand the law’s focus on sexual assault, to ensure access to services for all victims of domestic and sexual violence, and to address the crisis of domestic and sexual violence in tribal communities, among other important steps.  It also responds to these difficult economic times by consolidating programs, reducing authorization levels, and adding accountability measures to ensure that Federal funds are used efficiently and effectively.”  He notes that for the past eighteen years, the Violence Against Women Act has been “the centerpiece of the Federal Government’s commitment to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.” 

In 2009 more than two thousand advocates responded to national conference calls and surveys regarding the most pressing issues facing victims and survivors of interpersonal violence and the barriers to full implementation of VAWA.  Subsequently, the responses were recorded and three of the top issues recognized were barriers to service for undocumented victims, lack of services to LGBTQ victims, and high levels of violence among Native Alaskan and Native American women.

The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women states, “VAWA programs…give law enforcement, prosecutors and judges the tools they need to hold offenders accountable and keep communities safe while supporting victims.”  The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 includes several changes to the Reauthorization Act of 2005, including providing more resources for underserved populations, enhancing law enforcement and judicial tools to combat violence against women, strengthening the healthcare system’s response to interpersonal violence, and providing safe homes, economic security, and legal services to victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.  Fact sheets detailing the specifics of the many facets of VAWA and examples of what organizations receive funding from VAWA can be found here.

On February 13, 2012 The Diane Rehm Show, aired by NPR and WAMU 88.5, hosted three women to discuss “Objections to Reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act”.  Listen to the broadcast here.  The panel of women included Amy Myers, Professor and Director of the Domestic Violence Clinic at American University’s Washington College of Law, Terry O’Neill, President of the National Organization for Women, and Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America.  Myers and O’Neill voiced their support for VAWA, while Crouse shared her concerns with the Act.  Crouse argued that there are no indicators that VAWA has reduced the occurrence of interpersonal violence.  However, the U.S. Department of Justice has reported that since VAWA was first enacted, reporting of domestic violence has increased by as much as 51%.  Myers and O’Neill rebut Crouse’s claim by stating that the rise in reporting evidences the increased visibility and accessibility of services to victims and survivors.  Organizations like legal clinics and shelters are saving lives.   Homicides at the hands of intimate partners have decreased by 57% for men and 34% for women, which is reported to have a direct correlation with the increase in legal aid and protection orders due to the Violence Against Women Act.

Amy Myers shared that the Centers for Disease Control reported that for the 1.6 billion that was allocated for VAWA in 1994, the United States saved 12.6 billion dollars, which can be attributed to decreased spending on health care, police forces, and lost wages due to injury.  Terry O’Neill believes that the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011 needs to be passed and fully funded because “it is a start.”  There are many reasons why people from both political parties believe that VAWA does not do enough, but she believes that this should not be a reason to not pass the Act.

There are currently sixty co-sponsors of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, including North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan.  However, Senator Richard Burr is not a co-sponsor of VAWA.  If you support VAWA, please contact your Senators and share your opinions.  The phone number for Senator Burr’s Office is (202)224-3154 and the phone number for Senator Hagan’s Office is (202)224-6342.  Consider thanking Senator Kay Hagan for co-sponsoring VAWA and urging her to continue to support all victims and survivors of interpersonal violence.  Consider urging Senator Richard Burr to support VAWA and vote yes when the Act reaches the Senate Floor.  No matter your opinion regarding the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2011, please take the time to contact Senators Burr and Hagan to share your opinions on this extremely important matter that affects far too many Americans.  Have questions or comments about VAWA?  Please share them below!

*Please note that the embedded links that reference Thomas.gov may not link to the page cited because the website deletes searches thirty minutes after creation.  To find out more about VAWA, please visit THOMAS (The Library of Congress) at www.thomas.gov, select search by “Bill Number”, and enter S.1925 into the search engine.   From there, all of the information regarding the legislation referenced in this post can be accessed.  Thank you!

 

 
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