One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

Volunteer Spotlight Charlotte Crone August 29, 2011

Filed under: volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 3:45 pm
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FVPC provides numerous invaluable services to residents of Orange County, NC. Services include but are not limited to a 24 hour crisis hotline, support groups, childcare, safety planning and legal advocacy. With only three full time staff members we rely heavily on the energy and dedication of our volunteers.  This month we are focusing on Charlotte Crone !

How long have you been volunteering:

I have been volunteering with FVPC for 3 years

How did you learn about FVPC:

I actually read about FVPC in the volunteer section of The Independent Weekly 4 years ago.  It wasn’t until 3 years ago that my schedule permitted me to participate in the training.  I was excited to finally be able to jump-in and start volunteering!

Why do you volunteer:

I volunteer because it’s the right thing to do.  I have a big place in my heart for women who are in impossible situations, and who are often misjudged and condemned by society.  Many clients have never had their experiences validated as abuse.  Others have sought help from friends and family, only to be blamed and ridiculed for being abused.  I’m so glad I have time to speak with victims of domestic violence: to listen to their stories, understand their feelings, and do I everything I can to connect them with the support they need.

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

I’ve learned that even I “hit the wall” at times.  Earlier this year, a series of bizarre circumstances prevented me from taking shifts for about 3 months.  The break was completely unintended, but it turned out to be truly important.  I didn’t realize how cynical and burned-out I’d become.  After my brief hiatus, I came back much happier and more relaxed about taking shifts and working with clients.  It was my first break in 3 years.  I must have really needed it.

What happens next for you (after graduation):

This will be an exciting year for us.  Our family will welcome our third baby this fall.  In the spring, I’ll graduate with a BS in biology.  I’m now slogging through applications for MD/PhD programs at Duke and Chapel Hill.  In addition to my medical degree, I want to earn a PhD in public health.

What would you tell prospective volunteers:

I would tell prospective volunteers that the work is hard, but rewarding.  Be sincere, because clients can tell if you’re not!  Don’t worry about making mistakes, and call for back-up when you need it.  Most importantly, take care of yourself!  Working with clients in difficult situations can quickly become overwhelming.  Rest lots, take breaks when you need them, and reward yourself after each shift for a job well done.

Thanks so much for all you do Charlotte!

 

IPV Resources: Back to School Edition August 26, 2011

With students back at the Hill and starting fall semester classes this week, our sleepy summer town is now buzzing with activity. Unfortunately, the beginning of the school year can mean an influx of incidences of interpersonal violence. College students are particularly affected by violence – the National Institute of Justice found that rape or attempted rape could affect as many as 25% of college women by the time they graduate. And around 13% of college women have been affected by stalking, although only 17% of these have reported it to the police.

There are many resources available on campus for survivors of abusive relationships, sexual assault and stalking. Some of these are described below, but for more details about UNC and community resources, check out the brand-new SAFE@UNC website, which combines all of the available information in one place. All resources listed below are available to all survivors, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation, but if you are concerned about seeking help because of your identity, contact UNC’s LGBTQ Center for guidance.

If you are involved in an abusive relationship:

  • If you have been physically assaulted, consider seeking medical attention at UNC Campus Health or UNC Hospitals, which houses Beacon, a program specifically for relationship violence survivors.
  • Consider reporting any assault to the University through the Dean of Students office or to law enforcement. There are several types of reports available, depending on your comfort level and whether you want to press charges through Honor Court and/or the criminal justice system.
  • If you have questions about your rights under the law, give us a call: 929-7122.  FVPC offers court accompaniment and advocacy for folks in an abusive relationship who are trying to negotiate the legal system or obtain a 50B- a Domestic Violence Protective Order.
  • Seek counseling at UNC Counseling and Wellness Services. CWS accepts walk-ins Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

If you have been sexually assaulted:

  • If you have been sexually assaulted, consider seeking medical attention at UNC Campus Health or UNC Hospitals, which has a care program specifically for sexual assault survivors. You will be given the opportunity to undergo forensic testing for evidence, as well as STI testing and a course of preventive medication, the costs of which are covered for UNC students through the Victims’ Assistance Fund.
  • Consider reporting any assault to the University through the Dean of Students office or to law enforcement. There are several types of reports available, depending on your comfort level and whether you want to press charges through Honor Court and/or the criminal justice system. If you have questions about the legal process, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
  • Seek trauma counseling at UNC Counseling and Wellness Services. Also available is an open support group, Courage to Heal, for survivors to share their experiences on the journey to recovery.

If you are experiencing stalking:

  • If you feel unsafe in your living environment, safe rooms are available for short-term stay through the Residential Housing and Education office. Talk to your RA or community director, or call the Dean of Students office at 919-966-4042 during business hours for more information.
  • File a no-contact order through the University via the Dean of Students office.
  • Seek counseling at UNC Counseling and Wellness Services.

If you are struggling with academics because of any of the previous circumstances, discuss your options with the Dean of Students office.

If you’re interested in becoming a more effective supporter for loved ones who are survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, become a UNC HAVEN ally this fall! New training dates have just been announced, and you can register online. And becoming trained by the One Act program will empower you to prevent interpersonal violence in the first place.

Thanks for your efforts to help make the campus community a safer place for students, faculty and staff!

 

Paid Sick Days Provide Essential Resource to Survivors August 23, 2011

Workers’ rights activists across the country have been building support for mandated paid sick days for the past several years at federal, state and local levels. Requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave for employees, typically around seven days per year for full-time workers, makes sense for employees, businesses and the general public.

Paid sick leave is a public health issue – the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), which has done much of the most-cited research on paid sick days, found that employees who came to work while infected with H1N1 in 2009 infected over 7 million patrons, customers and coworkers. Paid sick days would enable these workers to stay home when they fall ill (or when they are needed to take care of sick family members), preventing the spread of disease.

Lower-wage workers are less likely to be provided paid sick days by their employers, even though they experience more obstacles than higher-salaried workers in finding childcare or taking off work and losing valuable wages that may force them to choose between medicine or groceries for the pay period.

Often missing from the discussion about paid sick days is its important value for individuals involved in abusive relationships or who are survivors of sexual assault. Violence prevention advocates often refer to paid leave as “paid safe days.” They can be used by survivors of abuse to seek medical treatment, counseling and shelter without losing pay or fearing retaliation from employers for missing work.

Allotting paid safe days to employees, especially knowing that abusers are often repeatedly physically, emotionally and sexually violent within their intimate relationships, seems like an undeniable resource survivors deserve. But Mike Rosen, a radio personality in Denver, where a referendum on paid sick leave will likely appear on the November ballot, dismissed the importance of paid safe days in a Denver Post editorial. He charged that because more women than men will be forced to take advantage of them, the policy isn’t worth employers’ support: “This is essentially about…female constituents. The paid ‘safe’ days are related to domestic violence issues. Men won’t be taking many of these.”

Although it’s true that men’s violence against women would comprise most need for paid safe days because of its frequency in comparison to violence perpetrated by women, Rosen flippantly misses the mark. We need to provide victims of intimate partner abuse, most of them women, any resources possible to empower them to seek help and simultaneously preserve their incomes, not selfishly dismiss their struggles because they are more frequently victimized than men.

Thankfully, paid leave coalition builders have achieved considerable success despite some detractors, having passed mandated sick days legislation in Washington, D.C., San Francisco and even most recently in the state of Connecticut. They are now targeting the cities of Denver, Philadelphia, Seattle and New York.

Advocates from the NC Justice Center attempted to pass mandated sick days in North Carolina in 2009, but the proposed law was defeated. However, an overwhelming 69% of voters nationwide supported paid sick leave laws in an IWPR study, and coalitions across the country continue to build steam and gain legislative victories. Hopefully the tides continue to turn toward policy that would protect survivors in our state, where more than 66,000 citizens received domestic violence support services in 2009 and 2010.

 

Poverty Simulation Needs Volunteers! August 19, 2011

Filed under: poverty,Why do they stay? — Women's Studies Intern @ 1:41 pm
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Would you like to have a better understanding of poverty and how it affects the lives of those who live through it? The United Way of the Greater Triangle is facilitating Poverty Simulations as a way to promote awareness of the issues surrounding poverty and the need for human services.

The next Poverty Simulation is currently scheduled for Tuesday, August 30 from 2:30pm-6pm at Christ United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill, but they need volunteers to make it happen!  Volunteers do not need to be affiliated with the church.  Each volunteer will be given a specific role to play in the simulation.  There will be an hour long training a few days prior to the simulation.

Here at FVP, we know there is a clear correlation between poverty and domestic violence, as this article issued by the Office of Violence Against Women discusses.  Their findings are quite similar to what we know where in office:

  • During harder financial times,  we see our client numbers increase as people grow more desperate for help.  And;
  • The relationship swings the other way as well: the challenges and high stress of domestic violence conditions can cause financial scarcity

Sadly, a lack of financial security is also one of the reasons why domestic violence victims remain in their unsafe relationships.  One way that abusers control their victims is through financial means: they don’t allow their partner to work; or call their partner at work and demand that they return home; they show up at their partner’s work so often that the partner loses their job because others become afraid; they deliberately pay less child support than agreed; they force their partner to work multiple jobs and they opt not to work.  This list could go on and on.

If you would like more knowledge about the challenges DV victims and others in poverty face, consider getting involved with the Poverty Simulation!  Or if you are simply interested in attending, contact Laurie Williamson: lwilliamson(at)unitedwaytriangle(dot)org

 

Welcome Leah! August 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Elizabeth Johnson @ 10:08 am

FVPC is excited to welcome Leah Josephson on board as a blogger at One in Four starting today!

Leah Josephson is finishing her last semester at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a journalism and French double major and a women’s studies minor. She has been involved with various types of feminist advocacy and activism throughout her time at Carolina and helped create the university’s One Act peer education training, a bystander intervention program that empowers community members to help prevent interpersonal violence on campus. Leah also works at the Carolina Women’s Center as the communications assistant. After graduation, she hopes to obtain a master’s degree in social work and pursue a career in nonprofit management focused on women’s issues.

Look for Leah’s debut blog post on the security risks associated with location-based apps like Foursquare for mobile phones.

 

Foursquare May Have Safety Risks for Users August 16, 2011

Foursquare, a location-based social networking website for mobile phones that allows users to “check in” at locations of interest and compete with others for both virtual and real-life rewards, has grown in popularity to over 10 million users since its launch in 2009 (including, recently, President Obama). The program uses GPS to establish check-ins, which are then sent to users’ friends within the foursquare network and linked to Twitter and Facebook if they choose.

A recent Wall Street Journal study found that 60% of foursquare check-ins in a given week are made by men, as compared to 38% by women. Tech experts often explain tech differences like this in terms of men’s greater likelihood of becoming early adopters of social media, but foursquare’s statistics may be related to another concern for women users: safety.

I don’t use foursquare because of concerns about the safety of sharing my real-time location over the internet. But choosing not to use foursquare hasn’t completely protected me from location sharing because it has become a feature on other social media platforms as well. I realized recently I’d been accidentally broadcasting my location to all of my Twitter followers with every tweet because I had unknowingly clicked a button below the text box on my Android phone. My Twitter account is public, so I was shaken to realize how much information readers had been receiving.

Leo Hickman, a journalist for The Guardian, wrote an article last year about how he was able to stalk a random woman at a sporting event based on her foursquare posts. He raised concerns about privacy issues related to foursquare. “Sure, you might earn yourself a “free” decaf latte when you check in five times at a coffee shop, but at what price to your privacy?” Hickman wrote. In 2010, a San Francisco programmer was able to capture 875,000 supposedly private check-ins through a security loophole that was later fixed.

Location-based social media have exciting prospects, but some have noted that women in particular may not feel as free to use them for fear of unwanted surveillance. Especially for those involved in abusive relationships or for victims of stalkers, foursquare and programs like it could be used as weapons. And in a culture that frequently blames sexual assault victims because of their outfits or their level of intoxication, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that victims could also be blamed for “putting themselves out there” and inviting victimization by allowing others to view their locations on social media platforms.

Many tech experts say GPS-based apps will become even more ubiquitous in the future, and other social media platforms have already begun to adopt location-based elements. My experience with the GPS feature on Twitter caused me to scrutinize my privacy settings for my other social media accounts, but I still don’t feel confident I completely understand my chosen settings. I feel concerned that sites like Facebook may have made privacy deliberately complicated, causing users to choose more relaxed settings that allow advertisers to mine their data more easily.

How will developers be able to ensure safety as they continue to curate this technology? In a male-dominated field like computer science, how can we work to ensure an individual’s unique privacy concerns are taken into consideration throughout the development of new products? Leave a comment below to weigh in!

 

New DV Laws Have Mixed Results August 15, 2011

New laws intended to better protect victims of domestic violence have been passed in Connecticut and Kentucky.  Connecticut’s state legislature recently passed a bill that implements several critical measures aimed at protecting domestic violence victims from future harm.  The law gets rid of a provision which exempted abusers in dating relationships from being arrested for domestic violence.  Similarly the law allows people of any age, including minors, to get restraining orders against abusive partners.  This is particularly good news for teenagers because until now minors could only obtain protective orders against adults.  Lastly, the new law requires domestic violence offenders, who have been banned from possessing firearms, to surrender their weapons to police or federally-licensed firearms dealers.  Shockingly, before this bill was passed, these abusers had the right to surrender firearms to friends or family members.  This new law represents a major victory for domestic violence programs around the state.  Susan DeLeon, the director of Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven stated, “This is going to prevent people from dying.  It’s going to save lives.”

Similar efforts are being made in Kentucky.  In late 2009, Amanda Ross was fatally shot by former state legislator Steve Nunn.  Ross had obtained a protective order against Nunn six months before the murder.  Her death prompted House Speaker Greg Stumbo to propose Amanda’s Law.  Stumbo’s initial proposal would have allowed victims to request GPS monitoring of an abuser as soon as a domestic violence charge was filed in civil or criminal court.  However, the State Senate modified the bill.  Under the altered bill, an offender must commit a “substantial violation” of the protective order before GPS tracking can be requested.  A “substantial violation” includes kidnapping, terroristic threatening, or assault.  However, Amanda’s Law has had some positive effects.  The law requires judges, if requested by the petitioner, to review criminal backgrounds of offenders to determine if they have a pattern of violent behavior.  Since the law was enacted one year ago 25,843 background checks have been processed.

It will take more than legislation to end domestic violence, but improvements in the laws are necessary.  What do you think a good domestic violence law looks like?  How can you get involved to implement change?  Leave us a comment!

 

Get Involved with LUNAFEST! August 3, 2011

Filed under: Domestic Violence Awareness Month,fundraisers,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:43 pm

LUNAFEST is a film festival composed of short films that are “by, for, and about women.”  Since its creation in 2000, LUNAFEST has raised over $570,000 for various women’s organizations and has grown from a single annual festival to over 150 festivals each year.  In 2010, FVPC launched our first LUNAFEST at an event during DVAM with 130+ people attending.  We’d like to do it again but need some help!

Tina Joy Craven, our fearless producer of last year’s LUNAFEST, in need of a co-leader to help organize and promote the event!  The co-leader must be passionate about the project and have enough time to devote to it. She/he needs to be PR savvy (posting fliers, Facebooking, Tweeting and coordinate press releases, etc.)  and willing to hustle far and wide to get the word out!   There will be a lot of correspondence with Tina through email and phone calls. There is organizational, marketing, and fundraising skills involved in this rewarding and fun experience.  Knowledge about online ticketing would be helpful but is not required.  Duration of project: 3 months start to finish.

If you are interested in co-leading this project, please contact Elizabeth at: elizabeth(at)fvpcoc(dot)org and she’ll forward your details on to Tina.

Note: As a non-profit organization whose client base is 85% women, we aren’t “helping” other women’s organizations in a financial sense but we do partner with local women’s organizations to help our clients get the services that they need as well as offer our free community ed programs to Orange County agencies who serve men and women that request training around the issue of intimate partner violence.  I hope this answers the comment approved below.

 

It Takes A Village… August 2, 2011

The concept of domestic violence as a “personal matter” and not a community concern hardly qualifies as novel. With 175 million registered users on Twitter alone and 4 million Tweets every hour, social media has become the way of connecting with others. But as it extends beyond our personal lives, further-reaching opportunities surface in tandem to speak out about injustices that we see and are frustrated by. In doing so, domestic violence is one of those injustices that has moved from the private into the very public consciousness of a larger world.  More of us are using social media to do good. An example of that is the recent case of Rumana Monzur.

Monzur, a Bangladeshi woman who had traveled as a Fulbright scholar to the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. She returned home in May missing her daughter and husband, to write her dissertation. After showing her husband pictures of her with a fellow male student, he attacked her, accusing her of having an extramarital affair.  He gouged out her eyes, leaving her blind and severely traumatized her daughter who stood by.

Domestic violence victims sometimes experience shame around their attacks and often believe if they had acted differently, perhaps their partners wouldn’t hurt them.  This shame  is not unique and pervades many discussions around interpersonal violence, regardless of geographic locations. Victims often worry that if they speak out against their abusers, their character and actions will be questioned.  This can be especially challenging when the abuser has become a part of the family.  No one wants to believe that the person that they have come to accept as a son or daughter in law is actually an abuser.

While Monzur might have suffered from these fears, her family and friends encouraged her to speak out about the attack.   A Facebook page detailing her attack as well as an online donation page for her recovery fueled by her family and friends were created so that her side of the story would be known. She also interviewed with a local Bangladeshi news station and posted the interview on Youtube.

The community of people who rallied around Monzur serves as a terrific example of how using social media can help all of us understand intimate partner violence as a public issue that collectively we have a social responsibility to eliminate.   Across the world activists in every imaginable area use social media to challenge that culture of shame and offer instead, a culture of support for victims.  These kind of public responses also put culpability back on the abuser where it belongs, rather than on the victim.   One woman’s example also encourages other victims of abuse to feel comfortable sharing their testimonies, “I lost my eyes,” says Monzur. “I don’t want anyone to suffer like I am suffering. It is horrible.”

Using social media to build awareness about interpersonal violence in one step that we can take to be active bystanders for survivors.  Social media also affords us the advantage of quiet activism, where we don’t need to be out in front at a rally or defending someone in a bar but behind our computer or smart phone.  We can quietly type away words of support on our Twitter feed,  a blog post (like this one!) or on our Facebook wall to our own network who influence us as we do them.  Any small step can be a great step.

What are some ways that you use social media to help raise awareness around issues that are important to you?  Leave us a comment.

 

 
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