One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

NC Pre-K and the cost of child care March 21, 2012

As I think this blog does a good job of showing, interpersonal violence (IPV) is not fought against on only one front. There are an array of factors which must be overcome before an end to IPV can be fully achieved. On this blog we have discussed issues such as gender rolesbeing an active bystander, and challenging IPV stereotypes. One of the most prevalent questions concerning IPV is why does s/he stay? Well, one reason a person might stay in an abusive relationship is because of her/his children.

Economic abuse is often connected to other, more readily “visible” abuses such as physical or emotional. Perhaps the abusive partner will not allow the other to work, or the abuser controls/monitors the family banking accounts, or everything (lease, car, utilities, bank account, credit cards) is legally under the abuser’s name.  When any of these apply, financial considerations are not minor when deciding whether or not to leave an abusive situation. If there are children involved, financial considerations are compounded because it is not only the individual’s well being which must be provided for but also her/his children. Most people leaving an abusive situation would rely on their current job or becoming employed and keeping that job; their livelihood and their childrens (if present) will rely upon it. If the IPV survivor has children than there is an added challenge: childcare. If the children are school age than that care might not be as big of an obstacle, but if the child(ren) is below the age of five, childcare can be a huge challenge.

Right now, the cost of childcare for a four year old in NC is on average more expensive than one year’s tuition and fees at a NC public university. Current legislation is seeking among other thing, to cut the state tuition assistance eligibility for NC Pre-K by over 50%. Currently, a family of four earning about $50,000/yr would be eligible for assistance. With the new proposal, a family of four would have to make $22,000/yr for a child of four to be eligible. The 2012 poverty guideline designates a family of four to live in poverty when they have an income of less than $23,050/yr. So, in NC a family would have to live $1,050 under the poverty line in order to gain tuition assistance for their four year old. After a public outcry against the  legislation it has been drastically revised. But the issue of tuition assistance and at what income the cap is going to be is still undecided.

I want to highlight two things from this:

1) Childcare is not only an issue for parents or caregivers to worry about. Like IPV, childcare is a community and public health issue. It’s just good practice for a society to take care of its children, to care for the most vulnerable who are unable to care for themselves.  In addition, the legislative proposals for NC Pre-K would drastically cut funding for families in need and that – besides being an issue for society at large – could be a huge factor in  an IPV survivor’s decision about leaving or staying with her/his abuser. Affordable childcare could be one more tool in helping an IPV survivor leave their abuser for good.

2) Look at what can happen when people speak up! I found out about the NC Pre-K proposal a few days before it was supposed to be voted upon. The organization MomsRising was encouraging people to write to their legislators to voice their opinion about the new proposal. Thanks in part to that organization as well as other efforts on the part of educators, school officials, parents, and concerned citizens the legislation has become a list of recommendations AND one issue, the privatization of NC Pre-K, was completely taken off of the proposal.

There are SO many things that individuals can do. Like this – be politically aware. Read a newspaper. Make a point to know about the policy changes and proposals being made on local, state, and national levels. We, as advocates, are SO powerful! Our voices are strong and when we use them great things can happen. We need to remember that.  And use it to our advantage.  How do you call attention to something that you feel is wrong?  Leave us a comment and let us know.

 

Challenge Your Notions of Poverty: Play SPENT! March 16, 2012

Filed under: community education,poverty,privilege — Women's Studies Intern @ 9:31 am
Tags: , , ,

On February 8, 2010, the Urban Ministries of Durham, with the assistance of McKinney, launched SPENT, an online program that challenges participants to attempt to survive poverty.  Play the game here.  The Urban Ministries of Durham provides food, shelter, clothing, and supportive services to those in need throughout the Durham community.

SPENT, which had over one million plays in almost two hundred countries as of August 2011 , is an interactive computer game that provides users with $1,000 at the beginning of a month and brings up real-life scenarios that require spending, such as health insurance, children’s field trips, rent, and food.  Players must make choices, test their skills, and attempt to survive.

Urban Ministries of Durham Executive Director Patrice Nelson states,  “As players struggle to stay afloat, we hope they appreciate more clearly the realities facing the many individuals and families UMD serves.”  The goal is to challenge the way people think about poverty and homelessness and educate users about the struggles that so many men, women, and children are facing in our country today.

Challenge yourself and your ideas surrounding the difficulty or ease it might take to survive poverty.  Play SPENT!

 

Possible Improvement in Judicial Process for Domestic Violence Cases on Indian Reservations September 28, 2011

The 19th annual Four Corners Indian Country Conference on September 13-15, 2011 represented an open dialogue and hope for progress related to victims’ assistance on Native American Indian reservations in Colorado, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Interpersonal violence is experienced at more elevated levels on reservations than in the general population, and the Department of Justice has reported that Native American women in particular experience violence at an extremely elevated rate – three and a half times more than any other population in the United States. And when we consider the number of sexual assaults and incidences of domestic violence that are unreported [60% according to the DOJ] this number could be much higher. Prosecution is a problem on reservations, as tribes are sovereign nations and determining the jurisdiction for intimate partner violence and sexual assault cases can be complex.

US Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli spoke at the conference on some recent Department of Justice efforts to improve the legal challenges of addressing violence, and in particular domestic violence, on reservations. The pending legislation would do three things:

  1. It would give trial law enforcement more ability to prosecute crimes that happen on reservations regardless of the perpetrator’s membership in the tribe.  Currently, tribal law enforcement officers have difficulty prosecuting non-Native American offenders, even in cases of domestic violence. The legislation would also ensure that tribal law enforcement has the right to enforce protective orders on both members and non-members of Native American tribes.
  2. The new DOJ laws would provide harsher federal punishments to perpetrators of violent crime within reservations. Since the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act, the most severe punishment that can be imposed by native courts is one year in jail or a $5,000 fine, which is a far less significant penalty than most perpetrators receive for convictions outside of the tribal judicial system.
  3. $100 million has also been earmarked by the DOJ for more attorneys, investigators and victim advocates on reservations. Indian Country reported that a DOJ grant that provided more domestic violence personnel resources to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Montana led to the first domestic violence convictions on the reservation – in only 6 months, 169 domestic assault complaints were filed, and 147 of them have pending court action.

These possible progressive changes to the prosecution of domestic violence and sexual assault on reservations would also hit close to home as North Carolina is home to the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

You can contact the Department of Justice to express your support for the pending legislation and budget increases by emailing AskDOJ@usdoj.gov or by calling the Attorney General’s public comment line at (202) 353-1555.

 

Rates of DV Increase After Natural Disasters – How Can We Help? September 1, 2011

Despite a hefty $71 million price tag for damages to more than 1,100 homes and businesses, North Carolina was fortunately spared from the brunt of Hurricane Irene’s destruction. In comparison to other natural disasters, Irene was less harmful, although there were a reported 42 tragically related deaths in affected areas.

Advance warning may have contributed to the relatively low level of destruction from Irene. Americans all along the East Coast prepared for the storm, taping windows, stacking sandbags and boarding up storefronts. But strongly recognized precautionary measures, like filling a bathtub with water before a hurricane, aren’t the only concern for government agencies and community service providers in planning for disaster relief. Evidence has suggested that the prevalence of intimate partner violence, child abuse and sexual assault increases in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

The State Department reported that after the earthquake in Haiti, “Women’s rights groups and human rights organizations reported that domestic violence against women remained commonplace and under-reported. Police rarely arrested the perpetrators or investigated the incidents, and the victims sometimes suffered further harassment and reprisals from perpetrators, sometimes prompting secondary displacement of victims within IDP camps.”

In New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, high rates of domestic violence and sexual assault were widely observed by disaster relief staff, although reporting rates were dramatically low because of survivors’ physical displacement from their jurisdictions.

Several aspects of the circumstances of the aftermath of a natural disaster contribute to increased risk for domestic violence and sexual assault. First, the collapse of a community’s infrastructure leaves some individuals, most often women and children, more vulnerable to assault. Separation from friends, family members and familiar resources increases this vulnerability, especially as most facilities require refugees to sleep among strangers, often in close quarters. Finally, the lack of organization and limited presence of law enforcement in some disaster relief shelters can create a sense of lawlessness among inhabitants.

While the United States was spared from massive destruction this week, preparation efforts for Hurricane Irene brought unique concerns to the forefront of public discussion. The provision of adequate resources for women and other vulnerable populations at risk for domestic violence and sexual assault must be prioritized by government relief agencies and local service providers. We can learn an important lesson from the unforgivable crimes observed during relief efforts for the natural disasters mentioned above – and we can use it to better develop our emergency response plans in the face of future storms.

Safety planning is important, whether for a natural disaster or leaving an abusive relationship.  Do you have your essentials ready if you needed to leave home suddenly?  What would you bring?  Leave us your thoughts.

 

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

 

How poverty affects domestic violence March 21, 2011

Filed under: domestic violence,poverty — Women's Studies Intern @ 11:28 am
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In a recent News and Observer article entitled “Tackling N.C.’s persistent poverty” UNC economics professor, Patrick Conway, gave readers a glimpse into the background of North Carolina’s growing poverty rates. In his article, Conway stresses the importance of education as well as government support for low-income families. He acknowledges the expenditure they mandate in the short term but points to the long term benefits of fewer households living in poverty and higher levels of job preparedness as long term justification for the spending. In light of the recent and upcoming budget debates it is important that as citizens we remain informed of the potential effects of budget decisions so that North Carolina may continue to be “a model for others states and a benefit to its lowest-income citizens,” as defined by Conway.

Conway’s article served as a reminder of the connection between poverty and domestic violence. While poverty in no way causes domestic violence, it can be seen as an aggravating factor for those already in domestic violence situations. Victims living in poverty are often forced to examine their safety in terms broader than solely the physical. For example, by leaving an abuser a victim may also be giving up affordable housing, an additional (or the only) source of income, and/or any childcare or transportation his/her partner provides. These additional issues may cause victims to have to find a multilayered approach to their situations at home or may ultimately dissuade them from leaving their abusers.

The domestic violence prevention community has also felt the effects of the economic downturn economy in connection to centers and shelters themselves. While domestic violence agencies are working hard to continue to aid domestic violence victims and raise awareness in their communities, budget cuts and the poor state of the economy in general have become looming threats. REACH, a domestic violence shelter community based out of Jackson County, NC has already felt the effects of new financial constraints and has been forced to begin foreclosure proceedings. It is unlikely that local governments in this time of economic recession will have the funds to adequately provide services for domestic violence victims, let alone to continue the preventative measures domestic violence agencies offer. Beverly Kennedy, Executive Director of FVPC, sees Orange County paralleling this trend and says that as budget cuts continue she has seen requests for services here at FVPC increase.

Visit our website to learn about the options available for individuals and groups to help victims of domestic violence.

 

 
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