One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

Spring 2012 Hotline Advocate Training Dates! November 28, 2011

Filed under: volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 11:30 am

Are you looking for a little more meaning in your daily life?  Is your job frustrating to you and have you thinking about a career change?  Does going back to school sound attractive but you find yourself unsure of what to study and for what reason?  If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, consider volunteering with us.

Here at FVPC, volunteers help with the majority of number of the services that we offer.  They are support group facilitators, court advocates, community educators and hotline advocates.  They work directly with victims of intimate partner violence and they also help fundraise behind the scenes.  With all of the opportunities to help here at the Center, our volunteers gain real time experience that they can use in their current work, add to a resume, include on an application for grad school and more.

Hotline Advocates use the skills that they learned in training to assist clients in need with Domestic Violence Protective Orders, do safety planning, offer crisis counseling, refer out to partner agencies, screen for support group and much more. We offer extensive training for all volunteers. The Hotline Advocate training takes place over 6 weeks and includes topics such as crisis intervention, active listening, legal advocacy, understanding Orange County community resources, dealing with different populations, abuser typology, and more.  Graduates of the hotline advocate training work directly with clients who call our 24-hr hotline as well as drop into the office.

The dates for the Spring 2012 Hotline Advocate training begin Tuesday February 7 and run for 6 weeks on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:30-9:00 pm at The Seymour Center in Chapel Hill.  The complete dates are: 2/7, 2/9, 2/14, 2/16, 2/21, 2/23, 2/28, 3/1, 3/13, 3/14, 3/20, 3/22. We are off the week of March 5.  The training is completely free but we do ask for a 9-month commitment to the Center.

Spanish language on-call interpreters for Hotline Advocates are in demand!  The hours for this training and time commitment are much shorter but the need is still great.  FVPC does not have a Latino Services Coordinator so we reply on volunteers entirely to help serve our Spanish speaking clients.  If you are a Spanish speaker, consider giving us a few hours a week to help meet this need.

To learn more about why our volunteers work with us, check out some of our recent volunteers have done after leaving FVPC click here. If you are interested in learning more about how you can help, please call Elizabeth at 929 3872 or email: elizabeth (at) fvpcoc (dot) org. The application deadline is Jan 30 9:00 am.


Domestic Violence is an Issue for us ALL November 22, 2011

Filed under: Allies,domestic violence,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 11:35 am

Domestic Violence is often seen as a woman’s issue. It’s a social problem which effects every single one of us, unless you live on an island alone. A society which often glorifies violence in entertainment by showing women as either innocent or overly sexualized objects who often enjoy being hurt, and also promoting gender division by inundating each of us with ideals of “masculine” and “feminine” is a society that allows domestic violence to happen. Until sexism and racism are eradicated, domestic violence will continue.  Domestic violence, then affects all of us.

Because we have this belief, here at FVPC we rely on male and female volunteers to support our mission. Women are not the only victims of domestic violence nor are they the only ones qualified to help victims and do the much needed prevention work that we do in the schools and community. We asked a few of our male volunteers why they do this work and they told us!

One of our male volunteers, Luis knows first hand that domestic violence is more than a woman’s issue. He, along with his mother and siblings experienced violence at the hands of their abuser. After healing from this abuse, Luis is now dedicated to helping domestic violence victims. He believes that as long as one person is a victim of domestic violence, than we are all victims.

Another one of our volunteers, Pete, says, “I work with victims of domestic violence because all of the misconceptions and stigmas surrounding the issue that make it extremely difficult for people to get help.  I also want to set an example for other males, so that they can get involved. Domestic violence work is important because no one deserves to be abused.  Anyone is susceptible to being abused and I want to be able to help anyone in need.”

As Cole, another one of our volunteers points out, domestic violence is often minimized in public. As a volunteer, he seeks “to be available for those who may not know there is help.” When we work together as a community, then we make domestic violence more visible and can take steps to stop it.

We think Cole is absolutely right!  Domestic violence is a community issue, requiring a community response. We offer services to people of all races, classes, religions, ethnic groups, sexual orientations and gender identities. And it is that same variety of people that we want to help us help others.

If you have time and agree with us that domestic violence is a community issue that needs a community response, then I encourage you to join our spring volunteer training session.


International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women November 21, 2011

Filed under: Allies,domestic violence,The UN — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:30 am

A great way to observe International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women this year is to visit the UN’s UNiTE website. Starting today, November 21, the website will be providing 16 days worth of actions you can take to help end violence against women. This is a global issue permeating every level of society.

This Friday, November 25, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Formally declared by the UN General Assembly on December 17,1999,  the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is not a holiday, but a global observance. The day is observed on November 25, to mark the anniversary of the Maribal sisters’ death in the Dominican Republic. The Mirabal sisters fought against Dictator Rafael Trujillo’s rule, and were sentenced to death for their activism on November 25, 1960.

  • Approximately 70% of women and girls will be abused in their lifetime.
  • Domestic violence and rape are higher risks for 15 -44 year old women than traffic accidents or cancer.
  • In South Africa a woman is killed by an intimate partner every 6 hours.
  • In the United States, 1/3 of all female murders are committed by intimate partners. (For more facts and figures go here)

Violence against women can be a very personal issue, but we must also consider it as a huge global issue as well. Start doing research and start getting involved, because violence against women is too big of a problem to be solved by simply being sympathetic. Check out the UNiTE page for different ways to act. Another great way to act is to volunteer with FVPC. We start a volunteer training session in February and would love to have you join us.

Take some time to think today about violence against women. And I hope that thinking will convict you to act!


_Family Guy_ episode blames victims, perpetuates stereotypes…all in 30 min! November 19, 2011

Filed under: dating violence,Victim Blaming,Why do they stay? — Elizabeth Johnson @ 10:44 am
Tags: , ,

From a guest blogger, one of our MSW Interns:

Although I do not usually watch Family Guy, it was hard to ignore the deluge of angry headlines criticizing a recent episode: “Screams of Silence”. As a fan of both bad TV and educational opportunities concerning domestic violence, I decided to watch it for myself.

The episode re-introduces us to Quagmire’s little sister, Brenda, who comes to town with her abusive boyfriend, Jeff. Brenda and Jeff encapsulate every stereotype of an abusive relationship: he is a large and overly aggressive; she is small and timid.  Jeff constantly berates Brenda in front of her family and friends and at one point in the show, drags her into another room where you can actually hear her being beaten. Quagmire and friends are, of course, immediately shocked and horrified at what they see and hear.  The men ask Lois to talk to Brenda, who denies the severity of the abuse and makes excuses for Jeff’s behavior.

At one point in the show, Brenda’s friends and family stage an intervention in which they accuse her of being a “punching bag” and berate her for allowing the abuse to continue. The fact that this intervention was portrayed as a serious approach to dealing with a survivor of domestic violence was horrifying. Victims are not responsible for their partner’s actions; blaming them for abuse only reinforces feelings of shame and guilt that contribute to their reluctance to seek help. Furthermore, forcing victims to choose between their social support and an abuser is a dis-empowering approach. Ultimately, this will only increase the isolation the victim, making it more difficult for them to leave the relationship. Unfortunately, this is the scene that millions of viewers will remember as a legitimate method for helping victims. Instead of an intervention, Family Guy could have portrayed more realistic treatment options: Brenda could have visited a local domestic violence center, stayed at an overnight shelter, or attended a support group for victims. If the writers could poke fun at an intervention, they surely could have found the humor in a more legitimate alternative.

I don’t expect accurate depictions of reality from shows such as Family Guy, which is why I found the topic of this episode to be completely inappropriate. Because there are so few realistic representations of domestic violence on TV, generalized stereotypes—even if they are intended as satire—are often the only exposure many people have to these situations. Promoting misconceptions about domestic abuse is harmful and discourages victims from seeking help.  Shows that choose to feature domestic violence have a responsibility to understand the basic dynamics of abusive relationships in order to protect the integrity and rights of victims. If shows such as Family Guy feel that they absolutely must use domestic violence for comedic effect, they should feature a more representative portrayal of the issue. Even something as simple as the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline flashed at the end of the show could have the potential to save lives.  I hope to see future shows covering domestic violence in a constructive way that brings attention to the complexity of the issue while providing resources and information to victims, their families, and their friends.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in an intimate partner relationship, please call our 24 hour hotline: 919 929 7122.


The Morality of Acting November 17, 2011

Filed under: bystander intervention,childhood sexual abuse,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:51 am
Tags: ,

Penn State has been garnering a lot of attention recently, but none of it wanted.  On November 5, former Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky, was arrested for inappropriate behaviors with as many as eight young boys in the last fifteen years. During his tenor at Penn State Sandusky founded The Second Mile,  an organization for at-risk children.  He retired from his position in 1999, but was given emeritus status which entitled him access to the football team and its facilities.   Prosecution is now arguing that this charitable organization provided a cover for Sandusky to access children for sexual recreation. Sandusky was arraigned then released on $100,000 bail after being charged with 40 counts connected to sexual abuse of young boys. He denies all charges.

Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz are both implicated in the case, for reportedly knowing about the abuse and failing to report it. Both have resigned from their posts. University President Graham Spanier as well as Penn State head coach and football legend, Joe Paterno, have been fired for supposedly being aware of the abuse and not acting.

At the crux of the scandal is Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who, in 2002, (when still a graduate assistant) walked in on Sandusky with a young boy in the shower. McQueary claims to have reported what he saw to Coach Paterno and then met with Curley and Schultz to discuss the matter. In a recent report released just yesterday, McQueary apparently told a friend via email that he stopped the alleged rape and talked to police.  McQueary was placed on administrative leave last Friday.

Each person involved gives a slightly different story, but what seems to be true of all accounts,  is that everyone knew that something wasn’t right but settled for inaction. There were some discussions, but no action. Note: None at least until yesterday’s email surfaced (interestingly after days worth of condemnation for inaction by all parties). And, until the public backlash, everyone seemed content with that. They did “something” (reporting to the police, telling a supervisor) and that was enough.

There  are problematic power dynamics involved in this particular situation namely, that of Sandusky and the children he spent time with (“children identified as needing extra support” and “children who live in the most difficult circumstances, having experienced the greatest trauma”) as well as the power hierarchy between a graduate assistant and Penn State officials and perhaps even Penn State and the town of State College, PA itself. The question that arises from looking at power dynamics is the responsibility of a person, when the higher authority in which they reported to fails to act. When this happens, what is there to do?  Meaning, ultimately, is the issue over?  Likely the trauma, stress, anxiety, pain, etc. isn’t over for the victim even if the “incident” is over.

Doing “your part” must be more than a one-time act to alleviate inner feelings of guilt or privilege.  It should become a mindset instead of an obligation. We must all speak up and act for those that are least advantaged. While it can be a complicated situation when those higher than yourself fail to act, if the situation continues to feel wrong to you, pursue the issue. Asking questions might not be popular but not asking it could lead to a number of problems later on, as we have seen in the time since Sandusky’s arrest, with five university staff either resigning or being fired from their positions.

The allegations in this case, while still under investigation, are very disturbing. But, let’s use this unfolding tragedy as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to being active bystanders.  An active bystander is someone who makes an conscious decision to make a bad situation better. This can involve simple acts such as asking if a person is okay, getting an authority figure involved, or if it feels safe, personally intervening especially if the person being harmed is unable to defend themselves or disadvantaged in another way.

Some suggestions for being an active bystander include:

Speak up! If something is not quite right, than you are probably not the only one who notices. Say something and you might be joined by others.  But even if not, your voice is important.

Listen to your gut instinct. If you think something is wrong, investigate it. Think about what you can do to improve the situation and then determine how to act without compromising your personal safety.

Don’t be content to pass the buck. If you think something is suspicious, don’t just tell one person and leave it alone. Check back in. See what happened and if anything was done. If the issue was dropped, pick it back up and find someone else to discuss the issue with.

Active bystanders don’t just let things drop and hope for the best. They do everything they can to help improve things for others, knowing that someday that might need help too.

If you are a student or faculty member on UNC’s campus and have not been One Act trained do it! One Act is a bystander intervention one time training session that empowers individuals to be active bystanders.

Another great way to be an active bystander is by signing up for volunteer training at FVPC. Our volunteers are trained to know how to help and what to do in tough situations.

Or find your own path. But whatever it is, DO something. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi


FVPC volunteers out in the world November 9, 2011

Filed under: volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:50 am

FVPC has amazing volunteers. While FVPC is often only a slice of our volunteers’ lives, the work they do can impact their entire journey. This month, we are highlighting four previous volunteers who are making a difference in their communities using some of what they learned during their time at FVPC.


Hampton N:

When did you volunteer with FVPC and for how long?: I helped with hotline day shifts, from spring 2008 to spring 2011.

What are you doing now?:  I recently relocated to Oakland, CA to begin my post-grad adventures. I arrived with an assurance that I would begin my career path in the non-profit sector, particularly focused on women’s empowerment.  I am currently finishing up a fellowship at Women’s Initiative, a Bay Area non-profit that trains and supports low-income women to start their own businesses.  I have recently become involved in the Occupy Oakland community gatherings, and was able to march with tens of thousands of citizens to shut down the city Port.

How has your time with FVPC impacted your current situation?:  My years at FVPC have impressed upon me a consciousness that remains aware of potential life situations someone may be experiencing.  At Women’s Initiative, many of our clients have been or are currently in abusive relationships; and so when I contact a woman I bring that awareness and sensitivity by remaining more anonymous on voicemails and by cultivating a safe space where she can share any situation that is affecting her as a business owner or as a person.

Do you have any words of advice or pearls of wisdom for current volunteers?: Remain open and supportive in all circumstances.  You may never know when your extension of support touches someone in a way that they are never able to share with you.

You can learn something about yourself from every person you come in contact with.  Being a volunteer can sometimes produce a false sense of one-way assistance.  Every client you come in contact with can teach you so much about so much; as you actively listen, make such that you are truly taking in the wisdom that each person brings with them.

Lenka B:

When did you volunteer with FVPC and for how long?:  I started training to become a volunteer February of 2010. Once training ended I signed on as a phone advocate daytime and night. I also helped with community education events. I stayed on as a volunteer up until I left for the Peace Corps in January 2011.

What are you doing now?:   I am a volunteer for the Peace Corps in rural Nicaragua. My assignment is to work on maternal and child health. This makes my primary job community health education. I do a lot of hiking through the mountains looking for pregnant girls to talk to. 

How has your time with FVPC impacted your current situation?:  One of the biggest factors affecting women’s health in Nicaragua is domestic violence. Whereas at FVPC part of our job as advocates is to offer information to resources such as shelters, hospitals, lawyers, daycare, support groups, etc. Here in Nicaragua we lack all of these resources. One of the best things I can do for Nicaraguan women is to be a listening ear. Training with FVPC helped me learn how to be an active listener. I can be a support for a woman in need and I can validate her feelings when she feels like nobody understands. 

Do you have any words of advice or pearls of wisdom for current volunteers?: Keep in mind that listening is valuable. There will probably be many moments when you feel like you can’t really “do” anything for a client. Being there in that office when they may not have anyone else to turn to is really important. 

You will carry these skills and this experience with you for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a worldwide chronic problem. Like me, you may be asked to play the role of advocate to a friend, coworker, or family member and you will feel incredibly frustrated about how to help them. Then you will think back and remember that what they need from you is your listening ear and your support. That can be their first step on their path to safety, and maybe changing their lives for the better. 

Sarah C:

When did you volunteer with FVPC and for how long?:  I started volunteering with FVPC late in the summer of 2010. I became their Women’s Studies Intern during the Spring of 2011. I would consider myself on temporary leave from FVPC, but I hope to go back to volunteering at FVPC after my graduation from law school.

What are you doing now?: I’m currently a 1L at UNC’s School of Law. 

How has your time with FVPC impacted your current situation?:  During my internship at FVPC, I was able to spend every Wednesday in Domestic Violence Court in Hillsborough. At that time I had already decided I wanted to attend law school, but working with our clients in the courtroom opened my eyes to a whole new area of law that needs passionate advocates. Since I started law school I have become the Pro Bono Chair for UNC Law’s Domestic Violence Action Project. We are in the midst of planning a new “Know Your Rights” presentation that will inform members of the community about the legal recourses available to domestic violence victims and will hopefully clarify some key questions that domestic violence victims often have. I am also working with the Wake County District Attorney’s office through a pro bono project to help prosecute domestic violence cases. I know my experience at FVPC deepened my insight into domestic violence in order to grant me a better understanding of the impact of domestic violence on our community. Also, my memories of clients and staff at FVPC greatly contribute to my drive to continue to work with domestic violence.

Do you have any words of advice or pearls of wisdom for current volunteers?: One thing I would like to say is that it’s ok to feel something after interacting with clients. As advocates you will be confronted with challenging and at times emotionally draining experiences. You will most likely have at least one client whose story affects you more than you were expecting. Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. Think about why you’re responding to the situation the way you are and then take advantage of the amazing staff members at FVPC to talk it out. You will grow as a person and you will become a stronger advocate if you take care of yourself. And remember, the work you are doing is invaluable and greatly appreciated!

Lily P:

When did you volunteer with FVPC and for how long?:  I volunteered with FVPC for three and a half years during my time as an undergrad at UNC.  During my first semester, I heard in my women’s studies 101 class that FVPC was looking for childcare volunteers.  After doing the training I decided I wanted to do more than childcare and so I did a weekly hotline shift as well.  The most influential volunteering, for me, ended up being the support groups I got to co-facilitate.  One of the groups was at a transitional housing shelter for women and children.  It made a lasting impression on me to see the devastating convergence of the cycles of poverty and violence.

What are you doing now?:  I’m now working for Pisgah Legal Services in Western North Carolina.  I do intake with all of the low-income clients who call us about domestic violence. As part of the application for services, every survivor of domestic violence is offered safety planning.  My time at FVPC prepared me to safety plan effectively and broadly with the diverse range of clients I speak to daily. It has been an incredibly empowering role to match up survivors with attorneys who help them get domestic violence protective orders, divorces, custody of their children, as well as legal advice or representation on any issue that impacts their basic needs like housing, health, or education.

How has your time with FVPC impacted your current situation?:  I can’t imagine I would have such a fulfilling job today if it hadn’t been for that announcement about FVPC needing child care volunteers during my first year in college!  Back then I would never have expected domestic violence prevention to become a passion.  I remain inspired by the survivors I meet or spoke to on FVPC’s hotline, who had the bravery to come forward about their experiences and the courage to make drastic changes in their lives.

Do you have any words of advice or pearls of wisdom for current volunteers?: I would say the most valuable lesson I learned from FVPC’s staff and volunteers was that doors and hearts open when you beginning every interaction with compassion.

Wow! These volunteers are doing great things! You never know where a volunteer opportunity will take you, as Lily said, it just might impact your entire life’s direction. It is fantastic that each of these volunteers has channeled their passion for being a domestic violence advocate into a satisfying and unique future. Good luck to all of them! I hope you were as inspired by their stories as I was.


LUNAFEST a success! November 8, 2011

Filed under: fundraisers,Uncategorized — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:28 am

This year’s LUNAFEST was a great night! We sold approximately 150 tickets and had a good turn out. The short films were truly inspirational and thought provoking. Thanks so much to everyone who came out! A special thanks to Alpha Chi Omega for providing the delicious cupcakes and all the volunteers who helped out as well!

If you attended the event but did not get a chance to fill out the survey, please take a few minutes to do that here now. We hope you all enjoyed LUNAFEST as much as we did and look forward to seeing you again next year!