One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

“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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Gender Nonconforming Behavior in Kids and Teens March 6, 2012

Filed under: Allies,bullying,child abuse,gender norms — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:00 am
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Last week CNN published an article entitled “Kids Who Veer from Gender Norms at Higher Risk for Abuse.”  The article highlights a study that was recently published by Pediatrics, the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.  The study shows that children who do not conform to gender roles are more likely to be abused.  This abuse increases the probability that these children will experience post-traumatic stress disorder by the time they reach their 20s.  Surprisingly, the abuse that children who are gender nonconforming endure is more likely to come from parents and other older adults as opposed to bullying at school.

“Children and Adolescents With Gender Identity Disorder Referred to a Pediatric Medical Center” reports that gender nonconforming behavior occurs in one out of ten children.  Some children later self-identify as LGBTQ, and the majority of the kids’ nonconforming behavior lessens as they age.

It is important to recognize that if a child is gender nonconforming that does not mean that he or she is transgender.  In fact, Dr. Walter Meyer III, University of Texas Medical Branch, states that “a lot of children seem to be experimenting with cross-gender behavior, but very few are following through to request gender change as they mature.”  The study printed in Pediatrics also notes that in rare cases, children whose behavior does not conform to gender norms may experience gender dysphoria, which is a gender identity disorder experienced during adolescence.  The disorder involves a divide between a patient’s anatomical sex and their gender identity or gender performance.  A study on psychiatric treatment notes that psychiatric symptoms, including depression, self-mulilation, and suicide attempts, are found in approximately 44% of teens who are diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

Cory, who identifies as gender fluid, meaning not completely female or male, comments on the hardships that he experienced due to his gender expression: “I went through various stages of depression.  The only reason why I’m here right now is because of all the support my family gave me.”  Life as an individual who does not conform to gender norms can be hard.  Society and the media can often impose strict gender norms onto children and teens by attempting to determine what clothes, toys, games, and lifestyles are appropriate for their biological sex.

The research surrounding children and teenagers who do not conform to gender norms shows that these individuals are teased, scorned, and misunderstood by both adults and peers.   As we tell our students during Start Strong programs, it is important to reach out and become an ally to a friend or classmate who may be bullied or experiencing a tough time.  This caring behavior should hopefully continue throughout our lives and be applied to all of our relationships.  The most important thing to do is simply to listen and be there for a person who may be in need of support.  Believe the person, do not minimize what he or she is experiencing, and offer your help in any way that you can.  Even just one ally can help alleviate some of the pain or isolation that gender nonconforming kids and teens may be facing.  Reach out and be that one!

 

HAVEN and One Act Trainings: Spring 2012 February 7, 2012

Filed under: Allies,bystander intervention — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:37 pm
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Counseling and Wellness Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill just released its training opportunities for Spring 2012.  CWS offers HAVEN and One Act trainings, which are available to all students, faculty, and staff at UNC.

HAVEN is a collaboration between the Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling and Wellness Services, and the Carolina Women’s Center.  The program helps trained individuals respond to sexual and relationship violence in the campus community and become informed allies for survivors of interpersonal violence.  By becoming a HAVEN ally, you help create safe spaces on campus for students to obtain information, engage in discussion, and receive referrals.

Training information, schedules and registration information are available at http://safe.unc.edu/get-involved/haven-training/

One Act is a bystander intervention training program that teaches students, staff, and faculty members how to recognize the early warning signs of interpersonal violence.  The training provides you with concrete skills and gives you the confidence to act to prevent violence when you see warning signs.

For information on One Act, please see http://campushealth.unc.edu/ipv/oneact/one-act-training-dates.html.  To register for a training or arrange for a group or club to be trained, please contact oneact@unc.edu.

Signing up for HAVEN and One Act trainings are great ways to become allies for survivors of interpersonal violence and also to take an active part in preventing these violent acts from occurring.  We strongly encourage all students, staff, and faculty members at UNC to become HAVEN and One Act trained!

Seats fill up quickly, so make sure to sign up soon!

 

Giving thanks! December 21, 2011

Filed under: Allies,volunteering — Elizabeth Johnson @ 11:14 am

2011 is drawing to a close and it feels like just the right time to give thanks to the folks who support our work. So, here’s just a few of some of those amazing friends-

  • Our volunteers– Of course. 85-90% of client services are offered by volunteers, primarily trained Hotline Advocates but also by Spanish English interpreters.  Volunteers help clients with DVPOs, offer resources and referrals, crisis counseling 24/7/365, facilitate primary prevention programming like Start Strong and much more.  We would not be able to keep our doors open if it weren’t for them.  Literally.
  • Orange County Sheriff’s Office–where would we be without these generous folks??  They speak at our new Hotline Advocate volunteer training sessions, answer questions all day from our advocates for clients, help our clients understand the DVPO process, respond to 911 calls from clients who need help and so much more!
  • PORCH – PORCH supplies several local food pantries (including our small one) with non-perishable food items which allows those organizations to pass that food on to families and individuals in need.  PORCH gives us healthy staples like beans, applesauce, juice, cereal, pasta, tomato sauce, soup and more.  We are so grateful for this partnership.
  • The Women’s Center– We refer clients to the good folks at TWC for attorney consults, therapy referrals and financial literacy programs. They also do resources and referrals for clients in need. They facilitate primary prevention programming as well at the middle school level with their Teens Climb High program.  Not our next door neighbor anymore but still close by when we need them!
  • Our Twitter followers!- It may sound silly but these are the folks that help us spread the word about volunteer training, upcoming events, recent blog posts.  They ReTweet our tweets, attend events, talk us up and like us on Facebook.  What’s not to be grateful for?  These folks are true allies and fans.

There are so many more that we could name (how do we thank all of UNC-Chapel Hill for example?!) but we’ll stop here for now.  Whatever you do for us–donate a cell phone, read our blog, refer a client, etc. – we’re grateful.  Thanks for your support.  See you in 2012!

 

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.