One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

Why Do They Stay? May 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Free Family Law Clinic at El Centro Hispano April 9, 2011

Filed under: child custody,children,divorce — Johnson Intern @ 11:21 am

Next Tuesday, on April 12th 2011, from 5-7pm at El Centro Hispano in Carrboro will be hosting a family law workshop focusing on custody and divorce.  The workshop will be presented by a local attorney, Sarah Carr, and will cover topics including parental rights and responsibilities, legal procedures, the law and its alternatives.

The clinic will be open to the public, with English and Spanish services available.  Attendance is free, however it is requested that attendees call in advance so the workshop organizers know how many people to expect.  Members of the public who are interested can go to El Centro Hispano’s website, or contact Jose Torres-Don, at (919) 945-0132 (ex.t102).

 

Male Victimization in the Media November 23, 2010

Filed under: child custody,domestic violence — Women's Studies Intern @ 12:58 pm
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A recent post from CNN discusses the abuse charges raised against MTV‘s “Teen Mom” star Amber Portwood for her physical abuse against her male partner Gary Shirley. Portwood faces felony domestic violence charges in her Indiana hometown because of abusive incidents on her reality TV show — where she is seen shoving, punching, slapping and choking Shirley, a police spokesman said. Two of the three charges are felonies because the couple’s 1-year-old child apparently witnessed the violence, according to Anderson, Indiana police spokesman Mitch Carroll.  The investigation began seven weeks ago after MTV aired an episode of the reality series “Teen Mom” showing incidents captured over the summer, he said.

Is this article really sufficiently newsworthy to merit CNN’s attention?  In thinking about why CNN might have paid attention to a story like this, it’s important to look beyond the obvious, sensationalized story of teenager mothers.  And, while Portwood’s actions are undoubtedly abusive and wrong, it is interesting to note how much the media has focused on these actions seemingly because it is a woman abusing a man.  The abuse of a woman by a man happens all the time in the media and has become so normalized, that it takes sensationally gruesome acts of violence for us to pay much attention to it.  Institutionalized avenues in American media like pornography and other forms of “men’s entertainment” which function solely off of the portrayal of violence and degradation towards women.

Another facet of the CNN article is that two of the charges against Portwood are felony charges because they were done in the presence of her child.  While the severity of these charges may be warranted because of the damaging after effects of domestic violence on children, children witnessing violence inflicted from one parent to another is not unusual.  What is more unusual is that it is the mother hitting the father instead of the other way around.  Again, what makes this story newsworthy? The fact is that more men than women are abusers than women are and their children witness this violence on a regular basis.

None of this is written to take away from the emotional and physical trauma suffered by Gary Shirley.  Rather, we want to focus on ensuring that all cases of abuse receive equal attention and that violence towards one group is never normalized. FVPC and other relationship violence prevention agencies focus on the prevention and eradication of all forms of abuse. Until we start seeing every case of abuse with equal importance and dedication to believing and advocating for victims, domestic violence will continue to happen in all types of relationships.

 

Domestic Violence and Custody Issues July 21, 2010

Filed under: child custody,divorce,domestic violence — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:17 pm

A southern California mother recently found her two children reported missing 15 years ago using Facebook.  The Huffington Post reported that the children’s father, Faustino Utrera, took the children in 1995.   The children are currently placed in custody by the State of Florida.  Initially, the daughter did not wish to re-establish a relationship with her mother.  Utrera has been charged with two felony counts of kidnapping and violating child custody orders.  Stories like this one illustrate the complications of child custody,  both legally and emotionally.  Our Court Services Coordinator, Lindsey, discussed her experience with custody issues and domestic violence with me.

It is more difficult to get custody of one’s children than most people realize, even if someone is the victim of domestic violence.  While victims (and DV advocates) understand why they ought to be awarded full custody, judges do not always agree with giving one parent sole custody of a child(ren).  But, as we know, domestic violence is a learned behavior.  Many batterers either become abusive towards their children or begin teaching their children abusive behaviors. So, leaving children with an abusive parent can be dangerous for the child in more ways than the obvious.

Additionally, child custody issues require an attorney, a cost that many victims cannot afford.   Victims are often left to rely on informal custody agreements which can be broken without penalty.  If both parents have legal rights to the child*, one parent can take the child to another county or even another state without informing the other.  Many times victims will call the police if their abuser takes the kids away but if no formal custody agreement exists, no legal recourse exists. Victims also often feel frustrated with the duration of custody battles.  While many victims might feel the need to leave abusive situations immediately, fear of losing their children can keep them in a violent, unhealthy environment.

Sadly, while victims can take their children and leave their abusers without any legal difficulty, victims who leave their children to escape abusers can be charged with abandonment and often have an extremely difficult time gaining custody of their children in the future.

How do you feel about how difficult it is for abuse victims to gain custody?  Leave us your thoughts!

*meaning both parents are listed on the birth certificate