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Project Speak Out December 11, 2011

Posted by Syd in Cool Stuff, Domestic Abuse, How To Help, Local Heroes.
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Last weekend, I had the pleasure of training with some of the women from Project Speak Out.  Project Speak Out is a new initiative run by four Asian-American domestic violence organizations in the New York City area, with a goal to reduce and prevent domestic violence.  The training was comprehensive and extremely well run  – I can’t say enough about the good work these people are doing.    In writing for our blog over the last several months, we’ve all had the opportunity to become aware of the unfortunate statistics about domestic violence in our respective states (or even countries) but the training with Project Speak Out also reminded me the additional hurdles the immigrant population faces, especially in the cases of domestic violence.    The four groups involved are:  Garden of Hope, the Korean American Family Service Center, the New  York Asian Women’s Center, and Sahki for South Asian Women.   These organizations offer a multitude of support services, including multilingual hotlines, economic empowerment programs, and youth programs.    I highly encourage you all to click over to each of their websites and learn more about the work they are doing, and make a donation if you can.    You can also follow the progress of Project Speak Out on their blog, as well as on facebook and twitter.

I intend to get involved locally in my own neighborhood, as we have a significant Asian population in my section of Queens, but if you are New York based, please consider getting involved with Project Speak Out, or getting involved with one of these groups.    Obviously, domestic violence is not something that affects one single culture or immigrant population, and of course, these services are open to anyone who needs them.

As always, if you know of any other organizations doing great work, let us know!   We’d love to write about them.

Voices Against Violence September 30, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Domestic Abuse, Education, help a friend.
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Voices Against Violence

My alma mater, the University of Texas is a beautiful, sprawling campus that holds great memories for me.  However, my freshmen year I was oblivious to the services that were available to me regarding safety on campus and stalking.  Had I known, I may have stopped in the campus Counseling and Mental Health Resource Center to ask what to do about a stranger who showed up after my classes, asked me out, and after I declined, followed me on campus for three days.  I think of all the women who aren’t as fortunate to have it end with the perpetrator just stopping the behavior. Today on the campus, programs like Voices Against Violence are raising awareness that help is available.

This year, UT is celebrating the tenth year of its program Voices Against Violence, sponsored by the Counseling and Mental Health Resource Center.  They have an extensive program that assists students with a variety of mental health concerns including dating relationships, sexual violence, and stalking.  Check out Building a Healthy Relationships from the Start.

CMHC’s biggest event to raise awareness occurs in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  If you walk through what we call the West Mall of the campus on awareness day, chances are you will be handed a carnation with a slip of paper attached to it.  Written on the paper is the story of a Texan who died that year due to domestic violence.  In 2008, program coordinators and volunteers passed out 2000 carnations.  Also at the event are students reading aloud some of the stories, calling out the warning signs of abusive relationships, and performing spoken word dialogues.

Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue   is a program that uses theatre as a medium to involve students in learning about realistic scenarios in unhealthy relationships and healthy ways to respond to them. They give performances to student groups, faculty and community outreach programs.  The audience is an active participant in the performances.  Check out the video in the link!

The Counseling and Mental Health Resource Center also has reading materials that appeal to college students, offering realistic dialogue between someone in an unhealthy relationship and the friends who try to help.  Here is one example, the story of Kris and Franky, told in comic book style format.

Katy wrote about and posted the power and control wheel, an excellent visual educational tool for dating violence. The University of Texas takes pride in the degrees offered in its college of liberal arts for students who wish to be counselors  to the GLBT community, so I’d like to share with you the  GLBT power wheel, designed by the NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti Violence Project and posted at UT’s  CMHC site.  It has scenarios I wasn’t really conscious of until I saw the wheel, but now I know I’ve seen the type of control they are describing.

I encourage you to look at the links, there’s a comic,  a video,  a power wheel, and lots of great info on the healthy progression of relationships.

What did you learn in high school? September 28, 2011

Posted by Syd in Domestic Abuse, Education, Uncategorized.
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As mentioned (and sorry for the delay, folks!), Part II of the school coverage.  We would LOVE to hear about your experiences, too, so please feel free to comment!

So, I went to a great school in New York – the Bronx High School of Science.  It’s a specialized high school, with a heavy emphasis on math and science, and in a lot of ways, I found it more challenging than college.    (NYC based parents, I encourage you to check it out if you think it’s something your child would be interested in).  And in those 4 years, I took exactly 1 semester of Health, which was all that was required to graduate.  Health was that general class where you would learn about nutrition, general health, and sexual health, as I recall.  Our textbooks had the scary pictures of herpes, and I definitely remember giving a report on partial birth abortions. I do not remember covering relationships or emotional health.  Like many high schools, Bronx Science had a readily available number of guidance counselors, as well as a great teaching staff – but it’s not enough.  I do not blame Bronx Science – they were adhering to the New York requirements for the Regents diploma.  Here’s the problem – I graduated in 1997.  The requirements for graduation have not change significantly, and they have not changed as it relates to the Health requirement.

Domestic and dating violence is not a new phenomenon.  The problems that existed when I was that age still exist today.  Do we know more about them now due to the advent of the internet and other social media?  Absolutely.  While internet resources allow students to look up hotlines and outreach centers, it has also paved the way for cyber-bullying and sexting.

Is there hope?  Maybe.  There is legislation pending in New York and several other states to make  a dating/domestic violence curriculum mandatory for students in grades 7-12, although similar legislation failed in Maryland, Oregon, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Tell us about your experiences in high school, or tell us what is happening with your children.  There are several states that HAVE adopted acts similar to the Lindsay Ann Burke Act – but it is difficult to determine if the schools have implemented that curriculum.

Am I Being Abused? September 21, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, help a friend.
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Am I Being Abused?

Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it’s abuse.

Does your partner…
____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
____ Put down your accomplishments or goals?
____ Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
____ Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
____ Tell you that you are nothing without them?
____ Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
____ Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
____ Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
____ Blame you for how they feel or act?
____ Pressure you sexually for things you don’t want to do?
____ Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
____ Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
____ Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?

Do you…
____ Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
____ Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
____ Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
____ Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
____ Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
____ Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke-up?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.  National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

(Adapted from Reading and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence, Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Lincoln, NE).

1 is 2 Many September 14, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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Our friend Joe Biden has announced a new initiative in honor of the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.  Please click here for full details.

There is a form to share your feedback at the link above or you can share your ideas on Twitter with the hashtag #1is2many on how to make our schools and campuses safer from domestic violence and dating abuse.  I piped in with the idea for a federal Lindsay Ann Burke Act.

Please get the word out.

The Power and Control Wheel September 6, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Uncategorized.
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Above is a small version of the power and control wheel.  To see the larger version, please click here.  It is used to illustrate to victims, therapists, advocates etc. the components of abuse.

The wheel is made up of eight sections:

MALE PRIVILEGE: Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being theone to define men’s and women’s roles. 

COERCION AND THREATS: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her.  Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare. Making her drop charges.  Making her do illegal things.

INTIMIDATION: Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets.  Displaying weapons.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE:  Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement.  Using jealousy to justify actions.

MINIMIZING, DENYING, AND BLAMING:  Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen.  Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it.

USING CHILDREN: Making her feel guiltyabout the children.  Using children to relay messages.  Using visitation to harass her.  Threatening to take the children away.

ECONOMIC ABUSE:  Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money.  Not letting her know about or have access to family income.

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men August 22, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse.
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Bancroft, a former codirector of Emerge, the first U.S. program for abusive men, and a 15-year veteran of work with abusive men, reminds readers that each year in this country, two to four million women are assaulted by their partners and that at least one out of three American women will be a victim of violence by a husband or boyfriend at some point in her life. His valuable resource covers early warning signs, ten abusive personality types, the abusive mentality, problems with getting help from the legal system, and the long, complex process of change. After dispelling 17 myths about abusive personalities, he sheds light on the origin of the abuser’s values and beliefs, which he finds to be a better explanation of abusive behavior than reference to psychological problems. Bancroft extends his approach to problematic gay and lesbian relationships as well, making the book that much more useful and empowering.

He touches on the following theme repeatedly in this book.  The abuser is seeking to CONTROL his partner due to a feeling of ENTITLEMENT.  He cites examples of this from his 15 years of treating abusers.  He also discounts the idea that abusers suffer from mental illness and says that the problem comes from the values and ideas of what the abuser thinks about women.

I begin training with my local women’s abuse center in September and this book was given to me as part of the program.  It is essential reading to understand the crux of the problem.  This book is available for purchase through Amazon by clicking here.

CDC Demonstration Projects – Preventing Intimate Partner Violence in Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations August 11, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships.
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The burden of IPV on racial and ethnic minorities is not well documented.  Some population-based studies have demonstrated few differences in the prevalence of IPV among these persons, yet other studies find substantially greater violence among racial and ethnic minorities.  For example, the IPV prevalence rates for whites, African Americans and Hispanics has been demonstrated to be 11%, 25% and 25% respectively.  Some attribute the disparity to economic differences among the groups and may not be intrinsically related to race and ethnicity.

Recognizing the need for IPV prevention and intervention programs that address specific racial/ethnic minority populations the CDC issued a request for application in 2000 for demonstration projects that would develop, implement and evaluate IPV prevention strategies targeted for specific racial/ethnic minorities.  The press release for the launch of this study is: here.

One of the crucial things that all of the programs learned is that the education and prevention programs needed to be customized to address specifics about the community in order for the audience to relate to the material.  For example, in a Native American community where there was an extremely high rate of poverty, a curriculum had an example of an angry boyfriend destroying a CD that was given as a gift.  The students all said they would never do that even in anger because a CD is such a luxury there.  A different hurdle was found in Hispanic communities which had a high number of immigrants.  The cultural norms of what is acceptable behavior differed and this had to be addressed in the curriculum materials.

The overall takeaway from the studies that can be applied to mixed communities as well is that the message has more resonance if it is applicable to the student.  A curriculum that talks about a boy and a girl having an argument while riding in a car when taught in New York City may not feel “right” while in a suburban or rural area this may be a relatable scenario.

The lessons learned from this program are fully documented in the CDC report available here for free: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/pubs/ncipc.aspx Scroll down to intimate partner violence and select the Preventing Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence in Racial/Ethnic Minority Communities document.

Make Back to School Count July 29, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Cool Stuff, Domestic Abuse, How To Help.
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Back to school sales to benefit RAINN: (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

You can take advantage of back-to-school sales at your favorite retailers and they’ll donate a portion to RAINN. Shop online now at Target, eBay, The Gap and more than 300 other national chains. They’ll donate a portion of your purchase to RAINN, and it won’t cost you a cent. All it takes is one click at RAINN’s shopping mall.

Here’s another easy way to benefit RAINN every time you shop: Download their EZ Shopper for Firefox or Internet Explorer.  It will automatically detect when you visit a participating retailer and make sure a portion gets donated to RAINN.  You don’t have to do a thing. (If you’ve recently upgraded to Firefox 5.0, you can install the latest shopper app here.)

Check the websites of your local safe house shelters to see if they are calling for back to school donations.  When you shop for back to school, buy some extra items and help out a child living in a safe house near you.

Source: RAINN

Why Can’t My Friend Leave The Abuse? July 27, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, help a friend.
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It doesn’t make sense – you see your best friend, brother, sister, daughter, son, cousin, relative in tears constantly because of their relationship. You’ve heard their partner call them names, threaten them and then blame your friend or loved one for their harmful behavior. Your friend has become a shell of who they used to be. It is simple to you- break up with the partner and the problem is solved. No more tears, bruises, or heartbreak.
 
It’s just not that easy.

There are many reasons your friend or loved one may be resisting your heartfelt encouragement to break it off with his or her partner:

  • Their partner wasn’t always this way. Keep in mind, your friend or loved one didn’t get into the relationship with someone who said “I am going to call you names, obsessively text you and slaughter your self-esteem.” The relationship probably started off with an awesome first date, but the red flags started showing after your friend or loved one had already developed feelings for their abusive partner. Your friend may still be holding on to an image of their abusive partner from the beginning of the relationship.
  • They think their abusive partner will change. He’s just stressed right now, her parents are really getting to her, it’s only when he’s drunk, she’ll change when things are better. After your friend or loved one is slapped or screamed at, their partner may be coming back and apologizing, promising it will never happen again. Your friend or loved one has invested time and feelings into this relationship and wants it to work out. Your friend may believe that their partner is going to become a different partner and the abuse will stop.
  • They are afraid what’s going to happen after they leave. Abusers, in desperation mode when they sense their partner is going to leave, will escalate the intimidation and violence; even threaten suicide if your friend leaves. The most dangerous time for someone in an abusive relationship is when they are leaving.  It takes, on average, seven or eight attempts for someone to leave their abusive partner.
  • They are still financially or legally tied to their abuser. If your friend lives with the abusive partner, has a child with them or is married to them, then making the decision to cut off the relationship can be even more heart-wrenching. Even if your friend just goes to the same high school or college as their partner, they may still have to see the person who punched them, called them a ‘slut,’ and terrorized them daily again.  No matter what, your friend will have to see the abuser again to sort these matters out- this is terrifying.
  • They still love their partner. This may be the hardest for you to swallow. It doesn’t make sense, but your friend may still have feelings for their abuser. As we said above, their partner wasn’t always this way, and there may be times when the abuser resembles the nicer, gentler person whom your friend or loved one wants to be with.  The emotional ties will still be there, even after the relationship ends.
  • They feel like they have nowhere to turn. You’re frustrated. Your other friends are frustrated. Your friend’s family is frustrated. No one wants to be the shoulder to cry on, when you have already said more times than you count that he or she just needs to move on. You’re sick of it- we get it. But, look, this is when your friend or loved one needs you the most- this is a serious emotional crisis for them, and no one can get through it alone. Start the conversation with “I’m sorry about the things I’ve said in the past, but I want to be here for you in every way that I can. I support and care about you, and this is where I’m coming from.” When they are ready to make the choice to break things off, they will know they can turn to you.

Remember: it takes tremendous amounts of courage to leave an abusive relationship- your friend or loved one needs all the support they can get.

You may have more questions, or you may just need to vent about the situation you’re in with your friend. Call Love Is Respect at 1-866-331-9474.

SOURCE: Love Is Respect