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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month October 12, 2011

Posted by Kate in Uncategorized.
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THE WHITE HOUSE – Office of the Press Secretary – For Immediate Release October 3, 2011







During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recognize the significant achievements we have made in reducing domestic violence in America, and we recommit ourselves to the important work still before us. Despite tremendous progress, an average of three women in America die as a result of domestic violence each day. One in four women and one in thirteen men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. These statistics are even more sobering when we consider that domestic violence often goes unreported.


The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering. Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Exposure to domestic violence puts our young men and women in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.


My Administration is working not only to curb domestic violence, but to bring it to an end. Last year, we announced an unprecedented coordinated strategy across Federal agencies to prevent and stop violence against women. We are empowering survivors to break the cycle of abuse with programs to help them become financially independent. We have prevented victims of domestic violence from being evicted or denied assisted housing after abuse. And we are promoting tools for better enforcement of protective orders, while helping survivors gain access to legal representation.


In addition, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services announced historic new guidelines that will ensure women receive preventive health services without additional cost, including domestic violence screening and counseling. The Affordable Care Act also ensures that insurance companies can no longer classify domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.


Last December, I reauthorized the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, giving communities life-saving tools to help identify and treat child abuse or neglect. It also supports shelters, service programs, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, linking tens of thousands of victims every month to the resources needed to reach safety. I encourage victims, their loved ones, and concerned citizens to use this hotline for more information at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit http://www.TheHotline.org.



This is not just a job for government; it is a job for all of us. Vice President Joe Biden’s “1is2many” initiative reminds us that everyone has a part to play in ending violence against youth. By engaging men and women, mothers and fathers, and schools and universities in the fight, we can teach our children about healthy relationships. We are asking everyone to play an active role in preventing and ending domestic violence, by stepping up to stop violence when they see it. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recommit to making sure that no one suffers alone, and to assisting those who need help in reaching a safer tomorrow.


NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2011 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to speak out against domestic violence and support local efforts to assist victims of these crimes in finding the help and healing they need.


IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this


third day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.




Intimate Partner Rape October 7, 2011

Posted by Kate in Uncategorized.
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© Pandora’s Aquarium 2008

In this article we’ll look at the commonality of partner rape, other forms of abuse that may also happen, and a little on why abusers rape and excuses they make. If you are a survivor new to acknowledging partner rape and healing, the following may help to “normalize” your experiences. Please be aware that although the victims are identified as female, and perpetrators male, these may be interchangeable depending on your situation.


If you are a survivor, you are certainly not alone. Researchers have been telling us about marital/partner rape for more than 25 years, and the news is not good: Partner rape is incredibly common. Let’s have a look at the stats:

    • In 2006 the Australian Bureau published the results of the Personal Safety Survey. According to the Survey, an estimated 27,400 women in Australia have experienced sexual assault by their current partner, and 272,300 by a previous partner. According to the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACCSA) these figures are likely to be underestimates (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/4906.0?OpenDocument)
    • In 1975, the results of an American study on many rape situations were published. Diana Russell was so appalled by her findings on rape in marriage that she decided to conduct a research project on this area alone. From the 930 interviews conducted with women from a cross section of race and class, Russell concluded that rape in marriage was the most common yet most neglected area of sexual violence (Russell, Diana E.H. ‘Rape in Marriage’ MacMillan Publishing Company, USA 1990)
    • In 1994, Patricia Easteal, then Senior Criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology, published the results of survey on sexual assault in many settings. The respondents were survivors of numerous forms of sexual assault. Of these, 10.4% had been raped by husbands or de-factos, with a further 2.3 per cent raped by estranged husbands/defactos. 5.5 percent were raped by non-cohabiting boyfriends (Easteal, P. “Voices of the Survivors”, Spinifex Press, North Melbourne, 1994.)
    • David Finkelhor & Kersti Yllo’s famous 1985 study estimated that 10 to 14 per cent of all married women have been or will be raped by their spouses .(Finkelhor, D. and Yllo, K., “License to Rape”, The Free Press, New York 1985)
    • In the UK, statistics disseminated by the Rape Crisis Federation yield the information that the most common rapists are current and ex-husbands or partners. (Myhill & Allen, Rape and Sexual Assault of Women: Findings from the British Crime Survey)
    • Figures on teenage girls in danger from boyfriends caused shock in research communities in the 1980’s. Teen Dating violence, which often involves rape and sexual assault, continues to be on the rise. Approximately one in ten high school students experiences dating violence – that figure is 22% in college students (Wilson, K.J., When Violence Begins at Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse, Hunter House Inc .Publishers, California, 1997) For more figures on teen dating violence, go here.
  • Other figures estimate that one in seven women is raped by a sexual intimate.


Sexual abuse and assault happen in relationships that may not be overtly abusive. However, partner rape itself is domestic violence, and since it is an act of control, we shouldn’t be surprised when it coexists with other forms of abusive control.

These might be any of the below:

  • Physical abuse i.e. battery. Studies do indicate that the tendency toward partner rape increases significantly in men who batter. (Bergen, R, Wife Rape: Understanding the Response of Survivors and Service Providers, Sage Publications, California, 1996) Physical abuse also takes the form of throwing objects, hurting pets, or pushing and shoving.
  • Emotional Abuse: Putdowns, emotional blackmail, shaming, making jokes at your expense, withdrawing affection as punishment, deliberately embarrassing you
  • Mental Abuse: Negative comments about your intelligence, “mind-games” such as insisting something didn’t happen when you know it did; calling you crazy or trying to drive you crazy, “second-guessing” you.
  • Social Abuse: Insisting on accompanying you on all social outings or refusal to allow you to go at all; isolating you from family and friends.
  • Financial Abuse: Insisting that you work in the family business for no money; preventing you from earning your own money, making you account for every cent, giving you an “Allowance”, controlling any money you make.
  • Spiritual Abuse: Mocking your religion, insisting that you embrace his religion, preventing you from going to church, distorting and quoting scripture to manipulate you into submission
  • Using “Male Privilege“: Claiming the right to do as he pleases while the same right doesn’t extend to you because you’re a woman. Male privilege may also be a part of sexual assault; for example he may say that as your husband, it’s his right to have you whenever he wants you.

If you’ve experienced these other forms of abuse, you may have come to doubt your own worth or sanity, and have little self-confidence. But just remember: These are tactics that abusers use to control and intimidate. Whatever you may have come to believe about yourself is a reflection of the abuse, not of truth. Please do think about seeking help – you deserve much better. Nobody has the right to control and hurt you.

(Source: Easteal, P. And McOrmond-Plummer, L, Real Rape Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partner, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2006)


It’s a common misconception that rape – particularly partner rape – is about sex, rather than an act of power, control and violence. Here are common types of partner rape (note: They are NOT excuses for abuser behaviour, and just because an abuser is motivated by, say, power one time doesn’t mean he always is; I can clearly identify times when my ex-partner was motivated either by power or by anger):

  • Power Rape: This happens to “show her who’s boss.” Batterers often want sex after beating their partners, and it’s a means of forcing the woman to forget the fight and make up. It may happen because she said no to sex, or because she wants to leave. It may not be physically violent, but can involve sufficient force to get what he wants. Power rape occurs also when a woman is bullied or intimidated into giving in “to keep the peace.”
  • Anger Rape: Anger rape is often very violent and is carried out in retaliation when a man perceives his partner “deserves” it – perhaps by calling his masculinity into question. It might be a response to her leaving, “flirting”, showing him up in front of others.
  • Sadistic Rape: Where an anger rapist hurts the woman to punish her, in sadistic rape the abuser gets off on causing the pain, fear and humiliation. Cutting, biting, burning, urinating upon the victim or other painful and humiliating treatment characterizes sadistic rape.
  • Obsessive Rape: If you experienced sexual assault from a partner who was obsessed with pornography or forced you into repeated sex-acts that were bizarre or fetishistic in nature, this is characteristic of obsessive rape. It may also be repeated and constant acts of anal or oral rape – something the abuser is fixated with doing.

(Sources: Finkelhor, D. and Yllo, K., License to Rape, The Free Press, New York, 1985; Russell, Diana E.H. Rape in MarriageMacMillan Publishing Company, USA 1990; Easteal, P. and McOrmond-Plummer, L, Real Rape Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2006)


  • Denial: Acting as if nothing out of the ordinary happened, boldly stating that it didn’t happen, calling you crazy for saying that it did, saying he doesn’t remember.
  • Rationalization: “You must have wanted it” “You could have stopped me,” “A husband is entitled to it”; Rationalization is also blaming you: ” If you gave me more sex I wouldn’t have to force you” “You are a cocktease”
  • Minimization: I didn’t really hurt you” “You’re making a fuss about nothing” “I just wanted to make love to you.”
  • Claiming Loss of Control: “I was too turned on to stop”, “You make me so angry” [/b]

(Source: Easteal, P. And McOrmond-Plummer, L, Real Rape Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2006)

If you identify with any of the above, please know that there is help available. Don’t be afraid to call domestic violence or sexual assault services- also Pandora’s Aquarium has many survivors of partner rape who will gladly support you.

This article is copyrighted and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

If you wish to use this article online or in print, please contact us to request permission.  www.pandys.org  PERMISSION RECEIVED FOR THIS REPRINT.

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.

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.

Peers Help Teens Understand Relationships – T.E.A.R. July 28, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Teenage Relationships, Uncategorized, Women Who Rock.
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In just four weeks, I’ll be back to packing school lunches and sitting through rush hour with teenagers talking in the back seat as if I can’t hear them.  It’s one of the best ways to learn about who has a crush on the soccer player, which teachers are the least desirable to have for science, and who the biggest bullies are.  It’s a time I look forward to being the invisible entity, the parent of a teen who doesn’t share everything with mom.  I’ve yet to meet a teen who does.

With that in mind, and knowing that my daughter’s best friend is already dating, it’s time for me to start thinking about how to talk about healthy dating relationships.  We’ve already shared ideas about self-respect, self-esteem and friendships, but there’s always that fear in the back of my mind that some of those lessons will be lost during one of the most difficult and emotional phases of my child’s life. (more…)

Joe Biden is a Rockstar (or, the Violence Against Women Act) July 17, 2011

Posted by jennie in Uncategorized.

In 1994, Bill Clinton signed into law what The National Organization for Women described as “the greatest breakthrough in civil rights for women in nearly two decades”, The Violence Against Women Act, also known as VAWA. VAWA was drafted by Delaware’s own then-Senator now-Vice President (not bad) of the United States, Joe Biden. It provided $1.6 billion to enhance investigation and prosecution of violent crimes perpetrated against women, imposed automatic and mandatory restitution on those convicted, and allowed civil redress in cases prosecutors chose to leave unprosecuted. (more…)

Let’s Talk About Sexting, Baby. July 4, 2011

Posted by Syd in Uncategorized.
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I am probably showing my age by throwing a Salt-n-Pepa up there, but I can’t resist sometimes.  However, I am definitely showing my age when I say that sexting didn’t even exist when I was a kid.  We didn’t even have cell phones, for one thing.  Or the internet. While there are some universal issues teens will always deal with, no matter what generation, the advent of mobile technology and the internet certainly has added to the issues that teens have to deal with today.

So, “sexting”.  It’s defined as sending or receiving messages with sexual words or images.  In a survey conducted by the TV network and the Associated Press in 2009, it was found  that “29 percent (of young people 14 to 24) report receiving messages ‘with sexual words or images’ by text or on the Internet.” And “61 percent of those who have sent a naked photo or video of themselves have been pressured by someone else to do so at least once.”

So, let’s discuss some of the repercussions facing teens who are involved in sexting.  If a girl or guy is asked by their partner to send them a naked picture, they may feel pressured by the relationship to send the picture.  But, as we all know, once it’s out there, it’s out there.  Should the other person accidentally or deliberately send it on, what was intended to be private is now very public.    Which leads to the humiliation factor.  Very few teens, if any, would like their entire graduating class to know what they look like naked.  As we’ve talked about before, high school is hard enough to deal with without any additional drama and distress.  Finally, it’s illegal.  It is a federal crime to take, send, or have naked images of a minor.  It could land them on the sex offender registry.

So what can be done to prevent this from happening?

  • Teens need to be continually educated about healthy relationships.  Naked pictures are not required to prove love for another person.  They need to know it’s okay to say “No” to something they are not comfortable with.
  • Parents should keep an eye out for behaviors that might indicate their child might be involved in a sexting situation.  If they are the victim of leaked photos, their behavior may change drastically.  They may become sullen and withdrawn, eating habits and hygiene habits may change abruptly.  If this turns out to be the case, contact the proper authorities.
  • Encourage teens to be part of the solution, not the problem.  If they are forwarded a naked picture of a classmate (or a stranger), delete, delete, delete.  50% of teens who have received a sext have forwarded it on.  That number is far too high.
For further information, please click on over to MTV’s A Thin Line.  It is a campaign against sexting, cyberbullying, and digital dating abuse.
Let’s open it up in the comments, too.  Parents, do you have any stories from your local schools as to how they are handling these issues?  We’d love to hear more from all of you.

Facebook, Twitter and Web Connections June 29, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships, Uncategorized, What We're Up To.
Tags: , , , , ,
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One of the things that we found when trying to research dating violence prevention and education is that there was no one website that had links to further information – it was scattered across the net.  The goal of this blog piece is to create a resource page for Unfollow Charlie which includes Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and website addresses.  Please take a look at these resources and follow them on Facebook and Twitter to keep abreast of the latest information in the struggle to prevent intimate partner violence.

A Call to Men: An Organization Dedicated to Engaging Men in Prevention Efforts to End Violence and Discrimination Against Women and Girls.
 Facebook home page  Website home page: http://www.acalltomen.org/

A Thin Line: MTV’s A Thin Line campaign was developed to empower you to identify, respond to, and stop the spread of digital abuse in your life and amongst your peers. The campaign is built on the understanding that there’s a “thin line” between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact on you or someone else. We know no generation has ever had to deal with this, so we want to partner with you to help figure it out. On-air, online and on your cell, we hope to spark a conversation and deliver information that helps you draw your own digital line. Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @A_Thin_Line Website home page: http://www.athinline.org/

Break the Cycle: Break the Cycle believes everyone has the right to safe and healthy relationships. We are the leading, national nonprofit organization addressing teen dating violence. We work every day towards our mission to engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free from domestic violence.  Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @BreaktheCycleDV  Website home page: http://www.breakthecycle.org/

Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence: Our mission is to aid in the prevention of partner violence by leveraging the strength and resources of the corporate community. We believe that business plays an essential role in raising awareness of the issue and that our sustained efforts will help reduce and ultimately eliminate partner violence. Facebook home page  Website home page: http://www.caepv.org/

Love Is Not Abuse: Since 1991 Liz Claiborne Inc. has been working to end domestic violence. Through its Love is Not Abuse program, the company provides information and tools that men, women, children, teens and corporate executives can use to learn more about the issue and find out how they can help end this epidemic.   Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @Love_IsNotAbuse  Website home page: www.loveisnotabuse.com

National Sexual Violence Resource Center:The National Sexual Violence Resource Center serves as the nation’s principle information and resource center regarding all aspects of sexual violence. It provides national leadership, consultation and technical assistance by generating and facilitating the development and flow of information on sexual violence intervention and prevention strategies. The NSVRC works to address the causes and impact of sexual violence through collaboration, prevention efforts and the distribution of resources. Facebook home page Follow on Twitter: @NSVRC  Website home page: http://www.nsvrc.org/

VAWNet, The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women: The goal of VAWnet, The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women is to use electronic communication technology to enhance efforts to prevent violence against women and intervene more effectively when it occurs.  VAWnet supports local, state, and national prevention and intervention strategies that enhance safety and well-being and address the self-identified needs and concerns of victims and survivors. Facebook home page  Follow on Twitter:@VAWNet Website home page: www.vawnet.org

The Lindsay Ann Burke Act June 5, 2011

Posted by Syd in Uncategorized.
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In 2005, Lindsay Ann Burke was murdered by her boyfriend.  She had been in an abusive relationship for two years with this person, but like many victims, she did not recognize the warning signs.   She was 21.

Like many other teens, Lindsay did not receive education or guidance in school about abusive relationships.  She did not know how to recognize the warning signs.  Her family didn’t know how to either, as they did know of anyone in their community in an abusive situation. They knew that education is key to help adolescents and teens to recognize the signs of abuse in a relationship and how to protect themselves from dating violence, and pursued the passage of the Lindsay Anne Burke Act.

In 2007, the Lindsay Ann Burke Act was passed in Rhode Island.  The law requires the following:

1. Each school district to develop a dating violence policy to address incidents of dating violence that occur at school and inform parents of such policy

2. Each school district to provide dating violence training to administrators, teachers, nurses and mental health staff at the middle and high school levels

3. Each school district to teach an age-appropriate dating violence curriculum through health education classes every year in grades 7 through 12

4. Dating violence awareness trainings for parents are strongly recommended.

5. Verification of compliance with the Rhode Island Department of Education on an annual basis through the annual school health report

And in 2008, the National Association of Attorneys General passed a resolution supporting the Act and teen dating violence eduation in ALL states.

To read more about this and the Lindsay Ann Memorial Fund, please click here.

As always, if you or someone you know is a victim, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE or visit their website: www.ndvh.org

Teen victims can also call the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline: 1-866-331-9474 or visit their website at www.loveisrespect.org

Kelly Preston’s Statements, and an Update May 7, 2011

Posted by Syd in Uncategorized.

Yesterday, TMZ posted an interview with Kelly Preston, and she confirmed Charlie’s account of the bizarre accidental shooting.  If this is how the incident indeed happened, we apologize to everyone (Charlie included) for posting the misinformation about that incident, and I’ve added a comment to our original blog that addressed the timeline.  Thanks also to the commenter that provided the link(s).

Understand (as I said in the edited blog) that we would rather all of the situations he’s been accused of turn out not to be abuse.  Given the photographic evidence in one of the other cases, I don’t know how that would be possible, but we were never looking for things to accuse Charlie of – we were merely posting what had been posted multiple times over in various new sources.  As we did here, if new information turns up that disproves all of these other cases, then we will post an update, with our apologies.

However, I must emphasize that we would never want ANY woman to recant a story about abuse that DID happen.  We will be touching upon this subject in a future blog, but there are a myriad of reasons why abused women have recanted their stories, and we would never want anyone to think we want to silence them.  So many stories are NOT heard.

As we alluded to in our “About” section, we know that the name of this blog will change.  We never intended it to be “UnfollowCharlie” forever.  It really isn’t about Charlie Sheen anymore.  Over the last few weeks, we’ve been brainstorming about changes to this blog, and we’re very excited about some of the ideas we have, and we hope you will be too.