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Summer is almost over, and you know what that means. August 24, 2011

Posted by Syd in Education, How To Help.
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As Alicia wrote earlier, it’s getting to be that time. Back to school! If you’re a college student going away to school, you’ve probably started making your rounds at Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond for the essentials (flip flops, always, if you are living in the dorms) and high school students – just a few short weeks of summer left!

In light of the back to school season, I wanted to cover my experiences with the curriculum and support provided by my alma maters in regards to healthy relationships and perhaps more broadly, the well-being of the students.  I’ll be covering, in reverse chronological order:  University at Albany, Bronx High School of Science, and I.S. 227 – The Louis Armstrong Middle School.   As you’ll see, all my experiences are based in New York State, but we would love to hear more about other states and areas, so please let us know of your experiences below in the comments!  This first post on the subject will cover Albany, and then I’ll cover the others in future posts, discussing some of the issues that come along with the state-mandated curriculums.

SUNY Albany – Like many universities, SUNY Albany has a pretty substantial health and counseling center, providing a full range of services.  Specifically, they have the Sexual Assault Resource Center, with resources dedicated to Intimate Partner Abuse and Stalking.  While I encourage you to look at all the resources within those pages, please review the Coordinated Response to Stalking and Intimate Partner Abuse, How to Help (whether you are a student, parent, friend, or faculty/staff member), and additional resources.   I was very fortunate in my time at Albany as I never required these services, and obviously the hope is that the students don’t need them either, but I am impressed and relieved that there are these resources specifically dedicated to this.   During my time in Albany, I was also a part of the Middle Earth program, a program that provides telephone assistance (and now it looks to be offering online assistance as well), and it’s completely anonymous.  It was an extremely rewarding experience, so I highly recommend interested students to check it out to see if they would like to join, but also – any Albany students in crisis, please give them a call.  You don’t have to disclose anything you don’t want to, but they are there to help you in any way they can.

Let’s open it up in the comments – what did your schools offer?  Did you have resources like these?



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

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…)

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

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…)

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships for Teens July 13, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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Relationships that occur in the teen years may affect dating relationships later in life. The lessons teens learn today about respect, healthy vs. unhealthy relationships, and what is right or wrong may carry over into future relationships. So it is important for teens to recognize healthy relationships.

What is a Healthy Relationship?

A healthy relationship is free from physical, emotional, and sexual violence. Qualities like respect, good communication, and honesty are important parts of a healthy relationship. Educating teens about the importance and value of respect (both respect for oneself and respect for other people) may enable them to form healthy relationships before they start to date—to prevent dating violence before it starts. Healthy relationships are built on a foundation of respect. Respect is a choice, and when you give it, you are more likely to get it in return. It is important for teens to learn how to treat others the way they want to be treated. Teens also need to recognize that when respect is absent, their relationships may turn from healthy to unhealthy.

The following are characteristics of a healthy dating relationship:
Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.
Trust. Partners should choose to trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
Honesty. When a dating partner lies, it takes time to rebuild that trust in him or her. Honesty builds trust and strengthens the relationship.
Compromise. In a dating relationship, each partner does not always get his or her way. They should acknowledge different points of view and be willing to give and take.
Individuality. Each partner should not have to compromise who they are, and his or her identity should not be based on their partner’s. Partners should each continue seeing his or her friends or doing the things that he or she loves. They should be supportive if their partner wants to pursue new hobbies or make new friends.
Good communication. Each partner should speak honestly and openly to avoid miscommunication. If a partner needs to sort out his or her feelings first, their partner should respect those wishes and wait until they are ready to talk. •Anger control. We all get angry, but how we express it can affect our relationships with others. Anger can be handled in healthy ways such as taking a deep breath, counting to 10, or talking it out.
Problem solving. Dating partners can learn to solve problems and identify new solutions by breaking a problem into small parts or by talking through the situation.
Fighting fair. Everyone argues at some point, but those who are fair, stick to the subject, and avoid insults are more likely to come up with a possible solution. Partners should take a short break away from each other if the discussion gets too heated.
Understanding. Each partner should take time to understand what the other might be feeling by putting themselves in their shoes.
Self-confidence. When dating partners have confidence in themselves, it can help their relationships with others. It shows that they are calm and comfortable enough to allow others to express their opinions without forcing their own opinions on them.
Being a role model. By embodying what respect means, partners can inspire each other, friends, and family to choose respect, too.

What is an Unhealthy Relationship?

An unhealthy relationship has an imbalance in which one partner tries to exercise control and power over the other through threats, emotional/verbal abuse, or physical or sexual violence. The following qualities may be signs of an unhealthy dating relationship. Although anyone can be involved in a less-than-perfect relationship, these behaviors may be seen as “red flags” that something might be wrong in a relationship.

Control. One dating partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with.
Dependence. One dating partner feels that he or she “cannot live without” the other. He or she may threaten to do something drastic if the relationship ends.
Dishonesty. One dating partner lies to or keeps information from the other. One dating partner steals from the other.
Disrespect. One dating partner makes fun of the opinions and interests of the other partner. He or she may destroy something that belongs to the other dating partner.
Hostility. One dating partner conflicts with or antagonizes the other dating partner. This may lead the other dating partner to “walk on egg shells” to avoid upsetting the other.
Intimidation. One dating partner tries to control aspects of the other’s life by making the other partner fearful or timid. One dating partner may attempt to keep his or her partner from friends and family or threaten violence or a break-up.
Physical violence. One partner uses force to get his or her way (such as hitting, slapping, grabbing, or shoving).
Sexual violence. One dating partner pressures or forces the other into sexual activity against his or her will or without consent.

Source: CDC

Donate Your Unused Cell Phone For Use By Domestic Violence Victims July 6, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, How To Help, What We're Up To.
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We have spoken a bit about Liz Claiborne and how it has been a good corporate citizen in fighting domestic violence.  Let’s now focus on Verizon and it’s HopeLine program.

Often, victims in abusive relationships have no way of safely contacting the authorities without the knowledge of their abuser.  Verizon has found a way to provide free cellphones to police and domestic violence shelters to distribute to victims.  The HopeLine program collects unused cell phones which are then refurbished for: a) victims’ use – these include 3000 minutes or b) for sale to fund a domestic violence grant program.  Finally, if a phone cannot be refurbished then it is disposed of in an environmentally safe way.

You can ship your old phone along with the charger and any other accessories to Verizon with a pre-paid postage mailer by clicking here.

Since HopeLine from Verizon’s national cell phone recycling and re-use program was launched in 2001, Verizon Wireless has:

  • Collected more than 8 million phones.
  • Awarded more than $10 million in cash grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country.
  • Distributed more than 106,000 phones with more than 319 million minutes of free wireless service to be used by victims of domestic violence.
  • Properly disposed of nearly 1.7 million no-longer-used wireless phones in an environmentally sound way.
  • Kept more than 210 tons of electronic waste and batteries out of landfills.

For more on the HopeLine program: Click here.

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.