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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.


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.

Facebook, Twitter and Web Connections June 29, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships, Uncategorized, What We're Up To.
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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

Two Organizations Helping Men Teach Boys To Respect Women June 22, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Prevention, Teenage Relationships, What We're Up To.
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Fathers, coaches, and teachers play an important role in shaping boys’ attitudes toward women.  A Call to Men and Love Is Not Abuse are two organizations that are helping men to understand what they can to do help prevent violence and discrimination against women and girls.

From A Call to Men, here is a list of Ten Things Men Can Do:

1. Acknowledge and understand how male dominance and aspects of unhealthy manhood are at the foundation of domestic and sexual violence.

2. Examine and challenge our individual beliefs and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.

3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to prevent domestic and sexual violence.

4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against domestic and sexual violence, we are supporting it.

5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in preventing domestic and sexual violence.

6.”Break out of the man box”- Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand in domestic and sexual violence prevention.

7. Accept and own our responsibility that domestic and sexual violence will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence and discrimination against women and girls.

8. Stop supporting the notion that domestic and sexual violence is due to mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… Domestic and sexual violence is rooted in male dominance and the
socialization of men.

9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to educate and raise awareness about domestic and sexual violence prevention.

10. Create responsible and accountable men’s initiatives in your community to support domestic and sexual violence prevention.

For the brochure Tough Talk – What Boys Need to Know About Relationship Abuse from Liz Claiborne’s Love Is Not Abuse, please click here.

Breathing Underwater June 8, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships, What We're Up To.
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Breathing Underwater Cover

Oftentimes art can be an effective instructional tool.  Breathing Underwater is a novel by Alex Flinn which tells the story of a teenage couple in Florida whose relationship becomes violent.  The book is used in the Love Is Not Abuse curriculum and is required summer reading before enterring ninth grade in Rhode Island.

The protagonist, Nick, is not the usual heroic type.  There are times when the reader won’t like Nick.  He’s a sophomore in high school who is navigating the uncharted waters of being a boyfriend for the first time.  He can be jealous, petty and even cruel.  His girlfriend Catlin is attractive and talented yet lacking in self-esteem.  Their union is peppered with intoxicating tender moments of first love, but dominated by Nick’s control issues.

While the story can be heavy handed at times, it is an effective teaching aid about what is not a healthy relationship.  Nick wants to separate Caitlin from her friends, is controlling, calls her names – some of the warning signs of a potentially violent relationship.

Excerpt:  In the novel, Nick recounts his relationship with Caitlin (also called Cat), whom he abused physically, verbally, and emotionally for most of their relationship. In this scene, Caitlin and Nick, who have been dating for a few months, are in Nick’s car, driving over a long two-lane bridge. Caitlin has just told Nick that she feels they need to talk about the way he treats her. Nick fears that she is going to tell him that she wants to end the relationship.


“I heard you. I’m deciding how to respond.” She could not leave me. As I hit the word respond, I pulled to the left, veering into the southbound lane. Then I floored it past three cars. A southbound Volvo station wagon slammed its brakes within yards of us. The driver was honking, yelling. I pulled back into the northbound lane and flipped him off. I looked at Caitlin. Her mouth hung in mid-scream. I laughed.

“Do you trust me, Cat?” She was silent. I leaned closer. “Did I ever tell you about my mother?” Caitlin recovered enough to shake her head no, and I said, “I was four, five, I’d lie awake nights, listening to her and my dad fighting, him hitting her.” I looked at Caitlin. “You want to hear this?”

She nodded.

“I thought we’d pack up and leave someday, her and I. I lived for that day.” On the wheel, my knuckles were white. “Then, one morning, I wake up, and she’s gone, never came back. She ran from the monster and left me there with him.”

Caitlin removed her sunglasses. “I’m sorry, Nick.”

“So you talk about trust, it’s pretty important. I mean, when the one person you trust just picks up and leaves…”

Caitlin’s hand slipped across my shoulder. I tried to shrug her off, swerving left into traffic, then back. Terror filled Caitlin’s eyes. Her nails ripped my flesh. “Trust me, Cat?” She could not leave me. I swerved again. “’Cause if you haven’t figured it out, life doesn’t mean much to me. Without you, it’s worthless.”

A flock of seagulls headed across my windshield. She could not leave me. I swerved again, this time counting three before I veered back. She could not leave me. Caitlin screamed at me to stop.

“What’s the matter?” When she didn’t answer, I swerved again. “Oh—this. Maybe you’re right.” I straightened the wheel, looking beyond her to the orange and green water east of the bridge. Silence. I didn’t swerve. Nothing. We were halfway across. Caitlin relaxed.

Suddenly, I said, “Think I could make a right here?” Right was into water. I made like I’d do it, crash through the guardrail, then down. Caitlin screamed. She grabbed for the wheel. I shoved her away so her fingers clawed the air. She tried again, gripping both my hands. The car swerved left into the path of a Bronco towing a boat. I pulled it back. My mind knew what she was doing, but my eyes didn’t. I couldn’t see her. She was shrieking. God, shut up! Her voice deafened me, and it was all around, in my ears, making me lose all control. She tried to grab the wheel. Blind and deaf, I drove, sun hot on my face. I had to get her off me. God, I just had to get her off me. Get her off me! Get off me! Get off!

Next thing I knew, I was driving on land. I couldn’t tell you whether it was minutes or hours later. Caitlin hung across the seat, head cradled in her fingers. My hand throbbed, and I knew I’d hit her. I’d hit her. I was tired. She’d worn me out, but the anger inside me dissolved, replaced by that regret. But I’d had to stop her. She’d been irrational, overwrought, shouldn’t have touched the wheel. She could have killed us. I looked at her. The seat was the length of a football field. Caitlin faced the window. She was so beautiful. Ahead was a red pickup with a Jesus fish. It was going at a good clip, but when we reached the next passing zone, I overtook it and a few other cars. Cat stiffened. I merged back into traffic and reached to stroke her hair.

She lifted her head, cautious as a runner stealing home, and stared.

“Are you all right, Caitlin?” I asked.  When she didn’t answer, I repeated the question.

She shook her head. “You hit me.”

I told her no. I hadn’t. I mean, she was grabbing the wheel. We’d almost creamed the Bronco. I had to get her off me before we got killed.

“Because you were driving off the bridge,” she said.

I laughed and said she knew me better. . . I’d never do it for real. Besides, we’d have crashed the guardrail, and I’d have gotten killed for wrecking the car.

“But you hit me, Nick.” She leaned out the window toward the sideview mirror to see if her cheek was getting red.

And it was. I didn’t expect it to be red, but it was—a little. I hadn’t hit her hard, just enough to get her off me. I said, “Don’t you know you shouldn’t grab the wheel when someone’s driving?”

“But I thought—“

She was pretty shaken. Mad maybe? I pulled her close. “Sorry I freaked you out, Kittycat.  I forget you aren’t used to guys. You don’t know we play rough sometimes.” She kept protesting, and I said, “You know what I was thinking? I wanted to buy you a ring. You know, like a symbol, since we’re going together. What’s your birthstone?”

Still, she stared like her life was flashing before her eyes. “You hit me, Nick.”

I kissed her. She drew away, and I pulled her back. “Your birthday’s in February, right?  I’ll ask the jeweler what the stone is.”

I held her close until she stopped struggling. The sun was down, but it wasn’t dark enough for a moon, and we crossed bridges connecting the islands, Big Pine Key, Plantation Key, Key Largo. Then we drove through mainland Miami a while. When we reached home, the sky above Rickenbacker Causeway was black, and Caitlin slept on my shoulder.

For the Amazon page and reviews, please click here.

For a teacher’s guide from the author’s website, please click here.

CDC’s Role in Intimate Partner Violence Prevention June 1, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, What We're Up To.
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The Center for Disease Control is the primary federal agency charged with preventing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV).  The CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Injury Center) was established in 1992 to lead injury and violence prevention efforts. The field of injury and violence prevention is relatively young when compared to other areas of public health, but the burden of injury and violence coupled with the enormous cost of these problems to society make them a pressing public health concern.

CDC’s violence prevention activities are guided by four key principles:

  • An emphasis on primary prevention of violence perpetration. CDC emphasizes efforts that prevent violence before it occurs. CDC focuses on reducing the factors that put people at risk for perpetration while increasing the factors that protect people from becoming perpetrators of violence.
  • A commitment to a rigorous science base. Monitoring and tracking trends; researching risk and protective factors; rigorously evaluating prevention strategies, programs and policies; and learning how best to implement them adds to the base of what is known about violence and how to prevent it.
  • A cross-cutting perspective. Public health encompasses many disciplines and perspectives, making its approach well-suited for examining and addressing multifaceted problems like violence.
  • A population approach. Part of public health’s broad view is an emphasis on population health and not just the health of individuals. Violence is experienced acutely by individuals but its consequences and potential solutions affect society in general.

CDC’s strategic direction for intimate partner violence prevention is promoting respectful, nonviolent intimate partner relationships through individual, community, and societal change.

For information on the CDC Delta Program, click here.

For the CDC Fact Sheet on IPV, click here.

For the CDC School Curriculum “Choose Respect”, click here.

CDC’s DELTA PROGRAM June 1, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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The Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancements and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) Program provides more than $6 million in funding to support local community coalitions that address intimate partner violence. The DELTA Program: At A Glance clearly describes the authorizing legislation for the program, provides examples of prevention work in action from various states, and serves as a tool to raise awareness, interest, and support for the program.

The fourteen states that are involved in the DELTA program are:  Alaska, California, Delaware, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Montana, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, Virginia and Wisconsin.

For more information on this program, please click here.


Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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In spite of the effectiveness of dating abuse education in our schools, only 1 in 4 teenagers are receiving this valuable educational tool.  According to a 2009 study:

  • 25% of teens report having a course on dating abuse in school.
  • Among teens who said they took a course on dating abuse, 75% say it helped them learn about the signs of abusive relationships.

With the passage of the Lindsay Ann Burke Act, Rhode Island became the first state to mandate that schools teach a curriculum on healthy relationships and dating abuse to teenagers.  The schools are free to choose which curriculum to utilize.

Some other states have since passed education mandates as well – Texas, Ohio, Nebraska and Florida.  Other states have pending legislation or have considered it in the past.  Sadly, some states have yet to even consider this important weapon in preventing domestic violence.  Click here to see a map of the states, the darkest states have the strongest education mandates.

States that have the strongest mandatory education legislation enacted:
Rhode Island (Lindsay Ann Burke Act)
Ohio (Tina Croucher Act)
Nebraska (Adopted Lindsay Ann Burke Act)
Louisiana – not as strong language as other states in this category, which is why it’s color is not as dark on the map

Have legislation enacted for voluntary school education:
New Hampshire

Have teen bullying legislation passed:

Have legislation mandating that teachers are trained to recognize dating violence:

Have passed legislation to study the problem:
New Mexico

Have pending legislation:
New Jersey
New York
South Carolina

Have considered legislation but it failed to pass and have none currently pending:

States that have no existing legislation, none ever considered or pending:
North Carolina
North Dakota
South Dakota
West Virginia

To join the Love Is Not Abuse coalition to encourage dating abuse education in our schools, please click here.