Archive | October 2013

No Resting Place

Bed

Domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger for women and girls. To highlight that fact here are some alarming facts shared on the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website:
“Almost one-third of female homicide victims that are reported in police records are killed by an intimate partner. In 70-80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder. Less than one-fifth of victims reporting an injury from intimate partner violence sought medical treatment following the injury. Intimate partner violence results in more than 18.5 million mental health care visits each year.”

With that said, not all homes provide a safe haven. For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Many incidents of domestic violence go unreported. What data that is available indicates as shared previously that domestic violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless women and girls. Yet, domestic violence is a subject that we, as a society, are reluctant to talk about. As a result, victims often suffer and sometimes die in silence. It is important to know: what constitutes domestic violence, how you can help, and available resources.

What constitutes abuse? Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including but not limited to physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that people use to gain power and control over their intimate partners. Research indicates that domestic violence is common and affects people of all cultures, religions, ages, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds and income levels. Domestic violence is not a private family matter as was once thought but rather a crime against society. Abuse takes many forms.

Abuse comes in several forms and, while some define abuse as a physical attack, it can also be emotional, financial, or sexual. Physically abusive behavior can escalate quickly and have lethal consequences. Emotional abuse is considered a psychological or mental attack on another, including name-calling, destructive criticism, harassment, isolation, intimidation, or humiliation. These emotionally destructive behaviors by the abusive partner can be detrimental to the victim’s mental well-being both in the short-term as well as long-term without counseling. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy the victim’s self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make the victim feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and the first step to breaking free is recognizing that the relationship is abusive.

Are there other forms of domestic violence? Other forms of domestic violence include but are not limited to financial and sexual abuse. Financial abuse, also known as economic abuse, results from one partner’s attempts to gain and maintain control over their partner’s finances. Taking many forms, financial abuse includes disallowing a partner from obtaining a job, purposely hurting a partner’s credit, limiting access to funds, and demanding that a partner ask for money for every expense. Sexual abuse results from one partner forcing his or her will on the other, often causing physical and psychological harm in the process. When a partner is afraid to say no, he or she suffers from abuse. Once the victim acknowledges the reality of the abusive situation, then she or he can get the much-needed help.

Is this an exhaustive list of the forms of domestic violence? Although lengthy, the aforementioned categories of domestic violence do not comprise all forms abuse. Stalking is another form of emotional abuse. With the rise of technology, many abuse their partner by stalking them with the aid of cell phones, computers, and the Internet, or using technology to monitor a partner’s activity. Research indicates that this type of abuse is especially common among teenagers and young adults.

The immigration status of the victim can also afford the abusive partner an opportunity to control the victim. When the abusive partner, often a spouse, holds control over the victim’s immigration papers, threatens to call immigration authorities, or refuses to let his or her partner to learn English, among other things this behavior constitutes abuse. More than ever before, society must guard against domestic abuse in all forms, paying special attention to non-traditional forms of abusive behavior which all too often go overlooked.

How can you help? There are several ways that you can help a person in an abusive relationship. First, you must be a patient and non-judgmental listener. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Secondly, you can encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Assist your friend in locating a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling and/or shelter. If the person elects to go to the police, court or a lawyer, you can offer to accompany them for moral support.

It is important to be mindful that you cannot rescue the person being abused. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about being hurt only the abused person can decide when to take the requisite steps to secure a life free from the violence and turmoil which occurs in an abusive relationship.

The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, keep in mind that expressing your concern for their health and well-being will let the person know that you care and may even save her or his life.

Sources:NCADV website and PCADV website

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

SAVE SNAP Funding

Soup Kitchen

The 2009 Recovery Act’s temporary boost to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits is scheduled to end on November 1, 2013, resulting in a benefit cut for every SNAP household. For families of three, the cut will be $29 a month — a total of $319 for November 2013 through September 2014, the remaining months of fiscal year 2014.[2] That’s a serious loss in critical financial support for families in need, especially in light of the very low amount of basic SNAP benefits. Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits will average less than one dollar and forty cents ($1.40) per person per meal in 2014. Nationally, the total cut is estimated to be five (5) billion dollars in fiscal year 2014. It seems unlikely that Congress will enact legislation to remedy this problem, as President Obama and some members of Congress have proposed. Consequently, states need to prepare for the benefit cuts — including determining how they will provide information about the upcoming benefit reduction to participating households and other stakeholders as well as how to manage increased client inquiries when the cut takes effect.

America’s children need your help to fight for funding for much needed feeding programs. The US House and Senate are making decisions about funding for hunger-relief programs. Hunger in America is pervasive. Food security is necessary to lead a productive, healthy, and active life. It has been reported that more than forty-nine (49) million Americans lack reliable access to the food. Childhood hunger is a growing reality in America. In one of the wealthiest nations in the world, the prevalence of childhood hunger is a national travesty and for many a well kept secret.

Approximately, one in four children in America is food insecure. As is aptly stated in the materials by Share Our Strength i “No Hungry Kid”, “…their bodies may not be rail thin, nor their bellies bloated like their counterparts in other countries, but they’re at risk of hunger all the same. They lack the energy to learn, grow, and thrive.” It is a well known fact that proper nutrition is vital to the growth and development of healthy children.

Statistics on Childhood Hunger in the United States: • According to the USDA, over 17 million children lived in food insecure (low food security and very low food security) households in 2009. ii • 20% or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. The states of Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3 percent) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food. (Cook, John, Child Food Insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008. iii • In 2009, households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (21.3 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (36.6 percent) or single men (27.8 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (24.9 percent) and Hispanic households (26.9 percent).v

With 46.2 million residents, Poverty, USA, is the largest state in America. Despite recent economic growth more than 43 million Americans -including 14.7 million children – live in poverty, the highest in the more than 50 years that the data has been tracked. Yet a recent Gallup poll found that only 5% of Americans believe poverty and homelessness are important problems for the country. So let’s look at some facts and make our own determination:

Over 25 percent of the children in the US under the age of six live in poverty. The poverty rate among women climbed to 14.5 percent in 2010 from 13.9 percent in 2009, the highest in 17 years. As poverty surged last year to its highest level since 1993, median household income declined, leaving the typical American household earning less in inflation-adjusted dollars than it did in 1997. One out of every six Americans is now being served by at least one government anti-poverty program. Child homelessness in the United States is now 33 percent higher than it was back in 2007. More than 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid, the U.S. government health care program designed principally to help the poor.

According to the National Center on Family Homelessness, 1.6 million American children “were living on the street, in homeless shelters or motels, or doubled up with other families last year”. The percentage of children living in poverty in the United States increased from 16.9 percent in 2006 to nearly 22 percent in 2010. One out of every seven mortgages in the United States was either delinquent or in foreclosure during the first quarter of 2010.

The number of children living in poverty in the United States has risen for four years in a row. There are ten (10) different states where at least one out of every four babies is born to a family living in poverty. 28 percent of all households in America have at least one member that is looking for a full-time job. There are seven million children in the United States today that are not covered by health insurance at all.

Tell your members of Congress to protect programs that give hope and opportunity to people experiencing hunger and poverty. Reducing our nation’s long-term debt is critical, but hungry and poor people didn’t cause the problem, and cutting programs that help them won’t significantly reduce our debt. But cutting these programs will have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable members of our society. As our federal elected officials considers budget cuts, please join me in urging Congress to keep our nation’s commitment to those Jesus called “the least of these.” Please join me in sending an email to our members of Congress today and remind them that they are in office to care for all their constituents not simply the 1% that write sizable checks to their re-election campaigns.

We can only make a difference when we take action.

“You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result. ~ Gandhi

“Don’t miss your chance to make an impact, dial your elected officials in Washington DC now!

Source(s): “SNAP Benefits Will Be Cut for All Participants in November 2013”, Stacy Dean and Dottie Rosenbaum, Center on Budget Priorities, August 2013. Feeding America. Action Alert Voices for Americas Children. Action Alert Bread for the World. St. Vincent de Paul Society. National Center on Family Homelessness.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

i In 1984, Share Our Strength, was started by the brother and sister team of Bill and Debbie Shore started the organization with the belief that everyone has strength to share in the global fight against hunger and poverty, and that in these shared strengths lie sustainable solutions.

iiRhoda Cohen, J. Mabli, F., Potter,Z., Zhoa. Hunger in America 2010. Feeding America. February 2010.

iiiNord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2008.

iv Cook, John. Feeding America. Child Food Insecurity in the United States:2006-2008.

v Nord, Mark, M. Andrews, S. Carlson. United States Department of Agriculture/Economic Research Service, Household Food Security in the United States, 2009.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Domestic Violence Information & Resources

Serious Business Woman

Because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, many of the posts in this blog will address issues related to breaking the cycle of violence and exposing myths about this phenomenon. Access to information is integral to breaking the cycle of violence. Toward that goal, we are directing your attention to very help informational resources related to domestic violence intervention, prevention, and community outreach. In this blog post, we will highlight the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website contains a wealth of resources for both victims of domestic violence and their advocates. The National Hotlines website includes but is not limited to: the definition of domestic violence; tips on how you can help; a list of domestic violence hotlines; reference materials; and helpful links. For further information, please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at http://www.thehotline.org/.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Give Hope to Victims of Domestic Violence

woman with cellphone

Give hope to victims of domestic violence by donating your old cell telephone to the HopeLine Camapaign operated by Verizon Wireless. Verizon collects no-longer-used cell phones, batteries, and accessories and either refurbishes or recycles the phones. The refurbished cell phones along with three thousand (3,000) minutes of wireless service are provided to victims of domestic violence free of charge.

For many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Research indicates that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.[i] Indigent women are more vulnerable. As woman rebuild their lives, the refurbished cell phones serve as a link to supportive services in a time of crisis.

The pervasive problem of domestic violence takes everyone to make it stop. Consider donating your used cell phone— you could possibly save someone’s life. In honor of Earth Day 2011, you should consider donating your used cell telephone, battery, and/or charger.

Verizon Wireless states that “donating an old wireless phone to HopeLine® from Verizon is as easy as following these four steps:
1.Turn the phone’s power off.
2.Make sure the phone’s batteries are installed in the phone you are returning. Please do not include any loose batteries.
3.Please remove storage cards (microSD, etc.) and SIM cards from phones prior to donation. Also be sure to return any travel chargers or other accessories that came with the devices.
4.Seal the package and adhere the free postage-paid label to the box/envelope and drop it in the mail. To view and print the mailing label, you may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader.
5.Don’t forget to include your return address on the shipping label. “

“Verizon Wireless takes the protection of customer information seriously. The company encourages everyone who plans to give a phone to HopeLine to erase any personal data on the phone before donating it. If in doubt on what to remove from your phone, leave it to the professionals. As part of the refurbishing process, HopeLine scrubs the phones prior to distributing them for re-use to ensure all customer information is removed.”

Please note:
•Donated phones are not tax deductible.
•This shipping label is only intended for use by consumers who are donating their wireless phones to HopeLine. Customers who are not donating their phones but wish to return their wireless phones should contact Customer Service or visit their local Verizon Wireless Communications Store.”

For information about Verizon’s cell phone donation process visit: http://aboutus.vzw.com/communityservice/hopeLine.html.

Source(s): Verizon.

Photo Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

[i] Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy, National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1993, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000)

Nichelle Mitchem Discusses Domestic Violence & Substance Abuse

Sad Woman

Victims of Domestic Violence

”Husbands often suggest that they beat their wives because their wives drink. But several studies have shown that many battered women start drinking subsequent to the battering. So, it may be defensive behavior on the part of women, trying to cope with an intolerable
situation.” – Linda Salzman, PhD, Criminologist at the Centers for Disease Control.
• 33% of battered women suffer depression.
•26% of all women who attempt suicide are victims of
domestic violence.
•10% of all battered women abuse drugs or alcohol.
•50% of all alcoholic or addicted women are victims of
domestic violence.
•A survey of 2,099 women found that women who had experienced abuse reported more frequent use of sleeping pills and sedatives than women who had not been abused.
◦40% more battered women reported sleeping pill use.
◦74% more battered women reported sedative use.
◦50% more women physically abused as children reported sleeping pill use and all reported sedative use.
•Substance abuse adds more problems for the victim because:
◦There is less resistance from the victim
◦It gives more power to the abuser
◦The victim feels like they ‘deserve’ the abuse
◦There is less support from the victim’s family
◦The victim tends to ignore the home, bills,
children, etc.

Batterers:
•Ten studies reporting chronic alcohol use, alcoholism, or alcohol abuse reported that between 24% and 86% of battering incidents involved alcohol abuse. When batterers reported, the result was a combined average of 36% of battering incidents involving alcohol; when victims reported, the combined average was 67%.
•A study of 400 battered women found that 67% of batterers frequently abused alcohol; however, only one-fifth had abused alcohol during all four battering
incidents on which data were collected.
•In one batterers intervention program, 90% of the men had abused alcohol at the
time of the latest battering incident. The vast majority of participants also reported battering their partners when not under the influence of alcohol.

Battering is a socially learned behavior, and is not the result of substance abuse or mental illness. With regard to domestic violence, substance abuse may be viewed as:
• An excuse. In many societies, including ours, substance use has a role
as a time out from responsibility during which the user can engage in
exceptional behavior and later disavow the behavior as caused by the
substance rather than the self (MacAndrew & Edgerton, 1969). Some
observers suggest batterers use substances first as a vehicle, then as an
excuse, for being controlling and violent.
•A cognitive disrupter. Drugs or alcohol may reduce the user’s ability to perceive, integrate, and process information, increasing his risk for violence (Pernanen, 1991). Batterers may be more likely than non-batterers to misinterpret the actions of their partners in this manner, and substances enhance the misinterpretation.
• A power motive. Substance abuse and woman abuse may share common origins in a need to achieve personal power and control (Gondolf, 1995).
•Situational. Violence may occur during the process of obtaining and using
substances. The situational relationship between substance abuse and woman
abuse is particularly relevant when illegal drugs are involved. A battered
woman may use substances with her abuser in an attempt to manage his
violence and increase her own safety (Center for Substance Abuse
Treatment, 1997), or she may be forced to use substances with her
batterer.
•A chemical agent. Substance abuse may increase the risk for woman abuse
through chemical actions on brain mechanisms linked to aggression (Miczek,
et al., 1994). However, there is no evidence that batterers are neither
“hard wired” for violence, nor that their socialization or choice-making
processes are not operational when using substances.
•Partial to certain characteristics. Substance abuse may
increase the risk for woman abuse only for those men with certain
characteristics. In Kenneth Leonard’s national study of 23-year-old men,
heavy drinking was associated with woman abuse only for those men with a
high levels of hostility and low levels of marital satisfaction (Leonard
& Blane, 1992).
•Effective across generations. Substance abuse and woman abuse are learned through observation and practice, and are related over time. Parental substance abuse and parental woman abuse may impact the development of children, increasing the chances of a child growing up to be an abuser, a victim of abuse, and/or a substance abuser (Kantor & Asdigian, 1993).[1]

Similarities between substance abuse and domestic violence:
•Affects entire families
•Negatively impacts a pregnancy
•Strong denial tendencies
•Blames others
•Thrives on isolation, shame, and silence
•Social stigma
•Pervasive social and health problems cut across all demographic categories
•Potentially life-threatening
•Often intergenerational
•Tend to become progressively worse
•Often lead to other kinds of problems (e.g. health, legal and financial)

Source(s): Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Linda Salzman, PhD,
Criminologist at the Centers for Disease Control. Kantor & Asdigian, 1993. Leonard & Blane, 1992. Miczek, et al., 1994. Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, 1997. Gondolf, 1995. Pernanen, 1991. MacAndrew & Edgerton, 1969. Larry W. Bennett, Ph.D. “Substance Abuse and Woman Abuse by Male Partners.” University of Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. September 1997.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art.

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[1] Larry W. Bennett, Ph.D. “Substance Abuse and Woman Abuse by Male Partners.” University of Chicago, Jane Addams College of Social Work. September 1997.

How to Create a Safety Plan Against Domestic Violence

Women with Salt and Pepper Hair

Everyone has a right to be safe. Toward that goal, it is important to create a safety plan. There are many helpful safety planning websites for adult and teenage victims of domestic as well as elder abuse victims. Because October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we will focus on the importance of creating a safety plan for victims of domestic violence in this post. If you are in an abusive relationship, it is particularly important to create a personal safety plan and to share it with others.

Research indicates that if you have been battered in your present relationship, you should understand that you are never safe. Perhaps, you may feel that the abuse has ceased and the relationship is improving because the batterer promised to change. You may even convince yourself that the abuse will end if you are the “perfect” partner. Persons who abuse their partners do not just “stop” the battering behavior. In fact, research indicates that often abusive behavior increases over time. The abusive incidents tend to occur more frequently and the level of violence escalates. As a result, it is critical to create a safety plan.

For further information on the creation of a personal safety plan for victims of domestic violence here is a list of a few very helpful websites: http://www.safehorizon.org; http://www.domesticviolence.org; http://www.thesafespace.org; and http://www.acadv.org; and http://www.thorpe.ou.edu.

Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Love Does Not Hurt: National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Woman with Man

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). In recognition of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, this blog post seeks to: raise awareness about the prevalence of this pressing public health issue; delineate steps you can take to support a victim of domestic violence; and provide you with a course of action to help eradicate domestic violence.

For far too many women violence and danger are their constant companions. Despite concerted efforts to eradicate domestic violence, data indicates that intimate partner violence continues to pose a clear and present danger to the health and well-being of countless persons. Social science research indicates that one (1) in four (4) women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. [i] Indigent women are more vulnerable.

On average, more than three (3) women a day are murdered by their intimate partners in our country [ii]. Annually, women experience an estimated two (2) million women injuries resulting from an abusive relationship.[iii] Women who are between the ages of 20-24 years old are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence.[iv] Research indicates that most incidents of domestic violence are not reported to the police. [v] The dearth of safe, decent, affordable housing causes many poor women to confront the unenviable choice of homelessness or remaining in a home plagued by violence and turmoil resulting from domestic violence.

If someone you know is being abused, the National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends that you do the following:

Listen to the victim. Tell the victim, “I believe you.”

Acknowledge the abuse and that the behavior is inappropriate. Tell the victim, “No one deserves to be abused.”

Respect the victim’s choices. Tell the victim, “It’s important for you to make decisions that are best for you.”

Be supportive—if the victim wants to file a police report and/or a restraining order offer to accompany them. Tell the victim, “You are NOT alone.”

Provide encouragement to the victim that might be feeling hopeless. Tell the victim, “The National Domestic Violence Hotline is anonymous and confidential and provides information and referrals. You could call them for help.”

Domestic violence thrives on apathy and ignorance. It can be eradicated with an equal amount of conscience, mind, heart, and collective action. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, here is a list of additional ways that you can help eradicate domestic: share domestic violence resources with a victim of abuse; volunteer at a domestic violence agency; speak out against domestic violence; donate money and/or items to your local domestic violence organization; donate your old cell telephone and its accessories via Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine; and encourage your community to support domestic violence services as well as hold perpetrators accountable for their illegal behavior.

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[i] Tjaden, Patricia & Thoennes, Nancy, National Institute of Justice and the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, 1993, “Extent, Nature and Consequences of Intimate Partner Violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey,” (2000).

[ii] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.

[iii] CDC. Adverse Health Conditions & Health Risk: Behaviors Associated with Intimate Partner Violence. 2008. Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, February 8, 2008.

[iv] U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Intimate Partner Violence in the United States, December 2006.

[v] Frieze, I.H., Browne, A. (1989). Violence in Marriage. In L.E. Ohlin & M.H. Tonry (eds.) Family Violence, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Sources: Listed above including but not limited to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Photo credit: Microsoft Clip Art