Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Their Purple Purses Are At Work

Anne Curcurrito and Jenifer Martin know that, "Domestic  violence affects everyone, including businesses and your employees." Domestic abuse may begin in the home, but it often follows the employee into work. In fact according to a national study, 21% of full time employees have experienced domestic violence... and most indicated their work performance was significantly impacted. Sometimes the impact is obvious as the abuser stalks or harasses their partner at his/her place of employment. Sometimes the signs are more subtle, manifesting as absenteeism, tardiness, declining job performance, excessive time on the phone, or employee turnover. Click here to learn why the Chamber of Southern Saratoga County supports the Purple Purse Challenge.

Allison Holland and her colleagues at Saratoga National Bank, "believe financial security is key to leaving abuse, " and they're "rocking their purple purses in support." As bankers, they were impressed with Wellspring's accomplishments in last year's Purple Purse Challenge. Our donors generously contributed $51,000 to our campaign-- and that earned an additional $26,000 in bonus funding from Allstate. Not a bad rate of return on the support from our local community! Click here to learn more about why the folks at Saratoga National Bank care.

Did you know Wellspring offers services to help employers develop workplace domestic violence policies, train managers and supervisors so they can assist employees in getting the help they need so they can be safe and focus on their job...and so the workplace remains safe for everyone? Did you know you don't personally need to be a victim of domestic violence to access our free, confidential services? If you have someone in your  life who might be experiencing abuse- a son or daughter, a friend, a neighbor, or an employee, you can call us to better understand, to know what the resources are, to know what to say to help, and to discuss your own safety if that's a concern. Employers care about their employees, but also need to focus on their business and employee performance. Wellspring can provide the resources you need-- at no cost.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

These Purses Are Going to the Dogs... and Cats

Anyone who has ever talked to Marianne Barker for even a few seconds knows that she loves animals. And any animal that's ever met her, had his ears fluffed and looked in her eyes, has experienced unconditional love and the feeling of being absolutely cherished. From the moment she learned about Wellspring's Safe Pet Partnership, she has supported our work to keep pets safe from abuse. Click here to learn how, "something that had never crossed my mind before" became an important social cause that she and Impressions of Saratoga routinely support.

Today I'm moving out from behind the camera lens to make a video with two of my favorite guys, Andy and Bob, to bring attention to an often overlooked aspect of domestic violence--- abuse of family pets. Back in 1999, Leadership Saratoga helped Wellspring address a serious concern for many domestic violence victims-- the fear that if they were to leave, their abuser would harm their family pet. Often this threat had been voiced so many times that it was a powerful deterrent to them seeking their own safety. With Leadership Saratoga's assistance, our Safe Pet Partnership was created and since then, hundreds and hundreds of pets have been provided veterinary care and temporary foster homes until their human family members found violence free homes... and they could be together again. Click here to learn more about Wellspring's Safe Pet Partnership.

How can you help?
  • Let folks know about how abuse also affects our furry, feathered and finned family members.
  • If you know someone who is leaving abuse, ask if they have any concerns for their pets... and let them know Wellspring can help.
  • Volunteer to be a foster family, opening your home and heart  to a pet until its family finds a safe place for them all to live together.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Rockin' a Purse to Continually Push for Excellence

By now I'm sure you've heard that Saratoga County continues to rank as the #1 healthiest county in NYS. Not content to rest comfortably with those accolades, the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has spearheaded the Healthy Saratoga initiative, bringing together community leaders and seeking guidance from national experts on how we can build on our achievements ... and also address areas that could use improvements. We're looking for innovative models from other communities across the country so we can continue to challenge ourselves and improve. Click here  to hear from Todd Shimkus about why he's, "rockin' a purple purse for Healthy Saratoga."

DeCrescente Distributing is a family owned business that prides itself on giving back to the community. For many years they've been a drop off location for used cell phones that are repurposed as 911 phones to assist domestic violence survivors to be safe at home, at work, and throughout their daily lives. CJ DeCrescente states, "We've heard incredible stories about how your used cell phone can  -literally- save someone's life." Click here to hear CJ's inspiring words about how collecting cell phones has made them aware of domestic violence in our community.

For the last 35 years, Mark Baker has dedicated himself to fostering the vibrancy, culture, community spirit and economic prosperity of Saratoga Springs. As the president of the Saratoga City Center, he oversaw one of the most important economic drivers in our community... one that consistently surpassed performance goals year-after-year. Like Todd and CJ, he's no stranger to pushing past current success to reach even higher. Click here to hear his thoughts on how Wellspring's work can "help make our community even better.' 

Are you inspired by these leaders who challenge us to excellence? We often think the big social issues that plague us are just too challenging for any one person to make a difference... but that's not true. Former District Attorney James Murphy III often told the story of a local domestic violence victim who locked herself in the bathroom during an assault... and hidden in the linen closet was one of those used cell phones that had been donated to be used as a  911 phone. She made that emergency call and the police came as her abuser was breaking through the door to assault her. One business took the initiative to put out the collection box... one person donated their used cell phone instead of tossing it in the trash... so that our advocates could give that phone to a victim as part of a safety plan... and that one phone may very well have a saved a life that night.

This October Wellspring has set it's own big goal... to lead Saratoga County to the #1 ranking in the nation showing that our community is committed to ending relationship and sexual abuse. The Allstate Purple Purse Challenge starts October 2 and ends October 31. Will you help us by leading a fundraising team, setting up an event in your workplace, spreading  the word on social media and donating? If one person donating a used phone can save a life, imagine the difference we can all make if we work together. Oh, need more inspiration? Allstate is donating $100,000 to the national winner to support survivor services and prevention programs in their community.  If one cell phone can save a life, think what an impact we could make with $100,000 toward making Saratoga County free of relationship and sexual abuse. Want to know how you can help? Just give at us a call at 518.583.0280.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

They're Carrying A Purple Purse For Hope!

Christianne Potts articulates a big obstacle we have to ending domestic violence, "If you haven't seen it or heard it, you may not understand or believe it... and may not know who to turn to." She's right... 'Silence hides Violence'. Click here to learn more about what we need to do to end the silence.

Click here to learn why Brian Nealon, CEO of the Wesley Community, thinks Wellspring is important to their 600 employees, "We have people who have needed Wellspring's services... they've helped them to be safe and confident."

When I heard Reverend George Stefani talking about the First Baptist Church of Saratoga's new symbol of hope, I realized we're on the right path. "In our church we have many symbols of hope... today we've added a new one." Click here to find out what symbol is bringing them hope now.

Perhaps you can be the link to hope for someone in need... just by recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship and guiding them to support. Abuse isn't just physical... and no one should wait until they're in crisis or are physically assaulted to get help. Here's some information on the various forms of abuse. Wellspring is there to support survivors and offer them options; don't wait to call until you're in crisis.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

They Carry A Purple Purse for the Kids!

Everyone who has ever been on Wellspring's board of directors can quote something that I say so often, "I want to be out of a job!" But I very quickly follow up with the words, "Because we've achieved our goal of ending relationship and sexual abuse." Working with youth to promote healthy relationships and consent is key to decreasing the risk they'll ever experience dating violence or sexual victimization.  I'm not the only one who sees the prevention education and social change work  Wellspring does with youth as important. Here are some community members whose words about the importance of focusing on youth inspire me every day.

 "We need to protect the welfare of our children." Click here to learn what Marcie Frasier's research uncovered about the correlation between exposure to domestic violence  and the risk of alcohol or drug use, obesity and bullying.

While Tara Pleat sees a community of young individuals who are impressionable,  she's hopeful because, "We have a community that's not afraid to talk about these issues." Click here to learn more about why she has passionately dedicated 15 years to Wellspring's mission.

Elaine Anton-Lutruglio  coaches girls lacrosse, for one very obvious reason, "I love the girls I work with", so much so that she's not rocking just one, but 5 purple purses. Click here for her observations on youth and dating violence.

I'm Keshi...
watch the video to see what my name stands for.
So if Marcie, Tara and Elaine inspired you, here's something you can do today. Do you know someone who has a high school or college aged son or daughter? Share this video with them, so they'll know how to help someone in need. Local Skidmore students shared what they wished they'd known before they headed off to college.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Allstate's Purple Purse Challenge

I've been seeing purple lately...purple purses.

John Lofrumento explains that more women experience domestic violence
than breast, ovarian and lung cancers combined..
Once again Wellspring is participating in Allstate's Purple Purse Challenge. What's the Purple Purse Challenge? Watch here as John Lofrumento explains Allstate's passion for assisting domestic violence survivors toward economic empowerment. 

Last year our local donors gave more than $51,000 to Wellspring's Purple Purse campaign, earning Wellspring 5th place in the nation and $26,000 in bonus funds from Allstate that we used for survivor services and prevention programs in our community.
This year we're participating in the Purple Purse Challege once again... and our goal is to show that the people in our community are #1 in the country in caring about and working toward Wellspring's vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse.

Here's what you need to know about the Purple Purse Challenge:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Talking with teens about consent

As we send our kids off to college, teens and parents have  dreams and expectations. Dreams for an education that leads to a career and stable life. Dreams for learning more about something that really interests you (instead of the basic curriculum that everyone took in high school.) Dreams of a new beginning where you can be the person you are now... without everyone else remembering the person you were 10 years ago.  Dreams of freedom from curfews and parental oversight (and on the parent side, freedom from those regular battles.) It's an exciting time with new beginnings, new opportunities, new peer groups and new freedoms.

And it can also be a risky time-- for sexual victimization. In fact, the period from freshman orientation until Thanksgiving break is called the Red Zone, as it's the period with the highest incidence of campus sexual assault. So it's important to talk with your daughters-- and your sons-- about consent before sending them off to college. So here are some talking points to help you with that discussion.... and to make it even easier we've got a quick video just for parents about why and how to talk with your teen about consent.
What is consent? Consent is “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Non-consensual sex, or sex without someone’s agreement or permission, is sexual assault. Some important things to know about consent:
  • Drugs and alcohol blur consent. Drugs and alcohol impact decision making. When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent cannot be obtained. In many states, an intoxicated person cannot legally give consent.
  • Consent needs to be clear. Consent is more than not hearing the word “no.” A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions or any other non-verbal cues. Never assume you have consent. Always be sure you have consent.
  •  Consent can be fun. Consent does not have to be something that “ruins the mood.” In fact, clear and enthusiastic consent can actually enhance sexual interactions. Not only does it allow one to know that their partner is comfortable with the interaction, it lets both partners clearly express what they want.
  •   Consent is specific. Just because someone consents to one set of actions and activities does not mean consent has been given to any other sexual act. Similarly, if a partner has given consent in the past to sexual activity this does not apply to current or future interactions. Consent can be initially given and later withdrawn.

[1] All content regarding consent is taken directly from the National Sexual Violence resource Center and retrieved from http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/SAAM_2012_Consent.pdf on August 3, 2016.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Sending your son or daughter of to college soon?

Going off to college can be a big step. Wellspring talked with current Skidmore College students to find out what they wish they had known before arriving on campus, and how they have acted - or did not act - when they thought someone needed help.  From these interviews, Wellspring formulated a video to give teens the tools those students wish they had had. Have your teen watch our video to learn more about how they can contribute to the safety of their upcoming home away from home.
Check out our video together and find out how and why Keshi  is giving youth the tools to create social change.

Why social change is important

As a society, we should always be striving to do better; and as individuals within society, it is our moral obligation to contribute to making our community healthy and safe for everyone. These efforts include working to engage others within the community to end relationship and sexual abuse.  Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct (SGBM) on college campuses is a nationwide epidemic in the United States, and efforts to combat these crimes begin long before individuals arrive on campus. Our goal at Wellspring is to empower young people with the information and skills necessary to identify and intervene when they witness a potential SGBM incident. 


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Reminder in the Mirror

I was talking to a domestic violence survivor today. She experienced years of physical and emotional abuse, but 

had the strength and courage to break free and build a new life. We talked about how blessed she feels now, being safe... but there's one thing keeping her from letting go of the haunting memories of the abuse. The mirror. She has scars from numerous abusive incidents and each time she looks in the mirror she's reminded of the actions that left that mark on her body, "The scars are a daily reminder of horrible abuse; they make it hard to be comfortable in my skin and truly have a fresh start."

Advocates aren't the only ones who hear these stories of relived trauma as someone looks in the mirror. Dr. Edwin Williams, a board certified plastic surgeon and owner of The Williams Center has long supported the work of  Wellspring and other domestic violence agencies. In fact their website has a page dedicated to providing a caring response and information for survivors of domestic violence. Below is information from their site.

Whether you are currently in an abusive relationship or still struggling with the memories of past abuse, we can help. Call Wellspring at 518.583.0280 or our 24 hour hotline at 518.584.8188

Domestic Violence

  • Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Around the world, at least one in every three women has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime. Most often, the abuser is a member of her own family.
This violence spans across all racial, ethnic, religious, educational and socioeconomic lines. Over five million women a year are affected by domestic violence in the United States; over one million victims require medical treatment. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Since 1994 Dr. Edwin Williams a board certified facial plastic surgeon has offered complimentary consultations and cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery to victims of domestic violence. As a participating surgeon in the program Face to Face, developed with the national coalition against Domestic Violence, Dr. Edwin Williams along with other facial plastic and reconstructive surgeons throughout the country take a firm stand against domestic violence. Over the past several years Dr. Edwin Williams has helped many women remove the remaining scars caused by an abusive partner. Those wishing to be considered for the complimentary consultations and cosmetic and reconstructive surgery to victims of domestic violence, must meet certain criteria including proof of being out of the abusive relationship for at least one year.
Dr. Edwin Williams hopes that his efforts will bring attention to the issue of domestic violence. It makes him feel good to be able to help these women so that they may feel better about themselves and reclaim their lives to move past the damage that has been done to them. The toll free number is 1-800-842-4546.For news stories featuring Dr. Edwin Williams’ treating domestic violence patients click here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Sowing Seeds to Start a Conversation about Relationship Abuse

I planted my garden about 10 days ago. While everyone else is complaining miserably about the rain, I’m a little excited (especially when it rains during the week not on the weekend) as I’m sure that with the moisture all my seeds have germinated and probably new shoots are pushing up through the soil right now.  Gardening from seeds takes patience and trust to give the sun time to warm the soil, the seedling time to take root and simply time to grow.  While I don’t like the wait, over the years I’ve come to appreciate the process and accept that I can’t always control the outcome. Like last year’s abundant squash patch that seemingly overnight was decimated by powdery mildew.

Sometimes these small scale dramas in the garden, remind me of the much more significant struggles people face when someone they love is experiencing domestic violence. Often the victim of abuse doesn’t recognize the behaviors his/her partner’s actions as abusive… especially we when the abuse isn’t physical.  Sometimes just talking to your loved one and letting them know you’re concerned is like planting that seed. They may seem to totally ignore your words, but like the week of straight rain we just endured that helps my seeds germinate, under the right conditions your words may begin to root.

The decision to seek support is rarely immediate. Here are some of the reasons people give for not seeking help:

·         “It’s not that bad.” Often this is followed by words like, “It’s rarely physical” or “It’s nothing like I’ve seen in the movies” or “He/she always apologizes and says it won’t happen again.”

·         “It’s not a crisis, I don’t need to call a hotline.”

·         “I wouldn’t feel right calling a place like Wellspring. Other people need their help so much more than I do.”

·         “I really don’t see any way out.” Or “I’m not ready to make a change yet. I’ll call them when that time comes.”

·         It’s not that I’m afraid of my partner; I just have to do a better job not aggravating him/her.”

·         “They help domestic violence victims… I’m not a victim.” Often the person will explain, that they’re occasionally abusive too, e.g., “Sometimes I yell or call him/her awful names… and I’ve hit back so I’m just as guilty of abuse.”  

If you’ve heard any of these statements, here’s what I’d like you to know, so you have the words to help your friend:

You don’t need to be in a crisis. You don’t need to be in danger or living in fear. You don’t need to wait in until a crisis where you don’t have anywhere else to turn before you call us… in fact, at Wellspring, we hope that calling us sooner may mean you never experience that crisis. We so often hear survivors saying, “I used to always feel like I was walking on eggshells at home.” Yes, they kept the abuse from escalating… by continually living in a state of hyper-vigilance. Our agency is a place where you can talk about these feelings. We can help you create a safety plan, but we can also be a safe place where you give voice to those feelings you don’t speak out loud… maybe not even to yourself. Our services are free and confidential… and they’re for everyone. There’s no income eligibly guidelines for our services.

You don’t need to be preparing to leave to seek our services. In fact, we have many survivors who remain in the relationship. They come to us to understand how to increase their safety, to know what their legal rights/ options/resources are if needed, or to build their economic stability or support systems so even if they’re remaining in the relationship they’re not doing so because they feel trapped. Many people understand that we offer a hotline and shelter, but they’re unaware of the other services we offer: financial literacy training to support economic stability, rent subsidized housing, legal advocacy, 911 phones, and assistance with accessing employment, childcare, housing, transportation, or other basic needs. Because it takes time to be on solid ground financially after leaving abuse, supports like our food pantry, personal care items, Backpacks of Hope (school supplies to start the new year) and New Beginnings Baskets (filled with necessary household items) can help survivors make a fresh start or support them until they finally feel stable and secure.

Survivors may judge their own reactions, verbal or physical as indicators that they too are abusive. Some relationships are indeed mutually abusive. But in domestic violence there is an underlying power and control dynamic. Does that mean the victim is always cowering, helplessly… no. Survivors may, in defense, frustration or anger, lash out sometimes. To determine if domestic violence exists one needs to ask is there an ongoing pattern of control, either through emotional, psychological, physical, or financial abuse, or social isolation. It’s the pattern of power and control… not necessarily an isolated behavior.

 So if the examples above sound like behaviors you recognize in the relationship, call us. If you weren’t sure how to talk to someone you love about domestic violence, hopefully this information will help you start the conversation.  Sometimes hearing someone say, “I care and I’m worried” plants a seed that in time leads to a future without fear. If you’re not sure how to talk to someone about relationship abuse, call us --we can help you understand, know about resources and start the conversation.
If you or someone you know has experienced relationship or sexual abuse, call us.
Office 518.583.0280
24/7 hotline 518.584.8188