Saturday, March 30, 2013

Healing the Scars

On April 11th the Williams Center is hosting the 6th annual Evening of Beauty to benefit Face to Face and DVRC, two organizations committed to helping survivors of domestic violence.  The Evening of Beauty is a terrific gals night out; women return year after year with their friends because it’s so much fun. But the Williams Center doesn’t organize this charity event just to show they can throw a great party. They do it because Dr. Williams and his staff know all too well the scars of an abusive relationship. 

Through Face to Face, a nonprofit organizations whose mission is "Giving Hope, One Face at a Time," Dr. Williams donates his time and medical expertise as a plastic surgeon to help domestic violence victims heal the physical and emotional scars that endure even after the victim has left the abusive relationship. Without Face to Face,  life would  have ended  for Ilianexy Morales, when the man who professed to love her brutally stabbed her more than 100 time with a butcher’s knife. Face to Face gave her back her life… and this beautiful smile. 

Let’s work to END domestic violence, so no one ever again experiences the brutal suffering that Ilianexy did. You can help support organizations like Face to Face and Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services. And on April 11th you can have a great time while raising funds for these two organizations.

                 Evening of Beauty

Thursday April 11th
5:00 – 8:00 PM
Williams Center
1072 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham, NY


Join us for a silent auction (featuring items from BOTOX Cosmetic , Radiesse, Juvederm, Restylane Peels, Spa & Salon Certificates, gift baskets), light refreshments, cooking class, wine tasting, fashion show, giveaways, door prizes and more!


$25 pre-registration; $35 at the door
RSVP (518) 786-7000
Proceeds to benefit DVRC of Saratoga County and Face to Face

Friday, March 29, 2013

It's a Gals Night Out

What's not to love? A night out with your best girlfriends. Shopping, wine, cooking demonstrations, fashion show, jewelry, silent auction, giveaways and door prizes.. And all the proceeds help other women overcome domestic violence. It’s a night on the town to help others.
(And if you need even more reason to come, log into the blog
tomorrow to learn about how your support helped one woman who endured the unthinkable.)
Join us April 11th for an Evening of Beauty
Evening of Beauty
Thursday April 11th
5:00 – 8:00 PM
Williams Center
1072 Troy Schenectady Road
Latham, NY
Join us for a silent auction (featuring items from BOTOX Cosmetic , Radiesse, Juvederm, Restylane Peels, Spa & Salon Certificates, gift baskets), light refreshments, cooking class, wine tasting, fashion show, giveaways, door prizes and more!
$25 pre-registration; $35 at the door
RSVP (518) 786-7000

Proceeds to benefit DVRC of Saratoga County and Face to Face

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

An Unforgettable Thank You

I don't know her name. But I'll never forget her words. I think of them whenever spring's first warm rays of sun beat down on my shoulders... and into my heart.

We were at a public event and she took me aside and told me she’d been a client at DVRC. She said she never even thought of herself as a domestic violence victim (she’d never been physically abused), and only came to our agency at  the suggestion of a friend.

She’d been in this relationship for several years and the verbal and emotional abuse just became normal for her,

“Our relationship was like that for so long I didn’t even think about it anymore. It was like the last weeks of winter when it’s been cold and gray for so long you forget what warmth feels like. You forget about green buds on bushes and the colors of flowers. It’s just gray and cold.

Then I came to DVRC and spoke to a counselor and my life changed. I realized my partner’s constant criticism and anger were his problem, not a reflection of me. That day was like that first warm day in spring. You know the day. It’s when you walk outside and look up at the sky then take your sweater off for the first time in so many months… and you bask in the warmth of the sunshine.

Coming to DVRC was the day that ended the longest winter of my life.”

Whenever the first warm days of spring come I think of her words, and give thanks.

§  First I give thanks to her for so eloquently reminding us why we do this work.

§  Then I give thanks to my staff. Every day-- 24 hours a day –they help people through the crisis, help them transform their lives. Hearing stories of abuse day in and day out can be overwhelming. But they do it because they make a difference. This was just one woman. DVRC helps 1,000 people (men, women and children) just like her each year.

§  Lastly, I give thanks that someone out there cared enough about a friend to tell her so and directed her to DVRC.  It takes courage to start that conversation, but think what a difference it made for this woman. If you know of someone who may need help, talk to them. No winter should last forever.

Related post:
Be a Friend. Break the Silence http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/be-friend-break-silence.html

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Were You in Dallas Last Saturday?

I wasn’t in Dallas last Saturday, but wish I had been. Nearly 5,000 people rallied to end domestic violence…5,000! Dallas has experienced an overall decline in crimes, except domestic violence. Dallas’ domestic homicides, men killing their partners, increased from 10 murders in 2011 to 26 in 2012. So Mayor Mike Rawlings and other leaders are waging a community-wide campaign to end intimate partner violence.

My thoughts?

§  Five thousand people showing up to support that ending domestic violence is a priority. Wow! I’m impressed.

§  The focus was on the actions of the abusers, not on judging the victims. It’s too easy to just say, “Why didn’t the victim leave?”  Clearly victims need services to gain safety, recover, heal and begin a new life as survivors, not victims. But focusing on victims isn’t the solution; eliminating abusive behaviors is. This rally was about straight talk to men about not committing acts of abuse. Mayor Rawlings addressed the crowd saying, “I want to talk to the men now. This violence is our fault.”

§  And that’s where the conversation makes me uncomfortable. As soon as we frame domestic violence as men abusing women, we’ve made it a women’s issue. Yes, it’s true that intimate partner violence disproportionality affects women (the National Coalition against Domestic Violence estimates 85% of victims are women). But there are women who abuse men, and men who abuse men, and women who abuse their female partners.  Let’s take that call to action one step further… let’s talk to everyone about ending abusive actions.

§  All-in-all, I give Mayor Rawlings high praise for his leadership in addressing domestic violence and in bringing so many people together to take action. Five thousand people is a good start to a movement… may it be just the first steps.

Monday, March 25, 2013

In the Public Interest

Saturday night I attended the Saratoga Film Forum's showing of the Ken Burns' documentary, The Central Park Five. The film chronicaled the conviction (overturned years later when the real assailant confessed) of 5 teenagers who were accused of brutally raping a young, white professional woman who was jogging in Central Park. The movie's primary premise was the racial injustice underlying the public outrage and pressure on police to close the case--- the 5 teens were black or Latino. The film illustrates how what they describe as forced confessions resulted in convictions and incarceration that robbed them of their teenaged years...even though the evidence in the case was contradictory and did not support their testimony.

Aftet the movie Dale Wilman of Saratoga Wire facilitated a panel discussion featuring Rochelle Calhoun, Skidmore's Dean of Students, and Assistant Chief Greg Veitch of the Saratoga Springs PD. While the crime chronicled in the documentary occurred more than 2 decades ago, Calhoun 's observations about our criminal justice system's  response to people of color still holds true's today. Veitch provided some insights on how media coverage and the public's desire to have the details of the crime and investigation can influence police investigation.

The Film Forum's In the Public Interest series offer us a unique opportunity to discuss key social issues with professionals who can provide enlightening insights. The interplay of cinema and discussion group provides an unforgettable impact.We're lucky to have such an opportunity...thanks Film Forum!

Related post:http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2012/10/bully-at-saratoga-film-forum.html

Friday, March 22, 2013

"I Need You to Step In"

I've written so many posts about the Steubenville rape this week... here's one to end with.

A mom wrote a letter to her sons, encouraging them to always show respect and to step up and intervene when they see someone in need... even if they don't like the person or even if it's a friend who is being abusive. And she showed that she walked the walk by giving examples of how she and their dad have helped others in need.

We all think our kids already know these values... and hope that they've seen us model them. But I give her credit for saying these words, for letting her kids know it's important to stand up for those in need, and then coaching them on how to do it.

I know I haven't always lived up to my words. There have been times I wish I'd stepped up in situations, but instead I held back and afterwards was left with my 'woulda, coulda shoulda' thoughts. Maybe that letter isn't just to her sons, but to me too. Maybe we all need to be reminded, "You are going to know people, and maybe even be friends with people, who think it's ok to hurt other people in a lot of ways... When you do, I need you to step in."

Thanks for the reminder... for next time.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

City Hall Vandal Exposes a Bigger Issue- Homelessness

A concrete block flinging vandal has called attention to the needs for improved security systems in that gracious and venerable, but somewhat neglected, building Saratogians know as City Hall. Initial reports indicated the man who was "probably drunk" caused about $2,500 damage. That's a good case for improved security systems. 

Today the Saratogian’s front page article starts with the sentence, "Homeless people sometimes sleep in City Hall without anyone knowing it" and repeatedly mentions that homeless people are occasionally found in City Hall at night. While noting that the vandal left the bars on Caroline St. before his 4:40 a.m. destructive spree, much of the article focuses on homeless persons sleeping in City Hall. Reporter Lucian McCarty thoughtfully notes the homeless are not there with ill intent, referencing Skip Scirocco, "Every now and again a janitor will go up at night and find someone sleeping." But in articulating City Hall's security needs, drunken vandals and  homeless persons seeking refuge from the elements are intertwined. 

I'm sure the next city council meeting's agenda  will include improved security. It should. But I hope that when a decision is made to upgrade security measures, we don't forget that there are homeless people in our community... even if we don't see them. Did you know that sometimes people are sleeping in City Hall at night? I didn't.  

Each year, the Saratoga County Housing Alliance conducts a one-day count of known homeless persons. In 2012, on a frigid January day they counted 128 homeless persons, including 71 single persons and 20 families, with 32 children, who had no place to call home. About 30% of those people were literally living on the street. Even  sadder, many people who were homeless on that day are not counted, simply because we didn't see them. 

Clearly, drunken vandalism is dangerous and causes costly damage. And yes, Saratoga County's homeless sometimes seek shelter in places not meant for sleeping. But better security won't solve both issues. It will just push the homeless to another spot out of sight. While we consider upgrading security systems, let's not forget about men, women and children who don't have a place to lay their heads at night. My thanks to Lucian for McCarty for taking this opportunity to open our eyes about homelessness... let's not overlook his message.

If you are homeless or know someone who there are agencies that can help:
Saratoga County Department of Social Services 518-884-9140
Shelters of Saratoga 518-581-1097
Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services of Sartatoga County 518-584-8188
CAPTAIN's Youth Shelter 518-371-1185

A Global Code of Conduct on Violence against Women

The UN has issued a declaration in opposition of violence against women. Wow, it's surprising that in our modern world we need a multinational organization to debate if violence against half of the world's population should be considered wrong. The declaration, however, was hotly contested as nations lobbied to preserve their sovereign right to establish their own laws and customs. The UN's Commission on the Status of Women held firm in urging states, "to strongly condemn all forms of violence against women and girls and to refrain from invoking any custom, tradition and religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination."

Should we even need to say that violence against women is wrong? Clearly yes!   

According to a UN report, "Violence against women is a universal phenomenon. In many regions of the world longstanding customs put considerable pressure on women to accept abuse." Forms of abuse include beatings, rape, trafficking, and genital mutilation...appalling atrocities when viewed through the standards of Saratoga County. But worldwide the standards are different; even many women in these countries justify wife beatings for reasons such as: burning the food and arguing with or going out without telling the husband. 

So the UN’s formal opposition to all violence against women is indeed an historic step toward change.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Teen Drinking- Start the Conversation

My recent posts about the Ohio rape have really focused on teen alcohol use and its correlation with sexual assault. If nothing else, this tragedy is a clear call to action for all adults (not just parents) to take steps to reduce underage drinking. The hardest part of any journey is the first steps. If you're wondering what you can do, here's website with simple suggestions and even the words to start the conversation Time To Talk.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Stubenville. Turning Hindsight into Foresight

Hindsight. It's easier to see our mistakes when looking back, but the real value of hindsight is  in shaping the future. By looking at what went wrong and right, we can learn a lot about how to improve things.

The judge issued a guilty verdict in the Steubenville rape trial, and now the victim, the assailants, the other kids at the party and the community are all about to begin the very hard work of moving forward... and healing. Hopefully lessons learned, can be applied to the future. But that hard look in the rear view mirror shouldn't just be for the folks in Steubenville; every community has lessons to learn from this incident.

The first that comes to mind is underage drinking. Partying! It's not harmless fun...it's not a  rite of passage. Alcohol affects teenagers differently than adults; their bodies and brains are still developing and are more sensitive to its effects. Binge drinking is often followed by vomiting, stupor, passing out, blackouts and the inevitable hangover. While ‘worshiping at the porcelain altar' might make for campus chuckles, it's really not funny. Intoxication is a sign that the body is being overwhelmed ... and its most severe form, alcohol poisoning, can be fatal. And drunkenness escorts judgment right out the door. As Mike Nerney explained to the Shenendehowa Community Coalition in 2011,  in emotionally charged situations teens don't make decisions using the same rational processes as in normal circumstances. It’s no wonder the fallout from drunkenness often include fights, car accidents, regretted sex, sexual assault, and vandalism.  

Underage drinking…it’s a serious issue. Let’s fix it. While most teens don’t drink regularly and even fewer binge drink, the numbers are still staggering. Find out what you can do  about underage drinking. Parents, talk with your kids about drinking… and even more importantly talk with their friends’ parents too so they know your values. Don’t buy alcohol for minors (You’re not keeping them safe. You're encouraging them to drink… and  you can be arrested.) Talk to your kids about drinking; studies show your involvement is a crucial protective factor in promoting healthy decision making and avoiding underage drinking. Want to find out more, check out the Shenendehowa Community Coalition's blog, Face the Facts.

Bystander or Ally? What I find really haunting about the Steubenville incident is the number of youth who observed incapacitating inebriation and abusive behaviors that night, texted about them, took pictures, but didn't intervene. These kids know right from wrong; what happened? How do we teach our kids (and each other)  to intervene if we see something that's not right. Confronting a friend's actions takes courage. I wonder how many of the kids at that party, in hindsight, wish they'd done something that might have changed  the course of events. But let's be honest, as adults how many times have we seen something remiss, but didn't intervene? Why not? We know the excuses, "It wasn't my business. I didn't want to offend. Would I just make things worse?" If you were in trouble wouldn't you want someone to help? So how do we learn to be an ally rather than standing on the sidelines? Start small and practice.

 It is not only for what we do that we are held responsible, but also for what we do not do.
John Baptiste Moliere

Social Change... Sometimes You Don't Even Realize it's Happening

The judge issued the verdict, guilty. Two teens were convicted of raping a 16 year old girl. Several factors came into play. The girl was extremely intoxicated; she had no recollection of the night until she woke up naked the next day. She later saw a photo from that night and viewed a You Tube video in which a student joked about the rape. 

Certainly social media's glimpses into the events of that night, such as text messages and  photos of the girl being carried by her ankles and wrists, played a large role in determining the verdict.In the past, such cases were often characterized as "he said, she said" as testimony was colored by each party's own perspective. With today's omnipresent texting and digital photos, there was evidence to corroborate testimony. 

The biggest social change however is the guilty verdict. Yes alcohol was involved, yes this was an out-of-control party, yes bad decisions were made by all the youth at the party...but the court ruled that the two boys's actions were criminal behavior. This type of incident is nothing new, but in the past such cases almost seemed as if  the victim, not the assailant,  was on trial. Why was she dressed that way? Why was she intoxicated? Shouldn't she have anticipated this could happen given her state? Yes the news reports of the Steubenville case indicated the victim was intoxicated (and she suspects she may have been drugged), but these reports have focused not on the victim, but on the choices and the behaviors of the assailants...and they were held accountable for their actions. No excuses.

The two high school football players may also have been intoxicated, but they made choices. If they'd gotten into a car, drove drunk and killed someone, they would be held accountable. It seems we're applying the same standards to the crime of rape.  It's about time.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St Patrick's Day

In honor of St. Pat's Day, today's post isn't about what we need to work to change, but is a reminder to shine the light on the blessings in your life. 

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life's passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Teen drinking... Harmless Fun? Ask Steubenville.

As the Steubenville, Ohio rape trial proceeds and the lives of several teenagers are changed irreparably, the question arises, “How did an innocent teenage party end so tragically?”
The answer. It can happen anywhere… and it does more often than we know. This one became public.
It was a victory celebration after a high school football game-- fueled with underage drinking, out of control behavior, peer pressure. What started as a night of fun, ended with tragic consequences for all the youth involved.  I wasn’t present that night, so I’ll leave the deliberations and the decisions to the jury. But two contributing factors are all too familiar to rape crisis advocates
Age:  Teens and young adults are at increased risk of sexual violence. According to studies, 75- 83% female rape victims are under the age of 25.
Alcohol: Intoxication impairs judgment and the ability to protect oneself.
Alcohol is the most common ‘date rape

 But let’s be clear…  even if a victim was intoxicated,
the victim did not commit the crime and
the victim is not to blame for the rape!            
Especially among teens and young adults, alcohol use is frequently a factor in sexual assaults… both for victims and perpetrators. With teens, assaults often occur after partying with friends, either when an intoxicated victim is isolated from the group or when the victim is too drunk to consent to sex.

Yes, having sex with someone who is incapable of consent constitutes rape.

Sexual assaults in such circumstances often go unreported. Victims may have difficulty remembering the details of the assault or may feel shame and blame themselves. Thus the perpetrator is unpunished and may commit similar assaults in the future. Rape is one of the most underreported crimes, with the majority of assaults going unreported!
The Ohio incident is a tragedy… so many teenaged lives shattered.  But think that couldn’t happen here in Saratoga County? Think again.
A 2011 survey by the Shenendehowa Community Coalition reports that 31% of Shen's high school seniors engage in binge drinking (well above the national average of 22%) and 48% of juniors and seniors reported having gotten alcohol at a party.  The good news is overall underage consumption rates declined from the 2008 survey. But almost a third of h.s. seniors binge drinking… that’s still too many opportunities for an incident just like that in Steubenville to happen.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mom warned you about strangers. Was that enough?

Last week the Bureau of Justice Statistics released the report Female Victims of Sexual Violence 1994-2000. The most salient point is a decline in sexual assault rates reported. Over that 15 year period, the rate of females age 12 and over who are sexually assaulted decreased 58%, from 5 victims per 1,000 to 2.1 victims per 1,000 annually. We’re heading in the right direction, but we shouldn’t rest until there are NO MORE.

Another very important point is that 78% of sexual violence involved an offender who was known to the victim—a family members, partner, friend or acquaintance.  For many of us, the visual image of a rapist is the masked man jumping out of the bushes. Women typically (and  wisely!) take extra precautions when walking alone or in unfamiliar surroundings.  However, they often feel safe from harm when in the company of people they know even casually.

That stereotyped image of the dangerous stranger, engenders a false sense of security. We feel safe on our home turf, with people we know. In fact, according to RAINN, half of all reportedsexual assaults occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home-- 4 in 10 take place in their home and 2 in 10 at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative.

So does that mean women should live in a constant state of high alert? No. But having the information that sexual predators are most frequently someone you know, is an important reminder to practice basic safety routinely. Be aware of your surroundings. Know that excessive alcohol or drug use could impair your judgment and make you more vulnerable to predators. And most importantly, if a situation feels uncomfortable, trust your gut.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Be a Friend... Break the Silence

Silence Hides Violence
Thank You for Caring and Having the Courage to Start a Conversation!
Be a Friend... Break the Silence
Starting a conversation is difficult, but if you think someone is in trouble, being controlled, abused, or dominated; speaking out is the right thing to do.

What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used by one person to control another person in an intimate relationship through one or more tactics:

·         emotional abuse/controlling behavior
·         verbal abuse
·         psychological abuse
·         sexual control or abuse
·         threatening behaviors
·         economic abuse
·         physical violence

What are the Signs of Domestic Violence?
·         Is he/she nervous, jumpy, and walking on eggshells?
·         Does he/she seem afraid of their partner or is always anxious to please the partner?
·         Has he/she stopped seeing friends or family, doing the things they enjoy?
·         Has he/she stopped making decisions – leavings them all up to their partner?
·         Does he/she stay in constant contact with their partner throughout the day?
·         Has he/she become anxious or depressed, lost their confidence and/or is unusually quiet?
·         At work, is he/she often tardy, or miss work, get contacted all day by their partner, have poor concentration?
·         Does he/she have any visible signs – bruises, broken bones, scratches, cuts, bite marks, other injuries (and might give unlikely explanations)?

Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships:
Some of these reasons include: 
  • Belief that the abuser will change, that the abuse is their fault or that it is normal
  •  Fear of loneliness, economic hardship, losing custody of children or fear for safety.
  •  Isolation from family, friends, community may leave the victim with no self-esteem and feeling that she/he has nowhere to go.
  •  Love and the desire to keep family together.

How you can start the conversation:
·         Educate yourself about domestic violence – review DVRC’s website; call DVRC and talk with an advocate
·         Tell them you care about them and are concerned about them
·         Ask if they are safe
·         Refer them to DVRC
·         Do NOT judge their situation and their choices, blame them, give them advice or tell them what to do – it’s their choice.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

March 13th. NO MORE Starts Today

Certain symbols have been instrumental in raising awareness about social issues. Think of the red ribbon for  awareness of HIV/AIDs, pink ribbons for breast cancer, yellow ribbons for returning military personnel, red dresses for women’s heart disease, puzzles for autism awareness. 

We’re running out of colors in the rainbow for awareness ribbons. Those of you who know me , know that purple has long been the color associated with domestic violence, but that’s getting confusing. According to Wikipedia, purple awareness ribbons represent 26 different social issues ranging from Alzheimer’s Disease  and Suicide Prevention to Pagan Pride and Protecting Orcas .  

Don’t get me wrong, these symbols are important. When I crack open eggs in October and see a pink ribbon on them, I think about breast cancer and the women I know who have been affected… and I remember how important it is to fund research and support services. But if you’re not sure what social issue the symbol refers to, that’s a problem. Purple seems to be a popular color;  it had more causes associated with it than any other ribbon color. 

So here’s a new symbol associated with domestic violence and sexual abuse. It’s being launched today. And even more important it’s about getting the incidence of domestic violence and sexual assault down to ZERO…  now that’s a symbol with impact. 

So have you seen the NO MORE symbol yet? What are your thoughts?
 Related posts:
Join Me in Saying NO MORE  March 5, 2013
NO MORE Working Together to Get to Zero  March 4, 2013

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Got Three Minutes? Take Action to END Relationship Violence

In this week’s blog posts you’ve repeatedly heard a call to action—we all need to work to END domestic and sexual violence.  The burning question is, “So what can I do?”

Let’s start with the basics. Learn more about relationship abuse and start a conversation. We’ve got tools to help you.
Can you spare just 77 seconds? Watch Does This Count. It’s a video developed by Skidmore students describing common power and control tactics used by an abusive partner.
Ready to start a conversation? The most common question I’m asked is how people end up in abusive relationships…why don’t they get out sooner?  In Catch Domestic Violence Early another video produced by Skidmore students, the viewer sees an abusive relationship in rewind. The early red flags of abuse are much easier to spot in hindsight.
These powerful videos leave a lasting impression. To END relationship abuse, we first have to be able to recognize it.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Say NO MORE to Silence

This weekend I was wearing a pin I created using the new NO MORE symbol. Someone asked me about the pin and I explained the goal is to involve people everywhere in working to END domestic and sexual violence. And he said, “We need a symbol to make that happen? How can anyone possibly be in favor of domestic or sexual violence?” Good question!
The answer is not that anyone rallies in support of such violence; the answer is that through silence we tacitly condone it… and the violence continues. These are crimes that affect 1 in 4 women, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 teenagers. Domestic violence is the second most responded to crime in Saratoga County. It’s easy to read these numbers without really thinking about them. NO MORE’s webpage Why Should I Care puts those numbers in perspective with a call to action. Read it and you’ll look at those statistics differently. 

The Leadership Saratoga class that helped create DVRC’s outreach campaign summed up the problem very succinctly: Silence Hides Violence.
Help us end the silence… so we can end the violence. The first step is easy. Think about and give voice to why you care about the issue. Need more reasons? View NO MORE’s gallery of photos and messages from people across the country who also share a vision of ENDING domestic and sexual violence. Let’s END the silence...Let's END the violence.
You are not alone

For more information on how NO MORE got started visit

Saturday, March 9, 2013

From Different Nations, but United as Women

Friday was International Women’s Day, but the spirit continued Saturday at Skidmore. I had the honor of participating in a roundtable discussion with 25 women in leadership roles, 17 from South American countries and 8 local women leaders.  

Early in our discussions, I was stuck by the differences in their cultures and ours. Some women described their homeland as a place where girls’ education often ended at elementary school. This aborted schooling was an impediment to equality; without education women lack a voice in government, are less able to become business owners, and have limited economic independence. She spoke about efforts to teach business skills so these women could prosper despite a lack of formal education.

Yet at that table were 17 highly educated and articulate women, attorneys, businesswomen, elected officials and high ranking public servants. It was clear that each woman had struggled against social norms to achieve her post… and each was very conscious that she was a role model and a voice for other women. I was honored to sit among such inspiring leaders.

As our conversation continued, our differences dissolved and the similarities in the issues that concern us brought us to a common ground that gave depth to our exchanges: access to health care, bullying, discrimination against minorities.  When the conversation turned to issues of domestic violence, the issues raised were the very ones I discuss every day. Unquestionably, resources in the US are more plentiful -- one woman stated her country had only one domestic violence shelter in the capital city, although law stipulates states are required to have shelter. But the underlying issues were the same: economic dependence, access to employment and pay equity as obstacles to leaving abuse, concerns for child welfare, and the desire for social change… not only to benefit women, but to benefit families and the country as a whole. When there is justice… all citizens benefit.

Friday, March 8, 2013

SSPD: Prepared to Respond When Needed

Be Prepared… it’s the motto of the Boy Scouts, but good advice for all of us. It may even have played a part in the peaceful resolution of a threat against a Skidmore student earlier this week.  

Over the past two weeks all members of the Saratoga Springs Police Department  attended a half-day training by Bob Passano of the NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence… little did they know that this training would relate to such a high profile incident just days later. Domestic incidents are among the most common situations police respond to … and they are most dangerous and potentially fatal.

Personally, I appreciate Assistant Chief Veitch’s commitment to public safety by coordinating this training, and the work of law enforcement every day in providing a skilled, professional response to victims of intimate partner violence.

Abuse starts at home, but doesn’t end there.

Did you know?

21% of adults working full-time have been victims of domestic violence.

40% of these victims report being harassed at work by their abuser.

74% of perpetrators had easy access to their partner’s place of employment, and

21% of offenders contacted their victim at work in violation of an order of protection.1

Domestic violence impacts business through decreased productivity, as well as,  increased absenteeism, employee turnover and health-related costs. When violence leaves the home and enters the workplace, not only the targeted employee, but coworkers and customers are also at risk.

You’ve got a busy business to run… what’s an employer to do?

Employees from the Clifton Park offices of Cengage Learning, a leader in creating instructional materials for schools and universities world-wide, saw this need and took action. They created a toolkit to help Saratoga County business owners better understand how relationship abuse impacts the workplace and developed simple tools to help business owners and supervisors increase awareness, promote workplace safety and address situations.  Contact DVRC today to request your Employer Toolkit… don’t wait until your workplace experiences a crisis.

Cengage Learning has developed tools you can put to use right away to promote the safety and well-being of your employees and the health of your business so you can focus on what you do best… running your business.  Call DVRC at 518-583-0280 to request your Employer Toolkit. You can make a difference!

1.Relationship Abuse: Impacting Businesses in Saratoga County, created by Cengage Learning, 2012

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Skidmore Lockdown. Tragedy Averted... This Time

At a Soroptimist meeting last night one conversation turned to the recent Skidmore lockdown. It sounds like campus officials and the SSPD worked diligently to protect not only the student who was the target of this threat, but also the campus and our community.  Our local Soroptimist club has had a long-term, passionate investment in helping domestic violence victims. One member said to me, “Wow, this was an unusual incident in how it escalated to such a crisis.” I immediately said, “No it’s not…we hear about coercion, about threats to cause serious injury every day!”  But in one sense she’s correct. This incident was a headline story in the newspaper… that’s not an everyday occurrence. So why was this different?  It’s the same fear/terror … the same calculated threat to control … same sense of powerlessness to know when/where the abuser may strike… what’s different?

This one became public; it’s that simple. A campus was on alert for the safety of all students and the community members surrounding the school. Lately we’ve seen too many tragic examples when personal violence has spilled into public areas, causing devastating tragedy. At DVRC  abuse victims often say they spend their lives walking on eggshells around the abuser so the violence doesn’t erupt. In some sense we’ve become a nation that’s walking on eggshells around the issue of violence… we’ve seen too many instances with senseless and unpredictable deaths.
Domestic violence isn’t a women’s issue… it isn’t a private issue…it affects all of us. Yesterday that message resonated very close to home. Let’s heed that message now… we have to work together to END abuse, not just in our own relationships, but in our community. This tragedy was averted… and the next one? 

Later this week look for more posts about what YOU can do.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Join Me in Saying NO MORE

Yesterday  I spoke about a new symbol, NO MORE, that has been created to:

2) give each of us an opportunity to voice why we are passionate about these issues.

No one- no woman, no man, no child – should live in fear at home or be sexually violated. The NO MORE symbol challenges us to work together until we reach the goal that sexual abuse and domestic violence are NO MORE.

I’ve joined with thousands (soon to be millions) of others who share this vision. Won’t you join us? It really only takes a moment to add your photo to the galleryand tell the world why you care about these issues.

Log onto the site to see the photos of people just like you who share this vision. You’ll be inspired by their words and their passion.

Take a minute to become part of a movement that will transform our world.

Monday, March 4, 2013

NO MORE... Working Together to get to Zero

Today I became part of something amazing and I wanted to let you know. It’s called NO MORE, and we’re using a powerful new symbol to unleash national attention on an issue that impacts 12.7 million of us every year. That’s 24 people every minute.
Many people think that domestic violence and sexual assault don’t affect them, but they’re wrong.
These are people that we know. They’re the person you confide in most at work, the girl in your study group, the guy you play basketball with and your teenager’s best friend.
These issues are massive but they’re still very hidden and misunderstood.   

It’s time to change that. If we all commit to working together to end domestic violence and sexual assault we will be successful. That’s what this symbol stands for…ZERO domestic violence or sexual assault by working together.  

This isn’t a women’s issue; it isn’t a man’s issue.  It’s about all of us.

It’s about why I say NO MORE… and why you say NO MORE… and how we’re going to work together until there is NO MORE.  

You can find out more information at www.nomore.org. 

I’m saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault by using this symbol and sharing it with everyone I know. I hope you will too. 

Thanks for taking a look!