Sunday, October 27, 2013

Keeping it simple

Domestic violence encompasses much more than physical abuse...in fact a relationship can be highly abusive without any physical violence. But people often have difficulty identifying abuse when it's not physical. Why is it important to recognize abusive behaviors? Because domestic violence is a pattern of power and control... and over time the abusive behaviors tend to escalate in frequency and intensity. 

The NYC Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence has launched an awareness campaign The 5 Signs You're in an Abusive Relationship. It's a simple, concise and memorable. Take the time to read it... the information could help someone you know. It may even save a life.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Silent Shame-- We Can Break that Silence

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so I'm speaking with a lot of people about the issue.Last week I spoke on the phone with Saratoga Today reporter Patricia Older. I had a week off work so I'm a bit backlogged on my reading. I just picked up last week's Saratoga Today and read Patricia's article, Domestic Violence-- The Silent Shame... and it took my breath away. She poignantly captures the fear, the shock, and the lingering sense of danger even after leaving the relationship.

After recounting Erica's horrific story of abuse, Patricia Older writes:
 Domestic violence is that dirty little secret
we don’t want anyone to know about when it happens to us.
The abused and abuser usually go through great lengths to hide
what is happening in their lives—
they hide the bruises, the loud, out-of-control arguments, the threats, the violence.
It knows no social, cultural or economic boundaries and comes in many forms—
social isolation, threats, financial control, physical abuse.

What you can do:
Domestic violence thrives in the shadows of secrecy. Help to bring it out of the shadows. Talk about this crime that affects 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men. Talk to your children about the red flags of abuse, talk with friends, and if you're concerned about someone in your life, talk with them about your concerns and let them know there is help. It's hard to start that conversation, but bringing the topic of relationship abuse into the light decreases the stigma an abuse victim feels. Each time you talk about domestic violence, you bring light to this issue... and each time you talk about it the words become easier to say. So today, have a conversation with someone...anyone.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Black and White... Turned Purple

It doesn't take a lot to let folks know you care about something...  the smallest gestures can have a big impact. Each year many of our law enforcement agencies recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month by placing dv awareness magnets on their cars. These men and women witness the pain, fear and sometimes tragic consequences of domestic violence every single day. They understand the impact of domestic violence... and they're passionately committed to combatting relationship abuse.

When they place an awareness ribbon on a patrol car, it's not just a token gesture. It's a passionate statement about  how seriously they address domestic abuse, about their sensitivity toward victims of abuse, and their commitment in partnering to end abuse.

The Saratoga Springs Police Department partnering with DVRC staff to raise awareness.

What you can do:
  • If you see someone being assaulted, call for help
  • If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, let them know help is available (DVRC's 24 hour hotline is a good place to start 518-584-8188)
  • If  you know someone in an abusive relationship but you're not sure how to help, call DVRC. We can help you determine how best to offer support.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Women Helping Women

Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among families in Saratoga County. Often a woman remains in or returns to an abusive home because of simple economics—she cannot provide food, shelter and health care for herself and her children on just her income... so she remains in an abusive home.  A 2009 study by the Allstate Foundation concluded that there is “a greater chance that the amount of violence in households will increase during times of financial crisis… women need to be aware of economic abuse -- when the abuser uses someone's lack of financial independence to keep them trapped in an abusive relationship.” It's a big problem, so big that it's hard to know where to start to fix it.

But one local organization, Soroptimist  International of Saratoga County hasn't let that stop them. For 9 years they've worked with DVRC to offer a financial literacy program for women, Project Hope and Power. Want to know more? Just listen as Soroptimist Ieaders, Nancy Trimbur and Joan Gerhardt,  speak with Look TV's David Storey about Project Hope and Power. Can a life change in 8 weeks?  Well here's the feedback from two recent participants
“I enjoyed the class wholly and gained confidence to make it on my own.  I learned how to better prepare myself for life without an abuser present, how to find a job, and present myself better to potential employers.  The class was a wealth of useful information I will use in my life forever.“ 
“Because  of Hope and Power  I can hold my head up.  Not be afraid anymore.”
So how can you help domestic violence victims become more financially stable?
  • Consider joining Soroptimist of Saratoga County... they're making a difference locally and internationally.
  • Donate gas cards for DVRC to provide to clients. Even $10 makes a difference for a domestic violence survivor; it can fill the gas tank so she can get to work each day until receiving that first paycheck.
  • Display information in your workplace to increase awareness of domestic violence. DVRC will provide a free employer toolkit to you... just call us at 518-583-0280.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Making It Right

A bar in Texas was at the center of a controversy when an employee posted a sign outside making light of domestic violence. The sign read, "I like my beer like I like my beer like I like my violence... domestic." When a passerby, who happens to to volunteer at a domestic violence shelter, posted the image on facebook and Instagram, her posts garnered national attention. While I find the sign offensive and insensitive, there's a silver lining to this story. When the bar owner learned of the incident, he decided to donate $1 from the purchase of every domestic beer during October in recognition of domestic violence awareness month. He not only took a bad situation and made it right... he demonstrated integrity and leadership.

There are actually two heroes in this story: the bar owner and the woman who cared enough to speak out. Because of her courage, the people who walk past that bar every day stopped to think about the meaning of that sign instead of just passing by and ignoring it or laughing at it. Her simple action changed the social norms in her community.

So that's my tip for today. If you see something, say something. Sometimes the simplest actions are like a pebble tossed into a pond-- they create ripples that continue far beyond the initial impact. As Gandhi said, You must be the change you wish to see in the world."

Saturday, October 5, 2013

The recent  murder/suicide in Saratoga Springs is a tragic reminder that elder abuse is a serious concern. One in ten elders is abused, and 90% of abusers are family members. Elder abuse can take many forms: neglect, physical abuse, social isolation, financial exploitation, emotional or psychological abuse.

When a parent is abused by their adult child, they are often reticent to report the crime to authorities, or even to tell anyone. They may:
  •  be worried about their son or daughter
  •  want to protect him/her
  •  be dependent on the abusive family member for health care or transportation,or
  • feel guilty, "I must have done something wrong raising my child for him/her to treat me this way."  
Victims of elder abuse are our most vulnerable citizens (the median age of abused elders is 77.9 years), yet they're often not able to advocate for themselves. That's why it's important that we all know the signs of elder abuse and take action if we're concerned. Don't know what to look for? Click on this post to view an excellent video, so you can recognize the signs of elder abuse.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Not always domestic, not always violent

The term domestic violence can sometimes be misleading:
  • Violence conjures up images of a black eye or other physical abuse. Domestic violence covers a range of abusive behaviors, many which do not include physical violence: emotional, psychological abuse, financial control, social isolation to name a few. 

  • For me, just the word 'domestic' conjures up images  of home and family, married relationship. Domestic violence occurs in dating and unmarried couples, same sex couples, and adolescent and elder relationships. It can happen in the home, at school or work, or even via electronic media.
So 1 in four teens reports having experienced abusive behaviors in a dating relationship, but they're probably not thinking of this as domestic violence... and that means they're probably not getting the help they need to be safe. So here's 2 videos created for DVRC by Skidmore students that show what relationship abuse looks like in a dating relationship.


Related posts:
Red Flags of Dating Violence

Thursday, October 3, 2013

You're a Friend... Be Prepared

For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I've offered a challenge. Do something, large or small, to raise awareness or help someone affected by relationship abuse.. and I'm offering ideas on what you can do. Today's suggestions revolve around preparing yourself so you know what to do if someone you care about is in need.

I'm often asked why women or men stay in abusive relationships. There are as many answers for that as there are relationships: fear, hoping that something will happen that just makes the abuse end,  concern for breaking a family apart, worry about what will happen to the kids, economics, and love (yes quite simply they love their partner and don't want the relationship to end... just the abuse.)

It's hard (frustrating, and sometimes terrifying) to know that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, but not be able to do anything about it. So what can you do when someone you know is in an abusive relationship?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
You guessed it; I'm wearing purple.  Does wearing purple end domestic violence? No. But when people see it, they remember  to talk about relationship abuse with their friends, employees, and children.
Sometimes it seems we have a dizzying array months, days, or weeks dedicated to causes.
Some are poignant or tragic:
          Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (September)
          International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)...
Some are important social issues:
           World AIDS Day (December 1)
           Adopt a Shelter Cat Month (June)  
Some are fun and frivolous:
           Bacon Day anyone ? (August 31)
But the reason for dedicating a distinct period of time to a cause is to provide us the opportunity to pause, think and take action to increase awareness. Often we care about an issue, but don't know what we can do to make a difference. Sometimes we're afraid that taking action would require too much commitment so we don't even try.
So here's my challenge. Throughout the month, my blog posts will include ideas on  actions you can take to increase awareness... and they'll be short-term and  achievable (you're busy... I get it).
So pick one or two  this month (or if you're an overachiever, pick one a day)... and take the time to do them.  YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE... even with your busy schedule.
  • Because 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men are abused within an intimate relationship.
  • Because domestic violence is the second most common crime in Saratoga County (and the second most common cause of homicide.)
  • Because together we can END relationship abuse.
You could:
Wear purple and tell people why.
Let friends and colleagues know that domestic violence is an issue you care about. Ask the to join you in increasing awareness so we can have a community where no one lives in fear at home.
Donate a gift card to DVRC  so we can provide emergency assistance to a domestic violence survivor. 
Gift cards in any denomination from $5-$50 are always appreciated (recommended stores are Stewart’s (can be used for gas), WalMart, Target, Hannaford, Price Chopper, CVS (for needed over the counter medications and diapers). This is an item we welcome throughout the year because we give these to adults as emergency assistance for such items as gas when they are newly employed so they can get to work until they receive their first paycheck and for food when a family first moves out to independent, safe housing. We give these to persons in need to purchase items they may not be able to access otherwise, but  are crucial to their health & safety or transition plan.