Monday, November 14, 2016

Make Each Minute Count

Saratoga Today reporter, Tom Dimopoulos, and I spoke recently about Wellspring's  work. Throughout our conversation  I talked  about our emphasis on prevention and early intervention. Our best hope for the future is that our shelter is empty and our hotline never rings... because we've ended relationship and sexual abuse. We're on the path, but we're not there yet. Our hotline answers ~1,400 calls each year, our shelter is almost always full, and our counselors see a steady stream of men and women  who have experienced abuse.
Dimopolous wrote about his conversation with, Tina,  a domestic violence survivor who had utilized Wellspring's services. Her story echoed the words we hear so often from survivors:
  • Tina endured decades of abuse before seeking help
  • Financial instability prevented Tina from leaving and her partner's economic abuse threatened her custody of her children.
  • Tina kept hoping that if she tried harder the abuse would end, "It took me a long time to realize I couldn't fix him, that my love couldn't carry it through."
  • Remaining in the abuse, Tina felt hopeless and desperate, "The psychological effect...spun me into a dark, life-threatening world of depression. I was in a state of turmoil and didn't know what to do."
By chance Tina happened upon Wellspring, called and began to forge a new life without abuse, "Immediately I felt there was a glimmer of hope."

So many people wait to seek help until a crisis forces action. Why?
  •  Sometimes they don't identify what they are experiencing as domestic violence, especially if they are not physically abused.  Emotional abuse, financial control, social isolation and sexual coercion are all forms of domestic violence.
  • Often they love the person, don't want to leave him/her... they just want the abuse to end. They think if they try harder it will stop. Domestic violence is a pattern of power and control... the behaviors are a choice the abuser makes.
  • They see so many obstacles that they can't even contemplate leaving. Wellspring offers a range of support services, e.g., emergency shelter, legal advocacy, subsidized housing, and employment assistance. Talk to us about your concerns; like Tina, you too may immediately feel a glimmer of hope for the first time.
Tina's story of hope, healing and transcendence is inspiring... but I also hear such regret that she endured 22 years of abuse, before seeking the help where she can now say, "Wellspring gave me a new lease on life and I'm going to take full advantage of it...I don't take for granted one minute of my life.
I'm so grateful that she's reached a point where she has power and joy in every minute of her life. I regret that she endured 22 years of abuse-- that's more than 11 million minutes of her life overshadowed by domestic violence-  before  she found the support to help her escape.

If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship or sexual abuse, call Wellspring. Cherish every minute of your life.


Sunday, November 6, 2016

When's the right time ot talk about consent?

Wellspring prevention educators spend a lot of time talking to high school and college students about consent. We're discussing consent in the context of dating relationships, but there's no reason to wait so long to talk to youth about consent... and in fact, it's much easier to practice the concepts with less emotionally charged situations than dating or sexual encounters.

I love that this comic  humorously demonstrates that it's never too early to talk to kids about consent. Illustrator Chris Brady explains how this comic came to be.


Friday, November 4, 2016

And the winners of the Purple Purse Challenge are...

The Purple Purse  Challenge has ended and Allstate announced the grand prize winners of the Challenge.
Allstate's excitement was evident in their words,
"The Allstate Foundation Purple Purse Challenge is officially over and all wrapped up. Such an exciting finish and over $1.2 Million was raised by so many amazing Division II organizations.  What an incredible Challenge."
At Wellspring we agree. We were astounded and continue to be so very grateful for the support of our community in the Purple Purse Challenge... and more importantly in being champions for our vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community. Throughout October you made the impossible, possible.
Because of your support Wellspring placed 5th in the nation in Division II of Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge. Our community contributed $51,315 to support Wellsprings survivor services, prevention programs, and community engagement activities. Your generosity earned us an additional $26,000 in bonuses from Allstate. 
The staff and board of directors offer heartfelt gratitude for your generosity during Allstate’s month-long Purple Purse Challenge… and for your support of our work throughout the year. Together we can end relationship and sexual abuse in our community.
Thank you!


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Your gift could win Wellspring $20,000

The leaderboard as of noon on Sunday

Help Wellspring win a $20,000 bonus in Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge                      

 With only hours left in a month-long national fundraising challenge, Wellspring, has a tenuous hold on the 5th place slot. With your support the agency could capture 4th place and win a $20,000 bonus in Allstate’s Purple Purse Challenge. The Challenge continues through October 25, with the 5 top teams vying for grand prize cash donations totaling $325,000 from The Allstate Foundation.   Currently, Wellspring sits about $3,000 out of 4th place, which would earn them a $20,000 bonus.

I truly believe we can succeed in winning the Allstate bonus. In the week 1 challenge, Wellspring captured 4th place in the national competition earning that week’s $10,000 bonus. This incredible support reaffirms just how deeply people care about our work and support our vision of a community free of relationship and sexual abuse.

To help Wellspring’s Purple Purse Campaign, make an on-line donation before the Challenge ends at 1:59 p.m. on Tuesday. To donate, go to http://www.wellspringcares.org/give. You’ll be immediately redirected to the Purple Purse giving page.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Advocates Saved My Mother's Life

People are often surprised when I speak about the prevalence of domestic violence in Saratoga County. It 's the #2 violent crime in Saratoga County, the primary reason for family homelessness, and the #1 cause of homicide. But most domestic violence victims aren't even included in those statistics.

Many never contact the police, never call a hotline, maybe never even tell a close friend or family member about how their partner is treating them. Why not? Stigma? Shame? Disbelief? Fear that if they seek help the abuse will get worse? Desire to protect family members? Afraid they won't be believed? Hope that the abuse won't happen again... after all their partner has apologized and promised it won't? Not recognizing that emotional abuse, financial control or social isolation are also forms of domestic violence... even when there's not physical abuse? All these reasons... and more.

In any room when I'm speaking to a group, I know that there's someone, probably many people, who are or were abuse by a partner...or who have someone in their lives who was victimized. But  what I also know is that with assistance lives can change and abuse becomes a part of the past. I know this, because people come to me and tell me so, 
It's Domestic Violence Awareness  Month so this week I've been talking to a lot of groups. Let me tell some comments I've heard this week:

  • "You were talking about how financial control can keep someone trapped in an abusive relationship. That was me. I was afraid if I left my abuser would get custody of the kids because he had all the money. Wellspring helped me so much, and I was able to leave...thank you."
  • "When my son went to college a girl he'd dated a few times started stalking him and doing really scary things. My wife and I didn't know what to do; we'd never prepared him for this--we'd never even considered this could happen to a son. A friend said to call Wellspring. I thought, "Don't they just help battered women? I was so wrong.'  You helped us create a safety plan, get an order of protection, and the abuse stopped. I worry how bad it would have gotten without your help."
  • "Take a picture  with the advocates.
    Advocates saved my mother's life."
  • Taking photos with the speaker at the cell phone collection event I mentioned in yesterday's blog post one of the photographers said, "Let's get a picture with the advocates. Advocates saved my mother's life."
Each of those comments took less than 60 seconds... but they're the reason Wellspring advocates do this work every day. 

Here's something you can do that takes less than 60 seconds... and it will help Wellspring provide even more survivor services, and more prevention programs so we can hear more stories like there. Got 60 seconds?

Donate to Wellspring today and help us win a $20,000 bonus  In Allstate's Purple Purse Challenge. It easy click here to donate right now. You'll be directed to our Purple Purse donation page. The top 5 agencies in the Challenge receive  between $15,000 and $100,000  bonus next Tuesday . The competition is really intense (want to see how intense, check out the leaderboard here). Help us reach our goal so we can end domestic violence!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Can You See the End?

October is  Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I’ve been doing a lot of speaking to community groups this week. Yesterday as I was speaking to a group I suddenly had a profound realization; let me take you back to how it came about.

Sergeant Ray Cordani of the Stillwater Police Department is passionately committed to helping victims of domestic violence. Each year he organizes a cell phone collection to provide 911 phones to victims of domestic violence. Local Businesses like DeCrescente Distributing have championed the collection since 2003. In its first year 3 phones were collected… now more than 4,300 phones have been distributed to domestic violence victims to provide a lifeline to safety. 

Annually Sergeant Cordani organizes a press conference to recognize the program and to raise awareness of the need. Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to a number of community leaders passionately articulate their profound commitment to this issue:

 Senator Kathy Marchione who committed to championing policies and funding protect victims and provide support services.

Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner who supports women’s issues, especially educational opportunities that promote gender equality in education and employment

Assemblyman Jim Tedisco who is a voice  for laws to  protect our most vulnerable family members- our pets. He understands too well the intersection of animal abuse and domestic violence, and Congressman

Paul Tonko who rallies for  employment issues affecting women, “Congress must step up to the plate and support our mothers, sisters, and daughters.”

Sergeant Cordani noted the Stillwater Police department responds to at least one, but sometimes two or more, domestic incidents every night,  "Unfortunately, domestic violence incidents are not going down." A glance toward Sheriff Mike Zurlo confirmed that this is true throughout the county.

District  Attorney  Karen Heggen has two attorneys dedicated full time to prosecuting so domestic violence crimes… yes it’s that prevalent.

Such inspiring speakers. What a depth of knowledge, compassion and dedication! 

And so it was then my turn to speak.  Walking  up to the podium  I truthfully wasn’t sure  what I was going to say. It’s not easy following a lineup like that.What more can you say?

Well I looked at Sergeant Cordani,we met back in 2003 when we first did this cell phone collection, and wondered aloud, "How many times has he responded to a domestic incident?" Then at Sheriff Zurlo who has been a law enforcement officer for more than 30 years; how many victims has he assisted? And District Attorney Heggen, how many domestic violence crimes has her office prosecuted?.Wellspring’s hotline alone answers 1,400 calls each year… and we’ve been doing this work for more than 35 years. Looking at my colleagues who do this work every day, I commented it would be understandable if we were tired, frustrated or disheartened seeing so many victims year after year. But not one of us showed any signs of resignation. In fact, strength and determination shone in our eyes. And standing at that podium I had a realization. Since I joined Wellspring 14 years ago, I’ve always had a vision that our agency could do more than help survivors… we could end domestic violence. For quite a while people questioned if that was a realistic goal. Actually that's now Wellspring's mission statement. Standing there I realized I truly feel that I'm not the  only one who sees that as our goal ...and we’re nearing that finish line. It’s no longer police offers, prosecutors and advocates that are doing this work. People throughout our community are joining us in that vision. Whether we’re watching a football game, visiting a college campus, donating to a workplace cell phone collection, or eating dinner with your kids, we’re all noticing, and talking about domestic violence. It’s moving out of the shadows and we’re all becoming part of a social change. So like Pandora’s Box, when hope is released good prevails. Together we can end domestic violence.

Feeling inspired? Here’s something you can do right now to help:
Help Wellspring win  $20,000 on October 25th
Wellspring, is close to winning $20,000 in the Purple Purse Challenge! Can you help them reach this milestone and support their clients and our community?  It takes just seconds.
Want to do more? Share the link with your friends and ask them  to be part of our vision of ending domestic violence.

Curious about Wellspring's standing in the Challenge?
View the leaderboard here


Friday, October 14, 2016

We Won $10,000 ... Because of YOU!


I wanted to update all those who donated to Wellspring for the Purple Purse Challenge that, because of you and about 200 individuals, businesses and organizations that donated, Wellspring won the $10,000 bonus offered by Allstate during the first week of the Challenge. 
That's right $10,000 from Allstate to support Wellspring's work in your community!

I was absolutely moved as our businesses and local individuals showed how much they care and want to be part of our vision to end relationship and sexual  abuse.

The Challenge isn't over yet! It continues until 1:59 pm on October 25th... and there are even bigger bonuses for top  performing organizations...from $15,000 to $100,000  bonus money  for the top  5 agencies at the need of the Challenge.
Here's how some folks are helping:
  • One local business invited our staff to speak during their lunch period and the company and employees were so committed to our vision of ending abuse that not only did  the company make a contribution, but many employees made personal contributions.
  • Another organization is having a casual dress Friday for employees who donate to the Challenge.
  • A local business is offering a percentage of sales one day toward the Challenge, and
  • Many people are sharing the message on their facebook pages and inviting others to take action against relationship and sexual abuse... and help bring more funds to our community to support survivor services and prevention programs.
  • To donate to Wellspring's Purple Purse Challenge, simply click on wellspringcares.org/give and you'll be directed  to  our Purple Purse giving page. It only takes a minute to make a help us advance  toward our goal of ending relationship and sexual abuse. Together we can do this!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Thoughtful Look at Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Several  times a year I have the pleasure of having a thoughtful conversation on air with Jesse Jackson III, the president and creative director of Look TV. What I love about these chats, is that Jesse doesn't just ask questions, he thinks about the issue and the intersections domestic violence has with other topics he covers in our community. I see our interactions as not an interview, but a dialogue that becomes deeper and richer each time we speak--as you can clearly see from the very poignant quote he opened with...
Click here to watch today's conversation.

Friday, October 7, 2016

How to you do Purple?

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, as always many folks are sporting purple to raise awareness. Some folks get up in the morning and choose a purple  scarf or earrings. But if you're looking to make a month-long commitment, our friends at Canvas Hair Salon on Front Street in Ballston Spa are  offering this shade of purple, supporting Domestic Violence Awareness for the month of October. $10 per strand, part of the proceeds will go to Wellspring in Saratoga.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Eat, Drink, Be Merry ... and support Wellspring

It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month and NaNola Restaurant hosting  a benefit for Wellspring. Enjoy mouth- watering treats, live entertainment by Sara Donnellan, and help bring us one step closer to Wellspring's vision of ending relationship and sexual abuse in our community.

NaNola is located at 2639   Route 9Malta, NY 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

100 Days... to a more peaceful holiday season for everyone

Is Black Friday your favorite day of the year... or Cyber Monday? Are you  a last minute shopper racing around the mall on Christmas Eve? Or maybe someone who pays that additional  one-day delivery shipping fee to be sure their presents get there in time. Or are you that rare person who smiles (smugly?) when hearing friends talk about the crowds in the mall on December 22nd and says, "oh all my gifts have been wrapped and ready since before Thanksgiving."

Each year I seem  to be spending a little less time at the mall and more time shopping on-line. There's nothing more fun  than getting my shopping done while curled up in a chair next to the woodstove... and two days later coming home to a stack of boxes with really unique gifts for everyone on my list. And when then I go to the mall to buy one last gift so I get to experience the decorations, the music, kids sitting on Santa's lap... all the excitement of holiday shopping but only one line, no parking hassles  and no pressure.

How we shop varies from person to person, but we all give to show love, to bring joy and to make the world a little better. Want to expand  your giving and bring some extra smiles, without any additional cost or effort? When I shop on-line I do my shopping through amazonsmile. It's as easy as using amazon.com (same company, same wish list, same amazon prime advantages, same account settings) but when I use amazonsmile, Amazon donates 0.5% of every purchase to Wellspring. So while I'm giving to those I love, amazon is giving to support a nonprofit in my community. I, of course, select Wellspring (registered as Domestic Violence Services) as my charity of choice. Signing up takes less minute... really. it's 6 easy steps. Go to: 

Questions? Learn More about Amazon Smile

Sign in (or set up new account)

Search for and select Domestic Violence Services Inc.

Check box that says: Yes, I understand that I must always start at Smile.Amazon.com to support Domestic Violence Services, Inc.

Start Shopping
Now as you're spreading holiday joy, Amazon will be giving money back  to your community to help end domestic violence. What better gift is there this holiday season than making sure everyone is safe at home.
May we all have peace this holiday season. Thank you for your support.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sportscasters Aren't DiscussingThese Concussions

Car racing fans are will be missing a favorite driver in races throughout the rest of 2016. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been off the track for several races already due to a  concussion and it was recently announced that he'll miss the remaining races of the season.  In recent years, athletics teams have been much more diligent  in implementing concussion protocols to better evaluate, monitor and treat brain injuries to minimize the risk of long-term health problems.  Each head injury is unique and recovery may take days, weeks or months... or may result in permanent injury. From football fields to the boxing ring, to racecars, and from Little Leagues to the major leagues,  there's increased concern for addressing neurological damage due to head injuries.

Even with protective gear, helmets, and attentive medical professionals, athletes and coaches are concerned  about the life-altering damage that can be caused by a single, or by repeated, head trauma. There's a group of people who may suffer these same damaging blows  to the head, but they lack protective gear, immediate medical attention, or  protocols to assist them post injury. They may  experience lasting neurological damage that impairs their daily functioning... and no one identified the reason. According to the article Fists Not Football: Brian Injuries  Seen in Domestic Assaults, "the injuries leave some survivors so impaired that they can't manage their jobs and lives. Some even end up homeless". For many of these victims, the cognitive decline was gradual, the result of  repeated injuries, many which never  resulted in any medical intervention. In the article, Susan Contreras talks discusses mysterious seemingly unrelated physical conditions, headaches, memory loss, and confusion that she'd never associated with the physical abuse.
"He would hit me mainly in the head
so that nobody would see the injuries...
there's so many holes in my memory, thinking problems," she said. 
 "My memory is really gone."
This isn't just a random, small population. According to the Center for Disease Control, in the US,  about one quarter of  women and 14% of men have experienced  severe physical assaults by a partner. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, we can help. Call Wellspring to discuss your concerns and your options. All services are free and confidential.
Office 518-583-0280
24/7 Hotline 518-584-8188

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

There's No Perfect Rape

Amy Schumer gets points for using her comedy to not just make us laugh, but to make us think about really important issues!

Entertainment Weekly reports that in promoting her now book, she sat for an interview with Howard Stern and discussed the effects of losing her virginity when she was raped by her then boyfriend as she slept. This type of rape doesn't fit our image of 'what rape is'.  There was no masked stranger jumping from the bushes rape. There was no screaming and struggling in fear for her life. It's not what we imagine rape to be... but it's what rape is, more often than not.
She knew him well and trusted him
Most rape victims know their assailant. (According to a 2011 CDC study less than 14% of rapes are perpetrated by a stranger.) 
She didn't report the rape to the police
The majority of rapes are not reported to the police. According to the Bureau of justice Statistics only 36 percent of rapes, 34 percent of attempted rapes, and 26 percent of sexual assaults are reported.

She didn't behave as we would expect
The rape didn't immediately end the relationship. She stayed with him and even reassured him when he expressed remorse. Many rape victims initially deny to themselves that they were assaulted. Many don't disclose the rape to anyone immediately, or for decades. The reasons are as diverse as rape victims: shock and disbelief that someone they know and trusted could do this to them, shame, fear of being judged. And they've got good reason. Our society  often questions and judges the actions of the rape victim even more than those of the assailant. What was she wearing? Had she been drinking? Did she send mixed messages, e.g., agree to kissing but not sex? Did she protest loudly enough or fight him off? Society's response to rape influences how victims respond. For example, an American Medical Association study  reports that more than half of 6000 teens studied believed rape is acceptable, if the male and female had dated six months or longer or if he'd spent considerable money on her.

Is it any wonder why victims don't report rapes?
Rape is an all too common crime. Victims behaviors don't cause rape; rapes are caused by a decision to engage in nonconsensual sex. RAINN surveyed the activities of victims when they were raped:
  • 48% were sleeping, or performing another activity at home
  • 29% were traveling to and from work or school, or traveling to shop or run errands
  • 12% were working
  • 7% were attending school
  • 5% were doing an unknown or other activity
Just because a rape is what Schumer jokingly refers to a  as a "grape", i.e., gray area rape, doesn't diminish the violation the victim feels. In fact, being sexually assaulted by your best friend, a family member, or a trusted co-worker can leave a greater sense of betrayal than a complete stranger.  Schumer confided that her "[the rape] messed me up... "my trust issues are terrible." With comedy, compassion and candor, she challenges our judgments about sexual assault victims, using her own life experience as a launching point for conversation about a taboo topic. "I think it's important to talk about because it's made me feel less alone when other women have come forward about being sexually assaulted," Schumer told Stern. "And also because it's not this perfect rape. People want you to have been raped perfectly, and they want you to be a perfect victim."

Schumer has used her considerable comedic voice as a forum to transcend the victimization and to help others. We don't all have that option or her frankly her courage. If you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault, whether recent or in the past, call us. We know there's no such thing as a 'perfect rape'.

Office 518-583-0280
24/7 Hotline 518-584-8188

For more information about consent and how to talk about it visit our consent webpage

Friday, August 12, 2016

Talk about this before your child leaves for college

Do you know someone whose son or daughter is heading off to college in the next few weeks?

In partnership with the Community Coalition for Family Wellness and the Prevention Council, Wellspring has created a video to help parents talk with their teens and young adults about healthy decisions and safety. In just a few minutes parents get the information they need about why it’s important to talk about these issues… and how to start what many parents consider a difficult conversation. Please help us to get this message to parents by watching the video below and sharing it  with parents of teens or young  adults. Just click on the image to view the video. 





To learn more about consent visit:


Why is this such an important issue to discuss right now?


While it may seem we're still in the throes of summer, college campuses will begin opening their doors to incoming freshman in the coming weeks.  With this, comes an increased risk of sexual assault.  The statistics are jarring:
  • Between 20% and 25% of women will experience a completed and/or attempted rape during their college career. 
  • 84% of the women who reported sexually coercive experiences  the incident occurred during their first four semesters on campus 
  • 90% of women know the person who sexually assaulted or raped them.
  • 90% of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol 
  • The majority of rapes occur in residences
This is why Wellspring is offering another in our series of infographics to help explain this complex and important issue.  Please share it with your loved ones.  

These images are part of our commitment to create diverse and engaging campaigns and activities to enable community action and participation about these issues.  You can view more of our new graphics at http://www.wellspringcares.org/infographics/