By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph Co-Founder
As we bring in the New Year, Christine and I wanted to focus on transformative ideas, approaches, and projects related to abuse and intimate partner violence as a way to highlight innovation, energy, and creativity as we think about continuing to challenge IPV in 2015. We are both firm believers that it takes all of these elements (and much more!) to combat the stigma that still surrounds IPV, and provide survivors with the resources they need to overcome abuse.
One of the main ways that we at See the Triumph have worked to assist survivors is by using social media as a tool. Typically, as professors, we are encouraged to share our work in more scholarly and traditional sources such as books, articles, and book chapters for other academics. While we believe this is important, we also care very deeply about reaching a wider audience, especially survivors out there who might not have access to academic sources. As we enter into Year 3 of the See the Triumph project, I feel very fortunate to have learned so much about the powerful ways that social media can reach others. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to have our voices heard.
As I thought about what sort of transformative project to highlight for this month’s series, I stumbled across an award-winning project called be smart. be well. Life stories, education, and ideas are offered about a variety of health topics that are related to staying healthy and well – things like bullying, addiction, STDs, and pregnancy to name a few. Many of the videos highlight teens sharing messages and information, which I think is an incredible way to increase the chances that today’s young people are hearing these messages in a way that perhaps is easier to receive -- from each other. One of the topics the project covers is abuse and teen dating violence. Their short video on dating violence is an excellent example of innovation – middle, high school, and college students give personal stories, education, and advice to other teens out there. And the best part - all of it happens inside a photo booth! The video can be found here http://besmartbewell.com/domestic-violence/is-it-love.htm and I encourage everyone to take a look.
Messages can be delivered in many ways. As we think about transformation and innovation as ways to continue our fight against IPV, I think we can all challenge ourselves to think outside of the box, bring in new voices, deliver a message in a different way, take risks, or collaborate. The be smart. be well project is just one example of some folks who are doing this. As we continue this month, I urge all of you in our StT community to share ideas, examples, or initiatives with us so that we can see more innovation and transformation as it relates to IPV. Just imagine what you could do with a photo booth!
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
“And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious and great things.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke
I love the start of a new year. Every year, I spend a good bit of time thinking of one or more meaningful resolutions to focus on throughout the coming year. Although I’m like many people and some of my resolutions don’t make it too far into the year, I do try to keep a focus throughout the year and truly work on the changes I hope to make in my life. The start of each new year feels like a fresh start--an opportunity to begin anew and make changes in my life that will keep me continually in the process of transforming my life for the better.
This month at See the Triumph, we’re also focusing on fresh starts, transformation, and new approaches to challenges we face. We’re thinking “big picture” here--the question on our minds is: What are the changes we really need to make in our society to transform the pervasive epidemic of violence in our society?
Of course, we know that ending violence once and for all is a huge undertaking that will take generations to complete, if ever. The intergenerational patterns of violence and abuse, the social forces that promote violence as normative, and the deeply entrenched issues like poverty contribute to the challenges that we face in ending violence, and so we must undertake the mission of ending violence a day at time and celebrate the small steps we make along the way.
This month, though, we want to highlight and celebrate initiatives that truly have the potential to transform the ways that we as a society prevent, respond to, and ultimately work toward ending domestic violence and other forms of abuse.
Like the changes we make in our personal lives when we make New Year’s Resolutions, these transformative approaches build upon our past experiences and lessons we’ve learned over time. Sometimes, transformative approaches represent radically new ideas, and other times they represent smaller-scale shifts that become tipping points that set off ripple effects of broader changes. Momentum is key. Transformative approaches are those that gain strength as they build over time and become ingrained in the ways we do things.
Although it can seem like progress toward ending violence happens slowly, consider how large-scale changes can happen in a relatively short period of time in the grand scheme of things. Consider, for example, the rapid spread of shelters for victims of domestic violence. Today, shelters are found in many communities across the country, and they have become one of the main resources that are used to support survivors as they leave abusive relationships. However, formal shelters didn’t really begin to exist until as recently as the 1960s and 1970s (see the following web-sites for more information: http://www.thebusinessofme.com/a-brief-early-history-of-womens-shelters-and-the-movement-against-domestic-violence/; http://www.icadvinc.org/what-is-domestic-violence/history-of-battered-womens-movement/; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_shelter). What was only about 50 years ago a fledgling movement to build shelters has grown to a national network of shelters and domestic violence agencies that are supported by federal funding and community supporters across the country.
What are the efforts happening today that we will look back upon 50 years from now and realize the transformative impacts they have had, but that began now as new and innovative ideas? We don’t have a crystal ball, of course, so time will provide the answers to this question. But, we can look to new and innovative ideas that are growing and gaining momentum now for hints to what transformations may be in store in the decades to come.
When we make New Year’s Resolutions, we’re often advised to make small, attainable goals. But it’s also important to dream big and imagine the possibilities that are in store for our lives. We hope you’ll join us in dreaming big this month as we look to the inspiration and transformations that are possible in creating positive changes at the societal level with the end goal in mind: ending violence once and for all and ensuring that all people have the opportunity to live in safe, healthy relationships, families, and communities.
By Susan Danielsen, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Unless or until it involves celebrities, politicians, or athletes, domestic violence seems to get very little national attention. Of course, there are some well-known folks who make this topic their platform or cause célèbre; and, by connecting their names to the issue, domestic violence never really leaves our consciousness.
Yet, despite the (seemingly) more frequent news splashes about someone-famous-we-have-never-heard-of-before-this making headlines about abuse, and the omnipresent lists of celebrities who are domestic violence advocates, the topic of intimate partner abuse still seems very distant to so many people.
They don’t get it.
‘They’ are the people who have certainly heard about domestic violence (who hasn’t?), but who have never been affected by it. ‘They’ have never been involved in an abusive relationship, or don’t think they know anyone who has. To ‘them’, domestic violence is an ugly – but abstract-- condition that affects only other people. To ‘them’ the stories of domestic violence are remote and disconnected from ‘their’ world. After all, the faces of famous victims or abusers that reach them through their televisions or mobile devices or computers are pixels on a screen. They are images of people they know only through the media; people who live vastly different lives than they do.
‘Those people’ – the celebrities, the athletes, the politicians, - are not ‘them’ – the teacher, the clerk, the small business owner, the-person-most-would-consider-ordinary.
But, you, local survivor of an abusive relationship, are ‘them’. You are the person who lives next door, the person who works hard for a paycheck, the person who seems to blend in to everyday life. You are NOT the person who has national fame, or an Oscar, or a Heisman. You are just a regular person.
You are not ‘those people’. You are ‘them’. You are…..Just. Like. Us.
We see ourselves in you. We don’t see ourselves in the million-dollar-an-episode-actress, or the world record holder, or the six-term politician who couldn’t figure out how to find the canned soup in a grocery store without a forming a committee and doing a study on the most effective shelf displays.
And THAT is what makes your story of your journey out of an abusive relationship so very, very powerful. You are real. You are us. We are you. We can relate to you. Domestic violence is not so distant anymore: you are the face of someone we know. You are someone we have seen, spoken with, or maybe even touched. Your circumstances, your pain, your courage, are REAL. We know you.
You will still be a part of our lives long after the rich and famous have their news splashes, court case, and any made-for-TV movie. Because we see you in us, you MUST tell your story. And you must tell it often. And tell it loud. And tell it with pride. For your voice is powerful to us than any celebrity’s.
Susan Danielsen is the Public Information Officer for the Greensboro (N.C.) Police Department.
11/16/2014 0 Comments
By Doug Clark, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
Ray Rice and Greg Hardy have become the most valuable players of awareness about domestic violence.
The star football players are sitting out this season, and maybe longer, because of highly publicized assault cases where women were the victims.
Rice, in particular, focused national attention on the cause because, initially, his punishment for knocking out his fiancee in an Atlantic City hotel elevator was a mere two-game suspension. Public opinion forced National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell to order an indefinite suspension of the Baltimore Ravens running back — whom the team subsequently released.
The Carolina Panthers sidelined Hardy, despite his $13 million salary, until his second trial on assault charges, which has yet to take place.
When high-profile athletes attack a woman, the media and the public pay attention. That’s good, and not only because the publicity protects their victims. It also may warn other abusers that public tolerance of this behavior is very limited.
Unfortunately, not every instance of domestic violence will become a national story. Far from it. Most of the time, a simple assault won’t even be reported on an inside page of the local newspaper.
So, how can advocates for victims of domestic violence raise awareness of the problem in their communities?
They actually have some tools at their disposal.
One is simply to develop relationships with people who work in the media. They can contact reporters or editors and offer to comment with a local perspective on a national story or let them know that domestic violence is first and foremost a local story that happens in every neighborhood.
They can provide statistical evidence, which is available from local law-enforcement agencies. A large portion of police calls relates to domestic conflicts, even though news reporters might not recognize that or choose to make it a story. When the numbers are added up, however, domestic violence turns out to be a big story in every city.
There are other ways to quantify the problem. Recently, UNC Charlotte economics professor Stephen Billings authored a study that found domestic violence costs North Carolina $308 million a year. How many people think about domestic violence from a cost perspective, other than victims? But there are medical costs, lost work time costs, police costs, court costs and other expenses that truly make domestic violence everyone’s problem. These facts should be explained to the media.
Of course, providing access to victims is very valuable. It’s also difficult because most victims don’t want to be publicly identified. They also don’t want to compromise potential legal cases by talking with the media. Arrangements can be made to keep names out of the paper or to disguise a subject’s identity in a TV interview. Or former victims may feel secure enough in their new circumstances to go public. Personal stories can be very powerful.
Sadly, if the worst happens, domestic violence murder victims are always named in the papers. If speaking out might help, rather than hurt, before that point is reached, a victim might be brave enough to do that.
Finally, domestic violence is a concern all year long, not only during Domestic Violence Month. Advocates should interact with the media when they have something to say.
Thanks to a couple of football players, the public is listening.
Doug Clark is an editorial writer, columnist and blog author for the News & Record of Greensboro, N.C. He and his wife and have two sons and a granddaughter.
By Allison Crowe, See the Triumph Co-Founder
For the month of November, we are focusing on intimate partner violence, stigma, and the media. One of the ways survivors can de-stigmatize intimate partner violence is to agree to TV or radio interviews and share their stories, sending positive messages about who survivors are, the challenges one faces when trying to leave an abusive relationship, the myths that society holds about IPV, and other messages. The media often wants these interviews, too – getting survivors to speak out and tell their stories is powerful. But for some of you out there, this task might be overwhelming. You might ask yourself, “How do I tell my story in a way that will reach people?” or “What if I get emotional when talking about my past abuse?” Even practical questions such as “How do I know when to stop talking?” or “How do I avoid all the annoying habits I have when I speak in front of an audience?”
The National Resource on Domestic Violence has some excellent tips for survivors on working with the media. Below, I have summarized some of these tips for preparing for a TV or Talk Radio Interview, and for those interested in reading more about any of this, I urge you to visit their web-site: http://www.nrcdv.org/dvam/themes/dvap/PDF/Preparingfor-TV-Radio-Interview.pdf
1. An interview should be a pleasant experience. Do not feel as though you have to agree to be interviewed anywhere you don’t feel safe or comfortable or talk about anything you don’t want to talk about.
2. Before the interview, find out details about the interview such as the following: who will be interviewing you, how long it will last, and what style of interview it will be (for example, will there be questions from listeners, will there be another guest who will be interviewed as well, what the style of the interviewer is?).
3. Before the interview, consider the questions you might be asked. Jot down concise (and quotable!) answers that are authentic to your experience. Remember that anything you say can be quoted.
4. For a radio interview, having notes in front of you is perfectly appropriate if this would be helpful to you to remember your talking points.
5. This is your interview. Consider this your opportunity to deliver the message you’d like to share, dispel myths, or reduce stigma. For example, if you disagree with something the interviewer or audience member says, let the interviewer know and tell why. This can be accomplished by phrases such as: “No, that’s not 100% true, and here is why…” or “In my opinion, the important point is not why survivors don’t leave, it’s why….”
Most importantly, be yourself! Remember you have a story to tell that is powerful and impactful. All of us are responsible for doing our part to de-stigmatize intimate partner violence. The media can be a great way to do this, so if you feel talking with the media is something you want to do, then I encourage you to use these tips to feel ready and willing to have your voice heard! We can’t do it without you.
By Claire Cappetta, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
October is here once again, the leaves turn gold and red hues, and the sun is struggling to make its once heady heights in the sky as it did in summer, casting long shadows on the ground. This time of year brings back memories for me of how I survived, as it was this time 18 years ago that I was amidst selling my house and organizing my new life to start afresh.
I had ended a relationship due to many reasons. I found out that not only was I fully supporting him financially, but he had cheated on me, as well as several other reasons. He didn’t accept it. He held me hostage, threatened to kill both myself and my children. I turned to family, asking for help. I told them I had been given an opportunity to start afresh, but my plea fell on deaf ears. There were only two people who could hear me: the policeman who was assigned to my case after I called to ask them what I should do, and my closest friend, Chrisie.
Chrisie gave me the strength to call the police. She knew some, but not all, of what I was facing. Out of all the people I knew who could have even just listened and heard how traumatic life had become, she was the only one who could hear me. She knew my ex-boyfriend and, in fact, was a member of his family.
She stood by me when the police were trying to convince me to have my ex-boyfriend arrested for stalking and harassment. That day, I completely broke down after hearing that one of the policemen had released him. They had let him just go home after I had found the strength to say, “Yes! Take him and arrest him!”
One evening, he pushed his way back into my home, knowing my friend was due to arrive soon. I had warned him with a simple, “You need to leave, Chrisie’s coming!” When she did arrive, his car had already been noticed, parked 10 yards down the road, as it was every night. He slept, ate, and lived in his car for four months. I believe he may have had a change of clothes and a shower twice in the time he called his car home. He had lost weight, he looked drawn and haggard. His eyes had become dark, sunken, desperate, and depressed. There was nothing I could do to help him.
The police told me he had become fixated and was now a danger to me and my children. That evening, Chrisie grabbed him, dragged him down my hallway, shouting at him not to return. We both knew he would.
He was arrested, finally around Christmas time, under a new “Harassment Law” that was brought in to power in 1996. I also was given an Order of Protection, meaning that he couldn’t come near me or drive down the road I lived on. I had very quietly sold my home, packed my belongings, and organized my children for the move. I was making the big push to a “normal” life, sanity, and freedom. We needed to survive. I had told someone close that he had threatened to kill us. What was their response? “At least your graves will be nearby and we can visit,” they said with a smile.
Moving day arrived. A truck parked outside my house as we loaded my life into it. I collected my children from school and picked up a rental car so I could leave mine outside, hoping people wouldn’t know I had left for a couple of days. I needed everything to “look” normal.
That didn’t work. He had passed my house and seen the truck. When I walked into the house to collect the remaining bags to take in the car, the phone was ringing. It was my friend, screaming at me to get out and leave. She told me he had seen the truck, and he was getting a weapon to come back and kill us. We had fifteen minutes… We left, immediately!
I think back now each October of how a friend saved my life. She is a wonderful, beautiful, kind, loving friend. Without her friendship, I would not be here today. We lost contact over the years, but two years ago, we found each other again, 16 years later and 3,000 miles apart. I dedicated my second book to her, she will always be my friend, my hero, and the one who--if she hadn’t been there then, in my life--I wouldn’t be here today.
Please remember those struggling to survive, to stay alive. I’m alive today because of my friend. She heard me. We do our best to raise awareness every October, but we need to continue this message all year round. You never know if by listening, believing, and helping, you too could save someone’s life.
Claire is the author of A Broken Ring ~ A journey of Empowerment and Stalking Liberty ~ Are you safe?..., (Parts One and Two of the Ride to Liberty Trilogy). Born and raised in Yorkshire, England, she recently retired from the financial world to concentrate on writing her personal journey through relationships, child abuse, rape, domestic violence, through to healing and empowerment. Although at times heartbreaking it shows healing is possible. The story is heartwarming and inspiring. She now lives in New York with her husband and step-daughter, while her two grown children live in England.
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
All this month, we’ve been focusing on how to help a friend who’s involved in an abusive relationship. At See the Triumph, our main goals are to challenge the stigma surrounding abuse and to develop resources to support survivors.
Because of our focus on survivors, our main aim for the month has been to address ways that people can support a friend or loved one who’s being abused. However, people also may not know what to do when a friend or loved one is the one who is perpetrating the abuse. So, today, we’re focusing on steps you can take if you know or suspect that a friend or someone else you know is being abusive toward their partner.
Every situation is unique, so just as advice for helping a friend who is being abused is impossible to generalize to everyone, the same holds true for addressing a friend who is perpetrating the abuse. Therefore, think carefully about the specific details of the situation, and you may benefit from speaking with professionals in your community--such as at your local domestic violence agency or law enforcement officials--before taking any action. As I emphasized in my posts on helping survivors, avoid taking any actions that could put yourself into harm’s way. Remember to care for your own safety at all times, as well as the safety of others.
Assuming the person trusts and respects your opinion, you have an opportunity to send some powerful messages that could encourage them to stop the abuse. Some of the important messages you can say and convey in other ways are as follows:
Message #1: “The abuse is wrong.”
Don’t laugh off the abuse or lead them to think that it’s okay that they’re using abusive behaviors. If you don’t feel comfortable saying anything to them, consider the possible impact of your silence. Be mindful that the person may think that, because you haven’t said anything, you think it’s okay or normal for them to treat their partner that way. Make sure, through both your words and your actions, that you make clear that you do not support the abuse in any way.
Message #2: “You are hurting your partner.”
It’s all too common for abuse perpetrators to try to minimize or deny the extent of the abuse. For example, they may say things like, “It was just a little slap across the face,” “I didn’t really hurt her/him,” or “They’re just too sensitive.” You can play a role in holding the person accountable for their actions by pointing out the actual impact of the abuse. If that “little slap” left a black eye, remind them of the severity and say that you think it was a bigger deal than they’re making it out to be. If they deny the impact of their abuse on their partner, point out other changes you’ve seen, such as if their partner has become more sad, withdrawn, or quiet recently, as well as if you’ve noticed other problems that the abuse is causing. If they claim that their partner is just being “too sensitive,” you can talk to them about how you think they’re responding in a normal, expected way to being abused.
Message #3: “There are other negative consequences of the abuse.”
I’ve heard it said that people abuse their partners because they can. This means that many people likely use abusive behaviors in their relationships because they get rewarded for it (e.g., by maintaining power and control over their partners) and often get away without any form of punishment. When the rewards outweigh the punishments, there is likely very little motivation for people to change their abusive behaviors. Therefore, it’s important to remind abusive partners of all the negative consequences they’ve already faced--and could face in the future--if their abusive behaviors continue.
Of course, one of the major negative consequences is the hurt they are causing to their partner. Realistically (and unfortunately), this may or may not be a motivator to get them to change their behaviors, so it can be helpful to discuss other possible consequences they may face. This may include any combination of the following: hurting any involved children, risking getting arrested and going to jail, risking their career if they face legal consequences, other financial consequences related to legal sanctions (e.g., legal fees and costs of attending a batterer intervention program), losing relationships with friends and family members, and the embarrassment, tarnished reputation, and loss of standing that may occur if other people find out about the abuse.
Message #4: “You are responsible for your own actions. You are also responsible for doing whatever you need to do to change them.”
We’ve heard so, so many times in our research that survivors of abuse were blamed for their abuse by their partners and others in their lives. Victim-blaming perpetuates the abuse by attributing the responsibility for changing it to the person with the least control over doing so. If you talk with someone who is abusing their partner, they may say something like, “Well, I wouldn’t do it if she didn’t…” or “He had it coming with the way he was acting.” Unless you think it would be unsafe for you to do so, I encourage you to challenge these statements and make clear that it’s not the fault of the victim. Regardless of what the other person may or may not be doing, each person only has control over their own behaviors. Remind them of their own responsibility for stopping their abusive behaviors and for taking the steps needed to make this change.
Message #5: “There are resources available to help you stop abusing your partner.”
In most areas in the United States, there are court-sanctioned batterer intervention programs that are designed to educate and support people to change their abusive behaviors in intimate relationships. In many cases, these programs are also open to clients who are voluntarily seeking help. If you don’t already know whether this program exists in your community, contact your state domestic violence coalition to find out what resources are available near you.
Other professionals--such as mental health professionals--may be able to provide support, although it’s important to find someone who is specially trained to address intimate partner violence. Keep in mind that, in general, couples therapy is not advised when there is violence present. So, if your friend suggests that they want their partner to go in for treatment with them, you can suggest that they seek an individual intervention first. They also may suggest that they’re being abusive because of a substance abuse problem or a mental health disorder. If you hear this, you can tell them that substance abuse or mental health symptoms are not an excuse for violence, and it’s important for them to seek specific treatment for each issue.
While it’s true that many people who are abusive in relationships are hesitant to seek help on their own (and therefore most clients in batterer intervention programs are often court-mandated to be there), there are resources available to help people change their abusive behaviors, and you can help your friend locate and access these services in their community.
Message #6: “If you do not stop abusing your partner, I will….”
Where will you draw the line? At some point, you may face a decision to take action to try to stop this person’s abusive behaviors, even if it could mean hurting your relationship with them. For example, you may witness a severe act of physical violence. Will you call the police to report it? Will you cut off your relationship with them and lend your support to their partner? Of course, any decision you make should take into account their partner’s safety, as well as the safety of any involved children and yourself.
Make no mistake: These decisions can be extremely complicated, especially depending on the nature of your relationship with them. Maybe they’re your best friend since childhood. Maybe they’re a coworker you work closely with. Maybe they’re your child or another close family member. You may or may not even know their partner very well. There can be an overwhelming desire to maintain the relationship or show support for the person you care about, even if they are doing really harmful abuse to their partner.
At some point, I encourage you to ask yourself, “If I’m not taking action against the abuse, am I actually helping to perpetuate it?” You may feel like you have limited options of ways to stop the abuse, support the survivor, and hold the perpetrator accountable. And, indeed, in many cases, these options are very limited. But, if you know someone who’s being abusive in their intimate relationship, I encourage you to take action. By taking a strong stand against the violence, you have the opportunity to send important messages to the person that the abuse is harmful, it is their responsibility, and they can choose to change it and get help to do so.
10/18/2014 0 Comments
By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
When someone you care about is being abused, there are many practical ways you can provide support. As we’ve discussed in the previous blogs in this series, these ways may include asking them what help they need, helping them to connect with resources in their community, and taking action to promote their safety. These are all really important and meaningful ways you can potentially help someone who is being abused.
Our fifth step in how to help someone you know who is being abused is just as important, and it's something that virtually anyone can do. It requires no special training or knowledge about intimate partner violence. All it requires is a genuine intention to support and build up the person you care about.
To put Step 5 in context, let’s consider what life is like for many survivors of intimate partner violence. Not only is there often physical and/or sexual violence, but abusive people often regularly attempt to tear down, humiliate, blame, manipulate, and control their partners. Imagine being on the receiving end of this. Perhaps every day (and maybe even multiple times a day), you are told you are worthless, ugly, or stupid. You are told that you are bringing on your own abuse because you do “everything” wrong. Your feelings, needs, and opinions don’t matter, and you likely have no say in many of the decisions that impact your daily life. You’re told that you’re not allowed to make dreams for the future, and, indeed, you may become hopeless and feel that things will never change.
Is it any surprise that we heard from many survivors who participated in our research that their self-esteem became completely diminished over time?
What's the antidote to the disparagement that survivors face through abuse? One powerful antidote is a strong network of friends, family members, professionals, and others who provide consistent reminders of the survivor’s value and worth. Wouldn’t it be amazing if, for each disparaging action or word that a survivor received from their abuser, they heard at least ten positive, affirming messages from others? What difference would it make if every time they heard, “You’re worthless,” they could draw upon the many times they’ve heard from others:
We may never be able to silence the cruelty of some callous abusers. However, we can drown their cruelty with the powerful forces of love and respect.
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