The Happiest Sad Day

I just finished saying good-bye to a mom and her two daughters and young son. They successfully completed our program, found housing, and are  moving on to their new lives. And I am surprised how hard I cried as I walked away from the door of their apartment for the last time.

I can get insecure about whether we are helping enough moms and children. I wish we had more apartments. I wish all our families had 5 kids. I wish, when we complete grant applications and we are asked for numbers, I could record 3 and even 4 digits.

But as I left this mom’s door, I cried because I knew numbers lie. They cheat. They make us think what we does only matters if we can do it for thousands. There’s the lie. No matter what numbers we report, the truth is we help one family at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time.  And for this family, WE DID IT! Every staff member here changed their lives. There's only one way to measure that, and it's a concept, not a number: infinity.

Today, we got to see we made a world of difference. I am strengthened by words from Father Greg Boyle (Homeboy Industries), when he says it is not our job to worry about quantity and impact. It is our job to stand with our clients in awe at the burdens they carry. I am strengthened by words from the Talmud, that sprawling compendium of the ways Jews bring God into the world: "If you save a single life, it is as if you save an entire world."  And I am strengthened by these simple words of the foundress of Sisters of the Good Shepherd, Sister Mary Euphrasia: “Courage...go forth.”

Go forth into the world with courage, our sacred mom and you three holy children. We will go forth to meet the next family ready to trust us with their lives, just as you have.

Cubs End 108 Year Drought, But Did They Really Eliminate the Goat?

            There is a legend the Chicago Cubs’ World Series drought began when a goat was asked to leave Wrigley Field during game 4 of the 1945 World Series. But by winning the World Series, the Cubs shattered that legend. Still, the fate of a billy goat will likely remain more present in the minds of baseball fans’ than the fact that the Cubs’ fire-throwing closer Aroldis Chapman was arrested on suspicion of spousal abuse a year earlier.

            The fact is that Mr. Chapman’s violence against his girlfriend had less presence during the World Series than the ghost of a goat. Most likely, the casual remark from one of the Fox commentators towards the end of the seventh game may have been the incident’s only mention.

            Arguments seem logical for the reasonableness of the silence. The police decided not to press charges against Mr. Chapman. Major League Baseball suspended Mr. Chapman for 30 games, and Mr. Chapman served his time. And when the Cubs acquired Mr. Chapman, General Manager Theo Epstein made it clear to the public the Cubs organization would hold Mr. Chapman to very clear behavioral standards.

            But these are justifications, not convincing arguments. One aspect of the problem with how domestic abuse (or intimate partner violence) is treated today is that Mr. Chapman is in a special category because of his almost freakish ability to hurl a baseball at 105 mph. He and other elite athletes who’ve committed similar violence against their intimate partners occupy the insidious category entitled “Pass.”

            “Pass” is insidious because domestic abuse is part of a cycle. It’s more like a syndrome than a one-time occurrence, more like untreated cancer than a broken leg. By the time the police are called, the cycle of intimate partner violence has progressed to the point where it is highly unlikely the couple will splint the fracture, heal, and be stronger at the point of the break.

Instead, the relationship has now progressed to where it’s entirely possible the relationship will end with the victim’s funeral. If you want to think about ghosts now, think about the ghost of Nicole Brown Simpson.

            No abusive relationship begins with hair pulling, slapping, pushing, punching or assault with household objects. If it did, the answer to the perennial question, “Why doesn’t s/he just leave,” wouldn’t be so confounding. By the time the police are called, the relationship has already evolved through several descending stages.

The initial stage may take many forms. The would-be abuser might express jealousy over the victim’s social relationships (male or female), encourage or coerce the victim into wearing only certain clothes, or control the victim’s time or finances. And abusers are world-class rationalizers. One victimized woman had to call her husband when she left her office, and again when she arrived home. “It’s because I love you so much, I want to make sure you got home safely, or whether I need to call 911,” he explained. But if his wife was even a few minutes late in calling, his wrathful response looked more like control than love.

The abuser demonstrates consequences for violating his or her expectations with anger, silence, or other punitive behaviors, all with the effect of manipulating the victim to satisfy the abuser’s will. Withholding sex and intimacy, or forcing a sex act, are also common tools. The victim lives in a tense, terrifying world, walking on eggshells in an effort to keep the abuser stable.

Violence may enter the relationship as an uncontrollable outburst, perhaps over a minor slight or mistake. Or violence may begin with suggestions, and then threats, before it becomes real.

Lastly, after abuse occurs, the abuser may apologize, give gifts, make heart-felt assertions of regret, and/or promise it will never happen again.  Pretending the abuse never happened, or saying “it wasn’t that bad,” may also contribute to denial of the abuse. And the victim is easily victimized further by this denial and minimization, or by a honeymoon phase, because she or he want so badly to have a normal, healthy relationship. As a result, even when the police are called, victims then find themselves withdrawing charges, failing to cooperate with investigations, or refusing to testify against their batterer.

It is this last step of deniability and minimization that is so dangerous for any abuser belonging to one of those groups of people who can get a “Pass” for their behavior. So many emotional and psychological forces already marshal against a victim, entrapping him or her in the abusive relationship. Enablers to the talented only make it worse. When they look beyond the behavior because the abuser can carry a long-suffering team to World Series, they feed deniability and facilitate minimization.

Major League Baseball and the Cubs organization laudably took steps to avoid giving Mr. Chapman a “Pass.” These actions were praiseworthy, however, largely in comparison to the weaker responses of other enablers. The least drunk teen at an underage bacchanal is not a hero. We will only pursue seriously the goal of ending domestic violence when we are prepared to “Fail” all perpetrators of domestic violence, regardless of their skills or abilities. Otherwise, we merely trade one goat for another.

--Mark A. Rothman, C.E.O.

 

 

Dispatch En Route to the Mother House: Going on Faith

Next stop: Maison Mère du Bon Pasteur, Angers, France

Next stop: Maison Mère du Bon Pasteur, Angers, France

I have been chosen to be a participant in the 2017 Pilgrimage to the House of the Mother of the Good Shepherd, Angers, France. This is the home where Sister Mary Euphrasia created in the mid-1800s the Good Shepherd network still present in more than 70 countries today.

Usually when one travels one has expectations. I have no idea what to expect. So in place of expectations, I come to Angers with questions.

  • How will I be able to translate my experience in Angers to our moms and children, our Board, our staff, our donors?
  • How will it strengthen my bonds with my other mission partners and their organizations? With my colleague from Good Shepherd Shelter of Los Angeles?
  • What will it mean to be immersed in the life and mission of Sr. Mary Euphrasia?
  • What will it mean for me personally? How will I be changed?
  • How can I overcome my limitations in executing the mission, and exude my "inner spark"?
  • I am going from Angers to Israel to celebrate Passover with my family. How will my experiences in Angers color how I see the story of liberation, which is at the heart of Passover?

My pilgrimage is largely an act of faith. I was invited, I was  told this would be a meaningful experience, and so I am going.

      -Mark A. Rothman, CEO

Domestic Violence: Know Your Rights

Do You Know Your Rights?

 

"Domestic Violence is more than just a "family problem"; it's a crime." (LAPD)

When hearing stories of Domestic Violence, a common response to the situation is, "Why don't they just leave?"

Abusers use more than just physical forms of abuse, abuse can be mental too. Using verbal remarks and manipulative techniques can morph how a victim views him or herself. 

An abuser can lead a victim to believe that they have no legal rights nor do they deserve them.

 

Here are some rights that every human is entitled to (provided by the LAPD):

 

-It is a crime for any person to threaten, beat, sexually assault or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married. 

 

13700 PC Domestic Violence - Defined

Abuse committed against an adult or fully emancipated minor who is the spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, who has a dating relationship, former dating relationship, engagement relationship, former engagement relationship, or parties having a child in common.

273.5 PC Spousal Abuse or Cohabitant Abuse

  • Willfully inflicts corporal injury upon
  • Spouse or Cohabitant or Parties with a Child in Common
  • Results in a Traumatic condition
  • Verifiable Injury (Officer's observation or Medical exam)

243(e)(1) PC Battery

  • Willfully and unlawfully use force or violence against,
  • Spouse, cohabitant, parties with a child in common, non-cohabiting former spouse or fiancé/fiancée or a person with whom the defendant currently has or has previously had a dating relationship regardless of sexual orientation
  • Visible injury not necessary

422 PC Terrorist Threats

  • Threat to commit a crime which will result in Death or Great Bodily Injury 
  • Must be unequivocal, unconditional, immediate and specific
  • Causes sustained fear for safety
  • To a person or their immediate family

646.9 PC Stalking

  • Willfully, maliciously and repeatedly follows or harasses
  • Makes a credible threat (Pattern of conduct by suspect, taken in totality, so that a reasonable person would fear for their safety or that of their immediate family)

591 PC Malicious Destruction of Phone Lines

  • Unlawfully and maliciously
  • Takes down, removes, injures or obstructs
  • Any telephone, telegraph or cable TV line, or any other line used to conduct electricity.

273.6 PC Violation of Domestic Violence Protective Order

  • Intentionally and knowingly violate a Domestic Violence Protective Order (including Emergency Protective Order, Temporary Restraining Order and Restraining Order)

12028.5 PC Family Violence/Firearms Seizure

The police at the scene of family violence, involving a threat to human life or physical assault, may take temporary custody of any firearm or deadly weapon in plain sight or by consensual search for the protection of the peace officer or other persons present. The police may retain the weapons up to 72 hours unless the weapons were seized as evidence or for an additional crime.

12021(g) PC Restrictions on Firearm Possession

Persons subject to a restraining order may not obtain, receive, purchase or otherwise acquire a firearm.

The person must know they are subject to the restraining order and the restraining order must contain in bold print that they are prohibited from receiving or purchasing or attempting to receive or purchase a firearm, and the penalties. (This does not apply if a firearm is received as part of a community property settlement).

6389 PC Relinquishment Of Firearms

Prohibits person subject to a Domestic Violence protective order from owning or possessing a firearm while protective order is in effect.

Exemption may be granted if a firearm is a necessary condition of employment. A person may possess only during scheduled work hours and during travel to and from work.

 

Furthermore, approximately 75% of women who are killed by their abusers are murdered when they attempt to leave of have left and abusive relationship. Leaving an abusive partner takes courage and acknowledging that are resources there to help you. Many women are uninformed or don't feel worthy of their rights. That's why victims don't just leave.

 

Do your part in making sure others are informed, as well as, making others feel worthy of exercising their legal rights. 

 

http://www.lapdonline.org/get_informed/content_basic_view/8887 

http://www.domesticabuseshelter.org/infodomesticviolence.htm#faq 

 

Move To End DV

Founded by Meathead Movers, a for-profit student athlete moving company that provides free moving services to victims of domestic violence, #MoveToEndDV’s mission is to encourage 10,000 businesses all over the world to donate free products or services to shelters, victims and survivors of domestic violence. By connecting shelters and businesses all over the world, #MoveToEndDV aims to change the way communities respond to domestic violence situations, help victims and survivors to start a new life through comprehensive community support, and help put an end to abuse once and for all.

Find out more about this worthy cause by visiting www.meatheadmovers.com

A Call to Men

In this video Tony Porter calls out the societal pressures and influences on how boys and men are supposed to act and it effects on the view of women. Tony Porter is an author, educator and activist working to prevent violence against women. He also provides trainings on healthy manhood and violence prevention for the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. 

 

It is no secret that we live in a culture that holds certain expectations and roles for men and women to hold. This is made evident to girls and boys at a young age. Sayings like, “act like a man” or “you play like a girl,” enforce to idea that being a girl is inferior and should be avoided. In order prevent and end the cycle of domestic abuse, we must address the socialization of our boys and girls and how our culture defines manhood. This video successfully acknowledges the expectations of “being a man” that many young boys are faced with. It is rated “Top 10 TED Talks for Every Man Should See.”    

The transcript: 

https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men/transcript?language=en

 

**This video is not recommended for young children due to explicit descriptions of violence

What is Dating Violence in the Age of the “Hook Up” culture?

Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence in the country—almost three times greater than the national average. With 1 and 3 adolescents experiencing abuse in a dating relationship and 43% of dating college women experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors, abuse is no rare occurrence in individual’s lives.


            However, when college students were asked on how they handle this reality, 57% say dating abuse is difficult to identify and 58% say they don’t know how to help someone who is experiencing this. The lack of awareness does not stop there. 81% of parents believe teen-dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.[1]

            In light of the lack of awareness and understanding around dating abuse, it is no surprise that 67% of teens in an abusive relationships never tell anyone. Dating violence penetrates the lives of millions of people a year, yet it continues to remain in the shadows. We must ask ourselves how is this possible? Why do so many people feel inadequate to talk about something that is present in our schools, our friend’s lives, our family’s lives or possibly our own life?


            Amongst several possible reasons for the silence—some being traditional gender role expectations, peer pressure, shame, or fear; another reason is the blurred dating lines that we so often are faced with. One definition of dating is “two people in an intimate relationship.”[2] Dating today can be serious or casual, straight or gay, committed or open, short-term or long-term. Since “Dating” means different things to different people, it vital to remember that dating abuse can occur within all kinds of intimate relationships—even if it is casual and you are only “hooking up.”

           

            Our media constantly conveys the dating process today to have blurred lines—many adolescents find their relationships between being “Facebook official” (meaning they are committed enough to make it public) and just “hooking up” (meaning its casual and possibly open). Justin Bieber’s new hit song “What Do You Mean,” illuminates the confusion many face regarding what a partner wants in a relationship. The reason it is essential to recognize the dating culture today to be one that is not always “dating or single,” is because for many abuse can still happen in those “blurred dating lines.”


            If the definition of dating is more fluid today, then the definition and awareness of Dating Violence must validate and address individuals who experience abuse in the “blurred dating lines.” No matter what your Facebook relationship status states, love is respect and should not hurt. If something makes you feel uncomfortable, threatened or scared, it is possible that you could be experiencing the warning signs of abuse. The last place dating violence belongs is in the shadows. The first step for us all to take is recognizing the signs and speaking about this prevalent issue. 

           

For more information on types of dating abuse visit: http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/types-of-abuse/


[1] http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-violence-statistics/

[2] http://www.loveisrespect.org/dating-basics/dating-faq/

Reflection on January’s Human Trafficking Awareness Month and its Connection to DV

Often times when asked, “what does slavery look like in America,” individuals will explain slavery as a phenomenon of the past, abolished in 1865. However, many fail realize that slavery continues today. This reality is not a distant issue only in developing countries worldwide; rather, slavery is present in our community and home of Los Angeles. Human trafficking is known as modern day slavery because it involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.[1] Millions of men, women and children are given false promises of well paying jobs, citizenship, education, or a happy marriage, when in reality their trafficker has all the control and power to exploit all their basic human rights.[2] According to CIA estimates, as many as 15,000 to 17,500 men, women and children are trafficked into the United States every year—LA being one of the top points of entry for victims of slavery and trafficking.[3] This issue is not one that we can ignore. Not only because of the atrocities happening in our neighborhood but also because of human trafficking’s connections to domestic violence.   

               According to the Domestic Violence Report, many victims of sex trafficking are referred to domestic violence services due to the similarities in circumstances. Though there are apparent differences between these two circumstances—such as trafficking being dependent on the purchasing of a human being and on the principles of supply and demand—many scholars have concluded that there are several intersections and similarities between these two types of violence.

How are they similar?

Both human trafficking and intimate partner violence are NOT asked for and are NOT voluntary. Perpetrators in both circumstances take advantage of a relationship of trust in order to exert POWER and CONTROL over another human being. Abusers and traffickers manipulate victims into a life of silence and compliance—through differing threats (use of children, citizenship status, fear, violence, finances). There is a great threat to individual’s lives if they try leaving their trafficker or abuser.[4] Ultimately, both groups deserve having their complex and unique needs met. However, in organizations that serve individuals who have experienced domestic violence, it is crucial that we too grow to understand the needs of individuals who have been trafficked.[5]

 

 

[1] http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/bc-inf-ht101-blue-campaign-human-trafficking-101.pdf

[2] https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html

[3] CASTLA

[4] http://www.icfs.org/assets/pdf/DVandHumanTraffickingFactSheet.pdf

[5] Domestic Violence Report. “Meeting the Needs of Victims of Sex Trafficking: DV Victims Services as Appropriate Providers?

Dial 911 if you’re in danger—True or False?

Growing up, children are taught the common phrase “dial 911 if you are in danger.” However, this statement proved to be misleading for Kari Hunt’s children on December 1, 2013 in Marshall, Texas. When Kari went to drop off her three children (ages nine, four and three) for visitation hours with her ex-husband at the Baymont Inn and Suites, he dragged her into the bathroom and fatally stabbed her while the children were left outside.

Realizing the severity of the situation when hearing her mother’s screams, the nine-year-old daughter did as she was taught and went to call 911. She called four times but was never able to be connected with the 911 operators. The nine year old was not able to get through because—like a majority of business lines in not only hotels, but also hospitals, schools, motels and office buildings—you must dial an “access code” before being connected to an outside line.

Many hotels require dialing “9,” some require “8” and a few require “6821.” These irregularities place individuals in greater danger due to the delay in contacting emergency services. Studies done by the American Hotel and Lodging Association, reveal that only 47% of franchised hotels allow direct dialing to 911, and 32% of independently owned hotels allowed it.

Upset by this reality, Kari’s father, Hank Hunt, proposed a law (Kari’s Law) to require hotels and motels to upgrade their phone systems to ensure a direct dialing to 911 in order to receive immediate services.  Due to the overwhelming positive response to this proposal, with half a million signatures, in April 2015, the bill (Kari’s Law S.B 788) was passed in both houses of Texas legislature. Many other state legislatures passed similar laws to help individuals receive emergency services, for example…

With the passing of Kari’s Law, several major hotel chains have changed their phone systems to allow direct connection to 911 without requiring an access code. These hotels include Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, La Quinta, Marriott, Motel 6, Starwood, and Wyndham.

By the end of 2015 many more hotels have promised to upgrade their phone systems. These hotels include Country Inn and Suites, Crowne Plaza, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Fairfield Inn, Four Points, Gaylord, Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn, Park Plaza, Radisson, Residence Inn, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Sheraton, Staybridge, and Westin properties.

Kari’s husband, 36 year old Brad Dunn was sentenced to 99 years in prison for the murder. 

May 15, 2015 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs Kari’s Law as Kari’s family and bill author’s watch. Photo Credit: http://tpr.org/post/abbott-signs-kari-s-law-make-calling-911-easier#stream/0

May 15, 2015 Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs Kari’s Law as Kari’s family and bill author’s watch. Photo Credit: http://tpr.org/post/abbott-signs-kari-s-law-make-calling-911-easier#stream/0

Let's Review: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)

What is our nations policy on Domestic Violence? This is outlined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

The 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was the first federal piece of legislation that deemed domestic violence and sexual assault as crimes.  This law also provided the federal resources needed to help stop violence. Since 1994, the law has been reauthorized and improved in 2000 and 2005. These improvements include the creation of legal-assistance programs, landmark housing protections, rape crisis centers and culturally and linguistically specific services for individuals who experienced domestic violence.

While the 2000 and 2005 reauthorizations have helped the fight to end the cycle of domestic violence, there was still much work to be done. In 2013, VAWA was reauthorized by the senate and the House of Representatives, and signed into the law by Obama on March 7, 2013.

 

What is the significance of the 2013 reauthorization?

VAWA 2013 aims to make sure all victims of domestic violence receive the resources and services they need in order to break free from the cycle of domestic violence. In the past Native Americans, immigrants, LGBT victims, college students, and public housing residents have not received the support needed due to lack of services or discrimination. However, this law is focused changing that. 

 

The VAWA 2013 reauthorization includes:

·      Giving tribal courts sovereign power to hold offenders accountable through investigation, prosecution, conviction and a sentence to both Native Americans and non-Natives who assault Native American spouses or partners.

·      Prohibition of discrimination (specifically LGBT) to ensure all victims receive the services and protection needed

·      Expansion of safe housing in all federally subsidized housing programs, specifically for protecting victims of sexual assault.

·      Requirement for schools to create dating violence prevention plans along with educating victims of their rights and resources.

·      The continuation and consolidation of VAWA grant programs. Keeping the previous 24 grant programs and consolidating them now into 18 programs.

According to the National Network to End Domestic Violence:

o   VAWA saved taxpayers at least $12.6 billion in net averted social costs

o   51% increase in reporting by women and a 37% increase in reporting by men.

These bullet points are just a few of the revisions and additions to VAWA. While VAWA has made large strides in providing care and resources to individuals who have experienced domestic violence, there is still much to be done. The fight is not yet won. We each have a role to play in the stopping the cycle of domestic violence; and it begins with awareness.

 For more information and specifics you can look at summary of VAWA 2013 provided by NNEDV: http://nnedv.org/downloads/Policy/VAWA2013_Summary.pdf

http://nnedv.org/policy/issues/vawa.html

Image by Jay Inslee. https://www.flickr.com/photos/govinslee/8530995217 

Image by Jay Inslee. https://www.flickr.com/photos/govinslee/8530995217