Monday, December 22, 2008

Government Underestimating Cases of Domestic Violence

New methodology being used by the Department of Justice to measure crime rates has revealed that the cases of domestic violence and sexual assault previously reported may have been underestimated. With new techniques such as interviewing those in rural areas and more personal statements taken into account, the latest numbers reveal much higher rates of domestic violence than reported in the past. (Thanks for WomenseNews for the update!)

This rate increase could also be accounted for by the increase in unemployment which has shown to increase violence in the homes. See past post "Domestic Violence Increases with Unemployment".

The advantage of more accurately measuring the numbers of domestic violence and sexual assault cases is that it will hopefully put increased pressure on the Obama Administration to address the problem of violence against women in this country accordingly, by providing more funding and greater attention to the issues at hand.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Are Narcissists Abusers?

Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the DSMIV, is categorized by "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and a lack of empathy." Narcissists are incredibly self centered and can be very manipulative and controlling. They will do nearly anything to get what they want from someone, and since they lack the ability to feel empathy, (defined as "the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another"), they can be very hurtful to those around them.

When we talk about domestic violence, commonly defined as one person getting and keeping power of control over another, we are normally referring to direct verbal and physical abuse, but there are many ways in which one person manipulates and controls another without using violence.

The popular reality MTV show, The Hills, shows Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (photo below) who are a great example of how a narcissist can be abusive to someone.

Over the course of The Hills, Spencer meets Heidi and they begin dating. Early on in their relationship she catches him cheating on her, but then he wins her back and so begins their relationship. He convinces her that all her friends are terrible people out to get her, and even blames the cheating behavior on Heidi's best friend Lauren. (Remember that a narcissist never believes he or she is at fault - it is always some one else's problem.) Eventually Spencer causes so much drama between Heidi and her friends that Heidi stops having friends all together and moves in with Spencer, at his insistence. Other problems arise as Spencer pushes Heidi to get engaged and then get married. Over the course of their relationship Heidi becomes more and more isolated from her life and even her job, after Spencer says something offensive to her bosses and has her fired. Although Spencer's behavior on the show can be sweet and loving to Heidi, he is ultimately very manipulative and controlling of her.

To watch full episodes of The Hills you can go to this link:

Thursday, December 11, 2008 Volunteers are Wonderful!

Volunteers from across the country work with to help us update our resources, like shelters, courthouses, sheriff departments and legal aid listings for every single state, DC, Guam and the Virgin Islands. Our volunteers use the phone and internet to make sure the phone numbers and addresses are correct, which takes a lot of time and energy. We are so grateful for them! If you are interested in volunteering you can contact Nina at for more information.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers

International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is December 17, 2008. Advocates for sex workers include SWIRL, a nonprofit radio station, $PREAD magazine and Dr. Annie Sprinkle, a retired porn star and prostitute. Within the feminist community the pros and cons of prostitution, stripping and pornography are highly debated issues. Some feminists, like Andrea Dworkin, devoted their careers to protesting pornography and sex work, claiming that it was extremely detrimental to women. However, some people claim that prostituion, porn and stripping are empowering for women and are done by their own volition.

What is not being debated though is the fact that sex workers are at greater risk of being raped, murdered and contracting STDS then other women, and there is not enough being done by the law to protect them. When a prostitute is murdered or raped, the message from society tends to be along the lines of "Well they were asking for it" or "They put themselves in danger and therefore it is partially their fault" or "How is it possible to rape a prostitute?". What International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is about is drawing attention to these social misjudgments. Sex workers are human beings and deserve the same rights as any other person in this world. To read more about this check out Annie Sprinkle's essay "Stopping the Terror: A Day to End Violence Against Prostitutes".

Thursday, December 4, 2008

International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women

Since 1999 the United Nations has recognized November 25 as International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women. Universally, one in three women will experience sexual and physical violence in their lifetime. The Human Rights Education Associates elaborate on the history of this day:
"The origins of November 25th go back to 1960, when the three Mirabal sisters from the Dominican Republic were violently assassinated for their political activism. The sisters, known as the "Unforgettable Butterflies," became a symbol of the crisis of violence against women in Latin America. November 25th was the date chosen to commemorate their lives and promote global recognition of gender violence, and has been observed in Latin America since the 1980s."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hair Dressers Can Help

Hair stylists and salon professionals are notorious for having close, personal relationships with their clients. Even if you have just met a hairdresser for one visit, you may have found yourself sharing personal information about your life, your family and your work which you would not disclose to your doctor or your neighbor even. An article in today's New York Times highlights how hairdressers seem to be more aware than other professionals about violence and abuse happening to their clients. Partly this is because of what their clients share with them, but also because a hairdresser may find bruises, burns or other injuries hidden in the scalp, a place abuser's harm because it is not as visible as other parts of the body. A nationwide initiative to educate hairdressers about how they can identify and help victims of domestic violence, called Cut It Out, has already trained over 40,000 salon professionals across the country. Here is their video about the problem:

You can also find more resources for Salon Professionals on

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Men Working to End Domestic Violence

Domestic violence, which is primarly treated as a women's problem, has some new activists on board with a new message. Those activists are men and they are reaching out to help. A Call to Men, a wonderful organization dedicated to galvanizing a movement of men to end all forms of violence against women, sates "that ending violence against women is primarily the responsibility of men. Although historically it has been almost entirely women who have been at the forefront addressing this issue, we think it is essential that men play a primary role in the solution to end it."

Other men who have joined the movement are Byron Hurt, a filmmaker, speaker and activist to end violence against women. Here is a sample of his award winning documents "Beyond Beats and Rhymes"

Check it out! We think its so important to take a proactive approach to stopping violence against women, and that means preventing it before it happens. More research needs to be done on the risk factors of what makes some men abusers and others not, and there needs to be more social accountability on the part of men to step up and help women in this fight for freedom. Furthermore, there needs to be a change in our media in the way they treat women.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Domestic Violence in Art

We found this great website we wanted to share with you! Two artists have put together photographs and texts in a moving online exhibit about domestic violence. Here is one piece from the show below, but you can also see the whole thing here: Beating Hearts: Stories of Domestic Violence.

"I keep looking in the mirror and crying. I can't stand to see myself. My hair was down below my waist. I hadn't cut it in over twenty years. Now look at me.

He didn't speak to me during supper. He had been calling me all day, but I was working in the garden, so I wasn't by the phone. I tried to tell him that, but he just stopped talking to me. That's what he does when he gets mad. So I got the kids into bed and I took my bath. When I came out, he walked up to me with a pair of scissors. I didn't know what he was going to do at first, but then he grabbed my hair and pulled it so hard that tears just popped out of my eyes. Then he just chopped it off.

I tried to fight him, but he said he'd stab me if I didn't sit still. I cried so hard. Then he told me he was going to get the belt. When he went to the bedroom, I ran outside. I ran to our next-door neighbor's house and hid in his workshop. Ben came out looking for me, and then he got our 15-year-old son to help him. My own son!

I used the phone in the shop and called the police. They came and got me. I had to leave in my nightgown, and both of the kids are still with their dad! When will I see my kids?

I'm so worried. I had better go back home. I need some clothes. i want to talk to my kids. What about my daughter? She's only eleven. She'll cry when she sees my hair.

I can't stay here. I have to go back home. ben will be mad, but I can handle it. I appreciate your help and all. Please don't be mad at me. I just have to go home."


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Announcing the First Happy Hour!


Terrible Violence Against Women in Africa

Africa has been suffering for many many years now. Occasionally international and domestic news sources run stories of the violence there, but surely there are many many hundreds of acts of violence against women which go unreported. One story which recently breached our news channels, was of a 13 year old Somalian girl who was raped by three men while she traveled by foot through the dangerous country to visit her grandmother. When she and her family went to the authorities to report the abuse, they instead charged the girl with "adultery" and sentenced her to death by stoning. In a stadium full of 1,000 people she was placed in a hole, leaving only her head showing, and had rocks thrown at her until she died.

This makes me feel not only heartbroken for the girl and her family, but outraged at the inhuman acts being committed without any accountability to the international community. This news is outrageous and horrifying, but hopefully the next president of United States may find a way to work with the global community to help the people in Africa.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Power, Police and Domestic Violence

A post on Vintage Berry Wine blog discusses the huge problem of members of law enforcement who are abusive to their spouses and children. Since domestic violence is so much about power and control for the abuser, what do you do if you are a victim of domestic violence and your abuser is in a legal position of power over you?

The Purple Berets list statistics and other information about police brutality at home:
"Domestic violence is 2 to 4 times more common in police families than in the general population. In two separate studies, 40% of police officers self-report that they have used violence against their domestic partners within the last year. In the general population, it's estimated that domestic violence occurs in about 10% of families."

Domestic violence laws apply to everyone, including soldiers and police officers, but it may seem extra difficult if your abuser is one of those. You can read more about your rights on

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Abuse Among Teens

In a study conducted by Liz Claiborne in 2008 it was reported that 62% of 11-14 year-olds who had been in a relationship knew friends who had been verbally abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Now there are more resources for teens than ever before to address this problem. Loveisrespect and Break the Cycle are two great resources on the internet. Also, take a look at this graphic novel by Safe Space. It is a great illustration of what abuse looks like among teens.

The graphic novel, titled "He Loves Me...He Loves Me Not", comes in Spanish and English and you can print it out yourself and use it as a tool in your own work with domestic violence! The cover of the down-loadable version is blank so you can include the information of your local resource.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Woman Murdered When She Changed Her Facebook Status

(This Facebook Profile is not real. It is meant to be an example of what a profile looks like.)

An article by the BBC reports a man murdered his wife of 15 years after she left him and then changed her Facebook status to "Single". In a critique of the BBC article, points out that not once is the term "domestic violence" used to explain what happened. By interpreting the crime as a direct result of the woman changing her Facebook status, the serious issue of domestic violence in our world continues to be ignored or understated. Most often men do not just murder their wives and girlfriends after being faithful, loyal, supportive, loving husbands. Generally, there is a long history of emotional and physical abuse before a man commits murder.

Unfortunately, what this article does rightly point out is the danger of technology to women in domestic violence relationships. If you are in an abusive relationship or you know someone who is read about Internet Security on for tips on how to stay safe.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Take Back the Night

A recent article in the Troy Record tells the story of a woman who survived such extensive abuse from her husband for so many years, she fell into a coma months after leaving him due to a brain aneurism. Her chances for survival were very slim, but she recovered and was at the Troy Take Back the Night to share her story.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Take Back the Night, it is a community rally against domestic violence and sexual assault, generally held by local colleges or universities. Survivors share their stories, people unite to protest rape and sexual assault, and then everyone marches off "into the night". Below is a video of a group of people walking for Take Back the Night.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Domestic Violence Increases with Unemployment

Womensenews reported yesterday:

"An extensive 2004 report by the National Institute of Justice found that the rate of violence against women increases as male unemployment increases. When a woman's male partner is employed, the rate of violence is 4.7 percent. It's 7.5 percent when the male experiences one period of unemployment. It's 12.3 percent when the male experiences two or more periods of unemployment.

A female victim's lack of money, meanwhile, is a common reason why she may refuse to leave an abusive partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence."

As the economy suffers, so do more women and children across the country. Its more important than ever to turn our attention towards ending domestic violence and helping women currently in abusive relationships reach safety. You can read more on about what you can do to help yourself or someone you know.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama and McCain on Domestic Violence

In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Senator Barack Obama issued a press release about domestic violence. We also found a video on YouTube of Obama answering a question from a voter about what he would do to address violence against women and children:

We would love to hear what McCain thinks about the issue, however we can't find any record of McCain addressing domestic violence on his website, Google searches or on YouTube. If you know of anything that he or his running mate Sarah Palin have said about violence against women and children in this country (a problem that will effect 1 in 4 women) please let us know by leaving a comment on this post.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Teaching About Abusive Relationships Before They Happen

Rhode Island recently passed a new law called the Lindsay Ann Burke Act, named after a young woman who was murdered by her high school boyfriend at the age of 25. The Associated Press reports, "[This law] requires all public middle and high schools to teach students about dating violence in their health classes." The call for legislation came from Lindsay Burke's parents who felt that better education about the issue could have helped Lindsay to see the warning signs of an abusive relationship. Hopefully, over time, other states will adopt this law and teaching about dating violence will be just as commonplace as teaching sex ed and drug ed.

Thanks to for the heads up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Thank you Joe Biden!

Senator Joe Biden, a proven ally for women's rights, has done it again. Last week the senate passed The Debbie Smith Reauthorization Act of 2008, based on a law written by Joe Biden, which was set to expire this year. The goal of the legislation is "designed to help eliminate the nationwide backlog of rape evidence kits and bolster DNA testing of criminals and crime scene evidence."

Here is a sample from the Press Release:

"It is estimated that 40 percent of the unsolved rape cases could be solved by taking the DNA sample collected after a sexual assault and comparing it to the existing DNA databases of convicted felons and rapists. The U.S. Department of Justice has estimated that there are at least 221,000 rape kits currently on the shelves in evidence lockers, untested and gathering dust. The Debbie Smith Grant Program has helped alleviate some of the backlog and has expanded testing to solve more crimes, but much more needs to be done.

"If there's a rape kit left sitting on a shelf, there's a victim without justice. This program must be kept alive until the backlog numbers total zero," said Senator Biden. "It is unconscionable that we have the ability to solve these crimes and hold the perpetrators responsible, but because of red tape and lack of funding, the criminals are free and their victims continue live in fear. In the past five years, we've made headway in the backlog, but we still have a long road to go before it is eliminated."

Thank you Joe Biden!! And thank you to for the heads up.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Men Murder Women

In a new study titled "When Men Murder Women: An Analysis of 2006 Homicide Date" by The Violence Policy Center and released on September 29, 2008, statistics reveal horrifyingly high numbers of women murdered by intimate partners. In fact, women were 12x more likely to be killed by a man they knew than a male stranger. Furthermore, the study reports that "Compared to a black man, a black woman is far more likely to be killed by her spouse, an intimate acquaintance, or a family member than by a stranger."

Nevada ranks the #1 State where women are murdered by men they know for the second year in a row.

Friday, September 26, 2008

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence can look like many different things. It can also include types of sexual assault. There is also a new term called "Intimate Partner Violence" (IPV) which refers to abuse between two people in a close relationship, including past and present partners. No matter what someone's gender, sexual orientation, race or class ANYONE can be a victim of domestic violence. The power and control wheel (this one posted on The Riley Center website) illustrates some of the behaviors that are abuse:

Sometimes people do not even realize that what is happening to them is considered domestic violence and that they have a legal and human right to protection. Here is one story from a man who was beaten by his wife:

"I'm your basic middle class male who was raised to respect women and never hit them. I consider myself a good provider and who has had some success after my hard work has paid off with my authoring 2 best selling books and having sold a self-started company. I work hard and am a decent man. I am also one of those in total disbelief this would ever happen to me.

I hate the term battered man, I'm a DV survivor. And I can say the system (judicial, police, legal, local and state government agencies) does virtually nothing to help a man survive when they're on the receiving end of a female sociopath's attacks. In fact, the system has, in some ways, injured me more than my ex wife ever could.

My wife slapped me hard after I said no to her wanting to get donor sperm in order to get pregnant. Keep in mind her fertility doctor said there were NO physical problems with either of us to prevent her from getting pregnant. Keep in mind we'd only been trying for 4 months, but she felt entitled and was willing to beat anyone down who got in the way. . ."

You can read the rest here, as well as other stories from survivors.


Monday, September 22, 2008

The new loveisrespect ads

Check out the new video by loveisrespect, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. We think these are great not only because they advertise the services at loveisrespect but also because they educate people about abuse.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Thanks to Jewish Women International you can read personal stories from victims of domestic violence every day throughout October by clicking on this image below.

Domestic Violence is a serious problem in this country. Help stop domestic violence by educating yourself and those around you. During the month of October, will post more about things you can do to help. You are already helping by being aware of the problem! Thanks for staying connected through Reports.

You can also check out The Voices and Faces Project, a national documentary project which provides a place for sexual assault survivors to connect, while also raising public awareness to a very important issue.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Men Can Help Stop Domestic Violence

Jackson Katz is an advocate, educator and filmmaker working to help stop domestic violence. We love his website, where you can read 10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence.

We also think this video trailer for Generation M: Misogyny in Media and Culture by Dr. Thomas Keith, gives a great depiction of how the media influences gender relations and contributes to domestic violence.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Spot Light On: Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

The Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA) is a network of 21 statewide programs providing shelter, legal advocacy, counseling and crisis assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault since 1977.

Some stats about Alaska taken from a Public Opinion Survey conducted by Hellenthal and Assoc., 2006.
  • Alaska rates as the number one state in America for sexual assault and murders of women by their abusers
  • Almost 75% of people in Alaska have or know someone who has experienced domestic violence
  • 73.1% of Alaskans can name their local domestic violence resource
For more facts and stats about Alaska, you can also read this study published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sexual Coercion and Violence: A New Study by The Family Violence Prevention Fund

In a report released yesterday by Child Trends through The Family Violence Prevention Fund, reports that approximately "18 percent of women age 18 to 24 report having experienced forced sexual intercourse at least once in their lives." Besides bringing to light the shocking numbers of young women who are being coerced into sex, the report discusses what implications this has for reproductive health, such as forced pregnancy, HIV, and infertility. Read the study here.

The FVPF's new initiative, called kNOw More is designed to explore the consequences of sexual coercion. You can read more about them at

The study shares stories from real women about how sexual coercion affected there lives, and how it was entwined with emotional and physical abuse in their relationships. One woman's horrific story is here:

Jessica says: “I became pregnant less than four months into dating him. He refused to give me funds to purchase birth control, and always refused to use condoms after we became exclusive… I had minimal options. When we decided to continue the pregnancy and marry, the overt abuse started within days of our wedding; it continued throughout the marriage. He was verbally, emotionally, financially, sexually, and physically abusive to me. He would videotape me during vulnerable moments, after abusing me verbally to the point where I was in hysterics, or try to video tape us against my wishes while having sex. He would always refuse my attempts at birth control.”

This is a really important issue to take notice of. Look for more posts at reports on the intersection of domestic violence and reproductive health.


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Nearly Half of the Murders of Women in NYC are a Result of Domestic Violence

Since the presidential race has been taking up most of the media air waves, there has been less coverage on domestic violence issues than usual. However, Gothamist just posted a review of the Health Department's report about domestic violence in NYC between 2003 and 2005. Among many alarming facts, the message is clear: Domestic violence is a huge problem within this society and it needs more attention. Read the Gothamist review here or see the actual PDF here.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Book Review: Girl Bomb

"Girl Bomb", by Janice Erlbaum, is a memoir about growing up as a child living in a home with domestic violence. Well written and amazingly insightful, Erlbuam lets the reader into her world of abuse, drugs, sex and homelessness. After Erlbaum's mother takes back her abusive husband, Erlbaum grabs her back pack and walks out the door of their Brooklyn apartment. Now homeless on the streets of NYC at the age of 15, she finds her self bouncing between shelters for teen girls. Her story takes you through the life of a teenager battling a drug addiction, having promiscuous sex, watching her peers die of overdoses and all the while mourning the loss of her mother and only family to an abusive husband. "Girlbomb" sheds a new light on the effects domestic violence has on the family system, specifically children. Highly recommended.

Monday, August 25, 2008

WA State Allows Victims to Testify Against Sex Offenders and Rapists After the Statute of Limitations Has Passed

A new law in Washington State now allows victims of sex offenders to testify in court even if the statute of limitations for the crime has passed. In a case against Roger Scherner, 79, the state allowed prior victims who had not previously come forth with information about abuse to testify in court. One woman, now 49, testified about her abuse by Scherner that happened 33 years ago while she was on a family vacation. She did not tell anyone about the abuse and the statute of limitations has expired.

Previously the law had only allowed prosecutors to bring the alleged sex offender's past history into court under very strict guidelines. Advocates of the new law, passed in June, hope that allowing previous victims to testify will help convict sex offenders by establishing a pattern of abuse and showing that the alleged person is capable of committing such a crime, and has done so in the past, even if they have not be charged until now.

To to read more, please visit the article in The Seattle Times "Rape trial lets family share decades of pain, secrets".

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Program for Batters in Brooklyn

The success of Batterer Intervention programs is a highly debated topic within the domestic violence community. Are they helpful or not? Can a batterer change their behavior? Most domestic violence resources focus on helping women leave their abusers, but there is a small focus of the community which is reaching out to the batterers in the domestic violence relationship. WNYC reported on a new type of batterer invention program in Brooklyn. You can read the transcript of the interview here.