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."