Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Charlie Sheen arrested on domestic violence charges

Charlie Sheen, one of the highest paid actors on television, is no stranger to scandal. On December 25 his current wife, Brooke Mueller, called 911 after Sheen held a knife to her throat and threatened to have her killed, she said. Sheen was arrested on second-degree assault and menacing charges, both felonies, and criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

Even though recent reports say Brooke Mueller is now recanting her story, saying that she was drunk, it is still possible for the state of Colorado to prosecute Sheen. At WomensLaw.org, people often email us to ask if their abusive husband or boyfriend will be charged with a crime even if they don't want to testify against him or if they change their story, saying that it was an accident, for example. However, if the abuser is charged with a crime, generally, it is not up to the victim whether or not the charges are dropped. It will be up to the district attorney. Sometimes, the police and the prosecutor go forward with a domestic violence case, even if the victim didn't ask them to or asks them not to. The reason why this happens is that the abuser has broken the law and the prosecutor has a duty to the state to prosecute those who break the law. Even though someone is the victim of the crime, the prosecutor represents the state’s interests, not theirs.

Some states or counties have a specific policy against victimless prosecution. But if I state does not, then there is not a cut and dry policy, whether they go forward will likely be determined by either how much other evidence they would have against the abuser without the victim's testimony -- such as a police officer's testimony, medical records from the hospital, witnesses' statements, etc.

To read more about domestic violence laws in your state, including filing for a restraining order or navigating the court system, please visit WomensLaw.org.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seeking Social Media Intern

Are you excited about social media? Are you an advocate for women’s rights? If so, you may be the intern we’re seeking to compliment our dynamic team.

At WomensLaw.org, we believe the Internet is the most powerful tool for communication and information sharing. The Mission of WomensLaw.org is to provide easy-to-understand legal information and resources to women living with or escaping domestic violence or sexual assault. By reaching out through the Internet, we empower women and girls to lead independent lives, free from abuse.

We are looking for someone that is excited and passionate about what we do and can convey that to any audience. The position is responsible for creating awareness of the WomensLaw.org website through social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and a blog to name a few. The ideal candidate for this position must have a deep passion for social networking, strong written communication skills and must be an active participant in the social media sphere.

Responsibilities include:
• Work on projects related to online marketing, publicity, and research
• Assist in the development and execution of online marketing and promotion campaigns, including contributing to brainstorming sessions and conducting market research
• Work with Director of Outreach and Operations to manage WomensLaw.org on Twitter
• Read and engage with related blogs, write biweekly posts about domestic violence in the news
• Identify additional marketing opportunities, including developing forward-thinking strategies for penetrating social networking opportunities
• Other administrative duties and responsibilities as assigned


Personal or professional experience using social media• Exceptional interpersonal, communication and organizational skills
• Excellent research and writing skills
• Familiarity with social networking: facebook, twitter, blogging etc
Established connections to women’s rights blogs, etc
• Strong computer skills
• Must be pro-active, detailed oriented (No typos in tweets!)
- Ability to work independently
• Candidate must be reliable
• Internship require a commitment of at least 20 hours per week/ anytime between 9am – 6pm Mon - Friday
• Must love to engage with others online through a variety of mediums
• Self-starter/ entrepreneurial spirit
• Exceptional organizational skills, including ability to excel in multi-task environment, good follow through and high attention to detail.

Our office is located in DUMBO, Brooklyn; however some of the job responsibilities could be conducted from your home or office. This can be discussed at a later date pending your advancement in the interview process.

To be considered for the position please email Nina Gilbert, Director of Outreach and Operations, at nina [at] womenslaw.org. Please include a resume, your Twitter account, and any blogs you have contributed to or manage, including a Tumblr account if applicable. This is an UNPAID position -- neither health benefits nor salary will be provided.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Gloria Gaynor Tips Her Crown to WomensLaw.org!


Monday, December 14, 2009

A Quick Overview of the Legal System

The legal system can be confusing. That's why WomensLaw.org is here to help you navigate your way through laws which can sometimes feel like a complicated maze. Read more on the website or send us an email and we'll respond to you within 3 business days.

The legal system is divided into two areas: civil law and criminal law. Separate courts govern (control) these two areas of the law.

One of the most confusing things about the legal system is the difference between civil cases and criminal cases. In domestic violence situations, there may be both civil and criminal cases occurring at the same time as a result of the same violent act. You may want to pursue both civil and criminal actions for maximum protection. The major differences have to do with who takes the case to court and the reason for the case.

Civil Law
In a civil domestic violence action, you are asking the court to protect you from the person abusing you. You are not asking the court to send that person to jail for committing a crime. However, if the abuser violates the civil court order, he may be sent to jail for the violation. In a civil case, you are the person bringing the case against the abuser and (in most circumstances), you have the right to withdraw (drop) the case if you want to.

Criminal Law
The criminal law system handles all cases that involve violations of criminal law such as harassment, assault, murder, theft, etc. A criminal complaint involves your abuser being charged with a crime. In a criminal case, the prosecutor (also called the district attorney) is the one who has control over whether the case against the abuser continues or not. It is the county/state who has brought the case against the abuser, not the victim. It is possible that if you do not want the case to continue (if you do not want to “press charges”), the prosecutor might decide to drop the criminal charges but this is not necessarily true. The prosecutor can also continue to prosecute the abuser against your wishes and could even issue a subpoena (a court order) to force you to testify at the trial.


Safer Cyber Shopping

WomensLaw.org is dedicated to helping people learn about internet safety. You can read tips on Internet Security page on our website. Below are some tips for shopping safely online this season from Examiner.com.

Here are five tips for staying safe online this holiday season (and the rest of the year too):

1. Shop From a Secure PC

If possible, avoid using the family PC that your teens or children use to chat with their buddies and play games online. Those machines, especially if they're a Microsoft Windows computer, are often already infested with spyware. An infected system will undermine all of the other precautions you might take to avoid online fraud.

Before you start shopping online, make sure your system is running with up-to-date anti-virus software, and that you're using a firewall to block potential intruders. Just as important, be sure that your computer has the latest Microsoft software security updates installed.

2. Shop Smart, and Only at Sites You Know & Trust

Avoid search-engine shopping, which can often lead to random merchants you've never heard of. For the safest and most hassle-free online shopping experience, it's best to stick with merchants you know and trust. Most importantly, make sure you have read and understand the merchant's shipping and return policies before making any purchases.

Be sure to print a copy of each receipt or confirmation e-mail you receive. Keep all of your receipts in a folder and filed away in a safe place.

Never buy anything advertised via unsolicited e-mail. Such offers are almost always a scam. Criminals even build attractive storefronts for fake businesses that close up shop within days of accepting your online order.

Research unfamiliar sellers. The Better Business Bureau and RipoffReport may offer insights on otherwise legitimate companies that have generated more than their fair share of consumer complaints.

3. Shop with Your Credit Card

Most online merchants accept both credit and debit cards. Under federal law, credit card issuers can only hold customers liable for the first $50 of fraudulent transactions, and most issuers will waive even that amount.

While debit card issuers have largely adopted that same approach, your bank account could be overdrawn while you dispute fraudulent charges, particularly if you don't notice the fraud immediately. Experts say credit cards still present less potential for hassle when dealing with your financial institution should unauthorized charges show up later on a monthly statement.

"It's still harder to get your money back from fraudulent transactions on a debit card unless the process is transacted in exactly the way the bank wants to be, and a lot of times consumers have no way of knowing whether a given purchase meets those requirements," said Avivah Litan, a fraud analyst with research firm Gartner Inc.

Never, I repeat, never, shop at sites that ask you to wire your payment or send money orders.

4. Consider Alternative Payment Methods

For the truly fraud-wary online shopper, there are still plenty of alternatives to entering your account number at multiple Web sites. Many financial institutions and card issuers -- including Bank of America, Citibank, Discover, and PayPal -- offer customers the ability to generate unique, "virtual" or "one-time use" account numbers that are good for a single transaction or a handful of specified transactions only and cannot be reused.

While virtual account numbers may make shoppers feel safer online, they may be more hassle than they're worth, Litan said. "These virtual numbers generally are there to protect [the card issuer] more than the consumer, but they do give some online shoppers more peace of mind."

Gartner's recent studies show online shoppers are starting to turn to other alternative payment methods, such as pre-paid gift and credit cards, and services like billmelater.com. The latter allows online shoppers to shop online at some well-known retail outlets without ever having to enter a credit card number (the company requests your name, address, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number to decide whether to grant you instant credit). A number of participating sites are offering perks for purchases made through billmelater.com, such as free shipping and deferred payment for up to six months.

5. Get a Handle on Spam

If you worry that giving away your e-mail address at multiple online merchants might wind up cluttering your inbox with more junk mail, consider creating a new address for each new Web site that requires you to enter one as part of the registration process. This allows you take action if a merchant you're doing business with sells or rents your e-mail address to marketers.

You don't really need to create a brand new e-mail address for each site: Some free Webmail providers -- most notably Google's Gmail -- will allow you to create as many "aliases" for the same e-mail address as you want.

Here's how it works. Let's say your Gmail address is janedoe@gmail.com, and you're being asked to enter an e-mail address at widgets.com as part of their online ordering process. Simply enter the name of the retailer as part your real e-mail address by using the "+" sign. In this case, you'd enter janedoe+widgets@gmail.com. That way, future communications from that retailer or any company that happens to share that particular marketing list will come addressed to janedoe+widgets@gmail.com.

Later on, if a particular online merchant generates a wave of junk e-mail offers, you can create e-mail filters to automatically send all e-mail addressed to the custom address you created to the virtual trash bin.

Happy Shopping!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Please consider supporting WomensLaw.org

Dear Friends,

In today’s economy, more women are experiencing domestic violence, a direct effect of the country’s soaring unemployment rates. Far too many women remain in abusive relationships simply because they don’t know about their rights or the legal protections created to help them.

Through a website, email hotline, and community workshops, WomensLaw.org empowers domestic violence victims with vital legal information and support, touching the lives of nearly one million individuals across the U.S. each year. We give women the information they need to take concrete steps towards escaping abuse.

Nearly 75% of the victims we help are mothers. Here is one mother’s story:

Today, we heard from a mother whose husband’s emotional abuse became violent soon after their baby was born. She wants to leave, but she is afraid he will charge her with abandonment and gain custody, as he’s promised he’d do. Through our email hotline, we explained complicated custody laws to her in a compassionate and plain-language manner, helping her think through the safest way she can leave and making certain that her chances for custody are not compromised. She is now feeling ready for the long road ahead. WomensLaw.org will be there to support her, helping her navigate a confusing legal system, for as long as she needs.

In the last twelve months alone, we have seen traffic to our website increase by more than 60%. In 2010, tens of thousands more women will be counting on us to provide them with the information they need to escape abuse. Similarly, hundreds of shelters, domestic violence coalitions, and other service providers will be relying on us to provide the information they need to help their clients.

We are deeply committed to supporting women and their families, especially at a time when they need us more than ever. We need your help to make this possible. Our goal is to raise at least $50,000 through this end-of-year campaign so we can keep up with the demand for our services. Please help us by making a tax-deductible donation today. Thank you!


Elizabeth Martin
Executive Director



WomensLaw.org had a very productive 2009! This year, we:

Celebrated with Gloria Gaynor, the Queen of Disco! Gloria Gaynor and hosts Celerie Kemble, Boykin Curry, Bronson van Wyck, Mariska Hargitay, Amanda Brooks and Moby, put on a Night of Disco for WomensLaw.org. The party featured performances by The Little Death and Gloria Gaynor, celebrating the re-launch of her eternal hit “I Will Survive” and the 10th Anniversary of WomensLaw.org. (Our 10th Anniversary is technically in February, but we thought it was a perfect time to start celebrating!) Look for Gloria Gaynor in the press and take a closer look at her wrist where you’ll see a sparkly bracelet emblazoned with the words “SURVIVE” and WomensLaw.org. We’ll send you one, too, when you make a donation to WomensLaw.org! Check out the pictures and read more here: WomensLaw.org/survive

Received a Webby Award- Jury Prize for Best Website in the law category.
The Webby Awards honor excellence on the Internet and are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. (Some, including us, say it is like the Oscars for websites, only we didn’t get to wear gowns.)

Served 5,281 women through our Email Hotline, reaching all 50 states. Through our Hotline, we talked women through complicated legal information, such as custody and divorce, eligibility for restraining orders, and parental kidnapping (impacting a parent who may want to take her children out of state). We also continued to provide a first line of support, providing tips for safety planning, helping victims think through their decisions, and making referrals for local assistance.

Provided community workshops for 130 women in New York City. Through our Latina Outreach Project, we partnered with two local organizations, Voces Latinas and the Jewish Board of Family and Children Services, to educate their clients about their rights and provide in-person support.

Trained more than 60 lawyers in North Carolina to represent victims of domestic violence. Through a partnership with the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, we supported advocates and helped to improve legal support for domestic violence victims around the state.

Women continually tell us that we are providing them with the information and personalized support they need to escape abuse:

I just wanted to express that I love you guys and I don't even know you. I just submitted some questions, but I have been following your site for years. Whoever wrote it did an EXCELLENT METICULOUS and SENSITIVE job explaining some pertinent details regarding domestic issues in a way that most women can understand. Thank you so much to those writers and editors. XXOO

I have to tell you I am so pleased to see this website for women! Having been a police officer for 16 years, now retired, however having gone through a horrendous custody battle from an abusive spouse, there was not this type of resource available back then. I found this while researching a paper for college that I am doing on domestic violence! Thank God for you guys, bravo!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Please vote in Chase Community Giving on Facebook

The Chase Community Giving program invites Facebook users to nominate nonprofit organizations with operating budgets of no more than $10 million working in the areas of education, housing, the environment, health and human services, arts and culture, and animal welfare to receive a grant from Chase. The initiative is in addition to Chase's traditional philanthropic efforts to higher-profile nonprofits. If the effort is successful, the bank will likely commit more of its annual giving through this method of crowd sourcing nominations of smaller local charities. The one hundred organizations that receive the most votes by December 11 will each receive $25,000 from Chase.


Monday, November 30, 2009

Making Changes to a Custody Order

Remember that a custody order is never permanent. If circumstances change or if your ex violates the custody order, you can always file to modify or amend the custody order. To change a custody order, you need to file a petition to modify (change) the custody order and you have to prove a "substantial change in circumstances" has happened since the order was issued. If the court believes that there has been a substantial change and that modifying the order would be in the children's best interests, the court could changed the order. Having a lawyer help you prepare the paperwork and represent you in court is usually best since it can be difficult to do it on your own. Here is a link to lawyer's in your state: http://www.womenslaw.org/gethelp_type.php?type_name=Finding%20a%20Lawyer

Friday, November 20, 2009

Happy Friday from WomensLaw.org!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Shannon Lambert for L'Oreal's WOMEN of WORTH

As a 15-year-old victim of acquaintance rape, Shannon Lambert felt isolated and scared. After four years of keeping her attack a secret, Shannon finally reached out online to seek help and eventually created a Web site telling her story. Shannon was asked to appear on 20/20 to share her story of healing and, in anticipation of abuse survivors seeing the show and needing support, Shannon started a small message board. This board eventually became Pandora’s Project, an online resource that connects survivors with others facing similar issues across the globe.

One of the best aspects of Pandora’s Project is that it is wide-reaching, providing support for the estimated one in six people who will experience rape or sexual abuse in their lifetime. The survivor-to-survivor support offered within the message board is vital, especially for people who live in rural areas and may not have access to conventional support groups. Pandora’s Project often serves as the first place for survivors to shed shame and truly talk about their experience, leading them to real help in their lives.

Pandora’s Project, funded entirely by donations, facilitates a chat room for its members, hosting guest speakers who share information and answer questions in their field of expertise. Survivors also have access to the lending library, a program that provides free books and DVDs via mail about healing from rape and sexual abuse to any survivor living in the United States. New in 2009, Pandora’s Project will host its first sexual violence recovery retreat to offer support and workshops on topics including stress relief and building intimacy in relationships. With Shannon’s successful fundraising, Pandora’s Project has been able to offer financial assistance to more than half of the attendees at this year’s retreat.

What started as a simple message board has transformed into Pandora’s Project, the largest international online sexual abuse survivor community, serving more than 20,000 survivors worldwide. That’s why Shannon is a 2009 Woman of Worth.

Please vote for Shannon on the right side of this page:


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"I've got all my life to live. I've got all my love to give. I'll survive. I will survive." - Gloria Gaynor

A beacon of hope, strength and empowerment for all women around the world - - watch the music video of I Will Survive. You have the right to live, love and survive!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Interview with our Program Director

Denisse Wolfenzon, Program Director, has been a pivotal part of the WomensLaw.org team since 2006. We asked her a few questions about womens rights.

Q) What do you think is the most important thing we can do to end violence against women?

A) Violence against women groups and organizations should work together so that they do not duplicate efforts and achieve more concrete goals and we should continue to advocate for a more effective and responsive legal system for victims of violence. Most importantly however, we should involve men and boys in these efforts.

Q) What can someone do if they are trying to leave their abusive relationship?

A) It is important for victims to make his/her own decision about leaving the abusive relationship. They know better when anyone about when it is right to leave. Advocates should consider every person's situation individually and create a safety planning that is right for them. Safety planning is to think of practical ideas/tips to try to stay safe while still in an abusive relationship, when they are about to leave or after they left the relationship. Talk to a social worker or an advocate about their options.

Q) What can friends and family do to help someone in an abusive relationship?

A) If family and friends want to help someone in an abusive relationship, they can start by listening. Showing their unconditional support and letting them know that they are available whenever they need to be. Never judge someone who is in an abusive relationship if she/he is not yet ready to leave it. Leaving an abusive relationship takes courage, support, resources and time.

Q) How did you get involved in helping victims of domestic violence?

A) My interest started when I was an intern at Madre, an international women’s human rights organization in NYC. I assisted in a research project about Violence against Indigenous Women. Then, I realized the tremendous impact of the legal system in issues of domestic violence and the urgent necessity to provide and disseminate accurate legal information to ensure victim’s safety. WomensLaw.org is a comprehensive website that contains crucial information about domestic violence and sexual assault, and, I believe, a crucial resource for helping women and men who are in abusive situations.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday!

"If you are afraid that the other parent will take your children away without your consent, you can ask the judge to issue an emergency custody order, which most states provide."

You can ask the judge to include in the order that the other parent cannot take the children out of the state, or that the other parent may only have supervised visitation. Custody and Parental Kidnapping issues can be very complicated so it is always a good idea to talk to a lawyer in your state. Find a lawyer in your state or read more about Custody and Parental Kidnapping on WomensLaw.org.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How Paternity Can Effect Custody

WomensLaw.org receives hundreds of emails to the Email Hotline every year asking about what a father's custody rights are if the mother and father are not married.

Whether the father has custody rights already or whether he would have to go to court to file for custody rights depends on whether his paternity has been established. Establishing paternity is when a biological father does something to legally declare himself the father. A mother's custody rights are automatically established at birth but a father has to do something to declare his custody rights if you are not married. Was the father there at the hospital during delivery? Did he ever sign the birth certificate or any other papers at the hospital? Is he paying child support through the state? If so, you may have already acknowledged that he is the father. If not, he may have to go to court to file a petition to establish his paternity. The specific laws for this are different in each state which is why is can be extremely helpful to talk to a lawyer who specializes in custody to find out if his paternity has been established and, if so, what your rights are under your state's law. You can find lawyers in your state on Finding a Lawyer pages of WomensLaw.org.

Even if his paternity was established, if you disagree with giving him the visitation he wants, you may want to make him file for visitation in court. However, sometimes this could backfire because he may end up with more visitation than you want him to have (or even shared custody). Therefore, it is sometimes better to try to work something out regarding visitation rather than leaving it up to a judge. Talking to a lawyer about what type of visitation you want him to have and what he may realistically end up with if you leave it up to a judge may help you decide whether you want to go forward with a court case or whether you want to work out something informal with him.

Once his paternity is established, it may allow him to have visitation or custody rights to the child but it could also allow you to go to court to get child support from him.

If you need more information about your specific situation please write to the Email Hotline.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

About WomensLaw.org

Watch our new video on YouTube!


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Spotlight: NC Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Project

The North Carolina Legal Empowerment and Advocacy Project, a joint project between WomensLaw.org and the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCCADV), is in its second year of service providing help to victims of abuse and their families.

Under the direction of Brenda Rivera-Sanchez, the Legal Project Coordinator, pro bono lawyers in NC are recruited and trained to represent domestic violence victims in court about issues like restraining orders, custody, divorce and housing laws. The project also helps domestic violence victims through the WomensLaw.org Email Hotline and the NCCADV telephone helpline (1-888-232-9124).

Read more about the laws in North Carolina on WomensLaw.org or contact Nina (at) WomensLaw.org for more information about the project.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to your own privacy."

To read more about your rights visit WomensLaw.org.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"If you are in an abusive relationship and need to break your lease or you are facing any difficulty with your land lord, there may be rights in your state that can protect you."

You can read about your specific rights if you live in New York or D.C., otherwise please contact us with your situation and we can provide information for you.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Call for Photographs

We are looking for people to send us head shots of themselves to be used in our Annual Report (due out in October), which is basically a catalog about WomensLaw.org and the work we do. Your head shot would appear in a photo strip like the one pictured above. The strip will run through the tops of the pages of the report and there will be about 40 different faces. NO identifying information (except your face) will be published in the report.

If you are interested in sending a photo of yourself please email an image to Nina Gilbert at Nina@WomensLaw.org. The picture does not need to be high quality since it will be relatively small. It could even be your Facebook photo or a cell phone pic. The picture does need to have you looking straight into the camera and preferably convey the feeling of being serious, determined, proud and strong.

Nina will send you back a model release to sign (digitally or by hand) which will let us use your photo.

Thanks to everyone who can help out!


Monday, August 17, 2009

What's New on WomensLaw.org

We are constantly updating and adding information to WomensLaw.org. To stay up to date check out the What's New on this Site page. Here are some things we recently added:
  • If you live in New York, read about what to do if you need to break a lease and what your rights are as a tenant on the new Housing Laws page.
  • Learn about Marital / Partner Rape. It happens to people of all races and classes. You always have to right to say NO, even if its your boyfriend or husband.
If you are looking for information on WomensLaw.org that we do not have or you cannot find, please email your questions or suggestions to the Email Hotline.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to take control of your own life and change it if you are not happy with the way it is."

If you need help knowing what your options are for leaving a situation that is harmful to you, please visit WomensLaw.org for info and resources.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Our Webby Award Arrived

Take a look at the awesome Webby Award that arrived at our office today. WomensLaw.org won the Webby in the Law category back in May and we are still beaming with pride. Thanks everyone who helped us get here!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to make mistakes."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Spot Light: Office Interns

Under the direction of Legal Director, Stacey Sarver, interns Amy Durrance (front) and Tracie Palmer joined us for the summer from Georgetown Law School and UPenn Law School. Amy and Tracie helped research, update and write information for WomensLaw.org.

Check out some of their contributions by reading the Marital / Partner Rape pages, Protective Orders for Stalking in Virginia and Parental Kidnapping in Pennsylvania. Find out what else is new on WomensLaw.org by visiting our What's New on this Site page.

Also joining us this summer was Angelica Sgouros from
Connecticut College. Angelica brings her expertise in social
media to WomensLaw.org and has helped us maintain this blog and engaged the domestic violence and women's rights groups on Twitter. She has also written information about Pet Safety, which will be posted on the website shortly.

We are sad to see our terrific interns return to their respective academic institutions, but we are so grateful for their contributions to WomensLaw.org.

If you are interested in becoming an Intern please email me your resume and a brief summary about yourself to Nina@WomensLaw.org.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to be angry and protest if you are treated unfairly or abusively by anyone."

If you want to know your legal options or just need some support, please contact us and someone will respond to your question within 3 business days.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spot Light: Nina Gilbert, Program Associate

During Nina Gilbert’s two years with WomensLaw.org, Nina has expanded the organization into social media, accessing communities like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and creating WomensLaw Reports. By working proactively on the forefront of media trends, Nina has been able to reach more people across the country who are in need of the support and information on WomensLaw.org. With a deep dedication to women’s rights, Nina’s education and expertise support the organization in numerous capacities.

Listen to Nina talk about WomensLaw.org in a podcast on Hey Brooklyn!, on the radio at Lite106.7FM or watch her on television on "Toxic Love" (coming soon!).


Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Media Hit: WomensLaw.org in NYTimes Bestseller

Looking for a new read? Check out Lady Killer by Lisa Scottoline, and find WomensLaw.org cited on page 84.

Safety on Facebook

Ever Google yourself? What's on the Internet that others can see? Knowing the principles of Internet Security can not only keep you safe from Identity Theft, but can also be an important part of leaving an abusive relationship.

Here are some things you can do to keep yourself safe on the Internet:
  • Using a made-up name and email address when you post any sort of comments on blogs or other sites that are accessible to the public can cut down on sites that the abuser can find if he searches for you on the Internet.*
  • Before buying anything off of the Internet, check to make sure that the site is secure. The site’s web address should start with https:// and there should be a lock icon on the page somewhere (a little picture of a padlock). If you only put your information into a secure website, you can decrease the chances that an abuser who knows how to get information from an unsecured site can get access to your personal information. To be extra secure, you can choose to not buy things off the Internet. If there is something that can only be purchased on-line that you really need, ask a family member or friend to buy it for you using his/her name and address.
  • If asked by a website if they can share your information with “associates of the site” or “selected partners,” say “No.” If you agree to let them share your information, you will have no control over how any site that is given your information will use it.
  • Be aware of how much indentifying information you are posting on any of your social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, or blogs. Remember to consider what information you want everyone, including an abuser, to be able to see.** If you moved to get away from the abuser, there is a possibility he could identify your location through pictures, videos, or general information on profiles.
  • Also, anytime you buy a magazine subscription, give your name and phone number to a cashier at a store, or provide your personal information to any company, that information could find its way onto the Internet. Think carefully before giving out your personal information to anyone.
Read about deleting your Facebook profile, keeping your home address confidential and other Internet Security tips at WomensLaw.org.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to call the police if the abuser shows up to your home uninvited, even if you do not have a restraining order."

Visiting WomensLaw.org Staying Safe page to read more about what you can do.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Spotlight: Stop Family Violence

Stop Family Violence was founded in July 2000 after the Violence Against Women Act - crucial federal legislation providing $3.5 billion in funding for domestic violence and sexual assault programs nationwide - looked as if it were about to expire. In just 3 months time, Stop Family Violence organized people from across the nation to lobby Congress for VAWA's re-authorization.

The stories people sent into Congress through Stop Family Violence have been entered into the Congressional Record, incorporated into a brief to the US Supreme Court, and used to shape national policy guidelines. Stop Family Violence’s action campaigns have been instrumental in securing passage of the Violence Against Women Act, have blocked advancement of dangerous “fathers rights’ legislation, influenced US Attorney General decisions on refugee status for battered immigrant women, and helped ensure safety provisions in welfare reform legislation so that abused women aren’t forced to participate in marriage promotion programs.

Check out the website to see how you can contact leaders in Washington to tell your story or support helpful legislation. The website also provides detailed information about getting help and getting involved with the organization.


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime

Come on, admit it. You've probably spent at least one solid day of your life watching marathon movies on Lifetime. I know I have. They are generally heartbreaking thrillers which feature a strong female figure who survives something traumatic only to come out triumphant in the end.

Now you can satisfy your need for drama and female empowerment with Lifetime's new movie, "Drop Dead Diva". When beautiful-but-vapid model wannabe Deb (Brooke D’Orsay) has a fatal car accident, she suddenly finds herself in front of Heaven’s gatekeeper, Fred (Ben Feldman), who declares her a self-centered “zero.” Outraged, she attempts to persuade Fred to return her to her shallow existence but is accidentally relegated to the body of the recently deceased Jane Bingum (Brooke Elliott). A brilliant, thoughtful and plus-size attorney with a loyal assistant, Teri (Margaret Cho), Jane has always lived in the shadow of her more comely colleagues whereas Deb has always relied on her external beauty. Now, by a twist of fate and a bolt of divine intervention, Deb must come to terms with inhabiting Jane’s curvier frame in the ultimate showdown between brains and beauty.

Guest stars throughout the first season of Drop Dead Diva include Rosie O’Donnell, Tim Gunn, Liza Minnelli, Paul Abdul, Delta Burke, Sharon Lawrence, Kathy Najimy, Nia Vardalos, Jorja Fox, Teri Polo, Elliott Gould, Chuck Woolery and Diedrich Bader.

Tune in Sundays at 9pm to see what happens! WomensLaw.org is a fan and we know you will be too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Help Allstate Choose A Charity to Award $100,000

Beginning July 15 and running through September 13, The Allstate Foundation is asking Allstate Employees and the public to vote for the recipient of a $100,000 grant through its Web site www.ClickToEmpower.org and Facebook Fan Page.

The organizations competing to receive the grant share The Allstate Foundation’s goal of economically empowering domestic violence survivors. Participating organizations are Charity Cars, Family Justice Center Alliance, Safe Horizon, and YWCA USA.

Visitors to the Web site can increase the chances of their favorite charity by “voting” once a day. The organization that reaches the most votes at the end of the campaign will receive $100,000 and the remaining three will each receive a $10,000 grant. Visitors to the site can also learn more about each of the highlighted organizations and their domestic violence programs. Just a few clicks of your mouse can help support those in need, so don’t forget to vote once every 24 hours until September 13.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to say NO to any sexual acts, even if its to your husband or boyfriend."

Read more about Marital / Partner Rape on WomensLaw.org.

Monday, July 13, 2009

WomensLaw.org on LiteFM

Check out Nina Gilbert, Program Associate, and Stacey Sarver, Legal Director, talk about WomensLaw.org and domestic violence on Lite 106.7 FM. The show aired Sunday June 12, 2009.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Emotional Abuse - What Is It?

Emotional Abuse, also called Psychological Abuse, is characterized by one person subjecting another person to behavior which is psychologically harmful. This behavior is intended to threaten, humiliate or de-grade someone for the purposes of control. Victims of emotional abuse may feel depressed, anxious, insecure and worthless.

What does Emotional Abuse look like?

  • Being called names by your partner.
  • Using words to shame
  • Critical, sarcastic, mocking words meant to put you down either alone or in front of other people.
  • Yelling, swearing and screaming.
  • Using threats to intimidate.
  • Your abuser may blame you for his/her loss of control.
  • Your feelings are dismissed. (Ex. Refusing to discuss issues that upset you.)
  • You often wonder why you feel so bad. (Ex. You feel depressed and have even wondered if you are crazy.)
Find help in your state from the American Self Help Group Clearinghouse or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to be human - NOT PERFECT."

Read more about your rights on WomensLaw.org.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The ROSE Fund

The R.O.S.E. Fund (Regaining One's Self Esteem) is a national non-profit organization supporting survivors of domestic violence by helping them regain their confidence and independence. The Rose Fund provides free plastic surgery to fix physical injuries caused by abuse and can also help women earn a college degree through a scholarship program.

Medical procedures range from scar revisions and dental work to cosmetic reconstructive surgery for the head neck, and face. Physically scarred by the experience of abuse, The R.O.S.E. Fund gives women a fresh start and helps them to regain their self-esteem.

Click here to apply for surgery or an academic scholarship. The Rose Fund is located in Boston, but provides help to people across the country.


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tips for Economic Empowerment

Here are some helpful tips from The Allstate Foundation for someone who has suffered economic abuse to get their financial security back:

• Get a copy of your credit report and monitor your credit often. Contest false charges.
• Open a post office box (PO Box) and change your mailing address for all financial information you receive before or after leaving the abuser.
• Change PIN codes and passwords on: utilities accounts, cell phone service, ATM/debit cards, online banking, email.
• Make changes to documents such as insurance plans, wills, or trusts and appoint a new person if the abuser was the designee.

For more information on economic empowerment after domestic violence, go to ClicktoEmpower. For some ways to help the economic empowerment of domestic violence survivors in your community, check out these tips.

Economic Abuse: What Is It?

A new poll conducted by The Allstate Foundation and The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) reveals 44% of people surveyed say the most difficult barrier to leaving an abusive relationship is financial security, yet 86% of Americans do not associate “economic abuse” with domestic violence.

Money can be one method an abuser uses to control and manipulate someone. Abusers may demand control of their partner’s earnings or government benefit payments, or deny her access to money in order to make her wholly dependent on him. Sometimes this financially controlling behavior takes the form of stealing or punishing someone when they spend money. Other times the abuser may directly prevent their partner from being independently financially secure by destroying the victim’s credit rating by running up debt by failing to make payments.

Domestic violence is about an abuser’s need for power over his victim, whether that takes the form of bruises or creating financial instability so crippling she cannot leave him. When women consider leaving their abusers, lack of financial resources can be a major obstacle . Working towards financial empowerment for women who have left or are preparing to leave their abusers is one of the ways that domestic violence advocates can help victims of domestic violence.

The NNEDV and The Allstate Foundation created a Financial Empowerment Curriculum as a way to help domestic violence survivors navigate the challenges of economic abuse as well as the added stress of the recession. For more information, check out their website, ClicktoEmpower . For more information, look at this factsheet on economic abuse or check out the Financial Information/Economic Empowerment section of our website for national resources that can help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse of any kind, WomensLaw.org can help. Ask us a question through our website and we will respond within 3 business days.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New White House Adviser on Violence Against Women

Last week, Lynn Rosenthal was announced as the White House Adviser on Violence Against Women. This is a new position created to aid efforts in the fight to end violence against women in this country.

Lynn Rosenthal previously worked as the Director of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Director of the New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence as well as with WomensLaw.org in 2008.

Read more about Lynn Rosenthal's work and the new position from the White House Press Release or from ABCNews Blog.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Teen Power and Control Wheel

Dating Violence Among Teens can look like:
  • Intimidation: Bullying you to get their way
  • Anger: Controls you with her/her anger
  • Threats: Threatens you, your friends or your family
  • Social Status: Using popularity to control relationship
  • Blame: Blames you for his or her anger
  • Peer Pressure: He or she spreads rumors or secrets about you
  • Sexual Coercion: Deliberate pregnancy or forced sexual acts
  • Isolation: Prevents you from spending time with you friends or family
To read more about dating violence among teens visit WomensLaw.org Teens page or more about what abuse can look like in Teen Relationships check out ABC's Teen Dating Violence: Warning Signs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When She Doesn't Want to Leave

What safety factors can advocates consider when helping someone who wants to stay with her abuser? In “When Battered Women Stay: Advocacy Beyond Leaving,” Jill Davies emphasizes a need to expand the current approach used by DV advocates by creating strategies that protect and empower women who want to stay with their abusers.

A woman might choose to stay in her abusive relationship because the risks of leaving outweigh the risks of staying. Statistics show that women are in the most danger directly after they leave an abusive relationship
. Leaving may also create more stress and difficulty for a victim and her children, like financial barriers or relocating her home. A woman may also choose to stay because she wants to fix her relationship and hopes her partner will stop his abusive behavior.

Domestic violence advocates can support these women by:

1) working with the victims to develop strategies to increase their safety while still in the relationship
2) ending violent and controlling behavior while not demonizing the abusive partner and supporting them to change
3) better understanding children’s needs and build opportunities for their well-being and prevent future harm.

Domestic violence advocates may consider more
creative strategies when helping a woman who wants to stay in her relationship. Its important for domestic violence advocates to be aware of respecting a woman's choices and empowering her to navigate and define her own relationship, no matter if she stays or leaves.

For more information on preparing to leave check out our pages “Getting Ready to Leave,” "Leaving,” and “After You Have Left.” More information for domestic violence and sexual assault advocates is located on our “Helping Others – Advocates” page.


Signs of an Abuser

Some of the subtle warning signs include:
  • They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
  • They are extremely jealous.
  • They insist on moving too quickly into a relationship.
  • They criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put downs.
  • Their words and actions don’t match.
  • They insist that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
  • They many times seem too good to be true.
To read more about Domestic Violence visit WomensLaw.org.

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to see your family and friends, wear the clothing you choose and speak your mind."

If your partner is discouraging you from any of these things, your relationship could be abusive. To find out more read the Am I Being Abused? checklist on WomensLaw.org.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New “Anti-Stab” Knives

A knife with a new tip (see photo above) is to be released in the UK this fall, reports the BBC.

Many factors of the typical knife design have been re-considered. These new knives have blunt rounded tips which make it difficult to successfully injure another person. In the worst case scenario, these changes make stabbing injuries less severe and less likely to be fatal.

British police have noted kitchen knives as the most common weapon in fatal stabbings. Doctors have also been advocating for re-engineered kitchen knives to make stab wounds less fatal. One doctor explains the danger of common household knives:

“[They] are freely available to the very young and very old, and used by people who may be clumsy, short tempered, drunk or mentally or physically unwell. Most people fit into one or more of these categories at some time in their lives."

Domestic violence in homes can escalate out of control rapidly, so modifying a regular household item to make it less dangerous and reduce the potential for harm to women and their families is an important development. It is not hard to imagine the severity of the threat in which potentially lethal weapons are commonly used as objects of intimidation or worse. Let’s hope to see this in the USA as well as the UK!

To read more about Safety Planning if you are in an abusive relationship visit WomensLaw.org.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

$1.3 Million Not as Easy to Ignore as Rape in Prison

In Denver, a female inmate won a lawsuit for $1.3 million after being sexually assaulted by a Colorado Department of Corrections officer. She filed a lawsuit against the officer after suffering sexual abuse by him for over 5 months. The federal judge on the case, Judge David M. Ebel, awarded the female inmate $354,070 in compensatory damages for her medical costs and emotional suffering and $1 million in punitive damages against her assailant. It is a huge sum in order to make a point.

Judge Ebel wrote in his ruling “he hoped the damages would be a deterrent to other correctional officers” because “he believes the DOC does not effectively enforce a zero-tolerance policy on sexual abuse of inmates.” After pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful sexual contact, the guard only received a sentence of 60 days in jail.

For five months the female inmate was sexually assaulted. The assailant only spends 60 days in jail. The disparity is telling. $1.3 million tries to make up the difference.

Sexual assault is common in both men and women’s prisons across the US. In 2007, the Bureau of Justice Statistics surveyed over one million inmates across the country in state and federal prisons and found that 4.5% had been sexually abused in the previous year alone.

It is not news that the reform system in this country is in need of a serious overhaul, but it is deeply disturbing that human beings, albeit criminals, are being abused by the very people whose duty it is to protect them. Similar to domestic violence in the home, violence in prisons is another reflection of the deeply rooted nature of brutality and rape for power and control.

I’d agree with Judge Ebel: something more needs to be done to protect prisoners from the unchecked abuse of power that leads to rape.

For more information on rape in prisons check out here and here. Also read this interesting NYTimes piece “ReThinking Prison Design".


Friday, June 12, 2009

How To Report Child Pornography

If you see a website that you believe is child pornography, there are some things you can do to have it shut down:
And of course you can always email WomensLaw.org for more information about your situation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

“When you are injured by someone else you have the right to seek what the law refers to as "damages".”*

*Each state has their own laws about this. For more information about what you can do in your state you can call The National Center for Victims of Crime at:

1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255)

TTY 1-800-211-7996 (for deaf and hard of hearing only, please)

8:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m. ET


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

“Boys will Be Boys?” Frat Culture and Sexual Violence

In the fascinating article, “Bros Before Hos: Fraternities and Sexual Exploitation”, Nicholas L. Syrett explores the link between Greek life on college and university campuses and sexual violence.

From the earliest fraternities in the 1820s to the development of the current frat scene of parties, girls, and booze, Syrett describes how this progression reflects the evolution of cultural attitudes towards sexuality over time. By the 1920’s heterosexuality was the accepted norm for men. After the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, college-aged women became more sexually permissive. As historical sexual attitudes changed, frats did too, eventually developing an atmosphere in which men proved their masculinity and gained social status by sleeping with women. The more women a frat boy slept with, the more respect he gained from his brothers.

This emphasis on sexual conquest creates a predatory attitude towards women and sex in frat houses. Syrett comments that research in the past “has shown that fraternity men are more likely than their non affiliated classmates to rape women, and some studies have estimated that as many as 70 to 90 percent of reported campus gang rapes are committed by members of fraternities.”

To maintain their social status, frats encourage their members to have frequent casual sex and to report on their experiences. This “places pressure on men who are not otherwise having sex to do so in order to save face, and this can lead to sexual assault.” Frat parties, with their steady supply of booze and college women, are “designed to supply intoxicated women who will either consent—or succumb—to sex.”

As a part of frat culture, frat boys encourage each other to dominate women and intentionally create circumstances in which these men can perpetrate sexual violence against their female classmates. In this hyper-masculine frat culture, where the sexual conquests of men are linked to status, rape as a display of power is not far removed.

Find more on fraternity culture and sexual violence, here and here.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

"Stockholm: An Exploration of Love"

This wins the award for Most Disturbing Media in 2009. Recently released for sale on Amazon (and then quickly banned), "Stockholm: An Exploration of Love" is an interactive video games which puts the player in position of kidnapper with the goal of physically and mentally torturing a woman in order to get her to fall in love. The game is named after Stockholm Syndrome, a psychological disorder that happens when a victim becomes emotionally attached to his/her captor.

Visit the official website to read letters from the creators about what they call a "masterpiece". Here is an excerpt from the Director of the game,

"By portraying men as weak and docile, [TV shows like Friends] suggest to us that men are supposed to be weak and docile. By portraying love as sacrificing the dominance of spirit that makes a man, and instead opting for extreme domestication, they trick us into thinking that love is supposed to be domestication. I’m not really comfortable letting something like that stand unchallenged, and that was one of the primary reasons I made Stockholm. The point of Stockholm is not that kidnapping is the true path of love. The point is that the sugar coated nonsense that TV and movies are forcing down our throat is not the only true path."

So is he suggesting that the opposite of domestication is rape and torture? Or that a domesticated man is an equivalent victim to a raped woman? I'm not totally sure. But what I am sure about is that this video game is horrifying and I would be seriously afraid of men who play it.

To read more about the relationship between video games and real life crime, read here, here or here.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Teens Make PSAs About Abuse

After the highly-publicized violence between singers Chris Brown and Rihanna, Gerry Leone, the District Attorney of Middlesex County, MA, created a competition for high schoolers to create PSAs about Teen Dating Violence to talk back against the media blitz.

Sparking the involvement of more than 200 high schoolers across the county, six finalists were chosen by a group of DV experts, school personnel and members of the District Attorney’s office. Today, 800 high students across Middlesex County will watch the videos in health class and vote on the winner. The winning PSA will be submitted to Boston television stations for possible airing.

Some stats about teen dating violence from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office:

• 1 in 3 teenagers report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, kicked, slapped, choked or physically hurt by their partner
• Youth, specifically between the ages of 16 to 24, experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence in the nation
• Following news reports on the alleged incident between Chris Brown and Rihanna, a survey of Boston teens revealed that 46% of respondents believed that Rihanna was in some way responsible. In addition, 44% said that fighting was a normal part of a relationship.

Teen dating violence is something that so many have experienced and many more have witnessed. It’s important for teens to know their rights so they can be empowered to take a stand, for themselves and for each other.

What a creative project that empowers teens to resist overwhelming media representations that harm women, perpetuate male dominance, and blame the victim of abuse! Imagine the conversations had by each of those 200 students in the process of making those films as they learned more about the violence that affects their lives, their friends and their classmates. Through these projects these teens learned how to better support each other and how to question harm that seems “normal,” whether it is fighting in a relationship or appalling portrayals of violence against women in the media. Way to go, DA and high school students!

Most of all, who better to speak out against teen dating violence than the people it affects? Let’s continue to encourage them to do so.

Watch two of the submissions below or go here to watch the rest:

“End the Cycle of Abuse”

“A Cry for Help”

Which one would you vote for?

For more information on Teen Dating Violence, including legal information and where to find help, check out the Information for Teens section of WomensLaw.org.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Brandon Marshall, Bronco's Player

ESPN did an interview with the ex-girlfriend of Bronco's football star, Brandon Marshall, about the abuse she endured during their relationship. Besides shedding light on what it means to be in an abusive relationship, the comments section on the website shares a different story: the ignorance which still exists so strongly in our culture about domestic violence.

Here are just a few of the comments:

"This B is crazy.. she reportedly tried extorting money from him twice? and her parents want the $ just as much as the girl does!.. She stayed with him for a paycheck! And for the father to say the NFL cares for anything outside of championships, umm isnt that the football business??.. can't believe i even watched this."

"I think that both parties are at fault here. One thing that I don't understand, that after the first and especially the second incident, why they stayed together. Why would MS Watley and her parents go to the NFL about this? She should have gotten out when this first happened, as this would and has escalated. She probably stayed because of his money, this seems to be all about the money with MS Watley."

"i only have one question, if he hit her and beat her this many times, the why the F%$# is she still there with him. Not setting blame here, but i mean you leave yourself in a bad situation, bad things happen. If her parents are so concerened, then why havent they gone and got her? Why hasnt she moved away from Marshall? And one other part i found interesting is the fact that she has asked for maney, not once, but twice. Can you say golddigger."

"Absolutely poor reporting again from the OTL crew. In the attempt to paint Marshall as an abuser, they conveniently whispered the parts where she says she attacked him first, repeatedly dismissed charges or recanted her allegations. Her parents should be ashamed for trying to blame everyone but her daughter for her poor decisions. The parents and daughter appear to be on board for a meal ticket or air time and their actions do nothing but set back all the progress that has been made in helping battered women. OTL continues to prove that sensationalism has replaced journalism in today's media."

What these comments show is a lack of understanding in many capacities. First, it is NEVER the fault of the victim of abuse. Second, there are many things which make it difficult (if not nearly impossible) for someone to leave an abusive relationship. Also, as Rasheeda points out in the video, she loved him and that was one big reason she stayed. Generally abusers are not abusive 100% of the time, and can be quite lovable and charming at times. Rasheeda loved Brandon, but not his abuse.

What do you think? Watch the video here.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Check Us Out on Hey Brooklyn!

Click here and listen to our Podcast on Hey Brooklyn!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to say NO to any sexual acts you don't want to do."

To read more about Sexual Assault visit WomensLaw.org.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to request temporary custody of your children when you file for a restraining order against the abuser at the courthouse."

To read more about how restraining orders can help you visit WomensLaw.org.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Eileen Fisher: Celebrating Women

Eileen Fisher, who gave their support to WomensLaw.org for our new Email Hotline Technology, which makes it safer for people to contact us, has made 2 terrific videos celebrating women which we wanted to share.



The videos are calming, inspirational and show the power of women.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"If your ex-partner takes you to court and requests visitation of your child and you are fearful for the child's safety, you have the right to ask for supervised visitation from the court."*

*An agency or trusted relative/friend may be able to supervise visits between your child and ex-partner. Supervised visitation is granted by the court for varying reasons depending on what state you are in, and will most likely last for a set amount of time.

To read more about custody and visitation in your state on WomensLaw.org click here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"That will be $1800, please"

If someone broke into your home you would probably expect the police to do an investigation. You would probably not expect the police to ask for personal payment for this investigation, but that is exactly what is happening to sexual assault victims in Texas, and other parts of the country (previously Alaska and North Carolina). Victims are being asked to pay for their own rape kits, which can cost up to $1800 .

The Vancouver Sun reports, "Texan women have to hand over a credit card before their investigation can commence - or face debt collectors afterwards."

Hopefully the uproar from the media will pressure Texas to reverse this practice the same way it did in Alaska and North Carolina.

You can read more about this issue here, here or here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"You have the right to feel safe in your home."

If you don't feel safe, you have the right to seek help. Read more on our Staying Safe page.

Prostitution and Domestic Violence

WomensLaw.org recently posted new information to the website about prostitution, and some people asked, "What does prostitution have to do with domestic violence?"

This is an excerpt from a New York Times article called, "Girls on Our Streets" by Nicholas D. Kristof.

“If you don’t earn enough money, you get beat,” said Jasmine, an African-American who has turned her life around with the help of Covenant House, an organization that works with children on the street. “If you say something you’re not supposed to, you get beat. If you stay too long with a customer, you get beat. And if you try to leave the pimp, you get beat.”

Read more about this issue at WomensLaw.org.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mention in Glamour Mag

From the May 2009 Glamour issue.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursday

"Even if a woman sells her body for sex (which is illegal), she still has the right to seek legal protection for crimes committed against her, like rape and abuse."

Read more about prostitution and domestic violence on WomensLaw.org.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Abuse of "Rape" Part II

Alternet.org came out with a story called, "'I was Raped' Should Horrify - But Our Culture Has Stripped the Word of Its Power".

This is very similar to the post we did a few weeks ago about people twittering the word "rape". Opp, here's another one my TweetDeck just informed me of - posted by rynedude233, "This week has been going by so fast. At this rate all of my finals will sneak up and gang-rape me sometime soon."

What is it with people equating tough exams with rape? Difficult geometry exam or unwanted sexual acts? I don't see the common thread.

I do like that this issue is getting more attention, however. Thanks Alternet.org for the article.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Knightley PSA Banned

I'm sure most of you have heard about the PSA Keira Knightley acted in a few weeks ago which received over 1 million YouTube hits. In case you haven't, it depicts Knightley coming home to a violent boyfriend and graphic scenes of him beating her.

The Independent Media reports that British TV, which had planned to show the ad, will only air it if the most violent scenes are cut.

There is much controversy about this.

On one hand, it is important to unmask the mystery of domestic violence and educate people about an issue which deserves serious understanding and attention.

On the other hand, is it necessary to depict such a violent scene as the one in the PSA to achieve this goal? This PSA is incredibly violent. As someone who gets queasy just seeing blood, I was so distracted by the violence that the purpose for me was nearly lost in my nausea (of course, since I work in the field I don't need much more education on the subject.)

However, others argue that the need for such graphic depiction is essential to the message. Rook22 says in his blog, "Perhaps seeing Knightley knocked down will resonate with someone who's neighbor is a victim of domestic violence, but they have been reluctant to help."

Necessary or needlessly graphic? What do you think?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Bureaucratic Error Endangers Woman and Kids

ABC Local news reported yesterday about a bureaucratic error which put a woman and her three children in danger by giving the children's father (an abuser) their confidential home address on a government form from child services.

After getting numerous restraining orders and divorcing her now ex-husband, the woman moved to Long Island with her three children and tried to make sure her new address was keep confidential on all court documentation. Due to a failure in the system, which does not mark custody paperwork as having come from a domestic violence situation, her ex husband was sent a letter with her home address printed on it.

In a fair and just world, the state of NY would pay for this woman and her family to relocated to a new home, where her abuser will not know her address. Unfortunately, the System simply apologized for the error and recommended she move into a shelter.

WomensLaw.org recently wrote a new page called When the Legal System Fails You, in case you or someone you know needs a different kind of help than the courts can provide.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Know Your Rights Thursdays

"You have the right to fire a court-appointed attorney even if you are not paying him/her – however, think carefully BEFORE you do this because the judge might not appoint a second attorney for you."

Read more about things you can do When the Legal System Fails You at WomensLaw.org.