Tuesday, October 16, 2012

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 16

If you or know someone in need of information and resources call 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 or visit www.safe4all.org     

               OCTOBER IS NATIONAL 

        The WMGS program is organizing its First Ever student run      organization! 

             What? You are all invited to come watch the film Crime After Crime, a discussion will follow afterwards. 
 “The story of the battle to free Debbie Peagler, an incarcerated survivor of brutal domestic violence. Her story takes an unexpected turn two decades later when a pair of rookie land-use attorneys cut their teeth on her case -- and attract global attention to the troubled intersection of domestic violence and criminal justice”. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1746153/plotsummary) 

                                 When? October 16, 2012 2:00-5:00 PM UN2010. 

                      Who? Come one and all! 
                     (Free snacks and drinks!) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 15

If you or know someone in need of information and resources call 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 or visit www.safe4all.org

One woman answered my call for stories about their experience in a marriage rife with domestic violence. I thank her again for her strength and courage by allowing me to share her story from a firsthand perspective. I still believe storytelling is the most effective way for survivors (and friends/family members too) not only to heal, but make domestic violence/intimate partner violence real so law and policy makers take notice when writing laws and implementing programs. We still have a long way to go, so I ask that you please take the time to share and continue to raise awareness to this issue. Remember domestic violence happens to any1 anywhere @anytime.

This is her story.

“Yes......! At first you think the falling in love stage is "falling in love" when in fact in some cases it is a control weapon....so it first starts out as grab the emotions....! So when that's rooted sooooo deep....and that seed is planted...sooooo deep that is what makes the victim confused and wants so much to stay sometimes to "fix" the problem....because what we thought was love was not it was called "control"! The man I was married to.....the man who has the record....the man who did everything was and still friends with everyone we went to school with! When I came out about the story and what was happening I needed to move out of county because of his power...money and friends and family! So....I would love to write something tell my story maybe from an unknown or in a way to protect my identity....! I would love to shout out how the children and I survived the "system" and went on and still fighting Demons it would help so many!”

 If you would like to add your story, please go to my facebook page and message me privately.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 13

If you or know someone in need of information and resources call 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 or visit www.safe4all.org You are probably wondering why I did not post yesterday, well it was to honor the one woman who did not survive her abusers abuse. She could have been a wife, mother, sister, aunt, cousin, friend, neighbor, co-worker, business owner, teacher, doctor, nurse, and so on. Statistics show 1 in 4 women are being abused. You never knew what she was experiencing behind closed doors as she never shared with anyone the hell she was living in at home. She felt ashamed, she had hoped her abuser was going to change, she stayed because of the kids, she did not think she was being abused. Abusers have considerable control over their victims. It never feels like abuse when the abuser is sorry and remorseful afterwards. They leave you flowers, take you out to dinner, tell you they love you. Until it happens again, you begin to doubt them, question yourself and hope it is not the same old song being played again. For a lot of us this is what it feels like when we are in this cycle. Through my facebook page and this blog, I have been encouraging readers to share their stories in ways they feel safe and comfortable. At first I thought maybe it’s best to tell the story through pictures, but I felt that only shows one dimension of abuse: the physical. By now, I hope you recognize that abuse is more than just that. I then solicited written pieces. I recognize that there are risks when doing that in fear of being identified or recognized. This is why you will never see names or locations of where these posts are from unless they express otherwise. I also acknowledge as one reader wrote “how hard it was to read” about as they could never see themselves engaging in the same abusive ways abusers do. That made me question, what is an effective way of bringing awareness to domestic/intimate partner violence? Is my page too graphic or explicit? Should I tone it down? I am still unsure of the answer, but I appreciate the feedback.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 11

Just a brief diversion from Domestic Violence Awareness Month today.
Remember if you or know someone in need of help and resources, call 1-800-799-7233,  1.800.787.3224 (TTY) or visit the website www.safe4all.org.

 National Coming Out Day--In Solidarity

Today is National Coming Out Day here and around the world. I am writing in support of individuals who are taking that step. I want you to know that I am accepting of you no matter what. I applaud your strength and courage as I know this world is still rather unfriendly to anyone that is different than the norm.

In solidarity I walk with you and will do my best to be an ally to a community that still struggles as a group as do the individuals within it. I pledge to speak up whether in writing or in casual conversation when I read or hear something I know may be offensive. I will write to law and policy makers to ensure one day you will be part of a protective class that has rights that if violated, that you have remedies available to restore them. I will not only educate others, but myself on the issues. I will be and am your friend.

Since we know domestic violence affects any1 anywhere @anytime I ask that you visit my facebook page for information and resources. If you feel safe enough to share your story, you may add it there too. Or in a private message.  http://www.facebook.com/DomesticVIolenceAffectsEvery1

In solidarity and peace,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 10

Today I am blogging for World Mental Health Day. It is also Day 10 of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Remember if you or know someone in need of help and resources, call 1-800-799-7233,  1.800.787.3224 (TTY) or visit the website www.safe4all.org.

Judging from the feedback I have been receiving from this blog and facebook page, I am thrilled to know this message is getting out there. I will attempt to answer any questions you may have, or be an "ear" should you need someone to "talk" to. All I ask in return, that you keep sharing this blog and facebook page with others as you never know the life (lives) it saves. http://www.facebook.com/DomesticVIolenceAffectsEvery1

The most popular question so far has been, why are you so passionate?

Short answer: 

Besides feeling fortunate that I lived to tell about my experience, I feel I did so I can tell my story so others aren't feeling alone or ashamed. Feelings that were real and how I was made to feel by those I reached out to for help. I also created the page and blog to allow others in an abusive situation know there is help out there, need not to feel alone, and how sharing one's story helps in healing the hurt.

When I first tried to leave my abuser, the first people I turned to were my family. Namely my mother and sister. We had been dubbed The "Three Musketeers" as we bonded over our love for the New York Mets, baseball team. I found the doors locked. Their response to me was that I had "made your bed, now lie in it." 

Granted I was 19 years and a grown woman, I should have been able to sustain myself, but the truth is that I couldn't. Or maybe I was disempowerd not to be able to. My mother and my sister were equally abusive in their own ways that presented themselves in the man I married. While my sister was physically abusive, my mother permitted it to continue despite my cries. My mother was emotionally and financially abusive. Any money I earned from part jobs had to be turned over to her despite her receiving child support and earnings of her own. She always called me lazy  and said I "could do better." Mind you, I was already publishing articles and winning essay contests well before I graduated high school.

I was not encouraged or supported to see my goals and ambitions of becoming a journalist by this woman who I feel should have been. It was only natural that I would marry a man who was equally, if not more abusive. He succeeded in isolating me from my family and much of the outside world too. For instance, when our youngest son died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (http://sids.org/) 
I was not allowed to attend a support group for newly bereaved parents. Yet he demanded I return back to work in two weeks as we needed to pay the rent and put food on the table.

Years later I have become much more empowered to know the life I was living is not the one I wanted to continue living in. I have taken steps to travel the path these people put me on. I do no regret these experiences as they have opened my eyes and ears to the plights others have.Some die without ever being able to get out, while others live and get out. I was one of the fortunate ones. I may not have visible scars, but I do have emotional ones that from time to time reveal themselves. Instead of hiding or crying about how they look, I share my story with others to let them know they are not alone and there is help available. It's not a one size fits all kind of thing in that is up to you to find what works and stick to it.  But as you travel that path, know that I am here for you.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 9

Remember if you or know someone in need of help and resources, call 1-800-799-7233,  1.800.787.3224 (TTY) or visit the website www.safe4all.org.

 Domestic Violence/ Intimate Partner Violence affects any1 anywhere @anytime.

  A woman I indirectly know grew up in the same neighborhood as I did at different times years apart lost her daughter to domestic violence. I will spare you the gory details on how she was killed, but no matter how you look at it domestic violence/ intimate partner violence affects any1 anywhere @anytime.

This woman and I became "friends" on a social networking site after I reached out to her. I sent her virtual hugs and let her know I was there for her as I understood. The story broke at a time I was taking a family law class where this was a topic of a few discussions. I had begun to share my story with others. First in an article I wrote, then out loud with my classes and then eventually to anyone who would listen.

And they did listen. They asked questions too. I felt compelled to keep on talking and putting my story out there. I just did not know what would be the best platform. I thought about a blog, a website or a Facebook page. None seemed right at the time.

A class I am taking this semester is Global Feminism. We are required to start an activist project in an area of which we are most passionate about. I guess by now you would be correct if you assumed domestic violence awareness.We have guidelines to follow, but the manner in which we present it was our choice.

I started a Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/DomesticVIolenceAffectsEvery1 that allows me to do that and much more. I post resources I think may be helpful and highlight legislative initiatives, policy efforts all aimed to benefit survivors. I also share my story there and here hoping to encourage others to share theirs as well.

Putting a face on domestic violence is very important as for so long this was considered a private matter between the husband and wife. We now (hopefully) evolved to realize domestic violence is not just something occurs in marriage. It is also a crime and should treated under the law the same way assault from a stranger is.

We have a long way to go, especially in educating our youngsters that violence is not a way to solve problems. Nor is it right to be subjected to someone else's abuse. It is imperative we let the abused know there is help, just as we let the abusers know they wont be able to get away with their actions.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 8-

Remember if you or know someone in need of help and resources, call 1-800-799-7233,  1.800.787.3224 (TTY) or visit the website www.safe4all.org.
Letter to My Abuser

I am writing this as I am on break between classes. You know similar to the ones you prevented me from taking when I shared with you my goals of obtaining a college degree. We argued incessantly over it. If I remember correctly, it was because I was not interested in pursuing business degree or something like that. I was much more interested in a liberal arts or English-type of degree. If you recall it was because I struggled with math beyond division. We eventually came to a compromise, I would work during the day and go to school at night, but only at the institution, you chose for me. I grudgingly gave in. 

My first semester was awesome. I excelled and thrived despite being tired after a long day at work and putting up with your unwanted sexual advances at home. I even made the Dean’s List. I remember how proud you were of me beaming ear to ear at the ceremony. You even brought our son along who was probably not old enough to remember any of that day, but saw something great happen for his mother for once. Then you took it away from me.

By the time, I was ready to start the second semester you became much more demanding. Crying how I made no time for you anymore. “You’re not being a wife or mother,” you exclaimed. Well how could I be? I mean I was holding down a full time job in the city, going to school, and on my off days dragged off to run errands with you, as you would not go alone. Nor would you allow me to have alone time with my son at the playground or some activity outside the house. Nor could we make noise when you were sleeping during the day.

The only time I was outdoors was to and from work or school. Or especially when I accompanied you anywhere and spending my hard-earned money either on video games or on clothes for me that you had to approve of. I could have saved that money for a rainy day. Alternatively, in my case when I was trying to flee this abusive relationship so many times before.

I sensed there was some jealousy over me going to college. It seemed to have inspired you to go to back to school as well. Once you did, you made it clear I could not go anymore. “Someone will have to work,” you said. I lost once again. My dreams once again deferred. Just as they were when my mother told me she would not pay for the college of my choice and accepted to.

I did not return to school until after I finally left you for good. It was there I learned of a fabulous program that would not only interest me, but helped me legally. I enrolled in a paralegal program. I thrived again as I learned about courses such as family and criminal law. Both of which I had only previously known about after our numerous appearances in the courtrooms. I was close to graduating, but could not pass the required math and accounting classes. I put college on hold again, but not because of you. I learned what I needed to should you have decided to re-enter our lives again.

Eventually you were smart enough to stay away and follow the court orders that required you to pay child support. I learned from class that there was a support enforcement unit in our city. There was no excuse for you not to pay, as that is what responsible non-custodial parents do. That threat you made about killing yourself years before if you had to pay, well by then I knew otherwise that you would not do it.

Despite receiving a late in life diagnosis of dyscalculia (a math learning disability)  (http://www.ncld.org/types-learning-disabilities/dyscalculia/what-is-dyscalculia) I have since passed the required classes to graduate with my Associate’s but did not stop there. I am now pursuing my bachelor’s degree in a program that has empowered me in ways I do not think you would ever understand, but know would intimidate you. Not that is my intention, but when I learn about how patriarchy has dominated the world and its citizens for so long I think of you. Maybe you could not help feeling powerless and by exerting you control over me, it made you feel powerful. After all, history granted you and others permission to do just that until I (along with others) had the courage to speak up and out against our unjust situations.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 7

Remember if you or know someone in need of help and resources, call 1-800-799-7233,  1.800.787.3224 (TTY) or visit the website www.safe4all.org.

 Within days of fleeing my abuser, we were out of harm’s way and living with my mother. Though it was supposed to be a temporary situation, it was not. Much to her obvious annoyance, my son and I stayed with her for about two years. It was also during this time, I realized how I was living in abusive situations long before I had been married.

My son, who had been classified as speech delayed a few years before, was not verbal at the time but he expressed his sadness and anger in other ways. He became aggressive towards me, my mother, and even her cat. He acted out violently whenever he could not get his way. His aggression only increased when his father failed to show up for their bi-weekly visitation schedule. In addition, on the handful of times he did, my son came home worse than before. He broke things as he tore apart the house. I knew he and I both needed help, but I had no idea even where to begin to look for it. 

I remember the call to 911. Two officers showed up and mockingly laughed at two women who “could not handle a six year old.” Mind you, my son may have been small in height, but he was strong. I was afraid. After this incident, my mother wanted us out. She suggested that we find somewhere else to live. “A shelter might better,” are the words I remember as we sat there on the front stoop.

After locating the programs that offered this type of assistance, I could not fathom moving into a place full of strangers, giving up the job I was on leave from, or even how I was going to raise my son alone. Prior to leaving his father for good, he had been the one “raising” our son, while I went to work. As this was, the arrangement he decided was best for us. It is not that I did know how to be a mother; I was never given a chance to be the mother I wanted to or could be while in this abusive relationship. My focus and concentration was warped.

During this time, the World Trade Center, Flight#93, and The Pentagon were destroyed by individuals who thought as my abuser did: act out violently when you cannot get your way. We are going to do anything to get in control of something controlling us.  In the wake of this devastation thousands died or were maimed, inflicted with health ailments, and for those who directly or indirectly survived: forever sad. I understood.

Another call to 911. This time six officers responded. The same two were also there. This time they were not laughing. We made our way into the ambulance enroute to the nearest hospital. I do not remember much of the time waiting which felt like forever, but my son was admitted onto the children’s psychiatric ward where he stayed for six weeks. He was the youngest one there. I was devastated.

In the days, I visited him they were trying at best. I felt as if I were in some kind of bad dream I could not awake from. The staff shared with me, how cooperative he was and could not possibly see the behaviors I had described to warrant his stay. Yet the doctors and social workers, placed blame me for my parenting skills. I should have been able to discipline and correct his errant ways on my own. He was diagnosed with ADHD and ODD which explained a lot of why he was behaving the way he did.  I just did not know that at the time. For more info check out this extensive site http://www.adhd.com.au/conduct.htm

Within a few short years, he went from living with developmental disabilities to now behavioral disabilities. This was too much for me to handle alone. I needed and wanted support at this time finding none in my immediate circle. The pressure for me to leave my mother’s apartment was mounting, not just from her, but now from my sister as well. Suddenly relatives and family friends were also joining the chorus. “You made your bed, now lie in it.”

The lack of family support did not deter me, from trying to find help. I eventually joined a support group and got into counseling. Unfortunately, the counselor who had “years of experience working with DV victims” and I clashed on me not informing his father about our son’s whereabouts. I felt that if I would have contacted him, the orders of protection I had against him could be voided, as there was a stipulation for us to have no communication by any means. I also thought it would be best that my son was out of harm’s way as he was often the target of his father’s abuse when I was not home. 

I did learn the hospital staff did reach out to him anyway, but was refused entry when he showed up as he was only permitted by court order to visit on Sundays. At least six Sundays came and went, and his father never bothered to visit or attempt to check in on how his son was faring. All that would be beneficial in later court proceedings, but in the moment, crushing to my son who could not understand. There was a time, I made a visit and was allowed to meet with him in his room as he earned that reward. We were sitting on his bed when put his hands around my neck. It was then I realized he witnessed everything his father did to me, even though I thought he was in the bathroom at the time. I immediately informed the nurse. She asked him, “Why are you doing this to your mother?” His reply, “I saw my fardder do it to my mudder.” To learn about how domestic violence effects children  http://www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org/effect-on-children.html

I left there crying uncontrollably. The staff threatened me that if I did not come back, they would be placing a call to child protective services. The very same people who then had the power to remove children from homes that were exposed to domestic violence and I had avoided years before. I thought I was going to do one better. I would contact them myself.

I had very helpful caseworker explain what was available to us. It was not much, so when my son was discharged from the hospital, all we had were referrals to an outpatient mental health clinic. We went to the intake appointment. Each time, I shared what was happening was like reliving the abuse all over again. His behaviors were not improving. I was wilting away. Something had to be done.

I made a follow up call to the child protective worker and asked how I can make voluntary placement. I followed the steps and my son was now in their custody. This move, divided my mother, family and I even further. They did not agree with me, but did not offer suggestions on how to better the situation. It was a hard time being away from my son, but I kept all but one visit to the site to let him know I was still there for him.
It was at another court date, my abuser’s attorney motioned to the court a visitation arrangement. I was in the courtroom unrepresented and decided to ask for an attorney. Especially since, my son was no longer in my care, but in state’s custody. I shared everything with the attorney assigned to me who thought it be best we mention it when we came back from adjournment two months later as opposed to then. 

When the judge learned that my son was in foster care, she ordered a law guardian be placed on the case and my son return to court the next day. My son and his father reunited for all about five minutes. Hugging and laughing as if they had never been apart. The law guardian observed and reported his recommendations to the court. I lost custody and was ordered to attend supervised visitation and parenting classes. I had also been allowed to communicate with him over the phone three times a week. 

His father made those six months hell not just for me, but the son he claimed to love. It was worse than the grieving I experienced after burying my youngest son. His actions reminded me of the threat he made, “I will do something to hurt your heart.” The phone calls were supposed to be a half hour each time, but when he allowed me to get through it would be for only the last few minutes so my son and I never got to say much besides, “I love you.” When I would show up for visitation, I would find that the half hour I was permitted was scrutinized as staff recorded our interactions. I could not answer questions my son had, nor could I promise when and if we would reunite. What made it worse was that I had to walk the same path to the train to return home. I would notice that my son and his father would be watching us from the corner donut shop. Since there was an order of protection served against me at the judge’s suggestion from an earlier court date, I had to pretend I did not see my own son sitting there. I left visits feeling worse than going to them. I knew we would not be defeated.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 6

Remember if you or know someone in need of help and resources, call 1-800-799-7233,  1.800.787.3224 (TTY) or visit the website www.safe4all.org.

The following text and other information about domestic violence from The White House can be found here http://www.whitehouse.gov/1is2many

Presidential Proclamation -- National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2012

- - - - - - -

For far too long, domestic violence was ignored or treated as a private matter where victims were left to suffer in silence without hope of intervention. As we mark the 18th anniversary of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, authored by Vice President Joe Biden, we reflect on how far we have come. We have made significant progress in changing laws and attitudes, providing support to survivors, and reducing the incidence of domestic violence. But we also know that we have not come far enough, and that there is more work left to be done. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we stand with all those who have been affected by this terrible crime, recognize the individuals and groups who have stepped forward to break the cycle of violence, and recommit to putting an end to domestic violence in America.
Despite considerable progress in reducing domestic violence, an average of three women in the United States lose their lives every day as a result of these unconscionable acts. And while women between the ages of 16 and 24 are among the most vulnerable to intimate partner violence, domestic violence affects people regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race, or religion. Tragically, without intervention, children exposed to such violence can suffer serious long-term consequences that may include difficulty in school, post-traumatic disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and criminal behavior.

My Administration remains committed to getting victims the help they need, from emergency shelter and legal assistance to transitional housing and services for children. We are also working to stop violence before it starts. Last year, agencies across the Federal Government held town hall meetings nationwide to promote men's roles in ending violence against women. Through Vice President Biden's 1is2many initiative, we built on that progress earlier this year by releasing a public service announcement that features professional athletes and other role models speaking out against dating violence. This April, I directed leaders throughout my Administration to increase efforts to prevent and combat domestic violence involving Federal employees and address its effects on the Federal workforce. Since August, the Affordable Care Act has required most insurance plans to make domestic violence screening and counseling available as a preventive service for women -- without co-payments, deductibles, or other cost-sharing. And most recently, we developed a new initiative to reduce domestic violence homicides through high risk screening and linking victims with services. Moreover, my Administration looks forward to working with the Congress to strengthen and reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

While government must do its part, all Americans can play a role in ending domestic violence. Each of us can promote healthy relationships, speak out when we see injustice in our communities, stand with survivors we know, and change attitudes that perpetuate the cycle of abuse. We must also ensure that survivors of domestic violence know they are not alone, and that there are resources available to them. I encourage victims, their loved ones, and concerned citizens to learn more by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE, or by visiting www.TheHotline.org.

This month, let us renew our efforts to support victims of domestic violence in their time of greatest need, and to realize an America where no one lives in fear because they feel unsafe in their own home.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2012 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to speak out against domestic violence and support local efforts to assist victims of these crimes in finding the help and healing they need.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.



Friday, October 5, 2012

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 5

A simple message from me to you. I know it's not an easy call to make, but it's a step towards a life free from abuse.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month Day 4

If you or someone you know is need of help and resources, please call 800-799-7233 or 800-787-3224 TTY or visit the website www.safe4all.org

Today's awareness comes in the form of an article I wrote for The Montclarion, my college newspaper which is why some of the information contained here may not be relevant, but still contains helpful info. The link can be found here  http://www.themontclarion.org/archives/3746555

You know October is here when all the talk on campus is of Homecoming and dreaded midterms. However, something else is happening. It is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, also known as Intimate Partner Violence. For me, it has been my mission since leaving my abusive marriage, to inform, educate and empower folks who are being abused or know someone in such a relationship. To let you and them know, you are not alone and help is out there. This year, I created a Facebook page to serve this purpose: www.facebook.com/DomesticViolenceAffectsEvery1.

You may ask what domestic violence is. People often believe domestic violence is usually an isolated one-time incident that affects only poor and uneducated people, where abusers are only men who are also alcohol abusers and that it is the fault of the women for staying in these relationships.

The myths are far from true. Because of the way domestic violence laws were originally written, victims were females and batterers were males. Make no mistake: women can be the abuser and men the abused. It also occurs in same-sex relationships, as well as where there are people living with disabilities in intimate relations. There is a great website that is filled with national and worldwide resources at : www.safe4all.org.

Getting help means acknowledging there is a problem. Assistance can be found in the United States by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3244 (TTY) for referrals for help in a given area. In New Jersey, one can call 1-800-572-SAFE (SAFE). There is also information on the Internet, but be careful, as web browsing on a computer you and your abuser share can be tracked. If you find yourself in this situation, find another computer to use, such as one belonging to a trusted friend or at the library. This holds true for your cell phone, too. Delete phone numbers or assign false names in the contact list.
Once you are ready to take the steps to leave the abusive situation, you need a plan. The safety plan below comes from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. (NCADV)

During the planning stages of leaving, there is helpful but often overlooked advice. The Coalition also suggests, “You should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. Important papers you should take include social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children, your marriage license, leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partner’s names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your spouse (pay stubs or W-2’s) and any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.).”
If you find yourself looking for help here on campus, visit the Women’s Center in Student Center Room 421. Speak with the director, Esmilda Abreu-Hornbostel.

This semester, the Center is conducting a series of conversations on this issue, such as Cycle Breakers. This is a conversation group aimed to combat domestic violence and discuss thoughts and feelings on this issue. It is held on Tuesdays from 2 to 3 p.m. in Student Center Room 421.

In addition, the newly formed Women’s and Gender Studies club will be hosting an event on Oct. 16 from 2:30 to 5:00 in UN 2010. There will be a screening of the film Crime After Crime, followed by a discussion, and presentation by yours truly.

Sometimes we watch our loved ones who we suspect are experiencing domestic violence from afar and we wish and beg them to get out, but it is not always that easy, especially when there are children involved or their immigration status is dependent on the spouse or partner. However, there are steps you can take while encouraging empowering friends and loved ones in this difficult and emotional situation. Be supportive of whether they wish to stay or not, but if they are willing, help them develop a safety plan, sit with them as they call the hotline and offer to do Internet research. Most of all, though, remember it is their decision to make, not yours.
If you have left the relationship:

•Change your phone number and screen calls.

•Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.

•Change locks if the batterer has a key.

•Avoid staying alone.

•Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.

•If you have to meet your partner, do so in a public place.

•Vary your routine.

•Notify school and work contacts.

•Call a shelter for battered women.

If you are still in the relationship:

•Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs – avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom) or rooms with weapons (kitchen).

•Think about and make a list of safe people to contact.

•Keep change with you at all times.

•Memorize all important numbers.

•Establish a “code word” or “sign” so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help.

•Think about what you will say to your partner if he or she becomes violent.