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

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

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:

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 :

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.

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