Monday, December 19, 2011

Blogging Hiatus

We'll be taking a little blogging hiatus to celebrate the holidays. If you spot an article that you think our fans should see, post it on our Facebook wall. We'll see you in January. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Taylor Armstrong Blames Self for Abuse

Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Taylor Armstrong gave an interview about the domestic violence she experienced last night, and she said that she "ended up in this situation because of [her] own flaws and [her] own insecurities." We want to say to Taylor, her viewers, and the rest of the world, that this is patently false.

No one deserves to have violence used against them and there is literally nothing in the world I can do to cause you to hit me. We each have individual responsibility to control our anger and to control our bodies, and each time we get angry, we have a choice to make. We can choose to hit another person, to scream, to walk away, to dig a hole, or to do whatever we need to do to channel our emotions and our adrenaline. However, it is our choice, and ours alone.

Whether a person is weak or strong, it doesn't make it their fault if they are hit. If a person is well-educated or not, it doesn't make it their fault if they are hit. If a person is confident or self-conscious, rich or poor, gay or straight, well, you get the picture.

Many women blame themselves for the violence used against them. It's not surprising. As a society, we blame her, too. We just couldn't believe that boy-next-door Chris Brown would possibly hit Rihanna. She must have done something to cause it. And even when her bloodied, broken face was plastered throughout the media, some people still blamed her while others acknowledged that the crime was committed, but pressed us to hurry up and forgive.

Isn't this tragic? We blame survivors so much that they internalize the blame and put it on themselves. Not only that, they go on national television and spread that blame to all women who have been victimized. There is a poison in our culture that allows this to happen, and it is going to take all of us standing up to this type of victim-blaming to find a cure.

Check out this follow-up article: 5 Domestic Violence Myths I Learned Still Exist From Watching ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’

Monday, December 5, 2011

5 Things a Survivor Wants You To Know

Last week, we spotted this amazing post from The Good Men Project, written by a domestic violence survivor. She challenges 5 myths about domestic violence, using her own story to set the record straight:
I’m not weak.

I , legitimately, walk the planet on a daily basis knowing that there is someone out there that wants to physically harm me. I live knowing that, at any minute, Scott could return. And I’m only able to do this because on a hot July afternoon I picked up my broken body from the concrete floor and limped out of the door, without looking backward. Nobody else did that for me. Nobody was there to protect me from the madness, nor did they hold me by the arm while I walked on a strained ankle and battered knee. I was in so much pain that I wanted to crawl. But I didn’t, knowing that if I took even a second longer than necessary he might kill me. Weakness wasn’t an option. Strength is what allowed me to survive. And it kept me alive every day before and every day after.

It wasn’t easy to come home to a house that didn’t have electricity or running water. It was heartbreaking to have my car repossessed two days after I made the decision to leave. Trying to find a job, without a car, was embarrassing and difficult. But I did it. And I lived in a home for the next several months knowing that, at any moment, he could walk back into my life (and my house) because he knew where I was and he knew that my back window was broken out (because he shattered it with his left fist).

Survivors of domestic abuse are strong.
This excerpt is just one highlight from an article that you really should read in its entirety.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Favorite Christmas Song About Rape

In many places, December 1 (or the day after Thanksgiving in stores and shopping malls) marks the official beginning of the holiday season, and that means incessant Christmas music. This makes our staff cringe every year, because we know we are about to be bombarded with one of our least favorite holiday songs, Baby It's Cold Outside.

This duet has been covered by a long list of musical legends, and it sounds great, but the content of the song is more than a little disturbing. In essence, it is a song about sexual coercion and, possibly, rape.

In the song, the female character is trying to leave her partner's home for the night. She comes up with many good reasons to leave, but her partner is insistent that she stay the night, despite her obvious desire to go. You might be tempted to interpret this as coyness. After all, as women, we are not encouraged in our society to be direct when talking about sex. If we say no, we are frigid prudes. If we say yes, we are whores. But even if you choose to interpret their back and forth as an innocent game, the innocence flees instantly in this lyric:

"Say, what's in this drink?"

It could simply be a delicious beverage that causes her to wonder about the ingredients but, in context, it is more likely either a much stronger drink than she expected or it has an ingredient that she did not agree to having added. Both of those suggestions lead the listener to believe that she is being chemically manipulated into staying against her will. It doesn't exactly put us in the mood for Christmas.

Before you call us oversensitive feminists, check out this article - "8 Romantic Songs You Didn't Know Were About Rape." We're not the only ones who noticed.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Possible Murder-Suicide in Columbus

Columbus, GA Police are investigating what they suspect to be a DV murder-suicide from Saturday night.
Ruby Grant, 21, and Freddie Dewayne Grant, 27, were found fatally shot about 7 p.m. inside their home at Huckleberry Hill Apartments, 4570 St. Marys Road. According to a police report, officers visited the complex to conduct “a welfare check” of the couple. One neighbor said officers were also looking for a little girl who had been spotted outside the apartments.

When police stepped inside the couple’s apartment, they found the bodies, authorities said.

“When they got there is when they found the victim,” Sgt. Matt Blackstock said. “When they investigated, they found the other victim.”

Reports indicate Freddie Grant shot his wife in the head in their bedroom around 6:45 p.m. He then shot himself in the head in the same room. There is no suicide note.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Grant family.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

We are so pleased that the Obama Administration has made violence against women a priority, both domestically through the efforts of Vice President Joe Biden and abroad through the leadership of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Click here to read Secretary Clinton's remarks on International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's The Difference Between Anger and Abuse?

We face this question a lot in anti-domestic violence work. People like to write off batterers' behavior, even homicides, as explosive anger that should be treated by anger management classes, rather than as systematic, planned behavior that focuses on control. The Marriage Counseling Blog has a pretty good breakdown on the difference between anger and the behaviors typically associated with domestic abuse.
Anger is a natural and normal feeling. However, the behaviors people exhibit when they feel angry may or may not be acceptable. Abuse should not be tolerated.

The underlying reasons for angry behaviors and abusive behaviors are different. When people are angry they may lash out or say things they don’t mean out of difficulty being rational while feeling so upset. Angry feelings can cause people to do or say some things they might not normally do and say. This, however, shouldn’t be used as an excuse.

Abusive behaviors tend to be a lot more purposeful. Abusive behaviors are meant to control the other person. Various strategies ranging from intimidation and guilt may be used as manipulation tactics.


When behaviors become abusive, the person doesn’t take responsibility for the behaviors. They may deny that the abuse occurred or minimize the seriousness of it. They may also blame the other person.

In contrast, people who exhibit angry behaviors can take responsibility for their role. They can admit to crossing the line if they became angry and yelled or behaved inappropriately. They also work on making changes so that it won’t happen again.
The final statement is possibly the most important. Those who use violence against their partners are much less likely to take responsibility for their actions than those who simply have difficulty controlling their anger. Thus, traditional anger management classes, and even many batterers intervention programs based on an anger management model, don't work for perpetrators of family violence because they don't feel that they have any changes to make. We need to acknowledge domestic violence for what it is - a series of behaviors that are tactics one partner uses to control the other - before we can begin effectively helping batterers to change.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Possible Dating Violence Homicide in Clayton County

The AJC reports that a 19-year-old Clayton County man was arrested in the death of a 15-year-old girl. Police identified Marshae Hickman as a suspect from information in the victim's diary, which could imply that the two were involved in a relationship.
Marshae Hickman, 19, was already in jail after a burglary arrest last month when Clayton police charged him with murder and concealing a body in the death of Candice Parchment.

According to a police arrest warrant affidavit, Hickman confessed to choking Candice to death.

Candice disappeared on the night of April 28, 2010. Her body was found seven months later hidden beneath a discarded mattress behind an apartment complex off Old Dixie Highway in Forest Park.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Parchment family.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Alleged Murder -Suicide in Marietta

A Marietta couple was found dead yesterday in what police suspect was a murder-suicide.
That ongoing dispute ended when Mr. Wilbur Carl South, 28, shot his girlfriend, Ms. Maryellen Cano, 32, and then himself in their home on Springdale Drive, Marietta police spokesman Officer David Baldwin said.

But police said Thursday they weren’t sure when the couple died.

Officers found their bodies after Ms. Cano’s father reported her missing about 6 p.m. at the police department, Officer Baldwin said.

He told police he hadn’t heard from her in two days.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cano family.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Proposed One-Year Waiting Period for Divorcing Parents

For the women we serve, a mandatory one-year waiting period for a divorce is a terrible idea.

Once women gather the courage to leave an abusive relationship, they take their first steps on what is often a very long journey before they are actually free of their former partner. That journey is longest for mothers who are leaving a husband. Divorce from an abusive partner is often fraught with complications, and men with a history of using violence are more likely to end up with custody of their children (shared or otherwise) because they are much more likely to fight for it as a way to continue contact with their former victim. Women who were married to the father of their children sometimes never truly get away, because they are forced by the courts to co-parent with their abusive former partner and, therefore, must continue to stay in contact with him. Adding another hoop, another arbitrary length of time during which he can try to convince or scare her into coming back to him, is, at best, counter-productive and, at worst, incredibly harmful.

These statutes often claim to have a domestic violence waiver, but domestic violence is often hard to prove. It usually comes down to her word against his, especially if she was never able or willing (because of fear, immigration status, or some other reason) to contact law enforcement to create a paper trail.

Whatever the reasoning behind proposed guidelines such as these, the reality is that battered women don't need any more obstacles in their path to safety.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Murder is Leading Cause of Death for Pregnant Women

Murder has been confirmed once again to be the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the US.
Roughly half of those women who died violently had had some sort of conflict with their current or former partners leading up to the death, causing experts to call for more thorough screening and follow up for domestic problems during pregnancy check-ups.

"I think that there's still an under-appreciation of the risk (for murder and suicide) and probably less screening than should be done," said Dr. Linda Chambliss, director of maternal fetal medicine at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, who did not participate in the new work.

The study shows that about three out of every 100,000 women who are pregnant or have a child less than one year old are murdered, and two out of every 100,000 kill themselves.

Those numbers remained fairly constant from 2003 to 2007, the years that the researchers examined.
This is why it is vitally important for all medical professionals, but especially for OBGYNs, midwives, doulas, and others who provide care for pregnant women to screen for domestic violence and to have information available about community resources. Please encourage your doctors, nurses, and those you know if the medical field to contact us at (404) 370-7670 for training, information, or brochures to keep at their practices.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Vigil

Tonight in Decatur, Georgia, Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence will be holding our Candlelight Vigil to commemorate Domestic Violence Awareness Month. If you cannot attend, we hope you will light a candle around dusk and take a moment of silence for the hundreds of women, children, and men across the country who lost their lives in domestic violence homicides. When you hear domestic violence statistics, remember that behind each number is a human being and a family who was forever changed by violence.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mass Shooting in California DV-Related

Another mass shooting can be attributed domestic violence, this time in Seal Beach, California.
Seal Beach police said the death toll from the salon shooting has risen to eight people. A ninth victim is in critical condition at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.

"This could be one of our greatest tragedies," Police Sgt. Steve Bowles said.

The gunman opened fire inside the crowded salon Wednesday, littering the shop with bodies. Police said he acted alone, although investigators said they were still scrambling to piece together what triggered such violence.

Eyewitnesses said that he was targeting his ex-wife and that the two were involved in a custody dispute.
To risk sounding like a broken record, domestic violence is not just a private family matter. It can easily spill out into our communities. Many, if not most, of the mass homicides of this nature in recent years have been motivated by domestic violence or a hatred of women in general. Until violence against women is eradicated, cases like this prove that we are all in danger.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Topeka Decriminalizes Domestic Violence

In a follow-up to a previous post, we find that Topeka, Kansas has made good on their threat to remove their domestic violence law from the books (trigger warning for photos of injuries), making DV legal in the city of Topeka. Domestic battery is still illegal in Shawnee County, the county in which Topeka is located, but the Shawnee District Attorney had previously announced that, due to budget cuts, he would no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence, occurring in Topeka.
Topeka has had at least 35 reported incidents of domestic battery or assault since early September. Those cases are not being pursued, and as of last Friday, 18 people jailed have been released without facing charges, according to Topeka police. Prosecutors and police have refused to discuss details of the cases out of concern for victims' privacy, making it difficult to assess in what situations suspects aren't being prosecuted.

The use of a weapon in an assault or battery makes a crime a felony, which would be handled in state court.

Taylor's decision has prompted furious reactions nationwide, and county commissioners say they've received hundreds of emails in the past few days from people upset by Taylor's move and the city's response. Outside the Shawnee County Courthouse on Tuesday, about two dozen people carried signs protesting the moves.

It also doesn't help that the possible repeal comes during National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

"It can't continue like this. They have to be prosecuted," said County Commissioner Ted Ensley, a Democrat. "Supposing they're charged and they're not prosecuted and it ends up they go back and cause a death of a woman or a child."
We can only hope that officials resolve this situation quickly, and that this debacle doesn't lead to a homicide.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How Long Will You Last With Your Last $1,000

The Urban Ministries of Durham has a new online game, and their goal is to challenge the way you think about poverty and homelessness. In the game, you have lost your job, your savings and are down to your last $1,000 dollars. Then you have to try and make it through one month. Try it out and see how long you last. Just keep in mind that most women who come to us after fleeing domestic violence don't have anything near $1,000.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Topeka Considers Decriminalizing Domestic Violence

Officials in Topeka, Kansas are in the process of deciding what they feel is more important: money or women's lives.

In Shawnee County, the county in which Topeka is located, the District Attorney is facing budget cuts. He therefore decided that he would no longer prosecute misdemeanors, including domestic violence cases, that occurred within the city of Topeka. He instead would expect those cases to be prosecuted by Topeka Municipal Court.

Officials in Topeka say that they do not have the resources to prosecute the DV cases and so, in a political maneuver they hope will force the DA to rethink his position, the city is considering removing their domestic violence laws from the books, thus making domestic violence perfectly legal in Topeka. It would still, however, be illegal in Shawnee County, but they County would be responsible for choosing whether or not to prosecute individual cases.

We hope you are as appalled as we are. Women's very lives are being put in jeopardy over political squabbling. Until a decision has been made, individuals arrested for domestic battery are being released from jail with very little consequence for their actions because no one, the City or the County, is filing charges against them. We hope Topeka will come to their senses before they vote on the issue next week.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Anti-Immigrant Laws Put Women in Danger

Georgia's HB 87 immigration law is controversial for a great number of reasons, but one of the least discussed is the danger in which it places immigrant victims of domestic violence.
The delegation, led by Domestic Workers Alliance, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, and others, described the stories of women who had suffered indirect consequences of anti-immigrant policies, due in large part to the intense culture of fear that deters women from coming forward about abuse they've suffered or seeking help from public institutions. Anxieties about any contact with authorities -- even as the victim of violence -- could turn many women away from seeking law enforcement protection, which further segregates immigrants, whatever their legal status, from the rights they deserve under the law.

Already, under current immigration policies, a woman who fears getting caught without papers may often make a cruelly rational choice to stay with an abusive partner, rather than report domestic violence--in hopes of avoiding deportation or separation from her children. Many women may also forgo basic health care for themselves or their children for fear of coming under the radar of law enforcement.
Some members of Congress are trying to expand such laws, and thus such fear, to the entire nation.
According to immigrant advocates, a new immigration enforcement bill being considered in Congress would undermine existing immigration law by removing prosecutorial discretion and deferred action, two components that protect undocumented victims of domestic violence.

Michelle Ortiz — the supervising attorney of Lucha, a unit within the Florida Immigrant Advocacy Center — says that Rep. Lamar Smith’s Hinder the Administration Legalization Temptation Act (better known as the HALT Act) would force immigration authorities to deport victims of domestic violence who reach out for help.

“Under the Violence Against Women Act, which has existed for 15 years, there have been specific protections for victims of domestic violence,” Ortiz says, “particularly for people who self-petition, who are victims of domestic violence at the hands of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.”

“When their self-petition is approved, and have already proven they are a victim and married this person in good faith, the Immigration Service gives them deferred action. That is not a legal status, but a protection from deportation, and provides a means to apply for work authorization.”

By ending deferred action, the HALT Act would strip immigration authorities of their authority to protect victims. The HALT Act would also affect the prosecutorial discretion memos issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which, according to Ortiz, are working.
We live in a state where nearly 100 women are killed each year in domestic violence homicides and in a country where a woman is battered every 9 seconds. We cannot afford any policies that deter women from seeking help, regardless of their immigration status. We will continue to update you if there are opportunities for legislative action on this issue.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Aragon, GA Man Charged in Wife's Death

According to the Fish Wrap, police say an Aragon, GA man is charged in the shooting death of his wife on September 17, 2011.
...the incident leaving Rita Merritt, 27, of 11 East 2nd St., Apt. A, Aragon, dead and her husband, Shay Merritt, 31, in jail without bond on a felony murder charge.

Police said they at first thought this was a suicide attempt but Shay Merritt confessed that night to the killing, according to Greg Ramey, Assistant Special Agent in Charge with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Merritt family.

Clayton County - Possible Murder, Attempted Suicide

From the AJC:

Clayton County police spokesman John Schneller said a woman was dead and a man was taken to the hospital with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The shootings occurred at a house in the 2500 block of Daley Court in Morrow.

Neighbor Harry Toney said police told him the shootings were the result of a domestic dispute.

Toney said a woman, man and three children lived at the house and had lived there since around the first of the year.

Further details were not immediately available.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Georgia Has 6th Highest Rate of Men Killing Women

In it's annual report on men murdering women, the Violence Policy Center found that Georgia ranks the 6th highest in the nation among women killed by men.
The national homicide rate of women killed by men in single-victim, single-offender instances was 1.25 per 100,000, the study said. There were 1,818 such female victims during 2009.

“Violence against women too often escalates to homicide. Prevention of such violence deserves serious and sustained attention from law enforcement officials and policymakers alike,” Kristen Rand, the center’s legislative director, said in a prepared statement.

The center said its study used the most recent data available from the FBI’s unpublished Supplementary Homicide Report. It is released each year as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

The 10 states with the highest rates of women murdered by men were in descending order Nevada, Alabama, Louisiana, Arizona, Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Hawaii and Missouri, according to the study.

Where weapons use could be determined, firearms were used in slightly more than half the homicides, and more than two-thirds of those firearms were handguns, the study said.

Ninety-three percent of the victims were killed by someone they knew, and 63 percent were wives or intimate acquaintances, the study said.
The full study is available here.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Men's TV is on the Defensive

Jezebel had a really interesting article yesterday discussing some of the backlash our culture is seeing to women's advancement. Specifically, this season on television, we're seeing a host of new shows trying to put men and women back into their gender essentialist places, where men build civilizations, kill things, and don't act gentlemanly and women are servants and/or sex objects.
In all of the aforementioned shows, men and/or masculinity is threatened by women and/or femininity. You can thank the mancession for that; the media has so hammered into men's brains that they're the real victims while women in the workforce aren't in such bad shape. Now we see television capitalizing on that. Be it consciously or otherwise, these male-targeted shows are creating blatant ties between the rise of women and the fall of the economy.
The problem with gender-essentialism is that it is limiting, and not just to women. Rigid conservative gender roles say that women don't belong in the workplace, but they also say that men don't belong in the home as caregivers to children. They may say that women must dress modestly or else they deserve to be assaulted, but they also say that men can't be trusted to see a woman in a mini-skirt and not rape her. They say that women are overly emotional and thus irrational and that men should bottle up all of their feelings and only deal with problems through violence. None of this sounds very healthy or fulfilling.

There isn't a finite pool of human rights. If I gain/claim more of my rights, that doesn't mean that there are fewer rights for you. Everyone deserves freedom to be who they are, to express their personality, to pursue their chosen career, to have involvement with their families, and to express their emotions constructively. We only forfeit those rights when we do something wrong (such as commit a crime), and even then some rights are inalienable. Everyone has the right to be safe from violence. There aren't male rights and female rights, there are human rights, and by opening all options to all people by dismantling rigid gender roles, we are expanding those rights for everyone.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Best DV Article Ever (So Far)

This is a really great article that tells survivors' stories respectfully, doesn't victim-blame, and does a great job of illustrating many of the common issues that survivors of domestic violence face. All around, it is a fantastic article. We don't get to say that very often, so we encourage you to click through and read.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Share Your Ideas with Vice President Biden

The White House, under the leadership of Vice President Biden, who has been a long-time ally to those of us working to end violence against women, has launched a new website called 1 is 2 many. '1 is 2 many' wants to engage a younger generation in creating innovative solutions to address dating violence and sexual assault in schools and on college campuses around the country.

The campaign also includes 'Apps Against Abuse' – a nationwide competition to develop an innovative software application that provides young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence. Since many incidents of dating violence and sexual assault occur when the offender, often an acquaintance, has targeted and isolated a young woman in vulnerable circumstances, the application the White House has envisioned will offer individuals a way to connect with trusted friends in real-time to prevent abuse from occurring.

This is your chance to be part of a solution. Talk about violence against women, tweet about it (#1is2many), and see what you can come up with. What we know if that violence against women won't stop end until all men choose to stop using violence. In a world full of prevention messages targeted toward women (always watch your drink, don't walk home alone at night, be careful what you wear), how can we target men? How can we make violence less cool and less socially acceptable? How do we teach respect to a new generation?

We can't wait to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Gilmer County Man Arrested for Wife's Murder

A Gilmer County man was arrested for the murder of his wife after trying to blame the killing on a home invasion.
Gilmer County sheriff's Lt. Frank Copeland said Donald Bossa, 76, who had been living at the home with his wife for six years has been taken into custody and charged with murder after his 67-year-old wife, Barbara, was found dead.

Copeland said Bossa confessed to killing his wife.

Bossa had initially called authorities early Wednesday to report that his home at the Coosawattee River Resort, about 75 miles north of Atlanta, had been invaded, the Associated Press reported.

He is being held at the Gilmer County Adult Detention Center. Copeland said the case is under investigation but the motive appears to be a domestic violence situation that got out of control.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bossa family.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

LaGrange Man Killed While Trying To Hide Ex's Body

The AJC reports that a fire in Fairburn last month was started by a man trying to burn his ex-girlfriend’s body.
Bridges’ ex-girlfriend, Beverly Bland, 34, was strangled before the fire, police said.

Two children who lived with Bland at the Garvey Drive house weren’t home at the time of the fire, police said.

Few said Bridges, 35, doused a sleeping bag with gasoline and laid Bland’s body on the bag to set it on fire. But his plan literally blew up in his face.

“When he threw that match, the vapors of gasoline are what ignited,” Few said. “There was an immediate fireball that blew the windows out.”


According to records obtained by Channel 2 Action News from the Fulton County emergency call system, Bland and Bridges worked together at the PetSmart distribution center in Newnan and had broken off a relationship in May.

A supervisor told emergency operators that following a dispute at work the day before the incident, Bridges would not let Bland out of his car.

The supervisor, Larry Miller, could not be reached by phone Tuesday, but he accused Bridges of “stalking” Bland, saying Bridges even entered her home through an open window the week before the fire.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bland family.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Police Suspect Clayton Co Woman's Boyfriend in Her Murder

From the AJC:
The Clayton County mother found stabbed to death in her bedroom, while two kids were tied up in her home, may have been killed days before she was found, police said Tuesday.

The woman's boyfriend, 33-year-old William Nazario, has been charged with murder, according to his arrest warrant. Nazario was taken into custody Monday evening in Bartow County, where he was found at a hotel with one of his girlfriend's children. He is expected to be returned to Clayton County, but police have declined to say when Nazario will be moved.

Arrest warrants state that Nazario allegedly fought verbally and physically with Korean Bowden on Friday. Nazario allegedly has admitted to police that he stabbed Bowden and tied up two of her children to prevent them from seeing what he had done, the warrant states.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bowden family.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

DV Homicide-Suicide in Kirkwood (Atl)

A murder-suicide in Kirkwood, a neighborhood in east Atlanta, leaves three dead.

Atlanta police say the killings of two men and a woman apparently stemmed from a dispute between the woman and her former boyfriend.

Police say the woman, 50-year-old Angela Pearson, was found dead in her home on Thursday along with her son, 24-year-old Darryl Pearson, and the ex-boyfriend, Charlie Woods.

Investigators say all three apparently died of gunshot wounds.

The AJC reports:
Nicole Pearson said her mother had broken up with Woods in June, and he had never been violent or abusive.

In the last few months, though, strange things started happening: A dog disappeared from the house; a family computer printer was sabotaged, and on Wednesday, someone put sugar in the gas tank of Pearson's car, the daughter said.

A family friend, Schquetta Hammond, said Woods was suspected because he had a key to the house. Hammond said she urged Angela Pearson to go to the police, but "she told me, ‘He's harmless,' and she was not going to call the police."
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Pearson family.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Henry County Man Suspect in Girlfriend's Death

From Fox 5 News:
Police in Henry County are seeking a man they believe shot and killed his live-in girlfriend.

Police say 38-year-old Richelle Gates was having an argument with her live-in boyfriend, Fernando Alberto Scott, Tuesday morning when words erupted into gunfire.

Police say Gates’ 18-year-old son was inside the Hampton home on Goldleaf Drive when his mother was shot and killed.
Henry County police are looking for 54-year-old Fernando Alberto Scott.

Police believe Scott fled in a gray 2009 Ford Focus with Georgia tag number PD94JQ.

According to police, Scott is to be considered armed and dangerous.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Henry County police at 770-288-8250 or 770-957-9121. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gates family.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Is the US Failing Rape Victims?

Alternet asks this question today in what is, frankly, an emotionally exhausting article. That exhaustion, mixed with anger and horror, comes from their coverage of so many recent instances of sexual violence after which victims are being told again and again that their rights don't matter and that their voices won't be heard.
Let's start with two examples from the winter and spring which are in fact on the opposite ends of what the media sees as a "rape spectrum."

First, you have Julian Assange, a powerful man accused of "acquaintance rape," based on two women's accounts. One involved a forcible sexual encounter that began as a consensual one, and another involved penetrating a woman while she was asleep. Both women were sophisticated professionals who knew Assange, and both were alone with him when the alleged assaults took place.

Both women were blamed, smeared and their identities revealed online, accused of being part of a supposed worldwide conspiracy to bring Assange down (just as the press has insinuated that DSK's accuser, Nafissatou Diallo, was an unlikely pawn of a conspiracy to silence Strauss-Kahn).

Second, we have the Texas gang-rape case, in which a large group of boys and men were caught on video brutally and repeatedly gang-raping a young girl. In this case, there was physical corroborating evidence, the victim was too young to legally consent, and the accused were relatively powerless men in a poor community.

The cases couldn't have been more different, and yet in this case also, the young woman was smeared when prominent newspaper stories fixated on her appearance, her dress, and her behavior rather than the demeanor and histories of the men involved.

So the lesson is clear: if you report an unexciting rape that happened in your home while you were alone with the perpetrator, you get blamed. If you are recorded on video being repeatedly raped by a massive number of people, you also get blamed. If you're a grown woman: blamed. If you're a child: blamed. If it's your word: blamed. If there's physical evidence: blamed.
It's clear, then, that the answer is yes, we are failing victims. And we will be until we create a system in which they feel safe to report, because they aren't afraid of being blamed. We will be failing victims until our society understands that lack of consent means rape, period. We will be failing victims until we acknowledge that tricking women into having sex, getting them drunk to lower their inhibitions, or making them feel that saying no isn't an option are all means of raping. And, we will be failing victims until our idea of rape prevention is to teach men not to rape rather than teaching victims to avoid getting victimized. We have a lot of work to do.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cosmo's 10 Tips for Preventing Sexual Assault

Cosmo, the women's magazine, has a handy list of 10 tips to help women not get raped. The problem with these lists is the assumption that a woman can do anything at all to prevent herself from being raped, the flip side of which is that a woman who doesn't do these things is at least a little bit at fault when she is raped. Wrong!

Melissa at Shakesville has a much better list of tips for sexual assault prevention, in handy visual form:

See the difference? The focus here is on a group of people who actually can prevent rape: rapists. Since raping someone is a choice, only rapists can make the choice to not rape. If a rapists rapes, only he is to blame.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spalding County Man Charged with Murdering Wife

According to the Griffin Daily News:
Jeff Alan McCullough will remain in jail without bond on battery and murder charges in the death of his wife.

His preliminary and bond hearings were continued Tuesday by Spalding County Magistrate Judge Rita Cavanaugh pending the results of an autopsy on the victim.

McCullough, 53, is charged with battery and aggravated battery under the Family Violence Act, along with felony murder and malice murder, in the July 29 death of his wife, Debra McCullough. He was initially charged with battery and arrested when deputies responded to the couple’s Covington Road home in reference to a domestic dispute on July 20.

Charges were later upgraded to aggravated battery after Debra McCullough was found unconscious 24 hours later and eventually transported to Atlanta Medical Center. The murder charges were added after her death from the injuries that were sustained on July 20.

McCullough had been granted $33,000 bond and was released July 25 on the battery charges, but was re-arrested on the murder charges on Aug. 1 and has been held without bond since.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCullough family.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Henry County Man 'Person of Interest' in Wife's Death

From Fox 5 News:
HENRY COUNTY, Ga. - Henry County police are searching for a man in connection with a suspicious death in Hampton.
Police say 38-year-old Preston Marzette Young is the estranged husband of the victim, who was found dead inside a home on Masters Club Boulevard last week.

Officers were alerted to the scene when they received an OnStar signal from a vehicle parked outside the home. A 3-year-old child was found alive and alone inside that car.

Officers say Young may be driving a 2004 Dodge Ram like this one with the Georgia tag BKG 1602. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call Henry County police.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Norwegian Terrorist Was Anti-Woman

In addition to being racist, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant, it appears that the Norwegian terrorist responsible for the massacres in Oslo and Utoya was also virulently anti-woman.

Hugo Schwyzer at the Good Men Project writes:
His manifesto, which largely consists of uncited work from a host of other right-wing thinkers, is now available online. 2083: A European Declaration of Independence gives us a picture of a man who is deeply troubled by multi-culturalism, by Islam, by modernity, by feminism, and by what has happened to traditional masculinity.

Breivik’s manifesto features an extended section called “Radical Feminism and Political Correctness,” cribbed uncredited from an American writer named Gerald Atkinson. The section complains “that the ‘man of today’ is expected to be a touchy-feely subspecies who bows to the radical feminist agenda.” Feminism’s aim, the manifesto continues, is to “emasculate” men, and render them “unwilling to defend traditional beliefs and values.” This rage at women in general, and at progressive feminists in particular, runs through much of the long and unwieldy 1187-page text. It’s a rhetoric familiar to anyone who reads the writing of Men’s Rights Activists.

So are anti-feminists and Men’s Rights Activists directly to blame for the actions of Anders Breivik? Of course not. Most MRAs – perhaps almost all – reject violence and mass murder as a political tactic. To suggest otherwise would be an indefensible and tasteless attempt to capitalize on a tragedy. But to pretend that there was no coherent political component to the tragedy would be almost equally indefensible.
Michelle Goldberg at The Daily Beast continues:
[Breivik] picked up the argument that selfish western women have allowed Muslims to outbreed them, and that only a restoration of patriarchy can save European culture. One of the books he references approvingly is Patrick Buchanan’s The Death of the West, which argues, “[T]he rise of feminism spells the death of the nation and the end of the West.”


Nevertheless, the right clings to the idea that feminism is destroying Western societies from the inside, creating space for Islamism to take cover. This politics of emasculation gave shape to Breivik’s rage. Thus, while he pretends to abhor Muslim subjugation of women, he writes that the “fate of European civilisation depends on European men steadfastly resisting Politically Correct feminism.” When cultural conservatives seize control of Europe, he promises, “we will re-establish the patriarchal structures.” Eventually, women “conditioned” to this new order “will know her place in society.”
When tragedies like this happen, we like to pretend that they exist in a void. If we try too hard to understand their causes, we have to admit that they may happen again. It is easier to dismiss one person as crazy than to confront the fact that there are thousands of people in the world who feel this way about minority groups, immigrants, and women, and that Brevik is simply one who decided to take his views to the extreme. On this blog, we won't let you take the easy way out.

David Futrelle, a guest blogger at Shakesville who regularly visits men's rights and men's separatist blogs in order to discuss them at his own blog, writes about an attempted experiment. Someone posted some of the most anti-woman excerpts from Breivik's manifesto on a men's rights message board without identifying their author, to see how they were received. It should be no surprise that the posts were very popular until their author was identified.
But Reddit's Men's Rights subreddit is actually one of the most moderate and least misogynistic Men's Rights hangout online. Others in the manosphere have stepped up to defend Breivik's manifesto (if not his actions) plainly and explicitly, in full knowledge of just whose ideas they are endorsing.

On In Mala Fide, blogger Ferdinand Bardamu praises Breivik's "lucidity," and blames his murderous actions on the evils of a too-liberal society:
[A]nother madman with a sensible manifesto. Another completely rational, intelligent man driven to murderous insanity. And once again, society has zero introspection in regards to its profound ability to turn thoughtful men into lunatic butchers.
He's not being sarcastic here. He continues:
That makes HOW many rage killers in the past five years alone? And not just transparent headcases like Jared Loughner or George Sodini, but ordinary men like Pekka-Eric Auvinen or Joe Stack who simply weren't going to take it anymore. No one bothers to ask WHY all these men suddenly decide to pick up a gun and start shooting people – they're all written off as crazies. Or the rage killings are blamed on overly permissive gun laws …

Here's an idea – sick societies produce sick individuals who do sick things. Anders Breivin [sic] murdered nearly a hundred teens (not children, TEENS – they were at a summer camp for young adults) and must pay the price, but the blood of those teens is ultimately on the hands of the society that spat him forth. He is the bastard son of a masochistic, degenerate, rootless world that pisses on its traditions and heritage to elevate perversity, mindless consumerism and ethnic self-hatred to the highest of virtues.
That final reference to "ethnic self-hatred" seems to be Bardamu's euphemistic way of complaining that not enough white people are white supremacists.

Meanwhile, Chuck of Gucci Little Piggy offers what appears to be a somewhat more restrained, if ultimately more puzzling, defense of Breivik's manifesto – or at least that portion of the manifesto that Breivik borrowed from the writings of far-right blogger Fjordman.

After first complaining, incorrectly, that feminists are "try[ing] to blame Breivik on MRAs" (he cites me and Hugo Schwyzer as examples), Chuck goes on to endorse Breivik's (and Fjordman's) notion that feminism "grease[s]the wheels to allow Islam into his country," as Chuck summarizes the argument. The rest of Chuck's post elaborates on, and endorses, Breivik's/Fjordman's theories, arguing that feminism's "emasculation of Western men has taken the organic policing mechanism out of the hands of men in society" and thus rendered Western society helpless before the Islamic cultural invaders. (More on Bardamu and Gucci Little Piggy's arguments here.)


No, Breivik is not an MRA. No, he didn't take his marching orders from The Spearhead or In Mala Fide. But he is steeped in the same kind of hatred that is prevalent on those sites, and many of his repugnant beliefs about feminism and women in general are virtually identical to beliefs widespread in the misogynistic manosphere – a fact that a few in the manosphere are already willing to acknowledge out loud, as we saw above.
Further suggested reading: A Tale of Two Terrorists Redux

Monday, August 1, 2011

Winder Man Charged in Wife's Death

The Gwinnett Daily Post reports that a Winder man has been charged with his wife's death after her body was found at the bottom of a well near their home.
Barrow County authorities on Saturday charged a Winder man with murder after discovering his wife’s body at the bottom of a well near the Gwinnett County line.

Authorities believe James Morris Lynn, 43, killed his wife, Tonya Faye Lynn, 38, whom family members had reported missing Wednesday.

Police recovered the body from a well off Etheridge Road in Auburn, and Georgia Crime Lab officials confirmed the body was Tonya Lynn, a mother of four. Records show the couple had a tumultuous relationship, and charges indicate the killing was domestic.

An autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is under way to pinpoint a cause of death. Police won’t divulge what led them to the well.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Lynn family.

Update 8/2/11: Lynn has confessed to killing his wife. Police are now investigating the death of Lynn's first wife, which was originally ruled a suicide.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chatham County Man Charged in Wife's Stabbing Death

As reported by, a Chatham County man has been accused in his wife's murder.
...Police say [Kenneth Sanders] stabbed her to death in front of her three daughters, ages 4, 7 and 9.

Kenneth Sanders has been charged with murder, aggravated assault, possession of a knife in committing a crime and cruelty to children. He’s being held in the mental health wing of the Chatham County jail.

The girls are staying with their grandparents, Nancy Sanders’ mother and father, in Savannah.

LaVonya Oliver, the couple’s 20-year-old neighbor, called police after Nancy’s 7-year-old daughter rang her doorbell covered in blood.

“She said, ‘Can you help me because my daddy is stabbing my mommy,” Oliver said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sanders family.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lawrenceville Man a Suspect in Wife's Death

A missing Gwinnett County woman's body has been found and her husband is a suspect in her death, though no charges have been filed. The victim's sister suggests to The Gwinnett Daily Post that domestic violence had been present in their relationship.

When 44-year-old Nique (short for Dominique, and pronounced “Nikki”) [Leili] turned up beneath leaves and sticks, a few feet from residential Oak Village Lane, Elk’s sisterhood trio was fractured. Continuing silence on the part of Matt, who has retained an attorney and stopped cooperating with police, has piqued suspicions among Elk and other family, she said.
Police this week called Matt, 43, a suspect, but have filed no charges. Nique’s death is being probed as a homicide, though a cause of death was not apparent at the scene or after an autopsy. Further tests are pending.

“I’m letting police do their job,” said Elk, the family’s de facto spokeswoman. “I certainly have my opinions. We certainly want (Matt) investigated very strenuously.”

So far, the husband has remained silent. The criminal defense attorney, Lyle Porter, Matt retained before his wife’s body was discovered could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
Elk said Matt equipped her sister’s car with LoJack tracking gear, downloaded a tracking application to her cellphone and equipped the home with multiple security cameras as a means to keep tabs on his wife, she said.

“He just monitored everything, and everybody,” Elk said. “He behaved like he was paranoid.”

Elk said she never witnessed the couple being violent toward each other, but she had become privy to a domestic 911 call on June 28 when Nique told dispatchers her husband was barring her from leaving the home.

Responding officers spoke to both sides individually and advised them of family violence laws. Neither wanted to leave, Smith said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Leili family.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

How Men Who Buy Sex View Women

Newsweek has an absolute must-read article on men who buy sex. It paints a haunting picture that illustrates the clear link between a view of women as objects and men's use of violence, which reinforces everything we have ever posted.

An excerpt:
Overall, the attitudes and habits of sex buyers reveal them as men who dehumanize and commodify women, view them with anger and contempt, lack empathy for their suffering, and relish their own ability to inflict pain and degradation.

Farley found that sex buyers were more likely to view sex as divorced from personal relationships than nonbuyers, and they enjoyed the absence of emotional involvement with prostitutes, whom they saw as commodities. “Prostitution treats women as objects and not ... humans,” said one john interviewed for the study.

In their interviews, the sex buyers often voiced aggression toward women, and were nearly eight times as likely as nonbuyers to say they would rape a woman if they could get away with it. Asked why he bought sex, one man said he liked “to beat women up.” Sex buyers in the study committed more crimes of every kind than nonbuyers, and all the crimes associated with violence against women were committed by the johns.

Prostitution has always been risky for women; the average age of death is 34, and the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that prostitutes suffer a “workplace homicide rate” 51 times higher than that of the next most dangerous occupation, working in a liquor store.
Please, please read the whole thing.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Nicki Minaj and Fighting Back

Last week, singer Nicki Minaj was involved in an incident of domestic violence during which, according to the police report, her companion hit her with a suitcase. Minaj chose not to press charges and then denied the account to the media. Taking to Twitter, she said (paraphrasing due to the adult language in the original tweet) people are stupid to believe that a man would hit her and not leave on a stretcher.

We hear a lot of women say that. Some think that domestic violence victims are weak. Others just think that their own self-esteem (or temper) is too high to "put up with" violence used against them. Zerlina Maxwell at TheLoop21 addresses this somewhat (clicking this link takes you to Minaj's original tweet, which contains adult language):
Being the victim of violence doesn’t make you weak. It makes the perpetrator of that violence look weak. Furthermore, Minaj’s insistence that she would have retaliated against the man if she had really been hit is wholly unacceptable.

We need to have a mature conversation around gender violence. It’s not appropriate for anyone to be hit or leave in a stretcher. The automatic response from Minaj should not be one that coincides with her stage image, she is a human being after all. Even if she didn’t want to admit to being hit, a more empowering response could have been “I was not the victim of domestic abuse but if you find yourself in that situation call the police or tell a friend. Get Help!”
Of course, these kinds of comments are dangerous for more reasons than just that violence should not be met with more violence. I talked to a woman literally as I was typing this post who was struggling to admit that her partner was abusive, that it was really all that bad, despite the fact that he has choked her in front of their child and is threatening to kill her. She said that it's hard to believe that it is real because she isn't the "meek" kind of woman that she thought "usually ended up in these situations". We are stereotyping domestic violence victims so much that they now cannot recognize themselves enough to seek help!

There's another reason why this reaction isn't helpful. WRC offers two free classes every month that the local judicial districts call "anger management". Women are mandated by the courts to attend these classes because they have been arrested for family violence. Some of the women in the class genuinely have anger management issues, but most are victims of domestic violence who were arrested for fighting back. Our classes are 1/3 DV support group, 1/3 anger management, and 1/3 instructions for how to avoid future arrests and how to get this one expunged from your record.

In the class, we often show a video about the Framingham 8, a group of 8 women in Framingham, Massachusetts who were imprisoned for killing a spouse or partner after years of domestic violence. Several of those women have since won their freedom by using Battered Women's Syndrome as a defense. We had a woman in class recently, who you will recall was there because she had been arrested for fighting back, who was assaulted again by her partner a few days after the class. She called to tell us that she thinks that video might have saved her life. Instead of fighting back and possibly escalating the violence, getting arrested again, or killing her partner, she just took the abuse. For her, that was her best-case scenario.

It's not a pretty picture, but here we are. How disheartening is it that we are asked to teach classes for victims that instruct them not to fight back or they might go to jail? The unfortunate truth is that many victims of domestic violence do go to jail for fighting back, or for killing their partners, and the effects of that often last longer than the effects of the physical violence. Once you are arrested, it is harder to find a job. While you are in jail, your children might be taken from you (and sometimes even given to your batterer). You are labeled the "aggressor" by the legal system, a label which follows you throughout your interactions with the courts as you later try to press charges or file a protective order. That label also prevents you from receiving services from the court victim advocates and even some domestic violence programs (though certainly not ours). To help women have the best chance of rebuilding their lives after domestic violence, while they are in it, we are encouraged to tell them just to take it.

How can we get to the hard work of ending domestic violence when we have to tell 80ish women per month just to take it?

We are thankful to be able to offer these classes, for free, because instead victims who are arrested would have to pay a more traditional anger management program to treat them like a criminal. We are lucky to have this means of introducing our agency to women who might otherwise never attend a DV support group or hear about our services. We are also disgusted that so many women who don't belong there end up in these classes at all, and we work hard for the day when our community no longer punishes women for the crimes committed against them.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sandy Springs Murder-Suicide

According to the AJC, a Sandy Springs man is suspected of killing his wife and then killing himself.

Irene Mickens arrived at the Sandy Springs apartment Tuesday night to tend to her daughter, who, according to her soon-to-be ex-husband, was seriously ill.

The five-year-old was not sick, it turns out. Jamal Mickens had taken the girl, along with the couple's 7-year-old son, to his sister's home in McDonough earlier that day before returning home to meet his wife.

Sometime between 6 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, the recent Emory University graduate shot his estranged spouse in the head before turning the gun on himself, Sandy Springs police spokesman Steve Rose said.

"He lured her there," said Donna Penn, a friend of Mickens' who was on the phone with her minutes before she arrived at the Hammond Drive apartment were the couple lived, though not together.

Their bodies were found by police called to scene by Irene Mickens' father, concerned for his daughter's safety. Officers found a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun next to 40-year-old Jamal Mickens' dead body.

There are a couple of interesting things about this story. First, the AJC is determined to sprinkle class markers throughout their article on this homicide-suicide, which took place in a wealthier section of North Fulton County. Jamal Mickens has a Master's Degree from Emory University. There is a photo of the police towing a BMW from the scene. Though we don't know why the AJC felt it necessary to include this information, it does remind us that domestic violence is not an issue limited by class, and that educated people in nice neighborhoods are also vulnerable to violence in the home.

In addition, because WRC offers supervised visitation and exchange services at Nia's Place, we pay particular attention to instances where men take the lives of their former partners during visitation or custody exchanges. Just because a woman has decided to end the relationship with her batterer, that does not mean that she will be safe. In fact, women who have children with their batterer, especially if they were married or if their partner legitimized the children in court, are forever tied to him. Judges are very gung-ho about giving rights to any fathers who want them, whether it is good for the children or not. In fact, men who batter are more likely to have visitation or joint custody, because they are more likely to ask for it since it guarantees their continued access to the child(ren)'s mother.

If you are a woman who is afraid of experiencing violence when meeting your child(ren)'s father to exchange the children, call one of our legal advocates at (404) 370-7670 to get more information on how to request supervised visitation or exchange and what resources are available in your area.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mickens family.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn Follow-up

Since our last post, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the famous and influential French economist who was accused of sexual assault and attempted rape by a New York hotel maid, was released from house arrest after prosecutors decided that the woman's past would make prosecution of Strauss-Kahn difficult.
According to a letter filed by prosecutors in court on Friday, the housekeeper from Guinea lied about her actions right after the alleged attack, as well as on her tax returns and in an application for asylum.
So women who lie on their tax returns can't be raped?

Certainly an accuser's credibility will be in question in a crime with no witnesses, but rape cases in particular often take on the feel of a well-organized character assassination against victims. The New York Post ran a front-page story alleging the victim in this case was a "hooker". Others have called her a liar, criminal, or gold-digger. Still others have said she shouldn't be believed because she is just a hotel maid.

A poster at the Crunk Feminist Collective lays it out well:
So what’s the takeaway from this? What are we to understand about violence against women in the US?

It seems that in cases of violence against women, the burden of proof falls squarely on the shoulders of the woman who brings the case to court. And then we wonder why only 16% of rapes are reported. As noted in that same report, when survivors of sexual assault DO disclose what happened to them, they often face skepticism, blame, and further humiliation from professionals, families, and friends, amounting to what many survivors consider a “second victimization.”

Here’s why I think this:

First, as the DSK case demonstrates, in order for these cases to be taken seriously, the accusers must not have any credibility issues.

Next, people who are poor, immigrant, women, differently-abled, LGBTQ, etc. will never be able to conform to the standards of credibility – because their very identities mark them as “outsiders” or “deviants” – from the jump.

So, then, if decide to brave the inevitable challenges and try avail themselves of our criminal “justice” their “character” is attacked, cases are dismissed, an/or forgotten.

Listen up, fellow crunk feminists, it’s a legal-socio-political set-up!

Dramatics aside, this belies not just a problem in this case, but also in the way that we think about violence against women. Fundamentally, it is problem in the way that we deploy a system of justice that is, at it’s core, sexist. For this reason, it is clearly not set up to deal with the problem of violence against women. In fact, seems to consistently diminish the ability of women to find justice in cases of sexual assault.
Those accused of a crime are innocent until proven guilty. Can't we extend the same courtesy toward victims? Instead of smearing them in the media and attacking their characters, can't we assume that it is possible for any woman to be raped. Trust us, there isn't much to gain from falsely accusing someone, especially someone famous and well-connected, of rape. This case illustrates that pretty well. Instead, can we assume that a possible victim has a good reason to make the report, and allow the courts to do their job in trying the case? Is it so impossible to believe that women who lie on their taxes, women who have friends in jail, women who have prostituted themselves, women who drink a lot or have lots of sex, or women who otherwise don't look like "perfect" victims can still be raped? In fact, those women are probably more vulnerable to sexual assault because they are less likely to be believed by law enforcement and judges. If only 6% of rapists ever see a day in jail, leaving 94% available to rape again, we would be better served taking women's claims seriously and making it a less traumatizing process to prosecute those who use violence against women. We may never know if DSK is actually guilty of this crime, because it may never make it to trial. For women everywhere who have experienced sexual assault, how is that justice?

Monday, July 11, 2011

DV SWAT Stand-off in Gwinett

A Gwinett County man committed suicide after a 6-hour SWAT stand-off in Gwinett County.

The incident began with an argument between the man and his wife around midnight, Gwinnett police Cpl. Edwin Ritter said. He said the man threatened to harm himself.

“He told her that he was going to commit suicide. She threatened to leave. He said, ‘No, you’re not going to leave.’ He went and got a long gun,” Ritter told Channel 2’s Amanda Cook.

Ritter said the wife managed to escape with the couple’s teenage daughter and call 911.

When police arrived, they said, the man refused to come out, and they had to take precautions because he’s armed.

“We don't know the power of this gun," Ritter said.

The SWAT team was brought in and neighbors on either side of the house were evacuated. They were speaking to the man over the phone, but he refused to surrender. SWAT officers threw tear gas in the home and sent in a robot. Ritter said authorities would stay at the home as long as necessary.

“We want to make sure that this is going to be a peaceful resolution,” he said.

But, police said, SWAT stormed in after the robot showed the man lying very still. Around 6:30 a.m., they said he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Ritter's wife and daughter. We are very thankful that they were able to get out alive.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Murder-Suicide in Canton

The AJC is reporting and a Canton man murdered his girlfriend and son before turning the gun on himself.

Police responded to an apartment in the 3100 block of Ridge Road early Friday and found the bodies of Christopher E. Conley, 30; his 25-year-old girlfriend Minnie Carr; and their 4-year-old son, Casey Noah Conley, Det. Candy Worthy said.

The preliminary investigation indicates that all three suffered gunshot wounds, and the bodies are being sent to the GBI Crime Lab in Atlanta for autopsies, Worthy said. A carbine rifle, which appears to be the weapon used in the deaths, was in the room next to the bodies and will be tested, she said.

"It appears from the initial walk through that it was the male who shot them," Canton police Lt. German Rivas said.
He also said police had been called to the couple’s apartment once in the past. Last year, Conley, intoxicated, locked himself in the bathroom and threatened to commit suicide.

“He threatened to cut his throat, but when police arrived, he had passed out,” Rivas said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Carr and Conley families.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Columbus Man Kills Ex-Girlfriend and Another Man

A Columbus man faces murder charges after opening fire inside an Internet cafe Wednesday, killing his ex-girlfriend and another man, police said.

Police say Eric Vann Huguley, 26, stepped inside Joycom Internet Sweepstakes, 4105 Buena Vista Road, around 7:10 p.m. and began firing. Two people — 31-year-old Rebecca Shanna Wyatt and 25-year-old Fredrick Lamar Brown — were struck multiple times.

Emergency responders found Wyatt, a cafe employee, on the floor of the business’ office and Brown on the lobby floor. Both were taken to The Medical Center, where Coroner Bill Thrower pronounced Wyatt dead, reports state.

“The second victim died during the night, so he’ll be charged with two murders,” Lt. John McMichael said of Huguley.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wyatt and Brown families.

Update 7/8: Huguley has confessed to the shooting, saying that he came to her job to find her after Wyatt stopped taking his phone calls. He was angry because she had begun a new relationship with Brown, the second victim.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Murder-Suicide in Appling County

According to the Baxley News Banner:

At approximately 12:10 p.m. on June 30 Appling Dispatch received a call from an employer asking that the Appling Sheriff’s Office check a residence at 2148 Oliff Thornton Road in Southeast Appling County to check on an employee that had not showed up for work, which was unusual for her. When the deputy arrived at the scene, the back door of the residence was open and when he went inside he saw two bodies that were apparently DOA.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation was called to assist in the investigation. The Appling County Coroner pronounced both subjects dead at the scene.

One has been identified as Calvin Willis Wright, age 60. The other has been identified as Maxine Wright, age 56. The Wrights were husband and wife. Preliminary investigation indicates that Mr. Wright shot Mrs. Wright and then shot himself.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Wright family.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

DV Homicide in LaGrange

A LaGrange man is charged with shooting to death his child's mother, from whom he had recently separated.

Lagrange Police responded to the intersection of Ragland street and Colquitt Street in reference to a car accident on Sunday morning around 10. Upon arrival, police say the female driver was found dead in the driver's seat, but police say it wasn't the accident that killed her.

Police say 37-year-old Tonya Bray was shot in the head before her car crashed.

She was transported to the West Georgia Medical Center where she was pronounced dead shortly after.

During the initial hour of investigation, police say Bray's long-time boyfriend 37-year-old Jeffery Jones turned himself in, in connection with the shooting. Police say he told them he chased Bray's car southbound on Ragland street and fired several shots into her car before her car veered off the roadway.

Police say the couple had just recently separated. They believe the shooting was the result of a domestic dispute.

Police say Jones is charged with murder and is being held in the Troup County jail.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bray family.

Friday, July 1, 2011

DV and Custody Evaluations

The Huffington Post has an article that looks at the differing beliefs about domestic violence held by custody evaluators based on whether the individual evaluator has ever had DV training. Really, this could describe anyone:
The custody evaluators whose views tended towards viewing aggression as situational violence reported less training in domestic violence. This group generally viewed domestic violence as stress induced, normative and mutual. As a result, these evaluators minimized spouse abuse as relevant to child custody decisions. They also thought that false allegations of violence were common. In terms of custody and parenting plans, they prioritized coparenting and father-child relationships.

On the other hand, custody evaluators who characterized domestic violence as intimate terrorism took a different view of custody. They were more likely to report extensive training in domestic violence. These evaluators viewed spouse abuse as a significant factor in determining child custody. They thought that false allegations of abuse were rare. This group of evaluators distinguished between types of violence and expressed strong views that custody and parenting plans should be different for each of these types of violence. In the case of intimate terrorism, they prioritized victim safety over ongoing contact with fathers.
The summary really is this: people who know a lot about domestic violence take it more seriously. People who don't really know much about it think DV isn't much of a problem.

This is especially scary when it comes to the courts. These evaluators make decisions about custody that can put both child and adult victims at risk. Many abusers use custody exchanges (the meeting of the two parents to physically pass the children back and forth) as a guaranteed opportunity to continue harassing or abusing their former partner. Abuser parents can also bring the children back late, insist on rearrangements to the schedule, refuse to bring the children back at all, etc. as a way to continue exerting control over their former partner's life. If the parent with a history of using violence has unsupervised access to the children, they also have additional opportunities to harm their former partner by threatening to harm or actually harming the children. In addition, men who batter pass on their beliefs about women to their children and model abusive and disrespectful behavior for their children that the kids often pick up.

If custody evaluators and others with the power to make custody decisions for a family do not take domestic violence seriously, they won't understand any of these things. If they do not consider the effects and dynamics of domestic violence when making custody decisions, they are opening that family to a continuation of the behavior instead of communicating to the batterer that his controlling tactics should end. Custody evaluators have a unique opportunity to make families safer by ordering supervised exchanges, supervised visits, or no custody or visitation, but most don't do so. Keep that in mind when you hear men's groups lamenting how judges are keeping good fathers away from their children. It actually takes quite a lot for an evaluator or judge to get to that point. More often, women and children who have experienced domestic violence cannot truly end their relationship with a batterer until the children are grown.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

DV Shooting Leaves 1 Dead, 2 in Critical Condition

From the AJC:
Officers responding to a 2:20 a.m. call about a domestic dispute at the Colony at Stone Mountain, a ramshackle apartment complex on Chatfield Drive off North Hairston Road, "discovered that multiple victims had been shot," DeKalb police spokesman Lloyd Ruffin said.

One victim, a man believed to be in his 20s, was killed, Ruffin said. Another man and a woman were taken to local hospitals in critical condition, he said.

Ruffin said officers located the suspect, who was holding two children and an adult female hostage near the incident scene. The suspect, whose name was not released, was taken into custody, he said.

The suspect, who was armed with a handgun, was charged with murder, aggravated assault and kidnapping.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of all of those harmed. We will post more details if they become available.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hawkinsville, GA Man Accused of Killing Ex

According to the GBI, 33-year-old Birago Blackshear is charged with the murder of his former girlfriend Ashton Bartlett, age 18.

According to the family, Ashton came to McDuffie Street in the early hours of Saturday morning with a male friend. They say she came there to talk to Blackshear. They say when Blackshear saw her arrive with another male friend, he became upset.

[Her grandmother] said, "He was just overcome with jealousy I think, was the the main thing. She was trying to run from him, and he just caught up with her and shot her, I guess."

Bartlett died at the hospital with one gunshot in the back, according to Pulaski County Sheriff's investigator, Robert McGriff.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Bartlett family.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ensure Our Future

As we've mentioned before, 2011 is WRC's 25th Anniversary of providing services to families who have experienced domestic violence. As we are honoring this milestone, we are also mourning. At our founding, we hoped it wouldn't take 25 years to bring domestic violence to an end. In 2011, we certainly hope that we do not have to recognize our 50th Anniversary.

In light of that goal, we challenged ourselves to imagine what the year 2036 would look like if domestic violence were a thing of the past. How would it look if WRC could close our doors forever?

Please help us get there. Make a donation and call (404) 370-7670 to learn more about volunteering your time. It will take each and every one of us to ensure a peaceful world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

In Honor of Father's Day

This is a repost of 2008 entry. The link to our Father's Day Ad has been updated for 2011.

RH Reality Check recently posted a piece about Jackson Katz, a well-known writer and educator on the topic of gender violence prevention among men and boys. In the piece, Katz discusses why he feels that violence against women should be reframed as a men's issue. Katz argues that labeling violence against women a "women's issue" or even a "gender issue" (which he believes is automatically synonymous with "women's issue" for many people) encourages men to view the issue as irrelevant to their lives and "gives them an excuse to not pay attention".

Another reason why Katz has a problem with people using women's issues to describe violence against women is the issue of perpetration and who is responsible for perpetrating these acts. "Take rape for example," said Katz. "Over 99 percent of rape is perpetrated by men, but it's a women's issue?"

As a further example of this thinking, Katz uses commonly implemented "rape prevention" courses held at universities across the country. Katz argues that these courses are useful information for women in order to practice "risk reduction", but because they do not address men, they are not effective as prevention.

"If a woman has done everything in her power to reduce her risk, then a man who has the proclivity for abuse or need for power will just move on to another woman or target," Katz added. "It's about the guy and his need to assert his power. And it's not just individual men, it's a cultural problem. Our culture is producing violent men, and violence against women has become institutionalized. We need to take a step back and examine the institutionalized polices drafted by men that perpetuate the problem."

This is also the thinking that drives Men Stopping Violence, a locally headquartered organization dedicated to ending men's violence against women. MSV is a national leader in the violence against women's movement who works locally and nationally to dismantle belief systems, social structures, and institutional practices that oppress women and children and dehumanize men themselves. MSV has been a long-time partner of Women's Resource Center and a regular sponsor of our own Father's Day Campaign "It Takes a Man to End Domestic Violence".

In this campaign, we ask men to take a public stance against domestic violence by making a restorative financial contribution to support to women and children affected by abuse. We then include each contributor's name in an advertisement in the Father's Day Sunday edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution under the heading:

In commemoration of Father’s Day, the men of Atlanta have united to promote peace in every home. If you think that domestic violence does not affect you or that you cannot make a difference in stopping domestic violence, these men ask that you think of your mothers, sisters and daughters. Domestic violence affects us all, and you can make a difference. The men listed below proudly state that they will not tolerate domestic violence.

We hope that men will see other men whom they know and respect taking a public stance against domestic violence, and that it will influence them to examine the violent tendencies in their own lives. Please look for our ad in the AJC this Sunday, and thank you to all who participated.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Dangers of Leaving

Another excellent article addresses this weekend's tragic slayings in Georgia and highlights the very real dangers that women experience while they are attempting to get safe. From Online Athens:

Three-fourths of people killed by domestic violence either were leaving or had just left an abusive relationship, said Maggie Reeves, research coordinator for the Georgia Commission on Family Violence, which documents domestic-related killings in an annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review.

"Georgia's Fatality Review consistently finds that domestic violence homicide victims had taken steps toward independence just prior to the homicide," Reeves said.

That's what happened last week to Carlotta Shields Appling, a 39-year-old Jefferson woman whose divorce soon would be final. She moved out of the home she'd shared with her husband a month earlier, and had a court order that forbade him from having any contact with her.

But as Carlotta got ready for work Monday morning, 42-year-old Anthony Appling forced his way into her home and shot her to death in her bedroom, police said.


The murder-suicide shows how pending divorce and protective orders aren't enough to ensure an abused woman's safety, Reeves said.

"Legal options can be a great tool, but for the abusers, they can be seen just as a piece of paper," she said.
The article goes on to talk about safety planning and gives a real life example of one woman's plan that she devised with the help of an organization like ours. When planning to leave, it is vitally important for women to take some time to safety plan, both for the actual moment that you leave and immediately afterward. We have a printable safety plan on our website, and advocates are available in Atlanta and across the country 24 hours per day to discuss it with you and modify it for your needs. Please call us at (404) 688-9436 or call the national DV hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE to speak with an advocate.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rash of DV Murders in Atlanta

This weekend was a tragic one in Georgia with 4 domestic violence homicides in less than that many days.

Police say a Roswell man killed his elderly mother and then himself.

Daughter and abusive boyfriend planned Clayton mom's killing, officials say. [update] Later reports expand on the probability that the victim's daughter was compelled to keep quite and assist in the cover up after her boyfriend killed her mother.

Police: Fulton Man shot ex-girlfriend in front of couple's two children.

North of Atlanta, a Jackson County man is also accused of killing his estranged wife before killing himself after police located him in Clarke County.

It is unfortunate that it takes many women being killed by abusive men in a short amount of time for many in our community to recognize that domestic violence is an epidemic that claims the lives of thousands of women every year. Even then, most are looking for an easy answer as to what causes domestic violence or what might have caused the rise in numbers of homicides. AJC reporter Marcus Garner did a fantastic job of reaching out to the experts here in Atlanta for an explanation, but he didn't get an easy answer, because there isn't one to give.

It's true that during poor economies, incidents of domestic violence often rise, as Allison Smith of the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence pointed out. Lack of control in other areas of your life, such as losing your job or not being able to find work when you want it, often inspires those with a predisposition toward violence to seek that control over their family or loved ones. Thus, the root could also be control, as mentioned by Sulaiman Nurridin of Men Stopping Violence. Finally, it could be a criminal justice system that does not take domestic violence seriously enough. As our own ED commented, in the case of the man who killed his children's mother during a custody exchange, there was a protective order in place. The judge clearly felt that it wasn't safe for him to have access to his victim, yet it was OK for him to have access to his children? If the judge in the case had taken the level of risk seriously, he or she could have ordered supervised exchanges or supervised visits and it is possible that this murder could have been prevented.

Domestic violence is a complex issue and, like all complex issues, it requires many solutions. Until our community begins taking domestic violence seriously, working to understand its motivation, and holding men who use violence accountable, this won't be the last tragic weekend we have in Georgia.

Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the families who lost loved ones this weekend.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Man Down

Rihanna has a new song called 'Man Down'. In it, she grapples with her decision to kill a man. Violence is regularly glorified in music, yet this song is different. Rihanna seems to genuinely struggle with her decision and its consequences, making her song less like those of many of her hip-hop counterparts and more like the corresponding verses of Queen's 'Bohemian Rhapsody'.

The video for this song has caused a great deal of controversy. It begins with the fatal shooting, then backtracks to the events leading up to it. The twist to the video is that the man Rihanna shoots is her rapist. Those condemning the video aren't complaining that sexual assault is too violent for a video, though the assault in this video isn't graphic. They are complaining that it's too violent for a woman to kill her attacker.

WRC doesn't condone the use of violence by anyone, yet we hear from several women every year who are forced to kill their batterers to escape the abuse. There are battered women's clemency projects across the country who work with these women to help them escape jail time and rebuild their lives. It is never a decision that a woman makes lightly and it is rarely one that they celebrate, other than to sigh in relief that the abuse is finally over. Taking a life shouldn't be easy and the women we talk to don't find it so. They grapple and struggle with their decisions, too. Yet in a country where domestic violence battery is a misdemeanor that often doesn't result in jail time, many women with truly violent partners can never feel safe while those partners are still alive. Most continue to try to live their lives while constantly looking over their shoulders. Others feel forced to take more drastic measures.

Conviction rates for sexual assault in many Caribbean nations are abysmal (about 1% of reported cases) and many of those islands are small. With her attacker free to roam, would Rihanna's character ever feel safe again?

The homicide in this video could easily be interpreted as a revenge killing, yet we don't think it is. Our work with women who have killed their partners emphasizes that it isn't a triumphant attempt at vigilante justice. It is a tragedy that affects a woman for the rest of her life, whether she ends up in jail or not. We don't think violence should be glorified, but we also don't think this video does that. It shows a hurt woman who makes a choice out of pain that hurts her even worse. She now has to flee her home and the community she clearly loves. The vibrant happy woman of yesterday has become the shell-shocked woman who today must leave everything behind. This video doesn't glorify violence, it just shows one realistic way that such an encounter might end, and how devastating a sexual assault and its consequences can be for a survivor.

The video also shows that women have a right to wear whatever they want, to go out dancing, to be sexual, and to walk alone at night without deserving to be raped. That is something that should definitely be praised, but is being overlooked fairly consistently amidst the controversy.

Finally, we have to remind our media friends again not to totalize Rihanna by her experience with dating violence. She did not ask to become a poster child for the violence against women movement and we should not reduce her to that by examining everything she does in the context of Chris Brown's famous assault on her. Because of her past, that gives her a powerful voice when she discusses violence against women, and it probably influences her to give issues of violence against women a prominent place in her art, but there is no one way that a survivor should act, and we shouldn't hold Rihanna up to some false standard that we have created. She deserves to move through her life without judgment as much as any other woman.

See also: Independence Day by Martina McBride or Good Bye Earl by the Dixie Chicks

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Schwarzenegger and Strauss-Kahn

By now you have probably heard that Arnold Schwarzenegger has admitted to fathering a child with a household employee while he was married to Maria Shriver. You have also probably heard that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French economist and politician, has been accused of raping a housekeeper at a hotel in New York. At face value, these stories may seem unrelated, but we'd like you to look at them a little closer.

The reason that most companies have strict rules about intra-office dating, especially between a boss and a subordinate, is that, by nature, a power difference exists between a person and the person that he or she works for. The boss has the power to fire, reprimand, promote, give raises or other perks, or to make work life miserable for his or her employees. If an employee fears even for an instant that saying no to an advance made by her or his boss will result in a negative on-the-job consequence, it calls into question whether the act or relationship is truly consensual. The mother of Schwarzenegger's baby was his household employee. Because of the power he held over her merely by virtue of providing her paycheck (especially in a time when employment is harder and harder to come by), not to mention that he is a powerful man politically and because of his celebrity, we will never know if the relationship or the act that produced a child was truly consensual. We do know that Schwarzenegger has a history of being accused of violence and harassment toward women.

The woman accusing Strauss-Kahn of rape is making it clear that she did not consent.

These women are both domestic workers, and domestic workers all over the world are particularly vulnerable to violence. Just like in rapes, just like in domestic violence, assaults on domestic workers come from a place of unequal power and are able to continue because those using violence do not fear punishment. Just as scores of people, including Ben Stein in a truly abysmal article, rush to defend Strauss-Kahn against the accusations leveled by a women who, as Stein says, is "just a maid", most people in a position to stop violence against those who are vulnerable just can't bring themselves to believe "just maids" over the fine upstanding citizens who employ them. Violence against women happens to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and income levels and is perpetrated by people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds and income levels. Yet, in both of these cases, the women in question are working class women of color, where the men are wealthy and white. Yet another difference in power as afforded by our society.

We're not the only ones who have noticed that men in power sometimes abuse that power, but instead of painting it as men "behaving badly", we call it what it is - a culture that perpetuates violence against women. If any man, powerful or no, thinks that he can get away with abusing women, he is more likely to consider doing so. That doesn't mean that all men will abuse their partners, but you're more likely to consider doing anything bad if you don't think you'll get punished. If a man also thinks that a woman's purpose is to please a man, or that women aren't as smart are as valuable as men, or that being a man means that you have to be in control at all times, or that being a man means using violence, he especially will take advantage of opportunities to violate women while escaping punishment. We have to challenge those mindsets, but we also have to make sure that men who use violence against women are punished. Otherwise they'll do it again and again and again, just as these men have been accused of doing.