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