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.