Domestic Violence Permission Slips

refuge 1 in four domestic violenceWe, as a society, give many permission slips to abusers, excusing their abuse, violence & control with claims of “understandable stressors.” Perhaps no category of these permission slips is larger, more pervasive, than the economical permission slips.

Since society is made up of individuals, this is not surprising to me; I’ve seen the permission slips handed out personally — and in my own life.

When my ex husband, who was convicted of battery, first began his regime of oppression, I talked to others, including my parents, siblings, and friends.

When I complained that he was unrealistic in his expectations (a perfectly clean home with kids, the mandatory shutting of window blinds a specific time every evening, my accounting for every purchase down to each nickel, etc.), I was told to give him a break, “He’s got a new family,” “There’s a new mortgage,” “The economy’s bad in his industry,” etc.

When I expressed fear over his irrational anger (swearing, stomping, yelling, threatening to kill the cat), I was told the same things… And I could do a lot to help his disposition & my situation by doing the little things he asked for, like shutting the blinds at 5:30 and providing him with receipts and my left-over change for every purchase, including a soda pop at the gas station.

It may seem to you like “little things to do.” That even if they seem petty or downright silly, they are things I should have done to make him happy — and stop his yelling & stomping & threatening. I did them; I assure you I did. But there are problems with this theory, you see…

For one, my doing what he asked did not make him happy — or even happier. He simply made more lists of things I should be doing, and if I didn’t do them (or did them, but stopped doing the other things as well), the yelling & stomping continued. His greed for control grew.

And his power grew too.

I can’t say that he knew about my conversations, but he did know I was complying and doing the “fast as I can, Master” dance to please him. And so he knew he could ask for more.

And, boy, did he ask for more.

I mention this not just to point out examples of excuses we automatically give to controlling, abusive people, but to illustrate what happens to the one who is controlled and abused.

It wasn’t only that in doing such things I was devalued & debased — what adult, let alone a parent, has to account & atone for buying a soda and lazily dropping the change into her purse — or is forced to shut the window blinds at home for a man who is not there anyway?

It wasn’t only that I had more irrational rules to follow & unrealistic things to do for him.

While those things are bad enough by themselves (and if you see yourself, your sister, your friend in such a situation — get help!), probably the worst thing is that I was losing my support system.

With every “silly” complaint I made, I was losing credibility & respect outside my own home; I was the complainer.

Every time someone else that I went to for help told me to “buck up” (which, in reality, was saying, “knuckle under”), I lost my ability to trust them.

As time goes by, these are the things which only widens & deepens your isolation. You, bit by bit & one by one, kill-off your relationships and don’t have a support system.

Then, when you are on your own, you only have two voices: His & yours. And you can’t trust yours because you were wrong, see — otherwise your family & friends wouldn’t have said those things, wouldn’t have split…

I know because I lost my ability to trust myself.

I thought I should just “buck up” and “knuckle under” because that’s what everyone had said I should do — my own voice needed to shut-up, my own gut was horribly wrong.

So even if you have a person left who is willing to listen to you, you fear your fears will only be heard as whiny complaints… And if that’s what they are, complaints & not fears, then you are wrong. You are as wrong & bad & worthless as he treats you — no wonder you have to account for every nickel you spend & be given a time to shut the blinds & stomped at for not reading his mind! Saying anything to anyone else was a giant “I told you so!” — proof that he was right.

So you say less… Say nothing. Until you are bereft of power as you are support (external & internal support systems). The only thing you have is him, and when you’re so dependent upon him — you’d better do what he wants.

Giving him excuses, was giving him permission to be so controlling. With each additional permission slip, he was granted more power & control — while I was reduced to nothingness, completely dependent upon him because I was isolated & unable to trust myself.

We need to stop making excuses for abusive behaviors, stop giving them excuses for why they control, stop handing them permission slips for unacceptable actions & belief systems. We need to start believing in the “complaints” and fears of those who are abused, help them stand up for their rights, support them if/when they need to leave, and show the victims that we both hear them and are here for them. We must stop giving control freaks & abusive jerks excuses which are permission slips for continuing their persecution of the very people they profess to love.

Image from Refuge.

Toxic Break-Ups (Stalking)

Hey Alessia,

I dated this guy for about 6 months — about 6 months ago now. But he continues to call me — at home, at work, on my cell. I’ve told him in no uncertain terms to bug off, but every time he calls or leaves messages (because I avoid his calls if I can see it is him), he acts like I’ve never said such a thing. Worse, he’ll leave me messages to meet him somewhere and when I naturally have not done so (I avoid — like the plague — any bars, restaurants, etc. where we ever went just so I won’t even accidentally be where he wants me to be at any given point in time), he calls back ranting like a lunatic, asking why I stood him up.

Yesterday I came home late from work (I had stopped by my mom’s house for dinner), and I found a note from him on my door — a “where are you, you should be home by now!” note that sounded pissy. Granted I could be reading said pissy-ness into that note — but only because of his angry voice mails.

What am I supposed to do to lose this guy for real?

Sneaking-into-my-own-apartment Susan

Susan, you should not have to slink & sneak your way into your apartment or anywhere else. No means no means no means no.

You’ve made it clear you’re done, avoided him, and six moths later he’s still around?! That’s not him having a tough time with the break-up; that’s stalking.

Gather all harassing evidence you have saved from him — voice mails, texts, notes, emails, etc. — and present it to the police. (And, should the police do nothing, continue this every day, week, that it occurs until the police take action.)

Do the same with your employer. Regardless of whether or not the police take action, your employer needs to know you will not accept contact with this jerk.

Notify all landlord and your neighbors. Show them a photo & let them know he is not a friend of yours; they should call the police &/or alert you if they see him about the building, parking lot etc.

Tell all your family & friends about the situation. Especially those who have met him &/or those who he would be able to contact or visit.

Never be alone in public — easier said than done, sometimes, I know; but try to avoid arriving or leaving any place alone. And, even when out in a group, be sure to let someone who is not out with you know when and where you are going as well as when you are expected to return. (Remember to let them know when you are safely home!) Tell them who to call if you are — heaven forbid — missing or unable to speak for yourself.

Every time he even attempts to make contact with you, is spotted by neighbors, friends etc., contact the authorities.

Do not cut corners on any of this. Yes, it places a burden on you and those who care for you; but the alternative is simply no alternative at all.

You’re In The Exact Bad Relationship You Want?

In Every Woman Has the Exact Love Life She Wants, The Lazy Housewife writes:

There are women who are in relationships that are not good for them. I’m not saying that she consciously wants to be in said bad relationship per se BUT until she makes the decision to change her circumstances, her inaction shows that she is content with the situation for now. When she wants to – truly wants to – she will find a happier situation for herself.

On one hand I agree; staying & complaining (or not complaining) is a tacit agreement that you accept the relationship as it is. But that’s not always true or that simple. For example, many people opt for counseling — and even when both parties what the relationship to improve, it isn’t an instantaneous thing.

"Every Woman has the Exact Love Life She Wants"

However, what makes me bristle about this post by The Lazy Housewife is this “women who are in relationships that are not good for them” line.

I know bad relationships. Bad relationships are abusive — and when abuse is involved, the “decision to change circumstances” is at least blocked, if not out-right removed.

I’m not saying there is no release; obviously I am “free” of those relationships. (The use of air-quotes indicates that those relationships which involve children never really end — and even when there are no children, there are long-term repercussions to deal with.) I am indeed in a “happier situation”, a better relationship. But it was far from easy, far from the simple “choice to be happier.”

Attitudes & judgments like this blame us, and that blame & further victimization has much to do with why we do not have the “exact love life we want.”

[The quote, and photo, are from The Wedding Date.]

What We Can Learn From Teen Dating Violence

Talk about burying the lead…

A recent survey commissioned by the Family Violence Prevention Fund and Liz Claiborne Inc. and conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU) set out to explore “how the economy has impacted dating relationships among young adolescents and to determine the level and impact of parental engagement in the issue of teen dating violence and abuse.” The survey, Impact of the Economy and Parent/Teen Dialogue on Dating Relationships and Abuse, titled their press release New Research Finds Possible Link between Troubled Economy and High Levels of Teen Dating Abuse, despite the fact that the findings were about far more then the “media popular” word “economy.”

A new survey reports today that teens nationwide are experiencing significant levels of dating abuse, and the economy appears to be making it worse. Nearly half of teens (44 percent) whose families have experienced economic problems in the past year report that they have witnessed their parents abusing each other.
Sixty-seven percent of these same teens experienced some form of violence or abuse in their own relationships and report a 50 percent higher rate of dating abuse compared to teens who have not witnessed domestic violence between their parents.

While it’s not exactly news that domestic violence increases with stressers such as economic troubles, failure to focus on the horror of parents abusing each other (and in such a high percentage as 44%) is a bit disturbing on several levels — even if the survey was about teens. Put a pin in this; we’ll be back to it in a few minutes.

The survey findings continue:

For the first time, data also shows that despite the fact that the majority of parents say they are comfortable talking about these issues, parents are not effective in educating their children about the dangers of dating abuse. 74 percent of sons and 66 percent of daughters say they have not had a conversation about dating abuse this past year. Even more troubling, the majority of teens who are in abusive relationships report they have not talked to their parents. Of the fewer than one-third who do confide in their parents, 78 percent report staying in these abusive relationships despite their parents’ advice.

Note the glaring statistic: 74 percent of sons and 66 percent of daughters say they have not had a conversation about dating abuse this past year. Evidence that we are not talking to our sons about violence, which leaves them vulnerable to abuse, but also perpetuates the BS that it’s a “women’s issue” and not the responsibility of men.


But now, in the “Hurray! We’re doing something!” part, something else disturbs me…

“This poll shows a disconnect between what some parents think is happening with their teenage children and what teens say they are experiencing,” said Family Violence Prevention Fund President (FVPF), Esta Soler. “Not enough parents recognize behaviors that may be warning signs of abuse. It concerns us that about one-third of parents don’t recognize that isolation from family, being kept away from family by a dating partner, and isolation from friends can be danger signs. We are making progress educating parents, but we’d like those numbers to be higher. So we have more work to do. Dating violence is a huge problem in this country, and we need parents, schools and everyone to take responsibility for helping keep teens safe. Macy’s is leading the way with its support for the RESPECT! campaign, which offers the tools parents need to define and promote healthy relationships, and intervene effectively if abuse begins.”

Remember when I asked you to put a pin in that part about domestic violence in the teens’ homes? Well, if 44% of the teen homes surveyed had “parents abusing each other,” then the following can easily be concluded:

Both the parent being abused and their partner (spouse, co-parent, etc.), would be under the influence of domestic violence. They might see the abuse mirrored in their child’s dating relationship, but either A), as the abuser, think it’s OK, B), as the one abused, have no power or influence to intervene (they even may have tried to intervene but were punished for it), &/or C), as the one abused, they too are isolated — and discredited.

Similarly, the teens themselves would be stuck in belief that it’s OK, be dismissive of parents’ comments because they themselves are “living it,” &/or feel powerless in general because of living with domestic violence in the household.

I’m not saying that teen dating violence should not be of any concern, but the data in this survey reveals that the prevalence of domestic violence, especially when combined with gender-skewed safety education, means that such violence prevails because we are too busy providing reasons such as “it’s a tough economy” that “explain” violence rather than flat out condemn it.

Rape Isn’t So Bad If It’s For Lust & Not Money

My area of the Twitterverse is a-fire with tweets about this idiotic post by Roger Helmer MEP:

Words like “rape” and “murder” cover a spectrum of activities, and degrees of culpability. Let’s consider a couple of murder scenarios.

First, suppose a kidnapper seizes the son of a wealthy family, and extorts money from the parents. Then after the ransom is paid, he seeks to cover his tracks by deliberately murdering his hostage.

Second scenario: a young husband returns home to find his bride in flagrante delicto with the milkman. In a fit of blind rage, the husband attacks the milkman, who dies of his injuries.

In both cases the assailant is guilty of murder, and deserves to be convicted and punished. But the cases are hugely different. In the first case, the murder is calculated, premeditated, deliberate and undertaken for money. In the second case, none of these comments applies. In the first case, I’d happily hang the murderer (I’m part of that retrograde majority which still believes in the death penalty). In the second case, a much more lenient sentence would be appropriate.

In the same way, let’s consider two rape scenarios.

The first is the classic “stranger-rape”, where a masked individual emerges from the bushes, hits his victim over the head with a blunt instrument, drags her into the undergrowth and rapes her, and the leaves her unconscious, careless whether she lives or dies.

The second is “date rape”. Imagine that a woman voluntarily goes to her boyfriend’s apartment, voluntarily goes into the bedroom, voluntarily undresses and gets into bed, perhaps anticipating sex, or naïvely expecting merely a cuddle. But at the last minute she gets cold feet and says “Stop!”. The young man, in the heat of the moment, is unable to restrain himself and carries on.

In both cases an offence has been committed, and the perpetrators deserve to be convicted and punished. But whereas in the first case, I’d again be quite happy to hang the guy, I think that most right-thinking people would expect a much lighter sentence in the second case. Rape is always wrong, but not always equally culpable.

My two scenarios also give the lie to one of the popular over-simplifications trotted out by the feminist tendency in these cases: “Rape is always about power and control and domination, never about sex”. In the first case, that may well be true. In the second case, it is clearly not true.

Let me make another point which will certainly get me vilified, but which I think is important to make: while in the first case, the blame is squarely on the perpetrator and does not attach to the victim, in the second case the victim surely shares a part of the responsibility, if only for establishing reasonable expectations in her boyfriend’s mind.

All I can say I’ve said before. So here’s a, “Thanks for giving males permission to be dumb animals with no ability to control themselves, jerk,” to Roger — and anyone else who agrees with his dangerous bullshit.

Moby Vs. The Funding Terminator

Continuing to salute men who care enough to do something, I bring you the happy news that Moby has announced that he will donate 100% of the proceeds of his three California tour dates to help the state’s domestic violence shelters which have been struggling ever since Governor Schwarzenegger eliminated all State funding for shelter services back in July.

From Moby’s announcement:

Moby said that he wanted to make his donation in a way that would ensure that the funds had a statewide impact. “I’ve decided to give all of the revenue from my upcoming California shows to the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence,” he said. “My hope is that by doing this I will enable domestic violence prevention workers to continue their work, and also encourage other people to step in and help raise funds for domestic violence prevention and care. Domestic violence is equal parts prison and torture for many women, and my sincere hope is that we can step up and help to protect women in California and end domestic violence.”

For more, you can see this CNN video with Moby.

I’d like to be all poetic and say something witty, like how the pen may be mightier than the sword, but music is mightier than the governor’s pen, but well, I’m just glad someone is doing something. And, as Moby also reminds us, you can do something too: donate to the CPEDV.

Boo-Hoo, Poor Wife-Beater Complains

I was going to write a rabid response to this bozo who wrote into “Since You Asked” at Salon, whining that it’s unfair that he should have to worry about his current girlfriend’s response to discovering that he — on more than one occasion — abused his former wife:

On half a dozen occasions, during the first few years of my decades-long marriage, I physically abused my wife. This abuse, and the years we went without discussing it, was one of the factors that led to our recent divorce. The divorce itself led me into therapy where I was able to understand my reasons for the abuse, and the effect it had on both my wife and our relationship …

Currently, I’ve started seeing someone else and this woman means a lot to me. Our relationship is at a point where we’ve started talking about sharing a future together; however, I haven’t told her about the abuse in my previous relationship. I want her to know because it’s part of my past — albeit a very painful, unflattering part — but I believe that she may leave me once I tell her. To complicate matters, my ex-wife, in a bit of uncharacteristic malice, has announced her intentions to tell any woman I might be in a relationship with about the abuse at their first meeting.

So, I’m scared and confused. I want to tell my girlfriend about my past, but also want her to understand that she’s not at risk of being abused. And ideally, she would choose not to dump me.

But when I discovered that Heartless Doll had posted such a good response, I figured I should save my efforts for an issue/occasion when I’m more needed. You should go read her entire post, but here are her much applauded highlights:

  • Anyone with a history of abuse who thinks they are an “ex” abuser is a holy-cow-you’re-pretty-much-about-to-do-this-again-abuser, not dissimilar to the “ex” alcoholic who believes she can have “just one.”
  • Not disclosing a violent (and probably controlling) past to someone who has a vested interest in knowing whether or not you’re violent and controlling is … violent and controlling.
  • Not wanting to “get dumped” is a bad reason not to tell someone the truth about a history of abuse. Because she will find out, and then you will definitely be dumped.
  • An ex-wife who refuses to stay silent about your abuse is not exercising “malice.” She’s “refusing to continue be a victim” so that you can “bone some girl.”

One Thing We All Can Do To Address Violence & Abuse In Relationships

People often ask me, the tireless big mouth on the subject of toxic relationships, what’s one thing anyone and everyone should do to prevent such bad relationships. My response is to tell them to educate children.

Children need to be taught that they have rights to their own bodies, that they have a right to be and feel safe, and that when either they or their rights have been violated, what they ought to do about it. (Here’s a good starting place.)

If you disagree, if you “yeah-but” a list of excuses why not to educate children about their own rights and safety, then you need to look at what messages you learned and perpetuate — yes, your personal choice to remain silent on educating children about their own rights and safety is perpetuating the taboos that allow children to be victimized.

When children grow up certain of their own rights to their own bodies and are armed with the knowledge of what to do if they should be abused or have their rights violated, they grow up to become adults who are confident in their rights, demand respect, respect & protect the rights of others — including taking legal action against those who commit such trespasses.

Divorce: Is It Really Funny ‘Cuz It’s True?

At first glance, these “grounds for divorce” snippets from a 1949 issue of Quick magazine seem funny — but then you read them, and then…


You realize that it’s not funny when a husband controls and limits his wife.  Sure, painting a car so that it’s too embarrassing to be seen in it sounds funny (and it sure isn’t flattering to Zona, making her look like a shallow materialistic person), but he has no right to limit her life like that.

And it sure, Tai-chien’s divorce story lends itself to a visual of his four wives disagreeing with his opinion that multiple marriages are OK — providing a punchline worthy of Leno. But Tai-chien broke the lawand probably four hearts too.  That’s not so funny, is it.

Finally, Sexual Assault Tips That Don’t Blame The Victims!

I didn’t write these rules — and neither did Jess McCabe at The F Word, where I found them — but as you see, we’re all supposed to share these rules:

Please distribute this list. Put it up in your place of work, in your university’s library or wherever you think they might be read:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

Any tips you all would add?

Tips For Dating A Married Man?!

At, Von-Anise McCoy posted No Judgement Fridays: Five Tips To Follow When Dating a Married Man. While I applaud the spirit of no judgements, and I certainly agree that a man or woman in a committed relationship is the one doing the cheating (not the one dating the married or previously committed person) and is one who will likely cheat regardless of your individual “yes” or “no,” I cannot applaud this article.

I take great issue with McCoy’s tips for what they represent: agreeing to a relationship with a person committed elsewhere is to agree to center the relationship based on their needs, not your own.

That is a tacit agreement to make yourself secondary, if not worse. And by “if not worse,” I refer not only to the number of your subjugated position on the list, but to the game playing involved.

The whole set-up is abusive — and when you agree to that, you abuse yourself.

Look at McCoy’s rules — spot the degradation, the use (abuse) of others, the game-playing and dishonesty which plagues not the married or committed person, but the one dating him/her and others involved!

You are number two in his world so play your position.

Keep a man and when I say man, I mean another male companion.

Low-income men are not an option.

Never say the three words, “I Love You!”

This last one is an oldie but a goodie: He is never leaving his wife for you, never, ever, ever no matter how much he may complain about their relationship.

The advice isn’t wrong; it’s all sound if you want to play that game. But who wants to play a game that defeats them at every turn, with no chance of winning because the game is skewed to screw them (literally & figuratively) while it panders to the married or taken?

Wouldn’t the best sound advice be to point out to these women just how unfair to themselves dating a married man is?

I agree these women do not need a morality lecture, but wouldn’t these women be best served by advice which points out the truth of their own willingness to settle for less the least for themselves?

Postcards & Posters For Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Men Can Stop Rape helps us all celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a sale:

Target young men with inspiring images and messaging that highlight how they can be strong without overpowering others or resorting to violence:

So when men disrespect women,
we say that’s NOT RIGHT

Mention code DVAM20 when ordering 10 or more posters, 50 or more postcards, or 2 or more banners and receive 20% off the subtotal (before shipping).

Sale ends 10/15/09 — and you must use the promo code on your order form to receive the discount. Now shop already!


Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol Policies, and Risky Sexual Behaviors

According to work by Sara Markowitz, Robert Kaestner, and Michael Grossman, “There appears to be no evidence suggesting a causal role of alcohol use in determining the probability of having sex.”

Linda Gorman breaks it down:

The consequences of risky sexual behavior fall heavily on teenagers and young adults. In 2002, the incidence rate for chlamydia was 297 per 100,000 population for persons of all ages, 1483 for teenagers, and 1610 for young adults. Similar age disparities are found for gonorrhea, with incidence rates per 100,000 population of 125, 476, and 593, respectively. Moreover, approximately half of all new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections in the United States occur among people under age 25. Current teen rates of pregnancy and out-of-wedlock birth in the United States are high by historical standards and high relative to other developed countries.

Although alcohol use has traditionally been associated with risky sexual behavior, there is still a question as to whether excess alcohol consumption causes an increase of risky sexual behavior among young adults. In An Investigation of the Effects of Alcohol Consumption and Alcohol Policies on Youth Risky Sexual Behaviors (NBER Working Paper No. 11378), co-authors Sara Markowitz, Robert Kaestner, and Michael Grossman ask whether alcohol use promotes risky sexual behavior and whether there are public policies that can reduce risky sexual behavior by reducing alcohol use.

The authors look at the influence of alcohol consumption on individual behavior using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Surveys. Alcohol use was defined as the number of days in the past 30 days that an individual reported having had at least one drink of alcohol and the number of days on which five or more drinks were consumed. They conclude that, “there appears to be no evidence suggesting a causal role of alcohol use in determining the probability of having sex.” There was some evidence, however, suggesting that alcohol consumption does “lower the probabilities of using birth control and condoms” among sexually active teens.

The authors use aggregate data on the reported incidence of gonorrhea and AIDS infections by state to measure whether state and federal taxes on beer, county laws banning alcohol sales, laws governing blood alcohol levels, and zero tolerance laws for underage drinking and driving affect infection rates. Though women appear unaffected, zero tolerance laws appear to decrease the gonorrhea rate in males aged 15-19, and a one percent increase in beer taxes is associated a 1.1 percent reduction in the gonorrhea rate in young men aged 15-19 and 20-24. Neither the percentage of the population living in dry counties nor laws controlling blood alcohol rates affected either rate of infection.

Now compare and contrast that to Sara Markowitz’s research on the links between alcohol and violence and you’ll see the real reasons why drinking alcohol can be a problem for women.

Stand with the National Equality March in October

From my NOW newsletter…

No woman will have full equality until all women have full equality, and we must seize every opportunity to ensure equal rights under the law for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The National Organization for Women has proudly endorsed the National Equality March taking place in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 11, 2009. Read the official statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill here.

March for Equality! Join activists on Facebook
take action

After taking action, please support our work!

Here are three ways you can stand with the National Equality March this October:

1. Ask your chapter to endorse the National Equality March.

2. If you can make it to Washington, bring your NOW rounds, put on a NOW National Equality March T-shirt and join the NOW delegation in the march. Grassroots activists from chapters around the country are meeting in Farragut Square park at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday. Please gather at the corner of 17th and K (northeast portion of the park).

If you have questions, Pacific Shore NOW President Zoe Nicholson is serving as NOW National Equality March Lead and can be reached through this Facebook group for NOW activists.

Follow this link for travel tips from Equality Across America.

3. If you can’t make it to Washington, consider organizing a solidarity event in your community. Be sure to link it to the March for Equality NOW Facebook group.

take action and then donate

Continuing The Domestic Violence Conversation

At Newsweek, Barbara Kantrowitz and Pat Wingert discuss domestic violence:

Domestic violence used to be the problem no one talked about. But in the past few years, the issue has clearly emerged from the shadows. This summer the Obama administration appointed longtime advocate Lynn Rosenthal to the newly created post of White House adviser on violence against women. Around the same time, singer Chris Brown pleaded guilty to a felony after being charged with assaulting his then-girlfriend, Rihanna; the case drew so much negative publicity for Brown that he had to embark on an intensive campaign to revive his image and his career. In an appearance earlier this month on Larry King Live, Brown even added victim to his résumé when he discussed growing up in a violent household himself.

All this attention creates a unique opportunity to find new ways to help the 1.5 million women who are raped or assaulted annually by a spouse or intimate partner, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But what’s the next step?

While the article doesn’t even pretend to have the answers, it is (another) step in dialog on a serious topic. However, when you read the comments you’ll find disturbing proof of how intent people are to down-play the realities of domestic violence in this country.

For every

Society was making progress in stopping domestic violence. Women were better able to access shelter, orders of protection, criminal prosecution of their abusers, divorce, support and the help of the community. As a result the rate of domestic violence homicide went down. This progress has been stopped or at least slowed by a particularly cruel tactic developed by male supremacists who encourage abusive fathers to go after custody even when they had little involvement with the children before the separation. The courts have been slow to recognize and respond to this tactic. Up-to-date research has now established beyond question that the broken custody court system has resulted in thousands of children being sent to live with abusers. Newsweek was one of the few members of the national media to expose this scandal in an excellent article by Sarah Childress. I hope you will follow-up on this subject by looking at the latest research. (Antisexistdad @ 09/17/2009 12:43:16 AM)

there’s a

There are more women in ER for bee stings than domestic violence of any kind let alone ‘blookdy pulp’. This article was for the sexist hysteria crowd. The author is no different than the birthers.” (eplurbis @ 09/19/2009 6:31:22 PM).

Read, cry, vomit, then discuss. Because if we stop at crying, or try to avoid vomiting by avoiding the subject, then we stop the conversation and let the problem continue.

And Another Thing… Are You The Shallow Person You Refuse To Date?

America, your apathy offends me.

Based on trending Twitter topics, popular blog stories, and popular keyword action, you are more concerned with the rude comments made by Kanye West and Taylor Swift’s hurt feelings than you are with the institutionalized victim blaming and other crimes of health care. What are the acts of one classless man when compared to the battered and shattered lives of women and children?

Based on trending Twitter topics, popular blog stories, and popular keyword action at the time, you were more concerned about Chris Brown‘s bow tie selection than his acts of violence towards Rihanna and his paltry sentencing — combined. Is deriding fashion more important than denouncing violence towards women?

What’s wrong with you?

Where do your priorities lie?

Are you the shallow person you say you want to avoid when dating?

If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem; if you aren’t willing to acknowledge the problem, if you won’t even express outrage at issues that matter but would rather focus on unimportant celeb dish, then you perpetuate the problem.

You, yes – you, are condoning acts of violence when pay attention to classless clutter. You, yes – you, are sanctioning the blaming of victims with your silence.

Your silly preoccupation with nothingness in light of what really matters offends me.

You are the shallow person you say you wish to avoid.

Feminism On A Friday

Some quick responses to what I’ve been reading this week…

First, The Cult of Masculinity by Jennifer Kesler, which clearly articulates thoughts in my own head & heart; specifically the following:

I must caution casual readers: this article is not a “Men’s Rights Activist” platform. The form of feminism I grew up taking seriously was the kind that believed the current patriarchal system was hurting both women and men, and wanted to replace it with something that would establish equal opportunity and equal responsibility for all adults (and legal protection for children and for adults unable to care for themselves). Men’s Rights Activism has a fatal flaw of interpreting natural consequences for male behavior – so long suppressed and suffered by innocents instead – as infringements of their rights, and this makes most MRA arguments illogical to the point of hilarity, if they weren’t so frightening in their blindness.

Kudos to Kesler.

If only this true equality existed — then I might not have to show you this recent post at Feministing about the cute nicknames given to men who assault women:

At Georgetown University yesterday morning, an unknown man revived a year-long series of assaults between GWU, Georgetown, and American University in which he breaks into women’s apartments near campus, lies down next to or on top of them while they sleep, attempts to enter them with his hand, then runs away when they scream. This earned him the nickname “The Georgetown Cuddler.”

“The Cuddler?!” Cuddling is a sign of affection, which implies caring for the other person, respecting at least the fact that they are separate from you & so, as autonomous beings, have their own bodies & feelings — and rights to same. Penetrating a non-consenting person, however, is as cuddly & affectionate as how I would respond to it — by striking his penis with my knee.

My reaction would be just another natural consequence the MRA folk would scream is unfair to men. *sigh*

The Facts About Children, Sex, Predators & The Internet

Last year the Internet Safety Technical Task Force released the Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, the Final Report of the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to the Multi-State Working Group on Social Networking of State Attorneys General of the United States, but I wouldn’t have heard of it if it weren’t for the recent article by Michael Castleman at Psychology Today:

Last year, the attorneys general of 49 states created the Internet Safety Technical Task Force to investigate sexual solicitation of children by molesters who troll for targets using sites popular with kids, among them, MySpace and Facebook. The 278-page report concluded that there’s no real problem.

The task force, led by Harvard researchers, looked at reams of scientific data dealing with online sexual predation and found that children and teens were rarely propositioned for sex by adults who made contact via the Internet. In the handful of cases that have been documented-and highly publicized-the researchers found that the victims, almost always older teenagers, were usually willing participants already at risk for exploitation because of family problems, substance abuse, or mental health issues.

The report concluded that MySpace and Facebook “do not appear to have increased minors’ overall risk of sexual solicitation.” The report said the biggest risk to kids using social networks was bullying by other kids.

“This study shows that online social networks are not bad neighborhoods on the Internet,” said John Cardillo, whose company tracks sex offenders. “Social networks are very much like real-world communities that are inhabited mostly by good people who are there for the right reasons.”

The bottom line is, the actual threat to children from sexual predators online is negligible.

So I’m guessing the reason I hadn’t heard of this before was that the findings, though incredibly clear, aren’t willing to be heard & accepted by the population at large. Instead of shouting from the rooftops that the internet is as safe a place as any for children, or even breathing a sign of relief, people would prefer far more salacious, fear-mongering headlines.

In truth, the actual Internet Safety Technical Task Force report says that, “Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are the most frequent threats that minors face, both online and offline.” Which means parents should be paying a lot more attention to what their children are experiences (and dispensing) at school, with their friends, etc., than they should be about the invisible “they” known as internet boogie men.

From the report:

Much of the research based on law-enforcement cases involving Internet-related child exploitation predated the rise of social networks. This research found that cases typically involved post-pubescent youth who were aware that they were meeting an adult male for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.

And if you think that’s only gotten worse because kids today are bombarded by internet porn, well, that’s just plain wrong too; from the report:

The Internet increases the availability of harmful, problematic and illegal content, but does not always increase minors’ exposure. Unwanted exposure to pornography does occur online, but those most likely to be exposed are those seeking it out, such as older male minors.

In other words, most kids ignore it, but those (mostly male) youths who want it go for it — just like those meeting with adults or others for sex. Because teens have sex drives, so you’d better be prepared to deal with the issue.

However, the report does not ignore the few times where child molesters have connected with youth online. It says that in the small number of cases, the internet was the first of several steps — the rest of which are no different than how “real world” hook-ups are made. So, if the sexual predator finds prey on the internet & the prey responds, the next step is telephone contact (right under their parents’ noses), followed by eventual meetings in person.

Here’s what the report suggests in terms of advice (I’ve bullet-pointed them, so they are easier to read):

Careful consideration should be given to what the data show about the actual risks to minors’ safety online and how best to address them, to constitutional rights, and to privacy and security concerns.

Parents and caregivers should:

  • educate themselves about the Internet and the ways in which their children use it, as well as about technology in general
  • explore and evaluate the effectiveness of available technological tools for their particular child and their family context, and adopt those tools as may be appropriate
  • be engaged and involved in their children’s Internet use
  • be conscious of the common risks youth face to help their children understand and navigate the technologies
  • be attentive to at-risk minors in their community and in their children’s peer group
  • and recognize when they need to seek help from others.

All of this, though, ignores the basic facts regarding child molestation: Most rapes, sexual assaults, and abuse is perpetuated by someone that the victim knows and trusts.

And I guess that’s the real reason I hadn’t heard of this report & its findings before; people still prefer to pretend they are safe at home, that the unknown danger is “other” and locked outside — or on the internet.

New Film Explores Sex Offender Status

A December 8, 2009 DVD release date has been set for the new dramatic film Warning!!! Pedophile Released, starring Kai Lanette, Sean Cain, Shane Ryan and Molly Wryn.


An 18-year old boy is accused of molesting a 12-year old girl. They call each other “soul mates” and claim they never more than kissed. He’s put away for 6 years and she waits for him but in the meantime is beaten, gang-raped, impregnated and thrown out onto the streets only to eventually turn to a life of drugs, theft and prostitution. Did society make things better for her by putting this “sex offender“ behind bars? And when he’s released can they ever go back to how things once were? This is the story of true love.

DVD details
110 minutes, color and black & white, ntsc, 16×9, not rated, 2009 production

Trailers for the film can be found here:

Questions? Contact Alter Ego Cinema at for more information.


What Can Be Learned From Chris Brown’s Light Sentence?

By now you’ve probably heard how Chris Brown barely got his hand slapped for beating up Rihanna; just probation, community service, domestic violence counseling, and a restraining order. This for a man who, as reported by CNN, had two earlier incidents of domestic violence with Rihanna before the more publicized incident in which Brown punched Rihanna numerous times; put her in a head lock, restricting her breathing and causing her to start to lose consciousness; bit her ear and her fingers; and threatened to kill her.

Rihanna’s injuries included cuts and bruises inflicted by a large ring on Brown’s right hand, which he used to punch her, the probation report said.

“Officers at the scene observed numerous contusions and abrasions to the victim’s face and forehead, as well as bruising to her left arm near the bicep,” it said. “They also saw abrasions to her arms near both wrists and on her upper chest near her collarbone and around her neck. There were abrasions on her left leg and on the inside of her upper lips.”

If you want to know how such atrocities can be met with such a lazy legal response, keep reading here at Relationship Underarm Stick; we’ll be going through this subject in great detail. For now though, you may want to consider this poor court response of little consequence to Ryan Jenkins. He had a history of domestic violence & he too was allowed to be free — and he killed Jasmine Fiore. Rihanna should remember this anytime she even considers letting Brown break that restraining order.

Ryan Jenkins Dead; Long Live Domestic Violence

The case of Jasmine Fiore’s murder gets even more upsetting as Ryan Jenkins is found dead from an apparent suicide in a hotel in Vancouver.

That a man would kill his ex-wife and commit suicide isn’t, unfortunately, so strange; but what’s being said by the manager of the Thunderbird Motel (in Hope B.C.) where Jenkins’ body was found is. The room was paid for by an unidentified woman (some speculate that it was Jenkins’ former girlfriend, Paulina Chmielecka) who only stayed at the hotel for about 20 minutes before leaving Jenkins behind. What follows is the sort of 15-minutes-of-fame-seeking commentary that you’d expect, such as “when I opened the door, I did smell the smell of death” and then the stuff that Jenkins supporters will take & make a grand conspiracy theory of:

The manager went on to tell reporters that the woman was “extremely calm” when she checked in, that there was no suicide note that he saw, and that Jenkins’ feet were touching the ground as he hung, which would indicate a sedative of some sort may have been used during the suicide.

Anyway, while Fiore’s mother & former boyfriends mourn the loss of the young woman and express anger that Jenkins has escaped answering for what he’d done, Jenkins’ family is also telling their story in the media. And what I’ve read is most upsetting.

Naturally none of us wants to believe the people we love are capable of such things, of murder & violence, but when that person has been found guilty on more than one occasion, as Jenkins had, you have to stop living in denial — and being an asshat.

In this interview, Jenkins dad, Dan Jenkins, told this to the Edmonton Sun:

What Jenkins refuses to believe, despite Ryan’s past conviction in Calgary for domestic abuse, is that his son was the only villain in a relationship gone bad.

“A lot of these things were just silliness, like the charge in California,” said Jenkins.

Ryan was arrested on a charge of domestic violence earlier this year, after allegedly slugging Fiore in the arm.

Jenkins says his son only pushed his wife into a pool, after a squabble.

“He felt like it was a police state. People push each other in the pool every Saturday afternoon, and he goes to jail for two days — that’s ridiculous,” said Jenkins.

“He turns around and his wife’s kissing another guy and he grabs her hand and starts walking away, and they’re arguing and he just pushes her in the pool. Well, big deal.”

Hey, daddy Jenkins, abuse isn’t “silliness.” Pushing a woman, into a pool or not, no matter who or what she kissed, is a big deal. Gee, I wonder where sonny boy got the idea in his head that it was OK to be abusive towards women.

Dan Jenkins interview continued:

Jenkins said his son’s relationship with Fiore, and Hollywood in general, was toxic.

“He went to Hollywood and something down there in the last four months, including this girl, just destroyed him,” said Jenkins.

“She would take off for days at a time and lie, and Ryan was lonely and distraught and alone down there. She was his only friend and she’d just disappear.

“It was hell on earth — I advised him 50 times to get out of that relationship.”

So he realizes the relationship was toxic, and said that he told his son to get out of it, but where does Dan Jenkins leave the blame?

On the victim.

Hasn’t Fiore paid enough?

Jenkins must be held accountable for his violence, even in death. And Dan Jenkins isn’t dead — he must be held accountable for his inexcusable misogyny. Isn’t he as much an accomplice as anyone who may have helped Ryan Jenkins kill Jasmine Fiore &/or helped him afterwards? I certainly believe daddy dearest is.

In a rare show of class for VH1, the channel has pulled both reality shows in which Ryan Jenkins participated.  Too bad they didn’t have the sense to have properly vetted Jenkins in the first place.

Breast Implants Identify Murder Victim

Playboy model Jasmine Fiore has been found murdered. Her body was badly beaten & naked, left in an Los Angels trash bin on Saturday — her fingers & teeth “forcibly removed” in an apparent attempt to not have the body be identified, but her remains were identified by the serial numbers on her breast implants. (Now there’s something many feminists don’t know about the benefits of breast implants!) The preliminary coroner’s report indicates that Miss Fiore was strangled.

Her former husband, Ryan Alexander Jenkins (formerly a contestant on VH1’s reality show Megan Wants a Millionaire) is wanted for questioning. You can read all the details here; but here are some of the warning signs people should have heeded:

Court records show that Mr Jenkins was charged in June in Clark County, Nevada, with a misdemeanour count of “domestic violence” when he was accused of hitting Miss Fiore on her arm.

Mr Jenkins was also charged with assaulting his girlfriend in July 2005 in Calgary and given a conditional discharge with 15 months probation.

I may have more to say about this; but I have to go cry & throw-up first.

Hope For My Own Healing

The Hope For Healing blogathon was harder than I thought…

I thought I could, by dedicating a day to the subject of domestic violence, finally be personal about my own experiences, but that was not the case.

At first I thought it was because the world, my life, wouldn’t stop for me for 24 hours (despite scheduling the date, family came in from out of town and visiting to-dos could not be put off); it may have made it more challenging, but the real reason is that domestic violence is a very personal & emotional issue for me.

Every time I begin to tell/type my story (or parts of it), I hear the heckling from the jerks — you know the ones, the ones who belittle and devalue your statements because they are anecdotal, not statistical — and they belittle & devalue you right along with their “complaints” of non-data to support yourself.

I know these are the same people who call you a “fat ugly hag” because you dare to use facts to stand up for your rights, that these people just plain refuse to listen, let alone hear, and so I should easily dismiss their crude, hurtful statements as the weak defensive posturing (& refusal to become educated) that it is. As a feminist I’m used to these jerks. Most of the time I don’t mind them. But confessing painful truths while knowing how you’ll be attacked for it is far more difficult than intellectual debating or education dissemination.

Truth be told, it’s not easy to say the things I want to say anyway, but knowing what will be said…

I want to be braver than this. I hope I will one day.

I could view my inability to meet my own objective during those 24 blogathon hours as a failure — but I don’t.

What I’ve learned from this experience is vital to my own growth and healing.

No, I’m not fully healed from this — if one ever fully heals from domestic violence — and accepting that is part of the process.

Realizing yet another place I’m stuck at is disheartening, but one needs to see the problem for what it is in order to solve it. And so realizing just how held back I am from telling my story, using my voice, helps me see the issue for what it is — a fear of judgment, of victim blaming, of retaliation…

But if I want to move on, if I want to assist other victims, and prevent others from being victimized, I will need to address this all. And sooner is better than later.

Our Hidden Culture Is A Rape Culture

A new video called Our Hidden Culture was put out by Community TV Network (CTVN), a non-profit organization that empowers Chicago youth with training in video and multi-media production. (CTVN’s award-winning TV show, Hard Cover: Voices and Visions of Chicago’s Youth, airs every Monday at 5:30pm and Tuesday at 12:30pm on cable channel CAN TV 19 in Chicago; you can keep up with CTVN at YouTube too.)

In this recent video project, the youth researched the issue of rape & sexual violence and came up with the conclusion that harassment is the root of such evils and that we live in a rape culture.

For some of us, this isn’t so much “our hidden culture” as it is a known fact we suffer & slog through daily; but I applaud these young people for looking at the issue and seeing the problem for what it is.

Many of us readily blame the issues of sexual aggression in music, movies, and “the media in general” on younger people — it’s their dollar most companies seem to seek, and so, in this toxic relationship, these companies say they are just courting our youth with “the language,” “substance,” and “style” that speaks to them at the expense of us all. But it’s clear that our youth is aware of the problem — and that those who aren’t yet aware are fully capable of getting to the root of it all when asked to look at it.

Can complete denunciation & contempt for those individuals & companies who participate in our rape culture be sure to follow? I hope so.

The Cult Of Domestic Violence

Regarding this last post & that article about Stockholm Syndrome and living in a controlling and abusive relationship…

While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as “Stockholm Syndrome” due to the publicity, the emotional “bonding” with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:

  • Abused Children
  • Battered/Abused Women
  • Prisoners of War
  • Cult Members
  • Incest Victims
  • Criminal Hostage Situations
  • Concentration Camp Prisoners
  • Controlling/Intimidating Relationships

Maybe it’s the late hour & lack of sleep, but comparing domestic violence to living in a cult seems like the most succinct comparison ever; it’s the Cult Of The Abuser, the Cult Of Him, the Cult Of [Name].


This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing; Twolia generously sponsored me in this wonderful event raising awareness of domestic violence & funds for supporting victims!

You can help too: Comment at, link to, &/or Tweet my posts & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

Why Do They Stay?

One of the things people have difficulty understanding about domestic violence is why the victim of abuse stays with his or her abuser. There are many reasons, but a very common one is dependence.

Not just financial dependence, but utter dependence… Self-esteem is so shattered — especially when compared to the batterer’s physical & emotional power, the latter of which extends to public life past the home.

It’s rather like the domesticity of dogs: your life, no matter how good or bad it is, depends upon that being, so you are ever alert to their whims, wishes and commands. You please them because your life, such that it is, depends upon them.

This is greatly multiplied if you have children or others dependent upon you.

If this seems too simplistic or unflattering for humans; if you can’t see how, in reality, being a human trained for another human’s service is worse… That you are held hostage… That you become grateful for the scraps…. Check out Dr Joseph M Carver’s Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser.


This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing.

You can help too: Comment, link, Tweet & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

Less Physical Dating Violence & Greater Condom Use — Among Boys Only?

Research done at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, reveals that a course on dating violence and healthy relationships may provide benefits for high school students, particularly boys.

According to

David A. Wolfe, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health Centre for Prevention Science in London, Canada, and colleagues analyzed data from 1,722 ninth-grade students attending schools that were randomly assigned to the intervention or to serve as controls. The intervention was a 21-lesson program led by teachers, integrating dating violence prevention with core lessons about sexual health, substance abuse prevention and healthy relationships.

After 2.5 years, the researchers found that physical dating violence was higher in control versus intervention students (adjusted odds ratio, 2.42). Although boys in intervention schools were less likely than the controls to engage in dating violence, girls in both groups had similar physical dating violence rates. Condom use was higher among sexually active boys in intervention schools (67.9 versus 58.6 percent).

“We found support for the hypothesis that teaching youth about healthy relationships and ways to avoid physical dating violence in Grade 9 Health classes would reduce physical dating violence 2.5 years later, but this effect may be limited to boys,” the authors write. “Although overall rates of substance use and peer violence were unaffected by the intervention, exploratory analyses indicated that boys in the intervention schools reported safer sexual practices (indicated by always using condoms).”

Before I say anything else, let me give a great big “Hooray!” that more young men were using condoms!

And a giant “Wo0t!” as the kids would say, that the boys were less likely to be involved in dating violence.

But isn’t it interesting that while the boys in the class were less likely to participate in dating violence, the girls in class were still experiencing the same amount of dating violence…

That sorta changes that “Wo0t!” to a “Shoot.”

Do we conclude that there was some gender bias in teaching &/or course work, and so the girls didn’t learn or accept the information as readily as the boys?

Do we conclude that a large number of the girls date boys outside those classes — and that the girls “knew better” but in the intimidation of the moment(s), they fell prey to boys with a more predatory nature?

Are there just a few bad boys dating all the girls?

Or do we conclude there is some sort of discrepancy between what the boys reported and what the boys did — *cough* LIARS!

Because the abstract gives very little information & reading the full report & findings published in the August issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine requires a fee, I can’t really say for certain what I think…

Do you have any ideas?


This post is part of the blogathon for Hope For Healing; Twolia generously sponsored me in this wonderful event raising awareness of domestic violence & funds for supporting victims!

You can help too: Comment, link, Tweet & use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.

When Funding Is Cut

In an effort to reduce spending and balance the budget, Governor Schwarzenegger eliminated the $16.3 million initiative that funds domestic violence shelters statewide. The San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium & Partners Ending Domestic Abuse did manage to get public funding restored — but I thought you should be aware of just how much of a threat funding cuts are…

In this working example of the California cuts, a total of 94 organizations receive funding; for some of those organizations the state money is more than half of their budget.

But the effects wouldn’t only be limited to them.

Many shelters use state funds to contract with other nonprofits to help battered women & their children access legal, health, counseling, and other services at other agencies — but if the shelters can’t pay for those services, the nonprofits who rely on those contract fees will suffer too, forcing lay-offs & agency closures.

Not to mention the number of abused women and families in need of the shelters & other services which would be left to their own defenses.

Let this serve as a reminder for you to speak up locally about supporting your state’s funding programs; let your governor & state representatives know how vital the issue is to you before there is a crisis to be averted.

And this this be a reminder to donate to your local organizations which work with & support victims of domestic violence; funding is a terrible thing to lose.


This post is part of the Twolia sponsored blogathon for Hope For Healing, raising money for & awareness of domestic violence; use this special link to iSearch.iGive.comclicking it and performing searches will raise money for HopeForHealing.Org.