Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, March 26, 2005
A sad day for the human race
by Douglas Larsen (Manager: http://incestabuse.about.com/)
Once in awhile there comes a story that strains my ability to comprehend the level of hatred our society holds for women. In Illinois, four men were accused of sexually assaulting a sixteen-year-old girl. They had sex with her and wrote nasty words all over her body while she was unconscious. But after deliberating for only two hours, one of the perpetrators was found not guilty. According to the defense attorney, Robert Kuzas, "My argument all along was that it was consensual."
I wonder if he has a daughter.
Let's review the many, many wrong assumptions of this disgrace.
My observations are based on the law in Minnesota. Illinois law is probably different, although unless it was written sometime in the Stone Age, there's no avoiding the outrage, the harm to women, the insult to men, and the blame-the-victim mentality of this verdict.
Awareness of date-rape drugs has improved in the last few years, but apparently the jury missed out on one vital fact: the most common date-rape drug, by far, is alcohol. The other, more recent, drugs are just a blip on the radar screen compared to how often alcohol is used as a date-rape drug. In this case, a sixteen-year-old girl drank too much and passed out. She says she doesn't remember the events, which makes sense -- that's what happens when you're passed out.
The defense attorney made a big point out of this. A sixteen-year-old girl drank alcohol, and didn't know what her alcohol-consumption limits were. But what sixteen-year-old girl does? And four adult males, instead of helping her and protecting her as real men are supposed to do, abused her instead. A jury of eight women and four men apparently figured that that was appropriate punishment for one childish mistake.
There are several aspects of the law of consent that the trial ignored.
Consent means words or overt actions by a person indicating a freely given present agreement to perform a particular sexual act with the actor. In the news stories of the event, even while describing the videotape, there is no mention of what words the girl said or overt actions she committed to indicate consent. Consent is active. A lack of "no" does not mean "yes." The lack of an active gesture of consent means that what happened was rape.
The jury didn't get this, so I'll say it again: words or overt actions are required to indicate consent. Apparently, at one point on the videotape, the girl groaned or moaned. For some reason, the jury decided that this fuzzy, ambiguous act indicated consent, and was not a noise of distress or confusion or fear from a child who had passed out. Unlike the jury, real men know that if you are not positive that you have consent, you stop and ask, and don't start again until you are certain.
Consent does not mean . . . that the complaintant failed to resist a particular sexual act. The fact that she did not resist does not mean she consented. Real men know that. Real men want more than a limp, unresisting body. Molesting an inert, helpless form is an act for sadists and weenies.
A person who is mentally incapacitated or physically helpless cannot consent to a sexual act. If she was passed out, or even if she was incredibly drunk, she could not consent. Real men know that too, and will refuse to take advantage. Wimps, weenies, and punks don't know the difference.
a freely given present agreement to perform a particular sexual act . . .
The defense attorney asked the victim if she had consented to attending the party. He asked if she had consented to getting drunk. It amazes me that the judge even allowed these questions, because they are completely irrelevant to the question. Attending a party, and getting drunk, have nothing to do with whether she consented to gang rape and humiliation. The idea that a person -- especially a minor -- is not allowed one single mistake before "deserving" sexual assault is idiotic, unfair and completely un-American. The plain fact is, lots of girls attend parties, and lots of them get drunk. But in most cases, there are some real men on the scene who know that sex without consent makes you a criminal and a loser. In most cases, there are some real men who know that their duty is to protect this girl, not to torture her. To allow these four jerks to get away with their actions is a damned insult to every real man in the country -- and a message to women that the small minority of criminal males has society's permission to run amock.
A sad day for the human race
I can't imagine what those jurors thought. Twelve adults, and not one of them has a daughter? Eight women, and not one of them ever made a single error in judgement? Not one of those eight women were ever alone somewhere with a man, where if the man attacked her she would have had no defense?
Here's A Parallel
I remember once, in my late twenties, I attended a seminar at a college. I knew a woman there, and after the seminar I offered to walk her to her car because the neighborhood was not safe for women. As we strolled to her car, she began to talk about the Anita Hill controversy that was in the news at the time. She was vehemently against Anita Hill; didn't believe her at all, and found enormous fault with Anita Hill for having put herself in that situation.
And I remember, at the time, looking around at our surroundings. We were in a deserted, park-like area filled with trees. It was night. It was very dark, and there was no lighting in the area. We were completely alone. And I remember reflecting that if I assaulted her right then, right there . . . by her own rules, it would have been her fault. She had gone with me willingly. She would have had no witnesses to prove she had not consented. She had just confided that her boyfriend had recently dumped her -- and imagine what a defense attorney could have done with that! Just like the sixteen-year-old girl, the only thing keeping her safe was the character of the man she was with. But like the eight women on the jury, the irony of the situation completely escaped her.
I watched her get safely into her car, and waved as she drove away. I wondered if her attitude was one reason that neighborhood was not safe for women.
In Defense of Men
I've said it before, and I'll said it again. Real men don't take advantage of women -- much less girls! -- who have made one mistake, or made one questionable decision. When I was in college, a bunch of buddies and I were going to drive home from a bar. We'd been drinking. And a woman who also attended the college asked for a ride. We gave her the ride.
Should she have trusted us? Should she have gotten into the car with us? The twelve idiots on the Illinois jury would say no; that whatever happened to her next was her own fault. But me, and my buddies, and real men everywhere, shout out in enraged disagreement. Of course she should be able to trust us! Of course women should feel justified in expecting adult males to act like men! So when we dropped her off, safe and sound, it didn't even occur to us to feel virtuous. Assault her? Take advantage of her in any way? Ridiculous! Real men don't do that. Real men don't even consider it! And it's high time that juries, and our society in general, started expecting that too.
"Mother Of The Year"
After the verdict, the parents of the four men (they kept calling them "boys" even though they were over eighteen) celebrated. "I have a good feeling about all these kids," one mother said. Any evidence of shame? Any indication that her son had not been a fine, upstanding example of American manhood? Nope. Not a bit.
And the man who was aquitted? "I have a new life, I feel great," he said. He plans to join the Illinois National Guard.
Friday, March 25, 2005
Make a Promise
For generations, the Jewish people have fought bravely to end injustices inflicted on us by others. But we have also remained silent about the injustice of violence we inflict on each other.
The ethical teachings of our tradition insist on certain values: B'tzelem Elokim, all human beings are created in the image of the divine; Shalom Bayit, safety and peace in the home; Tzedek, justice and accountability; Hesed and Rahamim, loving-kindness and compassion; and Teshuvah and Tikkun olam, healing and wholeness, on individual, communal and universal levels.
And yet, domestic abuse remains a very real problem in the Jewish community.
We call upon one other and all of the Jewish community to:
Replace fear with courage by acknowledging that domestic violence does exist in the Jewish community.
Hear and believe those brave survivors who come forward with their stories.
Confront, combat and prevent abuse—as a community.
Educate and train religious leaders—locally, nationally, internationally.
End violence before it starts by teaching young people what a healthy relationship is—and what it isn't.
Develop more resources that offer shelter, healing, justice and financial security to abused women everywhere.
Hold abusers accountable: They, not the victims, should bear the shame.
Assertively seek a level of funding—from federations, foundations, businesses, congregations, organizations and individuals—that is proportionate to the size of the problem.
Rally men around violence prevention programs: This is not a women's issue, it's a community issue.
Use every tool available—print media, web, education, legislation, service agencies and more—to spread awareness into every corner of the community.
When you take action against domestic violence—whether you spend a day educating clergy, volunteer in a local abuse program, or raise funds for a DV initiative that helps women around the world—you join forces with thousands of people whose combined efforts propel the movement against abuse.
Answer the question below and use it to make a personal commitment to confront abuse in the coming months and years. Then send it to JWI by mail, fax or e-mail: 2000 M Street NW, Suite 720, Washington, DC 20036; 202-857-1380 (fax); firstname.lastname@example.org. Your input will help form a global strategy to finally end domestic violence in the Jewish community.
I promise to fight domestic violence by...
Saturday, March 12, 2005
WORKED TIRELESSLY TO HELP BATTERED WOMEN ESCAPE HARM
Pam Butler, champion for victims of violence
By Betty Barnacle
Whenever people talked about Pam Butler, the conversation somehow would turn to how passionate she was about things.
They didn't always mean it in a positive way, either.
Even when she was the first domestic-violence-victim advocate hired by Santa Clara County Social Services in 1996 and was serving on the county Domestic Violence Council, she wasn't too popular at the district attorney's office. Some of the prosecutors thought she was too critical of a legal system she didn't understand.
But others, including some judges, found her the perfect advocate because she, too, had suffered domestic violence for most of the 18 months she was married.
Ms. Butler, praised by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a speech last year as ``an inspiration to every person who has been a victim of domestic violence,'' died at age 50 on March 1 when life support equipment was unplugged in accordance with her written directives. She had been comatose with brain damage after suffering a seizure and cardiac arrest Feb. 24 in the Santa Clara home she shared with Douglas Dailey, her partner for the past 7 1/2 years. The cause of the seizure is still undetermined, according to the coroner's office.
Ms. Butler's ex-husband was sentenced to prison mainly because of the testimony she gave against him during a well-publicized 1992 trial, although she said she was terrified he would someday kill her.
After the verdict, Ms. Butler told a Mercury News reporter, ``Not many people do what I have done, and I can understand why. Who would want to? It would be nicer just to run away.''
A native of Illinois, one of three children, Ms. Butler was raised in the Bay Area and was a cheerleader at Palo Alto High School. She graduated from San Francisco State University, where she majored in art and got a job doing graphic art on the Peninsula.
``She was passionate about everything she did -- art, sewing, reading, photography. And being a domestic-violence advocate -- that was her whole life,'' her sister, Cynthia, said.
Patricia Brickman, an administrative assistant for county social services, worked with Ms. Butler as a volunteer.
``She was very, very bright and passionate about the job,'' Brickman said. ``She was instrumental in setting up safety nets for battered women, installing alarm systems when needed, helping obtain restraining orders, counseling, finding housing, supporting the victims in court -- whatever was needed. Pam was always there, sometimes working a 24/7 week.''
Ms. Butler arranged a trip for Japanese women to visit Santa Clara County and learn local methods of handling domestic violence. She also was responsible for ``Making Peace,'' a documentary, still airing on PBS. Two years ago, Ms. Butler lost her county job because of budget cuts. She started working full time with her partner at his photography business and recently also was involved with aiding abandoned dogs.
Cynthia Spencer, an attorney and domestic-violence activist, said Ms. Butler ``did an enormous amount to help victims of domestic violence and educate people about the difficulties domestic violence victims face. `Brave' is a good word for her. She was very brave.''
Born: Sept. 29, 1954, in Evanston, Ill..
Died: March 1, 2005, in Santa Clara.
Survived by: Parents, William and Carolyn Butler of Palo Alto; sister, Cynthia Butler of Berkeley; brother, Jeffrey Butler of Iowa City, Iowa; niece, Madeline King of Berkeley; and her partner, Douglas Dailey of Santa Clara.
Services: Will be private.
Memorial: Donations may be made in Ms. Butler's name to the Pam Butler Trust Fund, P.O. Box 3432, Santa Clara, Calif. 95055. The fund will continue her domestic violence research and Web site www.growing. com/nonviolent, aiding domestic violence victims and caring for abandoned dogs.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Gambling Addiction Questions and Answers
Is pathological gambling similar to chemical dependency?
Yes and no. Similarities between pathological gambling and chemical dependency include an inability to stop/control the addiction, denial, severe depression, and mood swings. Pathological gambling and chemical dependency are both progressive diseases with similar phases. These include "chasing" the first win/high, experiencing blackouts and using the object of addiction to escape pain. Both pathological gamblers and persons addicted to alcohol or drugs are preoccupied with their addiction, experience low self-esteem, use rituals, and seek immediate gratification.
Unlike chemical addiction, pathological gambling is a hidden disease gamblers do not stumble, have needles in their arm, or smell of cards and dice. Pathological gamblers cannot overdose in the conventional sense, but they experience tremendous financial problems that require immediate attention. More resources are available to chemical dependency than gambling addiction, in part because most people do not perceive gambling as potentially addicting. It is very important that pathological gamblers receive crisis stabilization at the beginning of their treatment, because pathological gamblers have a much higher suicide rate than persons addicted to alcohol or drugs.
How are children affected by pathological gambling?
Children may be affected in several ways. They may be physically and/or emotionally abandoned by their parents, who are unable to provide their children with needed attention and nurturing because of the time spent gambling. "Casino kids" have been left by themselves at the outer rim of casinos while their parents gamble, according to some casino security officers. In some extreme cases, children are left in the family car in the casino parking lot for hours at a time while their parents gamble inside. Less obviously, children may also spend several hours each week with babysitters while their parents gamble in casinos, bingo halls or card rooms. All of these scenarios may lead a child to feel physically and emotionally abandoned.
In addition, the dysfunction that pathological gambling creates in a home often includes spouse and child abuse. Children are abused verbally, mentally and physically by the gambler, and often even more so by the co-dependent spouse. This devastating abuse frequently goes unnoticed or is denied by others as the child suffers in silence.
Another way children are affected by pathological gambling is when they become pathological gamblers themselves. Today, teens are approximately three times more likely than adults to become problem and pathological gamblers. It is imperative that we educate young people about the dangers of pathological gambling and the importance of seeking help if gambling becomes a problem.
Are gamblers addicted to money?
Pathological gamblers are addicted to action, not money. Many pathological gamblers will gamble to lose in the desperation phase of their addiction, because it is the action they seek, not the money. For a gambler, being in action is similar to being high on cocaine for the person addicted to cocaine. Both describe their "drug of choice" as seductive and ultimately destructive.
What is the physician's role in treating pathological gambling?
Pathological gambling has been recognized as a major addiction illness, similar in many ways to the chemical dependency of cocaine. It is characterized by the sudden euphoria of winning and the marked dysphoria, depression and frustration of repeated losing.
The physician is needed to assess these patients for the frequent incidence of cross addiction to drugs and alcohol, for potential drug withdrawal, and for potential suicidal tendencies associated with the depression that most patients experience. Underlying medical problems are often neglected while patients are in a gambling frenzy, leading to symptoms of illness and health deterioration. Laboratory tests and physical examinations can often uncover unexpected medical problems.
The most important medical contribution the physician makes is to assist patients who are experiencing withdrawal by supporting their need for group therapy, assessing for possible antidepressant medication, and making referrals for appropriate psychological help. The use of sedative medication is avoided, as these drugs may lead to a deepening of the depression and may actually exacerbate suicidal behavior. - James Bowman, M.D.
What is the financial counselor's role in treating pathological gambling?
Pathological gamblers often find themselves in a devastating financial position by the time they reach treatment. Helping them become financially stable goes a long way in supporting their recovery and the well-being of their families.
It is the responsibility of the financial counselor first to determine the extent of the gambler's debt, and then to help guide them out of their financial problems through debt management, budgeting and restitution.
Gamblers in treatment work extensively with a financial counselor, through every level of care, to achieve financial stability. - Hank Sahlin, M.A., Financial Counselor
Is there one type of gambling that is more addictive than others?
Video poker and slot machines have been referred to as the "crack cocaine of gambling." Because of their immediate and effective reinforcement schedules, problem gamblers who regularly play these machines appear to progress into pathological gambling much faster than problem gamblers who only gamble at horse races, or other games that do not have such an immediate rate of gratification.
Just as crack cocaine referred to as the "great precipitator" shortened the length of time between first use of cocaine and chronic addiction, so too have video poker and slot machines apparently reduced the length of time between first wager and pathological gambling. In the past, a gambler would experience 15 to 25 years of "sick" gambling at the horse track before he or she reached the desperation phase. Today, it is not uncommon for a gambler addicted to slot or video-poker machines to progress into the desperation phase in two or three years.
Is there a biological basis for pathological gambling?
Biological findings from a recent study indicate that pathological gambling is an addiction similar to chemical addiction.
A study conducted by Alec Roy, M.D., a psychiatrist formerly at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, showed that some pathological gamblers have lower levels of norepinephrine than normal gamblers. This brain chemical is secreted under stress, arousal, thrill and excitement, so pathological gamblers may engage in activities such as gambling to increase their levels of norepinephrine.
This evidence supports the assertion made by Dr. Henry Lesieur, among others, that some pathological gamblers are "action seekers" who gamble, not for money, but for the excitement associated with being in action.
Send us your questions. If you have questions about compulsive gambling or any other addiction, please e-mail our Vice President of Addiction and Behavioral Sciences, Rick Zehr, or call 1-800-522-3784.