Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, June 30, 2005



After the seemingly never-ending media coverage of pregnant Laci Peterson's Christmas Eve 2002 disappearance and husband Scott's subsequent arrest, trial, conviction and death-penalty sentence for her murder, it's hard to believe anything about this notorious case could still be "untold." But Court TV anchor Crier and co-author Thompson's encyclopedic tome includes never-before-released transcripts of conversations between Scott and others (which don't significantly impact one's understanding of the case, however) and a 38-page appendix of photos, documents and other police evidence. Although much of the information in this book has been reported previously or revealed at trial, anyone looking for a comprehensive overview of the case will find it here. The authors chart not only the police investigation and trial but the personal and family history of Scott and Laci. A more balanced examination of the case is all that's missing to make this book really stand out. Up front, Crier states that since the first days of the case, she felt certain that Scott was a sociopath responsible for his wife's disappearance, and throughout the book, she demonstrates how and why. Given Scott's behavior in the weeks prior to and immediately after Laci's disappearance, not to mention all the lies he told to police, family and friends, she's not exactly going out on a limb. Although few people would doubt Scott's guilt, the whole book is very pro-police-it's even dedicated "To all those who protect and serve." Had the authors started from a presumption of innocence and turned a critical eye on the investigation, which yielded more circumstantial than solid forensic evidence, the book would have been more compelling, but its thoroughness will draw many readers nonetheless. 12 pages of color photos.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2005



After over a decade of making big-selling albums, but also being pigeonholed as an eccentric New Age princess, singer/songwriter Amos redefines her image in this appealing mishmash (coauthored with critic and Experience Music Project curator Powers) of her essays, quotes from her conversations with Powers and oral history observations from her band mates, husband, managers and friends. Readers may still find a few sprinklings of fairy dust in the proceedings, but Amos comes across as thoughtful, likable and witty, fully aware of her role as a female musician in the mainstream pop world yet determined to keep her work true to her spiritual and feminist perspectives. The book's structure lets Amos and Powers retain elements of a traditional biography--they candidly detail Amos's family history, her shaky entry into the music business, her relationships with formal religion and her multiple miscarriages before giving birth to her daughter--but it sidesteps a straightforward "this is my life" story line and lets Amos focus on how her experiences have shaped her songs. Powers and Amos also discuss practical issues about the music business and the roles female artists can take--or sometimes can't take--in controlling their public personae. With undoubted appeal to Amos's legion of fans, the book could offer additional interest to artists of all stripes, who may find reflections of their own experiences in hers.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Breaking the Cycle
An anthology that introduces some and reminds others of the darker side of life; domestic abuse.

In this anthology there are eight stories that give a different spin on the subject of abuse. In the title story, penned by Zane, a young girl persuades her mother to leave an abusive man but things don't go as planned; J.L Woodson's "God Answers Prayer" deals with a young boy fighting for his life in the hospital after being placed there by a parent, and the recognition of abused men by Shonda Cheekes in "Silent Suffering" was a much needed perspective. However,out of the eight,there were three stories that had a greater impact on this reader. "The Grindstone" by Nane Quartay, in which a young boy witnesses a particularly gruesome murder and has no idea of how it will affect his life, "The Break of Dawn" by Collen Dixon which has an unforeseen twist that gave this reader pause and "The Stranger" by Tracy Thompson-Price who gives us a total new look at a victim's breaking point. These three stories were written in such a way they were very compelling.

Zane has done an outstanding job choosing these powerful stories to show this subject matter from different perspectives. Some stories were tame in descriptions but heavy on internal struggle of the victims and others were written so vividly that you could feel the blows of the abuse. Also the inclusion of domestic abuse resources in all fifty states gives a person an idea of where to start if they could in any way relate to these stories.

Although this is not a book that you can sit and devour in one sitting (because of the subject matter) it is indeed a powerful read.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2005




THE MEADOWS


The Meadows is a multi-disorder facility specializing in the treatment of trauma and addiction. The Meadows' clinical experts reach beyond single-level treatment of addictions, behavioral disorders and psychological conditions to diagnose and treat the underlying problems. Intensive treatment focuses on:

addiction to alcohol and drugs;

compulsive behaviors such as eating, gambling, work, love addiction-avoidance, codependency and sexual disorders;

psychological conditions including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and dependent personality lifesyles;

affective disorders such as major depression, panic attacks and bipolar disorder.

The comprehensive treatment program was created by Pat and Pia Mellody, pioneers in the field of recovery. The Meadows is located in Wickenburg, Arizona approximately an hour north of Phoenix in the high Sonoran Desert, with mountain views and clear skies. For more information about The Meadows, call 800-MEADOWS (800-632-3697) or email us at info@themeadows.org.
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Friday, June 17, 2005



THE FLOCK OF ANGELS

VIRTUAL ANGELS
Virtual Angels are assigned Flock Of Angels and NBCF projects. These volunteers are loyal to our cause and specialize in it. Many of them have experienced or know someone who has been through a violent occurrence. They are the core of of FOA and have a special interest in this mission.

VA training gives a little background on domestic and all violence, preparing "Angels" to handle assignments in this field. Assignments range from web research, proof reading, graphic and web design, writing, event planning, administrative, program development, marketing, and more. This is all accomplished with satellite computers and The Virtual Angels provide a perfect way to give back while working on exciting projects and programs from the comfort of your own home or office.

COMMUNITY SERVANTS
Many people actively search for volunteer opportunities they can complete via home or work computers, because of time constraints, personal preference, a disability or a home-based obligation that prevents them from volunteering on-site. Community Servants allows anyone with Internet access to contribute time and expertise to non-profit organizations, schools, government offices and other agencies that utilize volunteer services.

People with specialty occupations donate their skills and knowledge to organizations and people needing a helping hand. Donating time doing what they're good at makes the volunteer more effective and the recipients of the the program benefit more. With doctors, lawyer, architects, electricians, plumbers, mechanics, school teachers, childcare operators, volunteering their services as a group, they give the part of them that helps someone else the most.
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Sunday, June 12, 2005



REMEMBERING NICOLE BROWN



CLICK HERE for DV Information from the Nicole Brown Charitable Organization.

Remember it's the choices YOU make, that can save your life, GET EDUCATED!!
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Then & Now: Denise Brown

(CNN) -- Ten years ago, Denise Brown was a fixture on television news, discussing the killing of her sister Nicole Brown Simpson, whose ex-husband, former football star O.J. Simpson, was standing trial for Nicole's murder.

At O.J. Simpson's murder trial, Denise Brown testified about alleged domestic abuse in her sister's marriage to the former Buffalo Bills running back and Hollywood personality.

Simpson was acquitted in the 1994 killings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman, but both victims' families sued him in civil court, and in 1997, they were awarded damages of $33.5 million when Simpson was found liable for the deaths under a lesser standard of proof.

Today, as head of the Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation, which Denise Brown founded in 1994, she invokes the memory of her sister in a campaign against domestic violence.

"Four women die everyday from the hands of someone they love, and someone they're supposed to be able to count on and trust," Brown told CNN. "And that's awful."
Brown said during Simpson's trials she learned from Nicole's notes and diaries of alleged abuses in the her sister's marriage.

"You know, people always ask me, 'Well, why didn't she tell you? Why didn't she do this; why didn't she do that? ... What I've learned from the women and children in the shelters, the men in the batterer treatment programs ... I learned that she was sucked into the [domestic violence] cycle. It's about power and control."

The Nicole Brown Charitable Foundation focuses on the special needs of battered women and children, specifically the need for long-term transitional housing. Brown also testified in front of the U.S. Senate on behalf of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994.

"Wonderful, wonderful things happen in that program [Violence Against Women Act], and so that was huge, a huge piece of legislation that we helped pass. I am very proud of that one," Brown said.

She keeps active and motivated helping domestic violence victims by visiting shelters and talking to those who are in desperate situations.

"I just don't want another person to have to suffer through something like we have. And I think that's what drives me; I know Nicole is with me," she said. "There's still the shame involved because people don't want to admit that they are in a cycle of violence. But what they need to realize is that they're not the only ones that this is happening to. It happens to many, many, many people in this world."

Brown still holds Simpson responsible for her sister's death, despite his acquittal in criminal court.

"I truly believe that Simpson killed my sister," Brown told CNN. "And you know ... when I see his face I just think, 'Oh, why are you here? Why are you still on the face of this earth?'"

In the 11 years since the killings, Brown has maintained a relationship with Nicole's children, Sydney and Justin, who live in Florida with their father.

And every year the Brown family holds a candlelight vigil in Nicole's memory.

"I sit there and I think, 'God, it's been almost 11 years since I told her I loved her, that I haven't talked to her on the phone,' that's what kills me. That's the hardest part for me. ... It's just such a senseless, senseless murder, a senseless thing that happened to her."

(Thanks to HOLLY for bringing this date to my attention!!)
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Wednesday, June 08, 2005



General Information on Mandated Reporting
from Douglas Larsen

You can call for help and stay in control

When I advise someone to call their local agency for help, the most common concern is about Mandated Reporting. 'What if they report me? What will happen if I'm turned over to Social Services?' Here are some guidelines so you understand Mandated Reporting a little bit better. Remember, the specific laws will vary from state to state. Don't use this article as your last resource -- use it as your first resource, so you will know how to find out more. Any examples I use are based on Minnesota law as I understand it. The laws in your state may be different; if you live in Minnesota, remember that I'm not a lawyer, and I could be wrong. Always call the agency in question to find out for sure.

What is "Mandated Reporting?"

In general, Mandated Reporting laws say that anyone who deals with children -- teachers, daycare workers, social workers, women's advocates, children's advocates, and so on -- are required by law to report any child abuse they find out about. The law also provides penalties for failure to report. For example, if a child tells his daycare worker that his dad is beating him up, the daycare worker is required to call Child Protection services. Child Protection is part of your county Social Services department. In Minnesota, the daycare worker has to call Child Protection and make a verbal report, and then follow it up with a written report.

Mandated Reporters don't just respond when a kid tells them something. If properly trained, they can spot signs of abuse -- suspicious bruises, signs of neglect, and behaviors that might suggest that the child has been abused, either sexually, physically or emotionally. I knew a remarkable Child Advocate who could walk through a gymnasium filled with children. When she got to the other side, could tell the school counselor about ten or fifteen children who deserved a closer look, and provide details as to why.

When children email me and ask for help or advice, I ask them if they have a favorite teacher they can go to. This is because teachers are also Mandated Reporters, and they tend to be well-trained. Many legislatures pass Mandated Reporter laws, but never appropriate money to pay for education, training or enforcement. As a result, many people are technically Mandated Reporters but don't know it, or don't know what to look for, or don't know what to do if they run across signs of abuse. Teachers are more likely to be properly trained than most.

Mandated Reporting laws have had their share of controversy. Child Advocates tend to support them as a good thing. Women's Advocates are more wary, because a battered woman with children may be penalized just because her batterer is endangering the children as well. The fear of losing custody of her children may make women more reluctant to go to a Women's Center for help, because women's advocates are Mandated Reporters too.

So What Happens?

All Mandated Reporters are required to report child abuse, which means that Child Protection will get involved. This does not necessarily mean that they will swoop down, violate everyone's privacy, and embroil everyone in a "Lifetime Movie Of The Week" nightmare. And despite what you may see on "Judging Amy," Child Protection workers are generally very reluctant to remove a child from his or her home.

Usually, the problems are due to ignorance or economic factors. The Child Protection worker will enroll the parent(s) in a free class that teaches parenting skills. Or the worker will tell the parent about programs and resources that the parent was not aware of, but is eligible for. The worker may recommend counseling, and provide the names of counselors the parent can afford.

The worker is usually also aware of the difference between an Offending Parent and a Non-offending parent. While they can be tough on an Offending Parent when necessary, they are generally supportive and helpful to the Non-offending parent. As long as the Non-offending parent is taking serious steps to get out of a dangerous situation, the Child Protection worker is likely to be a helper and an ally, not a threat.

How can you find out?

You'll notice that I've been using words like "generally" and "usually" and similar words. That's because, as I said, laws vary, and people vary. But on page two, I'll tell you how to find out everything you need to know.

Here's the main thing to remember: these laws, and the people covered by these laws, are there to help protect vulnerable people, especially children. If I suggest that you call a Women's Center or a Child Abuse Prevention Center, I am talking about an agency that has highly trained advocates governed by a strong set of ethics. They will not lie to you; they will not trick you; they will not set a trap for you. They are there to help you.

So, really, it's very simple. To find out about the Mandated Reporting laws, call the agency and ask them. I'm not kidding. They will tell you the truth. They will give lots of details. They will even give advice. See, they want you to come in and get help. And they know that the only real way to help you is to earn your trust -- legitimately earn your trust.

So they won't lie to you. They won't ask, "Why are you asking this??" They will just tell you the truth about the Mandated Reporting laws. Women's advocates will even tell you how to get help without triggering the Mandated Reporting laws -- not because they don't care about the children, but because they know it's the only way some women will ever come in to get help for themselves and their children.

Some people worry -- "They'll use Caller I.D." Well, using Caller I.D. is a violation of the agency's ethics and a re-victimization of the victim. So I would be extraordinarily surprised if any agency uses it. The agency workers know that the only help that ever works is help that is undertaken voluntarily by the caller.

And in any event, you can call and ask if they use Caller I.D. They'll tell you the truth. You can ask all about Mandated Reporting, and even if they recognize your voice or something similarly far-fetched, they will still have no reason to file a report.

These departments have heavy case-loads, and the government cuts in funding mean that the Child Protection departments are probably understaffed, overworked, and with fewer resources than before. Before they file a report, they will need specifics -- the name of the perpetrator, the name and age of the victim, the address, and specific details about the abuse. If you call for information about Mandated Reporting, you will have provided none of these. Besides, you could be calling for a friend, not yourself.

Children, not adults

Sometimes people will ask me, 'I'm nineteen now, but it happened when I was a child, so will they have to report it?' No -- although again, you should ask, and they will tell you the truth. Generally speaking, the laws are established to help children who have no rights. If you are now eighteen or older, you could choose to report it yourself. If you choose not to, that is your right as an adult. So the agencies will help you all they can, but they will probably not be required to report.

When we train volunteer women's advocates, we tell them that they are now Mandated Reporters. Always, half of them become very concerned because years before, a friend confided something to them, and made them promise to keep it a secret. I find it revealing and appalling how many times I hear about that. But again, if their friend is an adult, then their friend can choose to report it or not, and the advocate-in-training is probably not required to report it.

Also, even though the laws don't necessarily say so, the age of the victim may make a difference in the attitude of Mandated Reporting. If the victim is four years old, the Mandated Reporter's duty is very clear and urgent. If the victim is seventeen years old, however, their wishes can be considered a little more. It may be OK for the Mandated Reporter to call Child Protection for advice without providing the name, to find out how much latitude and control to allow the victim. Each case is different, and the details can only be sorted out and decided by the Child Protection worker.

Remember This

In the end, remember that you can call the agency in question, and ask them about their policies. They will tell you the truth. They won't lie to you or try to trap you. If they ask your name, you can say, "I'm not ready to give my name yet," and they will accept that.

They are there to help you. They are there to treat you right. They know that the only way to do that is to legitimately earn your trust, by always telling you the truth. They also want to give you as much control as possible, so they will listen to your opinions and your desires, and help you achieve them whenever possible.

Please call them. It will be the best call you ever make.
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Wednesday, June 01, 2005

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WHAT IS ABUSE? STRAIGHT TALK FOR KIDS

Abuse is when one person tries to hurt or bully another person, or does things to them that make them feel bad.

In some families, there is abuse by one parent towards another.

In other families, there is abuse towards young people.

In some families, there's both.

PARENT ABUSE
Abuse by one parent towards another

Parents should always show each other respect. Both parents have a right to express their opinions and beliefs, and to see their own family or friends. But abuse is when one parent doesn't show respect for the other. Instead, sometimes they try to hurt, control or bully the other parent. This is called domestic violence.

'He treats her like he owns her and she has to do what he says or else.'

Forms of domestic violence

Social abuse when one parent stops the other from seeing their friends or family, or from having a job. It can include when one parent constantly checks up on where the other is, or follows or stalks them.

'Mum's boyfriend would get paranoid and go off at her if she even talked to another man. He would keep an eye on her all the time and question what she does.'Emotional abuse like constantly putting the other parent down or making them feel stupid or bad. It can include emotional blackmail, like threatening to commit suicide if their partner leaves.

'My Dad would always use really bad language at her, he calls her a 'loser' and says she's useless.'Financial abuse is when one parent takes control of the money in the household, and doesn't let the other parent have any money.

'Mum's never allowed to have any of her own money to spend, and he won't let her use the car to see my grandma.'Sexual abuse is when one person makes the other do sexual things that they don't want to do.Physical abuse is when one parent hits, pushes, throws things, or threatens to physically hurt the other.

'My step-dad gets aggro and makes mum scared of him.'

Domestic violence isn't always physical. The other forms of abuse can hurt just as much as physical abuse.
Seeing one parent treat the other badly can really affect you. If one parent is abusing the other, they are also abusing you. They are not making your home a safe or happy place to be.

Abuse and violence is wrong. Many forms of abuse are against the law.

What's the difference between arguments and domestic violence?

All couples have arguments. But there's a difference between arguments and abuse. In a relationship that isn't abusive, both parents might argue, but they both still feel free to say what they really think. But abuse is when one parent bullies or frightens the other parent so they don't feel like they can say or do what they want to. Most often it's the male parent who is abusive. He may have the attitude that a man has the right to 'be the boss' and to dominate women. But this is not right - both parents should treat each other as equals.

Abuse towards young people and kids

Parents and adults in your family have a responsibility to look after you and care about you. Abuse is if they do things that hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself.

Forms of abuse towards young people and kids

Emotional abuse is when a parent (or another adult) constantly puts you down, calls you names, makes you feel like you're worthless, or always acts like they don't want you or don't care about you.

'It feels like I'm not important. She says I'm stupid and I am always in the way, she wishes she never had me.'Neglect is when a parent doesn't look after your needs (like providing food, clothes, a safe home and medical attention).

'When mum was off her face I'd have to take care of myself, even when I was a little kid. Lots of times there was no food in the house. I used to stay home a lot to look after her.'Physical abuse includes when a parent or a family member hits, bashes, or physically injures you, or threatens to hurt you.

'We used to know what was coming. A few times I even tried to hit her back.'Sexual abuse is when a parent, someone in your family, or someone else, makes you do sexual things (including touching your private parts, making you touch them or look at their private parts). They might trick you, pressure you, scare you, confuse you or threaten you so that you feel like you have to do these things.

'I wasn't allowed to shut the door if I was in the shower. He had to be able to see me all the time.'

These forms of abuse can happen between brothers and sisters, too.It can be confusing if sometimes your parents or family might treat you ok, then at other times they do things that hurt and upset you. But you never deserve abuse. You can do something about it.
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