Sanctuary for the Abused

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Gimme Shelter: The Case for Domestic Violence Reform


By the time you go to bed tonight, 3 women will have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

For millions of victims, domestic violence is a matter of life and death, but victims of domestic abuse are being victimized again- ignored and abandoned by the very victim service providers that claim to help them. These publicly and privately funded agencies have no oversight – and are in desperate need of reform.

It’s hard to comprehend, but each month its estimated thousands of victims of abuse are turned away from state and federally domestic violence shelters and agencies. Many shelters refuse women with children, charge fees battered women cannot afford, and reject women because of their immigration status, their sexual orientation or their abuser’s occupation. A majority of those shelters that DO accept all victims are not funded by the private and pubic sector through NNEDV, NCADV, and state coalitions, so they are limited to the numbers of victims they can shelter.

When a victim of domestic violence calls a hotline at the local, state or national level, instead of help, they are often referred to another agency, which in turn refers them to yet another agency. Many women tell of being referred back to the same agencies, but receiving little or no practical help.

Maria DiBari, an abuse survivor who has since created the Tri-County Crisis Center in New York, says, “A victim will reach out in need of a specific resource and no one can provide it. Hotlines will refer to shelters and shelters will refer to other agencies and programs and those programs and agencies will refer them back to the shelters. So it becomes a vicious circle.”

DiBari approached many agencies including LSHV, OPDV, NCADV, NYS Coalition, every shelter in NY, Justice Centers in NYS, and she contacted all of her state officials for assistance and still could not get the resources she needed.

Alexis Moore, head of Survivors in Action, and also a former victim of abuse, agrees. “I was referred and referred and referred… until finally I was referred back to the same agencies that I had already been through.”

They both point to battered women like Heather Williams, of Connecticut,who has reached out to more than 50 state and local agencies, but has yet to receive the help she needs. Heather’s most dire need: legal representation.

“I am a victim of domestic violence and stalking. I have a four year-old daughter and have been in an ongoing custody battle with my abuser. In the past, I’ve had numerous orders of protection that have been violated, have been unable to obtain my own police reports, and, most recently, have been falsely charged with domestic violence. I’ve already spent $100,000 in attorneys’ fees for child custody and have been unsuccessful in my attempts to protect my daughter and myself from my abuser. I live in fear of retaliation. Once you’ve left, the danger is far from over. Now your abuser is on the war-path, and there’s no one to help you.”

Finding and obtaining legal representation is the biggest challenge for victims. Many victims go without legal counsel because they can’t afford lawyers. Agencies will often refer them to Legal Aid, a service that provides free representation, but few if any of their attorneys are experienced in domestic violence law, an essential to help victims of abuse navigate the courts, DCF/CPS, the paperwork, the endless bureaucracy, and the legal tricks their abusers will play.

Heather, after requesting assistance from more than 50 government and private agencies in New York and Connecticut, as well as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, has yet to find a pro-bono attorney to take her case.

Often services offered women are simply denied. Lily Morales contacted the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – one of the most heavily funded agencies in the United States – for free reconstructive surgery after her abuser disfigured her face. Though surgery is advertised as a service the NCADV provides, Morales was refused.

Other women are simply given incorrect or bad advice. Alexis Moore was told by prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates, domestic violence shelters, and other agencies to change her social security number for safety reasons, only to have her request repeatedly denied by the social security administration, for “lack of ongoing abuse” – the standard reply in such cases. When the SSA does grant a social security number changes, victims have actually been arrested and accused of identity theft or fraud.

Karen Elkins, a pro-bass angler, abuse survivor, SIA advisory board member and DV Reform supporter was denied social security number change for safety in 2009. The letter she received from SSA denying her social security number change for safety is like what is estimated to be millions of letters received by abuse victims from SSA each denied by SSA for the same reason, “lack of ongoing abuse”.

There is little oversight of how federal and state funded agencies spend their money: no assessment as to whether or not these agencies are meeting the victims’ needs. Even worse, victims have no recourse when this happens – no place to report this second victimization.

The problem is NOT money but instead how monies and resources are allocated by publicly-funded agencies

DV Reform is about bringing oversight and accountability to these agencies. DV agencies and victim service providers are not regulated as other agencies are yet they deal with customers i.e. victims who are facing life or death circumstances. Victims left behind need to have a place to file formal complaints like consumers have today with law enforcement, businesses and other government agencies.

Everyone knows all too well what DV is. The problem now is victims who are reaching out for help find that no real help exists and there is no place to turn when they are left behind to complain or file a formal complaint.

We are advocating for their to be a federal domestic violence oversight committee for EVERY agency who operates in U.S. that receives funding from public or private sector – where victims can document experience and file complaints.

By writing to local, state and federal officials in support of DV Reform, individuals can use social media platforms to promote this cause as well and join with Tri-County Crisis Center and Survivors In Action by visiting our web sites and contacting us there. www.SurvivorsInAction.org and DVREFORM.org
SOURCE



(REMEMBER your abuser may well be female. Both men & women can abuse)

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shared by Barbara at 12:35 AM


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7 Comments:

Tell those reformers, that unless women especially disabled get real PRACTICAL HELP, ie moving items etc. their other services are useless.

11:17 AM  

Gosh, this is a real wake up call, I am feeling lonely unwanted and maligned now. I really need to remember my blessings such as having my own place and what a God given blessing it really is. Thank you for the wake up and smell the coffee call.

3:33 AM  

My friends, neighbors are siding with him, joy... abuse by proxy. I am very disabled and they are shunning me,I feel so hurt. But I bought a Gorilla cart for $50 and they watch me huff and puff, with my copd, hip necrosis and heart failure sick fs really.
Telling me see you can do it by yourself, mind you I had cancer a Bone Marrow Transplant, and 3 leaking heart valves. Some people allot hear in DC area are very Narcissistic jealous and sadistic. No mercy...Well I need to move sooner better than later.

3:40 AM  

This is Alexis Moore the founder of Survivors In Action and one of the many vitims who has been left behind by the DV agencies at the national state and local area and the National Stalking Resource Center.

Our DV Reform efforts are all volunteer none of us are paid to be activists or to speak out to garner support of reform of victim resources and public policy. We are doing this because we know the realities faced by victims today and we want to bring about change.

We welcome victim/survivors to share their experiences and to join the tens of thousands who have bravely signed the DV Reform petition, contacted Lynn Rosenthal at the White House demanding she take action to bring about reform and do your part to help ensure no victim is left behind.

Thanks to all of the family members who have lost loved one's that are honoring their memory by supporting DV Reform and to the many victims who have bravely shared their stories of being left behidn on video and in person with Congress, US Senate, Lynn Rosenthal, and the media.

Together we can make a difference and help to ensure no victim is left behind.

Alexis A. Moore, founder Survivors In Action
Victim left behind in 2004
SurvivorsInAction.org
DVReform.org
AlexisMoore.com

"one person can make a difference"

8:36 AM  

Abuse and stalking victims continue to be left behind by the agencies however we are making progress with DV Reform efforts. Thanks to the tens of thousands of victims who have shared their personal experiences being left behind with Congress, US Senate, Lynn Rosenthal and the public.

Please join our efforts to reform victim resources and public policy so no victim is left behind.

Alexis A. Moore, founder
Survivors In Action
SurvivorsInAction.org
DVReform.org
AlexisMoore.com

"No victim left behind"

8:38 AM  

My situation is a bit different as I am a survivor of verbal , emotional and mental abuse. I am a senior on soc sec. Having to live with my abuser because I can't apply for section 8 or other housing programs as the waiting lists are thousands and years of waiting. My ex owns the condo I.live in. I am told to get out , that I'm in the way . I went for help days ago to the local.shelter just for them to find me an affordable place to live and was told I am so emotionally wrecked I need extensive counseling with them. My need is to get out of the enviornment I'm living in!! Only to he told I do not qualify for either criteria they have a: I am not a young mom with kids and pregnant and b: I haven't been physically beaten in the last 30. I wasn't asking for financial assistance. Just a little place.I could call home that I could financially afford. A safe place as my abuser is becoming angrier the.linger I am in his way and its only a matter of time before he becomes physically abusive and/ or I wind up in a mental hospital from a breakdown from walking in egg shells living with my abuser. I too have many health problems. Diabetes and a brain tumor.

9:15 PM  

Hi, as a survivor of DV, I ended up being referred to other counties and non-profits.Besides being full to capacity for months,the other major issue is being turned away from any assistance, unless having to give up my service dog and to be forced into a shelter. Understandably, few shelters allow pets or have a time-limited foster program in place, still forcing separation. Thankfully, the importance and safety of pets and their families increasingly are prioritized. Alliephillips, ahimsahouse awionline have compiled updated safe shelter lists open to pets compiled (SAF-T).

As some other person s might've commented, my restraining order was violated 11+ times and the violence and stalking was extreme. With nowhere to go, my situation has detoriated to being not only homeless but not having access to heat, running H20, power, shower/toilets or legally to park somewhere. Having been physically disabled with autoimmune disorders and mental challenges including PTSD, it's increasingly harder to overcome these circumstances.
In having had to deal with the police due to the DV, I often end up being the one brutalized and blamed by the police and others.
I wish there was more hope left in me. I was strong enough to survive and leave yet this ongoing hell and ongoing harassment is destroying me. It's isolating and retraumatizing after months. Thank you for taking the time to read my experience.

11:22 PM  

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