Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Unemployment Rate: More Than Just a Number

9.7% of the D.C population is unemployed.When I think of this number, I think of women and men waiting in line at the unemployment office, families making the impossible decision between putting food on the table and paying their rent. One thing I didn’t associate with the unemployment rate was the increase of domestic violence incidences.

Bad economic times have lead to an increase in the rate of domestic violence. People who are unemployed are more likely to have arguments with their intimate partners that end in violence than people who are employed, according to a study by the National Institutes of Justice. In addition, according to this study, women who are already in violent relationships are at greater risk of violent incidences because they are more accessible to the abuser when they lose their jobs. In contrast, when you look at abused women that are employed 64% indicated their work performance was significantly impacted, a research by the Corporate Alliance to End Domestic Violence reports.   

Unemployment fuels a dismaying cycle of violence for those who are already vulnerable because of the economic hardships they face. So as we look to  yet another increase in the unemployment rate , and the largest increase in women’s unemployment rates in 25 years (women are more likely to face intimate partner violence to begin with), it begs the question – what should we be doing? I don’t have the answers but perhaps I have some helpful starting points. First of all, we can start by helping out organizations that can lend a helping hand to survivors of domestic violence. Perhaps you can refresh your memory about ways to give this holiday season with a great blog post of ours from just a couple of days ago. Or you can lend your voice by taking action on important issues that deal with what services we should be protecting when localities are facing difficult budget decisions. We can also spread the word about domestic violence and how it affects our communities. These are just starting points, but the most important thing to remember is that things are connected and when we’re reading about the current economic woes, we should keep in mind how it perpetrates violence in our community.

Thao Nguyen

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Ending Abuse with Facebook?

For the past few days my Facebook feed has been full of cartoon characters replacing the profile pictures of my friends. I, personally, chose Tom and Jerry for mine. A social media campaign has been taking place for about a week (scheduled to end Dec. 6, 2010) to spread awareness about child abuse on Facebook. The point of this campaign is to spread awareness about the prevalence of child abuse by engaging people in conversations stemming from their favorite childhood cartoons characters.

I have a handful of cynical friends, many of whom posted statuses like ‘how does this end child abuse?’ These friends missed the point completely without even realizing they were indeed accomplishing the goal of the movement, simply by publicly criticizing the campaign. They initiated comments, which grew into debates on their walls and statuses. Many posted links for work that people could ‘actually’ do instead of just posting a picture for this cause. In my opinion, the campaign was a success! Their cynicism was disconcerting though. I wondered why these questions didn’t arise with the social media campaign for breast cancer awareness when these same cynics happily posted statuses with the color of their bra. It was the same concept. The same argument could be used against the breast cancer campaign. How does stating the color of your bra help breast cancer research and awareness?  It raises awareness by creating dialogue! So why didn’t this question occur with breast cancer, as it did with child abuse?  People didn’t ask this question then because child abuse enters the realm of domesticity and becomes personal.

Not only was this social media campaign criticized for its approach, it was also marred by a rumor. Someone actually posted this:

IMPORTANT: The group that told people to put a cartoon on your profile was a bunch of pedophiles. They did it so more kids would accept their friends request if they had cartoons instead of faces.

Not only was this post reposted several times, it was also a hot debate on Facebook leading to a newspaper article by Huffington Post

This sparks an interesting thought.  People have an easier time getting mad at the pedophile whom we assume to be  some type of outcast of society than being mad at a child’s abusive parent/relative/guardian.

In the case of child abuse, when  an unknown abuser  comes into the picture we take the crime as a crime against society and everyone is willing to take action and stand up against the injustice. When a guardian/ parent/relative who is supposed to love the child, abuses the child we have a hard time confronting the situation. We hate to question the love a parent has for his/her child. When the issue becomes domestic, we step back in fear of interfering in a personal family matter. 

We do the same thing when it comes to domestic or intimate partner violence. We look away; we don’t ask those we suspect of being victims because ‘it’s none of our business.’ We let our loved ones suffer the pain because we are uncomfortable admitting that the person that loves us is also capable of physically or emotionally hurting us. Would you be likely to offer help  if a co-worker consistently came to work with injuries? Do we differentiate between victims based on their age and gender or who their abuser is? Is this fair? We need to break ourselves from our comfort zone and help those that need us no matter what their situation happens to be. We need to stop judging and start supporting the victims of abuse. We need to stop the blame game. We need to take action in prevention of such crimes. The first step to this is with dialogue. Start talking…on or offline!


What do you think we can do in order to create the same kinds of awareness for domestic violence online as with child abuse and breast cancer awareness? Suggestions are appreciated!

~Saira Saim 
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Friday, December 3, 2010

Doing the Holiday Dance: I Called It Walking on Eggshells

The story of my childhood holidays is the story of my dad’s bad luck. My dad had the misfortune of being born on Christmas Eve so the holidays were always tough for him. Having a birthday on Christmas meant he never had birthday parties like other kids and he always felt like he got short-changed with presents. As a child, his family never had much money and so I’m sure, in some ways, this was true. Somehow this created a deep wound that spread through the generations.

What it meant for me growing up in a sometimes-but-especially-at-the-holidays violent home, was that the Christmas was not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, but rather, the Most Treacherous. The stakes are so high at the holidays. All my mother wanted was for us to have a great time. She spent money and time to make everything perfect and it was my job as a kid to look good, smile pretty, and have fun – “or else!”
The key to a successful holiday, I quickly learned, was to completely detach from your feelings and focus on performing as expected to make the adults happy. Sadly, I was a terrible failure and was punished and/or sent to my room for not being cute enough with some frequency.

Luckily, it didn’t take long for me to come up with a distraction from my inconvenient feelings: FOOD! And the holidays were full of delicious food. I would stand near a table eating sausage balls or cannolis until I could no longer stand. The cannolis loved me. They didn’t make sudden movements and they didn’t judge me. In fact, the cannolis seemed to invite me to ignore the negative sensations in my body and focus on pleasure – and that’s what Christmas was about, right?

Food kept me from getting in trouble with my parents and it kept me from the terrible sense that something was wrong. I wanted to enjoy the holidays like I was supposed to but that seemed to mean an intricate dance of walking on eggshells that I wasn’t very good at. Eating was my secret weapon -- my way on to the dance floor.

The first Christmas I didn’t have a knot in my stomach from trying to please everyone and disconnect from myself, I was confused. It didn’t feel very festive, it kinda felt boring. Somehow I’d come to associate the stress and anxiety with Holiday cheer.

I’ve since recreated Christmas wonder by creating new traditions and rituals, playing new music, and even changing the day I celebrate! I now celebrate Yule on 12/21 instead of Christmas and I have a new found, spiritual attachment to New Year’s.

I do hang out with my family on Christmas day, but the stakes are lower. I’ve let go of the pressure to perform or to disconnect from my emotions. I’ve got strategies for leaving the room or for avoiding conversations. And mostly, I show up on Christmas day with a shopping bag full of compassion. We’ve all got our “stuff”, and high drama events like the holidays bring it all to the surface. What I know now is that I’m an adult. I get to feel my feelings. I am empowered to create a culture of respect and the best gift I can give my family is to love them even when it’s hard – especially when it’s hard.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Give Joy, Give Love, Give Back

What is the best way for you to give back to the cause of ending domestic violence? Donating money is great but investing your time is even better. In my last post I talked about our Holiday Gift Drive, which is a great way of giving back and in this post I will brainstorm more ways of giving back.  

Ask: Calling or emailing a DV organization to ask them if they need volunteers is a great start. I have found many great volunteer jobs this way.

Offer: They don’t know what you can help with? Offer your talents. I am a communications professional so I offer my skills to help non-profits with causes close to my heart. Sometimes organizations don’t even know they need help. My mother volunteers for a soup kitchen in California. They are a great cause and my mom wanted to spread the word about the organization. She asked for a brochure and believe it or not they didn’t have one due, in part, to lack of funds. So, guess what we did? My mom and I jointly wrote and designed their brochure. With their new brochure they can engage volunteers, donors, and people in need of services. Your volunteer work doesn’t have to be long lasting. A simple project will do wonders for any DV organization!

Do: Just do it! It probably isn’t going to take long. What’s a day or two or even more for the greater good of the community? You’ll make friends while volunteering and, trust me, you will sleep better at night knowing you helped someone. If you help turn one DV victim into a survivor, you’re helping all whose lives they touch and will continue to touch in the future.

Talk it Up: Imagine if all your friends donated an hour of their time each week for a month at a DV organization. If you have 5 friends, that’s 20 hours a month.  You and your friends have now made the same impact as a part-time employee, which most organizations need but don’t have the funds to hire. So, tell your friends about the wonderful work an organization does. Make it a fun activity for you and your friends.  You can volunteer together at a walk or other event. It will be worth your time when you see how you help others.

For ways to find out how you can help DCCADV, visit our website here, or call us at (202) 299-1181. You and our organization will be glad that you did!

~Saira Saim 
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Add Another Name to Your List on Black Friday

Will you be setting an alarm for 3:00 a.m. this Friday in preparation of the 4:00 a.m. doorbusters? Every year there is always huge anticipation as people kick-off their holiday shopping season with  Black Friday deals--plasma T.Vs, fancy digital cameras, DVD players, clothes will be marked down to irresistible prices. I am already hearing of ‘leaks’ where a certain store is selling T.Vs for an unbeatable price. Who will you be buying for this year?

I’m sure your family and friends top the list and you’ve put a lot of thought into what you will get for each and every one of them this year. While I wish you the best of luck in surviving the crowds this Black Friday and finding the perfect gifts for everyone, I want to remind you of another name to put on your list-- DCCADV’s Holiday Gift Drive.

DCCADV holds a Holiday Gift Drive every year to provide gifts for families living in emergency shelters and temporary housing. Donors can adopt one or more families and donate gifts from their wish list. So, this holiday season, enjoy the spirit of giving, adopt a family today and add them on your shopping list!

For those of you who want to avoid the crowds but still want to buy gifts for the drive, remember Cyber Monday is Monday, the 29th of November. You can buy from the comfort of your own home and make someone’s Holiday more special!

Call (202) 299-1181 today for more information on participating in the drive or click here to visit our website.

Note: Pictures are from DCCADV's 2009 Holiday Drive!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Awareness at an Early Age—My Journey to Becoming a DV Advocate

It seems as if I’ve been a DV advocate all my life. I’ve never been shy to speak up against violence or demeaning behavior towards anyone. I often wonder and I’m often asked why I am passionate about the anti-DV movement, as I have no personal connection with this issue. I have never witnessed domestic violence and I’m very grateful to say that I’ve never been in a violent situation either, so why am I so passionate about ending DV? When I think about this, I always think back to the time I was 14 years old....

When I was 14 a DV organization came to my school to bring DV awareness to 8th graders. They talked about how women and young children go through difficult adjustment periods after suffering from domestic violence. That was the first time I felt like I needed to help someone who I didn’t even know. I remember going up to them after their presentation and asking them if I could volunteer in some way. I was told I was too young and to come back when I was older. I hated being too young to make a difference, too young to help someone in need. Is there really an age for that? As an adult and an advocate I now know the risks and liabilities of involving young kids, but I was an ‘old’ young kid and really wanted to do something. I truly wish I had found a way around the system, made a difference, or even tried to make a difference on my own scale, but I didn’t. I just waited to be old enough.

As a teenager I wanted to volunteer at shelters, but because of privacy issues I couldn’t find any in my area. So, I waited some more. In college I interned at the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. This really opened my eyes to what I could do to make a difference. This internship made me realize my life goals as a non-profit professional and DV advocate. I knew I had to raise awareness for this cause so I became a walking, un-hired PR person for this cause. I’d talk to anybody that would listen and anybody that wouldn’t listen about DV and I loved every minute of it!

Now, with DCCADV, I have an opportunity to do something about DV. It is a passion and will be for the rest of my life. All of this is because someone tapped into my emotions at the age of 14. I have always thought youth advocacy is really important. Some schools whole-heartedly participated in Purple Thursday by wearing purple. Here at DCCADV, we were touched to see the sea of purple in pictures. Do you think reaching out to kids at this age will make a difference? Will we end this cycle of abuse with the next generation? What do you think we can do to engage youth in our cause? 

~Saira Saim 
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Internet Safety Efforts

There has been a lot of buzz about cyberbullying lately. What I don’t think a lot of people realize is that cyberbullying is also a form of dating violence. Many teens and pre-teens feel that they are subject to relationship violence or bullying on social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace.

Here are some statistics on digital teen dating violence: 
  • 10% of youth said a romantic partner has prevented them from using a computer or cell phone.
  •  6% of boys and girls say their romantic partner posted something publicly online to make fun of, threaten, or embarrass them.
  • 10.4% of boys and 9.8% of girls said they received a threatening cell phone message from their romantic partner.
  • 5.4% of boys and 3.4% of girls said their romantic partner uploaded or shared a humiliating of harassing picture of them online or through their cell phone.
Click here for more information

Thankfully, some positive efforts are being made to prevent digital dating abuse from occurring and are creating ways of escape for those that are suffering from this issue. I recently came across a Facebook app that is a resource for anyone that needs help. By installing this application, teens can report any sort of abuse or bullying to Facebook officials. Once they report the abuse they will be connected to professionals and counselors in the area of help they need.The areas help is available in are: cyberbullying, suicide and depression, child exploitation, child abuse, runaways, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, hate issues, and suicide prevention hotline for gay and questioning teens. Click here to install the “Find Help” app on Facebook.

Another positive campaign for internet safety was launched by the Ad Council on Nov. 3, 2010. The Ad Council announced it’s Internet Safety Coalition with AT&T, Google, IAB, Microsoft, The Wireless Foundation and Other Industry Leaders to educate you about online safety. I personally love their campaign slogan which is: "If You Wouldn't Wear It, Don't Share it: Beware What You Share." For their campaign, they have launched videos and pictures of teenagers (adults can benefit from this as well) wearing white t-shirts with black writing with messages like: “English Test Sucked…Cheat Sheet Ruled.” Their message is that nothing is private when it goes online. If you are not willing to share any sort of information with more than a certain group of people then don’t post it online.


Check out their video:

Hopefully, with the launch of this campaign girls and boys will think twice before posting graphic pictures and revealing information about themselves on social networking websites. In turn, I’m hoping it will reduce teen digital dating violence. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

~Saira Saim

 Department of Communication and Organizational Advancement

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Unexpected Healing Powers of the Kid’s Movie: How to Train Your Dragon

If you don’t have a toddler, it would have been easy to miss the DreamWorks film, How to Train Your Dragon, which was in movie theatres earlier this year and just  came out on DVD. The film is about a Viking community (the island of Berk) where dragons have killed people and people have killed dragons for thousands of years. No one questions it – dragons are bad, Vikings are good.

For me, after watching the film, I’ve come to see the dragons as a metaphor for the thoughts in my mind. My dragons are thoughts like these:

-          I’m annoying.
-          I’m crabby.
-          I’m too moody.
-          I’m overly-intellectual.
-          I talk too much.
-          I argue about everything.
-          I’m exhausting.
-          I’m a brown-noser.

Believe me when I tell you, I had lots of evidence to support these beliefs and a community of people the size of Berk who would agree with this assessment. Chief among that community was my ex-husband who would use these personality traits to justify his attacks on me. It worked well, because I hated these aspects of myself as much as the Vikings hated the dragons.

Back on Berk, one (overly-intellectual) teenager named Hiccup shot down a dragon and injured him. This gave him to opportunity to look a dragon in the eye before killing him and in that moment he saw that the idea “Dragons are bad” was just a thought and it wasn’t fact. He saw that it was a story and in that moment, his fear and hatred of dragons turned into love. He lets the dragon live and begins to plot how he will save the injured beast.

Later that day when his father tells him the time has come for him to start killing dragons, Hiccup says my favorite line of the movie: “Um, no, dad, I’m really very extra sure that I won’t.”
Do you have any idea how hard that would be to say!?!? That is courage! You can imagine the pressure on him – the whole community – thousands of years – hundreds of loved ones killed by dragons; and here was this fishbone of a kid with a twinge in his gut that maybe, just maybe dragons weren’t so bad.

Like Hiccup, I spent many years plotting to kill my dragons. I read books, went to therapy, and ultimately decided to love myself despite being born with a terrible personality. I continued my death wish with these aspects of myself.  I believe that loving these horrible traits in myself would make them bigger. That the whole island of ME would be overrun by dragons and that the dragons would kill all that was good in my life.

It never occurred to me, that if I looked into my own eyes, I would get the glimmer that Hiccup got: “This is just a thought, and I can change a fear-based thought by adding my love.”

Now, that’s not to say changing a thought is easy.

My story about myself was strong. While I didn’t think I deserved to be hit or ridiculed, I kind of agreed I was annoying and needed to be fixed. I understood my attacker’s frustration with me because I shared that frustration.  And I felt that anyone who agreed to be with me romantically deserved some sort of a medal.

What I’ve learned from the movie How to Train Your Dragon is that no matter how much evidence you have a situation is terrible and unreversible (and Hiccup and I both had a lot!) if you can find the love, you can change the thought.

It turns out the Dragons on Berk weren’t so evil after all. They were enslaved by Red Death, a demanding, parasitic dragon who probably had dragons of his own! And all those “terrible” personality traits of mine, they came from my well-meaning need to protect myself -- just like the dragons killing humans came from their need to feed Red Death. Once I understood that, it was easy to love those traits. And as I’ve come to love my crabby, moody, annoying self, as if by magic, I’ve become remarkably less crabby, moody, and annoying!

So, what’s your dragon? Maybe it’s just a thought….

Angela Lauria is a domestic violence survivor, a blogger, and a life coach.

DVAM 2010 Highlights

Check out the wonderful slide show DCCADV's Community Education Fellow, Andrea Gleaves created:
1 in 4

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DVAM 2010 in Review

As you know October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) observed this month with untamed enthusiasm! We did many things to honor the victims and survivors of DV. Here’s a brief recap of a few of my personal favorites!

-      DVAM Kickoff  

Did you see one of us on Oct. 1st in front of your metro stop? DCCADV staff kicked off DVAM 2010 by spreading awareness of our 1 in 4 campaign. We handed out a brochure, a DVAM events calendar and of course, candy to metro goers all day long!

Hello Cupcake

We tapped into D.C craze for cupcakes to raise DV awareness. Who could pass up such a sweet deal? Helping the DV cause while satisfying their sweet tooth. The purple ribbon cupcake was designed, produced, and sold by D.C’s famed cupcakery, Hello Cupcake! For two days D.C enjoyed a purple ribbon cupcake feast. Proceeds went to our organization so we can serve D.C ‘s DV survivors and advocates better.  A big thank you to Hello Cupcake for their sponsorship!

-      Eat in Peace

Eat in Peace was a first just like many of our programming this month. Hank’s Oyster Bar, a popular D.C restaurant sponsored this event by giving their proceeds to DCCADV so we can serve the community better. Again, a huge thank you to Hank’s Oyster Bar for your generosity!

Purple Thursday
2010 was the fifth year D.C went purple for a Thursday. This year’s Purple Thursday was bigger and better! D.C was wearing purple to show their support of domestic violence victims and survivors.  We also had two contests, one for the DV community and one for our online community. We had an overflow of pictures in our inboxes of people and offices wearing purple. We thank YOU for that!

On Purple Thursday, a joint press conference was held by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Councilmember Kwame Brown.  The conference was held on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building on the beautiful Thursday afternoon. A powerful assembly of speakers were present including, Councilmember Kwame Brown, DCCADV ED, Karma Cottman, and D.C survivor Dr. Angela Lauria.

~Saira Saim
Department of Communications and Organizational Advancement

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Winner Is.....

The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence thanks all that participated in our contest (link to contest post). In the two weeks of the contest, our facebook followers have increased from 98 to 198 (and growing!) and our twitter followers have increased from 52 to 95! We thank you for your support and your enthusiasm in all our Domestic Violence Awareness Month programs.
This afternoon we had a drawing of the participants to determine the winner of the $75 gift certificate to the Tabbard Inn restaurant. So, without further delay, the winner is…

Albert Dadspride

Albert, please email to collect your prize!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Your Dinner’s on Us!

DC metro area residents you’re in for a treat. You can win a gift certificate to one of DC’s finest restaurants just by showing your support for the fight against domestic violence. Here’s what you have to do to win:

  • Follow @PeaceAtHomeDC on Twitter
  • Like us on Facebook
  • Post a picture of yourself on our wall wearing purple on Purple Thursday, Oct. 28th, 2010
  • Leave a comment on our Facebook wall telling us you’ve done all of the above (don’t forget to mention your Twitter name).
You can still participate if you already like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter by fulfilling the other conditions. The more you participate on Facebook and mention us on Twitter the more chances you have of winning. It really is that simple! On November 3rd, 2010 we will draw a lucky winner’s name and announce it on Twitter and Facebook. Good Luck!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

It's here! October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) and the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence (DCCADV) kicked the month off with a bang. Most of our staff is out there celebrating DVAM and spreading awareness today at 12 metro stops. Look out for our staff and the treats they're handing out!

October calendar looking a little empty. Hang out with us at some of our fabulous events.

  • Paint the Town Purple | October 1, 2010 
  • Take a Stand Community Display | October 11th-15th, 2010 
  • Macy's Shop for a Cause | October 16th, 2010 
  • YWCA Week Without Violence | October 17th-23rd, 2010 
  • Healthy Relationships Workshop with Show Me Love DC! | October 18th, 2010 
  • DV 101 Training at YWCA | October 21st, 2010 
  • Happy Hour at The Passenger | October 25th, 2010 
  • Purple Thursday Awareness Day | October 28th, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Identifying an Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Identifying an abusive relationship when there is no physical abuse is very difficult. Too often, we want to see proof of the abuse. Is there any black and blue? A shove, a push? Violent language? When we don’t see anything tangible, we ignore the signs until the abuse becomes the norm of the relationship.

When is the right time to do something? Do we even have the right to interfere when there is no physical abuse? The first time I heard him say, ‘I get the groceries because she doesn’t know what to buy,’ tipped me off to the abuse in the relationship. It wasn’t so much what he said, rather how he said it. After all, I myself like to go grocery shopping with my husband because if I don’t, I get ten calls per aisle on what to buy. Does that mean I’m controlling? I go grocery shopping with my husband because I sure won’t do such a boring task alone. I ask him what he wants and needs. Yes, I laugh and roll my eyes at how he wants to stock up on toothpaste because he’s afraid we’ll run out, but we both have a say in how things are done. I started noticing more and more power and control issues as I got to know this couple more. I kept brushing these thoughts away, after all, I thought, how is it possible that a highly educated person like Mrs. Wilkinson can tolerate abuse. But it is possible, and it is true in this situation. A doctor by education she is oblivious to her abusive relationship.

Domestic violence is a complicated issue, an issue to broach cautiously. I observed this person further, found more clues, then talked to someone Mrs. Wilkinson loves and trusts and can comfortably rely on. Of course, the one statement above made by her husband is not a strong enough reason to assume they have an abusive relationship. There were other very strong indicators like how he had convinced her to stay at home with the kids and be completely financially dependent on him. He gave her an allowance, to which she didn’t even protest. He imposed his will on her with unreasonable requests using manipulation, which again she never did protest or refuse. He controlled the family cell phone plan and refused to get a land line or allow her to make calls after 9pm. There were countless clues, but I had to be sure I was sound and reasonable in my assumptions before I acted. I knew I didn’t have a strong enough relationship with her to approach her personally and being a DV advocate I have to be careful around my own social circle, as people think I am too close and sensitive to the issue.

I used the Power and Control Wheel to make sure I wasn’t jumping to conclusions. Here is what I used as evidence to identify the abuse did exist in the above stated relationship:

Using Economic Abuse:

-         Preventing her from getting or keeping a job
-         Making her ask for money
-         Giving her an allowance
-         Taking her money
-         Not letting her know about or have access to family income

Using Isolation:

-         Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes
-         Limiting her outside involvement
-         Using jealousy to justify actions

Using Emotional Abuse:

-         Putting her down
-         Making her feel bad about herself
-         Calling her names
-         Making her think she’s crazy.
-         Playing mind games
-         Humiliating her
-         Making her feel guilty

Using Male Privilege:

-         Treating her like a servant
-         Making all the big decisions
-         Acting like the “master of the castle”
-         Being the one to define men’s and women’s roles

Using Children:

-         Making her feel guilty about the children
-         Using the children to relay messages
-         Using visitation to harass her
-         Threatening to take the children away

All of the above can be found in both physically and non-physically abusive relationships. Other parts of the Power and Control Wheel include:

Using Coercion and Threats:

-         Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her
-         Threatening to leave her, to commit suicide, to report her to welfare
-         Making her drop charges
-         Making her do illegal things

Using Intimidation:

-         Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures
-         Smashing things
-         Destroying her property
-         Abusing pets
-         Displaying weapons

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming:

-         Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously
-         Saying the abuse didn’t happen
-         Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior
-         Saying she caused it

If you suspect anyone of being in an abusive relationship take actions to stop the abuse before it escalates. If you’re in an abusive relationship please call the hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE from a safe location and phone.

Power and Control Wheel is available here:

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Social Network Safety

Social networking sites like Facebook are a great way to keep in touch with old friends, sending grandma pictures of the kids, networking for career advancement, etc. Social networking sites have changed our lives and our relationships with people. Due to these sites, everybody knows everything about everyone! Social networking sites have given a whole new dimension to Domestic Violence Survivors’ concern for safety.

Domestic Violence crimes are harder to track or even realize with the advent of this new technology. Stalking someone is easier on sites like Facebook. Feelings of jealousy, doubt, and anger are more easily sparked due to the openness of these websites as everything is visible to friends, from whom you have friended to whose wall you have commented on. Nothing is secret from the abuser if he/she is a friend on Facebook.

An example of harassment through Facebook is the bizarre experience of a friend (referred to asF.A). F.A’s ex-husband created a profile under her current husband’s name with F.A’s daughter’s picture as his profile picture. He then added all of her friends to this account and harassed her through this medium. He had gotten picture’s off of F.A’s profile even though he isn’t her ‘friend’ on Facebook.

Restraining orders are also violated on Facebook as in the following case:

In July, 2010, Cleveland, Ohio, Breanna Shanae Nance was arrested ‘on a misdemeanor domestic violence protective order violation.’ Corey Friedman, The Star, 2010. She had violated her restraining order by constantly messaging her former partner with threats of murder. It is easier to breach physical restraining orders online. The domestic violence victim is still within reach of the abuser as in this case.

A more severe example of Facebook’s effects on Domestic Violence is a 2008 incident. A man stabbed his wife with a kitchen knife and a meat cleaver the day after his wife had changed her marital status on facebook to single. ‘Wayne Forrester, 34, told police he was devastated that his wife Emma, also 34, had changed her online profile to “single” days after he had moved out.’ BBC NEWS, ‘Man Killed Wife in Facebook Row,’ 2008. There are many instances where a domestic violence crime occurs in the shape of online crime and is labeled as such. This has understated the dangers of internet safety to victims and survivors of domestic violence.

The dangers of online harassment don’t mean the abused has to shun themselves from social networking. Being actively involved with friends and support groups on these sites can serve a great purpose in the recovery of a survivor. A strong social network whether online or not is essential for normalcy in a survivor’s life. Victims and survivors just need to follow some safety measures. You may find the following tips helpful in maintaining online safety and privacy:

Social Media Safety

Privacy Settings…Most social networking sites do not have any privacy on default mode. Once you’ve made your account, change your privacy settings. After changing the settings make sure you check how your privacy settings are saved and what exactly is viewable to others.

Block…the abuser and friends who are likely to leak your information to him/her. If you simply don’t friend these people or unfriend them after the abuse has taken place, they can still view some of the content you post online. For instance, an unblocked person whom you have mutual friends with will be able to see comments you make on your friends’ links, walls, and pictures. Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events. If you don’t protect yourself, you are bound to be ‘found’ on facebook in some way.

Talk to Your Friends and Family…about what they can post online. For instance, they may post a status that says, ‘I’m so excited to hang out with (Survivor’s name) today at Dunkin Donuts in DC.’ This status may be visible to the abuser or someone who would tell the abuser about the survivor’s whereabouts putting the survivor’s safety at risk.

Be Skeptical of Strangers…Internet has given a false sense of security and comfort to many relationships. The use of emoticons and exclamation points can exaggerate ones feelings and can build false trust to a relationship that may not have been built otherwise. Do not add people you do not know, this includes people you have discussions with on group pages, people you chat with in insecure chat rooms, and yes…it includes your ‘oh so trustworthy’ friends from Farmville who help you when you desperately need hay to build a barn! You never know, the abuser may have made a false account and friended you just to know more about your life and vulnerabilities.

Don’t ‘Friend’ Everyone!…Some people want to build a strong facebook community, for this reason they friend everyone they know including people they have just met. Treat people you don’t know so well as strangers and use caution when adding them as friends. Be careful when adding friends that have strong ties with the abuser, they may leak your personal information to him/her.

Password…Change if the abuser knows your password. Pick a password that is difficult to easily guess.

Social Media Safety for Children

More and more children under the age of 18 are joining social networking sites by misrepresenting their age. The only way to keep children safe from internet dangers is to have a talk with them about the dangers and to explain safety measures to them. Closely monitoring children’s online activity through parental guard is also a good idea.

You may also find the following sites helpful:


A Safe Option

United Angels Against Domestic Violence is secure network for Domestic violence victims, survivors, and advocates. All members of this site are screened before they’re allowed on the website. This site is new but has the same features as other social networking sites. Visit: