______________________________________________ By PAMELA SHIFMAN and SALAMISHAH TILLETArticle courtesy: www.nytimes.com
THE pattern is striking. Men who are eventually arrested for violent acts often began wi th attacks against their girlfriends and wives. In many cases, the charges of domestic violence were not taken seriously or were dismissed.
Before Tamerlan Tsarnaev was suspected of carrying out the bombing of the Boston Marathon, he was arrested for beating his girlfriend. When Man Haron Monis held 17 people hostage at a Lindt Chocolate cafe in Sydney, he had already been charged as an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Before George Zimmerman shot Trayvon Martin to death in Florida, his ex-girlfriend accused him of physically assaulting her. He faced no charges, but has been arrested twice for alleged domestic violence since 2013.
A recent study found that more than half of the 110 mass shootings in the United States between January 2009 and July 2014 included the murder of a current or former spouse, an intimate partner or a family member.Everytown for Gun Safety, the group that released the study, found a “noteworthy connection between mass-shooting incidents and domestic or family violence.”
This connection is not limited to mass shootings. An analysis of the criminal justice history of hundreds of thousands of offenders in Washington State suggests that a felony domestic violence conviction is the single greatest predictor of future violent crime among men.
With so much at stake, responding to violence against women should be a top priority for everyone. Research tells us that violence is a learned behavior.
Boys who grow up in homes with abuse and domestic violence are nearly four times more likely to perpetrate domestic violence than those who grow up in homes without it. Because violence in the home tends to be a child’s first experience of it and is often defended as either inevitable or trivial, it becomes the root and justifier of all violence.
Men who commit violence rehearse and perfect it against their families first. Women and children are target practice, and the home is the training ground for these men’s later actions.
By intervening early and stopping violence in the home, we ensure the safety of the women and children who are the first victims. We can also take steps to make it harder for perpetrators to go on to commit additional crimes, whether inside or outside the home. We could, for instance, decide that anyone who committed domestic violence could not buy or own a gun. Yet in 35 states, those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes and those subject to restraining orders can buy and carry guns. Closing these and other gaps in federal and state laws on domestic violence will save women’s lives, and by extension, many more.
And yet keeping guns out of the hands of domestic violence perpetrators is only a small part of the solution. Preventing assaults at home from happening in the first place is the key to ensuring the safety of our communities and the security of our nation.
And while some consider that problem simply too big to tackle, the truth is that we know where to look for solutions. In their landmark study published in the American Political Science Review in 2012, Mala Htun and S. Laurel Weldon looked at 70 countries over four decades to examine the most effective way to reduce violence against women. They found that the mobilization of strong, independent feminist movements was a more important force in reducing violence against women than the economic wealth of a nation, the representation of women in government or the presence of progressive political parties. Strong and thriving feminist movements help to shape public and government agendas and create the political will to address violence against women.
As activists, we see this every day. The hundreds of feminist organizations that work on this issue around this country are the best chance we have of ending the epidemic of private violence, and therefore the epidemic of public violence.
There are many small grass-roots groups that go after private and public violence at their common root. Among them are A Long Walk Home(founded by one of us), which uses art to empower young people to end violence against girls and women; A Call to Men, which mobilizes men to stand up to violence by other boys and men; and Tewa Women United, which unites indigenous women to heal and transform their communities.
Safe and democratic families are the key to ensuring safe and democratic communities. Until women are safe in the home, none of us will be safe outside the home.
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the upcoming book “Generation Rx: A Story of Dope, Death, And America’s Opiate Crisis” by Erin Marie Daly, a former legal journalist.
Daly’s 20-year-old brother died of a heroin overdose after getting hooked on painkillers. To research her book, she talked to others whose loved ones died after moving from prescription pills to heroin.
Erin Marie Daly and her brother, Pat
George, a funeral home director in Brockton, Massachusetts, watched as the formaldehyde pulsed its way into the body lying before him on the porcelain embalming table. It was a task that was normally just part of a day’s work, but today, George was overwhelmed by emotion. He slid down to the floor, sobbing, and gripped the hand of the body on the table, willing it to come back to life.
The hand belonged to his 22-year-old son, Lance.
The night before, just after the Boston Red Sox lost to the New York Yankees, George had climbed the stairs to Lance’s bedroom in the home that also houses George’s funeral business. Lance was kneeling on the floor against a chair, with his head slumped forward onto his chest. It looked like he was praying. But he was stiff and unnaturally still. A needle lay by his feet. Heroin had stopped his heart.
It was a twisted ending for the son of a funeral director, but unfortunately, it was hardly surprising. Like many young adults in the working- class Boston suburb, Lance’s heroin addiction began when he became hooked on the powerful prescription painkiller OxyContin. An opioid medication originally developed to treat patients suffering from debilitating pain, the drug has become popular among local kids who crush the pills and snort, smoke, or even inject them for a heroin-like high. When the pills become too expensive, they are increasingly turning to heroin itself.
George, for his part, had seen dozens of such cases come across his embalming table in recent years—the sons and daughters of good parents who thought heroin was something only “junkies” did. And even though he was well aware of Lance’s years-long struggle with opiate addiction—at one especially exasperated moment, telling his son that he was saving a casket for him—a junkie’s death wasn’t what he had in mind for Lance.
Despite years of addiction and lies and close calls, he never thought it would be his son.
I met George in the summer of 2010 after reading about his story in a newspaper. I had traveled across the country from California with a story of my own: my youngest brother, Pat, was also addicted to OxyContin and died of a heroin overdose in February 2009, six months shy of his twenty-first birthday. I was seeking answers as a sister and as a journalist. Shortly after Pat’s death, I had started researching prescription painkiller addiction, and had started blogging about my findings. Privately, I also began researching my brother’s life, trying to piece together his downfall in an effort to understand where he went wrong.
Pat was my baby. I was ten years old when he was born, and he was the perfect addition to the pretend scenarios for which I had already bossily recruited my other younger brother and sister. And as babies are, he was incontrovertibly lovable.
Yet as much as I loved my brother, I could not understand his obsession with OxyContin. Nor did I know that it had put him straight on the path to heroin. I learned of the extent of his struggle too late. Also too late, I learned about the disease of addiction, and about the particular insidiousness of narcotic painkillers, all of which provide a heroin-like high when abused: not just OxyContin, but Vicodin, Opana, Darvocet, Fentanyl, Percocet, Dilaudid, Lortab, and Roxicodone, to name just a few (central nervous system depressants like Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin are also often abused due to their tranquilizing properties).
I learned that Pat wasn’t a special case; that kids just like him, all over the country, were falling victim to these pills: in 2010, 3,000 young adults ages 18 to 25 died of prescription drug overdoses—eight deaths per day.
Like Pat, many ended up turning to heroin after their pills became too expensive or scarce; in 2011, 4.2 million Americans aged 12 or older reported using heroin at least once in their lives, and nearly half of young IV heroin users reported that they abused prescription opioids first. Like these kids, my brother was the last person you’d picture with a needle in his arm, and yet they were all dying as junkies. I wanted to understand why this was happening, so I quit my job as a legal journalist and began traveling around the country in the hopes that chronicling the experiences of other families affected by the trend would offer some answers.
George was one of the first people I encountered. He told me the story about embalming his son as we sat in the receiving room of his funeral home, surrounded by the proverbial mementos of death: prayer cards, dried floral arrangements, a casket stuffed with billowy waves of satin. He choked up as he talked about Lance, and I choked up too, unable to maintain my reporter’s distance. It was my brother’s story all over again.
“I support breastfeeding…but…I don’t need to see it.”
I’ll be honest, it’s hard for me to hold back on the expletives when this phrase (and so many others like it) get thrown around with utter disregard for the impact that they have. These words used to hit me square in the gut, but now, two and a half years into our breastfeeding journey, I can see the ignorance, mis-education and selfishness that comments like this rest within. But as a new mother…it wasn’t quite so clear-cut…
I remember sitting, squashed and repulsed, as I fed baby bean in the tiny and disgusting toilet cubicle. I remember blinking back the tears as I searched within myself for the strength to throw a smiling, two-finger salute to anybody who thought that this was an appropriate place to feed my child. Now, I will nurse anywhere, but I didn’t come to realise the power of my mama-stripes overnight. I had to see the gutter to make the choice to leave it. To make a stand; proud and determined that my daughter and I deserved more. More.
More than germ-infested public restrooms.
More than a square-inch within which to move.
More than the smell of other people’s faeces when feeding and nurturing my innocent bundle of love.
This is a great advertisement by the University of North Texas featuring inspiring Mama, Monica Young. The campaign promotes the passage of law HB 1706; which protect mothers from breastfeeding harassment.
I’m sure that most people would agree, but here’s the clincher: without fully accepting breastfeeding, many mothers will inevitably feel condemned to feed their babies in public bathrooms. Hidden from and shamed by society. Without opening our eyes and seeing what this actually looks lie in practice, I guess ignorance remains…
Introducing our visual saviours…our eye-openers…
A group of students at the University of North Texas designed an ad campaign to promote the pass of law HB1706; to protect mothers from harassment. These posters (see main picture) will be placed on the inside of every stall at the University to promote public awareness of the need to openly encourage breastfeeding acceptance…with no “But”. The graphic design students approached Monica Young, 21, to be the face of this campaign. Monica told me; “I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be a part of this campaign. I’ve heard more disturbing comments and received so many displeasing glances in the last four months than I have had my entire life! I would love to nurse my son without putting my head down and since sitting for these pictures, I’ve proudly nursed wherever I please. This project has inspired many people, but especially myself!”
My hope is that the storm raised by this campaign will open more hearts and eyes to the normalcy of breastfeeding, and with thousands of “likes” so far, this movement will surely only gain momentum.
Imagine fuelling this movement with a new, un-caveated mantra: “I support breastfeeding”. And let’s leave it at that.
The following video is a powerful message from the 1 is 2 many campaign started in the U.S. by Vice President Biden.
Despite the significant progress made in reducing violence against women, there is still a long way to go. Young women still face the highest rates of dating violence and sexual assault. In the last year, one in 10 teens have reported being physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Recognizing the need for change, the White House created a task force aimed at changing attitudes that lead to violence and educating the public on the realities of abuse.
The following video was produced by the Israeli Association of Rape Crisis Centres. The clip is a short animated movie for parent and kids. The intension of this venture is, on one hand, to guide parents on how to identify CSA, and, on the other hand, encourage children to share.
Earlier this year, a New York City woman—I’ll call her Mary—tried to leave her abusive husband. She contacted a shelter, but the shelter wouldn’t take pets. Nor would any other shelter in the city. Mary’s son said he couldn’t leave his three cats behind. And so, since Mary couldn’t leave without her son, she stayed outside the shelter system.
Pets do not get much attention in research on domestic violence, but there is reason to believe that situations like Mary’s are amazingly common. A 2007 summary of available research, published in the journal Violence Against Women, found that in the dozen or so shelters in the country that collect data on the issue, between 18 and 48 percent of women said they had delayed leaving their abusers because it meant leaving their pets. In one study conducted in upstate New York, researchers found that among women who had seen their pets abused, 65 percent had put off seeking help. Presumably, many others with pets never leave home at all.
In 2008, there were only four shelters in the country that accommodated domestic animals. Today there are 73, but that’s still only about three percent of shelters nationwide, and to date, no program in a city as large or dense as New York has allowed women to “co-shelter” directly with their animals.
Between 20 and 71 percent of pet-owning women entering shelters have seen their animals harmed or threatened by their abuser.
That might be changing. In June, Mary, her children, and their cats became the first participants in a program called People and Animals Living Safely, a six-month pilot conceived by the Urban Resource Institute, a non-profit that runs four shelters in New York City, and the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, a non-profit coalition of animal rescue groups. Now Mary, kids, and pets live together in a sparsely furnished third-floor apartment in the Urban Resource Institute’s biggest shelter. Ten of the building’s 38 units have been designated pet-friendly and outfitted with crates, litter boxes, window screens, and pet food. For the pilot period, women will be allowed to bring cats and smaller animals with them into the shelter, and if enough money can be raised to build a dog run in the alley, there are plans to accept dogs by December. The Urban Resource Institute hopes to expand the PALS program to all its shelters—and prod the rest of the city’s system to do the same. When I accompanied a group of visitors there this summer, Mary was proud to show us her three new matching pet crates; the cats sat pressed against the backs of their cages, warily eyeing the outsiders.
According to the Violence Against Women research summary, between 20 and 71 percent of pet-owning women entering shelters have seen their animals harmed or threatened by their abuser. Pets can become scapegoats or hostages, the targets of threats or abuse meant to terrorize another person. But animals can also be the lone comforters and sometime protectors of isolated victims. All this makes the prospect of leaving a pet behind particularly terrifying.
Recent history has yielded some spectacular demonstrations of how far people will go to protect their pets. Eight years ago, the nation watched as many residents of New Orleans refused to evacuate their homes in advance of Hurricane Katrina in order to stay with their animals, which were barred from shelters like the Superdome. A year after the storm, Congress passed legislation requiring states to include domestic animals in their disaster evacuation plans if they wanted to receive federal disaster aid. When Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern Seaboard last year, New York’s shelters all aggressively advertised pet-friendly policies.
Katrina was an epiphany for policymakers, says Jenny Coffey, a social worker with the Mayor’s Alliance. “People were photographed holding on to their animals for dear life. The shelters that didn’t allow the animals didn’t realize how much they were losing. … What hasn’t happened,” Coffey adds, “is the trickle-down of that understanding to the small, personal life crises— specifically domestic violence. Until this plan.”
There are still glitches to be worked out with the PALS program. For instance, the city’s domestic violence hotline, which matches victims with shelters, does not yet ask callers whether they have pets. Consequently, few women learn that pet-friendly options exist. And it remains to be seen how shelters can best deal with allergies, pet health, and liabilities if residents are bitten or scratched.
But there’s little doubt that pets are on victims’ minds. In the shelter where Mary and her children now live, the walls of the basement rec room are covered with pictures from kids’ art-therapy sessions. Almost all of them are of cats and dogs.
Kathryn Joyce is the author of The Child Catchers: Rescue, Trafficking, and the New Gospel of Adoption, among other books.
Article courtesy Pacific Standard: http://www.psmag.com/
A few months ago, a picture of a woman in one of those desperate parenting situations was covered by several news organizations. It showed the woman holding a toddler boy over a public trash can somewhere in B.C. so he could go pee — which he was doing in spectacular fashion.
In the photo on the news sites, both of their eyes were hidden by a black band, but I’m sure that poor woman knew it was her and the toddler.
Lots of people may think what she did was disgusting. I could only salute her in commiseration and acknowledge she most likely tried her best in a bad situation.
We live in a society that is quick to wag the finger at parents, to blame them for everything from rude kids to axe murderers. We should always strive to be the best parents we can, and to do our best to raise respectful, polite and, above all, moral children. But parents also don’t get nearly enough recognition when they are nailing it.
Maybe most people don’t notice us when we’re doing it right, and only see us in public when our child is pitching a fit, displaying rude behaviour or peeing in a garbage can.
But, parents in Victoria, I notice you. I watch you with your kids at the grocery store, on the bus and on the way to school. Most of you are doing an exemplary job, and it’s about time someone told you so.
I’ve seen you say no to the cookie, to insist the child try a vegetable, to make a child pick up litter dropped on the ground. I’ve noticed you leaping parental pitfalls with aplomb.
The grocery store is a form of parental purgatory, a place where toddlers are bound to throw tantrums and bigger kids can act out in all sorts of embarrassing ways. I have seen many a parent handle enormous tantrums with grace, humour and astounding self-control. I’ve seen many more avoid the tantrum with a well-placed game of I Spy, or another distraction.
I see a lot of great parenting on the bus, much of it done by younger parents with small children. A few weeks ago, a very young mother got on a bus pushing a stroller. Her baby was crying and the mother looked exhausted. She parked the stroller, sat down and tried to console the baby. Baby continued to cry. She tried to feed him. More wails. Finally, she put him over her shoulder, rocking him and whispering, “It’s all right. It’s all right. It’s going to be OK. I know it’s not your fault.”
I wanted to hug the mom; being on a bus with a crying baby is stressful, and yet she focused on baby’s needs rather than getting angry or breaking down in humiliated tears.
I cycle to work sometimes. One warm early autumn day, I watched a mother with a child in a trailer and another two on bikes pedalling her way up the switch bridge on the Galloping Goose. As she struggled to get up the hill, she was calling back to her cycling daughters, “You can do it. Just keep pedalling. Don’t give up. You’re so strong, I know you can!”
Her daughters were staring ahead, puffing and pedalling. When they got to the top, their mother cheering, they looked as proud as if they’d climbed the tallest mountain.
My loudest applause, though, is for the dad I passed on the Goose this summer, walking with his teenage son. A pretty woman jogged by, and the boy whistled.
His father put out an arm to stop him, looked him in the eye and said, “That was a terribly demeaning thing you just did. Don’t ever do that again.”
Bad parenting moments are like dandelions popping out of a verdant lawn. They’re easy to notice. This week, I encourage you to notice the grass instead. It’s everywhere.
Article courtesy: timescolonist.com
Cindy MacDougall / Times Colonist