Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County

News & Events

3rd Annual Charity Golf Outing to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

The 3rd Annual Charity Golf Tournament

in support of survivors of domestic violence in Saratoga County will be held

Friday August 26, 2016 at the Fairways of Halfmoon

The tournament format will be a best ball scramble, and will feature prizes, raffles, a 50/50, hamburgers and hot dogs at the turn, beer, soda, and water, and dinner.

Entry is $100/person and $400 per foursome.

Click here to register online.

For more information about tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Howard Connors at connors_howard@yahoo.com or at 518-265-2850

or call Wellspring at 518-583-0280.

Out of Site

Reading the news locally and nationally, we've got some troubling community safety issues we're trying to address. In Saratoga Springs the front page stories lately revolve around the concerns about homelessness, vagrancy and the need for housing and support services to assist people out of homelessness and into safe housing, services and stability. Nationally, the tragedy in Orlando has spiked concerns about the rise in gun violence. These are big issues that may seem very unrelated to my work in domestic violence or sexual assault, but it's interesting that lately I've seen people drawing links to Wellspring's mission.

About a week ago I attended the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association meeting. Saratoga Spring's Police Chief, Greg Veitch was talking about his department's work to preserve community safety, quickly and effectively respond to any crimes that are reported, and whenever possible to link people living on the street with support services such as those offered by Shelters of Saratoga. As always, the audience appreciated his openness and professional response to their questions and concerns. The Chief responded to community inquiries about safety, explained the SSPD's efforts and limitations in having a continual presence in the downtown business district (it's a relatively small police force which sees exponential increase in demand during the tourist season). He also discussed factors that underlie/contribute to homelessness.

When citizens and business owners described their experience with feeling unsafe, he offered suggestions and discussed how the SSPD can assist. At one point he mentioned data about arrests for assault  and observed that statistically there's greater potential for harm from someone you know than from strangers. I noted it's interesting that we perceive the streets to be potentially dangerous, while our sense of home is a place where we're safe from harm-- not always so. The number of assaults in Saratoga Springs over the past 3 years, by a homeless person against a random person on the street was negligible if not null; by comparison the SSPD  has ~400-500 arrests each year for domestic violence. It's no surprise to me that we fail to notice one of the most serious safety concerns in our county- domestic violence. Why? Because we don't see it. Grabbing our morning coffee at Uncommon Grounds, lunch at the Hungry Spot, and shopping at any of the wonderful shops on Broadway, we may pass by the same homeless person sitting on a corner several times each day... and each time our mind registers one more incidence of homelessness- even though it's the same person sitting on a corner. Conversely, it's so rare to actually see a domestic violence incident, that domestic violence seems nonexistent. In Saratoga County, domestic violence is the #2 violent crime (and also the primary cause of family homelessness) ... but I rarely hear community groups convening to discuss what we can do about this safety issue*.

Later in the week another seemingly unrelated headline evidenced a horrific crime with connections to domestic violence lurking  just under the surface. In the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy, it was quickly revealed that the shooter had a history of domestic violence. To anyone who works in the domestic violence field, this revelation didn't come as a surprise. All too often when reading about a mass shooting, we note there was a history of domestic  violence... or  the tragic incident involved an abused partner or was preceded by an act of abuse at home.  In her article On guns, stop talking about terrorism. Start talking about domestic violence,Vox reporter, Emily Crockett states,
"...most "mass shootings" aren't how we imagine them — they’re not school shootings or dance floor massacres. They’re relatively private acts of horror, preceded by red flag after red flag of abusive and violent behavior...
We can’t predict who will become a mass shooter, nor can we save every potential victim of domestic violence. But it would be an unforced error not to do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who are known to be violent — and it’s a lot easier to predict violent behavior in general than the specific decision to commit a mass shooting."


I don't have the answers these big social issues affecting community safety, but I do think it's interesting to note that we shouldn't discount red flags that are a little less obvious because they're happening at home. Let's not look away from violence in the home. That flash of red you see waving in the backyard may be more than just some laundry hanging on the line...it could be an indicator of something dangerous looming larger in the future.

*Wellspring staff is available for presentations at no charge  to business or organizations if they'd like to learn more about domestic violence or sexual assault or what they can do to help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse,
contact our 24 hour hotline for assistance

In Their Shoes

Wellspring presents ‘In Their Shoes,’ a program for teenagers (and their parents and loved ones) about dating violence and relationship abuse.

On Monday June 13 form 6-8 PM. Wellspring will be hosting ‘In Their Shoes,’ an interactive, experiential program for teens to learn about the warning signs of dating violence and highlights ways to stay safe.

Teens, parents, and loved ones are all invited to attend.

Over a two-hour period, participants become one of six teen characters based on the experiences of real teens including sexting, pregnancy, homophobia, and stalking. They make choices about their relationships and move through the scenario by reading about interactions with their dating partner, family, friends, counselors, police, and others.  This is an engaging way to talk about dating violence and healthy relationships.  Wellspring advocates will also be sharing information on how to help friends who may be in abusive relationships.

Snacks will be provided.

Space for this program is limited.  If you’d like to participate, please email our Prevention Coordinator, Jamie Gandron or call the Wellspring office at 518-583-0280.

Got Books?

There's nothing that says summer better than lying on the beach or in a hammock on a warm afternoon leisurely reading a book.  It a wonderful indulgence, but takes just a bit of planning. You've got to have a good book on hand for when the moment presents itself. Make sure you're ready... this weekend Northshire Bookstore is donating 20% of all sales to Soroptimist International of Saratoga County... just say you're "shopping for Soroptimist". While you're lying in the hammock reading that mystery novel, your donation will be hard at work supporting programs that help women and girls-- maybe across the globe building a birthing center in in Uganda or providing mobile medical services in Ecuador... or maybe right here in Saratoga County supporting Wellspring's financial literacy program, Project Hope and Power.

Image taken by Brian Hoffman (c) 2016

Northshire Bookstore
Soroptimist In-Store Book Fair

June 4th 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
June 5th 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Come out and support Soroptimist this coming weekend in downtown Saratoga Springs. It's easy!

Tell the bookseller that you are "Shopping for Soroptimists” and 20% of your purchases will be devoted to supporting the Secret Gardens Tour, scheduled for July 10, 2016. Come and enjoy yourself in Saratoga's exceptional bookstore.

And yes, you can purchase gift certificates in any amount.

The Secret Gardens Tour draws more than 700 visitors from the Capital Region who spend the day enjoying exceptional gardens in and around Saratoga Springs. Tickets to the general public go on sale soon for $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the tour. Download the brochure and buy your tickets by mail.

Football is moving out of the Wild West

Sports Illustrated's Joan Niesen  calls it "a broken system... a crisis". What's she referring to? The prevalence of violence against women by collegiate and professional football players... and  a system that is aware of their actions and actively  shields the player from consequences in order to protect their investment in the athlete. SI's recent article, "Latest sexual violence allegations highlight broken system at Baylor" references the recently released report by Pepper Hamilton investigating how Baylor University handled numerous allegations of sexual violence by Baylor's athletes.  The report cites numerous problems with the college's response: inadequately trained administrators, lack of response to alleviate a hostile environment, and a different disciplinary process for athletes than other students.

Baylor has announced leadership changes and corrective actions based on the findings of the investigation they commissioned by Pepper Hamilton. Baylor's response is late and lackluster, coming only after intense public scrutiny of how the university mishandled numerous reports of sexual misconduct. Niesen states, "It’s the Wild West, an absence of justice, and Baylor has had no incentive to fix the landscape it created—until now."

This is where there's hope. In the past couple of years we've heard so many stories where star athletes commit acts of gender-based violence-- domestic violence or sexual assault. And we've heard over and over, how their celebrity status protected them from consequence. But, while for years, these acts remained private, victims are now speaking out, the public is noticing, organizations are being held accountable for  the actions of their players... and teammates an coaches are speaking out against violence. Concern, justice, and accountability are civilizing  the Wild West

"Wait, Worry and Wonder"

Yesterday John Gray's Fade to Gray column, Social Nightmare, covered an important issue affecting teens, the devastating violation of personal privacy that occurs when an intimate  image is privately shared on-line with one person, but then becomes public. Sometimes  images are posted publicly after a break-up -- so called 'revenge porn', other times, it's sextortion, i.e.,  predators actively groom vulnerable teens they've met on-line,  building a 'friendship' and with the express intent to solicit the teen to send them explicit images that they will post publicly.

We hear about these things, but tend to think they happen elsewhere, in some other county or to someone else's kids. Gray's story is about a local teen... and the concern was that what happened to him could affect at least a dozen of his friends. Technology has changed so quickly, it's hard for parents to keep up with it let alone to be ahead of the game in helping their children remain safe. We didn't grow up in a time when in an impulsive and emotionally-charged moment it was possible to take a quick intimate picture and press send... possibly having it viewed worldwide by strangers. It's the kind of situation a parent doesn't even imagine until it happens. Gray states
"He made a 10 second mistake that will now haunt him forever.
Like a grenade with the pin pulled all he can do is
wait, worry and wonder when it’s going to go off."
What teen hasn't made a10 second mistake a some point? It's chilling that todays' technology allows those mistakes to become viral. Here's a graphic and haunting video depicting a typical teenage girl...and how her whole life can be controlled due to sextortion. 

"Man Up"

The focus on athletes committing acts of domestic violence or sexual assault has been ever-present in the news over the past year; new incidents seem to pop up at least weekly. I've been asked, "is it because they're such superstars they feel they're beyond the rules?", or "Is it something about athletics or people who excel in athletics that contributes?" I don't have the answers.

DeAndre Levy (@drelevy) | TwitterBut today I read Man Up an article by Deandre Levy, a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, that sheds some light on the messages we give young men about masculinity:
"It’s truly astounding the number of awful things that occur in this world because men are afraid of appearing weak."

... and the messages we don't give them about sexual violence.
"My understanding is that most women have heard the talk about how to avoid becoming a victim, but growing up, I was never involved in a conversation about what consent is. I was never even flat-out told not to rape or sexually assault anyone."

More frank talk like this is needed, with young athletes, with coaches, with our sons, and with the parents who raise boys. Levy makes a compelling argument for getting real about these issues and leading the change:
"Some of the funniest, most insightful and honest conversations I’ve ever had in my life have taken place inside a locker room. But this particular topic is one that has never come up.
As professional athletes, we have the prominence in our communities to effect real change. When we talk, people listen. So in a sense, our general silence on this issue is condoning it.
So let’s change that. Speak out with me. Man up."

Click here to read the article.

Raising Their Voices… In the Best Possible Way

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it's drawing to an end. I've  been a bit quiet about sexual assault awareness month, because I think it's important that we don't limit these conversations to just 30 days. They're discussions we need to have real time, when the topic arises-- all year long. Only then will we really notice how often relationship and sexual abuse are in our local news... how often we hear comments/jokes that tacitly condone abuse... or how often we have opportunities to create change.

True social change is rarely cataclysmic; more often it's a gradual awakening accompanied by almost imperceptible shifts in how each individual thinks and acts. And when many peoples' thoughts and actions all start to change there's an alignment. Awareness isn't about a month; it's about consciousness, day-after-day.

As April comes to an end, I'd like to recognize 10 musicians who are using their talent to increase awareness of sexual violence, domestic violence and child abuse. Their songs, while dealing with tragic topics, convey courage, strength, honesty, and poignancy. They also inspire us to work toward ending relationship and sexual abuse.

While their styles range from rap, to rock, to country and heavy  metal they're united in the message- No More.

Listen to their inspiring messages  here

When Domestic Violence Comes To Work

We often think of domestic violence as something that happens at home. While most physical abuse happens out of sight,  in reality a domestic violence victim is not free from the power and control even when they leave home.  I was reading an article last night that illustrated how vulnerable and unprepared businesses feel when domestic violence enters the workplace. Tragically, the University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center lost two employees within six months due to domestic violence. In one case a young mother was shot in front of her 3 year old by a former partner. Just 5 months later a nurse was stabbed to death by her son after repeated domestic incidents.
Domestic violence impacts your employees and your bottom line. Often when a victim leaves the abusive partner, the abuser may concentrate his/her focus on the workplace to stalk, harass or otherwise control the victim.
  • 21% of full time employed adults have been victims of domestic violence, and most indicate their work performance was significantly impacted.
  • 40% of these victims report being harassed at work by their abuser.
  • 74% of perpetrators had easy access to their partner's workplace.
  • 21% of offenders contacted their victim at work in violation of an order of protection.
What does a business owner or manager need to know?
  • Wellspring offers a full range of crisis and support services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault... including safety planning while at work.
  • Wellspring also has an Employer Toolkit to help managers and supervisors recognize and respond when an employee is experiencing abuse.
  • Our advocates are available 24 hours/day not just to help victims of abuse, but also to provide support and guidance for anyone who has someone in their life who is being victimized--that someone may be a son or daughter, friend, a neighbor, or an employee.

    As I read the article about the  St. Joseph Medical Center, I was struck by how helpless the staff felt as they lacked company policies to assist an employee who was experiencing domestic violence. Wellspring can help your organization to increase awareness, develop policies to support someone who may be experiencing abuse, and maintain a safe workplace. Call us at 518-583-0280 to find out how we can assist you.

    If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse,
    contact our 24 hour hotline for assistance