Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County


News & Events

We’re Asking the Wrong Question

It had to happen. The focus changed from Ray Rice's assault to questions about why Janay stays (and even married him soon thereafter). This morning NPR News hosted a thoughtful discussion about why victims stay.


It's the most asked question in our industry, "Why do they stay?" It's as if we think that we can end relationship violence if victims would only leave. That premise ignores the reality that abusers will just move on to another partner and abuse... or  will continue to abuse their current partner even after they've left the abuse. We think that walking away frees the victim. Not necessarily. Sometimes staying in the relationship makes them feel safer because they can see when the abuse is escalating and take action to reduce risk. Out of the relationship they'd be continually on alert as the abuser has made it clear that leaving and living are not options. Sometimes the abuse victim doesn't have the option of walking away from the relationship and closing the door on the abuse. If there are children in common, there may be court ordered visitation agreements. The person they are leaving may be an abuser, but also answers to 'Daddy'  or 'Mommy'. Every child swap is a chance to replay the abusive power and control dynamic. Will the abuser even show up for the kids on time. Will (s)he stage a huge fight? Say vile things about me in front of the kids? Not return the kids and leave me terrified that some terrible feared fate has befallen them to punish me for leaving?


And let's talk about love. This is the person you've chosen to spend you life  with...maybe have a family with. Often abuse survivors don't want the relationship to end... they just want the abuse to end. And after an incident, the next morning there's often remorse, apologies and promises to make things different. Weeks ago Ray Rice stood before all of us and talked about making the biggest mistake of his life. He apologized, professed a sincere desire to  change...promised to be a better man. How many of us listened to him and cautiously entertained, if not forgiveness, a willingness to see what he did next and earn back our trust? We looked into his eyes and saw an imperfect human...and did not turn our backs. You might say- we stayed- tentatively, cautiously, hopefully. And we don't love Ray Rice. We haven't committed our heart and life to this man... raised a child with him.


Who are we to question why someone stays? The social media world is full of  people telling their reasons, trying to help us understand. 
Domestic violence is complicated. There's no perfect map or flow chart to navigate these difficult decisions. Daily DVRC's advocates hear so many reasons why someone chooses to stay.  These are often thoughtful, heart wrenching  choices to ponder. I could write volumes on the complexity of this decision, but  I believe social media may have provided some insight in just 68 characters:




#Why I stayed  So my children could have a father
#Why I left       So my children could have a mother


There were probably many incidents and many changes of heart between those two tweets. Does focusing on why they stay solve the problem? I think  our energies are better spent on preventing abuse from happening.




Related posts:
http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/07/leslie-morgan-steiner-answers-questions.html



We’re Asking the Wrong Question

It had to happen. The focus changed from Ray Rice's assault to questions about why Janay stays (and even married him soon thereafter). This morning NPR News hosted a thoughtful discussion about why victims stay.


It's the most asked question in our industry, "Why do they stay?" It's as if we think that we can end relationship violence if victims would only leave. That premise ignores the reality that abusers will just move on to another partner and abuse... or  will continue to abuse their current partner even after they've left the abuse. We think that walking away frees the victim. Not necessarily. Sometimes staying in the relationship makes them feel safer because they can see when the abuse is escalating and take action to reduce risk. Out of the relationship they'd be continually on alert as the abuser has made it clear that leaving and living are not options. Sometimes the abuse victim doesn't have the option of walking away from the relationship and closing the door on the abuse. If there are children in common, there may be court ordered visitation agreements. The person they are leaving may be an abuser, but also answers to 'Daddy'  or 'Mommy'. Every child swap is a chance to replay the abusive power and control dynamic. Will the abuser even show up for the kids on time. Will (s)he stage a huge fight? Say vile things about me in front of the kids? Not return the kids and leave me terrified that some terrible feared fate has befallen them to punish me for leaving?


And let's talk about love. This is the person you've chosen to spend you life  with...maybe have a family with. Often abuse survivors don't want the relationship to end... they just want the abuse to end. And after an incident, the next morning there's often remorse, apologies and promises to make things different. Weeks ago Ray Rice stood before all of us and talked about making the biggest mistake of his life. He apologized, professed a sincere desire to  change...promised to be a better man. How many of us listened to him and cautiously entertained, if not forgiveness, a willingness to see what he did next and earn back our trust? We looked into his eyes and saw an imperfect human...and did not turn our backs. You might say- we stayed- tentatively, cautiously, hopefully. And we don't love Ray Rice. We haven't committed our heart and life to this man... raised a child with him.


Who are we to question why someone stays? The social media world is full of  people telling their reasons, trying to help us understand. 
Domestic violence is complicated. There's no perfect map or flow chart to navigate these difficult decisions. Daily DVRC's advocates hear so many reasons why someone chooses to stay.  These are often thoughtful, heart wrenching  choices to ponder. I could write volumes on the complexity of this decision, but  I believe social media may have provided some insight in just 68 characters:




#Why I stayed  So my children could have a father
#Why I left       So my children could have a mother


There were probably many incidents and many changes of heart between those two tweets. Does focusing on why they stay solve the problem? I think  our energies are better spent on preventing abuse from happening.




Related posts:
http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/07/leslie-morgan-steiner-answers-questions.html



My Team Pick-Olbermann

The Ray Rice incident has exploded far beyond criticism for the actions of one man who committed an act of brutality. The public release of the video has cast a light on how we turn a blind eye to this criminal act because looking more closely might upset our fantasy football picks. We knew weeks ago that Rice had punched his girlfriend knocking her unconscious. Only when we (the public)actually saw the brutality of that assault did the NFL take swift and decisive action. Until we couldn't look away there was a certain tolerance for abuse.  

If there's any doubt that the locker room accepts and even lightheartedly excuses violence, Daryl Srawberry's account of the 'Kevin Mitchell cat incident' squashes those doubts. Accompanied by chuckles all around, Strawberry explains Mitchell was in a dispute with his girlfriend, a couple of the guys were there, and he decapitated the girlfriend's cat. While Strawberry looks a bit uncomfortable and notes Mitchell was affiliated with gangs, there's  a clear brotherhood that seeks to excuse the behavior and diminish it.  Laughing, Strawberry says, "That's a pretty good story. [Kevin] was a different type of guy... great guy... super teammate... great person...he figured the girlfriend was acting a little crazy, so "I'll kill her cat.

Hey fun times then we had some beers...  boy those were the days...really? This incident happened decades ago, but today we still see this tendency to look the other way and make excuses instead of noting when someone we know,  man or  woman, is abusive.

Comparing Strawberry's telling of this 'zany incident' to ESPN's Keith Olbermann's outrage about the Rice response. While the cat incident describes an act of intimidation, coercion and brutality there's no sense of outrage. I can't help imagining what it feels like to have several athletes watch your boyfriend murder your cat to 'keep you in line'...and not one of them steps in and says :"Whoa buddy... what the heck!" Instead it's laughed about for years..."what  a great guy... a super person!" I'll take Olbermann on my team any day.

In our school prevention classes we teach kids, boys and girls, about standing up and speaking out when they see someone bullied. These kids learn that character, strength and leadership aren't just about not doing bad things, they're about having the courage to not turn your back or laugh it off when you see someone intimidating another person. Third graders get it... but we don't ?

My Team Pick-Olbermann

The Ray Rice incident has exploded far beyond criticism for the actions of one man who committed an act of brutality. The public release of the video has cast a light on how we turn a blind eye to this criminal act because looking more closely might upset our fantasy football picks. We knew weeks ago that Rice had punched his girlfriend knocking her unconscious. Only when we (the public)actually saw the brutality of that assault did the NFL take swift and decisive action. Until we couldn't look away there was a certain tolerance for abuse.  

If there's any doubt that the locker room accepts and even lightheartedly excuses violence, Daryl Srawberry's account of the 'Kevin Mitchell cat incident' squashes those doubts. Accompanied by chuckles all around, Strawberry explains Mitchell was in a dispute with his girlfriend, a couple of the guys were there, and he decapitated the girlfriend's cat. While Strawberry looks a bit uncomfortable and notes Mitchell was affiliated with gangs, there's  a clear brotherhood that seeks to excuse the behavior and diminish it.  Laughing, Strawberry says, "That's a pretty good story. [Kevin] was a different type of guy... great guy... super teammate... great person...he figured the girlfriend was acting a little crazy, so "I'll kill her cat.

Hey fun times then we had some beers...  boy those were the days...really? This incident happened decades ago, but today we still see this tendency to look the other way and make excuses instead of noting when someone we know,  man or  woman, is abusive.

Comparing Strawberry's telling of this 'zany incident' to ESPN's Keith Olbermann's outrage about the Rice response. While the cat incident describes an act of intimidation, coercion and brutality there's no sense of outrage. I can't help imagining what it feels like to have several athletes watch your boyfriend murder your cat to 'keep you in line'...and not one of them steps in and says :"Whoa buddy... what the heck!" Instead it's laughed about for years..."what  a great guy... a super person!" I'll take Olbermann on my team any day.

In our school prevention classes we teach kids, boys and girls, about standing up and speaking out when they see someone bullied. These kids learn that character, strength and leadership aren't just about not doing bad things, they're about having the courage to not turn your back or laugh it off when you see someone intimidating another person. Third graders get it... but we don't ?

A Harvard prof’s class for you right now– no tuition required

Tuesday is Good News Day

Got  just 2 minutes during the next 21 days?

In just 2 minutes a day, this technique can elicit improved performance on all key business outcomes.
  • The same brain-- your brain-- is 31% more positive when it's in this state.
  • Doctors are 18% faster an more accurate with diagnoses.
  • Salespeople are 37% more effective at sales.
This state can turn on all the learning centers in your brain.

While  this may sound like the lead-in to a late night infomercial, don't panic, no need to run and lock up the credit cards.

It's about rewiring your brain to scan for positive rather than negative... scanning for success and happiness. Sound too touchy feely? Maybe, but it's based on science. In fact this Ted Talk Shawn Anchor, who teaches the most sought after class at Harvard University, explains how to improve  your life . And if that Harvard gig ever flops, within seconds of viewing the video you'll see right away that Anchor's got a fall back career option option doing stand-up.

He details the action plan at 12:17. So if you want to study along with all those Harvard students  the quick notes version is below, but the real learning comes from hearing Shawn speak. And a passing test score means a better, more successful, happy life.


Create positive lasting change:
3 Gratitudes
Journal about something positive
Exercise
Meditation


Positive Acts of Kindness





(Need more inspiration to actually put the concepts into practice? Here's the story of what happened when 3 college-aged men watch Anchor's Ted talk and decided to do one sweet random act of kindness.)





A Harvard prof’s class for you right now– no tuition required

Tuesday is Good News Day

Got  just 2 minutes during the next 21 days?

In just 2 minutes a day, this technique can elicit improved performance on all key business outcomes.
  • The same brain-- your brain-- is 31% more positive when it's in this state.
  • Doctors are 18% faster an more accurate with diagnoses.
  • Salespeople are 37% more effective at sales.
This state can turn on all the learning centers in your brain.

While  this may sound like the lead-in to a late night infomercial, don't panic, no need to run and lock up the credit cards.

It's about rewiring your brain to scan for positive rather than negative... scanning for success and happiness. Sound too touchy feely? Maybe, but it's based on science. In fact this Ted Talk Shawn Anchor, who teaches the most sought after class at Harvard University, explains how to improve  your life . And if that Harvard gig ever flops, within seconds of viewing the video you'll see right away that Anchor's got a fall back career option option doing stand-up.

He details the action plan at 12:17. So if you want to study along with all those Harvard students  the quick notes version is below, but the real learning comes from hearing Shawn speak. And a passing test score means a better, more successful, happy life.


Create positive lasting change:
3 Gratitudes
Journal about something positive
Exercise
Meditation


Positive Acts of Kindness





(Need more inspiration to actually put the concepts into practice? Here's the story of what happened when 3 college-aged men watch Anchor's Ted talk and decided to do one sweet random act of kindness.)





A Harvard prof’s class for you right now– no tuition required

Tuesday is Good News Day

Got  just 2 minutes during the next 21 days?

In just 2 minutes a day, this technique can elicit improved performance on all key business outcomes.
  • The same brain-- your brain-- is 31% more positive when it's in this state.
  • Doctors are 18% faster an more accurate with diagnoses.
  • Salespeople are 37% more effective at sales.
This state can turn on all the learning centers in your brain.

While  this may sound like the lead-in to a late night infomercial, don't panic, no need to run and lock up the credit cards.

It's about rewiring your brain to scan for positive rather than negative... scanning for success and happiness. Sound too touchy feely? Maybe, but it's based on science. In fact this Ted Talk Shawn Anchor, who teaches the most sought after class at Harvard University, explains how to improve  your life . And if that Harvard gig ever flops, within seconds of viewing the video you'll see right away that Anchor's got a fall back career option option doing stand-up.

He details the action plan at 12:17. So if you want to study along with all those Harvard students  the quick notes version is below, but the real learning comes from hearing Shawn speak. And a passing test score means a better, more successful, happy life.


Create positive lasting change:
3 Gratitudes
Journal about something positive
Exercise
Meditation


Positive Acts of Kindness





(Need more inspiration to actually put the concepts into practice? Here's the story of what happened when 3 college-aged men watch Anchor's Ted talk and decided to do one sweet random act of kindness.)





The Video Replay That Changed Everything

Probably the most talked about opening season play didn't happen on the gridiron.
 
My family has been buzzing about the Giant's game tonight, but across the country football fans aren't taking about an opening kick off, but about an ending-- namely the Ravens terminating Ray Rice after video of his brutal attack of his then fiancée became public. Sports commentators (who aren't generally a fragile or easily rattled types) saw the video today and are using words like: brutal, horrendous, disturbing and gruesome. Kyle Flood, football coach at Rice's alma mater, Rutgers University, said, ""There is nothing that can justify what I saw on that video."


 
While the NFL was late to the game in taking this incident seriously, they're stepping up. They're also accurately sighting down the field to the true cause of the attack as well as  the solution.:
  •  The cause? It's not about couples counseling, or mediation, or consideration of whatever actions by Rice's fiancée may have preceded the attack; it's about Rice's conscious decision, the choice he made,  to hammer his fist into her face. 
  • The solution? Firm policies connecting off field behaviors to the Code of Conduct and the League's image and credibility. And clear consequences for violating the ethical code.
I'm still left with questions:
  • Before making the original 2 game suspension video, the NFL said it had seen footage from inside the elevator, but today said this was new video. It's a big jump from a 'one time incident' to a 'brutal attack'. I know the NFL has met with advocates and seriously listened and learned about relationship and sexual abuse. But could they have viewed a brutal assault just weeks ago and had such a different reaction... or was this new video footage so different from what they'd watched before?
  • Players and coaches are stepping up as role models- talking about character on and off the field. How can we utilize their words and examples to  inspire and create change?  Let's make this a priority.
  • I wonder how many domestic violence victims are watching as a  complicated relationship plays out in the public? How many think about Janay, about how her life and her love have become  water cooler conversation across the country. How many are wondering what it's like  for her tonight as Rice's career and success, probably something he's dreamed about since he was a kid, have changed irreversibly. How many don't want to watch that video, because they know too well the feelings of fear, anger, confusion as the fist of someone you love barrels toward your face. How many keep their own suffering private, don't tell anyone, and would do anything to avoid the exposure Janay is enduring now. I've chosen not to view the video.  I truly believe that the NFL's decision (albeit belated) to take a serious stance against relationship and sexual violence will have a ripple effect that will be a catalyst for change, not just in sports,  but cutting across all aspects of our society. Yet as a victim advocate, I'm also acutely aware, that we've had to peer into one woman's darkest hour, without her permission, to find this catalyst.


 

The Video Replay That Changed Everything

Probably the most talked about opening season play didn't happen on the gridiron.
 
My family has been buzzing about the Giant's game tonight, but across the country football fans aren't taking about an opening kick off, but about an ending-- namely the Ravens terminating Ray Rice after video of his brutal attack of his then fiancée became public. Sports commentators (who aren't generally a fragile or easily rattled types) saw the video today and are using words like: brutal, horrendous, disturbing and gruesome. Kyle Flood, football coach at Rice's alma mater, Rutgers University, said, ""There is nothing that can justify what I saw on that video."


 
While the NFL was late to the game in taking this incident seriously, they're stepping up. They're also accurately sighting down the field to the true cause of the attack as well as  the solution.:
  •  The cause? It's not about couples counseling, or mediation, or consideration of whatever actions by Rice's fiancée may have preceded the attack; it's about Rice's conscious decision, the choice he made,  to hammer his fist into her face. 
  • The solution? Firm policies connecting off field behaviors to the Code of Conduct and the League's image and credibility. And clear consequences for violating the ethical code.
I'm still left with questions:
  • Before making the original 2 game suspension video, the NFL said it had seen footage from inside the elevator, but today said this was new video. It's a big jump from a 'one time incident' to a 'brutal attack'. I know the NFL has met with advocates and seriously listened and learned about relationship and sexual abuse. But could they have viewed a brutal assault just weeks ago and had such a different reaction... or was this new video footage so different from what they'd watched before?
  • Players and coaches are stepping up as role models- talking about character on and off the field. How can we utilize their words and examples to  inspire and create change?  Let's make this a priority.
  • I wonder how many domestic violence victims are watching as a  complicated relationship plays out in the public? How many think about Janay, about how her life and her love have become  water cooler conversation across the country. How many are wondering what it's like  for her tonight as Rice's career and success, probably something he's dreamed about since he was a kid, have changed irreversibly. How many don't want to watch that video, because they know too well the feelings of fear, anger, confusion as the fist of someone you love barrels toward your face. How many keep their own suffering private, don't tell anyone, and would do anything to avoid the exposure Janay is enduring now. I've chosen not to view the video.  I truly believe that the NFL's decision (albeit belated) to take a serious stance against relationship and sexual violence will have a ripple effect that will be a catalyst for change, not just in sports,  but cutting across all aspects of our society. Yet as a victim advocate, I'm also acutely aware, that we've had to peer into one woman's darkest hour, without her permission, to find this catalyst.


 

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