Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County

News & Events

Is this what you picture when you think about someone who is homeless?

My dad worked for the railroad, so as a kid we'd go  to New York City once a month (mom loved bargain shopping, but that's a whole other story). I can still picture the rows of homeless people on the grates outside the train station, in the heat of summer and just as many shivering on the concrete in the winter. Adults often just walk by homeless persons without paying much notice. Maybe it's because we're busy and we've learned to not notice; but  I wonder if kids take more notice  because they're shorter and homelessness is literally more in their face.

Homelessness in upstate New York looks very different from street  homelessness in a major city. It's more invisible. Folks without housing often: couch surf (stay with friends for night  or so then find someone else who can put them up for a few nights), sleep in their car, or sleep in out of the way places. In more suburban areas, homelessness may not be as apparent.

But we do have homelessness... even if we don't see it every day. And it's not the only stereotype single male;  we have homeless families and teens who are living on the street or getting  by somehow day-to-day ... they may even be folks we interact with every day and don't realize they're homeless. Back in June, Diane Davis, the homelessness liaison for the Saratoga Springs School District said,
"Saratoga Springs City School District
had 157 homeless  students this year.
At graduation, 6 students will walk across the stage
and get their diplomas.
They will  blend in with the senior class, but at the end of the day they will return to a campground, a motel, or  a friend or relative's house not knowing how long they will be able to stay."

How can there be such an incidence of homeless families and teens, and we don't see it? Here's a video of a teen that help us us understand.

Aspiring Techology

In the victim assistance world, technology can be a challenge. New technologies can bring new vehicles for control and exploitation... and these days technologies change so quickly it's hard to keep up. Back in June at the Ballston Area Community Allies' Bullying Awareness March, several community leaders were talking with the kids about experiencing bullying when they were young. The kids then asked questions about cyberbullying. Our nascence was solidly established as sometime in the cretaceous period when we expalined that there wasn't  cyberbullying when we were young simply because we didn't have personal computers or cell phones.

Technology can be used to stalk, harass, or keep tabs on a victim.   But I'm not advocating we all unplug. Technology's flip side is its accessibility; for many victims a cell phone is a reassuring lifeline. That's why DVRC gives hundreds of 911 phones each year to survivors we work with...even if they have a cell phone. Knowing they could get help in a crisis, even if the abuser has damaged their cellphone, is reassuring (so if you've gotten a new phone recently consider donating your old cell phone to DVRC so we can provide that lifeline.)

Recently I posted about Kitestring, an app that can alert friends if you don't make it home safely. Today I read about another potentially life-saving app.  Robin McGraw, television personality, NY Times bestselling author and  founder of When Georgia Smiled, a charitable foundation to help women and girls, has launched an app that domestic violence victims can use to alert friends that they are in danger and need help. The Aspire News App functions like a regular app providing news stories... but has a special feature that allows domestic violence victims to alert friends if they are in danger.

Relationship abuse often happens in private; technology can help victims stay connected and safe.

Healing From the Ground Up

Tuesday is Good News Day

From the day he was born, there was one thing that soothed and restored my eldest son. Even when he was crying inconsolably, all it took to calm him was to pop him on my hip and go stand outside in nature for a few minutes. He didn't just like warm days with clear blue skies. He loved everything about nature. So sometimes we'd stand and bask in the sunshine, or maybe in February's biting winds and icy snowflakes. At times the rain would kiss us like a gentle mist... and other times we'd  look like soggy pooches after just a couple of minutes outside. Just being outdoors restored his peace and soothed his soul.

It was foreshadowing. As a teen he yearned for wilderness treks , week-long kayak trips, and hikes in the high peaks out west. Adolescent surliness would soften to gentle calm after a week in the wild. For nine years he has chosen to labor outdoors each day, felling trees,  digging all day in  summer's heat,  and occasionally battling poison ivy. It can be backbreaking work, usually figuratively (but a misstep a few years ago while digging an irrigation trench led to an excruciating ambulance ride and a more literal definition of 'backbreaking work'.) Even so, I understand why he chooses this work. He sees the sunrise every morning, notes the first blush of green as buds emerge on trees, and the crystalline constellations of frost in the grass as nature begins preparing for winter's rest. By contrast I've worked for over a decade in a windowless basement, doing a job I love... but without a daily conscious effort to seek green,  I'd only  know it's summer when the Saratogian's pink sheets  appear

This morning I read a blog post about how nature feeds our soul. It resonated. But #6 on the list also reminded me of a conversation I had several years ago with Margie Ingram of the Humor Project. At the  time the Humor Project's offices were in the same building as my office. In some ways our work could not be more different. The Humor Project focuses on the power of laughter and joy to transform the world. Our agency helps victims of relationship and sexual abuse  become survivors and transcend and heal for those experiences. Over a cup of coffee at Uncommon Grounds, Margie made a very sage observation, that showed that there was more commonality in our work than just sharing a building  "Sometimes our greatest suffering comes form the belief that everyone else has it so much better than we do. We often only see the positive  things in people's lives and have  no clue about their struggles, and what they have to overcome." 

So while the grass may look greener across the fence, if you're standing in grass appreciate how green it is and how the blades tickle your toes. It's a lovely summer day today; go outside and let nature work its wonders on  your  soul.

Guns, domestic violence, and mass homicides

A recent study off mass shootings revealed that there's a strong correlation with domestic violence; in fact, 57% of the mass shootings were related to intimate partner or family violence. Women in domestic violence relationships are eight times more likely to be killed if their partner has access to a gun. The greatest risk is when she attempts to leave the abusive relationship. That's why it's so important to work with domestic violence professionals to develop a safety plan

The Huffington Post reports that Kim Gandy of the National Network to End Domestic Violence says the report serves as sobering evidence of the need to improve gun laws. I agree, but I also think it validates the need to give serious attention to domestic violence-- before it escalates to this tragic level. Domestic violence prevention is homicide prevention.
Warning trigger alert- violence

Sarah Engle is working with Americans for responsible Solutions to enact legislation to bar convicted stalkers and all domestic abusers from owning guns. Her reason? Because she knows too well the tragic consequences of guns and domestic violence "I left my ex-boyfriend. In response, he broke into my mother’s house, and shot and killed her. Then he held me hostage, raped me, and shot me in the head, leaving me for dead. I believe that I survived in order to tell my story and help save other women’s lives.

My ex-boyfriend didn’t have trouble getting a gun, even though I had a domestic abuse restraining order against him. Thousands of women across the country live in fear of their abusive partners or stalkers who also have guns, or who can get guns easily. That’s not acceptable. There’s a bill in Congress that would help fix this broken system. It’s important that we show how many people support this common sense idea to save women’s lives."

If you or someone you know
is experiencing domestic violence,
contact DVRC 24/7 at 518-584-8188.
We can help with safety planning,
and crisis and support services.
All services are free and confidential.

The Child Molester’s Playbook

Oprah's interview with Matthew Sandusky about his adoptive father's repeated sexual victimization and oppressive control, exposes many of the typical red flags of abuse. That such a public figure, who was honored and revered for his work with at risk youth, could be a serial child molester over a 15 year period with multiple boys before his abuse came to light is tragic. Like many sexual predators, Jerry Sandusky cultivated a persona that afforded him respect and access to children. His power and protection came from this cultivated public image. In Matthew Sandusky's words,
"It is hard to for people to believe
that he could do these things."

That's all part of the process of grooming. It's a calculated pattern of building  trust, gaining access, establishing power, controlling secrecy, and eroding the child's credibility. 85% of child molesters are known and trusted by the family and have regular access to the child. How do they get away with it? How is it that 1 in 6 boys  is sexually abused during childhood? As Matthew Sandusky says,
"It comes down to children and victims
 not being believed."

Here's what you need to know about how predators groom their victims, so you can keep your child safe. 

One Blue String

When we think about sexual victimization we most often think about women. Imagine how difficult it is to be a man who struggles with the trauma of having been sexually violated. The sexual violation alone is devastating, but the isolation and stigma linger even years after the victimization ends . In fact one is 6 boys is a victim of sexual abuse before age 18. While there certainly have been many high profile cases in recent years that have brought this issue more attention (scores of allegations of clergy sexual abuse, and Jerry Sandusky as notable examples) the public remains basically unaware of this issue.

The next time you're watching  a group of boys on the playground or a Little League team, count how many kids you see. Then think about that statistic- 1 in 6. The juxtaposition of watching innocent kids play and thinking that 1 in 6 will have his innocence and trust in the world shattered is chilling.

But musicians are doing something to increase awareness and reduce stigma. One Blue String hopes to build a community of encouragement and hope for men and their loved ones...and they're inviting you join them. Here's how to get the kit so you and your guitar can spread the word.

If you're concerned for a child who may have experienced sexual abuse, the Saratoga Center for the Family specializes in helping children and families recover from the effects of abuse, neglect and trauma. Their highly trained and compassionate staff can help.

Support DVRC at the Northshire Bookstore Saratoga’s 1 Year Anniversary

Support DVRC at the Northshire Bookstore Saratoga’s 1 Year Anniversary

On August 5 from 12 – 7, the Northshire Bookstore will be celebrating its 1-Year Anniversary in Saratoga Springs.  As part of their anniversary, and commitment to the Saratoga Community, the Store will raffle several gift baskets, with proceeds benefiting the Franklin Community Center, Shelters of Saratoga, and DVRC.  To learn more, visit the Northshire website, or visit their Facebook Page.

Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit DVRC

Charity Golf Tournament to Benefit DVRC

There will be a charity golf tournament to benefit DVRC on Friday, August 15 at the Fairways of Halfmoon.  The tournament will be a best ball scramble, with a 9:00 am tee off.  $100/Foursome includes lunch at the turn, frosty beverages, raffles and dinner.  For more information, please contact Howard Connors at Howard1.Connors@momentive.com, or 518-233-2372

In Her Shoes – July 28

On Monday July 28 form 6-8 PM. DVRC will be hosting ‘In Their Shoes,’ a program based on the real-life experiences of people with abusive partners.  Over a two hour period, attendees participate in a simulation that conveys the struggles of someone experiencing an abusive relationship, and the role of a community in addressing this issue.
Space for this program is limited to 15, with first preference given to DVRC Board Members and Volunteers on a first come, first serve basis.  If you’d like to participate, please email our Prevention Coordinator, Jamie Gandron.  Learn more about the program Here.