Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County


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Nothing Would Indicate that She Was In Danger

Carol Stanford and Joshua McWain. They took long walks together. He had problems, but she looked after him. She was the mother of this 27 year old man. Some neighbors say they fought; others say they were close.

No one expected that he would bludgeon her to death and bury her body under the shed. That doesn’t happen in Saratoga County. But it did in October 2012. The accused pled guilty last Friday and will be sentenced in September. The murder happened after a fight about chores.

About chores ! Sound unbelievable? According to the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, 58% of the 171 domestic homicides in 2011 resulted from an argument.  From the report we also learn that:
· Among all domestic homicides, females accounted for 60.8%  of victims.

· There were 23 elderly victims of domestic homicide, seven were killed by an intimate partner and 16 by other family members.

· The total number of domestic homicides ranged from a low of 131 in 2007 to a high of 171 in 2011

While Saratoga County’s homicide rate is low compared to other counties, we had 2 homicides in 2011, both attributed to domestic violence. 

I was speaking with a friend about a homicide case in an adjacent county. She said, “You talk about domestic violence, but I never imagined it could lead to murder.” Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy III said the evidence against Joshua McWain was overwhelming and he “had some history of violence, but nothing that would indicate his mother was in danger.”  

And that’s the problem. So often we can’t recognize the danger until it’s far too late. Fortunately domestic homicides are not daily headlines in Saratoga County, but they happen.  Often there have been red flags along the way. Sometimes there’s been a long-standing pattern of abuse. Sometimes the homicide happens when the victim tries to leave the relationship. We never know for certain when an abusive relationship will become lethal.   

I recently read a shocking blog. It’s called IntimateViolenceDeaths in the News,  and it tells the story of victim after victim who has been murdered by a partner. It’s haunting reading. And I’d bet every community says “we never thought that would happen here.” As I read those stories I’m saddened that we didn’t so something earlier to end relationship abuse before there’s such tragedy.  How can we be so complacent about abuse until it reaches the level of murder? The blog opens with a quote that resonates as you read the stories,

Tolerance becomes a crime when applied to evil
~ Thomas Mann~

Please find out what you can do to help us all to realize the vision of a community without relationship or sexual abuse. Because the unthinkable does happen... even here.

 
 
Related posts:
No MORE
http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/this-weekend-i-was-wearing-pini-created_11.html

Be  a friend... Help a friend
http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/be-friend-break-silence.html





She’s Hitting HIM… What Would You Do?

In the jargon of the domestic violence field it's called bystander accountability, but I think the airlines say it much better, "If you see something- Say Something." When DVRC staff are working with kids in prevention education programs, we teach the importance of being an ally and what that means. It doesn't just mean not committing abusive behaviors, or being there when a friend needs to talk. Sometimes it means making the hard decision to publicly intervene when you see injustice. The kids get it... sometimes more than we adults do.
 
Have you ever walked by a bad situation and just pretended not to notice even when you could have done something to help? Why? Lots of reasons. I'm not sure what to do. I've never considered this situation and in the moment indecision leads to avoidance. Sometimes my brain's objections override  that feeling in my gut to do something. Typically my brain says something like:

It's not my business. That's a private matter; I shouldn't get involved., or
What if I do something that makes the situation worse, or
You think somebody would say something. I can't imagine why no one is intervening.

You get the idea. I'll admit I'm as guilty as the next person. I'm embarrassed to say it, but if I see injustice, I  sometimes walk on by. Then I'm often haunted by the lingering feeling of failure... failure to do the right thing to help someone in need. Here's an interesting question. Is my willingness to help gender biased? Here's a video that raises the question is justice gender-biased?

It's shocking to watch. Perplexing to hear the rationale. And  something to think about and remember.

Related Posts:
I Need You to Step In  http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/i-need-you-to-step-in.html

It’s the Same Old Domestic Violence … Or Is It?

The exchange, videotaped on the victim's phone, lasted more than two  minutes. Throughout the incident the victim was yelled at, pummeled, grabbed by the hair and slapped, All the while the victim pleads," Please stop. Stop, you're hurting me. Just let me go home..."

You can picture the scene, can't you? Without knowing more you can fill in the details of that incident...the story is all too familiar. Well, this time there may be some details that you hadn't considered.

Are you surprised that the batterer is an Iraq war veteran? Are you surprised to learn that the batterer is an NFL cheerleader? That's right, in an alcohol-fueled, jealous rage she unceasingly assaults her boyfriend, who eventually calls the police. Was this the scene you pictured?

It's a fact, domestic violence occurs in all types of intimate relationships, and occurs in the same frequency in gay and straight relationships. And even though it challenges our basic understanding of intimate partner violence, in some relationships the abuser is the woman and the victim is a male. Sometimes the abuse is physical, sometimes emotional, psychological, financial or sexual. It's the same dynamic of power and control.

What's different?
Stigma can be an even stronger deterrent to a male victim seeking assistance. It's hard for a male victim to say, "I'm being abused by my girlfriend." Male victims wonder if they'll be believed, or will they get the reaction "You're bigger and stronger than her. How could she hurt you?" For the same reason, they're often afraid to fend off the blows, lest they be accused of being the aggressor. If they call the police will they end up being arrested? Many male victims report they've been told since they were children, "Men don't hit women." They've never been told what to do if they're being hit by a woman...and because it's rarely spoken about they're too embarrassed to ask.

Lack of awareness of resources can prevent men from seeking support services. As domestic violence advocates, we've fallen short on letting male victims know that we can help them (and, in fact, unlike DVRC, some advocacy programs only assist female victims.)

Call it what you will, relationship abuse, power and control, domestic violence. The message is the same. No one deserves to be abused. All relationships should be safe. For men and for women.

At DVRC we say:

  If you're a woman who is a victim of abuse, You are not alone...we can help.

And we also say:

If you're a man who is a victim of abuse, You are not alone...we can help.


Related posts:
For more information about domestic violence
http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/be-friend-break-silence.html








It’s the Same Old Domestic Violence … Or Is It?

The exchange, videotaped on the victim's phone, lasted more than two  minutes. Throughout the incident the victim was yelled at, pummeled, grabbed by the hair and slapped, All the while the victim pleads," Please stop. Stop, you're hurting me. Just let me go home..."

You can picture the scene, can't you? Without knowing more you can fill in the details of that incident...the story is all too familiar. Well, this time there may be some details that you hadn't considered.

Are you surprised that the batterer is an Iraq war veteran? Are you surprised to learn that the batterer is an NFL cheerleader? That's right, in an alcohol-fueled, jealous rage she unceasingly assaults her boyfriend, who eventually calls the police. Was this the scene you pictured?

It's a fact, domestic violence occurs in all types of intimate relationships, and occurs in the same frequency in gay and straight relationships. And even though it challenges our basic understanding of intimate partner violence, in some relationships the abuser is the woman and the victim is a male. Sometimes the abuse is physical, sometimes emotional, psychological, financial or sexual. It's the same dynamic of power and control.

What's different?
Stigma can be an even stronger deterrent to a male victim seeking assistance. It's hard for a male victim to say, "I'm being abused by my girlfriend." Male victims wonder if they'll be believed, or will they get the reaction "You're bigger and stronger than her. How could she hurt you?" For the same reason, they're often afraid to fend off the blows, lest they be accused of being the aggressor. If they call the police will they end up being arrested? Many male victims report they've been told since they were children, "Men don't hit women." They've never been told what to do if they're being hit by a woman...and because it's rarely spoken about they're too embarrassed to ask.

Lack of awareness of resources can prevent men from seeking support services. As domestic violence advocates, we've fallen short on letting male victims know that we can help them (and, in fact, unlike DVRC, some advocacy programs only assist female victims.)

Call it what you will, relationship abuse, power and control, domestic violence. The message is the same. No one deserves to be abused. All relationships should be safe. For men and for women.

At DVRC we say:

  If you're a woman who is a victim of abuse, You are not alone...we can help.

And we also say:

If you're a man who is a victim of abuse, You are not alone...we can help.


Related posts:
For more information about domestic violence
http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/be-friend-break-silence.html








Your Kids Are Watching

Would You Step In?

Cyberbullying, what are these kids thinking?! Where did they learn this? Have they become so focused on their electronic devices that they’ve forgotten manners?The answer might just be closer than we think. We talk about how kids are so attached to their devices that they’re losing the art of person-to-person communication. HMMM... Step away from the Instagram and look in the mirror. Then watch the video at the end of this post.

Several times a week I watch a family of three talking a long walk together. They’ve been doing it for years. I watched them when their son was learning to ride a new bike with training wheels, and still see them now that he’s taller than dad. What a great sight; a family doing things together, exercising out in the great outdoors, planned quality time.  Norman Rockwell , here’s a  true picture of Americana. But something changed over the years. They used to talk and laugh… these days  mom and dad are both occupied on their cell phones and Jr. lopes along behind them, for all practical purposes on a solo walk… every time. What would Norman Rockwell think? Admittedly,  I do it too. I’m in the living room chatting with my son and my cell phone vibrates, and like Pavlov’s dog that sound stops me midsentence and I  pick up the phone.  

We tell our kids bullying is bad. Do they see us watching TV shows where contestants backstab others in the hopes they’ll raise in the ranks? Ever read the comments section after an on-line news article? Different opinions and spirited debate are healthy. But how often do the commenters take cheap personal shots at other commenters? Would they speak to someone so disparagingly in person?  Or does the cover of anonymity give license for sniping and barbed rudeness? High school students attend assemblies where the DA and school officials tell them how a knuckleheaded teenaged decision to send a revealing pic to that special someone can lead to exponential humiliation when that pic is shared electronically… and can lead to criminal charges, and sometimes personal tragedy.   Where do they learn this? Could it be from reading headlines about both local professionals and leaders as well as celebrities who regularly send such pics. Yeesh mom, everybody’s doing it!

How do we teach our kids to do the right thing? The answer is simple… let them see us in action. Schools  and groups like DVRC’s Ballston Area Community Allies have character education programs to teach kids  to step in when they see someone harassing another person …to “Be an Ally”. Be honest… would you step in or would you stand by uncomfortably,  watching silently? Here’s what happened when an undercover camera explored  just that dilemma.

 

 

 

Your Kids Are Watching

Would You Step In?

Cyberbullying, what are these kids thinking?! Where did they learn this? Have they become so focused on their electronic devices that they’ve forgotten manners?The answer might just be closer than we think. We talk about how kids are so attached to their devices that they’re losing the art of person-to-person communication. HMMM... Step away from the Instagram and look in the mirror. Then watch the video at the end of this post.

Several times a week I watch a family of three talking a long walk together. They’ve been doing it for years. I watched them when their son was learning to ride a new bike with training wheels, and still see them now that he’s taller than dad. What a great sight; a family doing things together, exercising out in the great outdoors, planned quality time.  Norman Rockwell , here’s a  true picture of Americana. But something changed over the years. They used to talk and laugh… these days  mom and dad are both occupied on their cell phones and Jr. lopes along behind them, for all practical purposes on a solo walk… every time. What would Norman Rockwell think? Admittedly,  I do it too. I’m in the living room chatting with my son and my cell phone vibrates, and like Pavlov’s dog that sound stops me midsentence and I  pick up the phone.  

We tell our kids bullying is bad. Do they see us watching TV shows where contestants backstab others in the hopes they’ll raise in the ranks? Ever read the comments section after an on-line news article? Different opinions and spirited debate are healthy. But how often do the commenters take cheap personal shots at other commenters? Would they speak to someone so disparagingly in person?  Or does the cover of anonymity give license for sniping and barbed rudeness? High school students attend assemblies where the DA and school officials tell them how a knuckleheaded teenaged decision to send a revealing pic to that special someone can lead to exponential humiliation when that pic is shared electronically… and can lead to criminal charges, and sometimes personal tragedy.   Where do they learn this? Could it be from reading headlines about both local professionals and leaders as well as celebrities who regularly send such pics. Yeesh mom, everybody’s doing it!

How do we teach our kids to do the right thing? The answer is simple… let them see us in action. Schools  and groups like DVRC’s Ballston Area Community Allies have character education programs to teach kids  to step in when they see someone harassing another person …to “Be an Ally”. Be honest… would you step in or would you stand by uncomfortably,  watching silently? Here’s what happened when an undercover camera explored  just that dilemma.

 

 

 

Character: Make it Part of the Campaign Platform

What's a politician? A diplomat, leader,  statesman, representative for all the people- a dignitary,

Many, no most, of our public officials deserve such descriptors. There are a handful of men in office,  their names and scandals occupy the headlines daily, who've forgotten that they're elected not just to push through bills, but for their character. Whether through blatant sexual discrimination or sophomoric sexual exhibitionism, they're sullying the title of public servant and detracting from the work they should be doing for the benefit of the people they serve.

You've seen them at the podium, contrite,  acknowledging that they've made mistakes, promising that now that they've been caught they'll never do it again, or disclosing that they need help for a problem behavior. But what is that problem? May I suggest their problem is not simply an impulse disorder. I proffer that it's  a condition noted  in some men in positions of power  long before the DSM categorized psychiatric disorders. It's hubris.

Yup, the same character flaw that was the Achilles heel of Greek gods and heroes- hubris.
Wikipedia defines hubris as:
extreme pride or arrogance... a loss of contact with reality and an overestimation of one's own competence or capabilities, especially when the person exhibiting it is in a position of power...In ancient Greek, hubris referred to actions that shamed and humiliated the victim for the pleasure or gratification of the abuser. The term had a strong sexual connotation, and the shame reflected on the perpetrator as well.

Sound familiar? Plain and simply it's believing that one's own power and greatness gives carte blanche for self-gratification. But unlike in ancient Greece where the hero fell from grace digraced, today's leaders pop up again faster than furry rodents in the Whack-A-Mole arcade game. 

So the state's chief legal officer and statesman consorted with high paid prostitutes, defying both the laws he was charged with upholding and the public's trust  in the character of our representative. After a 5 year hiatus, presumably for self-reflection, he's  asking us to trust in his character to oversee the financial welfare of the largest and most influential city in the US.

And we've got a representative who engaged in sexting with college students, mothers and prostitutes over a period of years, lied to his new bride and the public about it before resigning from Congress in 2011, presumably disgraced and seeking help for his compulsions. Just two years later he surprises the people with a bid for mayor of NYC... and even more digital crotch shots.

And then there's the highest official in the NYS Assembly who payed taxpayer-funded hush money to cover up illicit sexual actions in the workplace by a fellow assemblyman. This is a man who has publicly championed women's issues, but behind closed doors his actions suggest otherwise.

Sexual violence, whether rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, or sexual discrimination, is a conscious choice to violate another person. The offender often has little concern for the rights or feelings of the victim. He frequently feels justified in the act.  It's often a repeat choice, starting with less egregious acts, but becoming bolder as the perpetrator gains confidence, experience, and doesn't experience negative consequences. The roots of sexual violence grow in our social norms that objectify women sexually and tacitly condone gender inequality. I'm not weighing in on whether the aforementioned men should hold office; each has great skills as a leader and each has the potential to change. I'm suggesting that as voters we should consider character, trustworthiness, and respect for women when we vote. If we do not hold our statesmen accountable for their actions with regard to gender equality, can we expect them to champion policy and practice to end sexual violence?

Every nine seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Sexual violence is an important issue. It's not a private issue. It's a serious social issue that affects all of us. It costs businesses money, impacts public safety and costs lives. We need leaders whom we can trust as our champions in working for the safety and equality of all the people they represent. Media coverage of the political bad boys more resembles the Maury Povitch show (bad behavior, scandal and outrage, contrite confessions and cries for understanding) than a call for ethical and unbiased leadership by our statesmen. Character and ethics are important... hubris prevails when a leader has an unrealistic view of his own power and privilege. If we don't tell our candidates that we care about how they represent us when they're not on the podium, then hubris wins...and we lose. 

Marijuana and Schizophrenia – Is there a Connection?


Our social views on marijuana use have changed drastically in my lifetime. Since the tied-dyed, anti-establishment, pot smoking hippies of the 60’s who challenged social norms, pot has been inching its way slowly toward social acceptance. From politicians who candidly reveal that they’ve smoked pot (with or without inhaling) to medicinal marijuana to full legalization, pot clearly isn’t solely the symbol of counter-culture young rebels anymore. Many ask, “What’s the harm?” Many say, “There isn’t any.”

A recent study by the University of Maryland School of Medicine may cast some doubt on that statement. The study’s senior researcher, Asaf Keller, Ph.D., cites previous research linking marijuana use before the age of 16 to cognitive deficits and psychiatric disorders. Their study on mice indicated that the frontal areas of the brain associated with planning and impulse control are negatively impacted by drug use during adolescence, resulting in changes in brain development. The brain changes persist into adulthood and can potentiate schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in susceptible individuals.  

“What’s the harm?” Maybe a better question is, “ Do we really understand the risks?” 
 
For more information about alcohol and drug prevention contact the Shenendehowa Community Coalition

Being Raped was Just the Beginning


Imagine this:

You’re 24 years old, working in a foreign country. You’re raped by a colleague.

What’s a logical response for a woman who has been raped… to report the assault to the police. But that’s where her troubles began. Caught in the unfamiliar terrain of an Islamic legal system, Marte Dalelv found herself facing 16 months imprisonment for charges of having sex outside of marriage, drinking alcohol, and falsely reporting a rape.

The case received extensive international media attention and incited global activism about women’s rights, especially in conservative countries. Amid the furor, Ms. Dalelv was pardoned (as was her accused rapist) and allowed to leave the country.  

All’s well that ends well?  Far from!  She was incarcerated in a foreign country and faced long-term imprisonment. In seeking justice and freedom, the story of her sexual victimization became the focus of worldwide attention. She was terminated from her employment for improper behavior. And let’s not forget how this all started… she was raped.

Sometimes here in the US, we forget that women worldwide face obstacles and risks unheard of in our country, e.g.,  genital mutilation, honor killings, and widespread trafficking of young girls.  Soroptimist 
International (including our local chapter in Saratoga County) have long addressed the inequalities that affect girls and women locally and globally. Did you know?

·         One in three women have been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in their lifetime.

·         According to a recent report, 80 percent of the 600,000-800,000 people trafficked across international borders annually are female.

·         In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, adolescent girls have HIV rates up to five times higher than adolescent boys.

Unlike many of the women whose culture  biases about their gender trap them as targets of poverty and victimization, Marte overcame the crisis and used her voice to rally not just for her own safety, but for that of women everywhere.

Related Posts;

http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2013/03/working-for-equality-not-against.html

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