blog-imgs-08

Happy Father’s Day

Fathers play an important role in both the domestic violence movement and in teaching their children about healthy relationships. Kenny Wallace, NASCAR driver and friend of The Hotline, once explained the responsibility he felt as a supportive husband and father. “I want to send out the message that hitting is never acceptable and to be respectful of your loved ones,” said Wallace. “I want to set an example as a loving husband and father that any type of violence is never ok.”

Fathers who model respectful relationship behaviors and talk about domestic violence with their children, help further prevention efforts by educating the next generation. Men’s groups like Men Against Violence, Men Can Stop Rape, Men Rally For Change and countless other men’s organizations are doing inspiring work to promote healthy relationships and end domestic violence and sexual assault.

To celebrate Father’s Day, we want to highlight some important ways that a father’s behavior positively affects his children.

Fathers Help Early Learning

Babies learn rapidly from everything they experience. Did you know that the number of words a father uses when a child is two years old impacts the child’s vocabulary a year later? (see source 1) Fathers can be very crucial to a baby’s development, influencing everything from the child’s social skills to their ability to problem solve. (2) Because early development has a profound influence on the child’s life, fathers who promote happy relationships in their home help make sure that their child is in both an environment, and mental place, conducive to learning.

Fathers Can Teach Healthy Behavior

Talking to children about what relationships should look like is as important as teaching them to look both ways before they cross the street. Children should know how to be safe in every area of his or her life. By opening a dialogue, dedicated dads can have a positive impact on a child’s understanding of relationships.

Fathers Can Provide an Anchor

A father can be a steady and calming presence in a child’s life. Children whose fathers are committed to them and their family have an established sense of reliability and devotion in their understanding of loving and caring for another person. Children will know that they can turn to a parent in times of trouble, for example, if a child is experiencing dating abuse. Having parents who will listen and help allows children the chance to safely express their feelings and get the support they need.

Fathers Can Model Healthy Behaviors
Because actions speak louder than words, showing respect to others in front of children is the easiest way to incorporate respectful behavior into his or her daily routine. Fathers often teach without words by demonstrating to their kids how to respond in different situations by communicating effectively and managing conflict well themselves. We all learn by examples, and fathers can be motivational examples for their children.

Father’s Day doesn’t only celebrate dads, but all positive male figures in our lives. We appreciate everything fathers and other supportive men do to help children and families lead healthy and happy lives. Have a safe and special Father’s Day!

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

We’re Partnering with Glamour and Avon to End Abuse

We have an exciting new campaign with GLAMOUR magazine and the Avon Foundation for Women to raise money for The Hotline and increase awareness about domestic violence. We are thankful for both organizations and their commitment to end domestic violence and empower our advocates who answer the phones.

GLAMOUR has generously lent their website to displaying critical information to their readers about the issue and our new campaign.

This innovative partnership has already gained attention. Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, longtime domestic violence advocates, gave an exclusive, heart-wrenching GLAMOUR interview about the issue and The Hotline. Below is an excerpt:

GLAMOUR: You’ve been working on this issue for more than 20 years now. Do you ever get discouraged?

DR. JILL BIDEN: Several times [on the campaign trail] a woman would say, “You know my sister would be alive today if we’d had VAWA sooner.” It’s just story after story.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: So when you ask, “Do you get discouraged?” No, I get angry. This is about one woman at a time. I think the scariest thing, the thing that makes my stomach just sink, is knowing how alone in a crowd these women are. [An abusive relationship] is worse than being in prison. I mean literally, not figuratively.

We will be sharing more information soon. We encourage all of our friends and readers to become involved.

Text TELLNOW to 85944 to make a $10 donation to the National Domestic Violence Hotline that helps us increase the number of calls we are capable of answering. In a beautiful act of generosity, the Avon Foundation for Women has volunteered to match every dollar you donate up to $200,000. A one-time donation of $10 will be billed to your mobile phone bill. Messaging & data rates may apply. Donations are collected for the National Domestic Violence Hotline by mobilecause.com. Reply STOP to 85944 to stop. Reply HELP to 85944 for help. For terms, see www.igfn.org/t.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

It Happened on Maple Street

This post is brought to you as part of the It Happened On Maple Street International Blog Tour. For a complete tour schedule visit www.tarataylorquinn.com. It is “The Writing of Maple Street: Part Four” by Tara Taylor Quinn.

I am so glad to be here. To be able to bring others here to a place where women truly are safe.

For so many years I didn’t believe I was worthy of a place like this. I believed my problems were of my own making. I take accountability for my actions. I am responsible for my life. And so I believed that the things that happened to me happened because I’d somehow made them happen. I’d created the circumstances that allowed others to mistreat me. I wasn’t a victim. I was simply paying the price for the poor choices I’d made. I couldn’t possibly take help away from those who deserved it by seeking that help for myself.

I am a USA Today bestselling romance author, you see. I’ve published fifty-five books with the world’s largest publisher of women’s fiction. My books are in twenty some languages in over thirty countries. I have a dream career. I am a success. Or so I told myself all those years. In reality, Tara Taylor Quinn, my alter ego, the woman inside of me who came to my rescue when Tara couldn’t handle the things happening to her, was a success. Tara was the girl who spent her time trapped in the little room inside of me. She ventured out to seep into the pages of my books. To love a child with all of my heart. And the rest of the time, she didn’t let anyone know she existed.

My journey is much like many of the women who are abused by those who vow undying love for them. I know that now. My epiphany is twenty-seven years late. And in the interim, I spent twenty-seven years of a lifetime living a lie. Twenty-seven years without peace in my heart. Twenty-seven years filled with moments of intermittent happiness mixed in with fear and panic, silence and hiding.

I am a lucky woman. I knew true love before abuse. The man I shared that love with was not my abuser. And when, twenty-seven years later, my true love, Tim Barney, came back into my life, it was that love, his love, the whole hearted love I’d felt for him before my heart had been shoved into a cement cask, that brought me out of the darkness and into he light. My true love knew that something horrible had happened to me. He could see the changes abuse had wrought. And he wasn’t willing to accept my silence. With his tender and gentle support, I spoke of something I’d never spoken of before. To anyone. One tentative step at a time, I came out, a little girl squinting against the glare of the sun, and trusted him with my truth.

I am four years post squint as I write this today. I am now married to my true love. Last summer we were asked to write our story. And today that story, It Happened On Maple Street, goes on sale. Today, for the first time, my family and friends will hear the truth about my life. Today, I think about the writing of that truth.

I had to do it alone. I knew that. I had to be strong enough to travel backward, to look at things I’d refused to think about, things shut so firmly away I wasn’t even sure I could still call them up in enough detail to write about them. Tim had a business trip coming up and I knew that was my time to write the hardest section of It Happened On Maple Street. He wasn’t in that part of the story. I also knew that I could not be at home alone while taking the trip into the past. And…I was long past due for a visit with my dearest friend, fellow writer, Patricia Potter. Pat welcomed me with open arms and a hospitality that I cannot describe for its goodness. Even now, I think of her home and know that the world holds a place that embodies emotional wellness, safety, and peace.

And for three days I sat on Pat’s couch with my laptop on my knees, my four pound poodle, who’d traveled with me, sleeping beside me, Pat’s two wild Indians whom I adore (rescue Australian Shepherds) close by, and Pat floating in and out of the room like some kind of angel, watching over us all. And when I got to the most painful scene, one where the details were blissfully sketchy, Pat sat in the seat perpendicular to mine and did not leave. I put on my headphones. I went down into the story. And by the time I came back up, I was trembling. I couldn’t breathe. The brain is a frightening thing. It lets you forget, on a conscious level, but it doesn’t ever let go of what it knows. As I went back in time, to the spring of 1980, it was as though I was there again. The details were clear. Vivid. I’d halfway convinced myself that what I’d thought happened back then really hadn’t, because I couldn’t logically figure out the logistics. After that night, sitting on Pat’s couch, I can no longer pretend. It happened. And I remember exactly how it happened. I also now know why I suffer so badly from claustrophobia.

Pat brought me a glass of wine. I sipped. But not much. I was afraid to let the alcohol take any measure of my control. And she sat with me. She asked, a time or two, if I was through. And when I finally told her that, yes, it was done, she sat with me some more. We talked some. I couldn’t say much. I was still feeling the pain. Trying to process the feelings of an eighteen year old girl as a more mature woman. Trying to find some kind of synchronization of myself. Trying not to cry. Because I knew that if those tears started to fall they would never stop.

I didn’t cry much then. I couldn’t. But when I got home and Tim asked me to read to him what I’d written, I couldn’t make it through. I read. And I had to stop. He sat with me, patient as ever, and waited. It was as though he knew I had to get through this telling of the whole story, the remembered parts, to him. It couldn’t be as removed as him reading my words. And it was also as if he really believed I could get through it. And because I thought he believed I could, because I trust him, I started to read again.

Tim, here. I can’t let Tara do this all alone. I didn’t have to contribute writing to the Part Four process, but I’ll tell you where I was at with it. My feelings about what had happened to Tara came to life when I actually had to hear about and read about the event. I couldn’t imagine what Tara felt when she had to write about it after 25 plus years. I wanted to fix things. I was angry for her. And I wrote to the university where things first happened and told them that they’d messed up. They hadn’t kept their student safe. They had made a situation where she felt safe, but didn’t make sure she was safe. I heard back from them soon after that. They’d changed a lot of their rules and now provide a lot of extra patrol and watch programs for their female students. Mostly, after hearing Tara’s words, I felt closer to her because now we could share her pain together.

And now Tara’s back.

You see, I’m a lucky woman. I am no longer alone. And no else needs to be alone, either. If there is no one else close, no one you can trust, if you need someone, contact someone right here, on this site. They are available twenty four hours a day seven days a week, fifty two weeks a year. Violence doesn’t punch a time clock and neither does love.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, or if you suspect someone is, please contact www.thehotline.org, or call, toll free, 24/7, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). The call can be anonymous and is always confidential. There is not one second of life that is worth wasting.

All blog commenter’s are added to the weekly basket list.  Gift Basket given each week to one randomly drawn name on the list.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Bookmarks

To follow today’s Cyber Blog Party:

Part One:  MIRA Authors
Part Two:  HCI Books
Part Three:  RomCon
Part Four:  National Domestic Violence Hotline
Part Five:  Chapter’s Books
Part Six:  Border’s Books

 As part of the It Happened on Maple Street Blog Tour, we are offering National Domestic Violence Hotline bookmarks. Print yours today.

We will be giving away a copy of It Happened On Maple Street while we’re here so be sure to comment to be entered to win.  Comment on all six of today’s blogs and be entered to win a one of a kind Maple Street collectible basket filled with Tim and Tara favorites!!

Next tour stop, Saturday April 2, Deena Remiel’s Place.

About the author: Tara Taylor Quinn is the author of It Happened on Maple Street (HCA, 2011, $13.95). To get your copy, visit your favorite bookseller, or www.maplestreetbook.com. Also available on Kindle and Nook.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

From Survivor to Mountaineer

By Kathleen Schmidt

My name is Kathleen Schmidt, and I’m a survivor of domestic violence and abuse. I fled for my life over 15 years ago from extreme emotional and physical abuse, and created a new life for myself.

When I was living in a shelter for battered women, I kept telling myself over and over, “I have a brain, two hands, two feet and I know how to work; I WILL make my life better.” I chose to become a victor instead of a victim.  Books became my source of education and inspiration, and not only did I work on my own healing, I also had to find a way to earn a living. Not shy of hard work, I at one point sold pictures out of the trunk of my car. My efforts paid off, and it won me a trip to the Bahamas that allowed me to dive with sharks (I learned how to scuba dive while living in the shelter).

I entertained the idea for a very long time, since I lived in the shelter, to write my story. So finally, after many years needed to grow and heal, I wrote my little blue book “Escaping the Glass Cage: A Story of Survival & Empowerment from Domestic Violence.” It isn’t a big book, but something a woman in crisis can read and find encouragement in. I wrote it for women in shelters, but my hope is that it also helps those on the outside get a basic understanding of domestic violence and its effects.  But getting my book published didn’t feel like enough.

I wanted to find a way to reach more people on a global scale. So I created “Project Empowerment,” a blog talk radio show dedicated to empowering survivors of domestic violence and abuse, as well as others. I truly believe we each have a voice, and if people are able to listen to another’s story, it can help them make different choices and empower them to live a better life.

My guests have included Betty Makoni, Top 10 CNN Hero of the Year for 2009 for her humanitarian work rescuing rape victims in Zimbabwe. I’ve also interviewed actress/author Mariel Hemingway, as well as the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s Operations Director, Katie-Ray Jones. My guests have also included many shelter directors from all over the world, authors, psychotherapists, counselors and survivors, each sharing their story, their passion and the work they are doing to make our world a better place. We talk about the tough subjects, and at the end of each show we share our ideas of solutions to the issues discussed, such as why the victim stays, where do abused men get help, how a can victim get help to rebuild their life, and how we can empower the children.

It is humbling to be contacted by listeners from all around the world, to learn the vital resources shared and how their sheer willpower helped them gain the strength to leave their abuser. My dream to build “Project Empowerment” into a global resource tool is coming true.

But again, I felt there needed to be something else to raise awareness. So I am very excited to announce “Climb for Empowerment,” with the mission to empower survivors of domestic violence and abuse … one step at a time. I will be climbing Mt. Rainier September 1–3, 2011, in honor of all those who have struggled to start their lives over.

It is by choice, to take one step after another. My dream is to show the world that if I can make a new life, so can you, one step at a time. I know how hard it is to rebuild a life. It takes a lot of courage to start over, learn how to live again and grow through the pain. So this climb is a symbol of that growth. It takes time, training and a lot of determination to do this, and I will need your support. Donations will be shared between Girl Child Network Worldwide and The Pixel Project. Both are global initiatives working very hard to help end violence against women.

I truly believe that all healing and empowerment begins from within. And for us to have peace in our world, we must first have peace within our homes, within ourselves. If you can find that spark, that driving force that pulls you in the direction of doing something bigger than you, listen to it. We each have a voice, we each can make a difference in the world, and it all starts with us.

To learn more about my work, Project Empowerment, Climb for Empowerment and upcoming Empowerment Workshops (New!), you can visit my website at www.kathleenmschmidt.com.

blog-imgs-08

Molly Maid – Creating Safer, Healthier Homes

Ms. Molly Foundation Since 1996, Molly Maid has raised over 1 million dollars to support the Ms. Molly Foundation, which provides assistance to over 110 domestic violence shelters across the country. The need to help has continued to grow over the years, as franchise owners see the impact domestic violence has had not only on its customers, but also among Molly Maid employees.

Danessa Itaya, chairperson on the Ms. Molly board of directors, says that a mission of the Molly Maid Foundation is to have their employees get involved in the community. Each franchise participates in various activities throughout the year, but most of the awareness and activities are focused in October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. These grassroots efforts include silent auctions, charity concerts, car washes and chili cook-offs, to name a few.  Danessa also states that over the years, customer donations have increased by 50 percent, as more and more customers see the need for shelter services and want to give back to their communities.

Molly Maid also educates their customers by including information on domestic violence on their website, in-home materials and through social media.

We applaud Molly Maid, their employees and customers for taking a stand against domestic violence. To learn more about their work,  please visit the Molly Maid Foundation website.

announcement

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides service to Guam

Local leaders and community based service providers join the Executive Director of the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence and the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline to celebrate that citizens of Guam can now call a national hotline to seek help if they are in an abusive relationship.

Survivors of domestic violence can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) at 1-800-799-SAFE if they need assistance.

“It takes a lot of courage and bravery to come forward and make a call for help. The Hotline will be there anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” said Cynthia Cabot, Executive Director, Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence. “I am honored to work in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. With budget cuts across all areas of government, this is one more resource Guam can access to maximize our dollars by tapping national resources to meet the needs of the community.”

The Hotline is a live voice on the line, a compassionate and caring voice – with people who want to help those who are in abusive relationships,” said Dyanne Purcell, CEO of The National Domestic Violence Hotline. “I am honored to work in partnership with the Guam coalition and offer another resource of help and hope to the citizens of Guam.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is the only hotline of its kind. It operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week in 170 languages connecting people in crisis to more than 4,000 sources of help in local communities across the US, Guam, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The Hotline will be an additional resource to the local Victim Advocates Reaching Out (VARO) Hotline at 671-477-5552.

About us:

Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence The Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence, established in 2006, is comprised of non-profit organizations, government allies, community individuals and other Coalition partners who aim to stop sexual assault and family violence. The Guam Coalition focuses on community outreach, education, and training.

http://guamcoalition.org/

The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established in 1996 as a component of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) passed by Congress.  The Hotline is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The Hotline also answers a variety of other calls and is a resource for domestic violence advocates government officials, law enforcement agencies and the general public.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

By Lisa Moss

Why doesnt she leave PicHi. My name is Lisa, and I am a survivor of domestic violence. I am so grateful I could change my life, and I want to help others do the same.

I kept a journal from the last years of my marriage and had it published as Why Doesn’t She Just Leave? The title is a question I’ve heard countless times, and you probably have too. It implies that it couldn’t be that bad, or we’d just leave. My journal shows the truth through real experiences, in my own words, and will help people understand why victims don’t just leave.

I also hope that victims will read it, see themselves in me, and realize that they too can get out and change their lives. Readers will see what it’s like to be treated so cruelly that you just about give up. Why don’t we just leave? Because we’re afraid of the perpetrator’s cruelty, violence, and punishments, and because we feel defeated.

You’ll probably see a lot of yourself in my diary. Why don’t we just leave? It’s because our batterers are cruel and will punish us and our kids, and because we’re afraid. They’ve made us feel helpless and worthless, and we believe them. I used to believe what he told me: that everything was my fault, that I was disgusting and nobody would ever want me, that I would lose my children and become penniless if I left him, that I was stupid and crazy and pathetic and worse. But he was wrong!

For those women who are still living with your abuser, start thinking “Liar!” every time he insults or blames you. The truth is that you deserve a better life! If I could change my life and transform myself from victim to victor, you can, too!

I hope you’ll feel free to check out excerpts from the book as well as reader reviews. And if you know either a victim who needs encouragement, someone who judges victims, or someone who doesn’t understand why victims don’t just leave, please consider letting them know about the book.

It’s been a slow victory and years later I still suffer from the after-effects of 13 years in hell, but it’s getting better and better all the time.

Please let me know what you think and feel as you read Why Doesn’t She Just Leave? I hope that my book will make you feel that if I, a woman probably very much like you, could get away from my abuser and change my life, you can too.

I wish every survivor and victim the wonderful life you deserve!

About the author: Lisa Moss is the author of Why Doesn’t She Just Leave (IUniverse, 2001, $24.95) You can purchase a copy of the book here.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Survey Shows Domestic Violence Services Provided in One Day in the U.S.

In the United States on September 15, 2010, three women were murdered by their intimate partners, 36 babies were born to mothers living in domestic violence shelters and 391 survivors started new jobs. Three men committed suicide – one after murdering his wife, another after a failed attempt to kill his girlfriend, and the third after holding his partner hostage and a standoff with the police. With astonishing numbers such as these, a person can’t help but wonder— how many domestic violence services are used per day in the United States?

A survey recently released by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) reveals telling information about the status of domestic violence services in the U.S. NNEDV conducts this study once a year to provide the public with a snapshot of what family violence programs across the U.S. see in their shelters on one particular day. From those programs that participated, the survey shows how many calls local hotlines received, what services programs were able to offer and any needs that went unmet due to a lack of resources.

The study revealed that on September 15, 2010, 91 percent of identified domestic violence programs in the U.S. participated in the 2010 National Census of Domestic Violence Services. During the 24-hour period, domestic violence victim advocates served more than 70,000 adults and children and answered more than 20,000 emergency hotline calls. During the same 24 hours, more than 9,000 requests for services went unmet, largely due to lack of funding.

Though the economy does not cause domestic violence, factors associated with economic uncertainties can increase the severity and frequency of abuse. At the same time, options for survivors to escape can be more limited. More than 80 percent of local domestic violence programs reported an increased demand for their services while nearly the same number reported decreases in funding.

The full results of the National Domestic Violence Counts 2010 are available online at www.nnedv.org/census.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Fifteen Years of Saving Lives

Fifteen years ago today, the National Domestic Violence Hotline received its first call for help from a father seeking help for his daughter who was in an abusive relationship.

Advocates answer the phone lines at The Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week, working tirelessly to be a source of help, comfort and hope for all victims of domestic violence. Advocates understand that every call can potentially save a life. And because many Hotline advocates have themselves been victims of domestic violence, they understand the importance of a live voice on the line and the ability of The Hotline to connect callers to life-saving resources in their own communities.

When then Senator Joseph R. Biden and Senator Orrin G. Hatch co-authored the Violence Against Women Act, they could not have imagined that the historic legislation which created a national, toll-free hotline for victims of domestic violence would have 15 years later resulted in over 2.5 million calls for help to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

We are grateful for the many partners who understand the vital need for The Hotline to be a beacon of help and hope to every caller – the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, local family violence programs, domestic violence coalitions and the many corporate, foundation, government and individual partners who have supported us over the years. We thank you all for your past and continued support in helping to reach the millions of women, men and children who seek to live a life free from violence.

There is more to be done in raising awareness of The Hotline as a vital resource to victims, their family, friends and other caring individuals. Many celebrities, including Salma Hayek, Martina McBride and Jason Witten have joined their voices with ours to raise awareness of The Hotline as a resource. Actress Marlee Matlin is the latest member of our 15th Anniversary Honorary Committee who is helping us reach out in our public awareness campaign.

Please visit our 15 year timeline to learn more about the valuable work that has been done over the last 15 years.

The Hotline is a source of help and hope and we will be here for you.

To make a donation to The Hotline, please visit our Donate page.

Please join us on Twitter and Facebook to get involved and follow the campaign.


National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Tornado Warning: Author Shares Her Experience

By Elin Stebbins Waldal

If you have ever experienced a single event which later would serve as the catalyst for you to take action, then it may come as no surprise to you that I owe thanks to Stephanie Meyer, the author of The Twilight Series, because her books provided that very inspiration for me to take action in my own life.

As I sat with the closed cover of Breaking Dawn on my lap in December of 2008, it was clear a seed had been planted inside me. A seed, which soon would germinate, root, and take hold. A seed which two years later would bear fruit in a book — the telling of my story, Tornado Warning, A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life.

Given Stephanie Meyer openly shares with all who visit her website that a dream served as inspiration for her first book, I think it is safe to say that she did not write the Twilight Series as a means to educate young people on the subject of teen dating.

In contrast to the dream that Meyer describes, for me, the 2,739 pages of fiction woke me up to the buried emotions left from the relationship that nearly cost me my life when I was a late teen. That experience has forever left an imprint on me. To this day, I remember what it was like to realize I had lost myself — the essence of who I had been prior to meeting that boyfriend of so many years ago.

No, he was not a vampire with fabulous looks, nor did he have a bank account that was bottomless, or the ability to materialize every time I was in danger. In fact quite the opposite was true. My boyfriend was a human being. He was average to look at, some might even say he had a kind face and sweet smile, but behind those green eyes and dimples was a storm of violence. The danger I found myself in was due to his brutal behavior. His unhappy upbringing fueled a very tortured soul; his response was to possess me. Possession that controls, possession whose power hurts, nearly kills.

Tornado Warning shares with the reader the subtle erosion of self that occurs in an abusive relationship via journal entries of the teen I was. Woven between the journal entries are reflections of my life decades later where I explore with a backward glance the well-worn path I have traveled; from strong teenage girl turned victim, to victim turned survivor, survivor turned mother, mother turned advocate.

Tornado Warning is my voice, and it joins the chorus of the many pioneers who have endured, survived, and freed themselves from the cyclone of abuse. It is now my mission to shine a ray of hope into the lives of those who have been ripped from the very base of who they were. I am living proof that victims of abuse can be survivors, capable of first reclaiming the essence of who they are, then embracing their future and a life free from violence.

About the author: Elin Stebbins Waldal is the author of Tornado Warning, A Memoir of Teen Dating Violence and Its Effect on a Woman’s Life (Sound Beach Publishing, 2011, $14.95). She is an inspirational speaker, writer, and the founder of Girls kNOw More, an organization dedicated to building confidence in middle school girls. She is also a Love Is Not Abuse Coalition California State Action Leader working to pass legislation that would require schools to teach dating violence awareness curriculum. Elin lives in Southern California with her husband Jimmy, three children, and their family dog.

Signed copies of Tornado Warning are available through her website at www.elinstebbinswaldal.com.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

1 in 4 Callers surveyed at the Hotline Report Birth Control Sabotage and Pregnancy Coercion

The Hotline recently conducted a survey of callers to learn about the extent of abuse called “reproductive coercion.” Reproductive coercion is defined as threats or acts of violence against a partner’s reproductive health or reproductive decision-making.

The survey found that 25% of the 3,169 callers who agreed to participate in the survey reported that they had experienced this form of domestic and dating violence. Callers reported that their partners would not allow them to use birth control or sabotaged their birth control method by poking holes in the condoms or flushing pills down the toilet. Some callers even reported having to hide their birth control. This type of sabotage leads to unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and can be used as a trap to control their partner. These abuse patterns were apparent in callers’ comments, such as:

  • “I better be pregnant, or I’m in trouble with him.”
  • “He refuses to use a condom. I’ve bought them and he throws them out.”
  • “He has tried to talk me into having a child. He told me he wanted to keep me from leaving him.”
  • “He admitted to me and the psychologist that he intentionally got me pregnant to trap me.”
  • “My sister was 14 years old when she became involved with this abusive guy, and when she was 15 his mother wanted grandkids so he coerced her into getting pregnant.”

The survey questions and response rates were as follows:

  1. Has your partner or ex-partner ever told you not to use any birth control (like the pill, shot, ring, etc.)? – Of the 3169 callers who responded, 25% said yes.
  2. Has your partner or ex-partner ever tried to force or pressure you to become pregnant? – Of the 3166 callers who answered this question, 25% said yes.
  3. Has your partner or ex-partner ever taken off the condom during sex so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3103 callers who responded, 16% said yes.
  4. Has your partner or ex-partner ever made you have sex without a condom so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3130 callers who responded, 24% said yes.

As a result of this study, The Hotline is focusing on training advocates on how to identify and support callers who experience reproductive coercion.

Read our press release to find out more about the study.

announcement

1 in 4 Callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline Report Birth Control Sabotage and Pregnancy Coercion

San Francisco, CA – What may be the first national survey to determine the extent of a form of abuse called “reproductive coercion” was released today by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Family Violence Prevention Fund. The survey found that 25% of callers to the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that they had experienced this form of domestic and dating violence.

Reproductive coercion is defined as threats or acts of violence against a partner’s reproductive health or reproductive decision-making. It includes forced sex, a male partner pressuring a woman to become pregnant against her will and interference with the use of birth control. The women who reported this form of abuse said that their male partners either would not allow them to use birth control or sabotaged their birth control method (such as poking holes in condoms or flushing pills down the toilet). Some of the women said they had to hide their birth control.

“Birth control sabotage is a serious form of control that leads to unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,“ said Family Violence Prevention Fund President Esta Soler. “While there is a cultural assumption that some women use pregnancy as a way to trap their partner in a relationship, this survey shows that men who are abusive will sabotage their partner’s birth control and pressure them to become pregnant as a way to trap or control their partner.”  (In the words of one caller, “keep me in his life forever…”)

More than 3,000 callers participated in the survey by answering all or some of four questions between August 16 and September 26, 2010. Callers’ ages ranged from 13 to over 55, with nearly 40% age 25 to 35. More than half of the callers were Caucasian, and nearly one quarter were African-American, and 17% were Hispanic. Callers who were in immediate danger were not asked to participate in the study.

For those who did participate in the study, patterns included pressure to become pregnant early in the relationship or before the victim felt ready and, in some cases, pressure to become pregnant followed by pressure to have an abortion. These abuse patterns were apparent in callers’ comments, such as:

  •  “I better be pregnant, or I’m in trouble with him.”
  • “He refuses to use a condom. I’ve bought them and he throws them out.”
  • “He has tried to talk me into having a child. He told me he wanted to keep me from leaving him.”
  • “He admitted to me and the psychologist that he intentionally got me pregnant to trap me.”
  • “My sister was 14 years old when she became involved with this abusive guy, and when she was 15 his mother wanted grandkids so he coerced her into getting pregnant.”

“Survivors of domestic violence don’t always recognize reproductive coercion as part of the power and control their partner is exerting over them in their relationship,” said National Domestic Violence Hotline Operations Manager Mikisha Hooper. “This form of abuse can be shrouded in secrecy and may be uncomfortable for people to talk about it. By asking the right questions, we help victims identify and understand the abuse – and provide the support and resources they need.”

The survey questions and response rates were as follows:

  1. Has your partner or ex-partner ever told you not to use any birth control (like the pill, shot, ring, etc.)? – Of the 3169 callers who responded, 25% said yes.
  2. Has your partner or ex-partner ever tried to force or pressure you to become pregnant? – Of the 3166 callers who answered this question, 25% said yes.
  3. Has your partner or ex-partner ever taken off the condom during sex so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3103 callers who responded, 16% said yes.
  4. Has your partner or ex-partner ever made you have sex without a condom so that you would become pregnant? – Of the 3130 callers who responded, 24% said yes.

According to the Family Violence Prevention Fund, the rate of reproductive coercion is probably even higher than these findings showed because some callers who experienced this form of control were not included in the survey because they needed to be referred to help immediately.

The negative health consequences to reproductive coercion are clear: according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40% of abused women reported that their pregnancy was unintended compared to 8% of non-abused women. Additionally, female victims of violence are three times more likely than non-victims to experience sexually transmitted infections, according to a study in the Archives of Family Medicine.

As a result of this study, the National Domestic Violence Hotline started to train its advocates on how to identify and support callers who experience reproductive coercion. “It is validating for women who are experiencing this form of abuse to know that they are not alone and that there is help available.  You can really hear the change in their voice when they realize someone understands what they’ve been through.” said Hooper.

####

The National Domestic Violence Hotline was established by Congress in 1996. The Hotline is a nonprofit organization that provides crisis intervention, information and referral to victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. The Hotline serves as the only national domestic violence hotline. Advocates receive approximately 23,500 calls each month. The Hotline is toll-free, confidential and anonymous. It operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 1-800-799-SAFE. The Hotline is supported by funding from the US Department of Health and Human Services.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund works to end violence against women and children around the world, because every person has the right to live free of violence. More information is available at www.endabuse.org. The FVPF’s kNOwMore initiative, which examines the consequences of reproductive coercion and violence, is online at www.KnowMoreSayMore.org

CONTACT: Susan Lamontagne, 631 899-3825 or susan@publicinterestmedia.com