National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Ten Things You Might Not Know About Sexual Assault

Each year approximately 207,754 sexual assaults occur in the United States (RAINN). However, despite that astounding number, sexual assault is still not widely discussed.

To conclude Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please read this list of 10 things you might not know about sexual assault. Sexual assault is not just rape or attempted rape — it is any unwanted sexual contact or advances, preventing someone or being prevented from using birth control and/or rough or violent sexual behavior. Read the definition from The National Center for Victims of Crime to learn more.

1. One in every 10 sexual assault victims is male (RAINN).

2. Sexual assault occurs as often during the daytime as it does during the night (Stanford Sexual Assault and Relationship Abuse Prevention & Support).

3. Forty-four percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18. Eighty percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 30 (RAINN).

4. Victims of sexual assault are more prone to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, trouble sleeping and anxiety disorders (CDC).

5. Two-thirds of assaults are perpetrated by someone whom the victim knows. Thirty-eight percent of rapists are a friend or acquaintance of the victim (RAINN).

6. Nearly one in four women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime (National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence).

7. Half of all sexual assaults happen within one mile of the victim’s home (RAINN).

8. Out of every 100 sexual assaults, only 46 get reported to the police. Out of those 46 reports, only 12 will lead to an arrest. Out of those 12 arrests, only nine attackers will be prosecuted.

9. Out of those prosecutions, only five will lead to a felony conviction. Despite those five convictions, only three of the perpetrators spend a single day in jail. That means that 97 attackers walk away unscathed (RAINN).

10. Some good news: the instances of sexual assault have decreased nearly 60 percent since 2000, although they are still staggeringly high (U.S. Department of Justice).

Despite the decrease in frequency over the past decade, sexual assault is still an extremely prevalent and pervasive crime in the United States. Please take a moment today to spread awareness about this critical issue.

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A Man Can

On January 4, The Hotline was honored with a visit from sportscaster James Brown, host of CBS Network’s “The NFL Today” and representatives of The Verizon Foundation is support of his A Man Can campaign.

“Domestic violence is an epidemic in all of our communities,” Brown said.  “That deepened my personal commitment and desire to help end domestic violence.  It’s my hope that millions of men join me in this campaign.”

Through this campaign, Brown is promoting respect and equality – respect for yourself and in your relationships — and he’s asking men to be informed and be appropriately proactive when they witness disrespectful or abusive behavior.

“I’m here to encourage men and help them understand that they can have a very meaningful impact, much more easily than they think,” Brown said.  “Don’t laugh at that inappropriate joke.  Second, don’t condone domestic violence with your silence.  If you know someone who is abusive – physically, verbally, emotionally or financially – you as men can play a positive role, just like the coach of a team, and be helpful in changing behavior.  This campaign will build awareness around the issues of domestic violence prevention and the resources available for helping those experiencing domestic violence and those who perpetrate it.”

Rose Stuckey Kirk, president of the Verizon Foundation, said: “Domestic violence knows no boundaries.  It affects men and women, every race, every culture and all socioeconomic levels.  That’s why a very important part of this campaign is educating men and women on how to help someone in need.  That means referring people in need – men and women who are experiencing domestic violence – to resources that can help them live a violence-free life. Verizon welcomes this partnership with James Brown, whose leadership and commitment have helped elevate domestic violence prevention in our national dialogue.”

During the visit, a film crew documented Brown’s tour including conversations with Hotline President Katie Ray-Jones, listening on Hotline crisis calls, a discussion group, and a one-on-one meetings with a survivor to further educate himself on the issues of domestic violence. The final video of documenting Brown’s Experience is available below and on YouTube.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

What Makes Teen Dating Abuse Unique

Teen dating abuse can be as serious and scary as violence within an adult relationship. The abuse faced by teens can manifest itself in a variety of forms including physical, verbal and digital. We wanted to shed a light on dating abuse as February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

There are a lot of similarities between teen dating abuse and domestic violence, but there are also quite a few differences.

It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what a teen relationship is. Teens often use unique language to define their own relationships, using terms like talking, hanging out, hooking up or friends with benefits. These teen relationships can be extremely casual or extremely serious, and abuse can happen in any of these situations.

Unfortunately because many teens identify their relationships as being casual, they don’t realize that they can experience dating abuse. If they do realize, they often struggle with reaching out and telling someone about their abuse.

There is often a communication disconnect between teens and their parents or other adults. Teens may feel reluctant about reaching out to adults because of this lack of trust or comfort.  A teen’s first confidant will more than likely be a friend.

Teens that are new to dating may have unrealistic or unhealthy expectations. If teens don’t feel that they have strong models of healthy relationships to look up to, they may look to popular culture to learn what a relationship should look like. This can be problematic with the promotion of unhealthy relationships like those seen on TV or on the radio. These examples of relationships can be negative and often romanticize or fail to condemn unhealthy behaviors. This affects not only how teens perceive their own relationships, but also the type of advice that they give to their friends.

It’s difficult for teens to get away from their abusive partners. Teens may not drive, may not have a vehicle or may be limited in where they are allowed to drive. They often attend the same school as their abuser, so it’s difficult to avoid seeing their partner daily. They may share a friend group with their abuser, so it’s hard for them to know who they can trust.

Because of these difficulties, teens sometimes feel like it’s impossible to end the relationship or to get away from their abuser. They may not seek resources from their school or community for protection.

If you know a young adult who is in an unhealthy relationship, or would like to learn more about dating abuse, please visit www.loveisrespect.org. The site loveisrespect.org features an online chat run by peer advocates from the National Dating Abuse Helpline, and can provide intervention via phone at 1-877-331-9474 or through text at 77054 or through their online chat.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

OB-GYNs, Neurologists Encourage Routine Domestic Violence Screenings

An article released yesterday by the LA Times details the efforts of national OB-GYN and neurological associations to promote routine domestic violence screenings of patients.

In response to the high rates of domestic violence around the nation, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) have both called on their members to perform routine examinations of their patients for signs of abuse.

A report issued by the ACOG states that 25 percent of women have been physically or sexually assaulted by a partner. Because OB-GYNs see patients throughout their lives, they are in a unique position to help identify domestic violence victims and intervene to potentially prevent future abuse from occurring.

Neurological professionals are also getting involved. The majority of domestic violence injuries are to the head and neck. Neurologists who are able to identify the cause of these injuries have the opportunity to intervene and offer help to victims.

The involvement of these professionals could help countless victims. This conscious effort to identify abuse signifies the growing trend of a community response to domestic violence, allowing various roles in a victim’s life to do their part to intervene. With a combined total of 80,000 members, these sections of the medical workforce will be able to make a significant impact in many victims’ lives.

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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 Blog

What You Can Do For Domestic Violence in 1 Minute

Think there’s nothing you can do in one minute to help someone in a domestic violence situation? The folks at What You Can Do 365 have come up with some ideas to help you take small steps to solve big problems. In January this year, they began a year-long one-minute movement to change the world through videos highlighting a pressing social issue that shows viewers what they can do about it, even if they only have one minute of time to give. Domestic violence and teen dating abuse are two topics they recently showcased and we thank everyone at What You Can Do 365 for bringing awareness to the issue of domestic violence and teen dating abuse.  Be sure and visit their website to see all their videos.

 

What You Can Do Presents – ‘Safety Plan”

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Love Is…Knowing the Signs of Abuse to Help Yourself or a Friend

In October we launched The Hotline’s 15th anniversary with the debut of our “Love is” campaign. This campaign is aimed not only at raising awareness to our issue, but also ensuring people know they are not alone and help is available.

One component of raising awareness is ensuring people recognize the signs of domestic violence. Everyone needs to know what it is and how to spot it happening in their lives or in the lives of their friends.

Remember: Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It happens to all races, ages, sexual orientation, religion or gender. Is domestic violence something that only happens between married couples? No. While domestic violence does apply to married couples, it can also occur between people who are living together or who are dating.

We hope that by discussing what love is, we can help show what love is not – any form of abuse. Please join us in our campaign by telling us what you believe love is and by remembering these warning signs that you – or someone you know – may be in an abusive situation.

• Your partner humiliates you or puts you down
• Your partner makes you feel bad about yourself
• Your partner controls what you do, who you see, who you talk to, where the money is spent
• Your partner prevents you from getting or keeping a job
• Your partner tells you it is your fault he hurts you and if only you wouldn’t make him act this way
• Your partner uses the children to make you feel guilty or threatens to harm the children if you do not do what he says.

Also, remember we’re always here to talk at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). You are not alone. There is hope and there is help.

Additional info:

Be Smart. Be Well. “Domestic Violence: What Is It??”

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

SEEING Beyond Abuse

By Jessica L. Young, O.D. | Pennsylvania Optometric Association’s 2010 Young Optometrist of the Year

Many may think that visiting an eye doctor would be the last place for an abuse victim to go.  After reading this article, you may disagree. One day, a 49 year-old woman came to see me for a routine eye examination. Her vision was getting a little worse and she thought, “Maybe I need a new pair of glasses.” During the examination, I noticed a tear in the iris of her right eye.

Upon checking her eye pressure I found that it was elevated in her right eye. I asked the woman if she had ever sustained any injuries to her eyes. She confirmed that she had in fact been hit many times in her eyes and face years ago by a former boyfriend. I explained how the trauma had damaged her eye and the increased eye pressure could lead to optic nerve damage and vision loss if left untreated. We decided to begin medicated eye drops to lower the eye pressure. So far the drops are successfully keeping the pressure down, reducing her chances of vision loss. This woman very well may have lost her eyesight had she not happened to come for a regular eye exam.

Physical assault resulting in trauma to the eye can have both immediate and lasting effects. If trauma to the eye occurs, urgent medical attention should be sought to treat any immediate damage. Visiting an eye doctor is prudent for anyone who has ever sustained trauma to the eye at any time. This is because a form of glaucoma, called traumatic or angle recession glaucoma, can occur months or even years after an eye injury.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness in the United States. But what is glaucoma? The eye contains fluid, which is constantly being produced and drained. This fluid creates a pressure inside the eye (intraocular pressure) and helps the eye keep its shape. If this pressure becomes too high, it can damage the nerve inside the eye (the optic nerve), which can result in permanent vision loss. This is glaucoma.

When the eye undergoes trauma, the damage that occurs can lead to glaucoma. The fluid in the eye is drained where the cornea (the front clear window of the eye) meets the iris (the colored part of the eye); this is called the angle. This drainage angle can be damaged during a traumatic event such as a strike to the eye. When the angle is damaged, the fluid may not drain properly, which can cause the eye pressure to increase and can then lead to glaucoma. This is a special type of glaucoma: angle recession, or traumatic glaucoma.

In the United States, over 1 million Americans experience eye injuries each year. Blunt eye injuries account for over 60% of these injuries, and over 10% of all eye traumas are due to assault[1]. Damage to the eye angle (called angle recession) is one of the most common complications after a strike to the eye[2].  Though infrequent, damage to the eye angle can lead to angle recession glaucoma. This can occur weeks, months, or even many years after the trauma to the eye has occurred. As with most other forms of glaucoma, symptoms of vision loss are not noticed until the glaucoma is advanced and the damage is extensive. In fact, glaucoma is often called the “sneak thief of sight”. Since traumatic glaucoma can occur long after the eye has been injured, it is very important not only have an initial eye examination, but also regular visits to an eye doctor.

At the first visit to an eye doctor, it is necessary to mention any previous eye or head trauma so the eye can be properly evaluated for angle recession and glaucoma. The doctor will check the eye angle with a special lens, measure the eye pressure, and evaluate the optic nerves for any signs of damage. If angle recession is found, regular follow-up visits will be needed to monitor the eye for angle recession glaucoma. If glaucoma is detected, the doctor will likely start prescription eye drops to lower the eye pressure and try to prevent further damage to the optic nerve.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence is a serious problem and a common cause of injury.

I urge anyone who has ever sustained an eye injury, especially victims of domestic violence or child abuse, to schedule an examination with an eye doctor. Please mention your history of eye trauma so the eyes can be properly evaluated


[1] American Academy of Ophthalmology.  2009 Eye Injury Snapshot Project Results. http://www.aao.org/practice_mgmt/eyesmart/snapshot_2009_results.cfm

[2] Sullivan, Brian R.  Angle Recession Glaucoma.  http://www.emedicinehealth.com/angle_recession_glaucoma/article_em.htm

* It’s rare to get an eye doctor’s perspective on domestic violence. We thank Dr. Young for reaching out to us and sharing this important piece of information. *

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Men Put on Heels for Domestic Violence

The following blog entry was written by Amanda Dyson.

Many of us looked forward to July 4th for the long, fun filled weekend that it promised. Others had domestic violence on their minds.

It has been reported that in July in Tulsa, Oklahoma that domestic violence calls and requests for emergency protective orders are in higher demand after long weekends, especially the Tuesday after July 4th weekend. Part of the reason for the holiday surge may be increased drug or alcohol use and gathering together for festivities.

In Louisiana, men took a different holiday weekend approach for the Lake Charles 4th of July parade. 120 men, along with women’s shelter employees, put on their high heels to march against domestic violence with shouts of “Man up! Hands down! Stop domestic violence!” The group aims to have more men speak up for the issue and aren’t the only ones using footwear to make a statement.
Recently, men signed up to walk a mile in heels during Riverfest in LaCrosse, Wisconsin. The event raised money for the YWCA and the Carilee Fund and served to bring awareness to sexual assault and domestic violence in the community.

Men are sending an important message by showing their support to end domestic violence.  For some, July 4th weekend turned out to be an interesting weekend to promote awareness and walk in someone else’s shoes.

References:
Domestic Violence Increase During Holidays
http://www.ktul.com/news/stories/0710/752549.html
Men March Against Violence
http://www.wxvt.com/Global/story.asp?S=12756068
Hundreds of Men Walking in Heels to March Against Domestic Violence
http://www.weau.com/news/headlines/97408309.html

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Promoting Active GPS Technology to Protect Victims of Domestic Violence

The following blog entry was written by Amanda Dyson.

Laws for sex offenders to wear global positioning system (GPS) devices vary by state. Some states, such as Missouri, Florida, Oklahoma, and Ohio, require certain sex offenders to wear GPS bands for life. Currently, it is not mandatory for abusers in domestic violence cases to wear a GPS tracking device; people are speaking up about this issue.

In March, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz spoke out for legislation he calls the Erika Bill, which would require any individual with an order of protection issued due to domestic violence to wear an ankle GPS monitoring device. The bill is named after Erika Delia, who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend while a restraining order was in effect.  Ortiz made the point that “every 15 seconds an instance of domestic violence occurs.”

Active GPS technology is the safest option for all victims of abuse. Passive GPS tracking devices seem insufficient when compared to newly available active GPS devices that alert domestic abuse victims by call or text if an abuser is in close range.

This May, a sex offender in Northern California, Leonard Scroggins, removed his passive GPS tracking device. Though this technology is used with other crime prevention strategies, Scroggins was still able to make it to San Diego, where he attacked four women within two days. If he were wearing an active GPS that immediately alerted authorities when cut off, time could have been saved and lives protected.

Passive GPS tracking bands require an individual to physically observe a wearer’s activity at intervals while active GPS bands are able to send instant alerts via cell phones if a wearer violates area guidelines. Active GPS technology costs around $10-$15 a day. The small devices combine GPS and cellular technologies and do not require proximity to a separate stationary transmission box as other available monitoring systems do. These new devices may also help domestic violence victims to feel more secure that their abuser will not be able to get close without warning. Though some GPS companies advertise active GPS technology and may provide 24 hour monitoring, not all devices are said to provide cell phone alerts.

Active GPS technology has become available for local authorities to implement in cases. Recently, GPS Monitoring Solutions demonstrated its active GPS product in California for court employees, lawyers and victims of domestic violence. Their technology concentrates on victim notification and provides real-time location tracking with the TrackerPal.

A Texas based company, Satellite Tracking of People LLC, provides a BlueTag Active band that transmits data at least once every ten minutes. Attorney General and Minister of Justice Kim Wilson wore an ankle bracelet for one week to test the device and feels that it could serve as an incentive for rehabilitation for offenders and cut down on prison populations in Bermuda.

As GPS devices continue to improve and individuals help to speak out on behalf of domestic violence, technology can be used as a safer and more reliable option to protect victims of abuse.

Last year, Cherry Simpson wrote for the Survivor’s Blog on how GPS tracking kept her daughter safe in an abusive relationship. Read her story here. This is only one example of how GPS technology has helped in a domestic violence situation, surely there are many more. Victims of domestic violence can seek an order of protection, but a piece of paper is not always enough. Active GPS devices should still be used in combination with other safety measures and victims should remain alert to the reality that the technology is not foolproof.

Sources:

http://www.review-news.com/main.asp?SectionID=60&SubSectionID=126&ArticleID=6149

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/2010/may/30/a-broken-system/

http://www.sbsun.com/news/ci_15200626#ixzz0pdIEoCqY

http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/content/view/30611/

http://www.gpsmonitoring.com/family-courts.html

http://www.royalgazette.com/rg/Article/article.jsp?articleId=7da313b30030000&sectionId=60

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,164288,00.html

http://www.ndvh.org/2009/05/gps-tracking/

National Domestic Violence Hotline Awareness

Whole Foods Launches Twitter Campaign Supporting The Hotline

Whole Foods is hosting a Twitter fundraiser to support those moms who need extra love this Mother’s Day benefitting The National Domestic Violence Hotline. Whole Foods Market will donate $1 for each re-tweet (up to $10,000) of the following message: Support Moms in Need! @WholeFoods will donate $1 for each RT of this msg thru 5/9 (up to $10k) to @NDVH (Nat’l Domestic Violence Hotline). The campaign will run from May 5-9. Please click here to visit the WholeFoods Twitter page; please click here to visit The Hotline Twitter page. Be sure to support The Hotline by retweeting the message.

National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Finding Ways To Make a Difference

The following blog entry is written by Michael Foti, Editor of the Laws.com Legal Network.

As the Editor of the Laws.com Legal Network, I’m often faced with the challenge of providing interesting, relevant content for our readers.  At the same time, I try to use my position as an outlet to create change and make a difference.  Combining the two can often be challenging, however when it came to domestic violence, it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Initially my goal was to raise awareness on the legalities of domestic violence and the applicable laws. I had my team write numerous articles on these topics but the more research I did, the more I felt compelled to provide additional content.  The fact is, I realized just how overlooked domestic violence is in our society.

This conclusion hit me after we compiled a list of DV statistics.  I was ASTONISHED by the results our research provided.  Here’s a few examples:

1. Over 1/4 of women are raped or sexually assaulted at some point in their life by their partner.
2. More than 50% of women that are killed by a firearm are murdered by their partner.
3. Nearly 1.5 MILLION women are physically assaulted by their partner every single year in the US.
4. Close to 33% of women that are murdered are killed by an intimate partner.

The list goes on and on.

The bottom line is this: Domestic violence is an issue that plagues our society and must be paid the proper attention.  Considering I deal with the law and legal issues each and every day, I think I’m qualified to say that DV is severely under-prosecuted by law enforcement.  Maybe stricter punishment would help deter sexual assault, however there is something we can all do to help: RAISE AWARENESS.  Victims need to be made aware of their options, as well as where they can turn for help.  The amazing thing about all these statistics is that those are the KNOWN accounts, nevermind how many women are attacked or raped and never come forward.  Approximately 18% of women that experience domestic violence do not report it to the authorities.  Chances are, those women were afraid because they were unaware of exactly what type of assistance they could receive..until now.

Check out Laws.com for a comprehensive list of domestic violence resources, including domestic violence laws and organizations victims can turn to.