The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence strongly urges the House Ethics Committee to recommend the expulsion of Representative David Stringer. This is based on Representative Stringer’s racist comments and lack of transparency around previous sex offense indictments. The people of Arizona deserve leadership that instills faith and integrity in the state legislature. This requires high ethical standards and a commitment to represent all constituents. If citizens and survivors cannot trust that sexual and domestic violence related issues will be met without bias or dishonesty, it lessens their confidence in the ability of the State to appropriately respond to community needs in situations of violence. This is especially true for survivors of color, who face significant barriers reporting sexual and domestic violence victimization and accessing appropriate services due to systemic racism and prejudice. It is our hope the House Ethics Committee works swiftly and decisively to restore faith in the integrity of the House of Representatives.
The deadline to submit comments on the proposed Title IX changes has been pushed back to January 30, 2019. In order to do a last push for public comments on this important issue, please review the information below on the proposed changes to Title IX and use the sample tweets to get others to submit comments during our ACESDV Tweetstorm January 28 at noon!
These proposed Title IX changes hurt survivors:
- By limiting the definition of sexual harassment to the point where survivors experiences will be discounted unless they experience endure severe, repeated, or escalating harassment which denies students their schooling and impacts their futures. This means that, under the proposed new definition, schools will be held to a lesser standard in addressing the harassment of students-including minors-under its care than addressing harassment of adult employees.
- Sexual harassment and assault is already widely under-reported. By limiting who can receive a report, students are forced to seek out an authority figure they may never have met and may not be easily accessible. This forces the survivor to discuss the worst experience of their lives to a stranger instead of a school employee with which there may be previous rapport. This is likely to further decrease the amount of reports creating an unsafe overall environment.
- By increasing the burden of proof through setting a higher standard than preponderance of the evidence, the proposed changes tilts proceedings to unfairly benefit respondents, making it even more difficult for those reporting abuse to attain safety.
- By allowing third party cross examinations that creates gross inequities if one party can afford a lawyer and the other cannot.
- By ignoring assault and harassment that happens off campus by students, survivors will have less options and support to deal with the experience caused by a fellow student. This is especially true since 87% of students live off campus. 41% of college sexual assaults involve off-campus parties. Only 8% of rapes occur on school property (NWLC, 2018)
Please join us for our tweetstorm to encourage others to comment on these proposed changes. You can use these sample tweets as a guide:
The administration wants to limit reporting. Tell them no! Survivor’s voices need to be heard #handsoffix #ProtectTitleIX
The proposed TitleIX changes will make schools less responsive to sexual harassment of students then their employees. Stop these changes. #ProtectTitleIX acesdv.org.
Send a message to the administration that the proposed changes to TitleIX make things worse not better for those experiencing campus sexual assault #ProtectTitleIX #HandsoffIX
Campus sexual assault survivors already do not feel safe reporting. The administration wants to make that worse. Stop them #ProtectTitleIX Learn how: HandsOffIX.org
Tell this administration that you #BelieveSurvivors. Submit a comment on the proposed changed to #ProtectTitleIX. Learn more at HandsOffIX.org
Tell the administration it’s time to stop investing on backwards false solutions like their proposed changes to TitleIX. #ProtectTitleIX. Learn more acesdv.org/civicengagenment.
The administration wants to bring the bad days of “boys will be boys” back to campuses with proposed rules changes on Title IX. #ProtectTitleIX by telling them no Learn more acesdv.org/civicengagenment.
With only a couple of days left it is important to make your voice heard by submitting a comment on her proposed Title IX rule. #ProtectTitleIX Learn how: HandsOffIX.org
Our partners at the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence shared this helpful FAQ on Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Shutdown:
With VAWA technically expiring at the same time as the government shutdown, we have noticed that there is some confusion and misinformation about the impact of these two events. Please see below for clarification.
Does VAWA funding run out in a shutdown?
Technically no, but problems may arise with accessing funds if the shutdown lasts. The Administration is on a reduced staff during a shutdown. The Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) will stay open until further notice. If the shutdown extends beyond that time, it will be challenging for organizations dependent on VAWA funds to access those funds. This could mean that victims cannot access lifesaving services if the shutdown continues for any length of time.
VAWA expired when the Continuing Resolution expired. What does that mean for the protections and programs in the law?
We have worked for two years with Congress to urge passage of a Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act that would provide critical enhancements and improvements to the law. The law technically expired on December 21st. The protections enshrined in VAWA, however, continue to exist despite its expiration.
The funding will very likely continue, once an FY 2019 funding bill is complete. VAWA funds would have been safe in a continuing resolution like the Senate passed.
The government shutdown, not the lapse in authorization, is the most significant threat to continued VAWA funds.
What should Congress do?
The most urgent issue for victim service providers and the survivors they serve is access to continued grant funds. Congress must pass a funding bill (like the Senate passed on December 20th) that extends government funding until February 8, 2019. The President and Congress must end the shutdown to ensure continued access to lifesaving services.
When they return for the 116th Congress, Members of Congress should begin work on a bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) to build on current protections and increase access to justice and safety for all survivors.
Can I do anything?
Feel free to weigh in on the shutdown with your Members of Congress and reassure survivors that they will have access to services for now. Contact NAESV if you have any questions.
At a survivor speakout we hosted this year, a survivor of sexual violence said these powerful words about sexual and domestic violence survivors: “We are told we should be silent when it’s inconvenient for those in power.” It’s true there is a long legacy in the United States of silencing, shaming, and ignoring the voices of domestic and sexual violence survivors. Yet, in 2018, the world watched as survivors refused to be silenced at an unprecedented scale, and the sexual and domestic violence community both in Arizona and nationwide stood with survivors and elevated their voices.
The momentum of the #MeToo Movement continued into 2018, where we witnessed the issue of sexual violence get both local and national attention, beginning with numerous Arizona women coming forward publicly with sexual harassment claims against former Representative Don Shooter, and ending with the dramatic Senate Judiciary Hearing with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Justice Brett Kavanaugh. In both instances, we were inspired by the courage, resiliency, and tenacity of survivors who refused to be silenced, who advocated for change, and who came together to support each other with love and compassion.
In response to these situations, ACESDV stood with survivors fighting to keep perpetrators out of positions of political power. We held survivor speakouts and solidarity circles, provided advocacy and referrals to survivors through our Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Helpline, and engaged in community actions and media interviews demanding accountability for perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence. We watched as the experiences of survivors were dismissed and disbelieved, reinforcing the continued need for advocacy and education. We are guided by the wise words of a survivor speaking in a solidarity circle during the hearing of Judge Kavanaugh: “Feel your anger and your sadness, in that – is your power.”
In 2018, we were dedicated to using our power to address the roots of violence and transform our society into one centered around equity, diversity, interconnectedness, and fierce love. We know if we want to end sexual and domestic violence, we must engage men, stand with survivors of color, and empower youth. Accordingly, 2018 was the founding year of our Men Against Patriarchy and Oppression (MAPO) Committee, a male-led workgroup focused on ending toxic masculinity, changing harmful gender norms, and providing new avenues for men to get involved in the movement to end gendered violence. It was also the first year of our Youth Advocates Institute, a youth-led initiative building youths’ leadership and advocacy skills in order to promote culture change and healthy relationships among their peers. In addition, ACESDV worked with grassroots partners to build community capacity to connect LGBTQ migrant survivors and immigrant survivors with services, and educate community members about consent, bystander intervention, and healthy sexuality.
Over the past year, we were reminded more than ever how important it is to stand with survivors and continue the fight to end sexual and domestic violence. We are incredibly grateful to do this work. While our efforts can sometimes seem daunting, ACESDV is dedicated to supporting survivors and centering their experiences to create meaningful social change. We need your help to do so. In the powerful words of one sexual assault survivor: “We have to fight for compassion, love, and support in a world where it’s dying.”
With your gift, you are sending a message that you too #BelieveSurvivors and will continue to be in solidarity with the 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men who have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, and the 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men who have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Other ways your gift can help:
$35 enables one Victim Services Specialist to spend one hour on the phone with a survivor of sexual or domestic violence.
$50 supports one hour of public policy advocacy at the Arizona State Capitol.
$100 sends one domestic violence advocate to the 40-Hour Sharing Experience domestic violence training.
$250 sponsors materials for the Young Advocates Institute Southwest youth-led social justice camp.
$500 supports travel assistance for one rural ACESDV member program to attend a training.
$1000 sponsors an entire 5-day Sexual Violence Core Advocacy Training.
Consider purchasing a paper peace dove through the Gift of Peace Campaign at Jacksons Car Wash and Food Stores throughout the Metro Phoenix area through December 25th. Purchases using your Fry’s Reward Card are also great, as is shopping through AmazonSmile. Every little bit will support us as we head into 2019.
Thank you for your continued support of our mission to end sexual and domestic violence in Arizona by dismantling oppression and promoting equity among all people!
Allie Bones, MSW
Chief Executive Officer
Jacksons Food Stores Raises Funds to End Sexual and Domestic Violence in Arizona
‘Peace Doves’ Funds will support Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence
PHEONIX, AZ. (Nov. 21, 2018) – Jacksons Food Stores announced today their annual campaign to help end domestic violence in six Western states, including Arizona. Now through December 25, customers can donate an amount of their choice and purchase a peace dove that will be hung in the convenience stores around the state.
The company will provide matching funds to leverage customer donations to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence, a 501c3 nonprofit, as well as similar organizations in five other states.
“Last year, Jacksons Gift of Peace campaign raised almost $8,000 from the generosity of Jacksons customers that number was then matched by Jacksons Food Stores to give the coalition a grand total of almost $16,000 to stop domestic violence in Arizona communities, and this year, we are excited to provide even more support.” said Katrina Lemmon, advertising and promotions manager for Jacksons Food Stores.
The Gift of Peace campaign is currently underway at Jacksons Food Stores in Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, and Washington, with funds going toward ending domestic violence in each state through a local organization.
Customers can make a tax-deductible donation toward a peace dove at any neighborhood Jacksons Food Store. Then, customers can write the name of a loved one or their names and the paper dove will be hung up in the store. Doves are available in $1, $5, and $10 increments, and will be matched by Jacksons Food Stores. Last year, the campaign raised over $160,000 across all six states, and this year, the company hopes to raise even more.
All Arizona customer contributions will go to the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence and will directly help support families and individuals affected by sexual and domestic violence, including teens experiencing dating abuse, as well as prevention services, according to Christa Steiner, community engagement manager.
“We are so thankful to Jacksons for the Gift of Peace campaign,” Steiner said. “It sends a powerful message to survivors and the community when they see the peace doves in the stores around Arizona, and the donations mean so much to our organizations.”
Jacksons Food Stores, Inc. headquartered in Meridian, Idaho, was founded in Caldwell, Idaho in 1975 as a single service station. Jacksons has grown to be a nationally recognized chain of over 230+ Chevron, Shell, and Texaco branded convenience stores in six western states. All company operations currently employ approximately 3,000 associates.
About Arizona Coalition to End Sexual & Domestic Violence
Arizona Coalition to End Sexual Domestic Violence works to dismantle oppression and promote equity among all people, focusing on increasing public awareness about sexual and domestic violence and enhancing the safety of and services for survivors. Learn more at acesdv.org.
Every day during the 31 days of October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the ACESDV will be posting on social media in both English and Spanish. Please feel free to use these facts and information as you please and follow along on each day and use the official statewide hashtag #EndDVinAZ.
We believe Christine Blasey Ford.
We believe her because according to the US Department of Justice, every 98 seconds a person is sexually assaulted in this country;
We believe her because less than 3 out of 100 rapes are ever resolved with a conviction;
We believe her because we live in a misogynist culture characterized by entitlement, unequal distribution of power, and lack of responsibility for harmful behaviors;
We believe her because she knew that disclosing this would make her the target of vicious attacks on her reputation, her family, and that she feared “annihilation at the hands of Congress and the media”;
We believe her because for some people it’s easier to believe him than her, even though he’s had any number of items he’s said or testified to as being shown to be verifiably false or misleading;
We believe her because if Brett Kavanaugh were a 17 year old black man when this had happened, he wouldn’t be dismissed a “young kid” who did “stupid things”;
We believe her because telling 17 year old boys today, in 2018, that it’s no big deal to get drunk and try to rape girls – it’s just young, stupid kid stuff – is irresponsible, reprehensible and quite frankly dangerous; and
We believe her because while it might not have had an impact on his life, no big deal, being a stupid kid, it has had a lifetime of impacts on her life because that’s how trauma works.
We appreciate that this week’s vote has been delayed, but so far only one hearing has been scheduled before the Senate Judiciary Committee. As of right now, only Dr. Blasey Ford and Mr. Kavanaugh will be testifying, and concerning reports are surfacing about strategies that are being considered in terms of how the questioning will be handled (i.e. Mr. Kavanaugh’s attorney being allowed to question Dr. Blasey Ford, instead of the Senators themselves). Attacks on Dr. Blasey Ford’s character are already being shared; millions of dollars in ads are going to run saying that she is a liar and an angry feminist; and the President of the United States is saying that Mr. Kavanaugh is a “nice guy who doesn’t deserve this”.
Justices confirmed to The Supreme Court of the United States, enshrined with a lifetime appointment, at a bare minimum require thoughtful, fully informed and vetted consideration by the US Senate.
PARA PUBLICACIÓN INMEDIATA: 16 de agosto 2018
ACESDV recibió financiamiento del Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP para apoyar a personas sobrevivientes del acoso sexual y represalias relacionadas en el trabajo
Phoenix, AZ – Hoy, el Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP anunció que la Coalición de Arizona para Eliminar la Violencia Sexual y Doméstica (ACESDV) ha recibido financiamiento para apoyar a personas trabajadoras de bajos recursos que han pasado por conducta sexual indebida o represalias relacionadas en su lugar de trabajo. ACESDV utilizará este financiamiento en colaboración con TQP y Poder en Acción para aumentar el conocimiento y la concientización del acoso sexual y aumentar el acceso al Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP para los miembros de las comunidades más afectadas por la opresión, incluyendo comunidades de color, comunidades LGBTQ + y comunidades inmigrantes e indocumentados. El Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP, que es parte de y es administrado por el National Women’s Law Center Fund (NWLCF), otorgó dieciocho financiamientos a organizaciones en todo el país para expandir su compromiso de apoyo a las personas sobrevivientes del acoso sexual y represalias relacionadas en todas las industrias y conectarlas con abogados/as y expertos/as en relaciones públicas.
ACESDV colaborará con TQP y Poder en Acción para desarrollar y llevar a cabo talleres y materiales culturalmente y lingüísticamente inclusivos sobre el acoso sexual y el conocimiento para las comunidades de color y los migrantes LGBTQ +. TQP y Poder en Acción realizarán actividades de divulgación a través de sus programas existentes que promueven el acceso a servicios de salud, justicia económica y seguridad pública, así como visitas a domicilio, lugares de trabajo y clubs nocturnos para garantizar que los miembros de la comunidad que han sufrido acoso sexual tengan información sobre recursos legales y a proveedores de servicios locales seguros. Las personas que han sufrido acoso sexual pueden ponerse en contacto con ACESDV para obtener recursos, referencias y apoyo emocional, además de información sobre el Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP.
“El Fondo Legal TIME’S UP cree que ninguna persona trabajadora en ningún lugar de empleo debería tener que padecer abusos a cambio de un cheque,” dijo Sharyn Tejani, Directora del Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP. “Queremos que todas las sobrevivientes sepan que hay recursos disponibles para ayudarles a lidiar con conductas sexuales indebidas. Los proyectos a los que les otorgamos fondos hoy tienen el potencial de cambiar vidas, y no podría estar más entusiasmada por todo el trabajo que vamos a hacer.”
“Nuestra misión es eliminar la violencia sexual y doméstica en Arizona desmantelando la opresión y promoviendo la equidad entre todas las personas”, dijo Tasha Menaker, directora de Estrategia de ACESDV. “Reconocemos que las comunidades más afectadas por la opresión experimentan altos índices de acoso sexual y a menudo tienen acceso limitado a recursos y medios legales debido a la discriminación sistémica y el temor a represalias. TQP y Poder en Acción tienen un historial de iniciativas exitosas que mitigan las barreras para inmigrantes y comunidades LGBTQ + migrantes. Estamos entusiasmados con la oportunidad de asociarnos con estas organizaciones y con el Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP para ayudar a los sobrevivientes de acoso sexual a acceder estos recursos “.
El Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S recibió más de 120 propuestas para recibir estos fondos. Las solicitudes propusieron una amplia gama de proyectos diversos de participación pública, incluyendo aquellos que ofrecen servicios específicamente para personas trabajadoras Latinxs, inmigrantes asiáticxs, trabajadorxs transgénero, trabajadorxs del hogar, agricultorxs, trabajadorxs del sector minorista, de hoteles, del sector avícola y más.
Los adjudicatarios se determinaron basado en los lazos comunitarios de las organizaciones, el trabajo de alcance planificado con personas trabajadoras de bajos recursos en poblaciones específicas, un compromiso demostrado con la defensoría de los derechos de las personas trabajadoras — y prestando atención a la distribución geográfica de los fondos alrededor de los Estados Unidos y a la diversidad de las poblaciones a las que se sirve.
Acerca de la Coalición de Arizona para Eliminar la Violencia Sexual y Doméstica
La Coalición de Arizona para Eliminar la Violencia Sexual y Doméstica es la coalición dual designada en Arizona que aborda la violencia sexual y doméstica durante más de 35 años. Nuestro propósito es aumentar la conciencia pública sobre los temas de la violencia sexual y doméstica, mejorar la seguridad y los servicios para las víctimas y sobrevivientes de violencia sexual y doméstica y poner fin a la violencia sexual y doméstica en las comunidades de Arizona. Hacemos esto brindando educación y capacitación, asistencia técnica, intercediendo en la legislatura sobre políticas públicas y brindando asistencia a sobrevivientes y defensores a través de nuestra Línea de Ayuda de Servicios de Violencia Sexual y Domestica.
Acerca del Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP
El Fondo de Defensa Legal TIMES’S UP, que es parte de y es administrado por el National Women’s Law Center Fund, conecta a aquellas personas que han pasado por conducta sexual indebida incluyendo violación, acoso, abuso y represalias relacionadas, en el trabajo o al tratar de avanzar en sus carreras, con asistencia legal y de relaciones públicas. El Fondo ayudará a cubrir los gastos legales y de relaciones públicas en casos seleccionados basados en criterios y disponibilidad de fondos. Las donaciones al Fondo de Defensa Legal TIME’S UP son deducibles de impuestos a través del Direct Impact Fund, una organización 501(c)(3) sin fines de lucro o a través del National Women’s Law Center, una organización 501(c)(3) sin fines de lucro. La iniciativa es liderada por actrices y otras personas de la industria del entretenimiento, las abogadas Tina Tchen y Roberta Kaplan y profesionales de alto nivel de las relaciones públicas. Las mujeres en Hollywood se unieron en torno a sus propias experiencias de acoso y violación, y se conmovieron por el apoyo efusivo y la solidaridad en contra del acoso sexual de las mujeres a lo largo de todos los sectores. Esto les inspiró a crear el Fondo para ayudar a sobrevivientes del acoso sexual y represalias relacionadas en todas las industrias — especialmente a las trabajadoras de bajos recursos. Se unieron para trabajar juntas en esta iniciativa histórica para diseñar una estructura que sea inclusiva y efectiva.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 16, 2018
ACESDV Awarded Grant from TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund to Support Immigrant and LGBTQ Migrant Survivors of Sexual Harassment and Related Retaliation in the Workplace
Phoenix, AZ – Today, the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund announced Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV) in collaboration with Trans Queer Pueblo (TQP) and Poder in Action as the recipient of a grant to support low-wage workers who have experienced sexual misconduct or related retaliation in the workplace. ACESDV will use this grant in collaboration with TQP and Poder in Action to increase knowledge and awareness of sexual harassment and access to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund among community members most impacted by oppression, including communities of color, LGBTQ+ communities, and immigrant and undocumented communities. The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which is housed and administered by the National Women’s Law Center Fund (NWLCF), awarded eighteen grants to organizations around the country to build on its commitment to support survivors of sexual harassment and retaliation across all industries and connect them to attorneys and public relations experts.
ACESDV will collaborate with TQP and Poder in Action to develop and conduct culturally and linguistically-inclusive sexual harassment know-your-rights workshops and materials for communities of color and LGBTQ+ migrants. TQP and Poder in Action will engage in outreach through their existing programs promoting access to healthcare, economic justice, and public safety, as well as door-to-door canvassing, workplace, and nightclub outreach to ensure community members who have experienced sexual harassment have information about legal resources and safe local service providers. People who have experienced sexual harassment can contact ACESDV for resources, referrals, and emotional support in addition to information about the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.
“The TIME’SUP Legal Defense Fund believes that no worker at any job should ever have to endure abuse for a paycheck,” said Sharyn Tejani, Director of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. “We want all survivors to know that there are available resources to help them deal with sexual misconduct. The projects awarded today have the potential to change lives, and I could not be more excited for the work that lies ahead.”
“Our mission is to end sexual and domestic violence in Arizona by dismantling oppression and promoting equity among all people,” said Tasha Menaker, Chief Strategy Officer at the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. “We recognize that communities most impacted by oppression experience high rates of sexual harassment and often have limited access to resources and legal recourse due to systemic discrimination and fear of retaliation. TQP and Poder in Action have a history of successful initiatives mitigating barriers for immigrant and LGBTQ+ migrant communities. We are excited about the opportunity to partner with these organizations and the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund to support sexual harassment survivors in accessing resources.”
The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund received more than 120 applications for these funds. The applications proposed a broad range of diverse public engagement projects, including those offering targeted resources for Latinx workers, Asian immigrants, transgender workers, domestic workers, farmworkers, retail workers, restaurant workers, hotel workers, poultry workers and more.
Awardees were determined based on organizations’ community ties, planned outreach to low-wage workers in target populations, demonstrated commitment to advocacy on behalf of workers’ rights—and with attention to geographic distribution across the United States and diversity in populations served.
About Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence
The Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence is the designated dual issue coalition in Arizona addressing both sexual and domestic violence for over 35 years. Our purpose is to increase public awareness about the issues of sexual and domestic violence, enhance the safety of and services for sexual and domestic violence victims and survivors and end sexual and domestic violence in Arizona communities. We do this by providing education & training, technical assistance, advocating at the legislature in public policy as well as providing assistance to survivors and advocates through our Sexual and Domestic Violence Services Helpline.
About the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund
The TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which is housed at and administered by the National Women’s Law Center Fund, connects those who experience sexual misconduct including assault, harassment, abuse and related retaliation in the workplace or in trying to advance their careers with legal and public relations assistance. The Fund will help defray legal and public relations costs in select cases based on criteria and availability of funds. Donations to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund are tax deductible through the Direct Impact Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or through the National Women’s Law Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The initiative was spearheaded by actors and others in the entertainment industry, attorneys Tina Tchen and Roberta Kaplan, and top public relations professionals. Women in Hollywood came together around their own experiences of harassment and assault, and were moved by the outpouring of support and solidarity against sexual harassment from women across sectors. This inspired them to help create a Fund to help survivors of sexual harassment and retaliation in all industries—especially low-wage workers. They worked together in an historic first to design a structure that would be both inclusive and effective.
This blog post is written in response to the Dwight Jones murders and his suicide.
This is hard to talk about, but we have to. We, as a community, as professionals, as first responders, as helpers, left a lot of loose ends on this one. This case has it all. It shows how domestic violence is not a private, family matter, how it affects the community. Domestic violence, a mother and child in danger, guns, a messy divorce and child custody arrangement, on-going harassment, and finally, as is all too common, multiple people murdered by someone who felt wronged.
Felt wronged? Let’s explore that. He felt wronged because after he abused the woman he married, terrorized the child they had together, she left–as we often all tell domestic violence victims to do. She left her husband, the father of her child. He felt wronged. Did he expect her to endure his abuse without trying to protect herself and her child? Did he not think his behavior was abusive and unacceptable to do to someone you say you love? It is safe to say we only know a thimble-full of what she and their son endured. This father abandoned his responsibility to keep his son and wife safe. She wanted to leave the state with their son because she was afraid of what he would do to them. Yet, as we now know, the family court wouldn’t let her. The court worried about the relationship between the father and child, more so, I dare say, than the father ever did.
It can be hard to listen to experiences of sexual and domestic violence, but we have to. The stories may seem too inconceivable to be true, but true they are. Dr. Jones knew best, but we did not listen deeply to her – the system is set up not to listen, not to hear the fear and danger involved in these cases, not to take appropriate action to ensure there is follow through with court orders or to ensure a dangerous person cannot access firearms. In this case, not only did we ignore this mother’s concerns about his dangerousness, or her concern regarding his continued contact with their son, we did not listen to the professionals’ concerns either. This woman and boy, who is now a young man, are safe, yes. How many out there are not? Are we helping people with their safety or making more dangerous communities? Are we listening or dismissing survivors? Do we know what they want and need? When is the last time we asked…and really listened? And are we willing to do what is asked of us?
Written by Doreen Nicholas, Domestic Violence Response Manager at ACESDV.