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Victim Blaming – Why It’s Wrong

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The abuser is to blame.  Yet some people blame the victim too.  “She knew what type of man she was getting into a relationship with!”  “She must be so naive to believe that he is sorry!”  And other judgements.  “Probably she is as bad as him!”  “She must have done something to provoke him!”  “What sort of a woman would get involved with an abusive man?  She can’t be very intelligent!”

I’d like to address the above unfair judgements, and to dispute them.  They are not based on reality.

 A woman who enters into a relationship with an abusive man does not see the full extent of his nastiness in the early, honeymoon stage.  There may be signs of an abusive character, especially in hindsight, but basically a man will be wearing a mask in the beginning stages of the relationship.  He wants to “catch her” and “reel her in”.  He wouldn’t be able to do that if he were to show his true colors when originally courting her.

 When a good person hears another person apologize for something and promise to not do that thing again, why would she not believe him?  If she apologized and vowed to not do something again, she would mean it!

 Is it likely that she is as bad as him?  No.  It is not usual for an abusive person to abuse another abusive person.

 Even if she did provoke him, there is no excuse for abuse.  Ever.

 No woman is immune from being a victim of Domestic Violence.  She might be of any race or ethnicity, of any level of intelligence, from any socio-economic background, any age.  The bottom line is that it is never the fault of the victim.

-Written by Tracy-Lee Neville, VOW member.

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Yes. We Respond To Brock Turner’s Dad

Brock Turner’s father, Dan A. Turner, views rape as “20 minutes of action”!  That is what we find, reading Dan Turner’s court statement.  Brock Turner raped a woman in January 2015.  She was unconscious at the time.  Brock Turner was convicted of three felonies.  Prosecutors wanted a sentence of at least six years in state prison.  Dan Turner felt that such a sentence would be “a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action”.  First of all, it is disgusting that rape would be described as “minutes of action”!  “Incarceration is not the appropriate punishment for Brock … Probation is the best answer for Brock in this situation”.  My second point is that “this situation” that Dan Turner refers to, is a violent crime that his son has committed.  Brock sexually assaulted a woman and deeply altered this woman’s life forever.  But Dan Turner is more concerned with how his rapist son’s life has been altered.  In his court statement, he wrote, “Brock’s life has been deeply altered forever … His life will never be the one he dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.”  I ask, “Whose fault is that?”

I am appalled by Dan Turner’s comments in his court statement.  He defends and minimizes the act of rape to such a degree that I, and countless others I feel sure, feel sickened.  “Brock can do so many positive things as a contributor to society”, wrote Dan about his son.  Did I read that correctly?  It seems that Dan is desperate to support his son regardless of how awful his son’s behavior is.  I understand wanting to protect one’s family members, but when a family member sexually violates another human being?  Dan wrote that his son “is totally committed to educating other college age students about the dangers of alcohol consumption and sexual promiscuity”.  How dare he suggest that his son would be a good candidate for communicating with others, with a view to teaching them, about sexual relations!  And bringing up the topic of the dangers of alcohol consumption appears to me to basically be an attempt to discredit the victim of the rape and essentially to blame her for what was so brutally done to her in January of last year.

Written by Tracy-Lee Neville, VOW member.

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Being Unsilenced

Brock Turner received a six months prison sentence for raping an unconscious women on Stanford University’s Campus. The judge felt that a longer sentence would have a “severe impact” on Turner. It is worth mentioning that this prison sentence equals to about 3 months jail time with good behavior.  Turner was facing up to 14 years in prison.

We are not going to write an opinion on this cases outcome, we are going to let the victim words speak to you. In a 12 page letter, the victim who wishes to remain anonymous speaks for all of us…

https://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/heres-the-powerful-letter-the-stanford-victim-read-to-her-ra?utm_term=.ffeJkgD8Ny#.yfwKQ0JWe6

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My View On Calling Me A Child Witness

I am called a child witness because I witnessed intimate partner violence in my home as a child.  But, I call myself a survivor. You see, I saw the abuse, felt the emotional turmoil and will never forget it. So, how am I a witness?  I survived it too!  I saw the physical, emotional, psychological and financial abuse. I saw my mother beaten and her pain as I felt mine.  I felt it too!

As an organizer who works to decentralize power within policy reform, it is important that I strike labels and words that do not properly identify me. I strike the name child witness from my personal identity and embrace survivor.  My pain is healing and is now becoming my power to advocate for justice.

So, when I am called a child witness to intimate partner violence. I simply say “yes, I saw the abuse, and felt it too.”  I am a survivor not a child witness!  I give you back that name.

-Alex

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Opposing Equal Rights for Men and Women!

“Can a feminist bake apple pies?” I ask you.  “Does a feminist Want to bake apple pies?”  With my concept of what it means to be a feminist, then yes, a feminist may want to bake apple pies.  IF she enjoys baking.  And a non-feminist may not want to bake apple pies, if she doesn’t enjoy baking.  In my eyes, a feminist can be a wonderful wife and a brilliant mother and a great cook and a successful career woman.  Any woman can be these things.  And certainly every woman in the workplace deserves to receive equal pay to her male counterpart.

Opposing Equal Rights for Men and Women is opposing Human Rights.  Why would two human beings who are equally – as equally as possible – qualified, equally educated, equally proficient, capable and “successful” receive a different monetary salary within the same organization?  If one of these human beings is a female and the other a male, then this is what often happens in the United States of America.

In 1923, over ninety years ago, a woman and suffragist leader called Alice Paul first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress.  The aim of the amendment was essentially to eliminate gender-based discrimination.  Section 1 of the original Equal Rights Amendment proposal read, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

Leaders such as Gloria Steinem provided argument after argument in support of the Equal Rights Amendment, ERA, and testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in its favor in 1970.  Also in 1970, the National Organization for Women, NOW, an American feminist organization founded in 1966, began a hard push for the Equal Rights Amendment.

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women was established by John F. Kennedy in 1961, with Eleanor Roosevelt appointed as head of the organization, and it was set up in the hope of providing a solution to female discrimination in education, work force, and Social Security.

Yet, despite such strong, influential people and organizations pushing for an ERA, such an amendment has still not been ratified to this day.  Other powerful people have strongly opposed the ERA and put forward convincing, to some, arguments for why the ERA would be detrimental to women.  One such person was Phyllis Schlafly.

Phyllis Schlafly led the Stop-ERA campaign and suggested that ratification of the ERA would mean changes such as courts no longer tending to favor mothers for child custody in divorce cases and the introduction of women being drafted to war.  Phyllis Schlafly used scare tactics to persuade people to support her in her fight to have the ERA not written into the U.S. Constitution.  She also appealed to women, and to men, especially males who favored a patriarchal society, by apparently glorifying the picture of a traditional American woman.  Schlafly painted the picture of a doting and dedicated wife and mother, with an apron and superb apple pie baking skills.  I ask again, “Can a feminist bake apple pies?”  Well, more importantly, “Does she Want to bake apple pies?”

An Equal Rights Amendment is a necessity.  Without such an amendment to the United States Constitution, women are legally not protected when it comes to equal opportunities and justice.  For example, violence against women is prevalent, but state laws (differing from state to state) and federal laws remain highly inadequate for dealing with such serious issues.  The current laws related to women’s rights in the United States are not nearly enough to promote gender equality or to safeguard women against gender-based violence.  Ratification of a comprehensive and sensible ERA is needed, urgently.  And merely, but at the same time crucially, it’d be a step towards a greater embrace of basic human rights for women.

-Written by Tracy-Lee Neville, VOW member.

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Surviving Abuse In My Twenties

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I am 30 now and am already physically tired. I’ve been stomped on, strangled, broken, and bruised; it’s been very real – my body has had its share of turmoil. In addition, my mind has imagined sweet fairy tales of blackbirds flying out of a baked pie, and wolves blowing my house down over and over again. My spirit throughout has been in a state of confusion, being raised Catholic, turned Christian by grace, then to trying to find my voice and beliefs in a stable place. My name is Desiree’ and my desires in my 20’s has circled around being noticed. Problematically, when a particular guy liked me, and my cell phone rang with his caller ID, I was excited :-). Positive or negative, I knew he paid some attention to me. My possibilities were and still are endless: “1st comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in a baby carriage”… the lies of the modern day fairy tale. It is reported that women ages 18 to 34 are at the greatest risk of becoming victims of Domestic Violence (DV). Moreover, it is noted that “DV cost more than $37 Billion a year in law enforcement involvement, legal work, medical, mental health treatment, and lost productivity at companies.”

 

Just like I craved a stable man to notice me, I deeply yearned for my family’s security, passion in the workplace, career accomplishments and education. In my domestic violence relationship, all these things came to a screeching halt. I am very grateful that my life did not end.

 

In the city that never sleeps, or in the suburb that twinkles stars at night, I believe there is a sounding message of real love, pure and understanding; after the purple rain. That message has led me to rebuild my inner faith and survive my 20’s with most of those years in an abusive relationship. Looking back on the forbidden places I’ve conquered, this is not a taboo.

 

My 20’s have been the time of my life. Now as a member of Voices of Women Organizing Project, I’ve reclaimed my power to speak in and through a dominant sisterhood and pave a positive path for that weird and exhilarating space beyond survivorship. The question today is…will you have to be a survivor or witness abuse to really understand? Create a better decade. Support Now. Join Us.

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No, No… You don’t get to say those words….

Recently we heard jaw-dropping words from Governor Sarah Palin about her son abusing his girlfriend because of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It  has taken domestic violence advocates years to achieve a modicum of abuser accountability. We still have more to do and Governor Palin’s words attempted to move us back a couple of decades. To a time where abusers can abscond their accountability by blaming victims or provide reasons to justify why they inflicted pain on another person.

As an organization made-up of survivors domestic violence and child witnesses to domestic violence, we cannot allow anyone to take us back to a time where blame is placed on everyone but the abuser. We have worked too hard for abuser accountability and will not let it go.  The lack thereof is why victims domestic violence die.

We support our veterans and believe that they deserve the utmost care and respect for their service. We remain the voice of survivors and speak-out to those who denigrate victims with comments that allow abusers to continue to abuse.

We call on Governor Palin to rethink her comments and recognize the millions of survivors she re-victimized through her comments.

 

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Why Survivors Share There Stories

Survivors share their stories to raised awareness about domestic violence, to provide hope for current victims and also to influence systems change. We are among the first in the world to train survivors on creating systemic change to the systems that affected.  The Voices of Women Organizing Project’s presenters are knowledgeable, trained educators who assist organizations with understanding both domestic violence and organizing survivors. To learn more or to arrange for a speaker call 212.696.1481.

-VOW’s Steering Committee

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