New Tools to Tackle Domestic Violence

It’s already the end of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

By now, we’re aware of the sobering statistics.
  • The inter-generational impact of domestic violence, that children raised with violence often perpetuate violence against their own partners when they grow up.
  •  And we know about the economical impact to us all due to the medical expenses, lost work wages, and cost of prosecuting the cases to name a few.
But there are positive developments in the field you may not know about.
I listened to an interview on National Public Radio spotlighting two authors.
In the book Parenting by Men Who Batter, co- author Oliver Williams interviews scores of batterers and learns that their underlying justification for violence is the batterer’s belief that women, like young children, are not intellectual equals to them and therefore need to be disciplined so they don’t cross certain boundaries. This reinforces what experts have long known: domestic violence perpetrators do not need anger management. They need a batterer’s intervention program to make changes.
Prosecutor Michelle Kaminsky writes Reflections of a Domestic Violence Prosecutor after decades of prosecuting domestic violence cases. She has concluded that each case merits a separate outcome rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. She believes courts should measure lethality, whether or not there are weapons in the home, and the offender’s past criminal history before metering consequences since many victims call law enforcement wanting the violence, not the relationship, to end.
But perhaps it is the field of child welfare know that children whose parents are impacted by domestic violence are vulnerable to abuse by either parent. Old social work practices focused on strong-arming the victim into committing to leave the abuser.
Today, social workers are getting trained in a different approach that ensures child safety and promotes victim safety while offering relevant services to both the victim and the perpetrators. And what they’re seeing is that offenders who abuse their partners can be motivated to stop when they understand how their actions harm their children.
With all we now know, I hope we can move from a place of Why does she stay to How do we best respond- As neighbors, as coworkers, as friends, as sisters and brothers.
The bad news? Domestic violence is a learned behavior.
The good news? Learned behaviors can be modified. Unlearned. Re-trained.
And if one in three or one in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime in the U.S., that still leaves a majority of women who do not.
In the near future (February)  I plan to look at all things relationships as I finish Facing the Odds, One Man at a Time. As always,  I hope you’ll join me.

Are You Helping or Hurting? Test Your Knowledge on How You Impact Domestic Violence

It’s October again! Time for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Did you know that

·         One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime?

·         85% of domestic violence victims are women?

·         Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next?

Back when I was a domestic violence victim’s advocate, domestic violence was the leading cause of injury to women ages 15-44 according to the US Surgeon General. That’s no longer true. Still, domestic violence continues to be a nationwide and worldwide human rights concern that has great impact on generations to come.
Think you have no impact on domestic violence if you’re not directly involved as a victim or perpetrator? Think again.
Your knowledge about domestic violence dynamics and community resources can make a big difference to others around you.

Let’s test your knowledge and attitudes with the quiz below.

Your friend tells you that her boyfriend of five years slapped her after an argument about her spending yesterday. She wonders aloud if she should leave the relationship. You have watched this boyfriend insult your friend in public in the past, and monitor her phone calls and her whereabouts. You

1) Tell her that you have never liked him, and she should leave the relationship immediately since he’ll probably strike her again.

2) Encourage her to go to couple’s counseling to help her decide their future.

3) Remind her that her spending really is a source of concern.

4) Give affirming messages like, “You deserve to be treated well,” and “I’m concerned about your safety.”

5) Refer her to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

A coworker you are friendly with has finally left her violent marriage after 18 years.  She told you she’s gotten an order of protection, and plans to file for divorce. You

1) Act as her cheerleader, telling her, “I knew you could do it! That’s so great! I’m really proud of you!”

2) Offer to set her up on a date with your single brother when the dust settles.

3) Make disparaging comments about her husband. “What kind of a man hits a woman anyhow?”

4) Remind her it’s a dangerous time after leaving a violent relationship. Tell her you will respect whatever decision she makes, and encourage her to get support from a domestic violence agency.

You have seen the police at your next-door neighbor’s apartment on three separate occasions, but aren’t sure why. One day, you look out your window and see your neighbor hurriedly pack her children, ages 6 months and 2 years of age, into her car and back out of her driveway. She is followed by her husband on foot, who runs after them and breaks out the front windshield with a bat. Police arrive. Later, a social worker asks you to be a collateral witness. You

1) Say nothing to the social worker. You don’t want to get involved. After all, the children are young and won’t be affected.

2) Get into a lengthy conversation as to why some women are drawn to violent men.

3) Answer the questions to the best of your ability, letting the social worker know what you’ve witnessed, and reminding the social worker that you, too, could be put at risk due to the close proximity of your home to the family in question.

If you picked the last answer to each question, you’re correct.

It’s not easy giving support to a victim of domestic violence without getting emotionally drained.  But since we know violence escalates after a victim leaves their perpetrator, it’s important to connect victims with experts who can help them create an  individualized safety plan.  Not couples counselors (always contraindicated until both partners have received domestic violence intervention and the relationship has stabilized),  and not  pastors.

It’s also critical to not become emotionally invested in the victim’s choices, so she doesn’t feel pressure or disapproval should she change her mind. And it’s tempting to over-extend a helping hand, fostering dependency rather than empowerment.

Do you believe it’s impossible to impact domestic violence in your world?

The truth is, you already are. Learn as much as you can by to make sure it’s the impact  that you want.

What will you do to get involved in ending the cycle of violence?

Just Google domestic violence and the name of your community to see what events are going on for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Just Another Modern Day Miracle – Siblings Cinday Murray and Robert Williamson Reunite

What does a miracle look like?

Scroll down to see reunion of Cinday Murray and her brother Robert Williamson, separated since their parents divorce in the 70’s and both actively serving in the Navy.

U.S. Navy photos



“We’ve had all this time we could have been together.” -Commander Cinday Murray

This is what a miracle looks like to me.