DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The Dangers of People Search Sites

Recently, I decided to search for my name and address on the internet. It was purely out of curiosity to see what I would find. What I saw terrified me. I saw my name (maiden and formerly married name), current address, previous addresses, past phone numbers, and connections to people related to me. My life was like an online map for all to see without my permission. My information was posted on sites known as “people search sites.” These sites also offer more information about me for a fee.

People search sites gather your information through online websites, social media, public, and sometimes private records. They have an automatic opt-in policy. They don’t ask if they can consolidate your data and post it. They just do it.

Many users of people search sites use them to reconnect with old friends and other reasons that do not cause harm. However, the data can be weaponized. For many domestic violence survivors, seeing their personal information online is like setting their safety plan(s) on fire. If perpetrators of abuse want to continue to victimize survivors, they can use people search sites as their agents in helping them to terrorize survivors.

 Survivors of domestic violence should not have to worry that their personal information is online, without their permission, for the world to see. People search sites claim that their main goal is to connect people who have lost touch with one another. That may have been the case in the beginning. Now they are data mining, and people looking to invade your privacy can do so with a click of their mouse.  

 The privacy issues surrounding people search sites are enormous, and the rules governing what they can or cannot disclose are confusing or don’t exist. It is our goal to provide you with some practical ways to guard your identity against these sites:

 Some Tips:

  • People search sites do have an opt-out policy. It’s not easily seen on their websites. Below are websites that can help you opt-out of some of these sites. Please note, it is not a complete list of people search sites.

https://lifehacker.com/how-to-opt-out-of-the-most-popular-people-search-sites-1791536533

https://www.techlicious.com/tip/remove-yourself-spokeo-intelius-peoplesmart-mylife/

  •  Be conscious of what you post on social media including pictures with identifiable backgrounds.
  •  There are online reputation service companies that can assist you in removing your data online for a fee. 
  •  Check for your personal information on the web from time to time and when it is safe to do so. 

 Learn More. Articles about people search sites are below:

USA Today- 

https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/columnist/2018/05/04/delete-yourself-internet-people-finder-sites-worth/553371002/

 The Verge-

https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/21/14945884/people-search-sites-history-privacy-regulation

 National Network To End Domestic Violence- 

https://www.techsafety.org/peoplesearchesanddatabrokers  (The article gives a process to opt-out of Intelius and Zabasearch, which requires you to mail/fax your request to them. They now have an online opt-out process on their website. It is one opt-out process for both. Intelius owns Zabasearch: http://intelius.com/optout.

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Safe from COVID-19. But even more Unsafe than usual at home!

COVID-19 has forced our lives to be different to usual.  And it’s difficult and challenging for “everyone”.  But for victims of Domestic Violence who now find themselves at home with their abusive partners for longer periods of time, due to the Social Isolation strategy being adopted, it is highly likely that the amount of abuse perpetrated will increase.  Not in every case.  But even in one case, of course, it is one case too many!

One of the principal tactics that an abuser makes use of, is Isolation.  Isolating his partner from anyone who could potentially be of any type of support to his partner in relation to managing or coping with or even escaping from the abuse that he inflicts upon her.  A call from heads of the City or State of New York City, such as Mayor de Blasio or Governor Cuomo, to practice Social Isolation, is a godsent gift for the abuser.  Or should we say, … a devilsent gift?!

Now the abuser’s work in this “department”, in the “Isolation Tactic department”, is done for him!  She is at home for the vast majority of the time.  And even when she is talking with or face-timing family members or friends, he is right there, to monitor her every word.  He can basically now say to her and do to her whatever he chooses with far less risk of her being able to get help.  It’s a dream come true for him.

It’s a nightmare for her!  A real-life nightmare with potentially dire, real-life consequences.  What if he physically attacks her?  Will her neighbor in the apartment to their right, who would previously have intervened by knocking on their door, still knock on their door?  If her husband answered the door, there would be far less than six feet between him and the neighbor!  Perhaps the neighbor will call the police.  But what if they arrive too late?  Or what if they do arrive in time, but because of Social Distancing, they don’t stay long?!  Or what if, even if the neighbor intervenes and the police turn up?  Imagine how furious her husband will be following that!!

VOW has created a Safety Planning document for those Living With An Abusive Partner.  You can find it on VOW’s website by clicking here, on Facebook and twitter @VoicesofWomen.

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Living With An Abusive Partner – Safety Planning

While living with an abusive partner, safety planning for survivors, their children, and their pets of the utmost importance. Please use all or some of this safety plan to meet your needs. Created by survivors of domestic violence.

  • Determine your partner’s use of physical force so you can assess the risk to you and your family.
  • Pick safe areas to go to  in your home, free of your children. There should be no weapons and it is an area that you can go to, if you feel an argument is about to happen.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Make sure that they understand to not get involved in an argument.
  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children. Create a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave.  Plan and instruct them on a place for them to go.
  • Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation, and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
  • Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place, or with a trusted family member.
  • If possible, have a phone available at all times. If your life is in danger, call 911.

Trust your instincts. Abusers, stalkers, and perpetrators are often very determined to maintain control over their victims, and Technology is one of many tools used to do this. Information can come from a variety of sources, like monitoring your devices, accessing your online accounts, tracking your location, or gathering information about you online. Use safe devices and protect your usernames and passwords.

Be Safe & Healthy.

#VowNow

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The Overlooked Heroes

On November 13th of last year, a woman in Oregon, Ohio, called 911 to order a pizza.  She was not, in fact, in the mood for pizza. “This is 911; you have the wrong number.”  Fortunately, the 911 operator did not then automatically hang up. Emergency operators have a talent for picking up on and understanding tone of voice.  Nothing much surprises them. And they are skilled at thinking “outside the box”, as well as thinking logically and practically.

The woman continued with her plan.  “Pepperoni. One large.” The 911 operator proceeded to ask crucial questions.  The conversation would have gone something like this: “Are you in danger?” “Yes.”  “Is someone dangerous in the house with you?” “Yes.” “Is anyone else with you in the house besides the person of danger?” …  “Police are on their way to you. Stay on the line with me if it is safe for you to do so.”

In this November 13th 2019 case in Oregon, because of the awareness and carefulness of the 911 operator who took the pizza ordering call, a potentially very much worse situation was averted.  He, Tim Teneyck, is a hero. But “According to the National Emergency Number Association, … there are no national minimum training guidelines for 911 operators”.  Therefore, “responsibility for adequate training falls to states and local jurisdictions”.  Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/23/us/ohio-911-pizza-domestic-abuse.html  Retrieved 01/04/20.

The caller’s mother was being physically assaulted.  The 911 dispatcher ordered the police cars responding to the incident, to switch off their sirens as they became close to the destination.  The result of Mr. Teneyck’s judgement: A Mr. Lopez was arrested and charged with Domestic Violence.

For victims of Domestic Violence, speaking in a code language in an attempt to safely alert police to the imminent danger that they’re in, without raising suspicion on the part of the perpetrator, or would-be perpetrator, is potentially life-saving.  However, “Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week”, although in favor of clever, coded safety techniques “warned that strategies such as ordering a pizza, which was … depicted in a 2015 Super Bowl commercial about domestic violence, may eventually become too familiar for survivors to use, and could tip off abusers.”  Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/23/us/ohio-911-pizza-domestic-abuse.html  Retrieved 01/04/20.

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Was it Overkill?

“The Washington Post found that nearly half of the women who were murdered during the past decade were … killed by a current or former intimate partner. In a close analysis of five cities, about a third of the male killers were known to be a potential threat ahead of the attack.”  Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/investigations/domestic-violence-murders/  Retrieved 12/19/19.

It is understandable that women in physically abusive relationships are petrified of being murdered by their partners.  It can so easily happen, and it does! Some women fight back when being physically assaulted. Or at least attempt to. Sometimes a physical fight in which a woman fears for her life, will end with her killing her physically abusive partner.  “In U.S. law, killing in self-defense is not a crime; however for most women, neither the laws of self-defense nor evidence of battering work for women in actual trials. 75-80% of women who killed in self-defense are convicted or convinced to plead guilty, and are sentenced to long terms.”  Source: https://solidarity-us.org/atc/130/p729/  Retrieved 12/19/19.

When it comes to cases where a woman killed her current or former intimate partner in self-defense, for self-defense to be accepted by law, there are, what seem to be, massive hurdles that the defendant must surpass in order to escape being convicted of murder.  For example: There must be enough significant proof that there had been a history of physically violent behavior towards the defendant, committed by the deceased partner. “The majority of U.S. jurisdictions require that defendants use force only when there is a threat of “imminent” harm.”  Source: https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935352.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935352-e-5  Retrieved 12/19/19.  But would a victim of domestic violence take the risk of not taking preemptive action?  When her life was at stake! Also, part of this assessment can include the exploration of whether there was a way to retreat safely from the situation, instead of attacking/defending, that was not taken.  I would argue, perhaps controversially, that if a woman found herself about to be murdered by her partner or former partner, if she were to retreat, that threat of being murdered by him would follow her. She would remain in the category of “High Risk” for being murdered by him on another occasion.  

Additionally, “Virtually all formulations of self-defense require that the force used against an attacker be “necessary” for protection, or that the defendant reasonably believe it is.”  Source: https://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935352.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199935352-e-5  Retrieved: 12/19/19.  Is it fair to convict a woman who killed her intimate partner or former intimate partner, of murder on the grounds of excessive force?  For example: Sixteen stabs to his body, resulting in his death, in comparison to one fatal stab. The point I’m making: She had not trained in the “art” of stabbing techniques, to include knowledge of how many stabs are needed in order to render an attacker unable to strike back.  And in the moments of utter panic and fear for her life, she would likely not be thinking about the amount of stabs, but purely that she was protecting herself from being murdered.

Furthermore, “When victims of battering use self-defense, there are often stereotypes and misconceptions at play … a jury might disbelieve a defendant’s claim that she was in fear of her abuser because she chose to be in a relationship with him”  Source: https://www.inquirer.com/philly/news/crime/domestic-abuse-self-defense-philly-freebresha-letoya-ramseure-larry-krasner-20180829.html  Retrieved 12/19/19.  And such a lack of accurate understanding about Domestic Violence and the dynamics involved, on the part of both jurors and judges, can result in a woman having successfully fought for her life, only to lose her freedom to a term behind bars.

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Australia. A country that takes Domestic Violence seriously!

“In the past, Australia has denied travel visas to R&B singer Chris Brown and boxing star Floyd Mayweather due to domestic violence convictions.” Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/australia-bans-travelers-with-domestic-violence-charges  Retrieved 8/1019

“On Thursday 28 February 2019 Australian Immigration Minister David Coleman issued a new directive barring anyone with a domestic violence conviction from entering Australia.” Source: http://www.ozkiwi2001.org/2019/03/no-visas-for-domestic-violence-offenders/  Retrieved 8/10/19

“The new Directive applies to decision-makers within the Department of Home Affairs who are considering the cancellation or refusal of a visa under s501 of the Migration Act 1958, or who are considering the revocation of a mandatory cancellation of a visa under s501CA.” Source: http://www.ozkiwi2001.org/2019/03/no-visas-for-domestic-violence-offenders/  Retrieved 8/10/19.  Previously, this Migration Act had stated that “a person’s visa must be cancelled if they have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison.” Source: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/govt-introduces-measures-against-domestic-violence-perpetrators-20190303.aspx  Retrieved 8/10/19.  The new directive is not so forgiving in relation to dealing with convicted perpetrators of Domestic Violence; the type of sentence decided by a foreign court is irrelevant when it comes to Australia’s Department of Home Affairs following the directive.

Basically, David Coleman has decided that “Australia has no tolerance for perpetrators of violence against women and children”.  Source: https://minister.homeaffairs.gov.au/davidcoleman/Pages/govt-introduces-measures-against-domestic-violence-perpetrators-20190303.aspx  Retrieved 8/10/19.  Mr. Coleman said in a public statement, “If you’ve been convicted of a violent crime against women or children, you are not welcome in this country.”  Source: https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/australia-bans-travelers-with-domestic-violence-charges  Retrieved 8/1019.  I did note that the emphasis was very much on violence against women and children, and I am grateful to hear this, although we must not ignore the fact that there are males who are victims of Domestic Violence too.

To clarify, any person now wanting to visit Australia on a visa and who has been charged with Domestic Violence, will not be permitted to enter the country, and any person already in the country as a visitor or living there with visa status and who has a record, from anywhere abroad, of Domestic Violence, will be banished from the country.

Some people are arguing that this new directive is too harsh and even unfair.  For example, in the case of a perpetrator of Domestic Violence who served their sentence in the country where they committed the crime and then emigrated to Australia and has been living there for years on a visa, it could be argued that it is unfair to uproot this person from the country that they have chosen as their current home; they have been convicted, punished to some degree according to the laws in their home country and the case has been closed.  Others, however, welcome such a strict directive, aware of the likelihood of recidivism for perpetrators of Domestic Violence.

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Isolating Himself and Withholding Affection, as Ways to Abuse.

Have you ever experienced the sort of emotional abuse that involves him locking you OUT OF a room, or withholding affection from you?  I have.

It is, I think, more often that we hear survivors of Domestic Violence recount stories of how their abusive partners isolated or attempted to isolate them from their friends and family, or how they were forced to have sex with their abusive partners, despite protesting.  And these are certainly very common occurrences within an abusive relationship.  My abusive ex-boyfriend engaged in the isolation tactic that I have just described, but he also had a couple of other habits, other abusive tactics, that I don’t hear much talk of.

My abusive ex-boyfriend would lock himself inside one of the rooms in the house, so that I was unable to enter and so that, (I came to know), he’d be free to sit at his computer or with his phone and communicate with other women.  He once said to me, when I confronted him about his infidelity, “But it’s you who I come home to at the end of each day!”  An example of verbal abuse.  Keeping me from entering the room where he was sitting, an example of non-verbal emotional and psychological abuse.  I believe that it’s acceptable for partners to keep some secrets from each other.  But this was a case of deceit on his part; of him knowing that the only way to try to hide it from me, was to keep me physically away from the proof; and furthermore, of him knowing that locking me out of the room would likely cause me anxiety and depression.

There were other times when he would be sitting at his computer with the door to the room open, and I would approach him to ask, for example, how his applications for Medical Residency were going.  We worked on them together sometimes.  Quickly, but not quite quickly enough for me to not have seen, the computer screen with a Live Chat in progress would be minimized, and a different screen would have replaced it.  The replacement being, for example, something related to applying for a spot on a Residency Program at a hospital somewhere in the country.  He was desperate to not let me get too close to his Computer of Secrets!  Woe betide me if I were to question him on the minimized screen that I had caught a glimpse of!

Another of his abusive behaviors was to withhold physical affection and sexual intimacy from me.  “Don’t most relationships in trouble look like that?”, you may ask.  Remember that this is just part of a bigger picture.  And this was a way of behaving with the intention to hurt me.  “According to the Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine, the definition of abuse is the following: “Abuse is defined as any action that intentionally harms or injures another person.””  Source: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/abuse-information/what-is-abuse-abuse-definition.  Retrieved 7/7/19

I recall the emotionally painful nights that I experienced, when he didn’t go out, but would climb into bed next to me at 4am, knowing that I’d probably wake up and knowing that I had to get up early for work the next day, (he didn’t have to rise early).  He’d then make sure that he remained far enough away from my body to not be touching me at all.  He knew that this would hurt me.  It absolutely did!  And he knew that I would have been suffering emotionally up until then, lying there thinking about him in another room, indulging in his secret world.  He knew I longed for the consistency of a warm-bodied, warm-hearted boyfriend; I had practically begun to beg him to go to bed at the same time as me.  Deliberate neglect.

 

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New DOJ Definition of “Domestic Violence”

The Department of Justice, (DOJ), has changed the definition of “Domestic Violence”!  I only recently discovered this and was curious.  When I read the new definition, I became concerned.

The Department of Justice’s previous definition of “Domestic Violence” was:

“A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.”  Source:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/doj-change-domestic-violence-definition/

Retrieved 06/22/19

The current version on the DOJ website, as of April 2018, reads:

“The term “domestic violence” includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.”  Source:

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/doj-change-domestic-violence-definition/

Retrieved 06/22/19

My observations:

  1. What is glaringly obvious is how drastically different the two definitions are from one another! I.e. Not just a few minor changes.
  2. We see that whereas the previous definition recognized that Domestic Violence is not merely physical violence, (it listed all forms of abuse), the new definition includes only “felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence”, which means that it is discounting many forms of abuse that perpetrators use on his/her/their victim.
  3. The previous definition explained the goal behind the Domestic Violence, i.e. to gain power and control, and it even offered further explanation for how the abusive behaviors seek to gain power and control. g. Aiming to intimidate or manipulate a victim.  The new definition acknowledged none of the above.

Why am I concerned about the new definition?  I feel that the new definition is sending a message that only Domestic Violence punishable by law is considered as “Domestic Violence”, and by offering such a narrow description, it is potentially misleading, as well as appearing to invalidate all other types of Domestic Violence.  Also, I am wondering why the Trump administration felt compelled to change the definition.  What could be the thinking and the goal behind such an extreme change of wording?

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Perpetrators and Sentencing

“To what length of time in prison, on average, are convicted perpetrators of Domestic Violence sentenced?”  I had avoided asking myself that question, because I didn’t want to feel further resentment towards the justice system here in New York City, given the outcome of the criminal case brought against my abusive ex-boyfriend.

But then I heard something, from a reputable source, that, on the one hand meant that I could feel better about how the case against my batterer turned out.  For example: The result was not an unusual one. But on the other hand, what I heard left me aghast! Only a very small percentage of perpetrators of Domestic Violence spend any amount of time at all in prison, or even jail!

“Citywide, 4% of cases initially arraigned on domestic violence felony charges were sentenced to prison (at least one year) and 16% were sentenced to jail. … When isolating cases that ended in a guilty plea/conviction, … the citywide median” [for jail] “was 90 days, which ranged from a high of nine months in Staten Island to a low of two months in Bronx and Brooklyn.”  “Note: Cases include … felony cases that were disposed in 2014 (regardless of filing date), as provided by DCJS. Omits disposed cases pending sentencing from pled guilty/convicted sentencing figures.” (Source, retrieved 05/31/19: https://www.courtinnovation.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/2018-03/domestic_violence_nyc_case_processing.pdf)

My physically abusive ex-boyfriend spent zero time in jail, and in my case, the Police Officer who arrested my ex saw the blood around my mouth, (from when I hit the floor after being pushed backwards off our bed), and a Medical Examiner had photographs taken of my neck that clearly showed that I had been strangled.  (Both of those professionals did their jobs well, in my opinion.) So, how severe does an act of physical violence against an intimate partner have to be, in order for the abuser to be sent to jail, let alone prison? Apparently, extremely severe! Murder?!

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PROTECTIVE ORDERS FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN THE U.K.

In the United Kingdom, (UK), “if the police have reasonable grounds to believe that one person
has been violent or threatened violence against another and that a Domestic Violence
Protection Notice, (DVPN), is necessary to protect the other person from violence or the threat
of violence, they can choose to issue a DVPN.” (Source:
https://www.communitycare.co.uk/2018/11/15/domestic-violence-protection-notices-orders-
social-workers-need-know/) A Domestic Violence Protection Order, (DVPO), is then applied for,
by the police, to a magistrates’ court, where the abuser will appear within the next few days,
having been summoned. A DVPO lasts up to 28 days.
At the end of a criminal case, a court can issue a Restraining Order, whether the defendant is
convicted or not, which “can last for a specified period of time or for an indefinite period, until
further order from the judge.” (Source: https://www.rocketlawyer.co.uk/article/restraining-
orders.rl)
If a Restraining Order is not issued by the court, a victim of domestic violence can apply for a
Protective Injunction, including if there has been no criminal trial at all. “It typically takes a
week or two to get an injunction, but you can apply for an injunction to be granted on the same
day if you are at immediate risk of significant harm. If the court grants an injunction without
notice, you will have to go back to court later for a hearing once the abuser has been given
notice. He or she will then have the opportunity to present their side of the story if they wish.”
(Source: https://www.lawdonut.co.uk/personal/divorce-and-family-law/grounds-for-
divorce/restraining-orders-and-injunctions-faqs) Injunctions are usually set for a period of six
months to a year, but they can be renewed and can also be indefinite.
A relatively new type of regulation for criminal cases, introduced in 2011, is the European
Protection Order, (EPO). The EPO “recognises the need to … deliver a more … coordinated
approach to victim support across the EU”, (European Union). (Source:
https://supportingjustice.org.uk/the-link-between-european-protection-orders-and-domestic-
violence/) “The relationship between an EPO and domestic violence is distinct; the aims of the
measure focus on preventing any form of harassment across borders.” EPOs in the UK have
been extremely rarely used so far, partly due to a lack of awareness of its existence. In 2015,
there was an extension to the law, to include protection in civil matters.
‘Brexit’ is the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. If Brexit prevails, the UK will miss
out on the continuation of a potentially life-preserving option for victims of domestic violence,
since by no longer being a member of the EU, the UK would no longer be eligible to apply for
EPOs.

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Kavanaugh attended a Catholic School.

Kavanaugh attended a Catholic school! So? What does that prove? Or even suggest? What came to my mind when I heard Kavanaugh state this, was that there are Catholic Priests who have sexually abused children.

Kavanaugh suggested that we listen to what people he has grown up with, dated, etc., have to say about him. That reminded me of the fact that in the case of men who are perpetrators of Domestic Abuse, often the horrors that happen behind closed doors are not known beyond the confines of the home. Furthermore, often the horrors could not even be imagined by people on the outside, including work colleagues and even friends. Abusers hide the evil side of themselves from the outside world. Of course!

My point: Kavanaugh may well have been a highly respected person by many people, for many years, but that does not prove that he never sexually assaulted any woman. The ex-boyfriend of mine who emotionally and physically abused me, was a medical student and became a Doctor of Medicine over the period of time that he was abusing me. At his workplace and out and about in public, he was charming, funny, very likeable. That was the Dr. Jekyll side of him, that I fell in love with.

Kavanaugh proudly spoke about his esteemed parents. So? He is not either of them; so, this is irrelevant. My aforementioned ex-boyfriend comes from an affluent, respected family. His parents are both Medical Doctors. They have a son who is a perpetrator of Domestic Violence!

Kavanaugh “traveled on Air Force One”. Again, so what? Proves nothing.

Kavanaugh suggested that this type of allegation that he is facing could dissuade people from serving the country. Umm. No. Not if they have nothing they wish to hide!

I noticed that in his opening statement, before being questioned, Kavanaugh stuttered when he said the word “deny”. Just an observation!

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The use of Restorative Approaches for cases of IPV?!

On March 16th, 2018, a conference was held by the NYC Domestic Violence Task Force, to explore the use of Restorative Approaches to Intimate Partner Violence.

My question: Are restorative approaches a viable, sensible, safe option for supporting victims of Intimate Partner Violence, (IPV)?  I entered the conference believing that they are not!  I was open to being shown otherwise.  The keynote speeches were excellent, and what I heard from the panel members about their work was wonderful.  I could hear and understand that restorative approaches are successful with certain populations, in certain situations.  For example, with young people in schools, when there are conflicts.  I can also imagine success in the case where a crime such as a burglary has been committed.

BUT, what was barely mentioned was how anybody envisages, with any amount of clarity, restorative approaches being used in the case of IPV.  I had been expecting, and wanting, to hear about some potential restorative approach models, specific to IPV, that had been thought up, proposed, by somebody.  We could have then discussed those.

One restorative practice that was talked about a lot was the “circle”.  Circles allow, possibly, for those in it to speak and listen to one another, in a safe place.  Or is it a safe place?!  I, as a survivor of IPV, know from my experiences and from hearing about the experiences of other survivors, that abusers are cunning, manipulative actors.  Furthermore, they do not care that they inflict harm upon their partners.  Do perpetrators of IPV want to change?  In my opinion, they basically have no desire to stop abusing their partners.  Are they even able to change, for the better?  I highly doubt this.

“Circles”; Victim-Offender Mediation; Family Group Conferencing.  Call a restorative approach practice what you will.  When I heard people talking about Restorative Justice at the conference, I thought: “Sounds like Couples Counseling, or Family Therapy, to me!”

My conclusion: Use funds more wisely.  Forget about restorative approaches; concentrate on improving the current systems.

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