Our Widget:: Why Don't They Just Leave?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Addicted to Power and Control: Inmates who Incriminate Themselves

The Times ran a fascinating story last week (here) about New York City alleged domestic violence inmates who incriminate themselves in recorded jail house conversations.

Jail policy was changed to allow recording in 2007, and the installation of a digital recording system was completed last year. With the recording system in place, alleged batterers being held in city jails have been caught pressuring and cajoling their partners to change testimony or not appear in court. In many cases, the fact that the partners were even visiting represented a violation of a protection order. Prosecutors say that the recordings have been particularly useful in cases of "no drop" prosecution -- cases where the victim has declined to testify against the abuser -- which happens 75 percent of the time, according to the NYT.

Well known domestic violence prosecutor and family justice center innovator Casey Gwinn believes that the new system represents a huge breakthrough. He told the Times: "'When you’re talking about domestic violence cases,' Mr. Gwinn said, 'this policy of monitoring every jail call is probably the single most important investigative procedure put in place in the last decade anywhere in the country.'"

Monday, January 17, 2011

Celebrity a platform to overcome Domestic Violence (And didn't she look fabulous at the Golden Globes?)

A guest blog by Sarah K Grundy

Can being in public eye serve as a refuge, an escape, a relief? Actors, models and other notable and negligible talents make a non stop business out of confessing tragic pasts, insecure childhoods, dysfunctional home lives, abusive relationships, absentee fathers, rape, violence, or molestation.

And all too often, it's someone on the C list trying to claw onto the B list via talk show appearances or reality show turns. But sometimes it's real, and sometimes someone who happens to be famous makes a big difference.

Halle Berry makes an art form out of turning pain into prestige. This is true in her art and in her life—most recently, the woman who was the first African- American to win an Oscar opened up and went public about her childhood with domestic violence. On NBC Nightly News Berry says, “My Mother was a battered woman and that was my childhood for a good chunk of it.” Berry, raised by a single mother, also won an Emmy, Academy Award and Golden Globe. Her fame is not a mistake. In high school she was a cheerleader and prom queen and later first-runner up for Miss USA. After modeling for three years in Chicago her acting career took flight.

Berry sets the stage for women who’ve otherwise been stripped of certain dignities, by means of abuse. She fought back, proving it is an attainable victory, well worth the constant struggle. Berry’s perseverance gained her the public’s devotion, lending to her confidence, self- image, and the love she craved from home. "I think I've spent my adult life dealing with the sense of low self-esteem that sort of implanted in me. Somehow I felt not worthy," she told CNN. "Before I'm 'Halle Berry,' I'm little Halle....a little girl growing in this environment that damaged me...I've spent my adult life trying to really heal from that."

Halle Berry uses her well-deserved prowess to brave the battle of social change. Her commitment to the issue of domestic violence goes beyond tabloid-style self-revelation. Berry volunteers her time at the Jenesse Center in Los Angeles, a shelter for victims of domestic violence with six locations that provide resources and support for victims of domestic violence. Women seeking refuge from abusers are given food, shelter and safe housing for themselves and their children. The women begin a devoted program that focuses on breaking the pattern of abuse by providing training, mental health counseling and legal services.

Sarah is a writer and founder of SKG Ink

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Barnard - Columbia University Screening Tonight

Bad Romance: A Critical Look into Intimate Partner Violence and its Manifestations in Society

Tuesday November 9th 2010 7:30 p.m.

Diana Center, Diana Event Oval
Barnard College, Columbia University
On west side of Broadway, around 119th St.

Join us for a screening of the documentary “Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America” and a panel discussion to follow with filmmaker, Peter Cohn; Lisa Haileselassie, Domestic Violence Coordinator at the Crime Victims Treatment Center at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital; Deputy Chief Kathy Ryan of the NYPD'S Domestic Violence Unit [who was interviewed in the film, with an excerpt on the web site, and who appears in our law enforcement training video]; and a Domestic Violence Survivor who will speak about her personal experiences.

The event is being sponsored by the Columbia Barnard Rape Crisis/Anti-Violence Support Center as part of its annual Clery Lecture Series.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Major Success in Maryland

The screenings at Prince George's Hospital Center were amazing, fulfilling our grandest visions for how the "Power and Control" films can be used effectively. The hospital is in Cheverly, MD, outside of Washington, DC, in a county with a rather high rate of crime and domestic violence. The films on health care and law enforcement were shown, along with the main documentary. A nice crowd showed up, asking sharp questions and generating a great dialog among representatives of the different institutions involved in domestic violence policy. In short, it was a microcosm of the coordinated community response that is the underpinning of the the "Duluth Model" and really of the best examples of domestic violence policy making around the world.

Personally, it was a bit embarrassing to have three of my films shown in one place in one day. It got to the point where I asked the audience to meet me in the parking lot after the conference so I could show my other 15 films on a laptop! I don't claim to be an expert on domestic violence, but I did my best to participate in the conversation.

Thanks to all who made this possible.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Cathryn Curley

I'm very sad to report the death of Cathryn Curley, a battered women's movement leader in Duluth. Cathryn was an early supporter of "Power and Control" and has been on our board of advisors. Cathryn's responsiveness, openness and generosity was a key element in moving the project forward. Cathryn was one of the founders of Safe Haven Shelter 30 years ago and remained involved with the shelter, most recently leading the opening of a new family justice center in Duluth.

Cathryn was extremely interested in finding new ways to help victims of domestic violence, and was enthusiastic about exploring an approach called surrogate dialog. She had worked to initiate surrogate dialog's in Duluth, and invited us to film one of the sessions. The sessions involve a victim of domestic violence engaging in a dialog with a batterer (not her own).

I'm so sorry to hear about Cathryn's sudden illness and passing and extend my condolences to her daughters, Abby and Liza.

The local paper ran an obituary article yesterday.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Guest Blog: Teaching with "Power and Control"

Earlier this week Peter visited my class on domestic violence at Monroe College. The students had already seen Power and Control; and since we are currently studying DV policing we watched the P&C law enforcement training film.

Participation in the Q&A which followed the screening was excellent.

I have observed that the complex aspects of the issue and the complex appropriate interventions are made clear and memorable in P&C. Because the film(s) express practical, coordinated responses and the underlying social and political issues very clearly students respond on these different levels clearly. I am convinced that this multiple focus is imperative to really meaningfully approach DV education and film supports this approach.
Anne Paulle

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A wonderful meeting in Manhattan

Once again, I'm impressed, moved and inspired by the people who spend every day of their lives working to stop domestic violence.

As a relative newcomer to his field (only two years in), I can remember my first fears that everyone involved would be a doctrinaire feminist. I still feel slightly out of place at meetings of domestic violence groups when I look around the room and see that I'm one of the few men around, but I've basically gotten used to that.

Yesterday's presentation to the Manhattan Borough President's Domestic Violence Task Force was another one of those inspiring, affirming moments.

After everyone watched about 20 minutes of our domestic violence film "Power and Control," the conversation turned to the big question of "where do we go from here?"
The excerpts I chose to show yesterday focused on the Duluth Model, and on Ellen Pence and Michael Paymar, co-creators of the Model. Just as I've found that Ellen and Michael are not close minded ideologues holding onto their nostalgia for early 1980s ideas, many of the advocates discussing the film yesterday showed a strong interest in moving forward in search of new paradigms.

For example, one advocate from a major New York advocacy group spoke of how her organization is seeking a fundamentally new approach, a "client-centered" model. That model does not exclusively focus on pressing victims to leave their abusers, but keeps in mind that some clients may want to "stay," and that advocates should respect that choice when it's made for good reasons.

Another advocate at Centre Street, an official from a major NYC social services agency, talked about how her organization is moving more toward having everyone at the table, including the abuser.

And another advocate eloquently and passionately spoke about batterer intervention programs, and how the Duluth Approach, which has defined these programs for several decades, can be respected, and retain its influence, while at the same time practitioners can explore new models for changing batterer behavior.

Now we're not talking about a Mens' Rights meeting here, folks. But we are talking about an impressive group of activists, determined to keep this cause moving forward.