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

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stimulus Bill DV Victory

Considering talks of cuts in core domestic violence programs, the stimulus bill yields a legislative victory. The three vital programs funding shelters, advocacy programs and police programs have emerged stronger from the bill. What does that mean for domestic violence in America?

The promised funding comes in at around $400 million for abuse programs. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) gets $300 million specifically for services, training, officers, and prosecutors (STOP) state formula grants; out of which, $50 million will be devoted to the (VAWA) transitional housing program. The Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) will see $100 million. A total of $4.4 million is being devoted to grants for fighting domestic violence. DC advocacy group NNEDV provides a succinct wrap up of the legislative outcome.

The Department of Justice sees $4 billion for grant funding to enhance state, local, and tribal law enforcement efforts, including the hiring of new police officers, to combat violence against women, and to fight internet crimes against children.

With past federal and state budget cuts, many victim services have suffered the consequences. Advocates have lost their jobs, even as the demand for domestic violence support services rise and resources faced peril. The final bill supports building on support for domestic violence victims along with encouraging economic self-sufficiency.
-- Sarah K. Grundy

Oscar Blues

Thavi's film, "The Betrayal," didn't win the Oscar it deserved. Not to disparage anyone else's work, but "Man on Wire" is a well made film about a narcissistic publicity stunt. As opposed to Thavi's work -- a complex, historical, autobiographical, artistic, political film unlike any other. From time to time I let my guard down and expect Hollywood will surprise us in some way. Once again, it didn't happen. Phillipe Petite confirmed my discomfort with "Man on Wire" with his ludicrous performance during the acceptance.
-- Peter Cohn

Friday, February 13, 2009

Family Justice Center in Duluth

Family Justice Centers offer a powerful service to victims of domestic violence. Under a single roof: lawyers, police, advocates and other services. While shooting the film, we spent a good deal of time in Brooklyn Family Justice center and also covered the opening of the Queens Family Justice Center, including a moving speech by Michael Bloomberg.

A Family Justice Center opened last month in Duluth, MN. Congratulations to Cathryn Curley, of the Safe Haven Shelter, whom we spoke to and spent time with in Duluth. Duluth has been ahead of the nation in just about everything else, so it's fitting that there also be a justice center there.

Nadine Meyer, an articulate and open DV survivor, has been helping get out the word about the FJC. She's interviewed in an article about the Center in the Duluth News Trib.

Monday, February 9, 2009

On the Celebrity DV Incident

"So many of the things tied up with experiencing abuse -- fear, rage, shame, boundary and trust violations, entangling love with violence, never learning how to resolve conflicts -- get absorbed, especially for a young child, and can be hard to escape or even understand without help." says Psychologist Dr. Andrea Bonior.

Sad news and a media frenzy, the news you've probably heard: Hip Hop mogul Chris Brown, 19-years-old, violently erupted on Rihanna, 20-years-old outside of a pre-Grammy party. The fight caused both pop stars to be no shows for their awards and scheduled performances at the Grammy’s.

He releases a statement to Source Magazine as cited in the Washington Post, "I don't want to mention the person's name - it wasn't my real father - but somebody hurt my mom and me, I had to deal with that from seven all the way to 13. It affected me, especially (my behavior) towards women -- I treat them differently. I don't want to put a woman through the same thing that person put my mom through. I was scared and timid when I was little. I used to pee in my bed... I think it was me being nervous, and scared to get up (out of bed) and see what was going on. My mom used to try and hide it from me and my sister, but we knew. Anybody that's going through it, just try to deal with it, talk it out."

Chris was arrested for criminal threats, a felony charge, rather than domestic abuse. The victim had visible injuries, which made all the difference in the charges which were brought against him. A criminal threat conviction can award him up to nine years in prison. Domestic abuse holds a less bold four year sentence. Further investigation and the District Attorney lead to higher charges.

As indicated by TMZ, E! and other entertainment websites, contusions were seen on both sides of her face, a black eye with alarming swelling, bruises and bite marks were documented. Her lip was split open and she had a bloody nose. Bite marks on her arms and many of her fingers. News reports belt out notes from the numerous witnesses saying, they saw Rihanna taking numerous tough blows while inside the car with Chris Brown.

How with such disturbances flooding about was he able to rise to such success? Many couldn't believe when Chris Brown surpassed Usher on the charts. Now we see him as a troubled young man. -- Posted by Sarah K. Grundy

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Monserrate Case

The Village Voice runs an amusing update on the sad story of newly elected Sen. Hiram Monserrate, the Queens, NY state senator who is involved in an ongoing scandal resulting from a domestic violence incident.

Although many observers were appalled, Monserrate was sworn into the state legislature last month. According to the blog in the Voice, Monserrate has hired a "reputation management" company to help him revive his image. This past weekened, as the head of NOW in New York was denouncing Monserrate, a group described as "Women for Monserrate" shows up and began a pro-Monserrate demonstration.

The Monserrate case highlights many aspects of domestic violence policing and prosecution in New York -- and is actually a reassuring example of how the system sometimes actually does work. The NYPD arrested Monserrate -- a former NYPD officer and New York City Council member -- at a Long Island hospital. Monserrate's girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, asked the cops not to arrest him -- but, as the NYT reported, arrests are mandatory in domestic violence cases of this kind. Later, at Monserrate's arraignment in Queens criminal court, the judge issued an order of protection automatically. And the prosecution of Monserrate -- on charges of second degree assault -- are continuing, even though Giraldo has asked not to press charges and requested, unsuccessfully, for the order of protection to be dropped.

The pro-Monserrate protesters (most observers agreed that this group was organized by Monserrate and hs handlers) vocally denounced the prosecution, turning the rhetoric of women's rights against the prosecution.

As Elizabeth Benjamin noted in her Feb. 2 Daily News blog:

"The organizer of the pro-Monserrate faction, Martha Flores-Vazquez, a Queens Democratic district leader and director of the Community Prevention Alternatives for Families, (which, as Queens Crap has noted, received $37,500 in taxpayer funds directed by Monserrate when he was in the City Council), said:

'A woman's right to choose begins with who she spends her time with. And (Karla) chose the honorable Hiram Monserrate, who did not beat her..I am saying that he is innocent. I am saying that Karla is telling the truth.' "

State Senator-Elect Accused of Slashing Companion’s Face NYT, 12/20

Hiram Monserrate's supporters say 'accident' was confrontation over drugs Elizabeth Benjamin, Daily News blog, 12/22

Lawmaker to Take Senate Seat as Assault Inquiry Goes On NYT, 1/6

Slash pol Hiram Monserrate is lashed in court Daily News, 1/16

Women For Monserrate Elizabeth Benjamin, Daily News blog, 2/2