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

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.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Launch: Part Two

A lot going on with the film:
-- Reviews are in. We've now been reviewed by most of the key trade publications in the world of libraries: Educational Media Reviews Online ("highly recommended"), Video Librarian (*** recommended) and Booklist. These strong reviews follow our good notices at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. All reviews are posted here.
-- Some interesting outreach events coming up. Next week, I'll be showing excerpts of the film to the Manhattan Borough President's Domestic Violence Task Force. I'm looking forward to this one. I'm hoping to catch up with New York City domestic violence advocates I came to know while researching the film. Perhaps watching a film that was shot in Duluth, MN by a native New Yorker will warm them up to allowing the next documentary film maker who approaches them to film in some of their facilities.
-- Then in mid-October, a trip to Maryland to screen the film at Prince George's Hospital Center (near DC) as a kick-off event to launch their new domestic violence program.
-- We are talking to a number of groups about using the film during domestic violence awareness month. I'm also hoping that our brilliant widget, with 12 answers to the question of "Why don't they just leave," gets the massive viral circulation that it deserves during the month. See widget at right (it may be a bit scrunched, but you can still click "share")

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Teaching about Domestic Violence with "Power and Control"

As we gear up our outreach and engagement efforts this summer, it's been gratifying to get to know some of the educators who plan to use "Power and Control" in the classroom. I think that showing the film in colleges -- to students in social work, sociology, criminology, women's studies, law and medicine -- will be the way the film has its most powerful direct impact.

College students are still reading and thinking about the world, still asking questions and engaging in debate. Ten years after college (at least in my case), that kind of intellectual growth slows.

At the same time, the film will be providing fresh background to students. The current generation has grown up in a time when feminism and the battered women's movement have not, unfortunately, been key social concerns. This has dawned on me at some of the screenings of the film, where most of the people in the audience were over 50.

I'm deeply encouraged by the way a group of students at the Florida State University School of Social Work responded to a screening in the spring. The responses were raves. I'm almost embarrassed to quote from some of the response cards because they sound self serving! But believe me, this project has faced plenty of rejection, so a few nice words also help keep the spirit aloft!

Vicky Verano, the course instructor, was kind enough to send me a thoughtful and thorough note. "Your film is a powerful teaching tool because it provides a look at the Duluth Model and how the Model is used with survivors of domestic violence." During the course of the film, Kim, our main subject, leaves her husband, goes into a shelter, and sets out on a new life. But in the end, she gets back together again with him. Vicky thought this plot line stimulated good discussions in class. "At the end of the movie, some of my students were frustrated that she went back. This opened dialog and provided students to process what 'really' happens when women leave and go back and the importance of not blaming rather than supporting a person's choice."

Here are three comments from students:

-- This is full of valuable info as well as people; it's not about statistics, it's about real people, and I feel that the community needs to see this on a human, reallevel. I also think it's important to see how people disagree on DV (attack on Duluth model, etc) -- knowing all aspects fuels new thoughts!

-- Not everyone involved in this field can manage to stay in touch with the victims. Up to date with the field. And unjudgemental of different situations at the same time. This film is a perfect reminder that life is different for everyone and that education and respect are key, regardless of the gender.

-- We got to see first hand how domestic violence affects lives and we also saw how a group of activists who believed DV was wrong created a program that made a huge impact and changed numerous lives.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Web Site, First Sale!

Another big week. We've just launched our completely revamped web site. And quickly after that, we registered our first sale! Hope to hear from many of you to get reactions to the new site.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Festival: A Huge Hit!

Domestic violence notables arrive for Film Fest.

Just got back to NY from the Minneapolis - St. Paul International Film Festival, where "Power and Control" made its theatrical debut yesterday. It all went well -- full house, warm response, good reviews in the local press, humongous article in the morning paper about Ellen Pence (prominently mentioning the film). So it went well. Damn near perfect.

Best part was after the show. Ellen Pence had very considerately booked a room at a nearby restaurant. Ellen's entourage (including such dignitaries as Michael Paymar, Ellen's mom, and Ellen's sister) crowded around a massive table, munching on pad thai, interrupted occasionally by Ellen clinking on a glass to make a toast.

My main priority at the moment is to post some of the picture we took at the fest, which I think I'll do on Facebook.

In the meantime, some quick links:

Article on Ellen Pence in the Star Tribune.

Article in Minnesota Post. Review quote we will extract: "Equally a useful primer on aspects of domestic violence and a purely harrowing story (with a walloping twist), "Power and Control" is highly recommended."

Review in City Pages. Review quote: "A stark reminder that this kind of violence is all around us."

More photos posted at our Facebook group.

Monday, April 5, 2010

"Power and Control" opens at Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival

After more than two years in production, our documentary about domestic violence in America premieres in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Sun., April 18, 4:45 p.m., at the St. Anthony Main Theater. More information and tickets here.

It's fitting to open the film in Minnesota. Most of the story takes place in Duluth. In addition, two of our primary subjects, Ellen Pence and Michael Paymar, live in The Cities. These two great American activists were co-founders of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, 30 years ago.

Today Ellen continues to work full time in domestic violence. She was a prime mover behind a new domestic violence policy in St. Paul, called The Blue Print, that was just announced last week. Michael is a seven-term legislator representing St. Paul.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Paterson Case

The Paterson scandal somehow makes me feel very sad. Paterson has always struck me as a bright man, operating way over his head, who stumbled into something he probably would rather avoid. What an idiotic blunder to obstruct justice by intervening in an alleged domestic assault. He can't claim he didn't know any better: Paterson has been known for being out front on domestic violence issues.

It blows the mind to think that the Paterson case comes right on the heels of the Hiram Monserrate fiasco, in which a New York State Senator was kicked out of the legislature following his conviction for a domestic assault misdemeanor. It was during the debate in Albany around the Monserrate expulsion that legislators were actually quoted discussing the role of power and control in relationships with abusers.

All this comes at a crucial juncture for the making of the documentary, "Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America." In fact, we finish the project tomorrow, after almost three years of work. We're wrapping up the main feature (64 mins), the "educational" version (50 mins), as well as a special film for law enforcement and another special film for doctors, nurses and others in the health system.

We're waiting to figure out where the film is going to be shown for the first time. For obvious reasons, I'm hoping the premiere will be in New York.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ellen Pence Day in Duluth

Duluth honored Ellen Pence yesterday with a ceremony at City Hall declaring "Ellen Pence Day." Ellen co-founded the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project about 30 years ago, and was also co-creator of the power and control wheel. She was recently diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Ellen appears in "Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America," and her gently persuasive intelligence and unpretentious manner are a huge part of the film.