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CCRT News – Fall 2012

 

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 Fall 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Time is Now.

October marks the nationally observed Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM).  When did this all start?  Historically, DVAM evolved from the “Day of Unity,” conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in October 1981.  Eventually, the Day of Unity became an entire week of local, state, and national events and activities aimed at honoring women killed by their partners, celebrating survivors, and connecting advocates who work to eliminate abuse.  The first DVAM was observed in October 1987.  This was also the year that the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline was initiated.  Public Law 101-112 was passed by U.S. Congress in 1989, which officially declared October the month.  The time, therefore, is now.

This year, Kent County CCRT has a unified message to area residents: LEARN MORE AND GET INVOLVED.  In Kent County alone, an estimated 77,578 females will be a victim of domestic or sexual violence at some point in their lives (according to current population estimates and at least 1 in 4 women experiencing abuse or violence).  Domestic violence knows no boundaries.  Clearly, it is a pervasive problem in our community and even on our own streets.  Abusers come from all walks of life, and unfortunately, they do not carry warning signs.  They are doctors, policemen, clergymen, lawyers, mechanics, businessmen, and the unemployed.  They are Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and every other people group.

Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes.  It is not an accident.  Abuse is a conscious decision by a person to hurt his or her partner.  The cause is not stress, alcohol, drugs, or any other factor.  Abuse is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other and get what they want.  Those who abuse should be held accountable.

Indisputably, domestic abuse is an emergency.  If our neighbor’s house caught fire, we would not hesitate to respond, call 911, and ensure that they were safe.  If our neighbor’s house was being broken into, we would not hesitate to respond, call 911, and ensure that they were safe.  Likewise, if our neighbor’s house is plagued with violence from an intimate partner, this too constitutes an emergency: RESPOND, CALL 911, AND ENSURE THAT YOUR NEIGHBOR IS SAFE.

Domestic violence is a crime, an emergency, and it’s happening in our neighborhood.  Learn more and get involved.  The time is now.


 

Men Against Violence

According to the the Department of Justice, 95 percent of domestic assaults are perpetrated by men.  However, both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, and while most abusers are men, most men are not abusers.  In order to combat the issue of domestic violence, all must come together with the message that violence against women is never okay.  Numerous men’s groups across Michigan, the U.S. and internationally believe and demonstrate that men must be part of the solution.

Many of these men’s groups address domestic violence by challenging the social norms that allow and even encourage violence against women to exist; in essence, redefining what it means to be a man.  In Oakland County, Michigan, Gentlemen is an anti-sexist activist group that believes “equality is manly.”  Meeting on a regular basis, the group encourages healthy and respectful masculinity, addresses sexism and other forms of oppression, and works to end gender-based violence in support of HAVEN, the domestic violence shelter and sexual assault support center in Oakland.  There’s also Men Against Violence Against Women, a grassroots organization started in 1999 in Ann Arbor, Michigan dedicated to ending domestic violence in Washtenaw County.  Compass is a group from Michigan State University that is devoted to “challenging the sexism implicit in the way many men conceptualize the world.”  They were also instrumental in planning the first annual Michigan Men Against Violence Summit earlier this year.

In Kent and Ottawa Counties, the Men’s Resource Center of West Michigan was founded in 2000 with offices currently in Grand Rapids and Holland.  The organization has an array of “programs and services based upon a vision of men growing in mind and spirit, while joining others to create a strong, caring, and safe community.”  More recently, the College Men’s Group was established at Grand Valley State University to be a place for men on campus to openly discuss, among other issues, relationships, rape and sexual violence, and how they define their manhood.

Other men’s groups in the U.S. speaking out against violence include A Call to Men (New York, NY), Men Stopping Violence (Decatur, GA), Men’sWork (Louisville, KY), and Men Can Stop Rape (Washington, DC).  Created by A Call to Men, here is a practical list of “10 Things Men Can Do to Prevent Domestic and Sexual Violence.”  Many of the groups offer educational tools for purchase, such as A Call to Men’s “Breaking Out of the Man Box” DVD.  To start a dialogue among male friends or colleagues, consider viewing Tough Guise: Violence, Media, and the Crisis in Masculinity as a group.  Men interested in joining the movement could also subscribe to Voice Male Magazine, a “navigational tool assisting men and boys on the voyage to healthy manhood,” addressing, among other things, the harmful effects of violence.

Today, men are called to join with women in the campaign to affirm norms of respect, consent, and gender equality, and to challenge the unfair power relations that promote violence.

 

 

2012 DVAM Events

Below are event highlights.  For full details click here.

Candlelight Vigil
Monday, October 1, 2012 at 5:30pm
Location: YWCA of West Central Michigan (25 Sheldon Blvd SE, Grand Rapids)

Clothesline Project (Grand Rapids)
October 1-5, 2012 from 9am-5pm
Location: YWCA of West Central Michigan (25 Sheldon Blvd SE, Grand Rapids)

Silent Witness Program
Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 12pm
Location: Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Kirkhof Center, Rm 2263

Domestic Violence Training
Presenter: Dan Saunders, Ph.D., MSSW
Tuesday, October 9, 2012 from 8:30-12:30

Location: YWCA of West Central Michigan (25 Sheldon Blvd SE, Grand Rapids)

 

 

2012 DVAM Events

Take Back the Night
Wednesday, October 3, 2012 from 7-9:00pm
Location: Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Kirkhof Center, Grand River Rm

Spitting Game
Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 6pm
Location: Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Kirkhof Center, Rm 2204

Clothesline Project (Allendale)
October 15-19, 2012 from 9am-4pm
Location: Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Kirkhof Center lobby

The Bro Code
Thursday, October 25, 2012 at 6-7:30pm
Location: Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Kirkhof Center, Rm 2270

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes
Monday, October 29, 2012 from 6-9pm
Location: Grand Valley State University (Allendale), Kirkhof Center, Grand River Rm

 

 

 

 

Events and
Announcements

Domestic Violence Awareness Month Events
(See “2012 DVAM Events” or go to CCRT’s online calendar)

TRIBUTE! Awards Celebration
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 from 12-1:30pm
Location: DeVos Place (303 Monroe Ave NW Downtown Grand Rapids)
The YWCA’s annual TRIBUTE! Awards honors women in the community.  More info, including cost.

Domestic Violence Orientation
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 OR
Tuesday, January 22, 2013 from 6-9pm
Location: Safe Haven Ministries (3501 Lake Eastbrook Blvd, Grand Rapids)
  More info.

Check out CCRT’s online calendar for complete information on all events!


 

CCRT Meeting Schedule

October 25, 2012:
Regular meeting
November:
NO meeting
December 6, 2012:
Regular meeting

*Meetings are typically held monthly in the Kent County Courthouse- 180 Ottawa Ave NW, Grand Rapids (5th Floor Conference Room). Meetings are open to the public.*



Mission of CCRT: 
The mission of Kent County DVCCRT is to cooperate, coordinate, and collaborate on all community efforts and levels to eliminate domestic violence.

Co-Chair: Kylene Dalton-Koons, Safe Haven Ministries
Co-Chair: Eileen McKeever, YWCA of West Central Michigan
Secretary: Theresa Rowland, GVSU Women’s Center
Treasurer: Susan Vogelzang, Safe Haven Ministries.

Website:
Kent County DVCCRT: www.stopkentviolence.org


 

In Her Words

Below are the words of hope and reasons for organizing, proposed by Rebecca Farr, member of CARA (Communities Against Rape and Abuse) in Seattle, WA:

“I am not proposing that sexual violence and domestic violence will no longer exist.  I am proposing that we create a world where so many people are walking around with the skills and knowledge to support someone that there is no longer a need for anonymous hotlines.  I am proposing that we break through the shame of survivors (a result of rape culture) and the victim-blaming ideology of all of us (also a result of rape culture), so that survivors can gain support from the people already in their lives.  I am proposing that we create a society where community members care enough to hold an abuser accountable so that a survivor does not have to flee their home.  I am proposing that all of the folks that have been disappointed by systems work together to create alternate systems.  I am proposing that we ORGANIZE.”

 

 

Accountability: Steps in the Right Direction

  • CALIFORNIA: A group of bills with new protections for domestic violence survivors was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September 2012.  One measure allows victims to break their lease without penalty in order to seek safety (SB 1403).  Another measure raises the minimum fee a judge can charge a convicted offender from $400 to $500, with a portion diverted to local domestic violence programs.  Effective January 2013, violent offenders will be required to wear GPS devices in conjunction with their restraining orders.  If the offender goes within a certain distance of the victim, both the victim and law enforcement will be notified.
  • CONNECTICUT: Public Act 12-14 will go into effect October 2012, which includes the following provisions: Municipal police departments will be required to develop uniform standard arrest policies; A Family Violence Model Policy will be established to consistently update the current policy; Restraining orders can be issued for up to one year (up from six months); The Office of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications will be required to conduct a study determining the feasibility of implementing a 911 texting system; Threats involving a firearm will become felonies (up from misdemeanors).
  • FLORIDA: The state has adopted new anti-stalking laws, which go into effect October 1, 2012.  The laws expand the definition of stalking, allowing victims to apply for restraining orders and file charges more easily.
  • MARYLAND: Effective October 1, 2012, Maryland residents who are forced to leave their place of employment due to threats of domestic violence become eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • NEW JERSEY: A New Jersey Assembly Committee approved a bill on September 27, 2012 that would allow some domestic violence victims to testify in court against their abusers through camera (closed-circuit television).  Currently, the bill has 41 sponsors and co-sponsors, enough votes to pass the full assembly.
  • NEW YORK: Comprehensive legislation was enacted in June 2012, which established a domestic violence fatality review team, expanded factors for bail consideration including violations of protection orders, created a new felony-level crime called Aggravated Family Offense, and increased harassment from a violation to a Class A misdemeanor. 
  • VIRGINIA: Effective July 1, 2012, individuals who strangle another person face a felony conviction.  This makes Virginia the twenty-ninth state to define strangulation as a crime and make it a felony.

 

 

GRPD Family Services Team

In the Grand Rapids Police Department, the Family Services Team is charged with the responsibility of investigating domestic violence, criminal sexual assault, stalking, harrassment, kidnappings, child abuse, and anything else family-related.  In March of this year, Sergeant Kristen Rogers was promoted to lead the unit.  With over 16 plus years of experience with GRPD, 12 of which were served in the Detective Bureau, Sgt. Rogers has worked on the Family Services Team, at the Children’s Assessment Center, and on the Major Case Team.  CCRT is grateful for the support of law enforcement in combating domestic violence and other family-related matters.  We look forward to a growing partnership.  Sgt. Rogers can be reached at (616) 456-3421 or by e-mail (krogers@grcity.us).

 

 

In the Spotlight

CCRT would like to spotlight numerous efforts taking place at Grand Valley State University that provide education and prevention efforts around sexual violence on campus.  In October 2010, the GVSU Women’s Center, directed by Marlene Kowalski-Braun, was awarded a three-year $265,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women.  Significant progress has been made toward raising awareness of dating and domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, connecting students to resources, and reducing the prevalence of incidents on campus.  Theresa Rowland coordinates the grant and its many involvements.  Notable achievements of the Women’s Center and its partners have included the creation of the Campus Violence Prevention Team (CVPT), which consists of stakeholders from both on and off campus, training for campus police, security, and judicial officers on sexual assault and stalking, the development and revision of policies and procedures relating to these incidents in the student-code, and organizing countless campus events and activities.  To view their public service announcement, “Lakers Ask for Consent,” click here.  

The grant also calls for mandatory education for at least 98% of all incoming students, which the Women’s Center is reaching through information at the annual Transitions Orientation and, among other ways, through collaboration with ReACT, a select student group of actors established through partnership with Professor Allison Metz from the GVSU School of Communications.  As a unique course offered both fall and winter semesters, students combine applied theatre techniques with issues of violence against women.  ReACT has performed countless presentations since its inception, raising awareness about the realities of dating and domestic violence, sexual

 

 

(continued)

assault, and stalking to peers on campus and in the community.  Following their semester, ReACT performers (pictured above, with Professor Metz) receive a $250 stipend through the VAWA funding.

Another peer education group the Women’s Center has developed through the grant is the College Men’s Group, which meets weekly with the mission to “explore and discuss the culture of masculinity and  manhood, while raising awareness and actively working to create environments free from violence.” Working toward becoming an official student organization, the College Men’s Group will team-up with the Faculty/Staff Men’s Group to host GVSU’s first annual men’s conference in March 2013.

In addition to the Women’s Center, Eyes Wide Open is a GVSU student organization that has been advocating since 2001 to “create a campus culture that actively and effectively responds to sexual assault to eradicate it from the GVSU campus.”  Once interviewed and selected, this committed group of male and female students receives thorough training on information and resources related to sexual assault and harassment, dating violence, and stalking.  Members of Eyes Wide Open present to classes and groups, tailoring their discussions to the specific needs of each audience.  Also a partner of the Women’s Center, Eyes Wide Open co-sponsors events every year on campus, including Rock Against Rape, Take Back the Night (to be held October 3rd, 2012 at 7pm in the Kirkhof Center, Grand River Room), the Clothesline Project, and Sexual Assault Awareness Week.  Join them in breaking the silence around dating and domestic violence by creating a t-shirt in the Women’s Center during the week of October 15th.  

CCRT is proud to highlight these groups for their collective influence in addressing violence against women at GVSU.

 

 

 

Copyright 2012
CCRT News, Fall 2012
Kent County Domestic Violence Community Coordinated Response Team

For newsletter submissions or general inquiries,
Contact Justine Kibet at info@stopkentviolence.org

 

 

 

 

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