Tribal Governments Able to Take Criminal Action on Non-Indians

Washington, DC- On March 7, 2015, Tribal governments may elect to begin exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, or violate a protection order against a Native victim on tribal lands.

“This is a major step forward to protect the safety of Native people, and we thank all Members of Congress for passing the Violence Against Women Act of 2013 and recognizing tribal authority,” said Brian Cladoosby, President of the National Congress of American Indians and Chairman of the Swinomish Tribe.

So far three Tribes, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and the Tulalip Tribes have been able to exercise jurisdiction over non-Indians under a Pilot Project since February 6, 2014. To date the Tribes have charged a total of 26 Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction cases.

“I want to encourage all tribal governments to get this law on their books,” said Juana Majel, Chair of the NCAI Task Force on Violence Against Women. “The main goal is deterrence of domestic violence. On most reservations there are a handful of bad actors who have figured out how to slip between jurisdictional boundaries. They need to get the message. If they continue to assault our women we will prosecute and put them in jail.”

Violence against Native women has reached epidemic proportions. The root cause is a justice system that forced tribal governments to rely on distant federal — and in some cases, state —officials to investigate and prosecute misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence committed by non-Indians against Native women. However, outside law enforcement has proven ineffective in addressing misdemeanor level reservation-based domestic violence. The Justice Department has found that when non-Indian cases of domestic violence go uninvestigated and unpunished, offenders’ violence escalates. The 2013 VAWA Reauthorization authorizes tribal governments to investigate and prosecute all crimes of domestic and dating violence regardless of the race of the offender.

Tribes choosing to exercise Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction must provide the same rights guaranteed under the Constitution as in state court. This includes the appointment of attorneys for indigent defendants and a jury drawn from the entire reservation community. “Many tribal courts are already providing these protections to defendants, and it isn’t a big step to provide indigent counsel to all. Just like county courts, tribal courts can contract for public defenders on a case-by-case basis,” encouraged President Cladoosby.

Key Statistics:

  • 61% of American Indian and Alaska Native women (or 3 out of 5) have been assaulted in their lifetimes
  • 34% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be raped in their lifetimes
  • 39% of American Indian and Alaska Native women will be subjected to violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes
  • 59% of assaults against Native women occur at or near a private residence
  • 59% of American Indian women in 2010 were married to non-Native men
  • 46% of people living on reservations in 2010 were non-Natives (single race)
  • US Attorneys declined to prosecute nearly 52% of violent crimes that occur in Indian country; and 67%
    of cases declined were sexual abuse related cases
  • On some reservations, Native women are murdered at more than ten times the national average<

For an overview on tribal VAWA, and more information please see: The Tribal Law & Policy Institute has developed a Legal Code Resource for implementation at

National Congress of American Indians

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Filed under domestic violence law, sexual assault, violence against women, Violence Against Women Act

U.N. Reveals ‘Alarmingly High’ Levels of Violence Against Women

UNITED NATIONS — The evidence is ubiquitous. The gang rape of a young woman on a bus in New Delhi sets off an unusual burst of national outrage in India. In South Sudan, women are assaulted by both sides in the civil war. In Iraq, jihadists enslave women for sex. And American colleges face mounting scrutiny about campus rape.

Despite the gains women have made in education, health and even political power in the course of a generation, violence against women and girls worldwide “persists at alarmingly high levels,” according to a United Nations analysis that Secretary General Ban Ki-moon presented to the General Assembly on Monday.

About 35 percent of women worldwide — more than one in three — said they had experienced physical violence in their lifetime, the report finds. One in 10 girls under the age of 18 was forced to have sex, it says.

Since the Beijing conference, there has been measurable, though mixed, progress on many fronts, according to the United Nations analysis.

Complete story

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Filed under gender-based violence, violence against women

Domestic violence death should have been prevented

Amid an uproar over the death of 5-year-old Phoebe Jonchuck, whose father is accused of dropping her from a bridge into Tampa Bay last month, questions are being raised about whether domestic-violence allegations should have alerted authorities to concerns about the girl’s safety.

Experts say a history of stalking, battery and domestic-violence arrests involving John Jonchuck should have disqualified him as Phoebe’s custodial parent.

“They never should have given the dad custody of this child,” said Linda Osmundson, executive director of Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA), a battered-women’s shelter in St. Petersburg. “It was a preventable death.”

“There is a very large correlation, an overlap, between woman abuse and child abuse,” said Robin Hassler Thompson, who served as director of former Gov. Lawton Chiles’ Domestic Violence Task Force. “The range in terms of the research is that between 30 and 70 percent of the cases where you have domestic violence, you have child abuse. And that is a huge red flag.”

A report released Monday on Phoebe’s death showed that John Jonchuck’s background includes a number of arrests for domestic violence, battery and stalking — in incidents involving Phoebe’s mother, his own mother and two other women. The report also pointed to allegations against Phoebe’s mother, Michelle Kerr.

“Viewing the combined collection of law enforcement, legal and child welfare-related events connected to this family reveals an established pattern of domestic violence,” the report said.

Rita Smith, former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence who now works with the National Football League on spouse-abuse issues, said simply witnessing family violence can damage children’s health, social skills and academic performance.

“Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to repeat that pattern and become either an abuser or a victim,” Smith said. “There’s just too much history in this one case.”

The report also coupled Jonchuck’s alleged history of violence with “concerns regarding substance abuse and mental health issues that should have been viewed as indicators of maladaptive family functioning.”

In other words, the three biggest risk factors for child fatalities — domestic violence, mental illness and substance abuse — were all part of Phoebe’s story.

A fourth risk factor, the age of the child, applies to her as well. The youngest children are the most at risk, and Jonchuck was arrested for domestic violence the year Phoebe was born and four times more during her life.

The report was the work of the Critical Incident Rapid Response Team, which was created last year as part of a child-welfare reform bill and included an expert on the dynamics of domestic violence.

The pattern of arrests in the family shifted in June 2013, after Jonchuck was arrested for an altercation with Kerr, whereupon he and Phoebe moved out. About two weeks later, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office conducted a child-protective investigation, but did not refer either Jonchuck or Phoebe for services. According to the report, this was because Jonchuck and Kerr were no longer living together.

“This contributed to the situation being primarily viewed as rooted in the problematic relationship between the two adults, with the majority of safety concerns arising out of their altercations,” found the report. “There is also no documentation of (Jonchuck) being offered any kind of services despite the fact that the investigation was closed with a verified finding and he had become the sole primary caretaker since the event that primarily led to the finding.”

At that point, after repeated arrests for alleged battery and domestic violence, Jonchuck began trying to establish legal custody of Phoebe. In June 2013, he was granted a domestic-violence injunction against Kerr, prohibiting her from contacting him. In 2014, he filed for three more injunctions, two against Kerr and one against another woman. All three were denied.

“The appearance that subsequent reports were related as much to custody struggles as child welfare concerns contributed to future decision-making throughout the remainder of the case,” noted the report.

Hassler Thompson observed that women as well as men abuse their partners. But she also said that experts in the dynamics of domestic violence are familiar with the use of the courts to commit what some call “abuse by litigation.”

“We see quite often that abusers will use the system against the victim,” she said. “They flip it on its head. What you really need to do as a judge, as an advocate, is to look at these cases and make sure that the person who’s coming forward is the true victim — and that you have a complete list of all the incidences of domestic violence that have come to the attention of the system.”

Additionally, said Leisa Wiseman of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, having an expert on spouse abuse at the table is crucial to accurately assessing the threat to a child’s safety.

Wiseman pointed to her group’s collaboration with the Department of Children and Families, which pairs experts in child abuse with experts in spouse abuse.

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Filed under battered women, child abuse, child services, children & custody, domestic violence

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen and 20-something relationships and promote programs that prevent it.

S.H.A.R.E., Inc. and Help for Abused Partners provide Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Healthy Relationships education for elementary, middle, high school and college students in Northeastern Colorado.

Teen Dating Violence is a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, perpetrated by an adolescent against a current or former dating partner. Abuse may include insults, coercion, social sabotage, sexual harassment, threats and/or acts of physical or sexual abuse. The abusive teen uses this pattern of violent and coercive behavior in order to gain power and maintain control over the dating partner.

Teens are at high risk as they are beginning to explore dating and intimacy.

Another reason to focus on teens is because the severity of intimate partner violence in adults is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.

  • Statistics have shown that teens age 13 to 18 are the least likely group to disclose warning signs or abuse to a friend, family member or trusted adult or to report to the police.
  • More than 1 in 10 teenagers experience physical violence in their dating relationships.
  • 1 in 4 teens report experiencing some type of abuse (physical, verbal, emotional mental, or sexual abuse.)
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and/or choking.
  • Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser.
  • Nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.
  • Nearly 70% of young women who have been raped knew their rapist; the perpetrator was or had been a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.
  • The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.

Call S.H.A.R.E., Inc. at (970) 867-4444 for presentations in Kit Carson, Morgan, Washington and Yuma Counties, and Help for Abused Partners at (970) 522-2307 for Logan, Phillips and Sedgwick Counties.



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Filed under domestic violence, Domestic violence services, intimate partner violence, teen dating violence

Obituary for Gloria Rivera, S.H.A.R.E., Inc. Domestic Violence Victim Advocate

Gloria RiveraGloria Rivera, 50, passed away on January 9, 2015, at the University of Colorado Health in Aurora. She was born on January 2, 1965 to Margaret (Whatley) and Raymond J. Becerra in La Junta.

Gloria worked with S.H.A.R.E., Inc., Morgan County Domestic Violence Program, as a domestic violence victim advocate for over 10 years. She had a passion for fashion, especially high heels. She also was a diehard Denver Broncos Fan. Gloria was a wonderful person inside and out and loved her family dearly and would go above and beyond for them. She will be missed dearly.

She is survived by her children, Celia (Beto) Vasquez and Anthony (Victoria) Montanez; mother, Margaret Becerra; sister, Lori Becerra of La Junta; grandchildren, RaeAnna, Alicia and Amaya Vasquez, Noah and Aaliyah Montanez; Isabel Henry and Jennavie Garcia. She was preceded by her father and her brothers, Raymond Becerra, Jr., Miguel Becerra; great-grandmother, Delfina Whatley.

Recitation of the Holy Rosary will be Thursday, January 15, 2015, at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Funeral Mass at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of Guadalupe/St. Patrick Parish with Father Matthew Wertin officiating. Interment will follow at Calvary Cemetery. Visitation will be Wednesday, January 14, 2015 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Peacock Memorial Chapel.

Peacock-Larsen Funeral Home Obituary


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One group has higher domestic violence rates than everyone else – and it’s not the NFL

In families of police officers, domestic violence is two-to-four times more likely than in the general population — from stalking and harassment to sexual assault and even homicide. As the National Center for Women and Policing notes, two studies have found that at least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to 10% of families in the general population.

America’s police domestic abuse problem was on full display in Monday’s horrific murder of Valerie Morrow, who police say was shot to death by her ex-boyfriend, Stephen Rozniakowski, a Philadelphia-area police officer. Morrow, 40, had just been granted a protection from abuse order against Rozniakowski, who had been charged with 75 counts of stalking.

Full story

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No Holiday for Domestic Violence

By Jan Schiller, Executive Director, S.H.A.R.E., Inc. Morgan County Domestic Violence Program

For victims of domestic violence, making plans for the holidays – Thanksgiving through News Years Day – often includes trying to figure out how to keep it from turning brutal. Stress can build up during this time of year with increased financial pressure, alcohol consumption, family pressures and more contact with the abuser. Victims can feel very motivated to stay through the holidays because they don’t want to break up families at this time. At S.H.A.R.E., Inc., we may experience a decrease in crisis calls on holidays with more calls for help in January and February. For survivors, it is a good time to review safety plans and start new family traditions.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. Each year more than 1.3 million women are the victims of violence by an intimate partner. This number includes as many as 324,000 women who are pregnant at the time they are battered or abused. One in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. These numbers probably underestimate the true magnitude of the problem because we know that most incidents are never reported.

Here at S.H.A.R.E., Inc., we strive to change these numbers with the ongoing support of the community.


What Do You Know About S.H.A.R.E., Inc.?

Sometimes we hear that the reason a victim of domestic abuse didn’t call us or an agency didn’t make a referral to us was because the victim didn’t need emergency shelter. So what services do we provide other than shelter for domestic violence victims and their children?

In 2014 alone, we have assisted 79 adult victims with safety plans, protection orders, and parenting plans. There have been a total of 66 women in support groups and 84 children and youth in kids’ groups. As I write this, with another six weeks left in the calendar year, the staff has provided follow-up contact in person or by phone a total of 866 times! Wow! And 83 families have been able to rent an apartment, shop for some groceries or diapers, or put a tank of fuel in their cars thanks to the financial assistance provided by S.H.A.R.E., Inc.

This is in addition to the 550 projected nights of housing we will provide in the emergency shelter, which is a three bedroom house with playroom for children.

Thirty-three years. Thanks to our great bilingual (English and Spanish) staff, the crisis call volunteers, the volunteers who assist weekly with the groups, the visitation monitors and our outstanding Board of Directors, we are approaching the end of our 33rd year of providing essential services to the victims and children who experience violence in their homes in Morgan County.

Ways to Help. Please consider our agency when you are making your United Way pledge or donate directly using the easy donate buttons on this newsletter or on our website. During the holiday shopping time, you may also want to help women and children in the shelter by using the Amazon Smile program, or donating items on our wish list.

Together, we will continue this great work in 2015!

Shelter Wish List

    • General cleaning supplies – dish-washing soap, trash bags
    • Laundry supplies – detergent, bleach, fragrance free fabric softener
    • Paper products – toilet tissue, facial tissue, paper towels
    • Disposable diapers, pull-ups and wipes
    • Hand sanitizer
    • Children’s socks, underwear and sleepwear
    • Shampoo, conditioner, hair brushes, combs
    • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash
    • Bedding – crib, twin and double sized sheets, blankets; pillows.
    • Bath towels, wash cloths, shower soap, body wash, hand soap, deodorant
    • Phone cards
    • Gas cards
    • Gift cards ($15 – $30 range): Safeway, Wal-Mart, Walgreens

We accept items that are new and unopened. Your donations are tax-deductible.


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Filed under domestic abuse, domestic violence, Domestic violence services, violence against women