Monthly Archives: December 2008

Woman honored for developing gathering circles in rural areas

LAFAYETTE TOWNSHIP — It might seem idyllic.
Living in the cozy farmhouse on the hill and making a living raising crops and livestock. What could be more peaceful?

The problem, rural Elkhorn resident Mary Bub said, is that what goes on inside the walls of some of those picturesque farms might be closer to nightmare than American dream.

Bub, 64, founded the Wisconsin Rural Women’s Initiative, a non-profit organization that promotes wellness and social interaction among farm women. Among other things, the organization creates and maintains “Gathering Circles,” discussion groups that help farm women who are feeling isolated vent with their “rural sisters.”

Instances of depression and domestic violence are high among rural women and often go unreported, Bub said.

“We just want to empower women to be the best they can be,” Bub said. “The hard part, when we try to get funding, is people don’t believe they (rural women) are a hidden population.
Complete story

Take Back The Tech – Twittering activists

This website gives a review of how to use twitter for community activism, including working to end violence against women.

There are many ways to quickly communicate and inform your friends and networks about what you are up to. We are mostly familiar with communication tools like instant messengers and SMS text messages.

Twitter is another platform that connects you with your community and friends, and enables you to publish and share brief updates. It is also known as a micro-blogging service, which simply means publishing brief (140 characters-long) text journal entries. As a Twitter user, you can send and receive updates to and from your social network not just through the Twitter website, but also through SMS, RSS, email and an ever growing list of applications that integrates with it.

Twitter has been strategically adapted as a tool for activism for live reporting of current situations to ensure safety through visiblity, to connect groups of people in critical and emergency situations, in organising campaigns, to seek support during police arrests during a protest and more. The simplicity and ease of using Twitter to publish current updates quickly, widely and cost-effectively has made it especially useful and valuable to those without access to broader forms of dissemination channels.

How can Twitter be useful in situations of violence against women? Imagine if you are a migrant domestic worker who have little opportunity to leave the house you work in, or use the internet. With a Twitter network between an organisation working on vaw or between members of your community, you can publish alerts by sending an SMS to your Twitter account when faced with violence by your employer, and immediately inform an external support community for emergency help.

Today’s action invites you to play with Twitter, and explore how it might be useful for activism to end violence against women.

Man arrested after shooting wife while having sex with her

According to reports from Springfield, Ohio, a Springfield man told police he accidentally shot his estranged wife while he was having sex with her. The woman is in critical condition.

Timothy Havens, 38, told police he was reaching for something on the nightstand when the pistol went off, hitting his estranged wife Carolyn in the upper chest. (Hear part of the 911 call)

Havens was arrested and bond set at $75,000 because he violated a protection order that Carolyn Havens had taken out earlier this year. The story also cited “suspicious circumstances” and Court documents that showed Havens had previously served time in jail for assaulting his wife.


Police Deaths, Planting Petunias, and Procreation

By Marie De Santis
Women’s Justice Center/ Centro de Justicia Para Mujeres

Everyday police are out there risking their lives for you and me. Or are they really? And what urgent difference does it make to you, your sisters, your daughters, and friends?

Before reading any further, try this quick test. Rank the following six occupations according to their rate of on-the-job fatalities, starting from the most dangerous to the least dangerous: air pilot, police officer, truck driver, electrician, construction laborer, gardener (non-farm). Chances are, if you’ve ever watched TV, or listened to cops defend their conduct, or read newspaper editorials supporting the police, or heard broadcasts of the funeral orations in memory of a slain officer, or just plain lived on the planet, chances are you flunked the test royally.

Here is the correct ranking from the U.S. Department of Labor, along with a few other occupations to give you an idea of the range.


U.S. Department of Labor
Occupational Fatalities per 100,000
Year 1999
Commercial Fishermen
Timber Cutters
Air Pilots
Construction Laborers
Garbage Collectors
Truck Drivers
Gardeners (non farm)

So the real deal is this, police officers don’t lay their lives on the line any more than the person who plants the petunias on your patio. The numbers vary some from year to year, but the ranking of fatality rates remains basically the same as you see it here.

It’s said that you can’t fool all the people all of the time, yet this highly exaggerated myth of the dangerousness of police work has come pretty close to doing just that. The entire American public has been bamboozled with this myth for a very long time. As you can see just from the abbreviated list of occupations above, many, many other workers, including many who work in public service, suffer far higher fatality rates than police. And when, for example, the city gardener dies on the job serving you, there’s no fanfare, no flags flown at half mast, no five foot flower monuments flown in from near and far. No motorcycle caravans of gardeners swarming into the funeral from seven neighboring states. No headlines at the top of the news for three days running. No city and state officials clamoring for a place to mourn at the casket.

What is it with the police? Their familiar refrains are known in every town and hamlet of the nation. “Our wives have to worry everyday whether of not we’re going to come home at night.” Doesn’t the gardener’s spouse have to worry just as much? “We never speak out against another cop, because we depend on each other for our lives.” Don’t gardeners depend on each other when rock walls shift, structures collapse, or machinery turns rogue? Of course they do, just as much, and as often, and as life-and-death, as the police.

But different from gardeners, police have immense powers over people, and too often can misuse that power to create myths to get more power. Here’s a couple of first thoughts to start the debate as to why this myth of police dangerousness exists and how it harms our communities.

By cultivating a hyper-inflated myth of heros sacrificing their lives for you, police have created a shield of public veneration to defend against criticism of any misdeed. Who then can blame police for building arsenals against the citizens, for firing at first blink, for mafia-like codes of silence? Who then can refuse police funding requests for ever more militarized arms?

The myth of dangerousness keeps women out of policing, and keeps police power concentrated in the hands of men. The supposed danger of police work is one of the main reasons women give for not going into policing. Women loose out on a great job, and communities lose out on the exceptional skills women bring to the job, not the least of which is dramatically lower rates of excessive use of force, and the better communication skills that de-escalate violence and save lives.

The myth of police dangerousness again and again attracts the wrong kind of people to the job. A hyper male ego is the last thing that’s needed at ground zero on the critical fault lines of society’s problems. And it’s the last thing that’s needed to handle crimes of violence against women which accounts for about a third of all police calls.

The myth of the dangerousness of policing keeps police wives scared to death and under control. How do you get up the nerve to insist that the warrior hero who faces death around every corner do his share of scrubbing the bathroom floor?

Too many police officers believe this myth themselves, and reach for the gun at the first blink of an eye, and then later, all can be explained with the refrain, “Our lives are on the line.”

Here’s a couple other facts that should be taken into account. The majority of police on-the-job fatalities are not caused by bad guys shooting at the cops. The majority if police on-the-job fatalities are cause by vehicle accidents.

And maybe this next fact is most pertinent of all to the question of how, and why, and what difference it makes who society selects for its heros. Although the Department of Labor doesn’t include motherhood as an occupation, other national studies show that childbearing in the U.S. has a fatality rate on a par with policing.


Feel free to photocopy and distribute this information as long as you keep the credit and text intact.
Copyright © Marie De Santis,
Women’s Justice Center,

Juarez Crime Reporter Murdered

Juarez Crime Reporter Murdered, Attacks against Press Intensify

El Diario de Juarez journalist Armando Rodriguez Carreon was well-known for countless stories about gangland killings in his hometown of Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua. For years, the 40-year-old police beat reporter tirelessly published pieces about the latest executions in a violence-torn city.

Rodriguez launched his journalistic career as a technician and photographer for the Ciudad Juarez Channel 44 television station before moving into print during the early 1990s.  His newspaper career closely paralleled the violent rise of the Juarez drug cartel and the women’s slayings that became known worldwide as femicides. Popularly known as “El Choco,” Rodriguez was among the first reporters to write about the discoveries of raped and slain women on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez.    

Rodriguez’s stories, which relied a lot on police sources and often did not implicate any particular suspects, were characterized by an almost matter-of-fact quality that kept to the narrative even as violence kept escalating. On Thursday morning, November 13, Rodriguez became a victim himself when he was shot outside his home by a gunman who reportedly fled in a waiting car. . . .

With the Rodriguez killing, at least 6 journalists have been murdered in Mexico this year so far. Other victims include Oaxaca radio announcers Teresa Bautista Merino and  Felicitas Martinez Sanchez,  Tabasco radio man Alejandro Zenon Fonseca Estrada, Michoacan newspaper director Miguel Villagomez Valle, and Chihuahua writer David Garcia Monroy.

An international observer mission spearheaded by the Committee to Protect Journalists, Article 19, Open Society Institute and other press advocacy organizations traveled to Mexico this year to investigate conditions confronting journalists. Despite legal reforms, the mission concluded that Mexican journalists are in dire circumstances due to violence, impunity and governmental indifference.

Most of the 2008 journalist murders, as well as earlier cases like the 2006 murder of US journalist Brad Will in Oaxaca, remain unsolved and unpunished. . . .

Full story from Frontera Norte Sur


Cross-country protest against femicide and other violence against women

Pain and Protest on the Day of the Butterflies: Violence Persists Against Women in Mexico
Frontera NorteSur
Thursday, December 4 2008

A 1995 novel by writer Julia Alvarez retold the story of the three Mirabal sisters brutally assassinated by the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic in 1960. Decades later, the date of the murders, Nov. 25, was declared the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by the United Nations.

In Mexico, more than 200 women’s and human rights activists kicked off a cross-country caravan in Ciudad Juarez to protest femicide and ongoing violence in all its forms against women.

Initiating their action at the monument to murdered women situated at the foot of the Santa Fe Bridge on the Mexico-U.S. border, the women’s activists embarked on a week-long journey to the state of Chiapas on Mexico’s southern border. Along the route, caravan participants plan to meet with the widows of the Pasta de Concho miners killed in 2006, as well as survivors of violent government crackdowns in San Salvador Atenco and Oaxaca the same year. A meeting was also scheduled with Chihuahua Governor Jose Reyes Baeza.

For many, beginning the caravan in Ciudad Juarez, the site of more than 600 women’s murders since 1993, held both symbolic and urgent meaning.

Complete story

Signs of a Battering Personality

Lydia Walker on the history of “Signs of a Battering Personality”

Many people are interested in how I came to write the handout “Signs of a Battering Personality”. It has been widely used across the United States and has been reprinted in the “Dear Ann Landers” and “Dear Abby” columns several times. ….Feel free to copy it and use, but do leave my name and telephone number on it to identify it as my work and to allow people to contact me if they have questions. I don’t mind at all if you put your organization’s contact information on it, but please also include my name and phone number.

I began my work in the Battered Women’s Movement in 1981 as a worker for the Project for Victims of Family Violence in Fayetteville, Arkansas. I worked at that shelter for fifteen years, and as part of my work, I facilitated a battered women’s self-help group that met on Monday nights. This group was attended both by battered women currently living in the shelter and by any other battered/formerly women in the area who wanted to come.

While each night was unique to what women particularly wanted to talk about, there were certain topics that came up over and over again. Often women would joke about “all living with the same man” because of the remarkable similarity in the tactics batterers used to control and
manipulate. Women would then talk about characteristics and behaviors they noticed in the batterers both prior to and current with the violence. Finally one week, I made up a list and wrote the handout “Signs of a Battering Personality”. I took it back to the group who made some additions and changes.

I don’t think this handout is really something helpful in avoiding becoming involved with a batterer. Batterers mask the abusive behavior so well when they’re trying to lure a woman into a relationship and take control of her, it’s almost impossible to see at the time. However, this
handout has proven to be very helpful in supporting people who are currently in battering situations in identifying that indeed, they are with someone who has “classic” abusive behavior.

And the signs:


Many women are interested in knowing if there are any warning signs that someone is an abuser. There is no typical victim or perpetrator. Any woman can be battered regardless of age, race, nationality, sexual orientation, educational background, or income. Battering almost always occurs with a man abusing a woman. However, violence can exist in other domestic relationships as well; lesbian battering and older parents beaten by their adult children are examples.*

Below is a list of behaviors seen in people who beat their partners. If the person has three or more of these behaviors, there’s indeed a strong potential for physical violence. In some cases, a batterer might have only a couple of behaviors that are quite strong (e.g., extreme jealousy). In the beginning of a relationship, the batterer will try to “explain” these behaviors as “love” and “concern”. However, as time goes on, these behaviors become more extreme and serve to establish, keep, and strengthen power and control over the victim.

*The use of “he” for the abuser and “she” for the victim is used to facilitate reading and to emphasize the circumstances of most battering. This wording is not meant to discount the various situations in which domestic violence occurs.

1. JEALOUSY: At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser will say jealousy is a sign of love; jealousy has nothing to do with love, it’s a sign of possessiveness and lack of trust. The abuser will question the woman about to whom she talks, accuse her of flirting, or be jealous of the time she spends with family, friends, and/or children. As the “jealous” behavior progresses, the abuser may call her frequently or unexpectedly drop by her home/workplace. The abuser may refuse to let her work saying he’s “afraid” she’ll meet someone else, or he may do strange things such as checking her car mileage or asking friends to watch her.

2. CONTROLLING BEHAVIOR: At first, the batterer may say this behavior is because of concern for the woman’s safety and well being. The abuser will be angry if the woman is “late” coming back from somewhere and will closely question her about where she went, to whom she spoke, etc. As this behavior gets worse, the abuser may not let the woman make personal decisions about the house, her clothing, or going to church/temple; he may keep all the money or even make her ask permission to leave the house or the room.

3. QUICK INVOLVEMENT: Most battered women dated or knew the abuser for less than six months (many for less than three months) before they were married, living together, or engaged. An abuser comes on like a whirlwind claiming “you’re the only person I’ve ever been able to talk to”, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone”. The abuser will pressure the woman to commit to the relationship in such a way that later she may feel very guilty or feel she is “letting him down” if she wants to slow down involvement or break off the relationship.

4. UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS: Abusive people will expect their partner to meet all of their needs; the abuser expects the woman to be the perfect wife, mother, lover, and friend; abusers will say things like “if you love me, I’m all you need—you’re all I need”. She is supposed to take care of everything for the abuser emotionally and in the home. No matter how efficient/good she is, however, she is never good enough.

5. ISOLATION: The abusive person tries to cut the woman off from all resources and supports. If she has men friends, she’s a “whore”; if she has women friends, she’s a “lesbian”; if she’s close to her family, she’s “tied to the apron strings”. The abuser accuses people who are the woman’s supports of “causing trouble”. The abuser may want to live in the country without a phone, may not let the woman use the car or have one that is reliable, or may try to keep the woman from working, going to school, or going to spiritual/religious meetings.

6. BLAMES OTHERS FOR PROBLEMS: If the abuser is chronically unemployed, someone is “out to get him”, someone is always trying to do him wrong. The abuser may make mistakes and then blame the woman for upsetting him or keeping him from concentrating. The abuser will tell the woman she is at fault for almost anything that goes wrong.

7. BLAMES OTHERS FOR FEELINGS: The abuser will tell the woman “you make me mad”, “you’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you”, “I can’t help being angry”. The abuser really makes the decision about what he thinks and feels, but will use “feelings” to manipulate the woman. Less obvious are claims such as “only you can make me happy, and “you control how I feel”.

8. HYPERSENSITIVITY: An abuser is easily insulted, claming his feelings are hurt when he is really mad, or taking the slightest setbacks as personal attacks. The abuser will rant and rave about the injustice of things that happen—things that are really just a part of life, like being asked to work overtime, getting a traffic ticket, being told a behavior is annoying, being expected/asked to help with chores.

9. CRUELTY TO ANIMALS AND/OR CHILDREN: An abuser often brutally punishes animals, is insensitive to their pain and suffering, and/or may kill them. The abuser may expect children to do things beyond their ability (spanks a two year old for wetting their diaper). The abuser may not want children to eat at the table or will expect them to stay in their room all evening when he’s at home.

10. “PLAYFUL” USE OF FORCE IN SEX: An abuser may like to throw the woman down or hold her down during sex. He may want to act out fantasies during sex in which the woman is helpless and will let the woman know the idea of rape is exciting. The abuser may show little concern about whether the woman wants to have sex and will use sulking behavior to manipulate her or anger to pressure her into compliance. The abuser may start having sex with the woman while she is sleeping or demand sex when she is ill or tired.

11. VERBAL ABUSE: In addition to saying things meant to be cruel and hurtful, this can be seen when the abuser degrades the woman, curses her, and/or runs down her accomplishments. The abuser will tell the woman she is stupid and unable to function without him. This may involve waking the woman up to verbally abuse her or not letting her sleep.

12. RIGID SEX ROLES: The abuser may expect the woman to serve him, perhaps saying the woman must stay at home or saying she must obey in all things—even things criminal in nature. The abuser will see women as inferior, responsible for menial tasks, stupid, and unable to be a whole person without a relationship.

13. DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE: Many women are confused by their abuser’s “sudden” mood changes—they may think the abuser has some mental problem because one minute the abuser is really nice and the next minute he’s exploding. Explosiveness and moodiness are typical of people who abuse their partners; these behaviors serve to intimidate and frighten the victim and are reflections of the abuser’s alternate use of threat and manipulation to establish and maintain power and control.

14. PAST BATTERING: An abuser may say he’s hit women in the past, but it was the woman’s fault or it was only one time. The woman may hear from relatives or ex-partners the person is abusive. A batterer will beat any woman he is with if the woman is with him long enough for control to be established and violence to begin; situational circumstances do not make a person abusive.

15. THREATS OF VIOLENCE: This includes any threat of physical force meant to control the woman: “I’ll slap your mouth off”, “I’ll break your neck”, “I’ll make you sorry you were ever born”, “I’ll kill you”. Non-violent people do not talk like this to their partners, but batterers will try to excuse these kinds of threats by saying “everybody talks like that”.

16. STRIKING OR BREAKING OBJECTS: This behavior can be used as punishment (breaking loved possessions), but mostly it is used to terrorize the woman into submission. The abuser may beat on tables with his fist, throw objects around or near the woman, or put his hand through the wall. Again, this is very remarkable behavior and should never be minimized—there is great danger when someone thinks they “have the right” to punish or frighten a partner.

17. ANY FORCE DURING AN ARGUMENT: This may involve a batterer holding a woman down, physically restraining her from leaving a room, or pushing/shoving her. The abuser may hold the woman against the wall and say “you’re going to stand here and listen to me”! Many batterers in an attempt to deny or minimize past abuse will “tell stories” in which they “had to sit on a woman or hold her down” “for her own good”. These behaviors are found in the second level of the progression of abuse in domestic violence.

Lydia Walker Web Site