Monthly Archives: May 2009

Deadly domestic violence

Commentary: Domestic violence more deadly than flu
Source: Emery County Progress

This week I have been reflecting on those that would choose to ignore the importance of dealing with domestic violence in America. After more than 30 years of the modern domestic violence movement, we still struggle for funding, we face budget cuts and reductions when the economy goes bad (though domestic violence rises) and we rarely are the primary focus of public policy makers in America.

This week the news is consumed with coverage of the H1N1 flu, an important public health issue in America. As of May 2, there have been 167 confirmed cases of the flu in the United States and one death. But there has been little news about the mass killings of 68 people across America in the last 52 days, with men doing all the killing and virtually all related to men with a history of violence against women.

Public health officials in the United States fear a global pandemic from the so-called H1-N1 virus. A pandemic is defined as a global outbreak of disease that causes serious illness or death and then spreads easily from person to person worldwide. Pandemics differ from seasonal outbreaks of an illness. The news quoted many officials talking about high levels of illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss from pandemics. We must all be vigilant about addressing flu in the days ahead. But the pandemic of violence by men against women, men, and children has killed more people in the last 52 days in America than flu. This pandemic has been going on now for hundreds of years causing high levels of mental and physical illness, death, social disruption, and economic loss.

There have been 12 mass killings in the last 52 days in the United States. In 10 of the 12, the killer had a history of violence against women. Eleven of the 12 were directly related to or defined as domestic violence. Sixty-eight people have been killed in those mass killings including 20 children and seven police officers. Those who have lost their lives are listed.

March 10 – Michael McLendon, 28, killed 10 people, including his mother, grandmother, aunt and uncle, and the wife and child of a local sheriff’s deputy in rural Alabama. He then killed himself. The worst mass killing in the history of Alabama killed: Virginia White, 74; James White, 55; Tracy Wise, 34; Dean Wise, 15; James Starling, 34; Lisa McClendon, Michael’s mom; Bruce Maloy, 51; Andrea Myers, 31; and Corrine Gracy Myers, 18 months.

March 21-Lovelle Mixon, a parolee with a history of violence against women, sexual assault, and other violent crimes shot and killed four heroic Oakland police officers – Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40; Officer John Hege, 41, SWAT Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43; and SWAT Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35 before he was shot and killed by police.

March 29-Robert Stewart, 45, shot and killed eight people at Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Robbins, N.C. He came to the center seeking to kill his wife, Wanda Neal, 43, a nurse’s assistant. She was working in the Alzheimers Unit when he entered the facility and survived after herding residents into the TV Room and locking the door.

March 30-Devan Kalathat killed six people in a murder-suicide in Santa Clara, Calif. including his children. During his rampage he shot his wife, but she still clings to life in critical condition. Police identified the victims as Kalathat’s children: 11-year-old Akhil Dev and 4-year-old Negha Dev; Kalathat’s brother-in-law Ashok Appu Poothemkandi, 35, Poothemkandi’s wife, Suchitra Sivaraman, 25; and the Poothemkandis’ infant daughter, Ahana Ashok.

April 4-Pittsburgh police officers Eric Kelly, Stephen Mayhle, and Paul Scuillo were shot and killed responding to a “domestic disturbance” call. They were ambushed by Richard Poplawski when they arrived at the house. Officer Eric Kelly was not on duty. He was on his way home to his wife and three daughters when he heard the call on his radio and responded to support his fellow officers.

April 5-James Harrison killed his five children in Pierce County, Wash. while his wife was at work. Police confirmed that the couple had a domestic violence incident earlier in the day and the wife had left. The husband demanded that she return and while she was away he methodically shot Maxine, Samantha, Heather, Jamie, and James. The first four children were shot in their beds. The last child was shot as she was running toward the bathroom.

April 5-Kirby Revelus, 23, killed his 17 year old sister, Samantha and his 5 year old sister, Bianca. Police officers responding to a domestic violence incident shot and killed him as he was trying to kill his 9 year old sister Sarafina.

April 7-Kevin Garner fled Greenville, Ala. late in the afternoon after setting fire to his wife’s home and car. Hours later, police found his wife and daughter, and her sister and her sister’s son shot to death inside the burning home. Garner later shot himself before being apprehended.

April 10-Two students at Henry Ford Community College were found dead in a murder-suicide in the Fine Arts Building on campus in Dearborn, Mich. Police determined that Anthony Powell, 28, killed Asia McGowan, 20 with a shotgun and then turned the gun on himself.

April 18-Christopher Allan Wood, 34, an accountant for a railroad operator, killed his wife, Frances, and his three children in Middletown, Md. before taking his own life with gunshot to the head. Chandler was 5 years old, Gavin was 4, and his daughter, Fiona, was 2 years old when she was shot and stabbed by her Dad.

April 19-William Parente, 59, killed his wife, Betty, 58, and daughters Catherine, 11, and Stephanie, 19 before killing himself in Garden City, N.Y. Each of the victims was killed by asphyxiation and blunt force trauma.

April 25-University of Georgia professor George Zinkhans shot and killed his wife, Marie Bruce, and two of her friends from a local community theatre group in Bogart, Georgia. Two others were seriously injured by bullet fragments. Her two murdered colleagues were: Ben Teague, 63, and Tom Tanner, 40. More than 200 police officers are currently searching for him in the dense woods near Bogart, 60 miles east of Atlanta. Police believe Marie was preparing to get a restraining order, file for divorce, and leave him after a history of domestic violence.

So, we are not done in the effort to stop family violence in America. We all must re-double our efforts to raise awareness, call for more resources in the war by men against women and children. We must call it what it is. It is not violence against women. It is most often violence by men against women. All the killers in the mass killings of the last 52 days have been men.

The next time you hear someone say they cannot afford to keep a family justice center or domestic violence shelter program open because of the economy, ask them to read this article. Next time, you hear someone say that we don’t need any new, evolving, innovative approaches to family violence prevention because our current service delivery models are doing the job well; ask them to read the list of 68 names from the 52 bloody days of domestic violence in 2009.

Don’t be silent; don’t let elected officials, or policy makers, or bureaucrats, or disinterested community members ignore the tragedy of domestic violence. We must address flu in America and around the world but we must also take guns away from men who are violent and start spending the time, energy, and money necessary to stop the pandemic of violence by men against women that is destroying families, killing women, men, and children, and continuing to destroy the lives of so many.

Casey Gwinn is the former San Diego City attorney who founded the internationally recognized San Diego Family Justice Center which is credited with reducing domestic violence homicides in San Diego by more than 60 percent.

Domestic violence homicide

Police: Broomfield Man Shot Wife, Killed By Officers
Police Summoned To House On Domestic Violence Call

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Police said a 58-year-old Broomfield man shot and killed his wife and was then shot by police Sunday night.

The double shooting happened at the couple’s home in the historic Westlake School Building at 130th and Lowell Blvd.

Sgt. Mark Goodell of the Broomfield police department told 7NEWS that officers were called to the home, by someone inside, on a report of domestic violence.

The names of those involved have not been released.

Goodell said the suspect fired several shots.

When asked if the man shot his wife in the presence of officers, Goodell said, “That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

“Whenever there is an officer involved shooting, the critical incident team is called in to investigate,” Goodell added.

Neighbor Terrell Franklin, who lives across the street, told 7NEWS that he saw a lot of police officers with guns.

“I didn’t hear gunfire, just police sirens,” Franklin said.

Broomfield city council member Linda Reynolds said she met the wife on several occasions. One of them was when the wife put the historic property up for sale.

“The city tried to purchase it for use as a museum,” Reynolds said, “but we couldn’t agree on a price.”

“It’s devastating,” Reynolds said, about the shooting. “She (the victim) has two little girls and that was my first thought, ‘Oh gosh, were the children there? Are the children o.k.?'”

Goodell said there were several officers at the house, but not all of them fired their weapons. The officer-involved shooting will be investigated by the Adams/Broomfield County Critical Incident Team.

Adams County Coroner Jim Hibbard said the couple’s names haven’t been released because they haven’t been positively identified.

He said autopsies are scheduled Tuesday morning.

Source: Channel 7 News

OVW Announces Recovery Act STOP Formula Awards to States

OVW announced more than $100 million in Recovery Act awards to states to support comprehensive strategies addressing violence against women. The STOP (Services, Training, Officers, Prosecutors) Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program (STOP Program) supports a coordinated, multidisciplinary approach to stopping and responding to crimes of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women

Economic Anxieties Impact Abuse Rates

Hard Times for Women Living on the Edge: Economic Anxieties Send Domestic-Abuse Rates Soaring

Source: Nick Turse, Tomdispatch, May 11, 2009.

Even in good times, life for poor working women can be an obstacle-filled struggle to get by. In bad times, it can be hell.

Now, throw domestic violence into the mix and the hardships grow exponentially — as I discovered recently when I talked with “Tyrie” while she was at her job at a child care center in one of New York City’s outer boroughs.

“This economy is hitting everybody really hard,” the fortysomething woman, originally from Trinidad, tells me. But it’s hitting her harder than many. Tyrie is a domestic-violence survivor whose personal suffering has been compounded by the global economic crisis. And she isn’t alone.

“Clients are coming in more severely battered with more serious injuries,” reports Catherine Shugrue dos Santos of Sanctuary for Families, New York state’s largest nonprofit organization exclusively dedicated to dealing with domestic-violence victims and their children. “This leads us to believe that the intensity of the violence may be escalating. It also means that people may be waiting until the violence has escalated before they leave.”

“Difficult financial times do not cause domestic violence,” says Brian Namey from the National Network to End Domestic Violence. “But they can exacerbate it. When there are tough financial times, couples can be under greater pressure, have higher stress levels.”

In fact, a 2004 study by the National Institute of Justice reported that women whose male partners experienced two or more periods of unemployment over five years were three times more likely to be abused.

The Domestic Violence No One Notices

When “domestic violence” is mentioned, people usually think of physical, emotional or sexual abuse, but experts say that another form of domestic violence has been on the increase since the global financial meltdown hit. They call it “economic abuse.”

It not only goes largely unnoticed by most Americans, according to Shugrue dos Santos, but is “not sufficiently explored in the press.” Namey concurs, adding, “Financial abuse is something that may not be on the radar for most people, but it is a serious problem.”

Sanctuary for Families points to “Jen,” a battered client who came to them last fall, just as the financial crisis was beginning to sweep the country. According to its staff, she represents an ever more typical case.

Speaking of her partner, she describes her dilemma:

“Sometimes I think it would be easier just to go back to him. I know that he could possibly kill me but … when we lived with him, he always had the refrigerator full, and I never had to worry about what my baby was going to eat or what we were going to wear. It’s just really hard to watch my baby live like this. Sometimes I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Jen is one of an increasing number of women caught between violence in the home and the violence of being penniless, powerless and alone in the world.

One way in which economic abuse occurs, Shugrue dos Santos explains, is when “as part of the power and control dynamic, the batterer tries to exert control over the finances of the family. We talk to many women, and even if they’re the primary breadwinners in the family, they end up turning that money over to the batterer who either doesn’t give them money or gives them an allowance.”

There can be little question that the economic crisis is exerting new pressures on victims of domestic violence, exacerbating a whole constellation of interrelated issues that threaten to make their lives more precarious.

Staff members at Sanctuary for Families are finding, for instance, that batterers are ever more likely to fail to pay child and spousal support once their wives or partners leave them. Job loss in a swooning economy and less-forgiving landlords are just two other obvious factors that lead many of their clients to consider returning to abusers for financial security.

In addition, women like Jen are often kept in the dark about family finances and may even have their financial well-being and credit ruined by partners who mismanage their money, or use it as a form of punishment or a method of control. But there’s also a larger kind of economic violence that only adds to the hardship of abusive relationships (or the possibility of leaving them) — as Tyrie recently discovered when she took action against her abusive husband and found herself with mouths to feed in a world in which all sorts of economic supports were crumbling around her.

Complete story

VAWnet Resources: Stimulus Funds

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence announces the release of a
Special Collection on Stimulus Funds: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

“This Special Collection organizes information to assist practitioners and policymakers identify, influence and access Recovery Act resources that might be helpful in their work with survivors of domestic and sexual violence. We’ve included what we consider to be the most relevant materials and information from federal, tribal, and state government sources as well as from allied advocacy organizations.”

Mom: System re-violating girl

Woman says they weren’t told about plea hearing
Source: The Coloradoan

The mother of a 14-year-old Loveland girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by at least three men earlier this year said she feels betrayed by the very system set up to protect her daughter’s rights as a victim.

The mother of a 14-year-old Loveland girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by at least three men earlier this year said she feels betrayed by the very system set up to protect her daughter’s rights as a victim.

The mother, who the Coloradoan isn’t naming to protect her daughter’s identity, said she was focused on getting mental health services for her teenage daughter and was depending on the Larimer County District Attorney’s Office to keep her informed about court proceedings for the four co-defendants police say were involved in a four-day crime spree involving rape, harboring a minor and vehicle theft.

Instead, plea agreements and bond reductions were made without any input from the girl or her mother.

. . . . Victim’s rights laws require prosecutors to notify victims of crucial court proceedings, such as bond-reduction hearings and plea agreements, so they or their family members can attend and offer statements to a judge.

…..Larimer County District Attorney Larry Abrahamson said his office uses an automated system to keep victims and their families updated on court proceedings, and in this instance, the “system did not work as expected.”

“We take full responsibility for the notification process and continue to do what we can to offer support and service to all involved,” Abrahamson said in an e-mail to the Coloradoan responding to the incident.

The girl’s mother said she has already filed a verbal complaint with the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice and plans to file formal complaints against all those involved, including prosecutors, Judge James Hiatt and Magistrate Mary Joan Berenato.

Complete story

SARA, Inc.


Sexual Assault Response Advocates (S.A.R.A., Inc.) – Located in Fort Morgan, Colorado
Telephone 970.867.2121

As a part of their Child Advocacy Program, S.A.R.A. offers several presentations and programs suitable for young people and their educators. They present these programs in schools free of charge. Programs are intended to provide information to help students make good decisions about relationships, and to help educators recognize children who may be involved in abusive situations and help prevent assaults on young people.

Programs offered by SARA:

Safe Dates A classroom program that can be presented in 2-6 sessions of approximately 40 minutes. Young people are taught to recognize and avoid harmful relationships.This curriculum is suitable in grades 5-12.

Be Proud! Be You! 2-6 sessions designed to help students build self esteem and make healthy choices. These sessions are suitable for grades 4-12.

Stop Bullying Now! Based on information obtained from the United States Department of Health and Human Services, this program teaches younger students how to recognize and avoid coercive relationships. Suitable for Grades 3-6

Truth and Consequences A program presented by Dr. Michellle Soriano explaining the consequences of unprotected sex, including the symptoms, treatment and permanent damage that can be caused by STDs. Approximately 30 minutes-suitable for grades 7-12 ( Can be combined with other presentations from Safe Dates and Be Proud! Be You!)

Darkness to Light This program is designed for educators. It deals with how to identify and prevent sexual assault on children. It is a 3 hour program that can be done in two 90 minute sessions if necessary.

RAD (Rape, Aggression, & Defense) offers instruction in simple self defense techniques for women and girls. These sessions are suitable for middle school aged students and older.