Monthly Archives: October 2009

No One is a Stereotype: How Survivors Inspire Each Other

National Domestic Violence Hotline has a post by Leslie Morgan Stiener, author of the book Crazy Love, a memoir about domestic abuse.

For a long time after I left Conor, I struggled with how I fit our society’s stereotype of an abused woman. Exactly why and how had I lost myself to a man who I was intelligent enough to see was destroying me? I kept silent during cocktail party debates about why women stayed in violent relationships. I walked away after the inevitable pronouncement that women who let themselves be abused are weak, uneducated, self-destructive, powerless. I fit none of these stereotypes. I never met a battered woman who did.

Order Crazy Love

We survivors may have a lot in common, but none of us is a stereotype.

Summary of State Laws on Teen Date Violence

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a website: Summary of State Laws on Teen Dating Violence which includes legislation introduced in 2009 and information about state laws.

1 in 11 adolescents say they have been the victim of physical dating violence; a separate survey indicated that 1 in 4 teens self-report physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse every year.

Healthy or unhealthy relationship habits develop early.  Approximately 72 percent of 8th and 9th graders report “dating.”  By the time these students get to high school, more than half of them say they see dating violence among their peers.   Destructive relationships during the teen years can lead to life-long unhealthy relationship practices, may disrupt normal development, and can contribute to other unhealthy behaviors in teens that, if left unchecked, can lead to problems over a lifetime.  The CDC’s 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System survey indicates that adolescents who report being physically hurt in a dating relationship were also more likely to report that they engage in risky sexual behavior, binge drink, use drugs, attempt suicide, and participate in physical fights.

Summary of State Laws on Teen Dating Violence

Immigrant Survivors of Abuse

Women’s eNews has a two-part series called Immigrant Survivors of Abuse: Seeking Freedom.

Clenching her fist, she said she was scared of being deported and was petrified of her abuser. She found herself locked in a labyrinth of helplessness.


Start Strong Teens: The generation that ends DV

From their website:

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. On October 22nd Start Strong teens will be showing their commitment to being the generation that ENDS domestic violence.

On this one day, Start Strong teens will be leading events across the country and “taking it to the streets,” from street performances in Providence to an anti-violence fashion show and demonstration on the steps of City Hall in Bridgeport, as a way to get the nation to pay attention to this issue.

The goal is to get EVERYONE across the country to focus on healthy relationships so that we stop violence in relationships before it can even start.  

Start Strong will also launch a major online campaign on October 22nd to get the entire nation talking about what a healthy relationship is, and we need you to be part of this record breaking day!                                                               

Ways YOU can participate ONLINE on October 22nd.  

A reprieve for California shelters

October 21, 2009

SAN FRANCISCO — In a reversal, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a stopgap bill on Wednesday to restore financing to the California’s shelters for victims of domestic violence.

Mr. Schwarzenegger eliminated money for the shelters in late July with a line-item veto as the state struggled to close the remainder of a $24 billion budget hole. The veto stripped the 94 nonprofit groups that run the state’s shelters of about $200,000, causing most to curtail services and a few to close altogether.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said he had never wanted to cut domestic violence programs but was forced to by the Legislature’s inability to give him a fully balanced budget.

On Wednesday, however, his message was more positive, praising the stopgap bill as a “creative solution to keep these shelters open,” adding that the state needed to find permanent funding solution for the programs.

The bill he signed is not a permanent fix but rather a loan, diverting $16.3 million from an alternative fuel and technology fund to the state general fund. That money must be repaid by June 2013.  Full story in the New York Times

Baghdad’s Underground Shelters Help Iraqi Women Escape Violence and Abuse

by Anna Badkhen, from Ms.

Source and full story: Utne Reader

On a bullet-scarred side street in Baghdad’s downtown, where U.S. Marines famously helped tear down the statue of Saddam Hussein in April of 2003, an inconspicuous entryway tucked between a steel-shuttered shop and a rickety candy stall leads to a flight of steep concrete stairs. Rusted water pipes run precariously over and across the poorly lit top step, tripping first-time visitors. The second-floor landing bottlenecks into a dark, empty hallway. Women in black abayas hurry across the buckled floor tiles in silence and quickly disappear through an unmarked plywood door on the right.

The decrepit two-bedroom apartment behind this unassuming portal is an essential junction of what activists in Iraq and their U.S. supporters call the Underground Railroad. This railroad is a small, clandestine network of several shelters, located mostly in Baghdad, for the countless but commonly overlooked victims of the war in Iraq: women who have been raped, battered, or forced into prostitution, and women who, accused of bringing dishonor to their families by having been abused, have been rejected or even threatened with death by their relatives.

These shelters serve women who have nowhere else to turn for help. Operated despite recurring death threats and lack of government support by a team of 35 Iraqi activists who call themselves the Organization of Women’s Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), the shelters offer a glint of hope for civil society.

Source and full story: Utne Reader

New study finds partner abuse leads to wide range of health problems


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Women abused by intimate partners suffer higher rates of a wide variety of doctor-diagnosed medical maladies compared to women who were never abused, according to a new study of more than 3,000 women.

Many of these health problems are not commonly understood as being associated with violence, such as abdominal pain, chest pain, headaches, acid reflux, urinary tract infections, and menstrual disorders.

“Roughly half of the diagnoses we examined were more common in abused women than in other women,” said Amy Bonomi, lead author of the study and associate professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University.

“Abuse is associated with much more than cuts and bruises.”

Compared with never-abused women, victims had an almost six-fold increase in clinically identified substance abuse, a more than three-fold increase in receiving a depression diagnosis, a three-fold increase in sexually transmitted diseases and a two-fold increase in lacerations.

Bonomi led the study, co-authored with researchers from the Group Health Research Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle, and published in the Oct. 12, 2009 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

Their research examined data from 3,568 randomly selected women patients at Group Health Cooperative, a health system in the Pacific Northwest. All women in the study consented to giving researchers confidential access to their medical records.

Women in the study were surveyed by telephone about whether they experienced any physical, sexual or psychological abuse from intimate partners, including husbands and boyfriends, within the past year. Researchers then checked their medical records from the past year to see the diagnoses they had received from doctors in primary, specialty and emergency care settings.

The researchers then compared the diagnoses of the 242 abused women with the remaining women who had never been abused.

While other research has found a link between intimate partner violence and health, this is among the first major studies that has not relied on self-reports by women about their health status.

“We were able to go to the medical records and find out what abuse victims had been formally diagnosed with in the past year,” Bonomi said.

“These women are not just saying they are depressed or have cuts and bruises,” she stressed. “They are going to the doctor and having their problems diagnosed.”

In addition, the study improves on past work because it includes a random sample of women enrolled in the health plan, and not just women who were already seeking some kind of health services.

Bonomi noted that many of the doctors involved in treating these women probably didn’t know of their abuse history.

“For most women, abuse likely never enters into the conversation with their doctors,” she said.

The results suggest that physicians should use a “targeted screening” approach with their female patients to determine if they are being abused.

Any women who come to the doctor with complaints of depression, substance abuse, sexually transmitted disease, or cuts and bruises should be interviewed about the possibility of abuse.

“Many women may not volunteer that they are in abusive relationships, so health care providers should be suspicious if their female patients have any of these diagnoses and symptoms that occur much more often among abuse victims,” she said.

Bonomi said these results may be conservative, and that many abused women may suffer even higher rates of some health problems than the study suggests. That’s because the participants in this study all had health insurance, and research shows that women who are not consistently insured have higher rates of intimate partner violence and may have worse health overall.


Bonomi conducted the study with Melissa Anderson, Robert Reid, David Carrell and Robert Thompson of Group Health Research Institute in Seattle; and Frederick Rivara of the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Washington.

The study was funded by the Group Health Foundation and the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.