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5 Ways We Can Support Domestic Violence Survivors

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Although Domestic Violence Awareness Month has passed, domestic violence continues to be a major issue in our communities and is also considered a major public health issue in the United States, disproportionately affecting Black and Native American women, low-income women, QTPOC people, and children. The holidays can be a scary time for domestic violence survivors, with added financial pressure, heightened expectations, and increased drug and alcohol consumption. Here are five ways that you can support domestic violence survivors during the holidays and year-round.

 

Take a 30-Hour Domestic Violence Victims’ Advocate Training

In order to effectively advocate for domestic violence survivors, one must fully understand the dynamics of domestic violence and how it intersects with race, class, gender, and sexual orientation. Many organizations that serve domestic violence survivors, including the YWCA, offer a 30-hour Victims’ Advocate training that provides information on the domestic violence awareness movement, navigating legal and social systems as a survivor, and explores how domestic is treated in religious and People of Color communities.

 

Be Mindful of Your Language

As Crissle from “The Read” would say- “Words mean things.” Being mindful of your language to someone experiencing or fleeing domestic violence is a step in the right direction of shifting our culture from victim-blaming culture to a victim/survivor supportive culture. When engaging with someone who is experiencing domestic violence, avoid passing judgment. Statements such as “I could never allow someone to treat me that way!” or “Why don’t you just leave?” are ignorant and harmful statements that place the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator. (Also, keep in mind that when one flees domestic violence, their lethality rate increases by 75%. Leaving an abusive relationship is inherently dangerous). When in doubt, the best question to ask is “How can I support you?

 

Donate Clothing, Toys, Personal Items to Local Domestic Violence Agencies

When fleeing domestic violence, survivors oftentimes have to leave behind most, if not all, of their material possessions. Donating clothing and shoes (women’s, men’s, children’s, and gender-neutral), toys, books, pet products, and hygiene products can alleviate the financial strain of starting over and can help survivors transition into life after fleeing abuse more easily.

One that we suggest is The Butterfly Project.

 

Donate Cash to local Domestic Violence Agencies AND Directly to Domestic Violence Survivors

Many agencies that serve domestic violence survivors are non-profits and/or are operating on extremely tight budgets. Donating money to these organizations can assist in providing shelter, emergency food, transportation support, and legal support to people fleeing domestic violence, as well as assist with other operating costs.

Also, many people underestimate the value of direct giving. Donating money directly to people fleeing domestic violence is an act that empowers the survivor and spares them the frustration of navigating social services organizations. Pooling together money with other supporters is an excellent way to garner community support and show survivors that they are truly loved and supported. Your monetary donations could be the money they need to finally get that bus or plane ticket to flee the situation.

 

Provide Childcare to Domestic Violence Survivors

Parenting through domestic violence and its aftermath is a trying task that oftentimes leaves survivors deeply depressed, anxious, and feeling isolated. Offering to babysit and interact with a survivor’s children for an hour or two can allow a survivor to run necessary errands, such as meeting with a lawyer, applying for housing and food assistance, or simply decompressing after a stressful transition.

Everyone has the power to positively affect a survivor’s life and aid them on their road to healing. Through educating ourselves and opening our minds and hearts, we can collectively work to improve domestic violence in our communities.

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For The Culture

Seven Year Old Dies in Border Patrol Custody

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ICE detainees

In a devastating development, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl has died in the care of Border Patrol. Until autopsy results confirm her cause of death, Americans are left with more questions than answers.

Seizures

A group of 163 migrants attempted to cross the border illegally and were then apprehended in New Mexico. Among them were the victim and her father. Shortly after their detainment, the group was transported to a facility in El Paso, Texas. It was there that the 7-year-old began having seizures within hours of being in Border Patrol custody. Claiming “Border Patrol agents took every possible step to save the child’s life”, the CBP is now under investigation.

Fever, Dehydration

Initially reported by The Washington Post, emergency responders measured her temperature at 105.7 Fahrenheit, just two degrees shy of incurring brain damage. A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency statement indicated the child “had not eaten or consumer water for several days”. Needing further care, emergency responders called for a helicopter transport to Providence Children’s Hospital, where the child went into cardiac arrest. She was “revived” but ultimately could not recover, passing at the hospital less than 24 hours after arriving for treatment.

Facing blame from the ACLU, CBP has been called out for a “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty.” Offering nothing but their “sincerest condolences”, CBP will continue to draw the scrutiny of the public as this is the second death of a child in their care. A toddler passed six weeks after being released from an ICE facility. Having contracted a respiratory infection from receiving poor medical care, the toddler’s mother is not suing for the loss of her child.

Political Outrage

Government officials have since spoken out about the tragedy. Beto O’Rourke has called for full transparency in the investigation of the child’s death. Congressman Joaquin Castro also asked for a full investigation by the Inspector General and Congress. Without autopsy results that could take weeks to receive, the country is talking about ways we can do better as a nation. As a country, we’re holding out hope we can rise from this humanitarian crisis.

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Where is Justice for Cyntoia?

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Cyntoia Brown

Time and time again we have seen the justice system fail Black people in America. This week, its victim is Cyntoia Brown.

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that Cyntoia Brown must remain in prison for 51 years before she is eligible for release. This news comes as a response to a lawsuit that states Brown’s life sentence is unconstitutional. Violating the U.S. Constitution, a mandatory life sentence without parole is still what Cyntoia faces with judgment requiring imprisonment until the age of 69.

Having run away from home, Cyntoia, 16, was living with a pimp named “Kut Throat,” who abused her and forced her into the life. He was 24 at the time. After days of being drugged and sexually assaulted by various men, Cyntoia was passed off yet again. Purchased by Johnny Allen, a 43-year-old child predator, Cyntoia found her limit. She killed her abuser but has not received the same justice many women in her position have found.

Justice only comes in one color

As children, we grew up hearing stories about women like Francine Hughes, famous for the Burning Bed. A battered housewife, Francine set her husband on fire as he slept, freeing herself and her children from his tyranny. The prosecution and the defense agreed her plight was sympathetic. She was found not guilty.

In June 2016, a woman killed her husband in an argument over another woman. As punishment, she will serve one year in jail and 9 years on community corrections. In his judgment, Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street said:

“The lack of remorse in this case concerns me so much that I think Ms. Delaney needs to be reminded of what she has done, what she has taken from her children and from the victim’s family. I’m ordering her to serve 30 days in jail every June beginning June 1 through June 30 for the entire 10-year sentence.”

The modification of her judgment came out of concern for her high-risk pregnancy. What a luxury! Just Friday, new broke that New York City police officers forced a 27-year-old woman to give birth shackled to a hospital bed, in full violation of state law. The privilege of justice in this country only comes in one shade.

At this moment, there is a petition urging the judge hearing Cyntoia’s case to grant her clemency. It currently has 500,000 signatures but needs 1.1 million. I encourage everyone touched by her story and seeking justice for her to sign.

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Charlottesville Driver Could Face 419 Years

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James Alex Fields Jr Charlottesville Driver

Charlottesville driver, James Alex Fields Jr., could face life in prison plus 419 years. The sentence was recommended by jurors this afternoon.

Fields stands convicted of killing Heather Heyer, who was in a group of counterprotesters during the 2017 rally. Mowing through the crows, Fields has racked up five malicious wounding charges and one charge of leaving the scene of the accident. Jurors made their recommendation after listening to statements from Heather’s mother as well as those who were injured.

Deliberations took roughly four hours over two days, the jurors presented the judge with their decision. However, the judge will not formally sentence the driver until March 2019. On top of the 419-year sentence, the jurors also recommended $480,000 in fines.

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