Thursday, March 19, 2009

Conversation Recap for February 15, 2009

Today we started with an effort to construct a phone tree, so that we can notify the group. This was an attempt to fine tune the notification process that was tested on the occasion of the cancelled budget meeting at Evergreen last Tuesday evening.

Instead of a story, we tried a device of having everyone write a note to someone else in the Conversation.

Charhys and Mona led a discussion of domestic violence. They brought poster displays as well as handouts. They work in YWCA programs that offer a number of services to victims of domestic violence. Legal advocates help victims navigate the shoals of the system, whether with hospitals, the courts, and so on.

If you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, give them the phone number of the YWCA Pierce County: 253-272-4181. (more contact info below)

Charhys works on prevention among teens, and focuses in part on talking to teens about qualities of relationships.
The following appears on the YWCA website about domestic violence:

Domestic violence is abusive behavior that can be physical, sexual, psychological or economic. It is intended to establish and maintain control over another person. It affects people of every race, religion, and economic class. Over 80% of victims of domestic violence are women and 80% of perpetrators are men.

Domestic violence is a crime in the state of Washington. Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 26.50.010), domestic violence is defined as: a) physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault between family or household members; b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or c) stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member. (Further definitions and descriptions can be found in RCW 26.50.010 and RCW 10.99.020.)

Research indicates that half of all women in the United States will experience some form of violence from their partners during their lives, and that more than one-third are battered repeatedly. In 85% of assaults, the crimes are committed by men against women and for that reason it is an area of major interest to the YWCA. While physical indicators are signs of abuse, it can also be less noticeable and much more insidious. Abuse can be any attempt to control, manipulate or demean someone using physical, psychological, sexual, or economic tactics.
15-25% of pregnant women are battered.
80-85% of all documented reports of adult domestic violence are women abused by their male partners.
10-12% of documented adult domestic violence is the physical abuse of men by their female partners
20-39% of documented cases of domestic violence are reported within the gay/bisexual/lesbian/transgender community (accounting for about 3-8% of the total number of documented cases of domestic violence).
50-70% of men who abuse their female partners also physically abuse their children.
Of all female victims of homicide in the U.S., 30% are killed by husbands or boyfriends, a total of almost 1,500 women each year.
28% of teen relationships involve violence.

A detailed discussion of behaviors, responses and resources for help are available at here.

A great deal of material is found at the website of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. From that website you can get to a recent 100-page publication, Now That We Know, that examines many topics, such as disparities in violence across the color line in Washington State. We discussed this particular point at several points—efforts to emphasize such disparities perhaps are unwise outside of a discussion of how to allocate program resources, because it quickly turns to (if it didn’t start out as) a way of disparaging ‘those people’ (which ever group one is referring to) as somehow inherently more violent, thus diminishing the significance of violence against particular people, and deflecting attention from our systems of dealing with domestic violence.

Mona reminded us that President Obama said we have an empathy deficit—and in the case of domestic violence it is part of a generalized effort to hide domestic violence. Efforts to characterize one group or another as more violent is of a piece with claiming domestic violence is someone else’s problem.

The WA state effort hopes to influence the legislature to fill in some of the gaps in the system, of which there are many.

One item our discussion leaders mentioned was the Adverse Childhood Experience Study, which looks at the consequences of living in a violent household. See it here.

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