St. Mark’s Adult Education Meeting Summary
“Domestic Violence in Our Neighborhood”
Sunday, October 14, 2001
October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” In focusing on that important topic, Gina Stough will be with us on October 14 to share with us information on the problem of “Domestic Violence in Our Neighborhood.” Gina is a Client Advocate with the Artemis Center in Dayton. She will help us to gain a better understanding of the problem of domestic violence in Montgomery and Greene Counties. Expanding on that information, she will provide us with ways to recognize the signs that someone we know may be a victim of domestic violence, and with an idea of what to do about it and whom we can contact for help.
October is “Domestic Violence Awareness Month”. In focusing on that important topic, St. Mark’s was pleased to have Gina Slough with us this morning, who is a Client Advocate Supervisor with the Artemis Center for Alternatives to Domestic Violence in Dayton. Gina provided us with a better understanding of the problem of domestic violence in Montgomery and Greene Counties.
The mission of Artemis is to provide early intervention and education to victims of domestic violence and their children, and to provide resources to the community to identify and remove the societal factors that promote and allow the occurrence of domestic violence. The Artemis Center services are all provided for free. This includes education and support groups for adults and special counseling programs such as art therapy or trauma counseling for children or group counseling for teens. They are funded by the government as well as organizations like United Way.
One of their primary missions is to help battered victims obtain civil protection orders. There is also a group called Casewatch, which is comprised of volunteers who go to courtrooms and record how victims are treated and judged. It is interesting to note that approximately 95% of the battered people are women. Domestic violence knows no boundaries when it comes to economic classes, race, religion, etc. When the situation arises with upper class women, they may find it extremely difficult to report domestic violence just for fear of what their neighbors may think if discovered. For women coming from backgrounds of less economic means, they are afraid to report an incident for fear of losing their primary residence and having no where else to go.
Next, Gina reviewed the “Power Wheel” with the group. The outer rim is made up of various forms of physical abuse including: pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, choking, punching, etc. There are eight segments on the inside as divided by the spokes. These are made up of the following: emotional abuse – mind games, put-downs, name calling; economic abuse – taking her money, keep her from getting a job; sexual abuse – do sexual things against her will, physical attacks; using children – making her feel guilty about the children, using visitation as a way to harass her; threats – making threats to hurt her emotionally, threaten to take her children or report her to welfare; using male privilege – treating her like a servant, making all the “big” decisions, acting like the master of the castle; intimidation – putting her in fear by use of loud voice, improper gestures, destroying her property; and isolation – controlling who she sees, talks to, or where she goes. The goal of all these methods is to obtain power and control over the victim physically and emotionally.
Artemis does not get involved in the actual intervention of the domestic violence incident. Its role is to protect and advise the victim and help her to get back to a normal life. There are other agencies in and programs in the Dayton area that specialize in intervention. These include the Path Program and the August Program. Many times the batterers feel justified in using violence. They need to be educated that it is not the normal practice to abuse someone just because the other person may have done something they deem as unacceptable. The perpetuators of the violence usually feel that it’s always “somebody else’s fault”. The signs can usually be spotted early in a relationship. If after a couple dates only a few times the man starts to talk about marriage or wants to know “where she was last night” it’s a sign that his nature may lend itself to being over possessive which could eventually manifest itself with violence. There is also a vicious cycle that can occur: abuse, apologies and giving to gifts, followed by the abuse cycle again.
Then Gina presented the “Equality Wheel”, which helps to define what healthy relationships should be like. This includes: non-threatening behavior, respect, trust and support, honesty and accountability, responsible parenting, shared responsibility, economic partnership, and negotiation and fairness.
Many times there are early signs in the workplace that domestic violence may be occurring. If someone has poor attendance or is receiving phone calls every ten minutes these could be signs of problems. It is not normal, for example for someone to be phoned that often and may indicate that someone else is trying to control that person. If you know someone whom you think is being abused, the best plan is to talk to that person in confidence. Let them know that you think what is happening to them is not normal. Let them also know that you will be there for them and that there is outside help available such as from the Artemis Center (222-SAFE). Also, let them know it is not their fault. If you are a man, sometimes, a “man-to-man” talk can be very effective to let that person know what they are doing is not an acceptable practice.
Every nine seconds some form of battering occurs. Artemis’s goal is to do a safety plan with the victim as long as the victim agrees. If the victim threatens to leave the relationship, then they may further enrage the batterer and put themselves in the worst danger. Many children who are in trouble with the law have come from homes where their mother was a domestic violence victim. Many of the juvenile boys in jail for murder were because they killed their mother’s batterer. An abusive relationship can happen to anyone. Usually women who come from homes where domestic violence occurred do not wish to leave their battering partner until there is no choice.
Women need to define boundaries with potentially abusive partners early in their relationship. If things begin to seem abnormal, then she should step back and re-assess the situation. An example brought up was the nationally televised O.J. Simpson case. Men can indeed be very charming up front! This case study also shows how our court systems handle this type of violence. For a first offense, there is a punishment of a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail. A second offense may or may not be considered a felony where jail time may be increased up to 18 months. Many times, the batterer is pardoned. This then may make him feel “all powerful” since in his mind he did nothing wrong if the courts let him off without penalty.
The discussion then turned to what can volunteers do to help the Artemis Center. There is the Casewatch program where volunteers can attend domestic violence trials and report back how the victim was treated and if the judge seemed to be fair. There is also a Christmas basket which they prepare every year for the victims of domestic violence where food and gifts are distributed. In addition Artemis Center sponsors a food pantry volunteers may serve on their board whose mission is to raise funds for the organization. It should be noted that Artemis is not a shelter. They will assist victims and where necessary advise them on how to find an appropriate shelter. They try to distribute “shoe cards” (small business cards that women can hide in their shoes) with all pertinent information for them to obtain assistance. All records are confidential except where child abuse is involved (Children’s Center will be contacted) or if homicide or suicide is suspected (police will be contacted).
Artemis Center has served over 30,000 victims in the past 15 years. Teens can also phone and report domestic violence. Police in Ohio used the “preferred arrest” rule where they may arrest the perpetrator if they think it is justified even if the victim refuses to press charges. Many batterers abuse multiple partners. This is why it is critical to break the cycle.
Everyone thanked Gina for the informative and enlightening discussion. She left some very informative literature to distribute to anyone interested in learning more about the Artemis Center.