DIG Builds Partnerships

Standard

In 2016 DIG Builds Partnerships at the INTERSECTION of Domestic Violence and DisabilityTwo roads crossing

In 2016, one of DIG’s greatest accomplishments was becoming part of the solution for the serious problem of access to domestic violence and sexual assault services for persons with disabilities.  We did this by spending the year building partnerships with three organizations that are the pillars in our community for serving victims of abuse. They are MUJER ( Mujeres Unidas en Justicia,Educacion,y Reforma, inc.) CVAC ( Coordinated Victim assistance Center of Miami Dade County), and Dade Legal Aid.

 

With a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women, US Dept. Of Justice (only 6 awarded in the country) we spent this year creating a Charter that will direct our work together for the next two years.

One organization can never offer all the services victims/survivors with disabilities need when experiencing violence and abuse. With funding so scarce, it is almost impossible for one organization to serve everyone and offer all services. That is why the only solution is creative and meaningful collaborations. The Miami Inclusion Alliance (MIA)’ that we formed this year,  is such a collaboration. The four of us have come together to forge a partnership that will lead to a safer, more accessible system of care for victims who are persons with disabilities.  This partnership will allow each of us to expand our understanding of victims/survivors’ needs and combine our resources to create a system of services that is more complete and integrated.

What Can Be Achieved when you build the right Collaboration?  NEW and CREATIVE SOLUTIONS

To do that you must:

  1. Involve the right organizations and people.
  2. Learn about each organization.
  3. Create a shared mission and vision, and shared values.
  4. Develop clear expectations regarding roles and responsibilities.
  5. Determine how best to work together.
  6. Keep safety and access at the forefront.
  7. Dedicate sufficient time and resources to the collaboration. *

 

That is what we have done in 2016 and we look forward to even more important work in 2017.

*(http://www.endabusepwd.org/)

At The Intersection of Disability and Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Myths and Misconceptions

Standard

Two roads intersect to form a cross-like structure

By: Sharon Langer

Domestic violence myths and misconceptions abound. Nearly everyone will have some form of preconception on what domestic violence actually is; why abusers abuse and why victims are victimized.

In the same way as we tend to have a stereotypical picture of what domestic abuse is, we have similar pictures of what sort of person both the abused and the abuser are. We may assume the abused will have originated from a family where abuse took place, or may have been abused themselves during childhood. Some people believe the victim actually enjoys being abused in some masochistic way, or is encouraging it because they enjoy the attention of feeling victimized. Our perceptions tend to be distorted by domestic violence myths, perpetuated both by the media and by society in general, and are unrelated to the reality or the extent of Domestic Abuse. ANYBODY can become a victim of Domestic Abuse.

Following are some of the domestic violence myths and facts:

MYTH: Abuse only happens in certain “problem” families.

FACT :Abuse pervades every ethnic, social strata. White collar workers are just as likely to abuse their wives/partners as are blue-collar workers; financially independent people are just as likely to suffer abuse as are people on low incomes. It is not the social standing, the amount of stress lived under or the company kept which makes an abuser, but the internal need for power, the belief that they have the right to control someone else.

MYTH: Domestic Abuse is a family matter.

FACT: Abusing, battering, assaulting or raping another person is a criminal offence not a family matter.  Domestic Abuse has far-reaching social implications for everyone, affecting the abused person’s ability to lead a productive life and encouraging children brought up in an abusive home to repeat the cycle themselves and having a detrimental impact on their emotional and sometimes physical well-being. A lot of doctors and hospital time and funds are needed to help those who have been victimized or beaten.

MYTH: Domestic Abuse is not such a big problem – very few women are actually badly hurt.

FACT: Domestic Abuse is a HUGE problem. It is estimated that 1 in 4 women live in abusive relationships, and within our lifetime half of us can expect to be the victim of domestic or intimate partner violence. Abuse can be lethal. More women are killed by their partner or ex-partner than by a stranger. And even where physical violence has not occurred, the emotional scars can often have a lifelong effect on the victim.

MYTH: Some women ask for it, provoke it, want it or even deserve it.

FACT: NOBODY deserves to be beaten or abused. Women often have to walk on eggshells and try their best to avoid another incident. The abuser WANTS to abuse. This domestic violence myth encourages the blame-shifting from the abuser to the abused and avoids the stark reality that only the abuser is responsible for his/her own actions.

MYTH: Domestic Abuse is caused by excessive alcohol or the use of drugs.

FACT: A lot of research is going into the link between drug or alcohol use and violence. However, although some abusers are more prone to being violent when drunk, many more abuse when completely sober. Alcohol and drugs may increase the violence, but they do not cause it. Alcohol and drug abuse are separate issues from abuse, though they may overlap. Once again, blaming chemical dependency for abuse is missing the point, the abuser is responsible for their actions.

MYTH: Domestic abuse is a one-time incident.

FACT: Very rarely is abuse a one-time incident. Most often it is part of an ongoing means of establishing and maintaining control over another person. Abuse tends to increase both in velocity and extent over a period of time.

MYTH: It can’t be that bad, or she/he would leave.

FACT: There are many emotional, social, spiritual and financial hurdles to overcome before someone being abused can leave. Very often, the constant undermining of the victims self-belief and self-esteem can leave him/her with very little confidence, socially isolated, and without the normal decision-making abilities. Leaving or trying to leave will also often increase the violence or abuse, and can put both the victim and her children in a position of fearing for their lives. Leaving is the ultimate threat to the abusers power and control, and he will often do anything rather than let her go.

MYTH: Abusers are always coarse, violent, and easily identified

FACT: Abusers are often charming, popular, generous people who can hold positions of social standing. and authority. Abuse is kept in the privacy of their own homes. This “Jekyll and Hyde” tendency of the abuser can further confuse and frighten the person being abused, as the person in private is so different from the person everyone else sees. It can also mean that when the person being abused finally does try to tell his/her friends, family or acquaintances of the abuse, he or she is not believed, because the person they are describing simply doesn’t fit the image portrayed in public.

Facts on Domestic violence and the workplace

Standard

By Sharon Langer

On average, four or five women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends each day and women experience two million incidents of intimate partner violence each year. It only makes sense that domestic violence spills over into the workplace. It can be in-person harassment or phone calls, absenteeism because of injuries or less productivity due to extreme distress. Domestic violence for an employer is both a health and safety issue and also affects businesses and their bottom line.

Here are a few examples of the toll on productivity.

  • A 2005 study found that women experiencing intimate partner violence reported 7.2 days of work related lost productivity and 33.9 days in productivity losses associated with household chores, child care, volunteer activities and social activities. In other words, a great deal of time lost because of violence.
  • A study of 130,000 victims of stalking from 2005 to 2006, reported that they were fired or asked to leave their jobs because of stalking.
  • About one in eight employed stalking victims lost time from work because of fear for their safety or because they need to get protection in court. More than half lost 5 days or more from work.

More than 70 percent of workplaces do not have a formal workplace violence program or policies to address workplace violence. We are fortunate in Miami Dade County that our County passed an ordinance in 2010. Ordinance No 7-43 establishes policies for handling domestic violence in the County work place and gives guidance to all county employees who are victims. They have even established a multi-disciplinary team that will respond when an employee or their supervisor is in need of guidance. We have included a link to the ordinance.

We will continue to bring you information on this important topic this year as we continue our work on behalf of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

If you have a questions please email me sharon@justdigit.org

The First Steps to Ending Domestic Violence

Standard

UNDERSTANDING is the first step to ending domestic violence Purple ribbon for Domestic Violence Monthand sexual assault
By: Sharon Langer

Persons with disabilities are victimized at a rate three times higher than persons without disabilities. In 2012, 1.3 million violent crimes, that included rape and physical assault, occurred against persons with disabilities. If you are a woman, or have a cognitive, developmental or psychiatric disability your risk is even higher.

PEOPLE With Disabilities are:
*3 times more likely to experience violent victimization as adolescents
*3 times more likely to experience rape, sexual assault, aggravated assault and robbery
*3 times more likely to be sexually abused as children

WHY? You may ask, is this happening?
There are a number of reasons that contribute to these higher rates. Significant factors include isolation in the community, reliance on caregivers for personal care, limited transportation, and the fact that persons with disabilities are easy targets because of societal stereotypes.

In our Domestic Violence column I will be addressing this very important issue over the next year.

Disability Independence Group has been awarded a Training and Enhanced Services to End Violence Against Women by the Office of Violence Against Women (OVW). We are one of only 6 sites in the country that was awarded these funds this year. With our partners, M.U.J.E.R, a sexual assault and domestic violence center, Dade Legal Aid, that provides representation to victims and CVAC – Miami Dade County’s Victims Assistance Center we will spend the next three years working with experts from the federal government to create sustainable change within and between our organizations that will result in accessible, safe and effective services for victims who are persons with disabilities.

My column will share with you, our readers, what we are learning on this important journey. Any questions? Email me at Sharon@justdigit.org

Domestic Violence and the Deaf

Standard

The deaf and hard of hearing world is unique because of the difficulty in communicating with others. The world of the victim of domestic violence is also one of isolation and lack of access to the outside world. A batterer typically isolates their victim to instill dependency. When you combine both realities, it is easy to understand why a deaf victim takes up to seven times longer to leave his or her abuser than it would for a hearing victim.

Deaf victims must also struggle with the decision to use the systems and services that even hearing victims find almost im
possible to navigate. There are so many questions that must be addressed: where will I live if I seek a restraining order? What will happen if I go to a shelter? Will someone be able to communicate with me? What will happen to my children? Will I be treated equally if my abuser is a hearing person? Because most folks are unfamiliar with the deaf culture,the victim sometimes has to spend
his or her time educating the providers on the communication and cultural differences of the deaf community rather than being
the recipient of support and services.
The National Association for the Deaf published an article in 2007 titled “Domestic Violence: we can’t ignore it anymore.” It explored why deaf women suffer a greater risk of domestic violence. They
(who?) found that while there has been a lot powerful advocacy work on other issues, the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault have largely been overlooked or misunderstood in the deaf
community. Deaf survivors are unable to seek help from either the hearing or the deaf community. This is largely caused by misconceptions, putting blame on the survivor and the code of silence that still exists in the deaf community.
Now that I have raised the issue… What do we do? We need a two-
prong approach that addresses both outreach and education. We have begun that effort with a committed group of folks who are creating a training for deaf high schoolers in Dade public schools,
and we have begun a dialogue with the provider community and the courts. We will keep you posted on our efforts. If you are
interested in the effort email me…sharon@justdigit.org