|Rape Denial In Action: Bullying Jody Raphael for Telling the Truth
|A couple of weeks ago I endorsed an important and well-written, well researched book on sexual violence by law professor Jody Raphael, a nationally prominent researcher, anti-violence advocate, lecturer and attorney. The very point of Raphael’s book, Rape Is Rape: How Denial, Distortion, and Victim Blaming Are Fueling a Hidden Acquaintance Rape Crisis, is how powerful interest groups nationwide are making a large problem worse by intimidating victims and challenging their credibility, downplaying rates of sexual assault, and protecting their own institutional environments. The book has been met with well-deserved praise by those of us in the anti-sexual violence movement who know how meticulously well researched and accurate it is.|
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| The Cleveland Horror and a Week of Violence Against Women
|In just the last few days, we’ve seen a series of news stories involving violence against women. The violence comes in different forms—physical, psychological, financial—and from different quarters—a former school-bus driver in Cleveland, the NRA convention in Houston, the military, Congress—and so it’s not surprising that the media, as usual, are delivering these stories as unrelated incidents. But arriving almost simultaneously, these tales of misogyny should jolt us all to connect the dots and to shine an unblinking light on the violence against women that’s always there, just below the surface.|
The story of the three Cleveland women who were found alive after being held captive (and, by all accounts, raped, beaten and bound) in a neighbor’s house for ten years is the most shocking. The suspect, Ariel Castro, 52, reportedly let them outside only twice in all that time. Michelle Knight was 20 when she disappeared in 2002, Amanda Berry had been reported missing in 2003 when she was 16, and Gina DeJesus vanished at age 14 in 2004 on her way home from school. Berry’s mother died in 2006 of what friends say was “a broken heart” less than two years after a psychic on The Montel Williams Show told her Amanda was dead. DeJesus’s mother believed her daughter had been sold into the sex trade. On Monday, Berry and her 6-year-old daughter (possibly fathered by Castro) escaped with the help of neighbors Charles Ramsey and Angel Cordero. The other women came out shortly after. Berry and DeJesus are now home, while Knight remains in the hospital.
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|Unidentified man's DNA is indicted for a 20-year-old rape as "John Doe"
|By Rachel Dissell, The Plain Dealer|
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A Cuyahoga County grand jury Wednesday — for the first time ever — indicted the DNA profile of an unidentified serial rapist, rather than a named individual.
According to the six-count indictment, the man is accused of raping and kidnapping a 13-year-old girl in 1993 and a 37-year-old woman in 1996. The woman who reported the 1996 rape has since died. Both cases were reported in Cleveland.
The man is identified in the indictment as "John Doe #1" followed by a series of numerical sequences that correspond with a state lab report on the DNA identifications.
Prosecutors said if they didn’t secure the indictment they would not be able to prosecute the case after the 20-year statute of limitations, in place at the time the rape was reported, expired. The indictment basically stops the legal clock from ticking, they said.
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|Presidential Proclamation - National Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month, 2013
NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS AND PREVENTION MONTH, 2013
- - - - - - -
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
In the last 20 years, our Nation has made meaningful progress toward addressing sexual assault. Where victims were once left without recourse, laws have opened a path to safety and justice; where a culture of fear once kept violence hidden, survivors are more empowered to speak out and get help. But even today, too many women, men, and children suffer alone or in silence, burdened by shame or unsure anyone will listen. This month, we recommit to changing that tragic reality by stopping sexual assault before it starts and ensuring victims get the support they need.
Sexual violence is an affront to human dignity and a crime no matter where it occurs. While rape and sexual assault affect all communities, those at the greatest risk are children, teens, and young women. Nearly one in five women will be a victim of sexual assault during college. For some groups, the rates of violence are even higher -- Native American women are more than twice as likely to experience sexual assault as the general population. Moreover, we know rape and sexual assault are consistently underreported, and that the physical and emotional trauma they leave behind can last for years.
With Vice President Joe Biden's leadership, we have made preventing sexual violence and supporting survivors a top priority. Earlier this month, I was proud to sign the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which renews and strengthens the law that first made it possible for our country to address sexual assault in a comprehensive way. The Act preserves critical services like rape crisis centers, upholds protections for immigrant victims, gives State and tribal law enforcement better tools to investigate cases of rape, and breaks down barriers that keep lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims from getting help. It also expands funding for sexual assault nurse examiner programs and sexual assault response teams, helping States deliver justice for survivors and hold offenders accountable.
Just as we keep fighting sexual assault in our neighborhoods, we must also recommit to ending it in our military -- because no one serving our country should be at risk of assault by a fellow service member. Where this crime does take place, it cannot be tolerated; victims must have access to support, and offenders must face the consequencesof their actions. Members of our Armed Forces and their families can learn more about the resources available to them at 1-877-995-5247 and www.SafeHelpline.org.
All Americans can play a role in changing the culture that enables sexual violence. Each of us can take action by lifting up survivors we know and breaking the silence surrounding rape and sexual assault. To get involved, visit www.WhiteHouse.gov/1is2many.
Together, our Nation is moving forward in the fight against sexual assault. This month, let us keep working to prevent violence in every corner of America, and let us rededicate ourselves to giving survivors the bright future they deserve.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 2013 as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to support survivors of sexual assault and work together to prevent these crimes in their communities.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of March, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
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|Training aims to improve how military sexual assaults are investigated
|By Rebecca Ruiz, NBC News contributor|
As the military wrestles with an alarming number of sexual assaults — an issue former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called "an affront to the basic American values we defend" — the Department of Defense has adopted a novel technique that fundamentally changes the way investigations are handled.
Hundreds of investigators and prosecutors across all military branches have participated in a special victims unit course at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri that focuses on a unique forensic interviewing technique designed to elicit detailed descriptions of an attack.
With traditional methods, this “psychophysiological” evidence has previously been difficult to obtain from both the victim and suspect, but can often break open an otherwise difficult case in which there is little or no physical evidence.
The technique was developed by Russell W. Strand, a former special agent with the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division and current chief in the education and training division at the Army’s Military Police School. Strand began evaluating sexual assault training in 2004 as numerous reports of rape in combat zones and at home became public.
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|Accuser in Air Force sexual assault case 'frustrated' at overturned verdict
|The victim in an Air Force sexual assault case that has provoked a firestorm in Congress says she was “absolutely stunned” when she learned that a top general had erased the conviction of her alleged assailant and that the decision will undermine the Pentagon’s efforts to encourage women to report such attacks.|
“It looks to me like he is protecting one of his own,” Kimberly Hanks, 49, told NBC News in an exclusive interview, about the decision of Air Force Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the Third Air Force based in Ramstein, Germany, to overturn a jury’s verdict convicting a F-16 combat pilot of sexually assaulting her.
The message sent to other women who have been sexually assaulted, Hanks said, is “don’t bother” coming forward and reporting it. “It’s not worth it. Don’t bother.”
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|False allegations of rape and domestic violence are few and far between
|Our new report shows that while false allegations must be taken seriously they are relatively rare and are often complex cases|
The Crown Prosecution Service has come a long way in dealing with
cases involving violence against women and girls. In the last year
(2011-12) we have seen the conviction rate rise to 73%,
delivering the lowest attrition rates ever recorded. The CPS has now
published a trailblazing report on so-called "false allegations" of rape
or domestic violence.
In recent years both the police and
prosecutors have put a great deal of effort into improving the way we
investigate and prosecute sexual offences. The results of the changes
and improvements that have been made are encouraging. Our committed and
specialist staff have prioritised performance in these important and
difficult cases. We have bolstered training, policies and guidance for
rape and domestic violence specialists. Closer working with the police
and specialist services has helped to address the types of ingrained
practices that can ignore, or even add to, the victimisation of women
and girls. But there is still more that we must do to improve.
recent years we have worked hard to dispel the damaging myths and
stereotypes associated with these cases. One such misplaced belief is
that false allegations of rape and domestic violence are rife. This
report presents a more accurate picture.
At the outset it
is important that we acknowledge the very damaging impact that a false
allegation of rape or sexual assault – be it either malicious or
misguided – can have on the person falsely accused. Reputations can be
ruined and lives can be devastated as a result. Such cases will be dealt
with robustly and those falsely accused should feel confident that the
CPS will prosecute these cases wherever there is sufficient evidence and
it is in the public interest to do so.
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|California judge vacates Max Factor heir's 124-year prison term
(Reuters) - A California judge threw out a 124-year prison term handed
down a decade ago to an heir to the Max Factor fortune for raping three women and related crimes, ruling on Monday that the original sentencing had been improper.
But the judge declined to give 49-year-old Andrew Luster
a new trial. Luster was convicted in 2003 in absentia of 86 counts
including rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person
and sexual battery. He fled to Mexico during the trial.
Luster's grandfather is the late Max Factor, whose make-up was used by screen actors during the early years of Hollywood. Max Factor & Company later expanded to the consumer market and became of the nation's largest cosmetics brands.
In the months following Luster's conviction, bounty
hunter Duane Lee "Dog" Chapman captured him in the Mexican resort city
of Puerto Vallarta, in a development that helped propel Chapman to fame
and his own reality TV show.
Luster ultimately sought a new sentencing hearing, and Ventura County Superior Court Judge Kathryne Stoltz
ruled on Monday that the judge who sent him to prison for 124 years
"failed to state specific reasons for imposing full consecutive
sentences" rather than having them run concurrently.
"The previously imposed sentence is vacated and a new
sentencing hearing will be held," Stoltz wrote in her 28-page opinion
that also denied him a new trial.
Attorneys for the Max Factor heir had argued he
deserved one, in part because his original attorneys presented weak
defenses at trial and that one lawyer, the late Richard Sherman, gave
him ill-conceived advice to flee to Mexico.
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|Lieutenant General Overturns Service Member's Rape Conviction
| On Monday, Lieutenant General Craig Franklin overturned the rape conviction of an air force service member who was found guilty by a jury. Franklin claims there was not sufficient evidence that the woman had been raped.|
The Air Force fighter pilot was convicted in November for aggravated sexual assault by a jury of four colonels and a lieutenant colonel. He was dismissed from the Air Force and sentenced to one year in prison. Lieutenant General Franklin overturned the jury conviction using "convening authority" - an absolute power of a singe military supervisor to dismiss a jury decision.
The Lieutenant General's decision has warranted outrage from members of Congress. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said "The military needs to understand that this could be a tipping point. I question whether, after this incident, there's any chance a woman assaulted in that unit would ever say a word. ... There's a culture issue that's going to have to be addressed here. And what this decision did - all it did was underline and put an exclamation point behind the notion that if you are sexually assaulted in the military - good luck." In a letter to the Air Force Secretary and chief of staff she said "His decision shows ignorance, at best, and malfeasance, at worst. I strongly urge you to undertake an immediate review of his conduct and consider removing him from his leadership position."
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) wrote a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel saying "This is a travesty of justice... At a time when the military has unequivocally stated that there is zero tolerance for sexual assault, this is not the message it should be sending to our service men and women, and to our nation."
Media Resources: Stars and Stripes 3/6/2013; ThinkProgress 3/6/2013; Associated Press 3/5/2013
|Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder on the House Passage of the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
|Statement by Attorney General Eric Holder on the House Passage of the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act|
Attorney General Eric Holder issued the following statement today on the House passage of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act:
“I am pleased that Congress has voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a landmark law that has transformed the way we respond to domestic and sexual violence. This reauthorization includes crucial new provisions to improve our ability to bring hope and healing to the victims of these crimes, expand access to justice, and strengthen the prosecutorial and enforcement tools available to hold perpetrators accountable.
“Congress has also taken an historic step to finally close the loophole that left many Native American women without adequate protection. With this bill, tribes and the federal government can better work together to address domestic violence against Native American women, who experience the highest rates of assault in the United States. The bill also provides funding to improve the criminal justice response to sexual assault, ensuring that victims can access the services they need to heal. And it will help to build on evidence-based practices for reducing domestic violence homicides and prevent violence against our nation’s children, teens, and young adults.
“I applaud Congress for passing a bipartisan reauthorization that protects everyone – women and men, gay and straight, children and adults of all races, ethnicities, countries of origin, and tribal affiliations. The Department of Justice looks forward to implementing this historic legislation after it is signed into law.”
Link to statement
|Steubenville rape trial approaches and more rallies planned as case continues to draw attention
|A group calling attention to the Steubenville rape case
involving a 16-year-old girl and two high school football players is
planning a series of protests during the first three days of the trial
scheduled in March.
Occupy Steubenville will stage a silent protest at 11 a.m. March 13
outside the Jefferson County Courthouse, the first scheduled day of the
trial of two Steubenville football players accused of raping a West
Virginia girl at a party last August. A news release from the group says
there will be no speakers, although protesters will be carrying signs.
The group is planning protests on March 14 and 15, as well.
"Let us not forget that we are a peaceful people and we are here to
respectfully and peacefully support Jane Doe," the group says in a news
release. "Regardless of the verdict … we will remain calm and we will
Steubenville already has been the site of several rallies and protests in regard to the case, which gained nationwide attention after a video was posted by the hacker activist group Anonymous. Occupy Steubenville held protests on Dec. 29, Jan. 5,
and Feb. 2 to show support for the alleged victim. On Feb. 14, members
of V-Day Akron gathered in front of the Jefferson County courthouse as part of a flash mob.
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|Reporting College Rapes: How Campuses Address Abuse
|This fall, HuffPost reconnected with Angie Epifano, a 22-year-old rape survivor who dropped out of Amherst College, an elite school that she claims ignored her report and protected her rapist instead. Months earlier, she sought to improve the support for victims of sexual assault on the Amherst College campus, believing that she hadn't done enough.|
So Epifano wrote about the incident in her personal journal and submitted a version of the entry to the student newspaper "to prove to myself I wasn't crazy, that everything had happened," she said. The essay was quickly shared with readers across the country, and Epifano said she was overwhelmed by the response she received.
While Epifano sought to translate her trauma into catharsis, few are afforded the same chance, and even fewer receive justice. In July 2012, fellow Amherst College student Trey Malone jumped from a bridge near his hometown in southern Florida. His suicide note characterized -- to more than a million eventual readers -- a bright student estranged from his own life following a single instance of abuse.
|103-Year Sentence in Sex Abuse Case That Shook Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn
|An unlicensed therapist who was a prominent member of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn was sentenced on Tuesday to 103 years in prison for repeatedly sexually abusing a young woman, beginning the attacks when she was 12.|
Nechemya Weberman, 54, a member of the Satmar Hasidic community of Williamsburg, did not react as the judge sentenced him. The victim, now 18, who delivered an impassioned statement asking for maximum sentence to be imposed, dabbed away tears.
“The message should go out to all victims of sexual abuse that your cries will be heard and justice will be done,” said State Supreme Court Justice John G. Ingram before imposing the sentence, close to the longest permissible to him by law. He praised the young victim’s “courage and bravery in coming forward.”
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|Violence Against Women Act Introduced!
|Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) today with additional bipartisan co-sponsors. The legislation is almost identical to the bill that passed the Senate last year, including the same strong provisions for to address sexual assault, except for a few minor changes: |
- The bill does not include the U-Visa increase that created procedural difficulties last year. It is hoped that this issue will be included in comprehensive immigration reform legislation later this year.
- The bill also includes the bipartisan version of the SAFER Act that passed the Senate last year and addresses the backlog of sexual assault evidence. The bill includes the same strong provisions to address sexual assault.
Senators Leahy and Crapo will hold a press conference on Wednesday, January 23rd at 2:00 eastern to discuss the legislation, and NAESV Board President Monika Johnson Hostler will be speaking.
- The bill excludes some admendments added by the Judiciary committee after introduction last year that did not relate directly to VAWA.
The House Democrats will also introduce the Senate version of the Violence Against Women Act in the next day or two.
NAESV is very excited about this strong forward progress on the first day of the 113th Congress!
We believe our best strategic focus this week is on the Senate bill. As soon as we have a bill number, we will ask you to reach out to your Senators and ask them to co-sponsor the bipartisan Senate legislation! Let's get to 60 Senate co-sponsors before the end of January!
|D.C. Police Dispute Watchdog Report on Handling of Sexual Assault Cases
|By Peter Hermann, Published: January 20|
D.C. police will create a Web site where sexual assault victims who think their complaints were mishandled can file a grievance, an initiative stemming from a watchdog group’s allegations that the department failed to document 170 reported sex assaults during a three-year period.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said grievances filed through the site will get a fresh look from detectives to ensure that cases were handled properly. Lanier also is ordering two detectives to review all sexual assault complaints filed from 2008 through 2011 that were classified as “office information” or “miscellaneous” — terms Human Rights Watch says are an indication that reports were shelved and not properly investigated. The police department has stopped using those terms when filing reports involving sexual offenses.
The initiatives are part of the police department’s response to a 197-page Human Rights Watch report that is scheduled for release Thursday. The New York-based rights organization spent 22 months examining whether authorities failed to properly document allegations of sexual assault and rape, according to the group. In some cases, Human Rights Watch alleges that officers disparaged victims and intimidated them into not following through with cases, according to a letter the report’s author sent to D.C. police in December.
In advance of the report’s release, Lanier and Assistant Chief Peter Newsham have asked the Justice Department to review the department’s files.
On Sunday, D.C. police posted a link to the Human Rights Watch report on the department’s Web site; the link opens the embargoed version of the report that was given to some media outlets, including The Washington Post. The Post is honoring the Thursday embargo, and a Human Rights Watch spokeswoman on Sunday declined to ease the restriction or comment for this story.
Police also were given early access to the report, and Lanier said she is not beholden to the media embargo. D.C. police previously released some of the report’s details and conclusions.
District authorities and Human Rights Watch have sparred for months over access and the public release of internal correspondence from both sides, differing on methods, statistics and conclusions. The rights group says it has uncovered systemic problems of police misconduct. Newsham says the author provided anecdotal stories from a handful of unnamed victims — about 15 out of 1,500 complaints — and repeated the uncorroborated statements “over and over again to say the problem is greater than it actually is.”
Lanier said she is worried that the report will scare women and discourage them from reporting sexual assaults. “As a woman, not to mention the police chief, I am afraid that the Human Rights Watch report will do the opposite of what they intend,” she said over the weekend.
The chief has made it a top priority to combat sexual assaults, particularly attacks involving acquaintances, which she says are growing more frequent and are among the most difficult cases to solve. Lanier said victims often don’t want to cooperate or were too intoxicated to know what happened to them.
Lanier has been teaching bar owners how to spot potential trouble and has put up hundreds of warning posters in restrooms.
“All of our hard work could be undermined,” the chief said, referring to the report. Lanier said the number of reported sexual assaults in the District increased last year by 51 percent compared with 2011, something she says is due in part to efforts to encourage victims to come forward.
Human Rights Watch counters that it performed an exhaustive investigation of documents from four city agencies and fought for access to information through the courts. The report contains accounts from women who say they weren’t taken seriously or had no reports taken at all, according to letters the group sent to the police department.
Lanier and Newsham said the department used to classify complaints of all types “office information” and “miscellaneous,” typically when detectives could not determine whether a crime had occurred. Those reports are filed in an intelligence database, and in such cases there would not be a public police report. Newsham said the complaints are still investigated and could be reclassified as crimes as detectives gather more information.
Lanier said police are no longer classifying sexual assault cases in that way. Instead, she said, each allegation involving improper sexual conduct will now be written up in an official offense report. Also, new crime-tracking software will allow police to give multiple classifications to some crimes, such as when a woman is sexually assaulted during a burglary.
One of the most substantive and troubling problems Human Rights Watch told the police it uncovered was the missing 170 sexual assault reports. The group told the department it found 480 complaints between October 2008 and September 2011 in which a woman reportedly asked for a police investigation and underwent a forensic exam at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, the only hospital that performs the test in the District.
The rights group wrote in letters to the police department that it tried to match police reports to those 480 cases but could not find corresponding documents for 170 cases. The groups told police a more exhaustive search of the police department’s intelligence files, which includes the cases not written up in offense reports, did not reveal cases matching the hospital documents in 170 complaints.
Newsham, the assistant police chief, said the rights group has not given police enough information to determine whether reports are missing. He said police found 360 hospital reports, not 480, and have found corresponding police documents for each, either in the form of public crime reports or in the intelligence database.
The group told police that because police are required to file reports within a day of the complaint, investigators tried to find police reports filed within 24 hours of a hospital report, Lanier said. If no report was found, the group deemed such reports missing, she said.
Lanier called such methodology flawed and the conclusions based on assumptions. She said it can take several days for reports to work their way through the system, so the group could have missed many. Lanier said victims sometimes tell hospital nurses that they’ve notified police even if they haven’t, and so relying on that information from hospital reports alone can be misleading.
Newsham said the new police Web site could help victims who think their cases weren’t investigated to come forward. In addition, Newsham said detectives are going back to the hospital and reviewing cases in which forensic exams were completed to “ensure that a police report or [intelligence records] were completed for each case.”
[A version of this article was published on Monday, January 21, 2013 beginning on on page B1 of The Washington Post.]
|Rape: The Victims, Perpetrators And Law Enforcement
|Rape: The Victims, Perpetrators And Law Enforcement. NPR Talk of the Nation Jan. 17, 2013|
Guests: Joanne Archambault, Kim Lonsway and David Lisak
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|MCASA Files Brief in US Supreme Court
The Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MCASA) filed a brief this week with the United States Supreme Court in support of a Maryland rape victim. MCASA was joined by twenty-six other state sexual assault coalitions across the nation. The case, State of Maryland v. King, involves a perpetrator who broke into a 53 year-old woman’s home wearing a scarf over his face, ordered the victim not to look at him, and raped her while holding a gun to her head.
The 2003 crime went unsolved until 2009 when Alonzo Jay King, Jr. was arrested on an unrelated charge that resulted in his DNA being collected and entered into Maryland’s then-new “arrestee” DNA database, where it matched with DNA collected from the victim. King was arrested for his sexual assault, and he was convicted of first-degree rape and sentenced to life in prison.
Maryland's high court, the Court of Appeals, struck down the statute allowing for DNA testing of arrestees and the US Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal of that decision.
William C. Sammons, Kristin P. Herber, and Lydia S. Hu at the Baltimore law firm Tydings & Rosenberg represented the coalitions in the amicus brief supporting the State and asking that the arrestee testing law be upheld. State sexual assault coalitions are non-profit organizations representing a state’s rape crisis centers, sexual assault survivors, and others concerned with ending sexual violence. MCASA’s Counsel and Executive Director, Lisae C. Jordan, expressed appreciation for the firm’s work on the case noting that, “if the Court of Appeals decision is allowed to stand, this known rapist will go free and the survivor will never see justice.”
Read the brief here.
|Obama Signs New Military Sexual Violence Provisions Into Law
|On Wednesday night, after much anticipation across the nation, President Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. In the end, it included 19 amendments to significantly reform Department of Defense sexual assault and sexual harassment policies. This landmark bill has the largest number of sexual violence provisions ever signed into law, and represents the culmination of more than 18 months worth of relentless advocacy work by SWAN. We want to thank the many veterans and service members who shared their voices to demand policy change this year, including Ayana Harrell, Nicole McCoy, Cindy McNally, Ruth Moore, Laura Sellinger and so many others.
The NDAA is an enormous bill that specifies the budget and expenditures of the Department of Defense (DOD). It also contains sections that deal with military issues ranging from the total number of troops to retiree benefits, and everything in between. It is one of the primary vehicles used by Congress to provide oversight and mandate change within the military. Every year, SWAN partners with key members of Congress to provide bipartisan legislative recommendations to both the House and Senate to improve the welfare of service women and women veterans.
This year, SWAN was able to help introduce into the bill a record number of provisions based on our policy agenda, chief among them to improve the way the military handles sexual assault and sexual harassment in the ranks. Other provisions were also included that improve health care for service women and military families. Specifically, the law now provides for:
• Prohibiting the military from recruiting anyone convicted of a sex offense
• Mandatory separation of convicted sex offenders
• Insurance coverage for abortions in cases of rape or incest for service women and military family members
• Retention of restricted report documentation for 50 years if so desired by the victim
• The creation of "Special Victims Units" to improve investigation, prosecution and victim support in connection with child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault cases
• Allowing victims to return to active duty after separation to help prosecute sex offenders
• The creation of an independent review panel comprised of civilian and military members that will closely examine the way that the DOD investigates, prosecutes, and adjudicates sexual assaults
• Required sexual assault prevention training in pre-command and command courses for officers
• Improved data collection and reporting by the military on sexual assault and sexual harassment cases
• Annual command climate assessment surveys to track individual attitudes toward sexual assault and sexual harassment
• A review of unrestricted sexual assault reports and the nature of any subsequent separations of victims who made those reports
• Notification to service members of the options available for the correction of military records due to any retaliatory personnel action after making a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment
• Requirement for DOD to establish a policy for comprehensive sexual harassment prevention and response
• Language that will allow better oversight and tracking of DOD's implementation of sexual assault provisions from prior Defense
Authorizations in order to ensure they are being enforced properly
Legislating reform of DOD policies can be a difficult, complicated and sometimes painfully slow process, and is only one of several tools SWAN uses to make institutional change happen. Ensuring those policies are properly implemented by the services and fairly practiced in individual units "where the rubber meets the road" is a continuous process for us. Calls from active duty troops and veterans on our Helpline continue to inform and guide our work. We are grateful to be able to provide help to service members and veterans in need. We are also thankful for our incredible coalition of military, veterans and civil rights organizations, the members of Congress who have partnered with us, and each one of you who have supported us this year. In order to eradicate sexual assault and sexual harassment we must continue to work together to transform military culture. The passage of the 2013 NDAA is another critical step in moving the military one step closer to change.
As we move forward with this year's policy and legislative agenda, and prepare for our second annual Summit on Military Sexual Violence, SWAN will continue to hold our civilian and military leadership accountable for the welfare of our nation's service members and veterans. We will continue to fight for changes in the execution of military justice for victims of sexual assault, service members' access to civil courts, and comprehensive reform of VA policy regarding "Military Sexual Trauma" compensation claims. With your support, we look forward to continued success as we begin work on the 2014 NDAA.
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|Congress lets Violence Against Women Act wither away
|By Jamil Smith|
Melissa Harris Perry
The Violence Against Women Act died a quiet death Wednesday night. Why, exactly?
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor voted against his own party’s leadership Tuesday night on the fiscal cliff Senate bill, and lost. According to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Cantor was working “as hard as he could” to get a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief–he lost that, too.
But Cantor won something else Tuesday night: he managed to effectively kill the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and send advocates for its reauthorization back to the drawing board.
Among the many items up for consideration at the conclusion of the 112th Congress was the Senate bill reauthorizing VAWA, which was originally passed in 1994. The Senate version had newly added tribal protections for American Indian women, granting tribes limited authority to prosecute sexual-assault crimes on their lands–whether the crimes are committed by American Indians or not. Cantor stood in the way of the Senate bill, offering instead the version the House passed, which excluded the new American Indian protections, along with those for undocumented immigrants as well as lesbian and trans women.
Though his actions indicated that he was against giving every woman in America the same legal protections against violent perpetrators, Cantor never articulated in public exactly why he was doing this.
But in December on Melissa Harris-Perry, National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill said the fight was “draining the resources of the advocacy groups that have been working on re-authorization for two solid years. Many of the advocacy groups also provide services; their resources are being drained. I don’t think that’s a mistake.”
The chief Democratic advocate for the VAWA reauthorization, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, released a statement that was reported in Jezebel:
“The House Republican leadership’s failure to take up and pass the Senate’s bipartisan and inclusive VAWA bill is inexcusable. This is a bill that passed with 68 votes in the Senate and that extends the bill’s protections to 30 million more women. But this seems to be how House Republican leadership operates. No matter how broad the bipartisan support, no matter who gets hurt in the process, the politics of the right wing of their party always comes first.”
Given that Cantor raised a fuss Tuesday about a fiscal-cliff bill that had 89 bipartisan Senate votes, perhaps it’s unsurprising to see the VAWA left by the wayside. And given that Cantor’s fellow Republicans were content to shrug off hurricane survivors in the Northeast–not exactly a GOP hotbed–how shocking is it to see them insult women, who (as my colleague Steve Benen noted) went for Democrats by 12 points in November? Maybe it’s as O’Neill said, a desire to exhaust advocacy groups and their resources.
Why was Cantor so steadfast in his desire to block protections for American Indian, undocumented, lesbian, and trans women? All we do know is that while Republicans made compromises to avoid a so-called fiscal cliff, they were unwilling to do so in order to avoid dropping legal protections for women that have stood for nearly 20 years. Shouldn’t that require some explanation?
Calls to Cantor’s office Wednesday were greeted by a voicemail explaining that they are currently closed and will re-open last Wednesday, December 26. (No, they haven’t updated the message.) All of their voicemail boxes were full. Like Sisyphus pushing the boulder, we’ll keep trying. If we ever get them to explain exactly why this was such a priority, you’ll be the first to know.
Read the article
|End Culture of Rape in 2013
|(CNN) -- On December 16, a young medical student in one of India's major cities was gang-raped, her body destroyed by the bodies of the men who allegedly assaulted her and also by the rusting metal bar doctors say they used to penetrate her. The bar removed part of her intestines. The rest were removed in a hospital far from home where she struggled for her life for just a few days.|
It has taken an attack that lies nearly outside of comprehension to prompt demonstrations, but the outcry has begun.
Over the weekend, women rose up in Nepal, protesting outside the prime minister's house against gender-based violence.
Egyptian women have faced ceaseless sexualized violence since the start of that country's revolution, but are now protesting to stop the ever-present sexual harassment and assault.
According to Eve Ensler, the head of V-Day and One Billion Rising, a movement calling for women to rise up on February 14, 2013, and demand an end to violence, women in Somalia are planning what may be their first-ever major demonstrations against rape and violence.
This groundswell -- what Ensler calls "a catalytic moment" -- is the perfect chance for us to consider how we think about subjugation, rape, and degradation of women globally.
Gloria Steinem and I have written about how a cult of masculinity is behind the constant violation of women around the world -- that some men brutalize women against their own self-interest because of an addiction to control or domination. To put it plainly: Rape is not about sex.
Opinion: Misogyny in India -- We are all guilty
"Rape is about violence," Steinem says, "proving 'masculine' superiority; often inserting guns and other objects into women's bodies; playing out hostility to other men by invading the bodies of 'their' females, including old women and babies; occupying wombs with sperm of a conquering group; owning female bodies as the means of reproduction; and raping men and boys to make them as inferior as females."
This is born out everywhere that rape occurs but especially in war zones like the Democratic Republic of Congo, where Dr. Denis Mukwege, the medical director of Panzi Hospital, told me men use objects as a means to mark a woman -- to indicate that she now carries the message of violence impressed on her body. She becomes an emblem of terror meant to warn the world that nobody is safe. And while rape in war zones carries its own particular kind of horror, there is no escaping the cult of masculinity geographically. The culture of rape imbues whatever space we inhabit.
Nearly 1 in 5 women in this country surveyed said they had been raped or had experienced an attempted rape at some point, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
That women are expected to put up and shut up is universally understood: A 2012 UNICEF report found that 57 percent of Indian boys and 53 percent of girls between ages of 15 and 19 think wife-beating is justified. A recent study by two nonprofits found that 65 percent of men surveyed in the Democratic Republic of Congo believe "women should accept partner violence to keep the family together."
And, as in India, where the appalling remarks of Andhra Pradesh Congress chief Botsa Satyanarayana appeared to place blame on the Delhi gang-rape victim -- she chose a strange private bus, she shouldn't have been out after dark -- politicians, clergymen, husbands, and others around the world perpetually blame rape survivors. (See this beauty from an Italian priest. Or reacquaint yourself with the stunners from Rep. Todd Akin or Senate candidate Richard Mourdock.)
These are more than just manipulative words; victim-blaming has consequences. Women are literally dying from fault-finding from Syria to Sudan in honor killings, suicides, and murders because they are blamed for their sexual assaults.
We have to move the focus off the victim. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that the "safety and security of women is of the highest concern to our government."
OK. That's one part of the equation. But what about the larger part -- what about prosecuting men who are committing these crimes? Yes, women often do not report sexualized violence. But they do not report because they know that, at least in this country, only three of every 100 men accused of rape will ever spend a day in jail.
It's time to focus on the perpetrators. And it's also time for men and women to engage in a consistent dialogue on stopping rape.
Let's publicly and privately declare all sexualized violence unacceptable.
Let's hold perpetrators legally accountable and once and for all change laws and justice systems that continue to fail women.
Let's understand that rape is not a problem that affects only women: It affects families, communities, entire cultures. It is not an inevitability, but the outcome of a system based in discrimination, just as slavery was.
Let's declare 2013 The Year to End Rape. If this is a problem that men have created, this is a problem that men can help solve.
The time is now.
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Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.
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|One Billion Rising!
|"One Billion Rising" by Maynard Dean Wade (On the Mend - EP)?www.1billionrisingsd.com?JOIN US! February 14, 2013?STRIKE! 2:14 pm Citywide?RISE! March from Downtown San Diego to Balboa Park?DANCE! 6:30 - 8:30 pm Balboa Park Organ Pavilion ?Visit our website for continuing information and opportunities to get involved!??We are so proud to release our amazing music video promoting our One Billion Rising events in San Diego. Our team came together to create this in less than a month from conception to release...we are so grateful to the amazing volunteers and talented crew and participants who generously donated their time and energy to make this happen.??Special thanks to George Ye, the Mickelsen gang at Bad Cat Films, Norman MacKinnon, Wendy and Paul Savage, Cristyn Chandler, Maynard Dean Wade, Tiffany Tang, and everyone on our fabulous V-Day production crew.|
Watch the video
|Sara Reedy, the rape victim accused of lying and jailed by US police, wins $1.5m payout
Pittsburgh woman raped at gunpoint and charged with fabricating her story has won a settlement after a marathon legal battle, changing federal law along the way
Sara Reedy, wrongfully arrested and charged with theft, false reporting, has won a $1.5m police settlement. Photograph: Cory Morton For The Observer
Sara Reedy remembers clearly the start of her ordeal, and how surprisingly painful it was to have a gun jammed to her temple. Then her attacker demanded oral sex, saying he would shoot her if she refused. She was shaking, gagging.
"I had images of my family finding me dead," she told the Observer. "I closed my eyes and just tried to get it over with."
Reedy was 19 when the man entered the petrol station near Pittsburgh where she was working to pay her way through college and pulled a gun. He emptied the till of its $606.73 takings, assaulted her and fled into the night. But the detective who interviewed Reedy in hospital didn't believe her, and accused her of stealing the money herself and inventing the story as a cover-up. Although another local woman was attacked not long after in similar fashion, the police didn't join the dots.
Following further inquiries, Reedy was arrested for theft and false reporting and, pregnant with her first child (by her now ex-husband), thrown in jail. She was subsequently released on bail, but lost her job. More than a year after attacking Reedy, the man struck again, but this time he was caught and confessed to the earlier crime.
When the charges against her were dropped, Reedy sued the police and has now won a marathon legal battle and a $1.5m (£1m) settlement against the detective who turned her from victim into accused. The payment was agreed earlier this year, but can be revealed only now because of a non-disclosure clause that was part of the settlement.
Now 27, Reedy talked exclusively to the Observer to announce the settlement and speak out about how she hopes her vindication will change the way the police investigate rape. "I'm relieved that people will be able to see now that I was telling the truth," she said. "Although mine is an extreme case, I'm not the first – and I won't be the last."
Reedy's story is dramatic, but it comes against a backdrop of problems across the US, with accounts of police ignoring or neglecting rape reports, while bullying victims and scrutinising their behaviour rather than the suspect's.
"There is a national crisis," said Carol Tracy, of the Women's Law Project, an advocacy group in Philadelphia. "We're witnessing the chronic and systemic failure of law enforcement to properly investigate crimes of sexual violence."
Reedy said the police officer who took her to hospital from the petrol station in Cranberry Township, about 20 miles from Pittsburgh, in July 2004 was nice. But once there she was interviewed by Detective Frank Evanson. "I told him what happened. His next question was how often did I use dope. I thought he meant heroin – there is a problem with it in the area – but I told him I didn't use it. I told him I smoked marijuana occasionally, though not for a week. Then he asked me where the money was." Talking to me in the living room of her home in the small town of Butler, near Cranberry, Reedy shook her head incredulously. In the hospital, she had become angry with Evanson, and then a nurse and a doctor also questioned her account.
Joanne Archambault, a retired police sergeant who now trains officers in handling what she calls "one of the most difficult crimes to investigate", said this can be a common reaction. "When women don't act like the classic 'perfect, innocent victim' they can be seen as less credible. But trauma can have unexpected effects on how victims come across."
Reedy aroused further suspicion when she declined the offer of a victim's advocate. "The assault made me feel worthless, then I was degraded at the hospital for hours," she said. "I had to give intimate details again and again. I was afraid of being belittled even further." Reedy was swabbed for forensic evidence, but the material was never tested. This was despite the fact that it contained a fingernail that could have yielded DNA from her attacker.
After that night, Evanson continued to accuse Reedy, despite the other similar attack in the area, which he also investigated. Eventually she was arrested and the court refused bail. She remembers her sister screaming as Reedy was taken away in a police car: "I was terrified. I realised if I got the max I'd be in prison for seven years and not see my baby. I was so tense I couldn't eat."
Upon being bailed, she was turned away from a local victim help centre, and old school friends spread rumours about her. Even her parents expressed doubts about their daughter's veracity after talking to Evanson. But a month before Reedy's trial, Wilbur Brown, 44, was arrested after raping a woman in a convenience store several miles away. He admitted attacking Reedy too, and in 2006 she was in court to see him plead guilty to assaulting 10 women. He is now serving life in prison.
Reedy was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. "Major trust issues" left her unable to return to college or take a job. Her case against the Pennsylvania police department was initially dismissed in district court in 2009. With help from Archambault, the Women's Law Project and similar groups, and lawyer David Weicht of Pittsburgh firm Leech Tishman, she appealed.
In a precedent-setting decision against the police, the appeal judges ruled in 2010 that Evanson wasn't reasonable and lacked probable cause when he arrested Sara, and that the case could go to trial. The police finally settled before trial on behalf of Evanson, who is still in his job.
Reedy's victory has gone down in legal history. During her battle she testified in Congress, and this helped persuade the federal government this year to change the definition of rape to include forced oral sex and the rape of men.
"I had a sense of pride at that," said Reedy. Recently engaged to a local man whom she described as honest and hardworking, and considering starting work for her parents' trucking firm, she said she was relieved at her vindication: "If my story can bring about change, I owe it to people to tell it."
SEXUAL ASSAULT: AMERICA'S RECORD
¦ According to FBI statistics, police in many cities drop a high proportion of rape cases on the grounds that they are "unfounded". Pittsburgh shelves 34% of cases in this way; San Bernardino, 34%; Atlanta, 24%; Jersey City, 18%; and Dallas, 13%. The national average is 6%.
¦ New Orleans police are under federal review for shelving 50% of sex attack cases as "non-criminal complaints".
¦ Some cities are ploughing through backlogs of untested forensic medical evidence (rape kits) found in 2009. Houston had 6,600; Detroit, Los Angeles and San Antonio more than 11,000 each.
Read More . . .
|Calif. Judge Says Victims' Body Can Prevent Rape
Calif. Judge Says Victims' Body Can Prevent Rape
A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim didn't put up a fight during her assault and that if someone doesn't want sexual intercourse, the body "will not permit that to happen."
The California Commission on Judicial Performance issued a report Thursday saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson's comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.
Johnson is a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney's sex crimes unit. He issued an apology saying he was frustrated with a prosecutor during an argument in 2008 over the sentencing in the case before him compared to other more aggravated cases.
The case involved a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.
Read the article . . .
|Why I won’t be cheering for old Notre Dame
Well, since you asked — and many of my friends have, some more than once — no, I will not be cheering for my alma mater, the University of Notre Dame, to win big-time college football’s championship on Jan. 7. What’s really surprising me are those who believe as I do that two players on the team have committed serious criminal acts – sexual assault in one case, and rape in another — but assumed that I’d support the team anyway, just as they are.
“Aren’t you just a little bit excited?” one asked the other day. There are plenty of good guys on the team, too, I’m repeatedly told. And oh, that Manti Te’o is inspiring. I don’t doubt it. But as a thought exercise, how many predators would have to be on the team before you’d no longer feel like cheering?
Sexual violations of all kinds happen on every campus, I know, and neither man will ever be found guilty in court; one of the victims is dead and the other, according to the Notre Dame student who drove her to the ER afterward, in February 2011, decided to keep her mouth shut at least in part because she’d seen what happened to the first woman. Neither player has ever even been named, and won’t be here, either, since neither was charged with a crime.
The Department of Education’s civil rights office is well aware of the second case, though; in fact, federal investigators were on campus when it occurred, as part of a seven-month probeinto the way Notre Dame handles such reports. And as a result, with its Title IX funding on the line, the university marked the 40th anniversary of coeducation in 2012 by changing the way it investigates sexual assault for the second time in two years.
Lizzy Seeberg at a tailgate party with her father, brother and friends on Sept. 4, 2010, several days after accusing a Notre Dame football player of sexual assault. (Courtesy of the Seeberg family.)
I’ve spent months researching these cases and written thousands of words in the National Catholic Reporter about the whole shameful situation, some of which you’ve likely heard about: Two years ago, Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman at Saint Mary’s College, across the street from Notre Dame, committed suicide after accusing an ND football player of sexually assaulting her. The friend Lizzy told immediately afterward said she was crying so hard she was having trouble breathing.
Yet after Lizzy went to the police, a friend of the player’s sent her a series of texts that frightened her as much as anything that had happened in the player’s dorm room. “Don’t do anything you would regret,” one of them said. “Messing with Notre Dame football is a bad idea.”
At the time of her death, 10 days after reporting the attack to campus police, who have jurisdiction for even the most serious crimes on school property, investigators still had not interviewed the accused. It took them five more days after she died to get around to that, though they investigated Lizzy herself quite thoroughly, even debriefing a former roommate at another school with whom she’d clashed.
Six months later — after the story had become national news — Notre Dame did convene a closed-door disciplinary hearing. The player testified that until he actually met with police, he hadn’t even known why they wanted to speak to him — though his buddy who’d warned Lizzy not to mess with Notre Dame football had spoken to investigators 13 days earlier. He was found “not responsible,” and never sat out a game.
My family celebrating with my dad, John Henneberger, Notre Dame Class of ’44, on his birthday, the same day the above photo of Lizzy Seeberg was taken, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010.
A few months later, a resident assistant in a Notre Dame dorm drove a freshman to the hospital for a rape exam after receiving an S.O.S. call. “She said she’d been raped by a member of the football team at a party off campus,” the R.A. told me. I also spoke to the R.A.’s parents, who met the young woman that same night, when their daughter brought her to their home after leaving the hospital. They said they saw — and reported to athletic officials — a hailstorm of texts from other players, warning the young woman not to report what had happened: “They were trying to silence this girl,” the R.A.’s father told me. And did; no criminal complaint was ever filed.
It’s not only what I believe went on at that off-campus party, or in the room of the player Lizzy accused, that makes it impossible for me to support the team, though that would be enough. The problem goes deeper than that, and higher, because the man Lizzy accused had a history of behavior that should have kept him from being recruited in the first place. And as bad in my book as the actions of those young men was the determination of the considerably older men who run N.D. to keep those players on the team in an effort to win some football games.
Among those being congratulated for our return to gridiron glory is ND’s president, Rev. John Jenkins, who refused to meet with the Seeberg family on advice of counsel, and other school officials who’ve whispered misleadingly in many ears, mine included, in an attempt to protect the school’s brand by smearing a dead 19-year-old.
(Yes, Lizzy suffered from depression, but according to her therapists was neither “unstable” nor a teller of tales. No, she had never before accused anyone of such a thing. And no, she had never before attempted suicide.)
At first, officials said privacy laws prevented them from responding. But after some criticism, Jenkins told the South Bend Tribune he’d intentionally kept himself free of any in-depth knowledge of the case, yet was sure it had been handled appropriately.
The school’s “proof” that Lizzy lied is that she said the player stopped attacking her after receiving a call or a text. Phone records contradict that, showing that it was the player who called a friend rather than the other way around. Case closed, right? Sure, if you don’t think someone in the middle of both a physical and an anxiety attack could possibly be mistaken about whether her assailant stopped to make a call, or take one.
Joanne Archambault, who ran the San Diego police department’s special victims unit for 10 years and trains cops around the country, told me for my NCR story that because of the way the brain processes information in traumatic situations, victims almost always get some details wrong. Only the phony reports are perfect.
I have no trouble understanding the many Notre Dame fans who don’t know the facts of these cases. Or even those who tell themselves well, maybe, but innocent until proven guilty, right? Lucky them, I say.
The alums who mystify me are those who know the real story, believe it, and are giddy still over a winning season that’s at least in part the result of wrong behavior. I did myself a favor recently and unsubscribed from the alumni e-mails touting the school’s good works and asking, “What would you fight for?” (Football?)
My husband says he continues to be amazed by the depths of my disillusionment; had I really thought they were so much better than this? You bet I did; in fact, Notre Dame isn’t Notre Dame if it isn’t, which might explain why school officials maintain to this day that they’ve done nothing wrong, have never besmirched Miss Seeberg’s memory, and have no idea how so many fans think they know so much about her. (Here’s how: A longtime ND donor I interviewed said a top university official told him straight up that Lizzy had been sexually aggressive with the player rather than the other way around: “She was all over the boy.”)
Though 13 Seebergs went to Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s before Lizzy, her family is sitting this season out, of course. Yet in their Chicago suburb, football fever runs so high that they, too, regularly field queries from friends about whether they’re excited for the Irish.
“We just say ‘No, not too excited, really not a big fan any longer,’ ” says Lizzy’s father, Tom Seeberg, who’s remarkably indifferent to the team’s success: “When tragedy rocks you to your core, all the little stuff is stripped away.” And yes, sports fans, there are people who consider football the little stuff. Since Lizzy’s death, Tom and his wife Mary have raised $280,000 in her memory, enough to open the “Lizzy House” for laypeople teaching for free in the Jesuit-run, inner-city Chicago Cristo Rey school where Lizzy volunteered.
Lizzy’s aunt, Katie Garvey, who met her husband at ND, has come to believe that even if the facts of these cases were “blasted from every news source in the country, the average Notre Dame fan would still find a way to discount it.” Part of her is actually kind of glad for them, that “they don’t have the burden of knowing,” even if “their resistance to knowing is absolutely remarkable.”
In South Bend, naturally, knowing is particularly burdensome: “I’ve watched almost every game this season and there’s not a single time that I don’t feel extreme anger when I see [the accused] on the field,” said Kaliegh Fields, a Saint Mary’s junior who went with Lizzy to the police station. “Once I start thinking about the people who put the school’s success in a sport over the life of a young woman, I can’t help but feel disgust. Everyone’s always saying how God’s on Notre Dame’s side,” she added. “And I think, ‘How could he be?’ “
Melinda Henneberger is a Post political writer and anchors the paper’s She the People blog. Follow her on Twitter at @MelindaDC.
Read More . . .
|Help Pass VAWA Now . . .
Please help pass the Violence Against Women Act -- it is critical to our efforts to stop sexual violence.
The lame duck session is winding down & Congress has some unfinished business.
They MUST PASS the Violence Against Women Act NOW!
695 Days Since VAWA Expired
199 Days Since Congress’ Last Action on VAWA
14 Days Left to pass VAWA before this Congress ends
TAKE ACTION BY REACHING OUT TO HOUSE LEADERSHIP!
This week, we’re asking advocates across the country to all contact four key leaders in the House:
- Speaker John Boehner (OH),
- Majority Leader Eric Cantor (VA),
- Conference Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA), and
- Chair of the House Judiciary Committee Lamar Smith (TX).
These four Representatives have substantial influence in moving VAWA forward, and they need to hear from all of you that VAWA must be passed in the lame duck session!
Call these Representatives with the message that the vast majority of the House and Senate versions of VAWA are the same, and only a few critical differences remain to be worked through. Tell them we know that by working together in good faith, these differences can be resolved. There is too much at stake for victims and for the stability of VAWA’s vital programs – VAWA must be passed now!
Speaker Boehner: 202.225.6205
Leader Cantor: 202.225.2815
Chairwoman McMorris Rodgers: 202.225.2006
Chairman Smith: 202.225.4236
You can also tweet at these Representatives using the sample tweets below:
@johnboehner Please stand up for women and children exposed to violence. #PassVAWA2012
@GOPLeader Put #VAWA on the calendar now to help ensure safety for all victims. #PassVAWA2012
@cathymcmorris #PassVAWA2012 because victims in your community and across the country depend on it!
@LamarSmithTX21 Congress must reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act before they adjourn #PassVAWA2012
Visit Office on Violence Against Women
|Start a New Tradition
On November 27th,
charities across the country are partnering together to kick off the season of
GIVING. We urge you to donate to causes you care about: #GivingTuesday!
Click here for more information
|National Day of Action for VAWA tomorrow!
Please forward widely!
November 13, 2012
National Day of Action for VAWA Tomorrow!
Spread the word far and wide and let's get ready to send Congress a loud and clear message tomorrow: Pass VAWA now!
Your representatives and senators must hear from you! Get ready to call and tweet them Wednesday, November 14th with this message:
Rape is rape, and 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has experienced it. ALL victims must be protected. Pass VAWA before Congress adjourns!
Take action through social media!
Join the #PassVAWA2012 Facebook Photo Campaign to tell Congress that it’s time to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act! It’s easy, just snap photos of you, your friends, your colleagues, & sympathetic strangers holding up signs saying why we need to Pass VAWA NOW! Submit your photos via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweetpic with #PassVAWA2012.
Use these sample tweets or write your own using the hashtags #VAWA and #PassVAWA2012:
@JohnBoehner, Pass VAWA now for the 1 in 5 women raped in the U.S. #PassVAWA2012 #VAWA
@NancyPelosi, Pass VAWA now for the 1 in 5 women raped in the U.S. #PassVAWA2012 #VAWA
@Senator Reid, Pass VAWA now for the 1 in 5 women raped in the U.S. #PassVAWA2012 #VAWA
@McConnellPress, Pass VAWA now for the 1 in 5 women raped in the U.S. #PassVAWA2012 #VAWA
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
1130 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036
T: (850) 297-2000 / F: (850) 297-2002 / email@example.com
Office on Violence Against Women
|VAWA Update Call!
673 days since VAWA expired
177 days since Congress' last action on VAWA
36 days left to pass VAWA before this Congress ends
November 8, 2012
Please forward widely
Please join us TODAY
12:00pm eastern on Thursday, November 8th
for a very important VAWA update and organizing call.
Dial-in Number: 1-213-226-0400 Conference Code: 451747
Save Wednesday, November 14 for a VAWA day of ACTION
Every national leader will call Congressional leaders
Every state and local organizations will call Representatives and Senators
By the end of the day, every Member of Congress will hear a unified message:
Work out the differences, pass VAWA before this Congress ends and you go home for the holidays. Do not let VAWA die and miss this chance to help victims find shelter, help and justice. There is precious little time left and victim’s lives and futures are in the balance.
Join #PassVAWA2012 Social Media Campaign
Be a part of a ground-breaking campaign to leverage the full power of social media in fighting for the Reauthorization of VAWA! Join the #PassVAWA2012 Facebook Photo Campaign to tell Congress that it’s time to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act! It’s easy, just snap photos of you, your friends, your colleagues, & sympathetic strangers holding up signs saying why we need to Pass VAWA NOW! Submit your photos via email firstname.lastname@example.org or tweetpic with #PassVAWA2012. For more details and sample campaign tweets check out the attached tool kit! TOOL KIT, click here
|National Organizing Call for VAWA 11/8
Please forward widely!
November 1, 2012
As our colleagues, loved ones, survivors and rape crisis centers begin the hard work of repairing the damage done by Hurricane Sandy, our hearts go out to them. Our awareness of the importance of crisis services and response is heightened making it crystal clear that the lifesaving services supported by VAWA are absolutely critical!
Once the election is over, we must make every effort to get our Representatives and Senators in Congress to make VAWA a priority in the lame duck session of Congress.
Please join us at 12:00pm eastern on Thursday, November 8th for a very important organizing call. The Dial-in Number is 1-213-226-0400, and the conference code is 451747. You’ll hear from national leaders including NAESV President Monika Johnson Hostler who will outline major actions that everyone in the country can take to ensure VAWA gets passed by the end of the year and discuss a National Day of Action for VAWA to be held on Wednesday, November 14th.
Congress has some unfinished business.
They MUST PASS the Violence Against Women Act when they reconvene in November!
Get their word on it. VAWA NOW.
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
1130 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036
T: (850) 297-2000 / F: (850) 297-2002 / email@example.com
|Updates to Victim Impact Module: Homeless Victims
|EVAWI updated the OLTI Victim Impact Module about Meeting the Needs of Victims Who are Homeless.|
Click here for more information
|EVAWI offers Regional Training in North Carolina
|EVAWI is offering 3 regional trainings throughout the United States. The first one is a 2 Day Regional Conference, January 31 - February 1, 2013 in Charlotte, NC at The Westin Charlotte Hotel. |
Click here for more information
|Congress Has Unfinished Business: VAWA
|National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women|
October 18, 2012
Please spread the word!
653 Days since VAWA expired
155 Days since Congress' last action on VAWA
57 Days until this Congress ends and VAWA 2012 dies . . .
Congress has some unfinished business.
They MUST PASS the Violence Against Women Act
when they reconvene in November!
Advocates should use the next 18 days before the election to let the candidates know that we need VAWA done now!
If they want the women’s vote, they need to vow to PASS VAWA NOW. Get their word on it.
Go to VAWA now!
|Tonight is the DEBATE! TWEET about VAWA!
|Hi folks, hope you can tweet about VAWA during the VP debate tonight! Terri|
Please forward widely!
October 11, 2012
Tonight is the debate – tweet about VAWA!
Tonight is the Vice Presidential debates and we have seen multiple calls for the Violence Against Women Act to be a part of the debate. Add your voice! Use these tweets during the debates:
@MarthaRaddatz Rape is rape and #VAWA is expired. #VPDebate candidates must respond to these issues.
@MarthaRaddatz lets hear about why #VAWA has been expired for a year while #DV, rape and stalking r major issues #VPDebate #DVAM2012
@MarthaRaddatz, it’s #DVAM2012 - #VPDebate should include women & family issues like #education, #poverty, #dv, #VAWA
Claire escaped abuse & obtained permanent residency through #VAWA. Tell ur Rep 2 pass it in the lame duck! 4vawa.org
He put a knife to Veronica’s throat & threatened to have her & her fam deported from NM. No1 deserves abuse. Pass #VAWA! #DVAM2012
1 in 3 Native American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. Pass #VAWA in the lame duck to help all survivors. #DVAM2012
It’s unacceptable tht #dv resources have been expired for a year. Reauthorize #VAWA in the lame duck! #DVAM2012 4vawa.org
A community org tht helps Black/Latino LGBT was denied #dv funding bc it was “ineligible.” Protect all victims; pass #VAWA in the lame duck
“Rapists take away your childhood, your innocence, your spirit.” –Sasha of WI. Pass #VAWA so survivors have hope. 4vawa.org
Eunice of OH was slapped and locked in her closet for failing to satisfy her partner. It's #DVAM2012; Pass #VAWA in the lame duck
Sexual assault of men remains “a silent epidemic” –Gabe of IL. This lame duck pass a #VAWA tht helps all victims 4vawa.org
Tonight is the Vice Presidential debates and we have seen multiple calls for the Violence Against Wo
|ALERT! National Alliance to End Sexual Violence ALERT!
Together, we have made so much progress on VAWA!|
Thanks to you and NAESV, the media has focused on the needs of survivors! The issue of rape has remained front and center in our nation’s consciousness and a comprehensive policy response is needed—VAWA is that response!
We can capitalize on our momentum and the public’s focus on women’s issues. We can get Congress to enact a final survivor-focused VAWA that protects vulnerable victims and send it to the President by the end of this year!
But to do so, we need to make sure that VAWA is a priority for every Member of Congress during the “lame duck” session (after they come back from the election through the end of the year).
Let’s keep the pressure on – because together we can get this bill passed!
Your representatives and senators are home campaigning. Call their district offices with this message and also send it by email:
Rape, affecting 1 in 5 women, is unacceptable. ALL victims of violence must be protected. Yet VAWA expired over a year ago. VAWA reauthorization MUST be a priority in the lame duck session! Please tell your colleagues and Congressional leadership that you want to see VAWA reauthorized now. Will you publicly state before the election that passing VAWA this year is one of your highest priorities?
Please also tweet:
@[your legislator]: Rape is rape. Let rape victims, law enforcement and your constituents know you want to help. Prioritize passing #VAWA in lame duck.
|Senators to Mark 18th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act
Senators Will Call On House Republicans To Support Protections For Women By Passing VAWA
WASHINGTON – Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and several Democratic Senators will speak on the floor at 12:15 p.m. TODAY about the need for the House to pass the Senate’s bipartisan Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, which was passed with 68 votes in the Senate in April.
The legislation, which would reauthorize the law first signed by President Bill Clinton 18 years ago today, includes crucial protections for Native American women, college women, immigrants and the LGBT community and is widely supported by law enforcement officials and hundreds of groups that are dedicated to preventing domestic violence.
WHO: Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), lead author of the Senate VAWA bill
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.)
Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
WHAT: Floor speeches marking the 18th anniversary of the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act
WHEN: TODAY: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Beginning at 12:15PM
WHERE: Senate Floor
This information from Google Groups
|Statement on the 18th Anniversary of VAWA
Statement on the Eighteenth Anniversary of The Violence Against Women Act
September 14, 2012
Today is the eighteenth birthday of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). And while VAWA should be coming of age today, Congress has failed to reauthorize our nation’s frontline response to violence against women. VAWA has undoubtedly provided states’ with essential tools to address this violence, but our nation’s work to address rape and sexual abuse is far from complete. Legislation pending in Congress takes the next critical steps to strengthen responses to crimes of sexual violence.
As 18 year olds across the nation head off to college for the first time on their own, Congress must act immediately to pass legislation reauthorizing VAWA and keep them safe. If a student is raped during her freshman year in college, when young people are particularly at risk, will an advocate be available to respond? Will a sexual assault nurse examiner be available to provide medical care and collect evidence? Will the DNA evidence be tested to find potential serial offenders? Will the case be prosecuted? The answer is yes if VAWA is reauthorized and maybe not if Congress fails to pass VAWA. Many states lack examiners and specialized prosecutors and have rape kit backlogs. VAWA has provisions to support advocacy services; encourage states to hire and train nurse examiners, law enforcement officers and prosecutors; and test rape kits.
Will your daughter or son receive information about how to prevent rape and domestic violence when they arrive on campus? The answer is yes if VAWA is reauthorized and maybe not if Congress fails to pass VAWA. VAWA reauthorizes the Rape Prevention and Education Program and augments university reporting requirements for these crimes.
But VAWA does much more than support those on campus, it also provides first ever protections for rape victims in public housing. On June 18, 2007, ten armed youths between the ages of 14 and 18 forced themselves into a Florida woman's public housing apartment where they repeatedly raped her and poured household chemicals into her son’s eyes and over her body. VAWA reauthorization includes protections to help victims like this move to safety.
Now, as VAWA turns 18, is the perfect time for Congress to act and pass final legislation so that our nation’s stand against this violence can again be the law of the land, and we can take the next steps together to end sexual violence.
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
1130 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036
T: (850) 297-2000 / F: (850) 297-2002 / firstname.lastname@example.org
National Alliance to End Sexual Violence
|Sin by Silence Legislation is addressed by Dr. Drew
|Our very own CWAA members, Brenda Clubine and Flozelle Woodmore,?will be guests of Dr. Drew to discuss the crisis of domestic violence, ?the injustice of incarcerated battered women, and how ?the Sin by Silence legislation is making history.|
Sin by Silence Bills
|In Tarrant County, acquaintance rape cases often die in grand jury room
First of three parts
In the universe of crime, acquaintance rape can be the most difficult to prove. He says sex was consensual. She says it was not. Often, there is precious little evidence, such as physical injuries or witnesses, to point one way or another.
But not this time. In this Arlington case, there were photos.
In 2007, after a night of drinking and drug use in her home, an Arlington woman happened upon her digital camera in the car of a man from the party. Scrolling through the pictures, she recognized several shots from the previous night, then came across a few she didn't. In those, she was passed out from the drugs and alcohol. The man was having sex with her and taking pictures as he did.
"She freaks, which any person normally would," said Sgt. Tim Pinckney, who heads the adult sex crimes unit of the Arlington Police Department. "She had no idea that took place."
The woman reported the assault to police. Within hours, she was at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth for a sexual assault exam.
"In my opinion, that case was proof beyond a reasonable doubt," Pinckney said recently. "The photographs clearly showed she was unconscious [and unable to consent to sex, one legal definition of rape]. You couldn't ask for better evidence. We got an arrest warrant, and he was picked up."
What happened next stunned Arlington detectives and incensed the victim and her family. When Tarrant County prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury, it died behind the panel's closed doors.
"It was no-billed," Pinckney said, using the legal term for when a grand jury declines to return an indictment.
Pinckney said he could never find out why.
"You know, I wish I had an answer to that," he said.
So do other detectives and many Tarrant County rape victims. Over the last four years, a Star-Telegram investigation has found, Tarrant County grand juries have rejected more than half the acquaintance rape cases presented to them by prosecutors. Some no-bills came in cases like the one in Arlington, where police had obtained incriminating photographs. In others, alleged rapists had confessed. In one no-billed case, Fort Worth detectives had obtained photographs and a confession. A few years ago, one grand jury rejected every case in which the victim had been drinking, a Fort Worth detective said.
PDF: Confessions from rape suspects who never faced trial
Stubborn myths about nonstranger rape, by far the most common form of sexual assault, probably contribute to the dismal numbers, local authorities and national experts say.
Many in the general public, including potential jurors and grand jurors, still think of acquaintance rape as "drunk sex" or "date rape." The crime is generally regarded as less serious than stranger rape, and the rapists less sinister and less guilty. Much of the onus for acquaintance rape remains on the victim and her behavior. And there lingers a widespread belief that false rape allegations are often made to exact revenge on a lover or to save face with angry parents, though study after study shows that less than 10 percent of all rape reports are false.
But because grand juries are notoriously sympathetic to the state, the presentation of the cases by Tarrant County prosecutors and other aspects of the system have also been called into question. Sex crimes detectives say prosecutors almost never call them to testify about their cases before grand juries.
Rape victims rarely tell their stories in that forum. A program to educate grand jurors about the myths of acquaintance rape was discontinued several years ago because some state judges believed that panel members were being "brainwashed" in favor of the state.
The Tarrant County no-bill statistics stunned some national criminal justice experts.
"If you're telling me there are photos and a confession and there is a no-bill, that's shocking to me," said Jennifer Gentile Long, a former prosecutor and director of AEquitas, a Washington-based group that trains prosecutors about sexual assault cases. "That seems like an outlier. What's that old saying: 'A grand jury would indict a ham sandwich if a prosecutor told them to?'
"Certainly at trial it can be difficult, because myths get in the way. But at a grand jury hearing, when you're putting forth evidence and putting up elements and there is no defense? Those should be going through."
Q&A with victims' advocate: 'Your sense of safety has been shattered.'
After learning of the Star-Telegram's findings, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon assigned prosecutors to analyze the 141 no-bills, attempting to determine "why some of them were problem children, problem cases."
In many cases, the victim was uncooperative or changed her story, Shannon said. In others, the victim and alleged perpetrator had just met -- cases that the district attorney said did not qualify as acquaintance rape. Consent was often an issue. Prosecutors could not determine why several others were no-billed, Shannon said.
"You've raised an interesting question, and we want to look at them," he said. In light of the findings, Shannon said, his office will invite detectives to testify before the grand jury in sexual assault cases.
"It's real easy to do," he said. "I have no problem with that. This is the first time I've heard they [the detectives] have been crying about it."
Shannon's office also said last week that in six Fort Worth cases where police had obtained confessions, the victim declined to pursue the case or there were other extenuating circumstances.
The district attorney otherwise defended how his lawyers handle acquaintance rape cases. He said prosecutors reject less than 5 percent of the cases presented to them by police because "the tie goes to the victim."
In all cases, Shannon said, Tarrant County prosecutors present the evidence necessary for grand jurors to make informed judgments.
"When [grand jurors] first come in, I give them a message," the district attorney said. "One of the things I tell them is that, 'Look, you'll get some calls here that are easy calls. You'll get some calls that are tough calls. You make the decision based on what you see and what you feel. You chop the wood and let the chips fall where they may.'
"I don't have any way of knowing what they're going to think in a given case, nor do I try to, nor do I try to dictate what they do."
At least one other Texas city, however, tries things differently and has seen results.
In Austin, detectives are called to testify as a matter of course. And other new practices have been implemented in the past eight years.
The city's no-bill rate in acquaintance rape cases is 13 percent. That's still relatively high compared with other crimes, but understandable given the difficult nature of the cases, experts and detectives say.
Tarrant County's no-bill rate -- 51 percent-- is not.
"I have a hard time with that," said Fort Worth police Sgt. Cheryl Johnson, the former supervisor of Fort Worth's adult sex crimes unit. Now head of homicide, Johnson continues to consult regularly with sex crimes detectives.
"I don't know if it's the people on the grand jury, because the reality is that the general public has a skewed perception of sexual assault, the whole myth of what rape really is," she said.
"That perception of, you know, 'She shouldn't have gone to his house' or 'She shouldn't have been out drinking.' Or whatever the case may be. I don't know why so many cases are no-billed."
'My word against hers'
The Star-Telegram's findings are even more striking in light of new research on the nature of the acquaintance rapist and the emotional toll the crime takes on victims.
Studies now show that the typical perpetrator is not a drunken college boy who misunderstood a girl's intentions, but a serial predator. He is often charming and particularly adept at identifying vulnerable victims, then taking advantage of them with impunity.
"We're actually told [by suspects]: 'It's my word against hers. There's nothing you can do,'" Johnson said. "They know if they take it down to the issue of consent, not whether the sex happened or not, it's much harder for a case to be proven."
Acquaintance rape victims, who often blame themselves and sometimes find that even friends and relatives are skeptical, suffer emotional trauma often more profound than in stranger-rape cases, experts say. Small wonder that a fraction of sexual assaults are reported to police, less than 1 in 5, according to a recent Texas survey.
Among those who did not come forward is Ashley, a 23-year-old from Fort Worth. She suspects that she was drugged at a party in Dallas three years ago, when she found herself on the floor of an apartment with a man on top of her. She said she felt paralyzed.
"I couldn't move at all," Ashley said in an interview at the Women's Center of Tarrant County, where she now receives counseling. "It was really painful. When I woke up the next morning, my underwear were on backwards and there was blood everywhere."
The next day she confided in her roommate.
"She kind of brushed it off: 'Oh yeah, that's happened to me before,'" Ashley said. "It was really weird. I was just, 'Oh, God, what if everyone is like that? What if the most important people in the justice system react in that way?' I didn't want to have to face the fact that some people would not believe me, that I would have to defend myself."
For the small minority of acquaintance rape victims who do report their assaults, the criminal justice system is a funnel from which comparatively few cases emerge, the Star-Telegram investigation found.
For four years beginning in 2008, an average of 569 rape cases a year were reported to the Rape Crisis Center in Fort Worth. (Part of the Women's Center, the crisis center is notified about every reported county rape and assigns a rape crisis volunteer to support each victim.)
But Tarrant County prosecutors eventually filed criminal charges in less than 20 percent of those reported cases, according to statistics obtained by the Star-Telegram.
Audio: District Attorney Joe Shannon defends the process
Much of the attrition is explained by the number of victims who initially report their cases and then choose not to pursue them, detectives say.
"I would say in 30 to 40 percent of the cases, people don't want to pursue it or they don't get back in touch with us," Johnson said.
In other cases, Johnson said, investigators cannot build a case that they believe will stand up in court.
"It's very difficult [to tell the victim] because they feel like they are being victimized again," she said. "That's not what we're trying to do. We do everything we can to try and prove a case, and sometimes we have to tell them that we believe them but it does not meet the legal requirements and there is nothing that we can do."
That makes sex crimes detectives even more passionate about the cases they feel they have proved and about those where victims are willing to move forward.
In most of those cases, a magistrate has reviewed the evidence and issued an arrest warrant. Prosecutors review the case and file formal charges if they feel the evidence is strong enough. By Texas law, all felony cases must then go before a grand jury, but that's where the state holds almost all the cards.
The 12-member panels, selected by district judges for three-month terms, are often older and stricter than the general public and theoretically more inclined to indict.
Defense lawyers are not present. Instead, in each grand jury session, the prosecutor decides what evidence the panel will hear. He or she may summarize evidence in 20 to 30 cases a day involving a wide variety of crimes.
Grand jurors retire to deliberate in private, with nine votes needed to return an indictment. They generally spend just a few minutes to decide each case, then return their decisions en masse.
Since 2008, Tarrant County grand juries have no-billed only 11 percent of all felony cases, according to statistics obtained by the Star-Telegram.
Acquaintance rape cases have been rejected more than four times as often.
Those no-bill numbers, and the way the cases are presented, leave Tarrant County prosecutors open to criticism, national experts say.
"I can certainly imagine a scenario where if a prosecutor is not confident in a case, he or she can present it in a certain way to a grand jury to sort of coax a result," said Roger Canaff, a former special-victims prosecutor in New York and Virginia who now lectures nationally on the prosecution of nonstranger rape. "That's more difficult to do when you have detectives testifying.
"Prosecutors are human," he said. "They're looking at a case that they don't believe they can win, [that] they don't want to take to trial. It's unfortunate, but it's very easy for them to sort of channel that doubt to the grand jury. So even while they're asking for a true-bill, there's sort of a wink and a nod thing going on.
"It's like, 'If you don't true-bill this, it's not going to be heartbreak for me.' I really believe that."
Canaff calls nonstranger sexual assault the "last frontier of crime."
"It's one of the last crimes where there is still a tremendous amount of victim blaming, where people don't understand the dynamics of it," he said. "People kind of assume that whatever this woman got, she had it coming, because she was dressed in a certain way or she led a guy on. They don't understand how predators operate. They don't understand what victims go through in these situations."
That's why experts advocate that new grand juries be at least briefly educated on the complexities of the crime. That occurred for years in Tarrant County. Deborah Caddy, director of the Rape Crisis Center in Fort Worth, had a few minutes with each new panel to discuss common myths and misconceptions.
"I felt like it was important," Caddy said recently. "I don't know empirically that it was successful, but I know that at the end of those sessions, we always had lots of good questions."
In the early 2000s, Caddy said, a prosecutor notified her that her grand jury sessions would be discontinued.
"Several judges complained that it was an attempt to brainwash grand jurors with things that were not legal facts, by people who had a, quote, cause," Shannon said.
Weak cases stymie prosecutors
In the recent interview, Shannon said most of the Tarrant County no-bills were not about stubborn myths among grand jurors or about the way the cases were presented by his office, but about the weakness of the cases. The recent analysis by Shannon's office showed that in 50 cases, the victims were uncooperative, recanted or changed their story.
In 22 cases, Shannon said, the victim had met the accused shortly before the alleged assault -- minutes before in some instances. In his opinion, those cases didn't fit the category of acquaintance rape.
"We had one where a lady was drunk at a Sonic," Shannon said. "She was stumbling There is a guy there. ... He meets her there on the parking lot and they have sex in the back of the car. He didn't use a weapon. There wasn't any threat of serious bodily injury or harm. But that doesn't fit the idea of acquaintance rape. That's one.
"Swingers. People going to swingers parties," he continued, explaining why he feels the cases are sometimes hard to prove. "They meet someone at a swingers party and they have sex and here comes a rape allegation."
The issue of consent made 26 other cases problematic, according to the prosecutors' analysis.
"For instance, a young woman who said she was sexually assaulted, then after the sexual assault, sent a picture of herself, unclothed, to the offender, and sent texts that were inappropriate by any stretch of the imagination," prosecutor Christy Jack said.
Still, as weak as it was, prosecutors took that case to the grand jury.
"Even with those pictures, even with those circumstances," said Jack Strickland, a senior prosecutor. "This woman is entitled to at least have her story presented to the grand jury. This would be a much different enterprise if you found that we filed only 8 percent of the sexual assault cases. But it's not. We're filing a boatload of cases and working them up and presenting them to the grand jury."
The prosecutors said that, in seven other cases, there was no obvious reason why a grand jury would return a no-bill.
"The grand jury vote is secret," Strickland said. "They don't provide us with a reason why they no-billed cases."
'The most vicious crime'
Sgt. Johnson is one of many who would really like to know. After she spent five years in patrol, her first job as a Fort Worth detective was in adult sex crimes in 1994. Her eyes were quickly opened.
"When I started working on these cases, I saw the impact that it has on the victims and their families," she said. "I just think, other than murder, it's the most vicious crime that can be committed. It's very intimate and it's very degrading, and it truly changes people's lives forever."
Johnson later worked in crime scene investigation and homicide, but investigating sexual assault has remained one of her professional passions.
Under her supervision, Fort Worth sex crimes detectives have received advanced training in how to interview rape victims and suspects. Detectives have been trained to use unconventional methods to confirm the use of force or to resolve issues of consent.
Over the years, Johnson said, she also has come to accept the inherent frustrations of acquaintance rape investigations. But in some cases, exasperation lingers.
"If there is a confession, how can it be no-billed?" she asked.
For help: Rape Crisis and Victims Center
That has happened several times in the past few years.
"Actually admitting that he used force or that she was completely incapacitated," Johnson said. "It just depends on the case but, yeah. Sometimes even so much that, 'I knew it was wrong and I did it anyway. I knew she didn't want to have sex. I held her down and had sex with her.' It can be that blatant of a confession."
In another Fort Worth case, Johnson said, a woman said that a few days after she passed out at a party, she received photographs on her cellphone depicting her being raped.
In addition, the accused later confessed. That was one of the 279 cases of sexual assault filed by the district attorney's office since 2008, according to records obtained by the Star-Telegram. Sexual assault is a second-degree felony in which the victim did not suffer a serious physical injury and the attacker did not use a deadly weapon. In those cases, the victim and the assailant almost always know each other in some way.
But the Fort Worth case with the incriminating photographs and a confession was no-billed on Aug. 24, 2010, among the 141 sexual assault cases rejected by grand juries the past four years.
Through an open-records request, the Star-Telegram obtained excerpts of six statements in which an alleged rapist admitted an element of the crime.
"He stated he called out to a friend who brought his camera phone," read one statement. "They took videos of the victim while she was unconscious. The victim was completely naked. He stated he used his finger to penetrate the victim's vagina three or four times."
After learning that the Star-Telegram had obtained the statements, prosecutors responded with explanations. In this case, the victim "did not want to prosecute because she did not believe she could go to court. The detective told the DA's Office that if we wanted the victim to testify, to give her a week 'to let her sober up.' [The victim] reaffirmed on the day the case was presented to the grand jury that she did not want to prosecute."
That is typical of cases that are no-billed, prosecutors say.
But Canaff said that also raises questions.
"If someone is willing to endure a sexual assault examination and the initial criminal investigation, by the time they get to the DA they're pretty far along," the former prosecutor said. "There is always attrition. Circumstances in a victim's life change. They become terrified of trial.
"But if there is an unusual amount of attrition at that stage, it suggests that they are not being met with much support, sympathy or skill by the district attorney's office. It's indicative of something missing at that stage."
Detectives said that they have not been told in recent years why the cases did not move forward. When they've asked, they say, prosecutors have responded by citing the secret nature of grand jury proceedings.
"I wish we could get more input as to why they're no-billed," Johnson said. "I wish that if there was any question in the cases, we would be called to testify if we could help clarify something."
In eight years as a sex crimes detective or supervisor, Johnson said, she was called to the grand jury one time.
Pinckney, the veteran Arlington detective, has never testified before a state grand jury, nor have any detectives in his unit.
As such, they have no way of knowing what evidence is being presented or how cases are laid out.
"We testify in cases that go to trial," Pinckney said. "What's the difference? They [grand jurors] are making a decision on a case we have investigated. If that would help them make a sound decision about whether to indict or not to indict, I don't know why we wouldn't."
Prosecutors say detectives haven't been called because their testimony is not necessary.
"Detectives may, frankly, overestimate their own value to the process, particularly if they have submitted a thorough report," Strickland said.
"If a detective or a witness in some way feels that they get to come to the grand jury and make a jury argument, the grand jury is not going to sit still for that. If they think their report is insufficient and they can salvage it in some way by making an emotional appeal before the grand jury, that's not going to fly."
'How could this happen?'
Last year, the University of Montana in Missoula launched an investigation into allegations that two female students were gang-raped by male students. The investigation spread from those two victims to several others on campus.
By the time the Justice Department announced its own investigation this spring, the number of cases under scrutiny had grown to 80 rapes across Missoula in the past three years. Most of the cases involved acquaintance rape.
In letters to the Missoula Police Department and local prosecutors, the Justice Department alleged that "each agency has failed to investigate reports of sexual assaults against women because of their gender or in a manner that has a disparate impact on women."
David Lisak, a University of Massachusetts psychologist and one of the nation's leading experts on nonstranger sexual assault, said he sees similarities between Missoula and Tarrant County.
"There's probably something very parallel going on," Lisak said. "It doesn't mean that Missoula and your county are the two counties in the United States where this is happening. It's two out of thousands of communities. There are a very small number of localities where there are markedly better situations. But it's a handful. What you're investigating is really the norm."
That means tens of thousands of rape victims across the nation, the minority who do report the crime, are re-victimized by the justice system.
Austin was recently cited by Human Rights Watch as one of the few American cities that has taken steps to change that.
Sex crimes detectives testify before the grand jury, and grand jurors receive a brief orientation on acquaintance rape. In each case, victims are on hand to answer grand jurors' questions. A Travis County prosecutor is assigned to the Austin Police Department's adult sex crimes unit. Only a small number of senior prosecutors present rape cases to Travis County grand juries. In Tarrant County, those cases are presented by more than 35 lawyers.
Shannon said he would be willing to consider new ways of handling the acquaintance rape cases.
"Obviously, we're open to suggestions to improve our craft all the time," the district attorney said. "We're more than happy to do that. The main thing is that we want a fair result. We're not out to convict everybody, but what we want to do is separate the wheat from the chaff. Anything that will help us do that, that's great. I have no problem with it."
A major fear now, sex crimes detectives say, is that stories like this one will further discourage victims from reporting rapes. The detectives can point to some acquaintance rape cases where indictments have been obtained, convictions returned and prison time assessed.
"There is good and bad, but we are committed to every case," Johnson said. "We encourage the victims to come forward so we can catch predators, so that [victims] can have a voice in the system. And hopefully it will help in their healing and turn them from a victim to a survivor, which is the ultimate goal."
Another is to prevent experiences like that of the Arlington woman who, in 2007, found proof of the assault in her camera. When her case was no-billed, Pinckney said, the victim wondered, "How could this happen?"
"The victim didn't feel like the system had worked," Pinckney said. "You know, you try to explain to them whatever the process is. In this case, we tried to get answers. Was there something we did? Were there other dynamics that played into this? The prosecutor basically said, 'We don't know why the grand jury did what they did.'"
Because of confidentiality laws, none of the victims in the no-billed cases were identified, so it was impossible to locate them. But Ashley, the Fort Worth rape survivor, knows how they must have felt.
In the months after her assault, she would rarely leave her dorm room.
"It made me feel so unsafe, I didn't want to go out in the city at all," she said. "Whenever I saw a reference to rape, I would have panic attacks galore. I had the worst night terrors, like I was being set on fire."
She dropped out of college but is getting help at the Women's Center.
On a recent afternoon there, she was asked to consider a hypothetical: What if she had reported her case and police had found her attacker and obtained a confession? What if the case then had died before a grand jury?
"I would have a horrible reaction to it," she said. "I would probably never trust the justice system again. I probably would have a hard time trusting people. I would spiral even further into depression because it would feel like you were betrayed or something.
"It's just repugnant and horrible," she said. "I think one of the reasons people don't report is that they hear the stories. I've heard a lot of stories. The last thing you want to do is go through all of that and then be told it's not a case."
Staff writer Darren Barbee contributed to this report.
Tim Madigan, 817-390-7544; Twitter: @tsmadigan
About the series
Today: In Tarrant County, more than half of all acquaintance rape cases since 2008 have died behind the closed doors of a grand jury. National experts are shocked, victims outraged. Many wonder why justice isn’t being done.
Monday: Meet the typical perpetrator of acquaintance rape. He’s not who you think he is.
Tuesday: For the rape victims who report, a teddy bear and a lot of support.
By Tim Madigan
Read this article
|VAWA Alert: Tell Congress to Pass a Final VAWA Before August Recess!
This Monday Speaker Boehner named eight members of the House of Representatives to serve on nonexistent conference committee on VAWA.
Unfortunately this is not a meaningful step forward for VAWA and Congress continues to hide behind procedural issues that could easily be resolved. However, Speaker Boehner’s actions show us that our strategy is working! Because of you, Congress is feeling the pressure to pass a final VAWA bill that protects all victims, and we can't stop now! We need to let them know that the safety of victims cannot be held hostage to political wrangling and procedural excuses.
This week, before Congress goes on August recess, please take the following actions to ensure that a final VAWA is swiftly passed.
ACTION ONE : CALL THE POTENTIAL CONFERENCE COMMITTEE MEMBERS – ESPECIALLY IF YOU LIVE IN FLORIDA, CALIFORNIA, SOUTH CAROLINA, NEW YORK, WASHINGTON, WEST VIRGINIA, WISCONSIN, OR TEXAS - AND TELL THEM:
“I have read and heard you say that you care about preventing sexual and domestic violence and providing crucial services and legal justice for all victims. Please match your words with your deeds and make sure Congress considers the Violence Against Women Act’s reauthorization THIS year. To do this, both the House and Senate bills must be considered as part of any future negotiations. I urge you to get a final VAWA that protects all victims passed this year. Anything else is unacceptable to your constituents and victims all across the nation.”
FL: Representative Sandy Adams, 202- 225-2706
CA: Representative Bono Mack, 202 225-5330
SC: Representative Trey Gowdy, 202 225- 6030
NY: Representative Nan Hayworth, 202 225-5441
WA: Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, 202 225-2006
WV: Representative Shelly Moore Capito, 202.225.2711
WI: Representative F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., (202) 225-5101
TX: Representative Lamar Smith, Chair, House Judiciary Committee, 202-225-4236
ACTION TWO: CALL HOUSE LEADERS AND ASK THEM TO ACCEPT THE SENATE BILL, WORK OUT THE PROCEDURAL BLUE SLIP PROBLEM, REPLACE SHOWMANSHIP WITH CRAFTSMANSHIP AND GET A REAL VAWA PASSED. CALL THE SENATE LEADERS AND DEMAND THEY WORK THIS OUT TOO. VAWA MUST PASS THIS YEAR OR ALL THE IMPORTANT IMPROVEMENTS WILL BE LOST.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), (202) 225-0600
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), (202) 225-4000
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), (202) 225-0100
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), (202) 224-3542
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), (202) 224-2541
Chair of the Democratic Conference Senator Chuck Schumer, (202) 224-6542
Check our website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates: www.4vawa.org.
Follow us on twitter at @NTFVAWA and “like” our Facebook page where you can find a toolkit and other action and information items: http://on.fb.me/NTF_Facebook_page.
Don’t forget to tweet about VAWA using the hashtags #ReauthorizeVAWA, #RealVAWA
If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to email@example.com.
|VAWA ALERT: Tell Congress they have to do their job
Today’s New York Times Op Ed said it all: “With Congress just days away from its August break, House Republicans have to decide which is more important: protecting victims of domestic violence or advancing the harsh antigay and anti-immigrant sentiments of some on their party's far right. At the moment, harshness is winning.” We need to tell Congress this is outrageous! Congress must do its job: if they don’t pass VAWA, they can’t go home.
Congress has just a few days to get to work on VAWA before they leave for the entire month of August – and then only a few short days in session before the congressional session ends on October 1. Please take 5 minutes to call, write or tweet – to your own Representative and both Senators in your state!
For nearly two months, since the April passage of a Senate version and a May House-passed version of VAWA and Congress has done NOTHING to finish the job and get VAWA signed into law. Congress will go home the first of October and may not come back until after the elections. We have no time to lose.
Call your legislators and write letters to the editor, especially if you are in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin. Let them hear what you have to say before they go on vacation!
We need to let Congress know that everyone loses if VAWA isn’t finished—that all victims need the many improvements in this version of VAWA.
LIKE TO CALL? ACTION: CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS AND TELL THEM:
“We need you to stop fussing over procedural issues and do your job and pass VAWA. If you don’t, ALL victims of violence will lose critical protections, including:
- protections for victims of dating and sexual violence at colleges and universities, who often lack access to the justice system simply because these crimes occur on campus.
- housing protections for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
- helpful expansions from both the Senate and the House bills that would provide crucial new protections for victims of sexual violence.
- valuable new prevention programs that can reduce the likelihood of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking from occurring in the future.
- Many victims, including Native women, immigrants, LGBT people and communities of color, would go without life-saving protection from violence.
This is unacceptable. You must pass VAWA before the recess.”
The Members below need encouragement to stand strong for a “real” VAWA. If they are your member of Congress, call them at their direct numbers below:
AK Senator Murkowski, 202- 224-6665
AZ Senator McCain, 202- 224-2235
CA Representative Gary Miller, 202 225-3201
CA Representative Lungren, 202 225-5716
CA Representative Denham, 202 225-4540
CA Representative Bilbray, 202 225-0508
CA Representative Bono Mack, 202 225-5330
CO Representative Coffman, 202 225-7882
CO Representative Tipton, 202 225-4761
FL Representative West, 202 225-3026
ID Senator Crapo, 202-224-6142
IL Walsh, 202 225-3711
IL Representative Johnson, 202 225-2371
IN Senator Coats , 202-224-5623
LA Senator Vitter, 202-224-4623
MA Senator Brown, 202-224-4543
ME Senator Collins, 202- 224-2523
ME Senator Snowe, 202-224-5344
MI Representative Benishek, 202 225-4735
NH Representative Guinta, 202 225-5456
NH Senator Ayotte, 202-224-3324
NV Senator Heller, 202-224-6244
NV Representative Heck, 202 225-3252
NY Representative Buerkle, 202 225-3701
NY Representative Grimm, 202 225-3371
NY Hayworth, 202 225-5441
ND Senator Hoeven, 202-224-2551
OH Representative Gibbs, 202 225-6265
OH Representative Johnson, 202 225-5705
OH Representative Renacci, 202 225-3876
OH Senator Portman, 202-224-3353
PA Representative Barletta, 202 225-6511
TN, Senator Alexander, 202-224-4944
TN Senator Corker, 202-224-3344
TX Senator Hutchinson, 202-224-5922
TX Representative Canseco, 202 225-4511
VA Representative Rigell, 202 225-4215
WA Representative Reichert, 202 225-7761
WI Representative Ribble, 202 225-5665
WI Representative Duffy, 202 225-3365
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), (202) 225-0600
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), (202) 225-4000
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), (202) 225-0100
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), (202) 224-3542
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), (202) 224-2541
Chair of the Democratic Conference Senator Chuck Schumer, (202) 224-6542
LIKE TO WRITE? ACTION: WRITE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR – OR GET YOUR LOCAL LAW ENFORCEMENT, RELIGIOUS, HEALTH, EDUCATION, AND ELECTED COMMUNITY LEADERS AND SURVIVORS IN YOUR AREA TO DO THE SAME. Congress will be home soon and it’s time to get those letters to the editor and Op Eds in your local papers. Here’s a sample letter to the editor:
To the Editor:
Congress is failing victims of violence. They have done nothing to pass the Violence Against Women Act in the past two months. VAWA is critical to our community because you’re your own thoughts here}. Without this critical law, victims of violence will lose life-saving protections, including services for dating and sexual violence victims on college campuses, housing protections, protections for victims of sexual violence and prevention programs. We cannot stand for a Congress that refuses to protect victims of violence. It’s simply unacceptable. Congress must act now and pass a law that protects all victims of violence.
Also email, tweet and put on Facebook your outrage. The attached document makes it easy. Take 30 seconds and change your Facebook status to “OUTRAGED that Congress has not passed a final VAWA,” or “Incomprehensible that Congress can't get VAWA done.”
We all know that passing a VAWA that includes ALL victims is the right thing to do – spend these last few days telling your Congress Member to get VAWA done before they go on vacation.
|There's Not Much Time Left for VAWA! Tell Congress to Pass it NOW!
We need VAWA!
Let Congress know that we can't wait any longer on passing VAWA!
Congress has only 15 more days to finish the Violence Against Women Act. If it doesn't pass before Congress goes on recess, we all lose out because we may not get a new VAWA any time soon.
In the two months since the Senate and House passed bills, nothing else has happened to get the Violence Against Women Act to the President to sign.
We need you to contact your members of Congress and tell them to finish their job.
The best thing to do is to call. You can reach your members of Congress by calling 202-224-3121.
Tell them that if they don't pass VAWA, all victims of violence will lose critical protections. This includes:
- Protections for survivors of sexual and dating violence on college campuses,
- Expansion of protections for survivors of sexual violence and,
- New prevention programs that can reduce the likelihood of sexual violence occurring in the future.
Please call today. If you can't call, please send an emailed message by following the Take Action link. We must use our voices to get VAWA passed now!
|THE NATIONAL 10 DAYS OF ACTION FOR VAWA START THIS WEEK! WILL YOU TAKE PART TO ENSURE THAT CONGRESS PASSES A FINAL VAWA THAT INCLUDES ALL VICTIMS?
Act with us- in DC or your hometown- to tell Congress they must get the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) moving before they go on their July 4th vacation. Before the end of summer, Congress needs to send a REAL VAWA to the President to sign with all of the inclusive provisions in S. 1925. The final VAWA must serve ALL victims and contain NO rollbacks to the current VAWA and we need to get movement so that can happen. As more and more legislation is stalled due to Congressional gridlock, we need Congressional leaders to hear our strong and united message once and for all: your work on VAWA is not over. We have too much at stake and doing nothing is not an option. Stand with us during our National 10 Days of Action as we fight to push VAWA over the finish line!
PARTICIPATE IN OUR 10 DAYS OF ACTION TO SAVE VAWA FROM JUNE 24TH – JULY 4TH! DO ONE OR ALL OF THE FOLLOWING ACTIVITIES BELOW!
Click here for updates and new information.
1) JOIN US FOR A RALLY IN DC!
National VAWA Days of Action
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Time: 11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Location: U.S. Capitol, Area 9, enter site at the intersection of 1st Street and Constitution Avenue NE.
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!
On June 26th a rally on Capitol Hill will spotlight the national VAWA Days of Action campaign that will last until July 4th. We want Congress to see us on the Hill! Thousands will gather at the US Capitol to directly call upon Congress to reauthorize the REAL VAWA now. We will send the message to Congress that victims cannot wait and a VAWA that mirrors S. 1925 must be reauthorized. Now is the time to show Congress how important VAWA is to victims, survivors and advocates across the country. If you cannot attend, send the flier to everyone you know in the DC area, including your Members of Congress and staff, and ask them to join the National Rally.
Speakers at the DC rally represent many of the national organizations supporting the reauthorization of the REAL VAWA and a broad cross section of supporters. Speakers include: Musician, Singer and Songwriter Michael Bolton; Colin Goddard, Survivor of the Mass Shooting at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007; The Honorable Daniel K. Akaka, Chairman, Senate Committee on Indian Affairs; Dr. Avis Jones-DeWeever, National Council of Negro Women; Juan Carlos Arean, Casa De Esperanza; Terry O’Neill, National Organization for Women; Juana Majel, National Congress of American Indians; Veda Shook, Association of Flight Attendants International; Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Neil Irvin, Men Can Stop Rape; Karin Quimby, Human Rights Campaign; Barbara Palmer, YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel Co.; and many more.
CLICK HERE TO SEE SAMPLE POSTERS AND MESSAGES FOR THE RALLY!
2) ACTIVATE YOUR NETWORKS TO HAVE A LOCAL DAY OF ACTION
Activate your membership for a local event!! Organize your members, friends, families and everyone you know who cares about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking to stand up and speak out. Organize a vigil, rally, prayer service, press conference or other local action in your community to tell Congress that victims cannot wait and a VAWA that mirrors S. 1925 must be reauthorized. Post and send pictures of your local actions broadly so that Congress will know to act now and pass the Real VAWA. Be sure to register your event and register on our Facebook page so that we can post it and others in your area can join you. Download the national rally materials, flier and poster templates and use them in your area to send a unified message.
3) NOT IN DC? JAM THE PHONES ON TUESDAY, JUNE 26th!
Each of us must use our telephone on June 26th to send one national unified message to Congress to pass the REAL VAWA now. Call House and Senate leadership and insist that they stop the posturing, solve the procedural problems and move quickly to conference. Tell them:
I urge you to pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill, like S.1925, that protects ALL victims of violence-doing nothing is not an option. VAWA has positively impacted me/my community in the following way: _______________. You are our leaders and we know you care about VAWA, so please find a unanimous consent motion all Senators can agree to, solve the blue slip problem, and free VAWA for final negotiations before you leave for vacation. We will not settle for stalemate. We want a final VAWA this summer so that VAWA programs and services can continue to serve victims and make our communities safer.
Your Member of Congress, (202)224-3121
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), (202) 225-0600
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), (202) 225-4000
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), (202) 225-0100
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), (202) 224-3542
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), (202) 224-3135
Chair of the Democratic Conference Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), (202) 224-6542
4) DO YOU TWEET? TWEET ON JUNE 26TH – JULY 4TH!
Be sure to use these hashtags! #ReauthorizeVAWA, #RealVAWA and #VAWA
Sample tweets include:
Congress must pass the #RealVAWA bf their July 4th vacation. Join National 10 days of #Action4VAWA to tell them why: http://bit.ly/Lj18KQ
I’m joining National 10 Days of #Action4VAWA to tell Congress to pass #RealVAWA bc I want ALL survivors to be safe. http://bit.ly/Lj18KQ
[Fill in your Congress Person’s twitter handle]: Pass the #RealVAWA for ALL survivors! I’m standing up to take #Action4VAWA: http://bit.ly/Lj18KQ
“The support and services I received gave me my life back” -@itsgabrielleu, actress & survivor. Support #RealVAWA so others can live
“She knew that she had to get out of the relationship for her safety and her children” –Danielle. Support #RealVAWA http://4vawa.org/
The night April fled her SC home, her husband had punched and strangled her. #VAWA S.1925 can help her. Take Action: http://bit.ly/PIK9zJ
DV programs wouldn’t help “people like me” – Alma, transgender survivor of violence. #VAWA must help all survivors http://4vawa.org/ #LGBT
“Rape Assistance Volunteers told me it wasn’t my fault. I can now look @ myself in the mirror.” –Leanna of CO. #REALVAWA helps survivors
“They beat me & raped me, after that my whole life was different.” Gabe of IL. #VAWA must help all survivors http://4vawa.org/
Sexual assault of men remains “a silent epidemic” –Gabe of IL. Support a #VAWA tht helps all victims of violence http://4vawa.org/
Police said “what do you want us to do? You’re both men” –Victor, survivor of DV. #VAWA must help all survivors http://4vawa.org/
@johnboehner, HR4970 is not the #RealVAWA, take up the Senate version & protect all victims of violence!
@SenJohnMcCain plz share Jenny in AZ’s story: “Even today, I look behind the door every time I enter a bedroom” http://bit.ly/MABIX0 #VAWA
“Rapists take away your childhood, your innocence, your spirit.” –Sasha of WI. Support #RealVAWA so survivors have hope http://bit.ly/PIK9zJ
“So many girls still are silent, maybe because they don’t know where to turn” –Missy, VA. #VAWA provides somewhere to turn http://4vawa.org/
FYI – Congressional Leadership Twitter Handles:
4) DO YOU USE FACEBOOK?
Join the National 10 Days of Action for VAWA Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/411340372241575/ and check back for updates!
Post the information, flyers and posters to your Facebook page: http://4vawa.org/pages/vawa-10-days-of-action-8560
Post survivor stories and other information about VAWA to your FB page and check out our FB page for posts you can share https://www.facebook.com/pages/National-Task-Force-to-End-Sexual-and-Domestic-Violence/230525243682392 :
“Although nothing will ever change the horrific and violent events of that day, I am filled with hope for a brighter future because of the services these people provided for my family.” – Julie in FL. Support the Real VAWA that expands protection for survivors. Visit http://4vawa.org/ for more info!
10 armed youths repeatedly raped a Floridian woman and poured household chemicals over her body. This victim was not protected by VAWA, but would be under the new Senate version. Take Action Now: http://bit.ly/PIK9zJ
“As a member of this body, as a survivor of sexual assault, battery, and from age five through my teenage years, through my early adulthood, I can tell you that it is very traumatic to be here in this body today and to find my colleagues not taking the recommended updates…” – @RepGwenMoore (D-Wis). Tell your reps to vote for the Real VAWA http://bit.ly/PIK9zJ
Jenny in AZ had just graduated from college when she became a victim of James Allen Selby, an armed serial rapist who had broken into her home. “Even today, I look behind the door every time I enter a bedroom” Support survivors, support VAWA. http://4vawa.org/
LGBT people experience violence at the same rates as all communities but have fewer places to turn and face discrimination when seeking services. VAWA must support ALL survivors! Support survivors, support VAWA. http://4vawa.org/
5) SCHEDULE IN-DISTRICT VISITS!
Use tips from our TOOLKIT to: work with your community, have legislative visits and reach out to policy makers.
We need every Senator and Representative to understand that this issue impacts their district and their constituents. Have a meeting with a staffer in your Representative’s office and tell them why VAWA is important and why they should get a VAWA passed that is closest to the Senate bill and that protects ALL victims. Other bills are DANGEROUS for victims, they roll back VAWA protections, abandon Tribal women, immigrant an LGBT victims and are NOT the REAL VAWA. Instead, we need a bipartisan bill that includes ALL victims.
Check the VAWA website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates.
|1 is 2 Many Campaign on Dating Violence Launched!
|Today, Vice President Biden, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal hosted an event to launch a new Public Service Announcement (PSA) about dating violence as part of the Vice President’s 1 is 2 Many campaign. Due to the fact that young women today ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of violence at the hands of someone they know, the PSA’s target audience is men of this same age group. The PSA, which was produced by the White House, features professional athletes and other male role models who deliver the message that dating violence is unacceptable. |
Joining the President and Vice President in the PSA, which will air this summer on the ESPN Networks, the Fox Sports Networks, MLB Network, and NFL Network, are Joe Torre, Major League Baseball Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations, and Manager of four World Series championship teams, David Beckham of the LA Galaxy, Eli Manning of the New York Giants, Jeremy Lin of the New York Knicks, Evan Longoria of the Tampa Bay Rays, Jimmy Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies, and ESPN correspondent Andy Katz.
Joining the Vice President and other Senior Administration officials today for the rollout of the PSA were Jimmy Rollins, David Price of the Tampa Bay Rays, who was there on behalf of his teammate Evan Longoria, and Andy Katz.
National Dating Abuse Helpline: If you or someone you know needs help, text “Loveis,” to 77054 or visit “loveisrespect.org.”
Click here to watch the PSA video
|Tell Congressional Leadership: Get a Final VAWA Passed! Do it now, do it right, do your job!
We need to push Congress to act on VAWA before it’s too late! And the VAWA that is passed MUST be the real VAWA that serves ALL victims and contains NO rollbacks to the current VAWA. As more and more legislation is stalled due to Congressional gridlock, we need Congressional leaders to hear our strong and united message once and for all: your work on VAWA is not over. We need you to work out a way to go to conference and send a bill to the President that closely mirrors the bipartisan Senate-passed bill, S. 1925, the REAL VAWA. Victims of violence and the counseling, medical, law enforcement and service provider professionals who serve them are relying on you to pass an inclusive VAWA bill- we have too much at stake and doing nothing is not an option.
ACTION 1: PLEASE CONTACT HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERSHIP WITH THIS MESSAGE TODAY! We are holding leaders of both parties responsible for making this happen.
ACTION 2: LEARN ABOUT OUR NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION FOR VAWA FROM JUNE 26TH –JULY 4TH! SEE DETAILS BELOW ABOUT PLANNING EVENTS IN YOUR COMMUNITY.
ACTION 1: CALL HOUSE AND SENATE LEADERSHIP AND INSIST THAT THEY STOP THE POSTURING, SOLVE THE PROCEDURAL PROBLEMS AND MOVE QUICKLY TO CONFERENCE. Tell them:
I urge you to pass a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill, like S.1925, that protects ALL victims of violence-doing nothing is not an option. VAWA has positively impacted me/my community in the following way: _______________. By reauthorizing a bipartisan VAWA reauthorization bill like S. 1925 that protects all victims of violence, VAWA programs and services can continue to serve victims and make our communities safer.
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), (202) 225-0600
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), (202) 225-4000
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), (202) 225-0100
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), (202) 224-3542
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), (202) 225-2541
Chair of the Democratic Conference Senator Chuck Schumer, (202) 224-6542
Action 2: PARTICIPATE IN OUR NATIONAL WEEK OF ACTION FOR VAWA!
On June 26th a Rally on Capitol Hill will launch the national VAWA Days of Action campaign that will last until July 4th. We call upon you to organize vigils, rallies and local actions in your communities and at your Congressional District offices to tell Congress that victims cannot wait and a VAWA that mirrors S. 1925 must be reauthorized. Now is the time to show Congress how important VAWA is to victims, survivors and advocates across the country. Organize your members, friends, families and everyone you know who cares about domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking to stand up and speak out. Start your local planning efforts today! More details to come.
|Check out the New EVAWI Blog!
are excited to announce we have a new EVAWI Blog. This new weekly
blog will feature guest bloggers, information on what's happening around EVAWI, and updates on what's
happening locally and nationally. You can help us spread the word about this
new this blog on your own social media!
can also follow us on Facebook and on Twitter.
Click here to read the latest post!
|VAWA ALERT!! Tell Congress to send a strong, bipartisan VAWA to the President!
Tell Congress to send a strong, bipartisan VAWA to the President!
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women, a diverse coalition of thousands of national, state and local organizations and individuals across the country unified by our commitment to end violence against women, urges Congress to rise above the political bickering,, move swiftly to conference, and send the President a strong, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) reauthorization bill that protects ALL vulnerable victims. The Senate passed the bill 68-31 and in the House we narrowly lost a vote, 222-205, to defeat the unacceptable Adams version of VAWA. We have shown that our grassroots advocates and professionals in communities all across the nation are serious and dedicated to passing a “real VAWA” for all victims and we won’t stop until this is accomplished.
ACTION: PLEASE CONTACT – BY PHONE, EMAIL OR VISIT IN-PERSON AT THE DC OR DISTRICT OFFICE - YOUR SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES. Thank them for their support or let them know of your disappointment, but in either case tell them:
(Use these links to find contact information for your Representative and your Senators. )
I/we urge you to encourage your party’s leaders to move swiftly to a conference or agreement on VAWA and send the President a strong, bipartisan Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill that protects all vulnerable victims. For nearly 20 years, Congress has recognized the severity of violence against women and our need for this landmark federal law’s comprehensive approach. VAWA truly provides life-saving protections and services needed by victims and their families. It is unacceptable that this law has become politicized while three women a day are still killed by an intimate partner. Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence need a VAWA law that does not roll back protections for immigrant women and their families; includes protections for all victims, including the LGBT community and Native women; and directs resources to this urgent task in the most effective way possible. VAWA must also include the strongest protections for victims on campus and in public housing; protect the ability of criminal justice officials and community stakeholders to provide input to the state grant STOP planning process; and be free of overly burdensome and bureaucratic requirements for victim services providers struggling to be present for every victim every day. I strongly urge Congress to quickly move past politics and send a VAWA reauthorization bill to the President that he can immediately sign.
Check the VAWA website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates
|House VAWA Vote Today!
The House will vote on VAWA today under a “closed rule” which means there will be no amendments. From 10am-12pm, members can speak on any topic including VAWA for 5 minutes each. Beginning at noon, one hour of debate is expected on VAWA followed by the vote. You can watch the House action on CSPAN via the internet. Take action TODAY!
Click here for more information
|A VOTE FOR H.R. 4970 IS A VOTE AGAINST VAWA AND AGAINST ALL VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE!
THIS WEDNESDAY, the House will vote on H.R. 4970 and House Majority Leadership is not allowing ANY amendments to the bill. We only have 2 more days to tell our Representatives: the Adams bill (H.R. 4970) is dangerous for victims of violence, excludes vulnerable communities and protects abusers. It is not the real VAWA. Please stand up for all victims of violence and oppose H.R. 4970. If Congress cannot stand up for all victims, we cannot stand up for our Representatives.
ACTION 1: Continue to call the DC and district offices of every Representative in Congress TO OPPOSE H.R. 4970. Tell them about or send them today’s New York Times editorial, “Backward on Domestic Violence.”
ACTION 2: Call House leadership and tell them that H.R. 4970 HARMS VICTIMS and ask them to allow an amendment on the House floor that is THE REAL VAWA or face the anger of their constituents.
ACTION 3: National Organizations and statewide coalitions must continue to send letters to the whole House and to their individual Representatives in their states DENOUNCING H.R. 4970. Please sign onto a letter drafted the National Task from national groups opposing H.R.4970 by 3pm today.
Click here for more information
| VAWA ALERT - A YES VOTE ON H.R. 4970 IS A VOTE AGAINST VAWA AND AGAINST ALL VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE!
May 11, 2012
THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW!! VAWA WILL BE VOTED ON BY THE FULL HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES NEXT WEDNESDAY
TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES: A YES VOTE ON H.R. 4970 IS A VOTE AGAINST VAWA AND AGAINST ALL VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE!
Next week, House Majority leadership is bringing the Adams VAWA bill (H.R. 4970) to the House floor for a vote! Leadership is not allowing any discussion of alternatives or allowing for amendments to improve the legislation. This bill is DANGEROUS for victims and survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. The only way that we will be able to defeat it is if we make clear to every Representative in every district that they CANNOT support this bill. We have to tell them: you MUST stand up for EVERY victim of violence by OPPOSING H.R. 4970 – and if you don’t, we can’t stand up for you.
ACTION 1: Please contact – by phone, email or in person visit - the District Office of your Congress person and tell them to oppose H.R. 4970
ACTION 2: Call House Leadership and tell them that you think H.R. 4970 harms victims and is NOT the real VAWA
ACTION 3: Continue to send your organizational letters to your representatives and write your Letters to the Editor, naming names, especially where there are tight races (see yesterday’s alert for details or check www.4vawa.org for examples. Use the National Task Force’s toolkit to help with your advocacy! Use our talking points about H.R. 4970 and how it’s DANGEROUS for victims.)
ACTION 1: PLEASE CONTACT – BY PHONE, EMAIL OR IN PERSON VISIT - THE DISTRICT OFFICE OF YOUR CONGRESS PERSON AND TELL THEM:
We (name of group representing how many people, survivors, service providers, etc.)/I strongly oppose the Adams VAWA bill. We/I believe that a YES vote on H.R. 4970 is anti-victim. We/I urge Rep ._________ to vote no, and I will stand with her/him if she/he supports victims and service providers by voting no. The Adams bill is NOT the REAL VAWA, and is DANGEROUS for survivors of violence. Please reject H.R. 4970 and work toward a bipartisan bill modeled after H.R. 4271, the companion bill to the Senate-passed version of VAWA.
Find your Representative here: http://house.gov/. This conversation needs to happen in EVERY DISTRICT OFFICE. Use the National Task Force’s toolkit to help with your advocacy! Use our talking points about H.R. 4970 and how it’s DANGEROUS for victims.
EVERY Representative needs to hear from us, but here are the ones that need to hear from us FIRST!
Biggert, Judy (R-IL) (202) 225-3515
Hayworth, Nan (R-NY) (202) 225-5441
Herrera Beutler, Jaime (R-WA) (202) 225-3536
Ros-Lehtinen, Ileana (R-FL) (202) 225-3931
ACTION 2: CALL HOUSE LEADERSHIP AND TELL THEM THAT YOU THINK H.R. 4970 HARMS VICTIMS AND IS NOT THE REAL VAWA:
Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), (202) 225-0600 (Leadership Office), (202) 225-6205 (Personal Office), (513) 779-5400 (Westchester District Office), (937) 339-1524 (Troy District Office)
Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), (202) 225-4000
Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), (202) 225-2915
Tell them: We (name of group representing how many people, survivors, service providers, etc.)/I strongly oppose the Adams VAWA bill. We/I believe that a YES vote on H.R. 4970 is anti-victim. We/I urge Rep. _________ to vote no, and I will stand with her/him if she/he supports victims and service providers by voting no. The Adams bill is NOT the REAL VAWA, and is DANGEROUS for survivors of violence. Please reject H.R. 4970 and work toward a bipartisan bill modeled after H.R. 4271, the companion bill to the Senate-passed version of VAWA.
|VAWA ALERT!! Act NOW - The House bill is being marked up in committee TODAY
THE HOUSE BILL IS NOT THE REAL VAWA – IT HARMS VICTIMS, INCREASES COSTS, CREATES INEFFICIENCY AND PROTECTS ABUSERS, NOT VICTIMS
The House bill is being marked up TODAY in the Judiciary Committee (watch it here) and it is NOT the real VAWA. Over the past 17 years, VAWA has created highly successful programs and laws that have changed the landscape for victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Every five years, public safety and justice professionals and experts from the field have the opportunity to recommend updates, adaptations and refinements to the Act to improve victim services and offender accountability. This time is no different. VAWA provisions were carefully crafted with new provisions and refinements based on discussions with more than 2,000 advocates and experts across the country. Their message was clear: “We can’t afford to turn anyone away. Please give us the resources and tools to make sure that we can serve any victim who comes to our doors.” The National Task Force brought the results of these interviews to Congressional offices two years ago, to help inform the drafting work of the Members, and the House bill ignores all of the advocate’s input. The House bill was drafted without or consultation from the thousands of professionals engaged in this work every day and our suggestions were not welcomed. The bill includes damaging and unworkable provisions that will harm victims, increase costs, and create unnecessary inefficiencies. WORSE, THE HOUSE BILL PROTECTS ABUSERS AT THE EXPENSE OF VICTIM SAFETY. THE HOUSE BILL LACKS THE PROTECTIONS OF THE RECENTLY PASSED, SOLIDLY BIPARTISAN SENATE BILL, WHICH PUTS VICTIM SAFETY FIRST.
We must tell our Representatives that we strongly oppose the Adams bill. The Adams bill is DANGEROUS for victims because:
- It includes harsh mandatory minimum sentences on a number of crimes that would have a chilling effect on victim reporting and would not help to hold perpetrators accountable.
- It includes unacceptable “gender-neutral” language that ignores, rather than addresses, issues of LGBT victims.
- It includes audit requirements that are excessive, burdensome and costly AND DIVERT PRECIOUS GRANT DOLLARS FROM DIRECT SERVICES TO BUREAUCRACY.
- It limits the U visa program, barring the use of unused visas, AND WILL PUNISH victims WHO WORK WITH law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.
- It erodes important provisions for immigrant victims’ safety and GIVES ABUSERS ADDITIONAL TOOLS WITH WHICH TO HARM VICTIMS.
- It undermines ability of tribal courts to hold violent offenders accountable. And it is NOT the REAL VAWA
Instead, we want to see a bipartisan bill that includes ALL victims. See more detail on the dangerous provisions below the ACTION.
PLEASE KEEP CALLING AND EMAILING YOUR REPRESENTATIVE (www.house.gov) & TELL HIM/HER:
“We oppose the Adams proposal because it is NOT the REAL VAWA and doesn’t include protections for all victims and it rolls back protections for victims of violence. It is DANGEROUS for survivors of violence. We support a bill like the bi-partisan Senate bill that protects Native victims, immigrant victims, LGBT victims and other culturally specific communities. You must support us in passing the REAL VAWA.”
Tell your friends, family and loved ones to call and email too!
When you email, tell them: I strongly oppose the Adams bill because it rolls back VAWA protections, it abandons Native women, immigrant and LGBT victims and it is NOT the REAL VAWA. I know what violence looks like because my (sister/brother/friend) in my county (or district) was abused (give details). I don’t want this to happen again. In honor of _______________, I’m asking you to vote against the Adams bill.
WE NEED TO FLOOD REPRESENTATIVES’ OFFICES WITH CALLS AND EMAILS!
MEET WITH YOUR REPRESENTATIVE AND TELL THEM ABOUT WHY VAWA MATTERS TO YOU:
We need all Representatives to understand that this issue impacts their district and their constituents. Have a meeting with a staffer in your Representative’s office and tell them why VAWA is important and why they should oppose Cantor-Adams – it is DANGEROUS for victims, it rolls back VAWA protections, it abandons Native women, immigrant and LGBT victims and it is NOT the REAL VAWA. Instead, we need a bipartisan bill that includes ALL victims.
Use tips from our TOOLKIT to: work with your community, have legislative visits and reach out to policymakers.
FACTS TO USE IN YOUR ADVOCACY:
The Adams bill is DANGEROUS for victims because:
Harsh mandatory minimum sentences on a number of crimes would have a chilling effect on victim reporting and would not help to hold perpetrators accountable.
· Long mandatory minimum sentences can keep victims who were assaulted by someone they know from reporting the crime.
· Mandatory minimums for sex offenders are likely to result in pleas to non-sex offense crimes. The individuals will then not be identified as sex offenders for purposes of registration, treatment, etc.
· The American Bar Association, the Judicial Conference of the United States and every major organization focusing on criminal justice opposes mandatory minimum sentences.
· A 2008 poll found that fully 78 percent of Americans agree that courts, not Congress, should determine an individual’s sentence.
· Expanded use of prison sentences for drug crimes and longer sentences required by mandatory minimums have caused a dramatic increase in state and federal corrections costs. State corrections spending jumped from $6 billion in 1982 to over $50 billion in 2008.
· None of these proposals were vetted, much less approved by the field of advocates whose proposal forms the basis of S. 1925, the Leahy-Crapo VAWA reauthorization bill. These proposals are solutions in search of problems, and will only serve to exacerbate the already existing problem of prison overcrowding.
Unacceptable “Gender-neutral” language ignores, rather than addresses, issues of LGBT victims.
The inclusion of “women” recognizes the disproportionate impact that these crimes have on women. Gender-neutral language does not recognize the reality of these crimes, nor does it adequately address the need to broader services for LGBT survivors.
· A 2011 survey found that nearly 85% of service providers worked with LGBT clients who reported that they were turned away or denied services because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
· LGBTQ people are underserved because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, not just their gender, and should be included in this Act explicitly and not through a “gender neutral” approach that does not remove to the barriers created by homophobia.
· Gay men are not denied shelter because they are men – there are already provisions in VAWA that prevent that discrimination – but because they are gay. Lesbians are not turned away from shelter or services because they are women, but because they are lesbians. Transgender people are not turned away because of their sex assigned at birth but because of their gender presentation and expression that service providers do not understand and therefore cannot address.
Audit requirements are excessive, burdensome and costly AND DIVERT PRECIOUS GRANT DOLLARS FROM DIRECT SERVICES TO BUREAUCRACY.
· Since its enactment, VAWA has included important reporting and oversight provisions both for grantees and for the Department of Justice (“DoJ”).
· In separate letters addressed to Congressman Poe and Senator Leahy, DoJ has reported that “VAWA grants are being used effectively for their intended purpose,” that “grant management and grantee recordkeeping are generally sound,” and that when auditing problems arise, they are “not about waste, fraud or abuse, but rather about inadequate accounting and insufficient documentation” and are quickly resolved.
· The resources required to implement this substantial new audit requirement would be better spent on technical assistance and financial training for the hundreds of small police departments, courts, and non-profits who are OVW grantees.
Limits the U visa program, barring the use of unused visas, AND WILL PUNISH victims WHO WORK with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.
· Victims of crime should be able to work with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice. Limiting the U-visa certification process will discourage victims from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement. Yet law enforcement tells us that failing to report crimes like these only exacerbates their negative impact on the community. Considering that many who commit U-visa crimes are serial perpetrators, law enforcement wants victims to come forward regardless of the statute of limitations.
· Restrictive certification requirements discourage cooperation with law enforcement. The effect of a 120 day limit gives perpetrators tools to evade prosecution. Domestic violence research shows that victims often suffer multiple incidents of abuse before they find the courage to come forward. This is true for citizen victims as well as immigrant victims. Research on reporting also shows that this would hurt sexual assault victims the most.
Erodes important provisions for immigrant victims’ safety and GIVES ABUSERS ADDITIONAL TOOLS WITH WHICH TO HARM VICTIMS.
· Creates undue barriers for vulnerable victims. The amendment’s provisions requiring that an application be denied if an alleged abuser is found “not guilty” fails to recognize that not all battery or extreme cruelty is covered under state criminal laws, nor does it recognize that there are many reasons why prosecution is not undertaken or successful, including when a perpetrator flees. This is true for cases brought by citizen victims, as well.
· Endangers victims and perpetuates further abuse. Amendments allowing the alleged abuser access to the self-petition process creates a chilling effect on victims’ help-seeking. Abusers who could have adjusted the status of their spouse and chose not to as a tool of abuse and fear will be in a position to block the victim’s access to this critical remedy for battered immigrants. Informing and allowing alleged abusers to provide input in these cases puts victims at risk of retaliation. Abusers frequently deny the abuse and falsely accuse victims of fraud or abuse. It increases motives for abusers to contact ICE to try to stop their spouse from getting legal status.
· Shifting the self-petition process to local offices is duplicative and expensive. Adding an additional interview requirement is unnecessary, would be very costly and would require extensive training on domestic violence and sexual assault at USCIS offices across the country. Currently, the specialized USCIS center that adjudicates these applications is trained to weigh the evidence and ferret out fraud and can request additional evidence if necessary. Additionally, self-petition applicants have to attend an interview at their local offices to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence. The double interview requirement places an extra hurdle for victims of abuse not required for other applicants for status.
· Adding an interview process to VAWA cancellation of removal hearings to local offices is duplicative and expensive. In VAWA cancellation of removal cases, the petitioner appears at hearings with an immigration judge, so a separate interview places an unnecessary burden. Adding an interview process to VAWA cancellation hearings will slow immigration court cases down immensely, bogging down the court calendar further.
Undermines ability of tribal courts to hold violent offenders accountable.
· Indian women face rates of victimization many times higher than those faced by non-Indian women, due to a current gap in law enforcement and court jurisdiction over crimes of domestic and sexual violence occurring on tribal land.
· State courts and state law enforcement have said very clearly that they cannot take on the responsibility of addressing this horrific level of victimization. The federal government also lacks the resources to address this problem alone, as evidenced by the incredibly low federal prosecution rates in Indian Country.
· The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Conference of Chief Justices have adopted policies recognizing the sovereign jurisdiction of tribal courts, and are committed to ensuring that tribes receive capacity-building support, where appropriate, to protect the women who are victimized on their lands, and to hold offenders accountable.
We have more than 1,200 “likes” on Facebook! Check out and “like” our Facebook page where you can find a toolkit and other action and information items: http://on.fb.me/NTF_Facebook_page
Don’t forget to tweet about VAWA using the hashtags #ReauthorizeVAWA, #RealVAWA and #VAWA.
If you aren't on one of the VAWA email lists or want to add members of your staff or state/community leaders to our grassroots alerts e-mailing list, send names and contact information including email to Sean Black, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for more information
|GREAT NEWS! The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S. 1925, has passed the Senate by a 68 to 31 vote! And it couldn’t have happened without you!
Please forward to everyone you know who cares about ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking!
The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, S. 1925, has passed the Senate by a 68 to 31 vote!
And it couldn’t have happened without you!
Check the vote count, and call your Senators that voted yes to tell them how proud you are that they supported the bill written by more than 2,000 professionals serving victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking and supported by more than 1,000 national, state and local programs. Let them know you are glad that they voted to protect ALL victims of these crimes!
Thank you for all your great work!!
|Tune in NOW to hear VAWA on the Senate Floor! And There's Still Time to Make One More Call to Maryland's Senators.
here to listen to VAWA being debated on the Senate Floor, and then call
Senators Mikulski and Cardin and share with them this message:
“I am/the members of my
organization are constituents and we need our Senator(s) to vote for S.
1925. S. 1925 is the real VAWA and has protections and services for ALL
victims. A vote for any other bill or unfriendly amendment is a vote
|Time to Thank our VAWA Allies!
VAWA is live in the Senate – Let’s thank our supporters and tell them we appreciate their vote for S. 1925!
S. 1925 has been filed as a “motion to proceed” in the Senate and is likely to be debated on the Senate floor next week. There will likely be an alternative bill offered as a substitute, and perhaps other harmful amendments, so we want to make sure that S. 1925, the real VAWA, which has key provisions that will protect all victims, is the bill that passes. Take a moment to thank our supporters and tell them you are proud of their support of S. 1925 and all of the important provisions that provide better access to law enforcement for women in Indian country, better access for immigrant women who fear deportation if they report violence, and better access for LGBT victims who are facing barriers accessing services.
Click here to read more
|Urge Senator Reid to schedule a vote THIS WEEK on VAWA (S. 1925)!
|Urge Senator Reid to schedule a vote THIS WEEK! VAWA (S. 1925) has 61 sponsors –and Senate Majority Leader Reid has still not called the bill to the floor! In the meantime, victims and survivors of violence are being ignored and those who oppose VAWA are developing alternative bills that would undercut VAWA. Tell Senator Reid that victims and survivors do not have time to wait and he must call the bill to the floor this week. Tell your Senators to support S. 1925, the real VAWA! |
TAKE ACTION: 1. Urge Senator Reid to schedule VAWA for a vote THIS WEEK.
2. Write a letter to the editor to get the real VAWA to the Senate floor (sample below!). Action 1: S. 1925 has enough sponsors to go to the Senate floor for a vote without a filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has the power to schedule VAWA for a vote. Ask him to schedule a vote THIS WEEK. Suggested message: “Senator Reid, you have 61 co-sponsors. You can get a vote for cloture now. In the meantime, those who oppose VAWA are developing a bill that will undercut everything VAWA stands for. Please schedule a date in April so that S.1925, the real VAWA, will be heard on the Senate floor.”
If you are not from Nevada, call 202-224-3542 (D.C. office).
If you are from Nevada, call 775-686-5750 (Reno office).
Action 2: Write a letter to the editor to get VAWA to the Senate Floor! Find suggested language below which you should feel free to edit and personalize. Find media contacts in your area: http://capwiz.com/fconl/dbq/media
To The Editor:
The Violence Against Women Act, S. 1925, is a strong, bipartisan, filibuster-proof bill that will reauthorize essential laws and programs for another five years and build on effective, existing programs to meet the changing needs of victims of domestic and sexual violence. This legislation, introduced by Senator Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Crapo (R-ID), currently has 61 co-sponsors, including eight Republicans. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has yet to call the bill to the Senate floor for a vote that would demonstrate Congress’ commitment to end this violence. Delaying this vote threatens the progress our country has made toward ending domestic and sexual violence and building safer communities.
VAWA saves lives and money – $12.6 billion in its first 6 years alone. Approximately $400 million in annual funding supports local law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and victim services. Since its passage in 1994, all states have strengthened rape laws and the number of individuals killed by an intimate partner has decreased by 34% for women and 57% for men.
Critics of the Leahy-Crapo bill fear that the bill will help “too many” victims. Critics say S. 1925 gives immigrants a “new” way to enter the U.S., while in reality, provisions to protect abused immigrants have been in place since 1994. They also claim S. 1925 would force all domestic violence and sexual assault programs to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) victims or be charged with discrimination. In reality, S. 1925 has a provision that allows states to fund services specifically targeted to LGBT victims, who are often turned away or denied services because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They say S. 1925 violates the Constitution by giving tribal courts the authority to punish non-Indians for committing domestic violence on tribal lands where 1 in 3 American Indian women will be raped in their lifetime. In fact, S. 1925 requires tribal courts to provide the same Constitutional protections afforded to defendants in state criminal courts.
Senate leadership must move quickly to bring S. 1925 to the floor. A vote for the Leahy-Crapo bill says, unequivocally, to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, “We will help you wherever and whenever you need help.” The time has come for Senator Reid to call this bill to the floor and once again reauthorize this critical legislation.
Sincerely, [Name, Title, Organization, Contact Info]
*** Thank you for all your great work!!
Check our website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates!
|Ask Senator Reid to schedule a vote on VAWA now!
|While Congress is in recess, now is the time to urge Senate Majority Leader Reid to schedule a vote on VAWA by the end of April and talk with the senators and representatives in your state to urge them to support S. 1925 in the Senate and similar legislation in the House. Tell them that it’s important to get VAWA passed ASAP without harmful or weakening amendments and that alternative versions of VAWA with severely reduced funding levels fail victims in critical ways. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month so consider tying your meeting to the important provisions S. 1925 includes to improve community responses to the crime of sexual assault.|
Click here for more information
|Please forward to everyone you know who cares about ending domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking!
VAWA (S. 1925) now has 61 sponsors – and while Congress is in recess, now is the time to talk with the senators and representatives in your state to urge them to support S. 1925. Tell them that it’s important to get VAWA passed asap without harmful or weakening amendments. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month so consider tying your meeting to the important improvements VAWA makes to respond to the crime of sexual assault.
Read full announcement here
|You did it!! We now have 60 Sponsors in the Senate!
Thanks to Senator Heller (R-NV), who signed on to sponsor VAWA this week, we now have 60 sponsors – and one full day before our goal! Thank you for all your hard work!
Now we need to secure our sponsors’ commitment to S. 1925, the real VAWA, and to get as many new Senate supporters as possible. VAWA is coming to the Senate Floor and we need to have as big an outpouring of support as we can! This week, we want you to help us by signing petitions, engaging your friends and family and getting the word out that every Senator needs to hear from you and your loved ones about why VAWA must be passed immediately.
Check out this website for fact sheets, press coverage, support letters and updates!
|“I wish it were true that sexual violence is being overstated”- A response to "How the CDC is overstating sexual violence in the U.S." (Washington Post, Jan. 27, 2012)
|Note: This is a response to “How the CDC is Overstating Sexual Violence in the U.S.” by Christina Hoff Sommers published in the January 27, 2012, edition of The Washington Post.|
“I wish it were true that sexual violence is being overstated”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
(NISVS) which illuminates the alarming scope of sexual violence in the
United States. The number of adults who have endured some type of
sexual violence during their lifetime is shocking and should cause us
all to stop and take note and to ask questions.
I do not, however, agree with the premise of Christina Hoff Sommers who accused the CDC, in her January 27 editorial in The Washington Post,
of overstating sexual violence and of having some other agenda. I work
with the CDC and find them to be rigorous and neutral in their
research. Of course, every research study has limitations and deserves
scrutiny, but I believe the CDC exercised due diligence to provide a
current picture of the scope of sexual violence victimization in this
Those of us who work to prevent sexual violence know that it is a
difficult and sometimes confusing topic to understand. There are
several reasons why the NISVS research reports a higher prevalence of
sexual violence in the United States than does the FBI’s Uniform Crime
Report (UCR) and other studies:
• NISVS asked about many types of sexual violence, which is an
umbrella term. Rape is one type, but there are many other types of
unwanted sexual behaviors that cause people to feel violated or unsafe.
The FBI’s UCR statistics only measure rape. Furthermore, until quite
recently the definition of rape used by the FBI was quite narrow and
left out many instances that will be counted in the future.
• FBI statistics only measure reported rape. Since 1929, crime data,
such as reported rapes, has been submitted voluntarily by police
departments. The data becomes a part of the federal report known as the
Uniform Crime Report (UCR). Through the UCR, the FBI issues guidelines
and definitions related to processing sexual assault cases, but not all
police departments follow these guidelines.
• Rape is the most underreported crime in the U.S. for several
reasons (fear, shame, embarrassment, worries about being disbelieved or
further traumatized, etc.). The majority of sexual assaults, an
estimated 63 percent, are never reported to the police (Rennison, 2002).
• NISVS asked not only about incidences that had occurred in the
past year but also about victimization that occurred any time in the
participant’s lifetime. This, of course, includes child sexual abuse,
which is quite prevalent. About one in three girls and one in seven boys
will be sexually abused before the age of 17 (Briere & Elliott,
The editorial by Ms. Sommers criticized the research for using
behaviorally-specific questions, rather than asking participants to
define their own experiences as rape, stalking, or some other category.
Rather than being a weakness of the study, this is actually one of its
strengths that makes the data more reliable. Not everyone agrees on
what label to give a particular experience, but by breaking it down into
specifically-described behaviors, the researchers can be more confident
that they are accurately comparing similar types of victimization. In
this regard, NISVS data is much more accurate than the previous National
Crime Victimization Survey which simply asked women if they had been
raped; and also only looked at the prior year.
The results of the NISVS victimization survey differ from other
reports for another very fundamental reason. The CDC is not examining
the problem of sexual violence from a criminal justice viewpoint, but
rather from a public health perspective. This is a broader approach,
looking at not only the prevalence of victimization, but also the impact
and health consequences over time. This non-criminal framework may
increase participant’s comfort level in talking about their
Both men and women are victims of sexual violence; and men and women
both perpetrate sexual violence; but studies continue to show that the
majority of perpetrators are male and the majority of victims are
females and/or children. The fact that there is a relationship between
gender and sexual violence cannot be denied. But regardless of one’s
gender, philosophy, or political views, I think we all want to live in a
community that is safe and that treats everyone with dignity and
respect. No matter which study you choose, it’s clear that we have a
problem with sexual violence in this country and we need to figure out
how to turn that around. I really wish that Christina Hoff Sommers’
assessment was correct and that the problem is not really that big;
unfortunately the facts don’t seem to be pointing in that direction. The
sooner we get our heads out of the sand and accept that reality, the
sooner we can begin working together to find effective solutions.
Karen L. Baker,
Rennison, C. A. (2002). Rape and sexual assault: Reporting to police
and medical attention, 1992-2000 [NCJ 194530]. Retrieved from the U.S.
Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice
Director, National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Briere, J., & Elliott, D. M. (2003). Prevalence and psychological
sequelae of self-reported childhood physical and sexual abuse in general
population. Child Abuse & Neglect, 27, 1205-1222.
Link to original article.
|How the CDC is overstating sexual violence in the U.S.- news article
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Her books include “Who Stole Feminism?” and “The War Against Boys.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released a study
suggesting that rates of sexual violence in the United States are
comparable to those in the war-stricken Congo. How is that possible?
The CDC’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey
found that, in the United States in 2010, approximately 1.3 million
women were raped and an additional 12.6 million women and men were
victims of sexual violence. It reported, “More than 1 in 3 women and 1
in 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an
intimate partner in their lifetime.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
hailed the report for giving “a clear picture of the devastating impact
these violent acts have on the lives of millions of Americans.”
fact, what the study reveals is the devastating impact that careless
advocacy research can have on truth. The report proposes an array of
ambitious government-sponsored “prevention strategies” and recommends
“multi-disciplinary service centers” offering survivors psychological
and legal counseling as well as housing and economic assistance. But
survivors of sexual violence would be better served by good research and
sober estimates — not inflated statistics and sensationalism.
agency’s figures are wildly at odds with official crime statistics. The
FBI found that 84,767 rapes were reported to law enforcement
authorities in 2010. The Bureau of Justice Statistics’ National Crime Victimization Survey,
the gold standard in crime research, reports 188,380 rapes and sexual
assaults on females and males in 2010. Granted, not all assaults are
reported to authorities. But where did the CDC find 13.7 million victims
of sexual crimes that the professional criminologists had overlooked?
found them by defining sexual violence in impossibly elastic ways and
then letting the surveyors, rather than subjects, determine what counted
as an assault. Consider: In a telephone survey with a 30 percent
response rate, interviewers did not ask participants whether they had
been raped. Instead of such straightforward questions, the CDC
researchers described a series of sexual encounters and then they
determined whether the responses indicated sexual violation. A sample
of 9,086 women was asked, for example, “When you were drunk, high,
drugged, or passed out and unable to consent, how many people ever had
vaginal sex with you?” A majority of the 1.3 million women (61.5
percent) the CDC projected as rape victims in 2010 experienced this sort
of “alcohol or drug facilitated penetration.”
What does that
mean? If a woman was unconscious or severely incapacitated, everyone
would call it rape. But what about sex while inebriated? Few people
would say that intoxicated sex alone constitutes rape — indeed, a
nontrivial percentage of all customary sexual intercourse, including
marital intercourse, probably falls under that definition (and is
therefore criminal according to the CDC).
Other survey questions
were equally ambiguous. Participants were asked if they had ever had sex
because someone pressured them by “telling you lies, making promises
about the future they knew were untrue?” All affirmative answers were
counted as “sexual violence.” Anyone who consented to sex because a
suitor wore her or him down by “repeatedly asking” or “showing they were
unhappy” was similarly classified as a victim of violence. The CDC
effectively set a stage where each step of physical intimacy required a
notarized testament of sober consent.
The report also called for
more research on “sexism” and urged “collective action” against media
messages that “objectify and degrade women.” In the familiar jargon of
feminist theory, the CDC said: “It is important to continue addressing
the beliefs, attitudes and messages that are deeply imbedded in our
Why is the CDC using methods of advocacy
research that are anathema to genuine social science? The answer is
suggested by a posting on the White House Web site this month by Lynn Rosenthal, a presidential adviser on violence against women:
in the Administration, the Vice President convened federal agencies to
assess trends and identify gaps in our response to violence and abuse.
We identified data collection as one of the biggest challenges we face
in understanding and combatting these crime. Thanks to the hard work of
[Attorney General Eric] Holder, the FBI, law enforcement leaders, and
the women’s organizations who have long advocated for this change, we
are one step further towards meeting that challenge.”
While that passage referred to the FBI’s recently revised definition of rape
— and not the CDC survey — it shows how the study fits into the
administration’s effort to apply the advocacy agenda of the women’s
lobby to rape research. That would explain how feminist theory found its
way into the report. But why would CDC officials, who are experienced
in resisting political pressure, cooperate?
Perhaps they felt the
study would draw needed attention to the genuine problem of sexual
violence. That is an understandable but recklessly misguided conclusion.
Faulty studies send scarce resources in the wrong directions; more
programs on sexism, stereotypes and social structures, for example, are
unlikely to help victims of violence. Defining sexual violence down
obscures the gradations in culpability that are essential to effective
criminal law, and it holds up a false mirror on our society. The CDC
should recall this study.
Link to Washington Post article
|Sign the Petition asking Fox News to Fire Liz Trotta for Blaming Military Rape Survivors!
Liz Trotta has a long history of ignorant, and inflammatory remarks
throughout her career in journalism. And every now and then, she crosses
the line into degrading, hateful, and utterly inappropriate. Such is
the case with her latest controversy on Fox News in which she attempted
to address the issue of women serving with men in the military:
Via Huffington Post, Trotta said:
"...the sexual abuse report says that there has been, since 2006, a
64% increase in violent sexual assaults. Now, what did they expect?
These people are in close contact..."
Trotta also alleged that "feminists" have demanded too much money to
fund programs for sexual abuse victims. "You have this whole
bureaucracy upon bureaucracy being built up with all kinds of levels of
people to support women in the military who are now being raped too
much," she said.
When the Fox host argued that the programs are necessary to protect
those victims. Trotta responded that the purpose of the military is "to
defend and protect us, not the people who were fighting the war."
Not only does Ms. Trotta express that women should "expect" to
be raped "too much" (as if there's an acceptable amount?) while serving
their country, but that we do not deserve a chance to seek justice
after a violent crime is committed against us. According to Ms.
Trotta, any money spent in support of sexual assault victims in the
military is apparently a waste of America's tax dollars, because we
(military) are here to protect... "us" (???)... which apparently does
NOT include military personnel themselves.
Liz Trotta's statements are disrespectful of all who serve and she should not be given a platform to spread this message. Please sign and tell FOX News to fire Liz Trotta immediately!
Please follow this link to the petition website!