Thursday, November 20, 2008

Working to break the domestic violence cycle

Posted by Hannah at 9:13 PM had a good story on domestic violence recently. I wanted to point out a partial note about what a pastor mentioned. It will be highlighted below!

Thank you!

By Donna Swicegood

Published: November 16, 2008

The idea that men who batter their partners need anger management is a ridiculous notion to A Call to Men co-founder Tony Porter.

"They have excellent anger management skills," Porter said at a workshop last week that brought several domestic violence service providers together. "They know who to hit and who not to hit."

Porter told the group at the Not Tonight Domestic Violence Peace Initiative Workshop that men are the key to addressing the growing domestic violence problem.

"Not enough men are standing up and taking responsibility for ending violence against women," he said. "Violence is rooted in sexism, that she belongs to him and he can do whatever he wants with his property."

Classifying batterers as "sick" helps men who don't batter justify their own lack of response, Porter explained. "It helps us to say they're the bad guys and we're the good guys. But the truth is, we think a lot alike," he said.

For years, he said, labeling batterers as mentally ill gave abusers a free pass. "We let men off the hook. Boys will be boys and then they become men," he said. "We give them a pass on responsibility, pass on accountability."

Porter said there are instances of men being battered by women, but those numbers are low. "It's about 5 percent," he said. "That means 95 percent is being done by men."

The Iredell County Sheriff's Office Special Victims Unit alone has investigated 1,135 cases of domestic violence this year.

One in three women are affected by domestic violence. Ninety-two people have died in North Carolina this year as a result of domestic violence.

Most of the room at Statesville Covenant Cathedral on Wilson Lee Boulevard was filled by women, most of whom are domestic violence advocates and, in some cases, survivors.

But a few men were there, and one admitted that he knew little about dealing with domestic violence issues until he talked with the workshop organizer, Tony Bellamy.

The Rev. Sam Thomas, pastor of the church where the event was held, said a female parishioner came to him and told him about being abused by her spouse. "I told her to call the police," he said. Later, he realized that was not the right advice at that time as the man came to his office, aching for a fight.

"I didn't know the resources to send her to," Thomas said. Now, after talking to Bellamy and attending workshops, those answers are much clearer.

Patti West of My Sister's House, the shelter for domestic violence victims in Iredell County, said part of the problem in addressing the issue is the myths that surround domestic violence.

"We often hear, 'Why does she stay?' " West said. "We turn that around and to 'Why does he do it?' "
Education and awareness on a variety of levels, from the health care system to the workplace, are key to ending the cycle of violence.

"How to ensure safety needs to be our number one concern," she said. "Domestic violence can turn deadly very quickly."

Tammy Brooks, emergency services director at Davis Regional Medical Center, said her own experience as a domestic violence victim helps her deal with those who come into the ER for help.
After one beating landed her at the ER where she worked at the time, she lied to her co-workers. "I was a nurse. I wasn't supposed to be a victim," she said.

Brooks told them she fell down the stairs and, even though co-workers could clearly see handprints on her neck, they didn't question her explanation.

"I needed resources," she said.

Brooks said her own family alienated her, not knowing how to respond, but she knew she needed to make a move.

"I knew next time, I would not survive," she said.

Now, she said, she tries to help women much like herself.

She spoke of one case, in which a woman came to the ER, obviously battered, and the man refused to leave her side. Brooks said she knew not to question the woman's account in front of the man, but took her to X-ray, where the husband wasn't allowed.

"Only the patient can go into X-ray," she said. In the X-ray room, she learned the truth, the man had beaten her, was armed and was threatening to kill their children, who were in the waiting room.
Brooks, with the help of law enforcement, devised a plan to get police into the ER and arrest the man.
Thinking her involvement ended, Brooks didn't know what happened. "About six months later, I got a card with a picture of the children on it and the words 'This is the family you saved,' " she said. "You could not give me a million dollars that would take the place of that card."

Brooks said she tells co-workers now not to judge the women who come into the ER. "If you have not walked in those shoes, you don't know," she said.

Anna Eaton of Teen Health spoke of her own experience, as a child watching her mother's boyfriend kill her mother. She said she received little support afterward from family. It was a teacher and principal, she said, who helped her.

"If it hadn't been for my community, I wouldn't be where I am now," she said. She said a teacher came by every day to bring her classroom work and help her complete it and the principal did the same, even checking on her as she entered high school.

She said her own experience points out that it doesn't take a professional domestic violence counselor to make a difference.

Detective Sgt. Bill Hamby, who works with the Iredell County Sheriff's Office Special Victim's Unit, said law enforcement's response to domestic violence is ever-expanding.

He talked about his experience as a young police officer in Taylorsville, before mandatory arrest laws were enacted. "This lady's nose was literally on the other side of her face," he said. She denied being beaten, and Hamby had no choice but to walk away. "At that point, there was nothing I could do but leave," he said. "Now all I need is some sign of assault."

Porter said mandatory arrest laws give law enforcement much more latitude, but many times that's a double-edge sword.

"More women are being arrested than ever before," he said. Porter said the bruises inflicted by the male batterer are often hidden, but the scratches made by women in an attempt to stop the abuse, are there for law enforcement to see.

"The criminal justice response has gotten better, but women are still being victimized in the same numbers if not higher," he said. "The criminal justice response, in and of itself, will not solve domestic violence. It's needed but it's not the answer."

Bellamy, who along with Thomas, conducts a program for men called Ordered Steps, said getting other men to take a stance on the issue is vital.

The workshop was primarily aimed at understanding the dynamics of domestic violence and to bring service providers in one place to discover what resources are available.

Bellamy said he wants the workshop to be the first step in a community-based coalition to address the issues connected with domestic violence. The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 4 at noon at Vision Outreach Ministries, 524 E. Front St., across from Carolina BBQ.

Porter said Bellamy is an example of what men should do to help combat domestic violence.
"It does my heart good that we have a man in this community taking on this issue," he said. "He's probably been kicked out of the boys club because of his involvement."


Nice to see that this Pastor will be pretty prepared for the next time! That had to be scary! Glad we have another pastor working to break the domestic violence cycle!

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