Friday, December 29, 2006
American Indian women and native Alaskan women are far more likely to be victimized than whites and other minorities. The Bureau of Justice Statistics said that "intimate partner violence" rates fell by more than 50 percent. The decline mirrored a decade-long trend in other violent crimes, and the department did not suggest a cause.
"There's still generally no consensus about why any crime in general has dropped," said Shannan Catalano, the study's author. "It's safe to say it's more than one factor that went into it." Some experts attribute the decline to better training for police and more funding for prosecution, two key elements of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act. Investigators increasingly are better trained to handle abuse cases and bring them to court.
"For the first time, there are entire domestic violence units in law enforcement," said Lonna Stevens, director of the Sheila Wellstone Institute, a Minnesota-based domestic violence organization. "We've had protocols and policies developed for responding to this."
In 1993, there were about 5.8 incidents of nonfatal violence for every 1,000 U.S. residents above the age of 12. By 2004, that number had fallen to 2.6, the agency said. Homicides fell by about 30 percent, from 2,269 in 1993 to 1,544 in 2004.
The Justice Department defines intimate partner violence as violence by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend or a same-sex partner.
Stevens said police have been less successful responding to and deterring abusive behavior in some minority communities, where racism and cultural differences can keep reporting rates low.
Over the 12-year reporting period, about 18 out of every 1,000 American Indian and native Alaskan women were victimized - a violence rate three times higher than among white women.
Black women were more likely than white women to be abused but the study also found that they were more likely to report their abuse to the police than white women.
Women in their early 20s and women who were divorced or separated had the greatest risk of being abused, the study found. Violence was also more common in low-income households.
Asian males, white males and the elderly reported the lowest rates of partner violence.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Hurriyet's CEO, Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, is leading the charge on this issue. On the front page of the paper, she called on all companies to unite against domestic violence and said, "We would like to invite all companies to form an alliance of the private sector against this problem. This is one of the main topics of this conference.”
It is quite amazing to have a large media company with such influence take such a strong stance on this issue and to use precious "business space" and time and resources to address it. It would be exciting to have the New York Times or Washington Post do the same thing some day -- following the lead of Hurriyet.
We look forward to working with the companies in Turkey and in learning from them and sharing together.
It was interesting as we asked the attendees to break into smaller groups and develop lists of potential "obstacles" to companies understanding how domestic violence impacts the workplace and why businesses should become involved. The obstacles the participants in Turkey outlined were the same obstacles that our partners everywhere face:
- businesses don't know the "business case" for addressing domestic violence
- they don't understand how it impacts their workplaces right now
- they are concerned about overstepping their boundaries as employers
- they don't see how addressing the issue preventatively can benefit them, etc.
- there is that really uncomfortable "ick" factor about domestic violence
And about the "ick factor." It is interesting -- when I was stuck in a certain city during the snow/ice storms in early December I was really struck by the "uncomfortable subject" part of this issue. Since I was in the Executive Lounge of the hotel hanging out with business people and talking, the subject of my job came up. The variance in reactions what fascinating -- some people were very polite, some were interested and really understood the impact of domestic violence on the workplace ("like a work-life issue, right?" one guy said). . . and then there was the other "ick factor" reaction. People who had been really seeming to enjoy my company were suddenly not so comfortable talking with me when they found out what I did for a job.
Why? I am not sure. But clearly, domestic violence makes people uncomfortable. And it should -- it is a terrible, terrible thing. But I was fascinated that even in a pretty "sanitized" discussion about the issue, some people could not wait to leave the conversation.
Clearly, there is lots to do to help people be able to have a conversation as a starting point. And using the communication network and resources of a workplace to provide information and help to employees who need it is quite powerful.
Congratulations to Hurriyet and all those all over the world who are leading the way!
Friday, November 10, 2006
The CAEPV website is considered by many an invaluable resource providing a vast (and ever-growing) inventory of information, tools, research, materials and statistics related to domestic violence and the workplace. It is important to us that we are responsive in our effort to make the site the best it can be - and thanks to the Verizon Foundation, those visiting the new site will find it much easier to locate what they need.
Consider this -- the CAEPV National Telephone Survey (also generously sponsored by the Verizon Foundation) found that 21% of full-time employed adults are victims of domestic violence -- and the Bureau of Labor Statistic (BLS) survey released in October '06 indicated 24% of workplace violence incidents in the past year were domestic violence related for companies with 1,000 or more employees.
These statistics alone are enough to see the value of providing an updated CAEPV website. Then, when one considers the BLS finding that only 4% of US workplaces provide any kind of training on domestic violence - the information on the site becomes vital to changing this situation and the landscape of US businesses.
The new site is scheduled to premiere in February of 2007. We hope it will make it even easier to help employers find the tools they need to recognize and respond to domestic violence effectively in the workplace.
Monday, October 30, 2006
HALF OF LARGE US EMPLOYERS HAD WORKPLACE VIOLENCE INCIDENT IN LAST YEAR -- BUT ONLY 30% OF EMPLOYERS HAVE A WORKPLACE VIOLENCE POLICY OR PROGRAM
The Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted the survey for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). The survey looks at the prevalence of security features, the risks facing employees, employer policies and training, and related topics associated with maintaining a safe work environment.
The survey asked whether an incident of workplace violence had occurred during the past year and, if so, how had the incident affected the staff and had the employer implemented changes to reduce the risk of further incidence.
While 5 percent of all establishments, including state and local governments, had a violent incident, half of the largest establishments (employing 1,000 or more workers) reported an incident. In these largest establishments, the most prevalent type of incident was co-worker (34.1 percent), followed by a customer or client (28.3 percent), domestic violence (24.1 percent), and criminal (17.2 percent).
More than 28 percent of respondents with 250 to 999 employees said they had an incident of workplace violence in the last year.
Of all establishments reporting an incident of workplace violence in the previous 12 months, 21 percent reported that the incident affected the fear level of their employees and twenty-one percent indicated that the incident affected their employees’ morale.
Over 70 percent of United States workplaces have no formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence.
In establishments that reported having a workplace violence program or policy (approximately 30%), private industry most frequently reported addressing co-worker violence (82 percent). Customer or client violence was the next most frequent subject of private industry policies or programs (71 percent), followed by criminal violence (53 percent) and domestic violence (44 percent).*
Twenty percent of establishments in private industry provided training on preventing workplace violence while 32 percent of local government workplaces and 58 percent of state government workplaces provided this training. Only 4 percent of all establishments trained on domestic violence and its impact on the workplace.
Forty-three percent of private industry establishments report tracking the cost of workplace injuries and illnesses while less than half of those (20 percent) report tracking costs related to incidents of workplace violence.
To view the entire report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, visit http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osnr0026.txt or http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osnr0026.pdf
(* CAEPV NOTE: This does NOT mean 44% of establishments have a workplace program or policy addressing domestic violence. It means that of those establishments that have any kind of workplace violence policy (30% of the total surveyed), only 44% have a policy or program on domestic violence. So in this case, the BLS survey came up with a lower percentage of employers with domestic violence workplace programs and policies than did the CAEPV National Telephone Survey.)
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Here is a pretty good way that I've found to talk with someone -- granted this is my style and everyone has a different style, but it goes something like this:
"You know I really care a lot about you. I've noticed you haven't been yourself lately, and that (and you would fill in here the other things you've noticed -- like that the person seems afraid of their boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife, has unexplained injuries, seems isolated, etc.). I would rather be wrong or have you mad at me for asking than ever have anything bad happen to you so I just have to check in with you and ask -- are you safe in your relationship?"
Because really, if you think about it, that is the point, isn't it? You WOULD rather be embarrassed or feel uncomfortable asking, or be wrong rather than have something bad happen to a friend of yours and not say something.
And -- so what if your friend tells you that he or she is fine? Then say "Hey, that is great. But if you ever decide you aren't ok, I want you to know my door is always open."
And then you may want to check in again with your friend again in a few weeks just to see how things are going. People don't always tell you right away when they are in a relationship that is not safe or good for them. It takes time and it is not easy.
For help or advice anytime and in 160 languages, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Take a moment to talk on September 21. Maybe you can help change a life.
Thursday, August 31, 2006
What exactly is that? It is a day to do something pretty simple -- take a moment to talk about domestic violence. Or -- talk to your child about healthy relationships, check in with your partner and see how your relationship is doing, talk with a friend if you are concerned about them, educate yourself about the warning signs of unhealthy relationships, encourage your workplace to develop a program to address the impact of domestic violence on employees.
Look for IT'S TIME TO TALK DAY in the October issue of Redbook - coming to newsstands in mid-September. And don’t forget to visit the Liz Claiborne "Love Is Not Abuse" site -- you can get there by going to http://www.loveisnotabuse.com/itstimetotalk/index.html. You will find an event toolkit, ideas, and information about what happened during its IT'S TIME TO TALK DAY last year to inspire you! Stay tuned for more information about how you can get involved in IT'S TIME TO TALK DAY 2006!
For CAEPV’s 2006 IT'S TIME TO TALK DAY page, visit http://www.caepv.org/about/program_l.asp.
Friday, August 11, 2006
This project was developed with the intention of subsequent information initiating continued evaluation of the impact of programs and their level of cost-effectiveness for companies. It is anticipated that the compiled statistics will benefit not only employees and their safety, but will provide guidance on the most effective use of time and money by the employers as well. RTI International researchers anticipate that this will be a helpful and important tool for both understanding and addressing intimate partner violence (IPV) and its impact on the workplace.
While many companies have instituted policies, procedures, and activities to address intimate partner violence issues in the workplace, these efforts have never before been systematically documented. Although the inventory is not intended to be exhaustive in current workplace efforts to address IPV, it is a first step to collecting more information about the current status of Workplace Intimate Partner Violence interventions and will be a valuable resource for employers and organizations committed to IPV prevention.
Intimate partner violence is a significant public health problem in the United States and has detrimental effects to individuals, families, and society. The release of this inventory is truly an encouraging and constructive development for IPV prevention nationwide.
To view the inventory on the CAEPV website (the only place it is currently available), visit http://www.caepv.org/membercenter/library/docDetail.asp?doc_id=457&cat_id=1.
Thursday, August 03, 2006
This milestone represents an important shift in the national perception of sexual violence and treatment of victims. RAINN participated in the July 18 NASDAQ Closing Bell ceremony, dedicated specifically to this important milestone in the fight against sexual assault. “The world was a different place when RAINN created the National Sexual Assault Hotline 12 years ago,” said Scott Berkowitz, president and founder of RAINN. “Sexual violence was not part of the public discussion, and many victims were not getting the help they needed.”
In response, RAINN created, and continues to run, the National Sexual Assault Hotline, the country’s only national hotline for sexual assault victims. The hotline, which provides free, confidential live help, 24/7, is a partnership with 1,102 local rape crisis centers in 50 states and DC. Tens of thousands of volunteers and staff from these local partners help callers every hour of every day, playing a direct and positive role in the recovery process.
Calls to the National Sexual Assault Hotline have quadrupled to more than 11,000 a month, from 2,800 a month in its first year (1994). In 2005, the hotline helped a record 137,039 people. Fortunately, the increase in calls does not reflect an increase in sexual violence. In fact, sexual assault has decreased by 58 percent since the hotline started, according to the latest data from the U.S Department of Justice. Meanwhile, the percentage of victims who report their attack to police, a necessary first step towards getting repeat rapists off our streets, has increased by about one third.
Despite this progress, much work remains to be done. Every 2.5 minutes, another American is sexually assaulted. To honor the first one million callers to the National Sexual Assault Hotline and continue raising awareness, RAINN is launching a special version of its website, which premiered on July 18. RAINN will soon launch the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, the web’s first secure hotline offering live help.
To learn more, visit www.rainn.org.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
THE ALLSTATE FOUNDATION RELEASES NEW POLL FINDINGS AND FINANCIAL TIPS TO HELP DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVORS ACHIEVE ECONOMIC INDEPENDENCE
- 83% of respondents strongly agreed that domestic violence affects people in all racial, ethnic, educational, social and economic backgrounds.
- Approximately six out of ten respondents strongly agree that the lack of money and a steady income is often a challenge faced by a survivor of domestic violence when leaving her/his abuser.
- More than a quarter (28%) of respondents thought that finding access to money or income to support the victim and/or children was the most difficult problem faced by those leaving an abusive situation, ranking second only to fear that the abuser would find the victim.
The majority of respondents reported that programs to help with financial challenges would be very valuable to domestic violence victims.
>Three quarters (75%) thought emergency funds would be very valuable.
>Two thirds (67%) thought education and job training would be very valuable.
>More than half (54%) thought training to help with financial challenges would be very valuable.
The poll is part of The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program, which works in partnership with the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) Fund to provide comprehensive programming and resources to help survivors connect to resources that will help them live more safe and secure lives.
"Allstate is dedicated to helping domestic violence survivors feel better protected today and prepared for the future," said Angela Cobb, program manager, The Allstate Foundation. "Our national poll shows us just how pervasive domestic violence is in the United States -- and how important it is to empower these survivors economically." In addition to releasing the poll findings, The Allstate Foundation also offers six tips for domestic violence victims and survivors looking to secure their financial future:
1. Plan for your safety by contacting your local domestic violence program to discuss your options and learn about the community resources you can access for support (i.e., emergency assistance funds, shelter, utility assistance, rent assistance, public benefits, and affordable housing). To locate a program in your community, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-SAFE. Language translation is available.
2. Obtain a copy of your credit report and monitor your credit often. Most financial institutions provide credit monitoring services such as Privacy Guard at low costs. You can get a copy of your credit report by contacting one of the three credit bureaus. Equifax: 1-800-685-1111 or http://www.equifax.com; Experian: 1-866-966-1067 or http://www.experian.com; TransUnion: 1-877-680-7275 or http://www.transunion.com; FREE Annual Credit Report http://www.annualcreditreport.com, or 1-877-322-8228.
3. Open a post office box for mail and any financial information you may receive before you leave or immediately after you leave an abusive situation. You can obtain P.O. boxes from the United States Post Office or vendors such as Parcel Plus, Mail Boxes Etc., or the UPS Store.
4. Call your utility companies, wireless telephone service and financial institutions to secure your private information with special pin codes and passwords. Be sure to do the same on all new credit, wireless or utility accounts. Ask these companies to use identifiers other than your Social Security Number, date of birth or mother's maiden name to authenticate your identity.
5. Change all ATM and debit card pin codes, online banking passwords and online investing passwords. Be sure to change the password on your e-mail account as well.
6. Be sure to make necessary changes to your insurance plans, will or trust beneficiaries to appoint a new person if your partner is your current designee.
"Survivors of domestic violence often face myriad financial challenges that prevent them from escaping abusive situations," said Gretta Gardner, NNEDV Fund program manager. "Whether we're helping survivors to find safe shelter, become financially literate, repair damaged credit, or participate in a job training program, The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program will help domestic violence survivors prepare for futures of economic autonomy and opportunity."
The Allstate Foundation conducted the National Poll on Domestic Violence in December 2005 and January 2006. The poll was designed and administered by Murphy Marketing Research, with input from the NNEDV Fund. More than 1,000 men and women of all races, ethnicities, income and education levels participated in the poll. Response quotas closely mirrored the ethnic breakdown of the current U.S. population -- 16% African-American, 14% Hispanic and 6% Asian.
Established in 1952, The Allstate Foundation is an independent, charitable organization made possible by subsidiaries of The Allstate Corporation. Allstate and The Allstate Foundation sponsor community initiatives to promote "safe and vital communities"; "tolerance, inclusion, and diversity"; and "economic empowerment." The Allstate Foundation believes in the financial potential of every individual and in helping America's families achieve their American dream. For additional information, visit http://www.allstate.com/foundation.
Friday, May 26, 2006
"Living with physical violence or psychological abuse can result in deterioration in an employee's performance, poor timekeeping and increased absenteeism within the work place." "Every year in Norther Ireland around £90m is lost to the economy because of time-off work due to domestic violence." The guidelines, published on May 22, are part of the government's "Tackling Violence at Home Strategy" which was launched in October 2005.
*$168,083,000 USD - conversion done at CAEPV on 5/24/06
Friday, May 19, 2006
New York City unveiled a new public service advertising campaign designed to encourage victims of domestic violence to get help. "Last year, domestic violence was responsible for nearly one out of every eight homicides in our city," Mayor Bloomberg said on May 18. "What's just as disturbing is that almost none of these victims ever called the city's domestic violence hotline," Bloomberg said at a City Hall press conference with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) and Yolanda Jimenez, commissioner of the Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, along with playwright and activist Eve Ensler.
The ads, which urge victims or loved ones to call 311, will appear in English and Spanish on subways, buses and other sites around the city. Postcard-sized copies will be distributed at nail salons. Ensler also helped put together a two-week program - funded with private dollars - to raise awareness of violence against women and girls.
"Until The Violence Stops: NYC," which will run from June 12-27, will feature musical and theatrical performances, and celebrities will include Jane Fonda, Rosie O'Donnell, Kathy Bates and Diane Lane. One of the theatrical events will benefit the city's Family Justice Center in Brooklyn.
According to the city, police officers handle 600 domestic violence-related calls each day. Most of the victims killed in domestic violence incidents had no order of protection and had not previously contacted police.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Caroline says, “We hope that our case will build off the success of Reynolds v. Fraser, the first case brought under these new provisions of the New York City Human Rights Law. That case was brought as a “special” Article 78 proceeding challenging the decision of the New York City Department of Correction (DOC) to terminate a victim of domestic violence after she revealed her victim status. In a lengthy consideration of the public policy reasons behind the amended New York City legislation, the judge in Reynolds found that “[t]he ability to hold on to a job is one of a victim’s most valuable weapons in the war for survival, since gainful employment is the key to independence from the batterer.” The judge then vacated DOC’s decision to terminate Ms. Reynolds’ employment and ordered reinstatement and back pay.”
In a separate opinion, however, the court upheld the decades-old tort immunity law, which bars lawsuits against local governments to prevent a flood of litigation that would overburden taxpayers. The court ruled that the estate of Doris Hays may not sue authorities in Rock Island and Henry counties after a witness reported Hays drove off a highway into a ditch but no one investigated. Hays' body was found three days later near her car at the accident scene.
In the Chicago case, the court decided that the domestic violence law trumped the tort immunity act. The unanimous decision by Justice Thomas Fitzgerald points out that the domestic violence statute grants immunity against local governments "unless the act is a result of willful or wanton misconduct."
There is no such provision in the 41-year-old tort immunity act, which the court said applies to the Hays case. Justice Mary Ann McMorrow believes there should be. As in past cases, she dissented in the Hays matter, arguing that if the Legislature intended to protect local governments from lawsuits for willful and wanton misconduct, the law should say so.
"Blanket immunity should not be afforded to acts performed by local governmental entities or government officials in bad faith, especially where the provision of life-and-death police protection services are at issue," McMorrow wrote. The cases are Moore v. Green and DeSmet v. Rock Island. On the Net: http://www.state.il.us/court/Opinions/Search.htm
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Because nearly half of all rape victims are under 18, and fully 80% are under 30, RAINN sees the need to respond to the growing desire to communicate online instead of by phone. Already, 75% of teens and young adults, and 74% of all women, get the majority of their health information online. But, in the case of sexual assault victims, what they're finding is pretty scary. The places where they are currently getting help online — chat rooms, blogs, message boards, and listserves — all have major flaws. The people providing help are untrained and unsupervised. And the sites are not secure, so postings are not confidential. After studying the current situation, it became clear that RAINN needed to create a safe and secure service that could provide live help from trained volunteers. Their solution is the Online Hotline, launching this September.
The US Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and Office on Violence Against Women (OVW), excited about the potential of this unique technology to help a new generation of users, are providing discretionary grants to develop the service. Diane Stuart, director of OVW, commented that, "OVW is pleased to support the development of RAINN's Online Hotline. It is an essential new service for a generation of victims seeking help. I congratulate RAINN for its forward thinking on this most important issue."
Bob Flores, the administrator of OJJDP, observed that, "Victims who receive help are significantly more likely to report their attack to police and to participate in prosecution. By drawing in hundreds of thousands of victims who would never use a telephone hotline, we expect the Online Hotline to play a vital role in our efforts to combat sexual violence and help its victims."
One click will take users from www.rainn.org to the Online Hotline. There, they will anonymously request help and be connected to a trained volunteer for live, one-on-one support. While there will be a great deal of advanced technology at work behind the scenes, the user's screen will be as clear and intuitive as instant messaging, so there will be no learning curve.
Of course, privacy and confidentiality are of the utmost importance. In order to ensure confidentiality for Online Hotline users, RAINN worked with their tech partners to build a new communications infrastructure that integrates security and anonymity at every level. The application will not capture the IP address of users, so sessions can't be traced back to them. They developed a "chat controller" that, once it connects a user with a trained volunteer, breaks the link to ensure that no record of the session or user remains. And, transcripts of sessions will not be stored.
The pilot launch of the Online Hotline will begin in May, with a national launch expected in September. For more info, visit www.rainn.org/programs/online-hotline/ . (Source: Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)
Thursday, March 16, 2006
“Working Women Making it Work: Intimate Partner Violence, Employment, Disclosure and Workplace Supports” is one of the first studies to look at the role of workplace policies in helping victims of domestic violence maintain employment. The study was presented in March at the International Work, Stress, and Health 2006 conference in Miami, and will be published in 2007 in a special issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.
“Maintaining employment is very important to the employed victim, and to the employer, since turnover is very costly on both sides,” said Jennifer Swanberg, Ph.D., who led the study with her colleagues TK Logan, Ph.D. and Caroline Macke, MSW. “In our study, among women who told someone at work about the partner victimization, the use of workplace support initiatives that include flexible working hours, supervisor-approved workload modifications, and implementation of safeguards such as the screening telephone calls, may have helped then to remain employed.”
This is a big deal for employers interested in effectiveness of workplace practices to address domestic violence!
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Hotline workers hope recently unveiled innovative technology will put an end to those problems and let them answer more calls, handle them more quickly and help more abused women. In the first two week time period the system went on line, the average call length fell from 20 minutes to between five and seven minutes, said Sheryl Cates, the hotline's executive director. That adds up with workers handling up to 600 calls each day. "This is truly a day of dreams coming true," Cates said.
The technology, developed and donated by companies including Microsoft, Dell and AOL, includes mapping software, networked computers and 72 phone lines, three times as many as the hotline had before. Rather than flipping through paper maps and lists of shelters, which often were outdated, hotline workers now can type in the caller's location and use mapping software to find help nearby, whether it's emergency transportation or a shelter with workers who speak her language. And instead of just giving the victim a list of shelter phone numbers and hoping she has the time and courage to call, hotline workers can make conference calls and find a place that has room.
Experts estimate that between 2 million and 4 million women in the United States are battered each year, and more than half of the victims live with children under 12. Government studies have found that on average more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day. U.S. Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who wrote the legislation that created the hotline, said a crucial step in reversing those statistics is convincing women they don't have to take the abuse. The hotline's workers are a powerful ally in that fight, he said. "You give them a reason to believe they can make it," he said. "Women feel empowered to come forward now. They now believe that they have someone behind them, they're not alone."
Forty-eight-year-old hotline worker Rose Garcia knows how difficult it is to reach out for help and how devastating it would be to get a busy signal. Garcia and her three children left her physically and verbally abusive husband 12 1/2 years ago, staying in a Fort Worth shelter until she could rebuild her life. She eventually began volunteering there and then moved to Austin to help open the hotline. "I thank God today that I am not a statistic," she said. "I can stand tall and have a strong voice and let women know like myself that they can live violence free and succeed in life." To contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline call 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224 TTY for the deaf. The hotline operates 24 hours a day 365 days a year in 140 languages.
Friday, February 17, 2006
Click here to help!
Friday, January 20, 2006
Numerous websites have been advertising that they can provide records of incoming and outgoing cell phone calls--for less than $100, in some cases. That kind of information is often used by law enforcement agencies in their investigations. However, stalkers or abusive spouses could exploit the online availability of such data. In addition, some of these brokers will provide information locating those phone calls within 500 – 1000 feet. In cases of victims of domestic violence – this information could be deadly.
Employers that have domestic violence programs and are assisting employees should be aware of this situation when counseling employees about using wireless phones as part of safety planning. Using wireless phones for 911 calls is life-saving, but it is important to caution domestic violence victims regarding the potential for their wireless phone records and phone call locations to be tracked.
Verizon Wireless and Cingular Wireless have both requested court orders against data brokers accused of obtaining the records through fraud. In addition, Verizon Wireless Call Center team members go through special training to detect such fraud. The Federal Communications Commission's enforcement bureau this week also said it's looking into companies that obtain telephone records without the customer's approval or knowledge. In addition, lawmakers on federal and state levels are introducing legislation to criminalize such activity, and several states are launching investigations into how the companies have obtained the records.
In the meantime, use caution.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Patti Seger, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said the bill would help prevent victims from being arrested unjustly. "The impact of the arrest alone is stunning," she said. "There's a financial cost, but there's a huge psychological, emotional toll that that takes on a victim."
The new law replaces the term "primary aggressor" with "predominant aggressor" to identify the most significant attacker, not just who hit first. It also urges officers not to arrest anyone else in a dispute and hold the suspect until the person posts bail or appears before a judge.
Sen. Ron Brown, R-Eau Claire, who cosponsored the bill, said the law will likely help police determine who should be arrested. According to the latest state Justice Department data available, nearly 4 percent, or 641 incidents, resulted in multiple arrests or charges in 17,827 domestic disputes across the state of Wisconsin in 2003.
The law also sets out more criteria for police to consider when determining who to arrest, including:
- the history of domestic abuse between the parties,
- witness statements,
- the relative degree of injury to the parties,
- the extent to which a party appears to fear another,
- whether someone is making threats about future harm,
- whether someone acted to defend himself or herself or another
The bill is AB 436.
Friday, January 06, 2006
VAWA Reauthorization Includes National Resource Center on Workplace Responses to Assist Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence
The VAWA re-authorization includes a national resource center on workplace responses to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence. What does this mean? The legislation indicates that: “The Attorney General, acting through the Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, may award a grant to an eligible nonprofit nongovernmental entity or tribal organization, in order to provide for the establishment and operation of a national resource center on workplace responses to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence.” The resource center would provide information and assistance to employers and labor organizations to aid in their efforts to develop and implement responses to such violence.