Monday, August 25, 2008

What Does It Mean to "Click To Empower?"

Last time I checked, the “ClicktoEmpower” clicker was at 232,394 – they are approaching the 50,000 to go mark! Thanks to all of you so dedicated to “clicking” and sharing this easy way to help victims of domestic violence with friends. The goal is to click to 300,000.

Each click represents $1 donated by The Allstate Foundation Domestic Violence Program to the Education and Job Training Assistance (EJTA) Fund, with a total contribution of up to $300,000. The EJTA Fund helps domestic violence survivors pursue long-term financial security by providing vital financial assistance for education, training and job-related expenses. Clicking is easy -- and you can help someone get access to books and supplies for school, job-training skills, certification fees, tuition, registration fees, childcare, and more!

I have personally seen the EJTA Fund in action – and seen first-hand what a difference it can make in the life of a victim of domestic violence who is trying to gain long-term financial security. Believe me, it works!

Allstate is a company I appreciate – I know they are an insurance company and I know that does not always make them a "popular" kind of company, but they have done a lot of really cool things by taking what they are good at (financial stuff) and applying it to helping victims of domestic violence. To learn more about Allstate and their commitment, check out our “Member of the Month” page on the CAEPV website.

Please keep clicking – and watch that arrow move toward the $300,000 mark!!

Monday, August 18, 2008

So. . .THAT'S Who Domestic Violence Happens To. . .

Lately it seems like there have been several "high profile" people in the news accused of commiting domest violence - parents of actors or actors or athletes. And people are often shocked because "domestic violence does not happen to people like that."

I remember when I was at an upscale clothing store buying a suit and the salesperson asked me what I did and I was explaining it. The salesperson noted they were surprised that the kinds of businesses I worked with "had that kind of problem" (domestic violence). I pointed out that if they did not, I would not have a job.

The point is -- it can happen to ANYONE. And it does.

I don't fault people for not knowing that because people don't necessarily openly and easily discuss hurtful things like violence or abuse in their most intimate relationships -- especially if it might cost them their jobs.

I was talking with a woman this weekend about what I do, and she said "I know it can happen to anyone -- it is happening in my family. . .and maybe if my relative's employer provided resources and assistance like you are talking about, she would not feel so trapped and feel like she could reach out for help."

That is really what we are trying to do - provide avenues for help -- recognizing it is an issue for employees and an issue for workplaces. And a workplace can do well by doing good.

And this is also why I am so excited about the S2 - Safer, Smarter, Workplace Conference that the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence is hosting in November sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We are bringing together employers and Employee Assistance Providers (EAPs) from across the country to leverage how we can all best address this issue. Just imagine -- EAPs reach millions and millions of employees each year through hundreds of thousands of employers. And what if each and every time an employee in a domestic violence situation called the EAP -- the person on the other end was best equipped to help with resources and assistance and was in the best partnership possible with the employer? It is very exciting to me!

It is just one aspect of the issue, but we hope to make a difference.

I was doing an interview for a magazine a few weeks ago, and a journalist asked me the biggest "myth" about domestic violence and professional people. I said it was that "it could not happen" to a professional person because they would be "too smart" or "too educated" and would know better. The fact is, that simply is not true. It, sadly, can happen to anyone.

And I hope that someday, everyone can look around them and realize that it can be as close as next door, or the next office, and reach out to help.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Illinois Governor Signs "Cindy Bischof Law" Allowing Courts to Order Abusers to Wear GPS When Restraining Orders Have Been Violated

This is a follow up to a situation I've written about in the past few months -- so I wanted to make sure to post this:

CHICAGO – Joined by a bipartisan group of state legislators, domestic violence prevention advocates and the family of domestic abuse victim Cindy Bischof, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed legislation to strengthen protections for domestic violence victims from their abusers. Senate Bill 2719, sponsored by State Senator Susan Garrett (D-Highwood) and State Representative Suzanne Bassi (R-Palatine), allows the courts to order an abuser to wear a GPS tracking device as a condition of bail in instances when a restraining order has been violated.

The legislation was sparked by the tragic event surrounding the death of Cindy Bischof whose ex-boyfriend was able to obtain a gun and shoot her in the parking lot of her real estate business, even after he had been arrested and prosecuted for violating a restraining order on two occasions.

“It is with a heavy heart for the Bischof family that I sign this legislation to enhance our state’s protections for domestic abuse victims,” said Governor Blagojevich. “The loss of their daughter was a terrible tragedy, but the Bischof family has used the heartbreak of her death to protect others like Cindy, who live in fear of their abuser. With this legislation, we will further help victims of domestic violence by monitoring their abusers whereabouts and aiding law enforcement in tracking violations of a restraining order.”

The law is effective January 1, 2009.

In a domestic violence case, if a domestic abuser is arrested for violating a restraining order and appeals for bail, the Cindy Bischof Law requires that the abuser must undergo a risk assessment evaluation and gives the court authority to require a GPS device be worn if bail is granted. In addition, the court must order the abuser to be evaluated by a partner abuse intervention program and order the respondent to follow all recommendations. The law also establishes an abuser’s failure to attend and complete a partner abuse intervention program as a new offense if the restraining order is violated.

The new law also adds at least a $200 additional fine to every penalty on a violation of a restraining order conviction. The fines will be deposited into the newly established Domestic Violence Surveillance Fund.

“Our family, friends, and foundation thank the General Assembly and the Governor for acting quickly and decisively to pass this legislation which will go a long way toward helping victims of domestic violence maintain some semblance of freedom from their offender in stalking situations,” said Michael Bischof, brother of Cindy Bischof.

Finally, the bill establishes the Domestic Violence Surveillance Program where the supervising authority over the abuser (whether it is the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Patrol Review Board or the court) will use the most modern GPS technology to track domestic violence offenders and defines what capabilities the GPS tracking system must have. The Division of Probation Services must establish all standards and protocols to implement the program.

The Governor was joined today at the Jane Addams Hull House by Illinois House Minority Leader Tom Cross (R-Plainfield), State Senator Susan Garrett (D-Highwood), State Representative Michael McAuliffe (R-Chicago), State Representative Patricia Bellock (R-Westmont), State Representative Dennis Reboletti (R-Addison), family and friends of Bischof Family, Assistant State’s Attorney Ketki Steffan of the 3rd Municipal District, Denise Snyder of the Illinois Coalition against Domestic Assault, Maria Pesquiera of Mujeres Latina en Accion, and other advocates who provide assistance for domestic violence victims.

“Here today we honor the memory of Cindy Bischof by helping to protect battered women from their abusive stalkers. I am pleased to stand here with this bipartisan group to witness the signing of this important legislation,” said House Minority Leader Cross.

“The Cindy Bischof Law will help law enforcement officials protect families through use of GPS systems, strengthen existing laws for protecting families, and may save lives,” said Senator Garrett.

“It was my honor to be a part of drafting and passing this important piece of legislation which will provide a much greater degree of protection for victims of domestic violence then has thus far been the case,” said Representative Bassi who was out of the state for the bill signing.

The legislation signed by the Governor is similar legislation passed in Massachusetts last year which tracked domestic abusers with GPS and used GPS to enforce protection orders against convicted abusers. Until today, GPS use in Illinois has been only utilized by the Department of Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice to track sex offenders.

8-21-08 UPDATE: After reading the blog, Ms. Magazine contacted me and let me know about an article they had regarding GPS and tracking offenders. It is located at

Friday, August 01, 2008

Pink and Purple Prevention - Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence

Here is just the coolest idea we got today from our friends at Alternatives Incorporated in Marion County, Indiana.

On October 4 from 8:30 AM to 12:00 Noon they are having an event entitled "Pink and Purple Prevention is our Intention" to raise awareness for breast cancer and domestic violence. It is at Anderson University and is co-sponsored by Alternatives Incorporated, Community Hospital Anderson, Anderson University, Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. To view the flier, click on

What a great idea! It is so difficult organizations and employers who feel they have to "choose" between domestic violence awareness activities and breast cancer awareness activities during October -- and this way they do not have to!

I hope others across the country are able to take this idea and run with it! If you would like more information, you can reach out to Mary Jo Lee the CEO of Alternatives Incorporated at