It seemed as though Adrienne Basciano was doing everything right. Adrienne, who found herself in a volatile relationship with boyfriend Robert Reza, found the courage to end the relationship about a year ago. Having told her close friends and family that she was “scared of him”, she must have felt a sense of relief once he moved out of their shared home and away from their twin 5 year old boys. Adrienne, trying to protect her children, found herself in a bitter custody battle with Reza, a fight that recently turned deadly.
On July 21, Robert Reza arrived at Adrienne’s place of business, a solar manufacturing plant called Emcore in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Reza stormed through his former workplace without provocation or warning, shot his first victim and continued on a spree that left three dead and two injured. Robert found Adrienne in the employee break room where she was shot several times as she lay helpless. Three others were eventually shot and wounded before Reza pointed the gun towards his head and killed himself. It is said to be the worst mass murder-suicide in New Mexico’s history.
While often viewed as a private matter, domestic violence isn’t isolated to the ‘domestic realm’ and doesn’t stay home when its victims go to work. With nearly one-third of American women (31%) reporting being physically or sexually abused by a partner, it should not be a surprise that in any mid-to-large sized company, domestic violence is affecting employees and a company’s bottom line. In fact, a study of domestic violence survivors found that 74% of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while at work. Also, domestic violence costs companies more than $735 million every year
There is no way to predict the irrational actions of an abuser, but as far as I am concerned, it is better to be safe than sorry. We must prepare for the worst in order to prevent similar situations from occurring. Business leaders must begin to consider the notion that the work place is not immune to acts of domestic violence, and view it as a serious, recognizable, and preventable problem that not only impacts the company’s bottom line but the very lives of employees.
Learn more about domestic violence and the workplace here.
The decision to escape violence in the home is one that is almost impossible to make alone. It obviously involves major effort from victims, but it also may involve non-profit advocate groups, social service agencies, and law enforcement. The process that helps victims escape their abusers can be difficult and can be more complicated when the victim is an immigrant or a non-English speaker. A victim may be afraid to ask for legal assistance because she doesn’t speak English or doesn’t speak English well enough. She may also be afraid that she will be deported. Additionally, immigrant victims of domestic violence may believe that they don’t have the same rights or legal protections than their abusers.
EVERY person that needs help from Next Door Solutions can get help, regardless of immigration status. Immigration status is not reported to any other office and a client’s safety, privacy and confidentiality is the most important part of receiving services. ALL victims of domestic violence, including undocumented immigrants have legal rights, legal options and a means to escape their abuser without the risk of deportation or losing their children. One such option is the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which was passed by the United States Congress in 1994. Under the Violence Against Women Act, non-citizens who are married to or who have, within the previous 2 years, divorced U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents can petition to obtain legal permanent residence. So, instead of a victim depending on an abusive partner for immigration status, a victim can apply for residency in a confidential statement without the approval or knowledge of their spouse.
If a victim’s abuser is not a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, she may not use VAWA to gain residency, but can apply for a U-Visa or a U-Non Immigrant Status. A U-Visa provides legal immigration status to non-citizens who are willing to assist police in the investigation of the crimes against them. To apply for a U-Visa, a victim’s abuser doesn’t need to be a U.S. citizen or even a lawful resident, and the victim does not have to be married to the abuser. The only requirement of the U-Visa is that the violent crime must be reported to the police and applicants must be willing to assist officials in the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
For every case of partner abuse and domestic violence, there usually is a pattern of control placed on the victim to prevent her from leaving. Whether it is financial, emotional, or physical, abusers find many ways to trick their partners into staying. Leaving an abusive partner is difficult enough under such circumstances, but immigrant victims have the added threat of deportation and the loss of their children as well. However, by providing immigrant victims with information about their rights and their legal options, we can give them alternatives to violence, abuse, and torment.
La decisión de escapar de la violencia en el hogar es casi imposible de llevar a cabo a solas. Obviamente se requiere un gran esfuerzo por parte de las victimas pero también se requiere de ayuda por parte de organizaciones sin ánimo de lucro, agencias de servicios sociales, y de la ley. El proceso de escapar de un abusador puede ser difícil y puede ser complicado cuando la víctima es un inmigrante o alguien que no habla Ingles. La victima puede tener miedo de pedir ayuda legal porque ella habla muy poco Ingles o por qué no lo habla. Ella también puede tener miedo de ser deportada. Además, las víctimas de violencia domestica a veces creen que no tienen los mismos derechos que sus abusadores.
TODAS las personas que necesitan ayuda de Next Door Solutions pueden recibirla, no importa el estado legal. El estado legal no es reportado a ninguna otra oficina. El mantener la seguridad, privacidad y confidencialidad de los clientes son los aspectos más importantes cuando ofrecemos nuestros servicios. TODAS las víctimas de la violencia domestica, incluyendo inmigrantes indocumentados tienen derechos, opciones legales, y medios para escapar de sus abusadores sin correr el riesgo de ser deportados o de ser separados de sus niños. Una de esas opciones legales es el acta de la violencia contra las mujeres (VAWA). La cual fue aprobada por el Congreso de los Estados Unidos en 1994.Bajo este acta, las personas que no son ciudadanas y quienes estén casadas o divorciadas-durante los dos años previos- con un ciudadano de los Estados Unidos o un residente legal, pueden pedir que se les otorgue la residencia permanente. Así que en lugar de tener que depender del abusador por el estado legal, la victima puede aplicar por residencia legal sin la ayuda del abusador y de manera confidencial.
Si el abusador de una víctima no es ciudadano de los Estados Unidos o residente legal, la victima tal vez no pueda hacer uso de VAWA para obtener su residencia; pero tal vez si pueda aplicar por una visa U. La visa U provee estado legal a personas que no son ciudadanas y quienes desean colaborarle a la policía en la investigación de los delitos cometidos en contra de ellos. Para aplicar por la visa U, el abusador de la víctima no tiene que ser ciudadano o ni siquiera residente, y la victima no tiene que estar casada con el abusador. El único requerimiento para la visa U es que el delito debe ser reportado a la policía y las victimas o aplicantes tienen que estar dispuestas a colaborarle a los oficiales en la investigación y en el procesamiento del delito.
En cada caso de violencia domestica y abuso entre parejas, usualmente existe un patrón de control por parte del abusador y el cual es ejercido en contra de la victima para evitar que ella lo abandone. Dichos patrones de control pueden ser a nivel financiero, emocional, o físico. Los abusadores siempre encuentran formas para hacer que sus víctimas no los abandonen. Así que bajo ciertas circunstancias, es difícil abandonar una pareja abusiva, y las victimas inmigrantes tienen además la amenaza de ser deportadas y separadas de sus niños. Sin embargo, les podemos dar alternativas a las víctimas para que escapen la violencia domestica, tormentos, y abusos si les proveemos información sobre los derechos y opciones legales que tienen como víctimas.
This month’s special volunteer honoree is Jean Sloan. Jean has been an integral part of the Next Door family since 2009. As a Next Door Neighbor, Next Door’s most valued volunteer group, Jean has helped Next Door provide the physical items that Shelter victims and their children need after fleeing sudden and sometimes life-threatening abuse. By collecting items for which Next Door doesn’t have direct funding, such as socks, underwear, diapers, and other much needed toiletries and personal care items, Jean helps Next Door clients make a smoother transition from abuse to freedom. While these items are often taken for granted, they are important in boosting client self-esteem and bringing normalcy and dignity back to a very difficult situation.
In addition to securing items for shelter residents and domestic violence victims and their children, Jean supports fundraising functions within the organization. Jean, along with other Next Door Neighbors, has been an integral supporter and participant in the Vino & Vistas Fundraiser, the Shelter Open House, and the Holiday Boutique. By volunteering at these events and securing auction items, Jean has helped Next Door raise funding that helps us end domestic violence in the moment and for all time.
Jean has also helped spread awareness of Next Door’s mission to end domestic violence by introducing our agency to other individuals and corporations like Xilinx, her employer, which share a common desire to provide safety and life resources for victims of domestic violence and their children. By extending her network, Next Door is able to share its mission with others and provide greater support for those in need—and we couldn’t do this without Jean’s support and energy.
Jean balances her enthusiasm for volunteerism at Next Door with her successful career as the Global Purchasing and Travel Manager for Xilinx, a corporation at the forefront of the semiconductor industry.
Jean, for all that you have done to further the goals of Next Door and to help victims and their children who need help, we are eternally grateful to you!
As of this writing, Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani, age 43 and mother of two children, was slated to be buried up to her chest so Iranian men could throw medium sized rocks at her as a punishment for alleged adultery, a ritual act called stoning. After international pressure, the Iranian government has decided not to stone her to death. They have, however, said that she still may be executed by hanging.
Sakineh’s story is unique and then again common. Sakineh has been in prison since May 2006, when she was convicted of adultery. She was sentenced to a punishment of 99 lashes, which has already been carried out. She was forced to confess to adultery after receiving the 99 lashes, which she received in front of her children. She later retracted that confession. Later that year she was accused of murdering her husband. Those charges were dropped, but an inquiry into the adultery charge was reopened. Two of the five judges found absolutely no evidence of adultery but the other three judges used a legal loophole called “judicial knowledge,” which permits judges to make decisions based on their personal feelings, regardless of actual evidence. Sakineh also may have suffered from a language barrier, since she speaks Turkish, not Farsi.
According to Amnesty International, the majority of individuals put to death by stoning are women. Under Sharia law in Iran, a woman’s death by stoning involves being buried up to the neck and having stones hurled at her head. The law even specifies the size of the stones: not so big that the victim dies quickly, but not so small that death takes an inordinately long time. For Adultery to be proven, Iranian law dictates that two men or four women must witness that act of adultery. Moreover, if one is able to free themselves during the stoning, that person may go free; however, while a woman is buried up to her chest, a man is only buried up to his waist, obviously making it easier for a man to avoid death after committing adultery.
Human rights activists have been pushing the Islamic government to abolish stoning, arguing that women are not treated equally before the law in Iran and are especially vulnerable in the judicial system. Activists also say that in the past when pressure is put on the Iranian government to choose not to stone women to death, they have commuted the death sentence. Sakineh’s son and daughter, despite having written to the court pleading for their mother’s life, up until July 9 had received little if any hope that their mother’s life will be saved. On July 9, the Iranian government said they would not stone her to death, though they still might execute her by hanging. In response, we ask that everyone raise your voice. Sign the petition. Post on Facebook and Twitter. Call our elected leaders. We can not tolerate inequality and we can not tolerate the unjust execution of women.
Here is a letter from her children, asking the people of the world to protest this horror.
You can also learn more and sign the petition to stop her barbaric execution.
Also, you can join the Facebook Page dedicated to this issue.
Last week the Supreme Court ruled that the right to have a gun in the home for self-defense applies to states and localities. What this means on the street is that in places like Chicago, the city cannot restrict access to guns for ordinary, law-abiding citizens. The Supreme Court also reaffirmed that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is not an unlimited right. While the National Rifle Association wants to give anyone, anywhere the right to own a gun, the Supreme Court in this decision repeats that its decision does not cast doubt on long standing laws that prohibit felons and the mentally ill from owning guns. This is an important point. The Supreme Court is not challenging laws that already restrict gun ownership to criminals.
While this is a good reminder that we have these laws on the books and that the Supreme Court is not looking to change them at the moment, for victims of domestic violence, the ruling may not be enough. Already the National Rifle Association is using this ruling as a stepping stone to challenge laws that restrict gun ownership, that would allow ALL people, regardless of whether they are criminals or not, to have the right to own guns. They seem to believe that even if you are an abuser who has been convicted of a violent crime, that the abuser should still have the right to own a gun, despite the fact that access to guns increases the risk of intimate partner homicide more than five times more than in instances where there are no weapons.
Approximately 80 Americans die from guns EVERY DAY. And EVERY DAY 3 to 4 of these people are women shot and killed by current or former husbands or boyfriends. While the Supreme Court still upholds the laws that prohibit gun ownership to the men that kill these women, there are those who believe that a woman’s life is not as important as her abuser’s access to the gun that can take her life.
To learn more about the issue, check out:
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence