Monthly Archives: November 2010

Simple Ways to Give Thanks This Holiday Season

The Holiday season is upon us! It is a celebrated time of family gatherings, festive meals and laughter. It is a day dedicated to giving thanks for all that we have in our lives, but let’s not forget to reflect on the needs of those who may be less fortunate.

As you celebrate your holiday with your loved ones and reflect on your blessings, Next Door asks you to consider the needs of women and girls who have been harmed by violence all over the world. Take a moment to think about the hopes you have for your own loved ones, and the desire that they never know violence or abuse. It is so easy to take health, happiness, and safety for granted but for many women around the world, those things seem like a distant and far off possibility.

The Family Violence Prevention Fund has come up with a couple of ways that we can take action this year to end violence for women and children.

1. Talk to the young people you know about the issue of violence against women and share with them how you think people should treat one another. There are plenty of resources to aid in the discussion, such as Coaching Boys into Men program. Click here for more information.

2. Take Action as the 111th Congress comes to a close for the year. Urge your Members of Congress to pass the International Violence Against Women Act before Congress adjourns. To sign the petition, click here

3. Give your time, talents, and resources to a local domestic violence shelter in your community. Next Door welcomes and appreciates your support. This Thanksgiving, we remember and cherish our dedicated supporters who have worked with us to end domestic violence in the moment and for all time!

Wishing you and your family a safe and peaceful Thanksgiving.

An Impossible Decision

I absolutely love going on vacation. It means escaping the mundane of every day life, having no real responsibilities, and only having to think about what restaurants to go to for dinner. There’s one thing about going away that I don’t like, however: those awful motel beds. The mattresses are lumpy, the covers are scratchy, and the pillows just don’t fluff like they should. There’s nothing like coming home after a week away, curling up in your familiar bed, and getting a good night’s sleep. We take these simple pleasures for granted but for many women in abusive relationships, they give up even the most basic needs- like a bed to call their own.

When a woman leaves an abusive relationship, she often has nowhere to go. Besides being physically violent, abusers also exercise power and control over their partners in order to isolate them from support networks that may encourage them to seek help. As a result, a woman who has experienced domestic violence will often have little or no access to money and very few friends or family members to rely on if she flees the relationship. She left the life she once knew and often gives up all of her belongings, all to feel safe again. Too often, a lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for assisted housing mean that many women and their children are forced to choose between abuse at home or life on the streets.

Victims of abuse often find themselves homeless not just because they chose to flee, but instead because their landlords forced them out of their homes. Many landlords have adopted policies, such as “zero tolerance for crime” policies, that penalize victims of domestic violence. When violence occurs in the home, regardless of whether the tenant is the victim or the perpetrator, the landlords require the tenants to leave. Additionally, women often have to miss work as a result of a violent dispute and as such, they may not make enough money to pay the months rent on time. As this cycle continues, many landlords evict the tenant due to their frequently delinquent payments.

Until we stop asking women to choose between being beaten and being able to feed and shelter their children, we cannot expect to rid our society of domestic violence. To see how Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is addressing this very issue, click here to read about the housing solutions we offer to the women who have made the brave decision to seek safety outside of their homes.

Dear Mr. Gibson- Abuse is Abuse.

A couple of months ago, Next Door’s Executive Director Kathleen wrote a blog about Mel Gibson’s abusive telephone recordings that had been released to the media. The disturbing calls, made to his partner Oksana, were frightening. The calls indicated stalking – calling repeatedly, in this case, allegedly 30 times in one day, including in the middle of the night; attempts at sleep deprivation through phone calls; physical violence and threats of physical violence; access to weapons; degradation; and, finally, not-so-subtle threats of death and/or suicide. At the time, nobody knew for certain if these calls were real (except Mel & Oksana, of course). Many believed the calls were doctored but either way, they brought the issue of domestic violence into full view.

Here we are a couple of months later. Not only has this situation not been resolved, but it has grown even more explosive. Just last week, a confession was made by Mel Gibson that he did, in fact, slap Oksana but according to Gibson, he slapped her for her own good…I’m not making this up, folks. He really did say that.

Mel Gibson wants to assure everyone that he did not hit his girlfriend. Contrary to popular belief, he didn’t punch her while she was holding their baby. No, he just slapped her is all. In court papers released just this week, Gibson describes an argument with his estranged girlfriend Oksana. He admits to slapping Oksana “one time with an open hand in an attempt to bring her back to reality” while she held their 2 month old child in her arms. He goes on to explain that there was no blood on her and none of her teeth were broken so he couldn’t have possibly hit her that hard.

This type of behavior is typical of abusers. They regularly deny that the abuse ever took place or in the case of Gibson, attempt to rationalize their abusive behaviors. When confronted by his victims, most abusers tend to shift the blame or avoid the topic altogether. Not only does denial allow the abuser to look at himself in the mirror with a clear conscience, but it is also a way for him to exert control over the victim by claiming his actions were justified. Mel did exactly that when he claimed he slapped Oksana for her own good.

I don’t imagine this story is going to go away anytime soon but for the sake of their little girl, I hope this is resolved quickly. As are all children of domestic violence victims, she is an innocent bystander in all of this. I hope she is able to lead a happy, safe, and healthy life despite the craziness surrounding her.

Older Women Can Be Victims Too

Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t distinguish between races or income brackets, and it certainly has no age limits. While more recent attention has placed on teen dating violence, abuse doesn’t suddenly stop on a woman’s 50th birthday.

The reasons more mature women find themselves in violent relationships vary. Some women find themselves with the same abusive partner for many years, while others may have been in healthy relationships only to experience abuse starting in later life. Additionally, not all older domestic violence victims are battered by their intimate partners. Many victims of abuse are actually mistreated by other family members- often their children or grandchildren. Other times, the batterer may be the caregiver placed in the home to take care of victim and nurse them back to health. For whatever reason these women find themselves victims of abuse, ending that relationship presents unique challenges that make it difficult to leave.

Victims may be totally or partially dependent on the abuser for daily care needs, including meals, mobility, and access to funds and medication. As such, reporting abuse is risking it all- their partner, their home, their financial security, and their family. Imagine leaving the life you’ve known for so long, only to replace it with uncertainty and instability. No home to go to at night. Not enough money in your bank account. No job or education to fall back on. These women are leaving everything behind in order to feel safe again.

Luckily, the victims of Santa Clara County don’t have to experience this alone. They have someone to turn to for support. Next Door Solutions recognizes domestic violence against people over the age of 50 as a serious problem. As such, we created the Mature Alternatives for Violence Environments Now (MAVEN) Program to provide domestic violence services appropriate to the needs of this age group. Services include support groups, field trips, and the promotion of self-esteem. At MAVEN, clients can seek help in a safe environment away from their abuser.

Help is only a phone call away.

Internet Safety & Covering Your Tracks

Your safety is the most important thing. If you do not want anyone to know that you have visited the Next Door website please read the information below. It sets out the steps you can take to increase your safety when using the internet.

Please remember that if you are concerned that someone is monitoring your internet usage, your safest option would be to access the internet from another place such as a friend’s house, your work, an internet café or local library.

Covering your tracks

Every time you use the internet your internet browser saves pieces of information such as images, search terms or words used in search engines and login names. This helps the pages you visit frequently load faster by loading the files from your hard disk drive instead of having to downloading the web page in full again. These are saved as ‘cookies’ and they can mark a trail or ‘history’ that reveals what you have been looking at online. Below are instructions on how to minimize the chances of someone finding out that you have visited this website.

However – please note that there is a risk involved in removing data from your computer. Removing cookies may clear saved passwords for membership sites or online banking which may alert your partner to the fact that you have removed information. Also, your partner may notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, and this may raise suspicion.

When you have finished viewing this site take these steps to keep others from knowing you have visited this site.

If you are unsure what browser you are using click on Help on the toolbar at the top of the browser screen. A drop down menu will appear, the last entry will say About Internet Explorer, About Mozilla Firefox, or something similar. The entry refers to which browser type you are using. You can then follow the relevant instructions below.

When you have finished viewing the Domestic Abuse site take these steps to keep others from knowing you have visited this site.

Remove the Domestic Abuse site from your computer’s history:

  1. On your keyboard press Ctrl-H together
  2. The history of the websites that have been viewed will show in the browser window
  3. Locate the Domestic Abuse folder. Right click on the folder and choose delete
  4. Close the history window

Remove the Domestic Abuse site from your computer’s cache:

  1. Pull down the Tools menu in the browser window
  2. Select > Internet Options
  3. In the dialogue box click on the button “Delete files”
  4. In the alert box select “OK”
  5. Click “OK” again to close the window

Clear ALL your browsing traces

Internet Explorer 7 users

Select Tools > Delete browsing history. Click Delete All.

Mozilla Firefox

Select Tools > Clear Private Data. Check ALL boxes and click Clear private data now.

Microsoft Internet Explorer users

Viewing History

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 7.x users can view their history files by clicking the “Tools” menu, “Internet Options”, clicking the “Settings” button under the Browsing history, and then clicking the “View Files” button.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x users can view their history files by clicking the “Tools” menu, “Internet Options”, clicking the “Settings” button, and then clicking the “View Files” button.

Deleting History

  • Microsoft Windows users running Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.x and 7.x can delete their history files by clicking the “Tools” menu, “Internet Options”, and clicking the “Delete Files” or “Delete” button. Users also have the option of automatically deleting files each time they close the browser window by clicking the “Advanced” tab and checking “Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed” under the “Security” section.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x users on an Apple Macintosh can delete the history by clicking the “Hard Drive” icon, “System”, “Preferences”, “Explorer”, and moving the history file into the trash.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.02 and lower users can delete their history by clicking the “View” menu, “Options”, open the tab “Advanced”, click the “Settings” tab, and click the “Empty Folder” button.

Mozilla Firefox users

Viewing History

  • Press Ctrl + H to open the left-side history bar.
  • or Click History at the top of the window.
  • or Users using earlier versions of Mozilla Firefox can also view their history by clicking “Go” and clicking “History”.

Deleting History

  • Mozilla Firefox users can clear their history by clicking the “Tools” menu, “Options”, clicking the “Piracy” button, and under “History” click the “Clear” or “Clear Now” button.

Netscape users

Viewing History

  • Microsoft Windows users can view history by first opening Netscape and click the “Edit” menu, “Preferences”, “History”, and view the location where Netscape is storing your files. Next, open this folder within Explorer.

Deleting History

  • Netscape users can delete their history files by clicking the “Edit” menu, “Preferences”, “History”, and click the “Clear History” button
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