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Monthly Archives: February 2011

The Verdict

Friday February 11, 2011

Yesterday marked a day unlike any other for the family and friends of Jennifer Schipsi who was cut down in the prime of her life by Bulos “Paul” Zumot October 15, 2009.  Yesterday the jury in Zumot’s trial came back with a verdict of Murder in the First Degree and Arson.   It was bittersweet.  As Jennifer’s aunt Dee Towner said “Jennifer still won’t wake up tomorrow.”    However because a jury of his peers confirmed what family and friends already knew, it was also validating.

I rarely use the word evil but that is the only term that came to mind as we all discovered his diabolic plot to end the life of someone who got in his way.  Paul testified.  His testimony left me chilled.  Although his attempts at cover up were futile, watching him justify and minimize his abuse and at times try to convince the jury that Jennifer never minded his name calling, obsessive contacts and threats was insightful.  He is truly a batterer in all the ways we have learned batterers behave.

Over the course of the past 16 months I watched as an imperfect system with many disparate parts and rigid legal standards searched to find justice for an unjust act.   A judge, a team of prosecutors and defense attorneys, witnesses for both sides and a jury of Paul’s peers intensely played out their roles without pause.  The process was ugly and painful but in the end justice won out.  The jury took their role very seriously.  I commend them for their due diligence.  The judge was knowledgeable and respectful.

Charles Gillingham, an incredibly skillful prosecutor led the jury on the difficult and tedious journey into the mind of a person who plotted out an unthinkable and horrific act against the person he purported to love.  Deputy DA (DDA) Gillingham spent more than 16 months piecing together Paul Zumot’s thoughts, intentions and actions before, during and after he murdered Jennifer Schipsi.  DDA Gillingham was brilliant.  His closing remarks to the jury were filled with facts and feelings.  It was easy to see that he was invested in this case.  He spoke for Jennifer as no one else could.  Jennifer believed Paul would kill her.  Now the world knows he did.  Jennifer can rest in peace now.  Paul Zumot will not hurt another woman.  He will spend his days knowing he didn’t get away with murder.

Unfortunately the slight reprieve did not last long.  Opening this morning’s paper I read that a woman was stabbed to death and another strangled.  More than likely, the perpetrators were their current or former partners.  When, as a community, do we say enough?  We can’t keep losing women to unspeakable acts of terrorism.  When will we understand that this form of terrorism is as destructive for society as national and international terrorism?  We urgently need answers as a community and nation.  We can’t wait any longer.

We are Women! We are Life! Play & Dialogue

SOMOS MAYFAIR AND

NEXT DOOR SOLUTIONS TO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Present a night of theater and dialogue:

¡We are Women!

¡We are Life!

Through sharing our love and pain,

we transform our burdens into pure water to liberate ourselves and others .


Wednesday February 16, 2011 from 5:30- 7:30 pm

at Lee Mathson Middle School- Cafeteria

2050 Kammerer Ave. San Jose CA 95116


Teatro Familias Unidas

presents an original play based on their own lives and the lives of their ancestors.

They are breaking silence, honoring the struggle and declaring the beauty,

strength and dignity of being women, immigrants and mothers!

Come join us! There will be a dialogue after the performance.

The play will be in Spanish with English translation available.

There will be KID’S CLUB  and food. FREE !

To register call: Lucero Arellano 408-501-7545 or

Adelina Whitecrow 408-928-7969

What Can I Do To Help A Friend In Need?

You may have a friend, relative, colleague or neighbor who is being abused. You may have witnessed the violence, heard it, seen physical signs of it, or merely suspected it.

What should you do?

Don’t be afraid to express your concern for their safety. Let her know that you support and care about her. Help them recognize that she deserves better and that the violence is not her fault. Make sure she knows that she is not alone.

Listen. Understand that it may be difficult for her to talk about the abuse. What they need most is someone who will listen and believe them.

Be non-judgmental. Don’t rush into providing solutions and respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in their relationship. Do not criticize their decision- this may prevent them from coming to you for help in the future.

Tell her that help is available. It is free and confidential. Refer her to Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence. Our hotline is available 24 hours a day. (408) 279-2962

Message Regarding Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

A Message from Office on Violence Against Women Director Susan B. Carbon

Dear Friends,

February is known nationwide as the month to show those around you how much you love and appreciate them.  Be it friends, family, or your significant other, the short month of February is filled with the most love.  As we demonstrate healthy displays of love to those in our lives, we at the Office on Violence Against Women will also be recognizing a very unhealthy epidemic facing our teens: teen dating violence.

February marks the 2nd Annual Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month as dedicated by the US Senate.  Each year, approximately one in four teens reports being the victim of teen dating violence, ranging from physical abuse, to stalking, to emotional abuse to sexual violence. Women age 16 to 24 experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault, and people age 18 and 19 experience the highest rates of stalking.  One in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused, not by a stranger, but by a dating partner.  This prevalence of teen dating violence is alarming and simply unacceptable.

Teen dating violence is often unnoticed by parents, and even unrecognized as abnormal by those teens experiencing it.  As President Obama stated in his Presidential Proclamation of Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, it takes place in both “typical” and atypical mediums:

Our efforts to take on teen dating violence must address the social realities of adolescent life today.  Technology such as cell phones, email, and social networking websites play a major role in many teenagers’ lives, but these tools are something tragically used for control, stalking, and victimization.  Emotional abuse using digital technology including frequent text messages, threatening emails, and the circulation of embarrassing messages or photographs without consent, can be devastating to young teens.

The impacts of teen dating violence are real and can greatly disrupt teens’ healthy development.  Victims of dating abuse are more likely to engage in binge drinking.  Moreover, rates of drug and alcohol abuse are more than twice as high in girls who report dating abuse than in those who do not. Abusive dating experiences can often disrupt normal development, self-esteem, and body image for girls who experience it during their critical teen years.  Sadly, adolescents in abusive relationships often carry these unhealthy patterns of abuse into future relationships, continuing a devastating cycle.

Teen dating violence affects teens and their families across the country, and it will take each and every one of us to stop it.  We all must advocate for the young people in our lives, provide a safe space to report instances of teen dating violence, and set examples of healthy and appropriate displays of love, respect and affection.  As President Obama stated:

The time to break the cycle of teen dating violence is now, before another generation falls victim to this tragedy…During National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month — and throughout the year — let each of us resolve to do our part to break the silence and create a culture of healthy relationships for all young people.

We encourage you, and your teens, to visit our partner websites who are doing exciting and peer-focused work on this important issue.  Break the Cycle (www.breakthecycle.org), the Texas Council on Family Violence/Teen Dating Abuse Hotline (www.loveisrespect.org), and the Family Violence Prevention Fund – That’s Not Cool Initiative (www.thatsnotcool.com) are using innovative ways to address teen dating violence, working directly with teens to stop this wide-spread issue.

At the end of last month, the Office on Violence Against Women held the inaugural meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women (NAC). The NAC was re-chartered in 2010 by the Attorney General. The purpose of this federal advisory committee is to provide advice and recommendations to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services on how to improve the Nation’s response to violence against women, with a specific focus on successful interventions with children and teens who witness and/or are victimized by domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.

The Attorney General’s goal for the NAC is to bring together experts, advocates, researchers, and criminal justice professionals for the exchange of innovative ideas and the development of practical solutions to help us address and prevent these serious problems.  The members will also examine the relationship between children and teens who are witnesses to or victims of such violence and the overall public safety of communities across the country.

At the inaugural meeting, our 15-member NAC heard from federal partners, including the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services and other Offices throughout the Department of Justice on the important work being done to stop teen dating violence and other forms of violence against children and youth.  As experts, researchers and advocates, our NAC members began important discussions about the essential next steps that need to be taken to address these issues and stop teen dating violence, and violence against women as a whole, in the future.  The notes from the National Advisory Committee inaugural meeting will be available through the OVW website soon.

Earlier in the week, the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative held its first meeting of the eight demonstration sites that are working to develop comprehensive community-wide plans that will implement strategies to prevent, reduce and combat childhood exposure to violence.  The initiative, which spans the age range of 0 to 18, is a Department wide effort that also has partnerships with other federal agencies including Health and Human Services and Education.  Attorney General Eric Holder, Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli and department officials led a discussion with representatives from the eight sites to discuss individual community strengths and challenges.

The Office on Violence Against Women is proud of the work being done, in our Office and at the Department of Justice, as well as in the field, on these important issues.  We hope, as you celebrate Valentine’s Day with those you love, that you will take the time to educate yourself, and those around you, on how to break the cycle of violence for our children and youth.

With deep respect and gratitude,

Susan B. Carbon
OVW Director
U.S. Department of Justice

Sexual Assault & the NFL: When Will We Stop Defending Our Athletes?

NFL player William Gay recently opened up about his personal experience with domestic violence in the hopes of helping others. Gay, a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was only 8 years old when his stepfather murdered his mother before killing himself.

Gay decided to go public with his story after visiting the Women’s Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh during Thanksgiving, and even agreed to do a public service announcement, which you can watch here.

His teammate, Ben Roethlisberger, is a man who has been accused of sexual assault. TWICE.

In 2009, David Meggett was found guilty of raping a 21 year old woman and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. In 2010, Giants player and two-time Super Bowl Champ Lawrence Taylor was accused of raping a 16 year old prostitute and pled guilty to the charges. Former Denver Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith was accused of domestic violence, assault, and battery against the mother of his two children. Brett Farve made the news this year while engaging in alleged sexually harassing activities via text messages.  And the list goes on.

I’m curious why more men like William Gay don’t stand up against crimes against women, and organizations like the NFL and its fans don’t take a stronger stand against accusations like those against Roethlisberger.  Interestingly enough, a recent article by Morning Gloria titled “Sexual Assault and the Super Bowl”, explores why, despite numerous allegations of sexual assault and violence against women, we continue to place NFL athletes on a pedestal and deem them worthy of our praise.

To be fair, one of the charges against Roethlisberger was dropped but that’s not necessarily the point I’m trying to make. Regardless of whether or not the case made it to court, why are we so quick to defend these athletes? Why is it our first reaction to assume that the victim isn’t a victim at all?

We’ve all seen it time and again- sport fans defending their heroes by slandering the victim and questioning her motives, claiming that the girl is just after attention, fame, and money. But is that the type of attention a woman would welcome into in her life?

It is exactly this kind of treatment that continues to prevent victims of violence from stepping forward. Imagine having to defend yourself every single day. Imagine recalling every last detail of the most traumatic experience of your life. Imagine having to answer the same questions over and over again, to the point of exhaustion. These women don’t have to imagine it… they had to live it.

Morning Gloria states it best: “Until America’s justice system is perfect in resolving sexual assault allegations, until the NFL takes rape accusations more seriously, until wealthy and powerful athletes aren’t given a free pass to treat women any way they wish, we have to assume that at least some of the women who accuse NFL players of sexual assault are telling the truth.”

In an industry riddled with accusations of sexual assault, William Gay deserves to be commended for his bravery on taking a stance against violence against women. He successfully turned his life around and is now using his stance as a celebrity to mentor young people and show them that they don’t have to feel alone.

I only hope that several of his teammates, other players around the league, NFL leadership and its fans will some day follow his example, and send the message to women that they don’t condone this kind of behavior from their “heroes”.

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