This is the first of a series of guests posts by Alvin Winford. Alvin is originally from Liberia and will be spending the next 4 months at Next Door as a Global Fellow. Originally from Liberia, Alvin has over 9 years of experience working to mitigate gender-based violence in local communities and has most recently spearheaded a project that has helped increase the capacity of local police forces to respond to such violence. Alvin will be sharing his experiences through weekly blog posts so be sure to check back regularly to read more about his journey!
I started my fellowship at the Next Door in mid-August this year and since then, I must confess that I have been overwhelmed with the high degree of professionalism and passion that this organization attaches to serving minorities especially women and children. One could be tempted to ask, but what is the big deal, after all that is their work. But when you are given the opportunity to truly experience Next Door, you would obviously come to grip that only a noble professional group of people with zest can go beyond the call of duty in servicing victims of domestic violence. How I wish that there would be many Next Doors around the world, especially in Liberia, that would reach out to the many women who are victims of the power imbalance, but are hapless in finding answers to their miserable circumstances not created by themselves, but by heartless individuals, harmful cultural practices and unresponsive system. Their only hope lies in yearning that one day somehow things would change.
Here in San Jose, it is the direct opposite. Victims of domestic violence can just move Next Door in joining the welcoming team to find answers in restoring their hope. The programs are tailored ranging from prevention services to direct response. They have a human face, demonstrating earnestly that victims were not at fault for being abused and that they should not be left to face the agony alone. Being client centered as they prefer it, victims are made to make the final decision as to how they want to cope with situations.
In getting a better understanding of how Next Door has stood up to the challenge with a lot on their plates, I continue to have some conversations with Kathleen, the award winning Patty, Vanessa, Melina, Lucero, Aparna and my supervisor Brenda on different programmatic and management issues. One thing that comes out clearly is passion. With this excitement, they have been able to turn challenges into opportunities in restoring the lost hope. It has not been easy though, especially so when there will always be agents against positive change.
So far, I have attended the Domestic Violence Meeting & Fatality Review Meeting with Advocate Award Winning Patty. From these meetings, I am gaining insight on the need to build a strong network among different players in championing the cause of domestic violence victims. Also, I had some discussion at the Family Violence Center where I was introduced to Jason the Police Sergeant by Melina. By the way, Jason is making sure that I go on the walk along with the police this weekend in accessing how they conduct their exercises in dealing with domestic violence.
Another activity that I have benefited from is the Annual Domestic Violence Conference in Sacramento, called Connecting the Dot. It is my hope that the missing dot would be connected in reaching out to all in need after an elaborate conference. I have completed the 40 Hour Domestic Violence Training. This training is compulsory for all incoming staff and volunteers to enable you work with DV victims. Besides, I have learned a lot from this training that would enhance my work in Liberia as I deal with Gender Based Violence. Thanks to Next Door!
Here at Next Door, every one is making my stay a wonderful experience. Unfortunately, one of those who made it some fantastic, Jackie, the Crisis Intervention Advocate intern who has been here for about a year, will be leaving soon. She was always there to cheer me up, give me directions and uplift me professionally. I can only wish her well in her future endeavors.
Everyday at Next Door, I am learning something new that will serve as an impetus for my work. So, I do anticipate to be reenergized by the end of my professional sojourn through the experiences I would be gaining. For now, I can safely say that the lost hope is being restored at Next Door.
Looking for a way to end the year by volunteering
to help women and children who are less fortunate?
Consider becoming a Next Door Neighbor!
Next Door Neighbors is a group that provides
extra hands and open hearts through
volunteering time and resources to
Next Door Solution to Domestic Violence.
Our one-time volunteering opportunities include helping with
Next Door’s Holiday Boutique ~~ December 13, 14, 15 ~~
when battered women and their children “shop”
for each other at no cost to them.
Ongoing volunteering include opportunities
to organize cell phone drives, bring community
awareness about Next Door to
church and community groups,
help keep Next Door’s pantry stocked, etc!
We have flexible hours and typically don’t ask for more
than 3 to 4 hours a month.
For more information email Becky Black at firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 408.501.7571
According to the Director of Public Policy of Security on Campus Inc., sexual violence on college campuses costs taxpayers nearly $40 billion that they contribute to federal student aid or higher education every school year. One in four women are reported as being the victim of a completed or attempted rape while in school and as a result, their education is either put on hold or halted altogether.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has recently taken action to enforce federal sexual harassment guidelines to protect these victims and it could not have come at a better time. Congress has taken the next step and has introduced the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, also known as the Campus SAVE Act (S. 834/H.R. 2016). The bipartisan piece of legislation will empower universities nationwide to better prevent and respond to instances of sexual violence including domestic and dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 90% of victims know their perpetrators. They are often fellow students who share the same social circle, which is probably why fewer than 5% of cases are reported to the police. As Carter states, “The greatest threat doesn’t lie along a poorly lit walkway; it hides in plain sight in classrooms, residence halls, and student parties.”
If SAVE is passed, it will encourage individuals to report the crimes committed against them by providing schools with a structure to protect victims who report against retaliation or any ongoing threats. It grants victims the right to make any reasonably available changes in their academic, living or working arrangements, options for no-contact orders, assistance in reporting to the police, and a right to be informed of their options in writing so they have the necessary information to make fully informed decisions.
In addition to protecting victims, SAVE will hold universities accountable by establishing procedures for campus disciplinary proceedings with equal rights for both the accused and accuser. Trained officials, who will (hopefully) understand the dynamics of sexual violence, will be on hand to investigate and resolve all complaints. Under SAVE, schools will be required to include domestic violence and stalking in the crime statistics distributed to students and employees at the beginning of each school year.
Congress hopes to address dating violence before it starts by using SAVE to create awareness and prevention education programs for all new students and employees that will continue throughout the year. It is their hope that by covering primary prevention, the definition and importance of consent, bystander intervention and reporting options, colleges will no longer harbor the culture of tolerance for sexual violence and the silence that surrounds it.
A bi-partisan coalition of more than 40 United States Senators and Representatives already support the Campus SAVE Act. More than 20 non-profit advocacy and education groups from across the country also support it.
Security on Campus, which is leading the campaign to make sure the Campus SAVE Act is passed, needs your help to make these changes a reality. Visit www.securityoncampus.org to help break the silence surrounding sexual violence. Every voice counts.
Source: Huffington Post/S. Daniel Carter
A couple of months ago, I shared the story of a Hillaire S., a Texas cheerleader who sued her high school for forcing her to cheer for her rapist at a basketball game. Her lawsuit was deemed frivolous and as a result, she was ordered to pay the school’s legal fees totaling $35,000.
Earlier this week, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling and declared that the young woman would not have to pay the school’s legal fees after all.
According to Larry Watts, the family’s attorney, this was only a partial victory.
“I initially thought it was a major victory that the court said that it was arguable that HS (the victim) had a First Amendment Right to remain silent, but there were four issues in the case and they fouled my client on three of four points”.
The four issues are:
- Free Speech: The young woman’s right to remain silent and not cheer for her rapist
- Equal Protection: Larry Watts says: “She was removed from the team for being silent, while the school district, which had every right and power to investigate his assault and threats of murder, did not remove him. It’s simple- a girl being treated differently than a boy.”
- Due Process: The lawsuit alleges that the high school did not uphold the cheerleading contract
- Due Process: The suit alleges that Hillaire’s “significant emotional harm, caused by the physical injury of rape, was exacerbated by the school.”
The ruling brought down by the Appeals Court still deems three of the four issues to be “frivolous”, which means Hillaire and her family will still have to pay a portion of the originally quoted amount of $35,000.
As the family’s lawyer points out, the court ruled in Hillaire’s favor for the one issue that America paid a lot of attention to, which was the violation of her freedom of speech. This just goes to show that public opinion and attention can, indeed, influence a court’s ruling. Watt is planning to appeal the decision and as he does, let’s continue to make our voices heard.
You can make a difference by telling the Silsbee Independent School District not to punish Hillaire for refusing to cheer for her rapist by signing this petition.
Alvin Winford, an experienced community leader from Brewerville, Liberia will contribute to the local community through a four-month fellowship funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Mr. Winford will apply a global lens to issues facing Santa Clara County through practical work experience at Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence while gaining transferable leadership and management skills that he will later apply in his own communities.
The Community Solutions Program, which places sixty-four global leaders in 27 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, is one-of-a-kind. Through hands-on collaboration, 57 organizations will provide their leaders with community development experience in the U.S. in one of four topic areas: tolerance/conflict resolution, women’s issues, environmental issues, and transparency and accountability. Community leaders will volunteer their time and perspectives to finding innovative solutions to local challenges.
Alvin Winford comes to San Jose with over 9 years of experience working on community development initiatives, specifically focusing on issues related to women and children. In Liberia, Alvin was the program manager at the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect where he worked to mitigate gender-based violence in local communities. Most recently, he has spearheaded a project that has helped increase the capacity of local police forces to respond to gender-based violence. At Next Door, Alvin will continue his work to alleviate violence against women by acting as a full-time advocate in order to assess program impacts on Next Door’s clients.
In addition to working at Next Door, Alvin will participate in an online Community Leadership institute, a web-based leadership course developed by IREX that focuses on key leadership and organizational management skills. Alvin will leave the U.S. not only with skills and strong connections to his colleagues at Next Door, but also with a strong global network that will strengthen his community engagement.
At the end of Alvin’s time in the United States, he will create a plan for a new initiative in Liberian communities and spend six months implementing that project. Continued collaboration with Next Door Solutions ensures that the learning continues, even after his return to his home country.
All of us at Next Door feel honored and privileged to be working with Alvin and look forward to the upcoming months!
As high school and college students begin to enter into the classroom this school year, Vice President Joe Biden is spearheading an online campaign to get those young people involved in ending domestic violence against women which continues to occur on school campuses as an alarming rate.
The Vice President is no stranger to using social media. Earlier this July, his first official tweet was dedicated to promoting his campaign to end violence against women. He promoted the Twitter hashtag #1is2many as a way for individuals to share ideas for making school campuses safer for women. Biden has also helped launch a campaign called “Apps Against Abuse” which challenges web and app designers to create an interactive software application that will empower young people, in real time, to look out for their friends in order to prevent violence or assault before it occurs.
“One in five young women will be a victim of sexual assault while they’re at college, 1 in 10 teens will be hurt on purpose by someone they are dating, and 1 in 9 teen girls will be forced to have sex,” Biden states. “You don’t know these women as statistics. You know them as friends, as sisters.”
“There’s no such thing as an innocent bystander when it comes to the abuse of a woman,” Biden says. “If you know of it, or you see it, you have an absolute obligation to try and stop it.”
The Vice President also has a message for men and boys, delivering what he says is a “very simple rule.”
“No means no. No means no if she’s drunk or sober. No means no if she’s on the dorm room or the street. No means no even if she said yes first and changed her mind. No means no, no matter what. I’m asking all of you, all of you to help get this message out.”
Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence is Santa Clara County’s oldest and most comprehensive provider of services to victims of abuse. When victims need a safe person to talk to, our hotline is open 24/7. When abused moms and their children need a safe place to stay, a bed is waiting for them at our shelter.
Next Door’s continuum of services gives domestic violence victims choices in rebuilding their lives… and YOU can play a part providing essential services to one of our most vulnerable populations.
Join staff and supporters of Next Door on Thursday September 22 at Pasta Pomodoro as we spread awareness of domestic violence in our community while enjoying a fantastic meal. Pasta Pomodoro is located at 378 Santana Row in San Jose.
All you have to do is click on this link, print out the flyer, and turn it in with your bill. Pasta Pomodoro will take care of the rest by donating 20% of your bill to Next Door!
Thank you for supporting Next Door and we can’t wait to see you there!
By Kathleen Krenek
Special to the Mercury News
We often hear stories about senseless violence and express disbelief. For some, it’s because it forces them to acknowledge that there is nothing they can do about it. In trying to understand the Daou murder-suicide case, however, it is important to note the devil is in the details.
The crime, horrific and shocking as it was, took place because Ed Daou was a batterer who abused his wife and then used their children to further abuse his wife. In contrast to other senseless violence, these details are concrete. And there is actually something we can do about it.
Ed Daou, an affluent developer in Los Gatos, was a successful businessman. He was “aggressive” in business. He was a “caring father.” Ed Daou also abused his wife, Carmen, so much that she had to leave him, leave her home and obtain a protective restraining order, which revealed a man so obsessed with controlling her that he would go to any means to do so.
Domestic violence victim advocates can tell you story after story about fathers who use their own children as pawns to abuse their victims, creating family rifts that position the mother as inferior and the father as the good guy.
Consider this example: An abuser hits his wife when the children aren’t around, then turns into the “fun” parent when the children are around. The victim, their mother, is frazzled, anxious and stressed out. The children see their father in a good mood, then see their mother: stressed out,annoyed and scared. Then their father says, “Hey let’s go to the movies.” The mother doesn’t want to go, spoiling their family fun. In the eyes of the kids, the father is the good guy.
The abuser deliberately creates this contrast. He knows what he is doing. He is not being unreasonable, but calculating, manipulative, intentional. This is typical in a family affected by domestic violence — the abuser manipulates, controls and denies accountability. The abuser also gets deadly when his victim leaves.
It is a fact that the risk of death increases when a victim tries to separate from her abuser. Time and time again, abusers use all means necessary to continue to abuse, harass and assault their victims. Carmen Daou, in the record of her restraining order, expressed fear that her abuser would use her children to get back at her. Fathers use their own sons to abuse their victims. And fathers kill their own sons to hurt their victims in the most painful way possible.
An aggressive businessman, a caring father, a batterer. Ed Daou chose the latter as his legacy. But why was he so consumed that he chose to take his own son’s life and then his own? Why are batterers so insecure that they refuse to live if they can’t have their way? The answers to these and other questions are not easily found, but they must be sought, they must be discussed, and they must be understood. If we do not confront them, and if we accept the erroneous notion that domestic violence is something that happens between two people, then it will happen again and again.
If we accept that domestic violence is a community issue, that we should talk about it in our classrooms, in our homes, with our children and our family and friends, then I’m hopeful that we can prevent more fathers from killing their sons.
One way to start the conversation is by calling Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence. Our hot line number is 408-279-2962. Ask us how you can help to stop the violence before it starts.