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In This Issue
Mock Jury Trials In October
Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day
Re-victimizing Domestic Violence Victims
Tips for Family & Friends of Abuse Victims
You Saw the Bruises, But Never Asked if I was Okay
You Heard Me Scream But Never Came to My Door
You Saw My Fear, But Never Asked Me if I Needed Help


Mock Jury Marital Rape Trial Explores Domestic Violence Myths

Victim Services is proud to announce two upcoming performances of its Domestic Violence Mock Jury Trial.  Performances will be presented on Monday, October 25 at 7:00 pm at the McDonough County Courthouse in Macomb and Wednesday, October 27at 7:00 pm at the Warren County Courthouse in Monmouth.

The trials are part of October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month and are designed to bring awareness and education about domestic violence issues to the forefront.  The trials focus on marital rape and are designed to help audience members unlearn domestic violence myths.

Facts and scenarios will be presented by various characters in the legal system. Ultimately, the trials' juries, consisting of audience members, will make the final judgment of guilt or innocence of the accused.  It is Victim Services' hope that, although the trials are severely abbreviated, they will give the community a realistic picture of what the courtroom experience can be like for victims of domestic violence.  Immediately after the verdict, there will be a short discussion about the issues presented. 

All are welcome to attend these events!  The Mock Jury Trial can be a valuable experience and opportunity to show support for efforts to end domestic violence.  If you have any questions regarding the trials or other events held during this month, contact Victim Services at (309) 837-6622.


Health Cares About
Domestic Violence Day
is October 13

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this month, Victim Services is asking each medical provider in our service area to implement a policy that has the potential to save hundreds of lives and save thousands of dollars

This request does not rely on the latest technology or high tech medical equipment.  It simply involves our health care providers taking the time to ask their female patients one critical question: "Do you feel safe in your home?

Domestic violence is a health care problem of epidemic proportions in our country, our state and our community.  Nationally, nearly one-third of American women (31%) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.  On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.

The second Wednesday of October is traditionally known as "Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day."  Ask your providers if they are participating and encourage them to do so. It can help save lives.

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Domestic Violence Victims

Once a victim of domestic violence reports abuse, we as a society often add to the situation through
our attitudes and questions.

Examples of attitudes or questions that may re-victimize survivors include:

DISBELIEF: "Are you sure this happened?"

BLAME: "What did you do to set him off?"

CULTURAL INSENSITIVITY: "Isn't this accepted in your culture?"

JUDGMENT: "How can you stay!?"

MINIMIZING: "The pain will go away; things will be better."

How often do we hear people ask "Why doesn't she just leave?" or "What did she do to make him mad"?  Such statements imply that she has the power to leave, or she is to blame; and if she stays, then she must like the abuse.  We know that women stay in violent relationships for a variety of reasons, none of which is because she likes the abuse.  Probably the main reason a woman stays is because she loves her partner and she wants and hopes he will change.  Most likely, he promised that it will never happen again, and she wants to believe him...and the cycle of abuse continues.  Sometimes religious leaders counsel women to remain in or go back into abusive  relationships.  When a woman attempts to leave her abusive partner, the risk of assault and death dramatically increases.  She is also at an extremely high risk of becoming homeless and losing custody of her children.

What happens when she does get the courage to leave?  Without resources and support, in addition to empty promises and/or threats from her partner, she may return.  While the relationship may not have been abusive initially, without intervention, abusive men are likely to continue their violence once they have found it to be effective.  Thus she is re-victimized by her partner.

What about when the victim is re-victimized by the court system and law enforcement?  Officers of the court and law enforcement personnel do not purposely set out to re-victimize the victim of domestic violence, but it does happen.  Their frustration with repeated 911 calls and the victim's recanting or refusing to testify is understandable.

Knowing this, then what can we as a society do to empower victims and stop re-victimization?

BELIEVE: "I believe you.  You can tell me."

SUPPORT: "This is not your fault.  No one deserves to be hurt."

ENCOURAGE: "I know you can do it.  It will be hard, but you are worth it."

LISTEN:  "I'm here for you.  You can always talk to me."

HELP:  "There are resources for you.  Let me go with you to learn what is available."


Tips For Friends & Family of Abuse Victims

If you have a friend or family member who is the victim of domestic violence, you're not alone.  Relatives and friends are often the first people that a victim will confide in about the abuse occurring at home.  There are practical things you can do to help at this time of trial and difficulty.  Here are some tips:

RESPECT THEM: Show your friend that you respect her ability to handle and cope with the situation.  This can help her regain her own strength and build confidence to deal with it.

RESPECT THEIR FEELINGS: In cases of domestic violence, victims need their feelings validated.  To ignore the abuse is wrong and will only serve to keep their feelings inside and the problem to worsen.  This is dangerous and destructive.

DO NOT ADVISE: As difficult as it is, it is necessary to do this, especially when your friend first confides in you.  The best thing to do is to help your friend reach her own decisions about what to do and when to do it.  Help her identify her own options and consequences which might follow.  For instance, mention that if the victim does not seek help, she is exposing her kids to abuse as well.  Be clear about her options without forcing her to take a specific step.

DISCUSS SAFETY:  Talk to your friend about shelters and other safe places.  Discuss how to obtain their services and tell her about creating a protection plan.

Persuade her not to ignore the problem and to deal with it for the sake of herself and her family.  Accompany her if she needs your support to places like shelters, legal aid, etc.

DO NOT SPEAK TO THE PARTNER WITHOUT THE VICTIM'S PERMISSION:  This can worsen the situation.  If the abusing partner finds out you know about the situation, he will most likely get even angrier and take it out on the abused partner more than before, as a punishment for telling others about the problem.  However, if you have the victim's permission, confronting the abusive partner and letting him/her know the abuse is not acceptable can be supportive of the victim and lets the batterer know it is no longer a secret.

One of the things abusers do is isolate their victims from family and friends.  This makes it easier to perpetrate the domestic violence, since there is no one around to object.  Keep in contact with your friend as much as possible, by phone or e-mail at least, to ensure that she has a link with the outside world and that she is not alone, suffering in silence.

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October 13
Health Cares About Domestic Violence Day

October 14
Take Back the Night
Western Illinois University
Sherman Hall
(Look for details)


MONDAY, OCT., 25 AT 7:00 PM


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Dear VS Newsletter Subscriber,


Patti Sullivan-Howd

Public Relations Manager/Newsletter Editor

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With the above theme for this October's Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Victim Services is examining the many ways victims of domestic violence are ignored, disbelieved, shunned, scorned, and held accountable for their batterer's behavior, sometimes resulting in the victim being re-victimized within the very systems that are in place to protect her and her children.

We can put many tags at the beginning of the theme,  "You heard the yelling..."  "You heard the screaming..."  "You saw my fear..."  And, we can list many tags for the ending like "...but you turned the other way."   "...but you didn't believe me."   "... but you stopped taking my calls."   Survivors have given us many tags in our conversations with them.   Whatever the tag, at either end, we must examine our beliefs about victims and batterers. 

            Domestic violence is a gender-based crime with women being more likely to experience domestic violence than men.  According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, which measured only physical assaults, "there were 691,710 nonfatal violence victimizations committed by current or former spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends of the victims during 2001 (Rennison, 2003).  Of these, 85% were against women.  The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) also found that 22.1 percent of women surveyed, compared to 7.4 percent of men, reported being physically assaulted by a current or former partner in their lifetime.*  Read more...



Domestic Violence & the Family Community

When the "Domestic Violence" movement began prior to agencies such as Victim Services being in existence, many women sought shelter in churches.   Some churches opened their basements, their community rooms and classrooms to women and children escaping abuse.  They often came with the clothes on their backs, sleeping on the floor, on a mattress if they were lucky.  From there, the church communities often found long term housing for them as well as assisted in many other ways.  Read more...

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Domestic Violence & the Medical Community

Studies have shown that more women seek help from a health care provider due to domestic violence issues than car accidents, rapes, and other assaults combined. Yet studies also show that less than 10% of health professionals ever ask victims about domestic violence.   Recommendations by the Surgeon General, the American Medical Association, and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists support routine questioning of all patients about domestic violence.   Domestic violence is as common, or more common in women than many diseases for which most doctors check, such as breast and colon cancer or high cholesterol and diabetes.  In my own experience, I have never been asked by my health care professional whether I felt safe in my home, whether I had been hit or slapped, felt afraid of my partner or was forced to have sex.  The only reference to domestic violence has been on a survey I am requested to complete every year, one question of many while updating my address, phone number and other information. 

The health risks of domestic violence are well documented along with the costs to society in medical and mental health care and lost productivity.  The most recent figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate the cost of intimate partner violence to exceed $8.3 billion (in 2003 dollars).  That includes $460 million for rape, $6.2 billion for physical assault, $461 million for stalking, and $1.2 billion in the value of lost lives.  In addition, victims of severe intimate partner violence lost nearly 8 million days of paid work - the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity each year (CDC 2003). 

Victims of repeated abuse over a period of time experience more serious consequences, even to the point of losing their lives.  Each year in this country, an average of three women and one man are murdered every day by their intimate partner.  Other victims sustain injuries from scratches and welts to broken bones, knife wounds, bruises, back or pelvic pain and headaches.  Others receive trauma to their endocrine and immune systems through stress.  Psychological and emotional abuse can lead to various consequences for victims like anxiety, low self-esteem, inability to trust and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Some physicians, however, see domestic violence as a criminal justice issue, not a health issue. Others may worry about offending their patients, or feel they do not have time to screen or they don't know how or what to ask or where to refer.

Health care providers can plan an important role in domestic violence cases.  Statements can be either direct because of suspected abuse, or indirect, wanting to make the questioning as a normal part of a medical visit.  Introduce the topic in a non-threatening manner with a statement such as "Because abuse and violence are so common in many of my patients' lives, I have begun to ask questions about this possibility routinely."  The follow up with more specific statements like "Have you ever been hit, kicked, slapped, strangled, forced to have sex or otherwise hurt by your partner?" "Do you feel controlled by your partner?" or less direct statements like "I am asking you about this because I am concerned about your safety."  And don't ask it just once a year.  Ask it at every visit.  Victims say when it is asked every time, they finally begin to realize the provider is truly concerned.  Though they may have denied it on previous occasions, they often will open up after a period of time.

How to better find out if your patients are being harmed at home:

  •   Screen for domestic violence victims.
  •   Assess the health impact of their victimization.
  •   Conduct intervention by:
    1.   Giving the victim validating messages;
    2.   Providing information about domestic violence;
    3.   Assisting in safety planning;
    4.   Referring the victim to appropriate support and           advocacy services; and   
    5.   Conducting a follow-up session.
  •     Document the domestic violence
If you need information or training, call Victim Services for materials for your staff and patients.


Domestic Violence & the
Criminal Justice Community

For any battered woman, involving outsiders, especially powerful entities like the police, is a risky venture.  If the case is prosecuted, their apprehensive perception of how they will be treated at the initial contact and later, in many cases, is the result of previous experience with prosecutors, judges, and other court personnel.

 Victim safety challenges conventional ways of responding to crime.  The criminal justice system is structured in a way that classifies incidents as misdemeanor/minor or felony/serious assaults.  This process often classifies extremely dangerous cases as minor assaults and in doing so, can underestimate the actual danger posed to a victim.   The criminal justice system is geared towards prosecution with the goal of conviction.  Is it a "good" case?  If it doesn't look as if it will get a conviction because the evidence is weak, usually because the victim is not in a position to testify against her attacker as result of threats against her, the children, or other family members - then, why pursue prosecution?  However, looking at the particulars of the case, understanding there is a power differential in relationships where domestic violence exists and that the violence is rarely an isolated incident can assist law enforcement and prosecutors in determining interventions and safety measures for victims as well as in holding the abuser accountable. 

    Creating a coherent philosophical approach which centralizes victim safety; developing best practice policies and protocols for all intervention agencies; building monitoring and tracking into the system; ensuring a supportive community infrastructure; intervening directly with the abuser to deter violence; reducing fragmentation in the system's response; and evaluating the system's response are all ways that working together with community partners can reduce the violence families experience in our communities.

Diane Mayfield, Victim Services Director

WIRC-CAA Victim Services

The Victim Services Program provides free and confidential services to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Hancock, Henderson, McDonough and Warren counties.

WIRC-CAA Victim Services
P. O. Box 157
Macomb, IL 61455
(309) 837-6622 (Domestic Violence)
(309) 836-2148 (Sexual Assault)
24-Hour Crisis Line (309) 837-5555