July 12, 2018
Three domestic violence homicides and two suicides on the same day is jarring and unprecedented. Sadly, five fatalities in one month is not the highest number. In May of 2007 and 2011, there were 10 fatalities, both months involving familicide (the killing of the children or other family members as well as the spouse). And Idaho has had 11 domestic violence-related fatalities as of July as compared to 15 fatalities last year. One fatality is one too many.
Here are the current descriptions of Idaho domestic violence related fatalities and the chart of number of fatalities by year. We include the suicide of the person who killed their partner who was most likely someone’s son, brother, and/or father. It does not mean that people should not be held accountable for their behaviors.
The Idaho Coalition tracks intimate partner related fatalities through newspaper accounts and information from community and tribal domestic and sexual violence programs. We compare the newspaper accounts to the Idaho Risk Assessment of Dangerousness (IRAD). A recent evaluation of IRAD indicates that more than three of the seven risk factors is an indicator of future harm.
While there is no way to predict behavior, the following are warning signs of increased dangerousness in a relationship and those factors in red are warning signs of increased risk of death:
This unprecedented number of fatalities has sparked conversations on fatality reviews. While many states have fatality reviews, many, like Washington State Domestic Violence Coalition Fatality Review, have been disbanded the process because it was not providing any new information.
We all know what is needed: restrict access to firearms for people who are engaging in abuse; provide survivor-centered community based advocacy; increase housing and economic stability; build capacity of whole communities – friends, neighbors, co-workers – to provide meaningful support to anyone experiencing violence; increase availability of effective and accessible mental health, suicide, and substance abuse interventions; and build relationships between historically marginalized communities and all the systems .
We need to create communities where everyone is valued, everyone is safe, and everyone can thrive. All of the ways we harm ourselves and each other are connected. Hate, anger and violence fuel hate, anger, and violence, unless we make a different choice. Can we have the courage to see it? To interrupt it? To choose something else?
Love is a powerful counter force to disconnection, fear and anger, hatred and otherness. Can we unleash fierce, deep love? Can we call upon our better selves and heal the rawness by making new choices? By practicing new ways of being? Can we repair the relationship with ourselves first, and then others?
In Idaho, and all the corners of the country, we can make a choice. Perhaps the most powerful and courageous choice we will ever make. To love in the midst of hate. To connect in the presence of separation. To believe in a future that nurtures future generations. To commit to a world where we choose all of us. Now more than ever. Unleash fierce, deep love. For all of us.
I can’t believe how the time has flown by! Becoming the Executive Director for the Women’s and Children’s Alliance ten years ago has provided me with more satisfaction and challenges than I could ever have imagined. Each day with this organization is absolutely a joy and a privilege for me. As I thought about what I might be able to share that could be useful for other Executive Directors, I came up with three main suggestions:
Develop a personal relationship with each of your Board members. Learn about their interests and why they feel connected to the organization’s mission. Whether you have 6 board members or 50, the relationship you develop with each of them will help you as you work to create a cohesive team that can work with you on fulfilling your organization’s mission. While you are getting to know them, make sure each Board member understands their role – if they are unclear, avail yourself of the services of individuals who can come in and educate your board on what that should be.
Surround yourself with subject matter experts – both within the organization in terms of your programs and services, and externally in matters that are not in your wheelhouse. Make sure you have individuals that you can rely on to bounce ideas off of, from whom you can seek counsel and support. None of us can be expert at everything, and in fact, trying to be an expert in everything, or do everything, is a good way to burn out while not allowing others to shine.
Understand your financials. Whether numbers are “your thing” or not – as the Executive Director you need to understand your organization’s financial statements. You may not be the one preparing them, but you need to understand how the money and grants you receive are accounted for and how your expenses are recorded so that you can use the information to better inform your daily operations and future plans. The bottom line is that “doing good” does not automatically ensure we can continue doing good work if we don’t understand our financial picture and use that knowledge to secure our organization’s financial sustainability.
In closing, take time to enjoy each day’s challenges and rewards. A highlight for me is when I hear about the changes in a person’s life because we were here and ready to serve!
Before colonization, tribal women were acknowledged for their life-giving gift based on each tribes creation stories and spirituality. Many tribes were also matriarchal and the value they placed on the feminine was reflected in their government. Meaning violence against native women was minimal and seen as an offense against the sacred and the collective.
Forced assimilation to the settler culture based on patriarchy and the subjugation of women and children led to the introduction of violence into native culture. At the governing level, policies like the Indian Removal Act of 1830, forced removal from ancestral lands, not only served to disconnect people from place, but led to the destruction of pre-contact tribal governments that protected Indigenous women. Many Indigenous men were killed in battle, and the women and children shipped off. Women were escorted off of their lands by white infantry, which led to many sexual assaults by soldiers.
Indian Residential schools led to many young indigenous children being taken out of their homes to force assimilation. In these residential schools, Native children were subjected to verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, cultural and spiritual abuse and neglect. As we know, gender violence is a learned and socialized behavior and this environment traumatized a generation of children. For the children that survived, many were traumatized by the experiences and brought these learned behaviors to their communities.
The Oliphant v Suquamish supreme court decision created hurdles for native women seeking justice. The decision stated that tribal courts do not have jurisdiction over non-indians. This decision has led to many domestic abusers going unpunished, as the decision doesn’t give tribal courts authorization to exercise justice. This decision is still upheld today, although there were recent limited fixes.
Since contact up until today, many indigenous ceremonies and medicine are criminalized by our government, including healing ceremonies for survivors of gender-based violence. This further creates an alientation from place and culture, and limits what healing can be for survivors.
Historical events still influence communities today, especially when compounded through generations. Our policies have led to the brutal systemic use of gender violence, as well as cultural genocide, to further a colonialist agenda. Colonization’s enduring legacy has had a devastating effect on Indigenous populations, especially for Indigenous women and their children. Part two of this article will layout how these historical events have affected indigenous communities.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
Families belong together is more than a unifying chant. It’s a value based on humanity which recognizes that we all need connection to thrive. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed with the zero-tolerance policy which forcibly separates children from their parents at the border. Professionals are concerned with the long-term impact of trauma which we will be dealing with for generations. Child Trends is an institution that focuses on improving the lives and prospects of all children and youth through rigorous research. Their work has helped shape the public policies that affect children and families, strengthened a wide array of social services, and increased public awareness of child and youth issues. On June 22, 2018, Child Trends published an article for professional on ways to Support Children and Parents Affected by the Trauma of Separation.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
As a father, who recently entered my 40’s, I find myself questioning the music our children are subjecting us to on the radio. “What is this crap? Who is this no-talent singer?” are thoughts that roll through my mind and thankfully, I catch them before they become words. Maybe it’s my ageist attitude, but not all of today’s music is “garbage.” J. Cole is an artist who challenges past beliefs of masculinity and explores a robust version of manhood that includes vulnerability, presence and emotional intelligence. One song, Foldin’ Clothes, is used frequently in our reproductive health workshops with young men, to explore different expressions of manhood.
J. Cole describes a morning in an apartment with his female partner that is reflective and vulnerable. He describes his desire to help his partner by doing domestic tasks, preparing healthy foods and be emotionally present. It’s simple yet revolutionary. By performing tasks to help his partner, he discovers the benefits that he is also reaping.
In my work with young men, they often model my language patterns such as not cussing or using sexist language. We share vulnerable stories and they offer reflective thoughts. It matters how I show up in these spaces. They will remember how I acted, more than what I said. As a father, partner and man I am often reflecting on my own thoughts, behaviors and beliefs. When engaging young men, it feels respectful to utilize tools that are familiar with them; music is an art that crosses divides and can provide a view of what is possible. Foldin’ Clothes is just one example of a song that can be used as a conversation starter to discuss what is possible for us as men. I invite you to spend some time listening to the youth in your life describe music that brings them hope, provides permissions to them for how to continue evolving during these revolutionary times that we are in.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
On Wednesday, September 12th, Cat Fribley with the National Sexual Assault Coalition’s Resource Sharing Project (RSP) will provide a day-long workshop on sexual assault services in dual programs and more! As the Director of RSP, Cat provides capacity building training and technical assistance to state and territorial sexual assault coalitions, state SASP Administrators, rural grantees, and Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative (SADI) project sites. In addition, she coordinates the national activities and events of the project. Cat has worked to end sexual violence for 20 years at national, state and local advocacy organizations. She has held such varied positions as SART Coordinator at a university-based rape crisis center, and Director of Training and Volunteers at a dual program. Cat trains on a broad range of sexual assault issues, with special interest areas including: survivors giving birth; healing sexuality; organizational trauma and resilience; organizational development; and LGBT issues.
On Thursday, September 13th Dr. Janine D’Anniballe will present a day-long workshop on The Neurobiology of Trauma and Implications for Healing and Current Trends in Sexual Assault. Dr. D’Anniballe is a licensed psychologist and a nationally recognized expert who specializes in the areas of neurobiology of trauma, vicarious trauma and treatment for survivors. Her expertise, professionalism, and presentation style have made her a highly sought-after trainer. Her workshops have been described as dynamic, inspirational, and impactful.
On September 13th Vanessa Timmons will also present. Vanessa Timmons has been a writer, activist, and women’s health advocate for over 25 years. She attended Marylhurst University’s Multidisciplinary Studies Program in Portland, Oregon, and has continued her formal education through certificates and training, including the Interpersonal Neurobiology of Trauma Certification Program at Portland State University. Vanessa has served as the Director of Programs at Raphael House of Portland, a Northwest regional field organizer for the National Organization for Women, and the domestic violence program coordinator for the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordination Office, in addition to serving OCADSV in the past as the Women of Color Coordinator and Board Chair.