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Free Marissa Alexander

September 29, 2012

Marissa Alexander is facing 20 years in prison for firing a gunshot into her ceiling to scare off her abusive husband.

Learn more about the case and donate to her legal fees here.

Sign a petition demanding her release here.

Economic Recession and Women’s Shelters from Unbawse Life Advisory

June 4, 2012
The Economic Recession and Women’s Shelters

Don’t read another word of this post without clicking on the link above first. Sady Doyle is great and when she talks, you should listen. If you’re on this sentence only a couple seconds after reading the last one, that means you didn’t listen to me. Thanks to impatient folks like you, I’ll have to highlight the key statistics in Doyle’s article and force the people who followed my suggestion to see them again:- The Police Executive Research Forum states that 56% of police agencies reported an increase in calls pertaining to abuse this year, up from 40% reporting an increase in 2010. The Mary Kay Foundation reports a 78% increase in the same time period amongst domestic violence shelters that reported to the Foundation. According to Mary Kay, 56% of the shelters reporting also state that the abuse in question has become more violent.

These figures are disturbing enough in a vacuum, but the most ugly part about all of this is that while the need for women’s shelters in increasing due in part to the after effects of the recession, the funding for those very shelters has been decimated. At the same time, average stays at domestic violence shelters have increased by as much as 30% in some jurisdictions because many of the survivors cannot afford housing due to substance abuse, injury, job loss, and other factors that oftentimes become part and parcel of cycles of abuse. This attack on survivors is uncaring and unflinching. In Pennsylvania, Gov. Corbett wants to slash funding for domestic violence shelters by 20% – $40 million in all. This is after some Pennsylvania women’s shelters already saw their funds slashed by 20% between 2010 and 2011. Instead of maintaining preventative measures such as education, Corbett – and many others like him – would rather prop up an unsustainable prison system that has shown repeatedly that it is ill-equipped to deal with the unique challenges presented by domestic abuse. Seriously, think about the cyclical nature of most abusive relationships. Now think about the deliberately cyclical nature of incarceration. Even aberrations in the cycle of the latter eventually lead to even worse cycles, such as solitary confinement. This combination has “recidivism” written in letters the size of clouds; the more prisons take the place of shelters, the more likely that proactive solutions to abuse will wither away.

The reason I say all of that is to say this. I have worked with survivors of domestic abuse. I have worked side by side with court advocates. These folks work heart-wrenching, oftentimes thankless jobs for little pay simply because they are utterly dedicated to helping survivors survive. Court advocates and women’s shelters are already stretched beyond their limits and I think that as [insert pro-woman term of choice here]s, it’s imperative for us to help out however we can. Look into volunteering at or donating to your local women’s shelter. If you don’t have the financial/temporal privilege of doing either, then at least get people talking about this. Call your state representative. Chat up your friends even though this is just about the least fun conversation ever. Do something. You are not a windowless house. Helping survivors matters, and so do you.

Reposted from Unbawse Life Advisory, a tumblr worth following if you are interested in insightful feminist and anti-racist critiques of our culture seamlessly intertwined with Rick Ross references.

Call For Submissions: Survivors in Solidarity with Prison Abolition

May 10, 2012
Working Title: Challenging Convictions: Survivors of Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Writing on Solidarity with Prison Abolition.
Completed submissions due: April 15, 2012. DEADLINE EXTENDED: June 15, 2012.
Like much prison abolition work, the call for this anthology comes from frustration and hope: frustration with organizers against sexual assault and domestic violence who treat the police as a universally available and as a good solution; frustration with prison abolitionists who only use “domestic violence” and “rape” as provocative examples; and, frustration with academic discussions that use only distanced third-person case studies and statistics to talk about sexual violence and the Prison Industrial Complex (PIC). But, this project also shares the hope and worth of working toward building communities without prisons and without sexual violence. Most importantly, it is anchored in the belief that resisting prisons, domestic violence, and sexual assault are inseparable.
Organizers of this anthology want to hear from survivors in conversation with prison abolition struggles. We are interested in receiving submissions from survivors who are/have been imprisoned, and survivors who have not.  Both those survivors who have sought police intervention, as well as those who haven’t, are encouraged to submit. We are looking for personal essays and creative non-fiction from fellow survivors who are interested in discussing their unique needs in anti-violence work and prison abolitionism.
Discussions of sexual assault, domestic violence, police violence, prejudice within courts, and imprisonment cannot be separated from experiences of privilege and marginalization. Overwhelmingly people who are perceived to be white, straight, able-bodied, normatively masculine, settlers who are legal residents/citizens, and/or financially stable are not only less likely to experience violence but also less likely to encounter the criminal injustice system than those who are not accorded the privileges associated with these positions. At the same time, sexual assault and domestic violence support centers and shelters are often designed with certain privileges assumed. We are especially interested in contributions that explore how experiences of race, ability, gender, citizenship, sexuality, or class inform your understandings of, or interactions with cops, prisons, and sexual assault/domestic violence support.
Potential topics:
·      What does justice look like to you?
·      Perspectives on police and prisons as a default response to sexual assault
·      What do you want people in the prison abolition movement with no first hand experiences of survivorship to know?
·      How did you overcome depression/feelings of futility when dealing with these systems?
·      Critical reflections on why the legal system has or has not felt like an option for you
·      Perspectives on the cops/PIC participating in rape culture
·      Restorative justice and other methods for responding to sexual violence outside of the PIC? (if you are a settler be conscious of appropriations of indigenous methods)
·      How have you felt about conversations you’ve had about the PIC?
·      How sexual assault inside and outside of the PIC is treated by organizers against sexual assault, domestic violence, and the PIC
·      Police and prison guards as triggers
·      Responding to sexual assault and domestic violence when communities weren’t there for you
·      What the legal system offers survivors and what it doesn’t
·      Rants at manarchists, the writers/directors of televised cop dramas, and communities that let you down
·      Survivor shaming for reporting and for not reporting to police
Please submit first-person accounts, critical reflections, essays, and creative non-fiction to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com by April 15, 2012 JUNE 15, 2012 with “Submission” as the subject line.
Please:
·      One submission per person;
·      English language (we are happy to work with authors who may need assistance writing in English);
·      Pseudonyms welcomed, as are name changes in the written piece.
If you are passing this on to someone without computer access:
·      We accept scans of hand written letters (please include contact info for the author);
·      Contact us if you require a mailing address.

Early submissions are encouraged. First time authors encouraged.

If you have questions, we welcome emails to survivorsinsoli@gmail.com with “Question” in the subject line. We are looking for both shorter pieces of writing and longer pieces, but if your piece is more than 20 pages consider sending us an email to run the idea by us.
Please attach a short biography that you are comfortable sharing with the editors (200 word max.). This is not about your credentials, but getting to know you and where you are coming from. All information you provide will be kept confidential.
About selection and editing: Submissions will be reviewed by a group of readers who will consider if and how each written piece could contribute to the finished project. Each piece will be read by at least two readers who will contribute to the decision to accept/reject/edit the piece. Some of us working on this project have been made to feel alone as both survivors and abolitionists. Some of us have managed to carve spaces within these communities. Now we are looking to open the conversation and hear from people we’ve never met, who have struggled to practice politics in a rape culture and police state. We believe that the needs of survivors matter in these movements, and we don’t need someone else to speak for us or about us as case studies and numbers. We want to hear from you.
For more information please visit: http://survivorsinsoli.blogspot.com/
Please distribute widely.

New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Annual Conference, May 9-10

May 8, 2012

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This Thursday two Support New Yorkers will be speaking at the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Annual Conference in Albany.  This year’s theme, “Weaving A World Without Violence,” signifies all of the tremendous work so many of the various organizations and presenters are doing to address violence in their communities.  Topics will include bystanders’ work to prevent violence, mobilizing men and youth to prevent sexual assault, and the use of art therapy in healing.

Leah Todd and Sarah Hanks, a member of For the Birds, will present a panel about the work of the Support New York Collective entitled “Community Accountability and Transformative Justice: An Alternative Approach to Responding to Intimate Partner Violence”.

Find out more about NYSCASA, how to become a member, find a crisis center, or take action by visiting their website.

Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group

March 13, 2012

From the New York Times. This is so fucked.

Turning the tables on an advocacy group that has long supported victims of pedophile priests, lawyers for the Roman Catholic Churchand priests accused of sexual abuse in two Missouri cases have gone to court to compel the group to disclose more than two decades of e-mails that could include correspondence with victims, lawyers, whistle-blowers, witnesses, the police, prosecutors and journalists.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

Read more…

Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped

January 20, 2012

OUR VICTIM BLAMING TACTICS DO LITTLE TO PREVENT SEXUAL ASSAULT

by Zerlina Maxwell (Ebony)

New rule for 2012: No more ad campaigns and public service announcements targeted at women to teach them how to avoid rape.  It’s not effective, it’s offensive, and it’s also a lie. Telling women that they can behave in a certain way to avoid rape creates a false sense of security and it isn’t the most effective way to lower the horrible statistics which show that 1 in 5 women will become victims of a completed or attempted rape in their lifetime.  The numbers for African American women are even higher at nearly 1 in 4.

We need anti-rape campaigns that target young men and boys.  Campaigns that teach them from a young age how to respect women, and ultimately themselves, and to never ever be rapists.  In addition, we should implore our men and boys to call out their friends, relatives, and classmates for inappropriate behavior and create systems of accountability amongst them.

There are a number of men who do not understand what constitutes a “rape”, which is a consequence of the “stranger in the alley” falsehood presented in movies and popular culture.  You don’t need a mask and a gun to sexually violate a woman. The truth is that rape can happen with a woman you are dating whom you’ve had sex with previously, in a monogamous relationship, and even in marriage.  If one party withdraws consent at any time then it’s rape.  Consent can be withdrawn by the words “no “or “stop” and in many states, a woman doesn’t have to say no at all.  Consumption of alcohol can prevent a woman from being able to legally offer consent. Therefore, it is important for men and women alike to be very clear about their intentions and prioritize consent over the excitement of getting some.

Our community, much like society-at-large, needs a paradigm shift as it relates to our sexual assault prevention efforts.  For so long all of our energy has been directed at women, teaching them to be more “ladylike” and to not be “promiscuous” to not drink too much or to not wear a skirt. Newsflash: men don’t decide to become rapists because they spot a woman dressed like a video vixen or because a girl has been sexually assertive.

How about we teach young men when a woman says stop, they stop? How about we teach young men that when a woman has too much to drink that they should not have sex with her, if for no other reason but to protect themselves from being accused of a crime? How about we teach young men that when they see their friends doing something inappropriate to intervene or to stop being friends?  The culture that allows men to violate women will continue to flourish so long as there is no great social consequence for men who do so. And while many men punished for sexual assaults each year, countless others are able to commit rape and other crimes against women because we so often blame the victim instead of the guilty party.

Holding women and girls accountable for preventing sexual assault hasn’t worked and so long as men commit the majority of rapes, men need to be at the heart of our tactics for preventing them.  Let’s stop teaching ‘how to avoid being a victim’ and instead, attack the culture that creates predators in the first place.

Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and staff writer for The Loop 21.You can follow her on Twitter: @ZerlinaMaxwell

Violent sex crimes by U.S. Army soldiers rise: report

January 20, 2012

By Mary Slosson (Reuters)

Violent sex crimes committed by active U.S. Army soldiers have almost doubled over the past five years, due in part to the trauma of war, according to an Army report released on Thursday.

Reported violent sex crimes increased by 90 percent over the five-year period from 2006 to 2011. There were 2,811 violent felonies in 2011, nearly half of which were violent felony sex crimes. Most were committed in the United States.

One violent sex crime was committed by a soldier every six hours and 40 minutes in 2011, the Army said, serving as the main driver for an overall increase in violent felony crimes.

Higher rates of violent sex crimes are “likely outcomes” of intentional misconduct, lax discipline, post-combat adrenaline, high levels of stress and behavioral health issues, the report said.

“While we have made tremendous strides over the past decade, there is still much work to be done,” Army Vice Chief of Staff General Peter Chiarelli said in a statement.

“Many of our biggest challenges lie ahead after our soldiers return home and begin the process of reintegrating back into their units, families and communities,” Chiarelli said.

Violent sex crimes committed by U.S. Army troops increased at a rate that consistently outpaced the national trend, a gap that is expected to continue to grow, the Army said.

The top five violent felony offenses committed by soldiers in 2011 were aggravated assault, rape, aggravated sexual assault, forcible sodomy and child pornography.

Soldiers suffering from issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and depression have been shown to have higher incidences of partner abuse, according to the report.

Soldiers with PTSD are up to three times more likely to be aggressive with their female partners than those without such trauma, the report said.

The report also said that family abuse cases are typically underreported.

As the largest branch of the U.S. armed forces, the Army has done the bulk of the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, including years of extended duty and repeated deployments. The rate of suicides among Army soldiers was steady in 2011 after years of rising, the report said.

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