Posts Tagged domestic violence

How You Can Help Stop Domestic Violence

Ways to Prevent Domestic Violence in Your Community

domestic violenceMaybe you’re not a victim of domestic violence, but given that the World Health Organization estimates that, in some regions of the world, up to 35 percent of women are suffering from partner violence, it’s possible you know someone that is affected. While domestic violence often goes undetected, there are steps you can take to be ready in the event that a friend or family member is suffering.

Know the signs of domestic violence. Partner abuse affects all races and income levels, so it can be challenging to see. Victims often either show no physical signs of abuse, or they develop skills for covering them up. It may be more helpful to look at a suspected abuser and watch for a variety of signs, including unpredictable mood swings, extreme jealousy, verbal abuse or isolation from family and friends.

Help raise awareness in your community. Neighbors are often the key to stopping domestic violence, simply by remaining aware. Help your local shelter educate the community about what domestic violence looks and sounds like and what they can do if they think they are witnessing domestic violence in their neighborhood.

Get organized. You will send a strong message if you form a group of individuals willing to be trained in recognizing domestic violence situations. The threat of discovery and education about alternative ways to relieve stress may help abusers recognize that there are solutions and that violence is not one of them. If you witness or suspect domestic violence, call 911 right away.

Make the most of technology. If the members of your community have smartphones, use a safety app to allow victims to alert their support system if they believe they are in danger. If your community is organized, try to identify any potential victims that don’t have a smartphone and consider pooling money to purchase her one.

Remember, if you witness an act of domestic violence or suspect it is happening, the safest option is to call 911.

If you’d like more information about organizing a domestic violence community education program, talk with the YWCA St. Joseph. We have the information and resources you need to help end domestic violence in your community.

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Do You Know the Signs of Domestic Violence?

How to Help Employees Who Are in a Domestic Violence Situation

domestic violenceYou’re responsible for the tasks and performance of your employees, but when it comes to their personal well-being, it can be hard to know where your responsibility begins and ends. When you suspect that an employee may be experiencing domestic violence, how do you know how and when to say something?

Domestic violence isn’t always obvious; employees experiencing partner abuse may not show up to work with obvious physical signs. Instead, you may even miss an employee that is being abused because the signs can be varied and unclear. Here are a few of the common signs of domestic violence:

  • Tardiness or absenteeism
  • Depression or stress-related illnesses
  • Low self-esteem and social isolation
  • Marital and family problems
  • Afraid of partner’s temper or goes along with what partner wants out of fear
  • Visible signs of injury

As you might expect, it can be challenging to know if a person is experiencing depression, and even more complicated to know whether that depression stems from a situation involving partner abuse. Consider your unique role as a supervisor:

  • As a manager, you are in a position to observe your employees’ behavior on a daily basis, noting changes in demeanor, job performance and arrival times. Keep in mind that any discussion with employees must focus on job performance issues and not any elements from their personal life.
  • You are not in the position to provide counseling or diagnose domestic violence. Your role is simply to offer your employee the opportunity to talk and then help them identify the resources they need.
  • Balancing your role as a supervisor and your desire to help an employee in a difficult situation can be challenging. There are ways to open a conversation that can allow an employee to share, but without stepping over that important line:
    • I’ve noticed that you seem distracted lately. Is there anything I can do to help you get back on track?
    • You’ve had some absenteeism lately and you didn’t meet the deadline on the ABC project. That doesn’t seem like you. Is there anything you’d like to talk about? I’d be happy to listen.

Deciding to tell someone that they’re experiencing domestic violence is generally the hardest step, so don’t feel like you need to pressure your employee to share. Simply assure them that you’re available if the need arises.

If your employee does tell you that they are the victim of partner abuse, help them identify local resources, such as the YWCA Shelter, counseling and other tools. For more information about Victim Services, call or visit the YWCA of St. Joseph.

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Do You Have a Domestic Violence Plan in Your Workplace?

What to do When an Employee is Involved in a Domestic Violence Situation

domestic violenceYou may think of domestic violence as a private issue, one that happens after-hours and at home. This perception, which may seem reasonable at first glance, may be making it possible for an employee to remain in an abusive situation. Domestic violence doesn’t always stay at home; it can follow the victim and has a ripple effect on every part of his or her life.

As an employer, you may wonder how or when to intersect into the world of your employees’ private lives. Where’s the line that tells you when to stop pushing for information, that line that can come with legal and other consequences? It can be difficult, but there’s good reason for you to have a conversation with an employee that you suspect is a victim of domestic violence.

You don’t have to be an expert. In fact, you should leave the counseling to professionals. Instead, you should have a simple plan in place that includes the following elements:

  • Events that happen outside the workplace
  • Security related to the events
  • Violations of a workplace agreement
  • Non-actionable conduct that is disrupting the workplace

Part of your plan should include having information about referral organizations, so that if you learn of a domestic violence situation, you are already prepared with resources.

It’s also important to have buy-in from your executive team, so when you are creating a domestic violence policy, invite members from various departments to participate in creating the plan.

You can offer comfort. It’s important to include a few points in your conversation with an employee that’s involved in a domestic violence situation:

  • Let them know that you believe what they tell you, and be careful not to offer any statements that include judgment.
  • Talk with the employee about what changes could be made to the workplace to make them feel safer.
  • Refer your employee to a service that offers qualified counseling and practical help, including a temporary place to stay.
  • Talk with the security staff to see what can be done to help your employee feel safer at work.

A domestic violence plan benefits your company, too. With all the potential legal problems that come with looking into a domestic violence situation, you may still be reluctant to dive into your employees’ private lives. You should know, though, that when partner violence is not addressed, your company pays a price, too. The Department of Labor reports that victims of domestic violence missed nearly 8 million days of paid work each year, resulting in $1.8 billion in lost productivity.

It’s likely to come up. In case you’re thinking your company doesn’t have any domestic violence threatening your employees, consider this: The Society for Human Resource Management research indicates that 21 percent of adults with full-time employment reported being victims of domestic violence, and 16 percent of organizations report having a domestic violence incident within the past five years.

To learn more about domestic violence and the resources available for your employees, visit the YWCA of St. Joseph. We offer housing, counseling and other help for victims of domestic violence in the region. Call us today for more information.

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The Important Role of Supported Housing

Supported Housing Helps Families Transition to a Brighter Future

crisis shelterIf you’ve never had a need for supported housing, you may not know much about it. You may even wonder who uses it, and why. After all, supported housing is one of those things that you may never notice…until you need it.

Shelters for women and children play an important role in the community, allowing families that have experienced a trauma related to domestic violence or other difficulties, to transition to a new life. Many women may begin this transition in a shelter, such as the YWCA Shelter, and then later shift to supported housing. The Shelter offers immediate relief from a dangerous situation, but it also begins the journey to services they need to begin to rebuild their lives – many of which are found in supported housing. Here are a few of the important functions that supported housing provides:

A safe place: Supported housing offers a safe place to plan next steps away from violence, as well as an environment where women and children can recover from emotional and physical damage. They have an opportunity to rebuild their self-esteem and gain confidence as they mark a turning point in their lives where they have sought out help.

Access to resources: Supported housing environments, like the YWCA’s Bliss Manor, can help victims of domestic violence help in the transition back into a long-term independent lifestyle. They may offer individual therapy or group counseling, information about education or job skills training, assistance with logistics and many more resources toward a new start.

The idea that there is help available: An important role of supported housing is that it introduces the idea to victims that there’s an alternative to the suffering they are enduring. Through supported housing, families can take small steps every day with the help of professional resources – as well as other families who have experienced the same journey.

A voice for hope: Supported housing is closely linked to other services designed to aid women in crisis, such as rape crisis centers, sexual abuse hotlines and other resources. These social services often work together to promote healing and hope, accomplishing success together.

Today, read more about the YWCA Shelter and Bliss Manor – and then share this information with friends and co-workers. Together, we can connect more women and their children with the hope they need for a fresh start, free of violence and fear.

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Why It’s Hard to Leave: The Complicating Factors of Domestic Violence

5 Things You Should Know About Domestic Violence

domestic violenceDomestic violence affects one in three women and one in four men in the United States. In addition, 15 percent of all violent crimes involve intimate partner abuse. It’s common for concerned loved ones to wonder, “Why won’t they just leave?” It’s difficult to imagine why someone would stay in a home where their safety is threatened.

If you’ve never been in a domestic violence situation, it’s hard to grasp the complexity of the factors that impact a victim of domestic violence. Here are five facts you need to know to better understand your loved one’s situation:

It happens every nine seconds. Domestic violence is common, and every nine seconds a person experiences intimate partner abuse with a total of 10 million people being abused by their partner each year. There are more than 200,000 calls come in to domestic violence hotlines yearly.

It affects men, too. While women are the primary victims of domestic violence, coming forward to report abuse can be complicated for men in different ways than for women. Men are often stigmatized for their situation and ridiculed because they are being victimized by their partner.

Victims often face the blame. Real-life situations are more complicated than what’s often depicted on television, and people often blame a victim for provoking their partner.

Leaving isn’t easy. Victims of domestic violence are often encouraged to just leave, but it’s often a decision that affects many things. They may fear the loss of financial support from their partner, or if there are children involved, they grieve their child’s loss of relationship with their other parent. Also, no matter how dysfunctional the relationship is, the victim may focus on how their partner is when they are not abusing them and keep talking themselves out of leaving. It’s important to recognize that leaving doesn’t guarantee that the violence will end; in fact, the victim’s risk of being seriously injured or killed increases when they are preparing to leave or have recently left the abuser.

What to do if someone you know is in a domestic violence relationship. Think about it. If a friend called you today in a domestic violence crisis, do you know how to help them connect with the right services and get help? Try these steps:

  • Listen to them, believe their story and let them tell you their story at their own pace.
  • Offer them a place to stay or help them find a shelter.
  • Do not get involved personally with their abuser – instead, focus on listening and identifying resources.
  • Try to understand your loved one’s reasons for staying, and offer financial help and childcare assistance if you can and encourage them to get help.

The YWCA of St. Joseph offers immediate and long-term help for women who are experiencing (or have experienced) domestic violence. The Shelter and the Bliss Manor Housing Program help many women and their children each year escape the violence and rebuild their lives with a vision for the future. YWCA victim advocates are available at MOSAIC for immediate assistance/advocacy. We also offer professional counseling for victims as well as a 24-hour crisis hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477.  These services are offered at no cost. To learn more, visit our website.

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A Crisis Shelter for Women is More Than Walls

Providing a Safe Place for Women and Children at Our Crisis Shelter

img_7868Women and children who have lived in an environment of domestic violence or abuse need time to recover from living with tension and fear and a safe place to live. A crisis shelter for women and children is not just a place that is safe from danger, but also a space for healing. It takes more than the removal from threat for a family to be ready to begin a new life; counseling and information about next steps are essential. That is why a crisis shelter for women, like the one we offer at the YWCA, is so important for our community.

Space for Healing

Statistically, many victims of domestic abuse do not report violence in the home until it has gone on for a period of time. This can create a sense of hopelessness that takes time to overcome. However, when a victim is convinced that safety, help and the chance for a better life are really available, it makes all the difference. Many times a crisis shelter for women is the only place where all the resources necessary for rebuilding a life can be found.

Services for Rebuilding

Shelters routinely work in tandem with police, judicial representatives and social services to provide the range of support that children and mothers need to get a fresh start. Children can receive counseling and care while mothers meet with professionals who guide them through skills development, advocacy, financial instruction and more. The crisis shelter for women is a place where the various areas of support can converge to offer hope for a better life.

Spokesperson for Women’s Rights

Because shelters work through many situations on a daily basis, the teams at shelters have a powerful voice in advocating – even on a state or national level – for survivor services. No one knows better than the local crisis shelter staff and volunteers the challenges women and children face when escaping a domestic violence situation. The shelter staff and volunteers have a keen interest in promoting issues of women’s and children’s rights and are able to speak authoritatively on issues related to gender equality, the needs for social support services and the efficacy of police or judicial responses. In this sense, the local crisis shelter for women performs a much bigger service in addition to caring for individuals.

The YWCA Shelter in St. Joseph offers emergency housing for women and children and connects women to longer-term shelter for those who are working toward a new start. Many women and children who stay in our shelter have a difficult time securing employment and safe housing in the 60-90 day timeframe temporary emergency shelters provide. Our supported housing service, Bliss Manor, provides a place for women to begin the process of gaining self-sufficiency in a supportive atmosphere over a one to two-year period of time. Learn more today about the critical role the YWCA Shelter and housing resources fill in our community.

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YWCA Take Back the Night Event Held to Draw Attention to Victims of Domestic Violence in our Area

YWCA Take Back the Night Event Held to Draw Attention to Victims of Domestic Violence in our Area

Bringing Attention to Domestic Violence in Our Community

img_0236For too many people in our community, home is a place of uncertainty, insecurity and where abuse occurs. Issues of domestic violence rob children, adults, friends and neighbors of dignity, peace and personal safety. To bring awareness to this critical issue in our community, and as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we host an annual event each October called Take Back the Night.

The Take Back the Night event was held this year on October 16. Community members whose lives have been impacted by domestic violence gathered to honor victims and look toward hope. Purple balloons were released into the sky asimg_0241 victim’s names were read aloud.

In addition to the ceremony, the reading of the names of victims and an official proclamation, the annual Take Back the Night event was also an opportunity for the YWCA to announce this year’s recipient of the Mary Jolly Award. The award goes to community members who take an active role in putting an end to domestic violence and/or who support those who suffer from its harm.

To learn more, visit ywcasj.org.

 

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Worldwide Week Without Violence is October 17-21

Worldwide Week Without Violence is October 17-21

Bringing Awareness to Domestic Violence During National Week Without Violence

One-quarter of all women are touched by domestic violence, and as many as 20 percent will experience sexual assault in their life. This problem is the springboard for a worldwide Week Without Violence, a time set aside to bring awareness to the critical need to end violence against women.

While the largest statistics focus on domestic partner violence against women, there are other forms of violence impacting women today. Sexual assault is a crime that often goes under-reported as well as under-prosecuted. Consider too, the number of women and young girls trapped in human trafficking and the scope of violence against women begins to take shape as a staggering issue that demands attention and action. Young girls, women of color and those with disabilities face the greatest vulnerability. The Week Without Violence campaign helps recognize these critical issues.
 
The YWCA joins hands with partners around the globe during the third week of October to draw attention to this issue and to encourage work toward ending violence against women. This year, the St. Joseph YWCA will sponsor efforts to increase awareness, improve supports for survivors and help to sharpen the skills of law enforcement in dealing with issues of gender-based violence.

The community is invited to attend the Take Back the Night event on October 16 at 6 p.m. at the YWCA. Take Back the Night is an event to shed light on victims of domestic violence in our community and to remember victims that have passed away as a result of violence. Join us for a reading of the Domestic Violence Awareness Month Proclamation, the announcement of the Mary Jolly Award, an address made by the event’s speaker and a balloon release.
 
Events also include a one-day Week Without Violence conference hosted at MWSU. On October 17, a free morning session will be available to the public from 9 a.m.-12 p.m., offered for professionals that work with families and/or children. An afternoon session will be offered from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. exclusively to law enforcement officers.

 

Contact the St. Joseph YWCA today and sign up for the Week Without Violence conference and to learn how you can help make a difference in the lives of women and families in our community.

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How to Help Your Children Understand Domestic Violence

How to Help Your Children Understand Domestic Violence

When and Why You Need to Talk About Domestic Violence With Your Children

If you are a victim of domestic violence and have children with you in the home, this can be a very difficult topic for discussion. The same is true if your children have visited a home where violence has occurred – or if they have friends who are experiencing violence in their own homes. Yet, no matter what your child’s age, they understand more than you may think and they need your help to properly process what they observe.

At What Age?
From a young age you can start talking with your child about the proper way to treat others. With very young children it can be good to emphasize that hands are intended for work, for love and for helping others – not for hurting others. The same goes for words. From the youngest ages children can be taught that words are to be used to help and encourage rather than to tear down and hurt. These kinds of conversations will provide your child with the correct frame of reference through which to filter things they may see or hear.

At What Time?
Be aware that if your child is witness to domestic violence, their natural inclination may be to blame themselves. It’s important that you reassure your child that abuse is never their fault. These are conversations that can take place at any time, not only when abuse occurs. If you notice that your child has inexplicable health complaints such as a headache or stomach ache – it could be that they are internalizing fears. This is definitely the time to make sure communication channels are open and that you find the strength to have an uncomfortable but necessary conversation.

At What Level?
Most experts suggest that you keep your conversations age-appropriate. Give necessary facts without getting into information beyond your child’s maturity level. It’s good to talk about how to take care of self and how to maintain appropriate boundaries at the level of your child’s current understanding. How you discuss domestic violence with your toddler will differ from how you talk about it with your middle school or teenage child.

At the St. Joseph YWCA we can offer you a safe place to talk about ways to discuss the issues of violence and abuse with kids. We can also provide a safe place for you and your children to go when you determine that it is time to leave a situation where abuse is present. We are here to help you and your children and provide you with a safe environment so you can take next steps toward hope. If you feel you or your children are in immediate danger please call 911 – and read more about our Victim Services, Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children, Bliss Manor or YWCA counseling programs today at www.ywcasj.org.

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Are You Aware of How Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace?

Are You Aware of How Domestic Violence Impacts the Workplace?

Domestic Violence is Believed Responsible for 8 Million Lost Work Days

Did you know that one of the most likely perpetrators of violence at work is often someone’s abusive domestic partner? Perhaps because these stories aren’t often told on the evening news, many employers have largely adopted a “wait and see” attitude toward domestic violence. It is important to be aware of how domestic violence can impact the workplace – and share this message with others.

Continued violent behavior is unlikely to remain contained in the home. Sooner or later the abuser will follow the partner to a predictable location – such as work and other places where they frequently travel. Experts highlight that a large number of those who are living with domestic abuse experience related issues at their place of employment.

 
Domestic violence also affects work performance. It is estimated that 8 million paid work days are lost due to this problem and close to 40 percent report difficulty finding and maintaining work because of domestic abuse. It’s a safety issue, a mental health issue and a productivity issue, and many workplaces are simply unprepared to deal with it.

While employers cannot resolve issues of domestic violence directly, they can offer survivors a safe place to investigate resources and options
. Since most abuse shelters are contacted during mid-day business hours, it is likely that survivors may wait until the abusive partner is at work or they themselves are at work (and away from danger) in order to seek help. Employers who become aware of abusive relationships can let employees know that work hours are acceptable times to make calls they need to make to escape domestic violence.

It is important that your workplace have a written policy regarding domestic and sexual violence.  You can find sample forms to help guide you in developing your own policy at http://www.workplacesrespond.org/.   There are also online resources which can give advice about how to protect yourself while at work from the harassment of an abusive partner. The St Joseph YWCA  provides shelter, counseling and can steer survivors toward other needed resources. If you or a co-worker close to you is confronted with the dangers of domestic violence, make the call to our YWCA crisis line. We’re here to support you.

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