Are We An Accomplice?

A recent post on Drinkers With Writing Problems entitled “Elizabeth Gomez: Beast Woman” is a chilling example of the ripple effect of victims trying to minimize the violation of rape.

Ladies… You have a right to be pissed off. I am so sorry that you were violated and that some of you have gotten to a point of dealing with your pain by trying to rationalize it.

bigstock--D-Your-Voice-Crossword-On-Whi-31349309Rape is a brutal violation build on a foundation of rage regardless of what a rapist’s relationship is with the victim. It is especially brutal when a man violates his wife or his girlfriend or family member. Did you know that according to the CDC more than 85% of rape victims knew their rapist?

I am always amazed by the strength and courage of women that have endured any form of abuse by men that are supposed to love them. To Elizabeth’s point, every woman has a right to tell her story and many find it pivotal to their hearing. But it’s not easy. I am proud of you Elizabeth and the countless others that have discovered how important their voice is to help turn the tide of violence against women and girls.

cards side 2Guys… we know not all men are perpetrators, but the 4 out of 5 of us that don’t abuse their partners are not speaking up. We need to learn from these women how to discover our own voices. Otherwise we find ourselves defending ourselves or worst; our silence puts us in the role of accomplice.

Men… let’s tell the women in our lives that they are loved and cherished. That we do not view them as sex toys or a playground for our self-fulfilling needs. Let’s rise up to be the men that God designed us to be.

Let’s make our purpose in life about presenting the women in our lives in a greater light than the day God presented them to us.

Inspiration From A Fifth Grader

When working with survivors of domestic violence there seems to be a hero around every corner, but we don’t expect them to be an 11 year old.

Patricia & Kya Gregory

Patricia & Kya Gregory

Kya Gregory is a child observer whose compassion to help victims of domestic violence began as she saw it first hand when her mother was emotionally and physically abused by her father.

Kya wanted to help somehow, but she didn’t know where to start. Her mom called the CSS Women’s Commission for ideas and when I shared our cell phone program Patricia said “Kya can do that.”

Kya spoke with her Pastor at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and with his blessing she set out to collect 150 old-used cell phones. Her efforts included making wooden boxes with statistics and stories that were put on display in the foyer of the church.

Click on image to see Family Focus feature

Click on image to see Family Focus feature

The congregation was so moved that her story became a Family Focus feature on WSOC-TV. (click on the image or this link http://bit.ly/1KpssBe to see that story).

Kya delivered 207 old-used cell phones to the Women’s Commission office yesterday. Now she is looking for another way to help. Her next outreach effort? Collecting umbrellas for the homeless.

If this one little girl can find a way to extend a lifeline to victims what can you do?
For more information on the cell phone collection program check out the Domestic Violence & Violence Prevention page at http://CSS.CharMeck.org or call Mike Sexton at 704-432-1568.

DV Fatality Review Team presents their fourth report

The Mecklenburg County Domestic Violence Fatality Prevention and Protection Review Team (DVFRT) presented their fourth annual report entitled “Until Death Do Us Part” to the Board of County Commissioners in Mecklenburg County (Charlotte, NC) on Tuesday night.

DVFRT report at BOCC 100714District Court Judge Ron Chapman, who is the current Vice-Chair with the help of Helen Lipman, DVFRT Liaison presented the report at the Board of County Commissioners’ Meeting in the Chamber of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center.

North Carolina legislation created the DVFRT on June 1, 2009 as a pilot project in Mecklenburg County. The legislation provides the needed legal protection to make it easier for agencies to share case information in a full review. The DVFRT has reviewed 16 dv-related homicide cases since that time.

Community Support Services, a Mecklenburg County department that includes the Women’s Commission, is the lead agency for the effort.

The DVFRT report has four themes including; access to firearms, behavioral health issues, exposure of children and youth to domestic violence, and systems integration.

The report includes a number of recommendations including expanded trainings for police and probation officers, as well as judges, in regards to access to firearms. In 10 of the 16 cases reviewed a firearm was the killers’ weapon of choice. In 7 of those 10 cases the firearms were obtained illegally.

The DVFRT, in concert with the DV Community Leadership Team, also recommends that a pilot multi-disciplinary team be developed to actively monitor selected repeat violent DV offenders to reduce repeat incidents. Similar initiatives have shown positive results in other North Carolina communities, including the City of High Point.

DVFRT report at BOCC 100714 HelenA number of accomplishments are also noted such as the Supervised Visitation & Safe Exchange Center opening later this year, which was a priority identified by the DV Community Leadership Team for 2014-16. This facility and program will provide a safe environment for victims and children when child custody comes into play in abusive relationships.

The entire DVFRT 2014 Report is now available online.

For more information on the effects of domestic violence in our community, call the Mecklenburg County Community Support Services Women’s Commission at 704-336-3210 or Safe Alliance’s 24-hour DV Hotline at (704) 332-2513.

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship outside of Mecklenburg County, please call the National DV Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). They will help you get connected with a shelter, programs and services in your community.

Okay Roger… Now what?

Commissioner GoodellListening to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s press conference multiple times now, I find myself still looking for some things to solidly get behind. From my perspective there are a couple of great moves. There are other missed opportunities.

It is great that the NFL has connected with the National Hotline (www.thehotline.org) and it appears the league is committed to helping them with staffing and resources. This is in response to the fact that the hotline missed a huge number of calls by victims due to an 84% increase of calls last week. This is a great initiative for victims. I can get behind that.

I’m glad to hear local domestic violence resources were provided to teams. This is also a good start in the awareness and education process needed for team owners, team personnel and players.

Other than these two new initiatives, everything else were things we already knew.

goodell riceThere were a lot of apologies for how the Ray Rice situation was handled, the lack of a heavy enough penalty for Rice’s actions, and Goodell admitting the mistakes began with him. I truly appreciate his leadership and the fact that he is owning the responsibility for fumbling this case.

In the NFL’s defense, I think this issue caught them by surprize. One of the best things to come out of this mishap is we are now participating in a nationwide conversation. My guess is there are lessons that corporate America can learn from how the Commissioner and team owners are trying to get their heads around this. There is a very good chance that alot of businesses, professional teams and college atheletics didn’t have this issue on their radar before now.

Goodell did say they are going to rewrite the Personal Conduct Policy and cited a new committee being formed to help with this policy. His goal is to have a new policy in place by the Super Bowl (02/01/15).

More than once he stated he invited former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to lead an “independent” investigation on how the league handled the Rice case. And that is good. More than a few times he talked about “getting our house in order.” That is important too.

What I was hoping he would say is, “Any player arrested for domestic violence would immediately be suspended until an investigation is completed,” but he didn’t. Instead he dodged the questioning about consistency of charges like a high stakes lawyer.

Right now the NFL is still floundering with a consistent approach to players caught in a criminal incident. Regardless of their guilt or innocence.

Ray Rice has been suspended by the league and terminated by the Baltimore Ravens.

Carolina Panther’s Greg Hardy is on the “Exempt List.”

jonathan dwyerArizona Cardinal Jonathan Dwyer has been put on the non-football injury list, and San Francisco’s Ray McDonald is still playing meaning three out of four of these cases the player is still getting paid.

Granted, we do need to respect the legal process. Ray McDonald has not been charged yet. He was arrested last month and accused of assaulting his pregnant fiancée. A number of former players including Hall of Famer Jerry Rice think the 49ers should remove McDonald from the field.

Another DV case in the NFL?

quincy enunwaAnd what about New York Jets’ Quincy Enunwa? (NFL investigating case, ESPN) Mr. Enunwa was arrested on September 4th for allegedly pulling a woman off a bed at a hotel near the Jets training facility, injuring her head and finger. Why have we not heard anything about his case Mr. Commissioner? Will the new NFL Domestic Violence Policy that was immediately implemented on August 28, 2014 apply in this case once he is charged?

It begs the question, is the NFL simply turning a blind eye to the illegal activities of its players? (NFL Player Arrests, USA Today). Could Commissioner Goodell be trying to protect his bosses’ investments?

There is a ton of great work being done by current and former NFL players in the communities where they live. Men that understand their role as a positive role model. Men that know what they do instills a lasting impression on children. Especially young boys.

By not addressing these cases of potential abuse the NFL is sending the message to these youngsters that it is okay to own an arsenal of firearms. It’s okay to minimize women. It’s okay to view women as sex objects. Did you know, Mr. Commissioner, this lack of action of addressing these issues has proven to eventually lead to abuse (Miss Representation Project)

How about this for a strong message to victims and women in general?

janay knocked outWhat I did not heard during the press conference or at any point before now is a conversation on what the NFL is doing for Jayna Rice, Nicole Holder or any of the other victims abused at the hands of current NFL players facing charges of domestic violence or child abuse.

There was no apology. No words of concern to their well-being. No initiative toward assuring victims’ safety, which could easily apply to players being abuse by their intimate partner too.

We all know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the NFL has done more awareness of this issue than possibly any corporation in history. The players will pink and purple ribbonbe wearing pink accessories to their uniforms all month and a pink ribbon will adorn the 50 yard line in most (if not all) NFL stadiums throughout the month. This is fantastic knowing that one in eight women have personal experience with breast cancer.

Did you know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that one in four women have experienced abuse in a relationship? What message can Commissioner Goodell send in support of women in general, which happens to be 44% of their fan base? (NFL fan base, USA Today)

Here is one tangible way the NFL can show they care. Ask every NFL owner to designate one home game within the month of October where $1 per ticket (or seat) would go to their local domestic violence shelter. Then the league could match those funds to go to the each State’s Domestic Violence Coalition. (This of course, would be over and above what the league has committed to the National Hotline.) This type of demonstration puts their money where their mouth is. All the while making a serious difference in the lives of abused women and possibly saving a life or two or more.

This just may help the PR nightmare they now are facing as well, with a move toward a commitment to victim’s safety which we all can solidly get behind.

Are you looking for ways you can help raise the banner against domestic violence during DV Awareness Month? Check out Mecklenburg County’s DV Calendar of Events or Domestic Violence Awareness Month for some ideas or how you can help.

What Is Our Best Response to Ray Rice?

goodell riceThere are a lot or responses to the Ray Rice travesty.

I wonder if divorcing the NFL is the answer.

I wonder if throwing Commissioner Goodell under the bleachers is a real solution.

I wonder if a ban of the NFL really helps.

Our better response may be to educate ourselves on this issue. Domestic violence is a rampant problem in at least one of every four relationships based on reporting to the National DV Hotline. Right here in Charlotte, NC we had more than 9,300 criminal incidents of domestic violence last year. Break that down, that is nearly 25 cases per day where someone communicated a threat to the one they love or they assaulted them to the point of physical harm or somewhere in between.

The NFL may not have responded as quickly as we all would have liked (especially now that we know what we know), but where Ray_Rice_052314_PRwere the whistleblowers two months ago when Ray Rice held a seven minute press conference apologizing to everyone but his soon to be wife? (05/23/14 > http://youtu.be/WJBkG_kyqxI). Mr. Rice spoke for more than 6:30 of that time giving his fiancé, Jayna a mere 30 seconds to share.

Our challenge with intimate partner violence is a lack of accountability. Victims are re-victimized every day in our court system, in our workplaces, and yes… in the media.

I did a segment on ESPN Radio yesterday I was asked, “Why did Jayna defend him and call out the media?” Well, it’s pretty simple. She is probably scared for her life and feels she had no other choice in order to survive.

We all need to look at this issue a bit differently. Watch the May 23rd press conference again and see if you can count how many times Jayna had the confidence to look up let alone hold eye contact with the camera. It appeared to me that she was afraid to even look at the man “she loves.” Commissioner Goodell made the same mistake that Pastors and professional Counselors make every day in every city in the country. Couples counseling in these volatile relationships does not work. The risk in this practice is the victim (male or female) has to go home with their abuser. It doesn’t matter if they said anything in the session or not. A simple roll of the eyes or a sigh to something the perpetrator said is enough to get the victim a beat down later.

Instead of us all banning the league and pointing the finger finding fault elsewhere, we may be better suited to gain some understanding of what we are dealing with.

first offense NFLPersonally, I applaud Commissioner Goodell and the NFL for their swift and firm response once they saw firsthand what took place in the elevator. Their stance sends a loud and clear message to all of professional sports that players abusing their wives and girlfriends will not be tolerated. Let’s wait and see what happens to Ray McDonald (San Francisco 49ers) and Greg Hardy (Carolina Panthers) when their cases are heard before a jury of their peers. If those cases prove to be as heinous and nothing happens then let’s call out the league.

I wonder if our anger toward this situation is not better suited toward our law makers for not instilling firmer penalties. Did you know that in North Carolina it is a heavier penalty for dragging your dog down the street? Animal cruelty is a felony. Dragging your girlfriend behind your truck is a misdemeanor. Maybe we should recruit every NFL fan to call their Legislator to pass the Violence Against Women’s Act long before it’s status is in jeopardy.

For me, the finger in this situation needs to be unanimously pointed firmly at Ray Rice. Not his wife. Not the NFL. At Ray Rice!

Ray Rice is lucky he is not facing a murder rap. We see countless numbers of domestic violence related homicides every year where the victim died from blunt force trauma. Cases when the killer didn’t mean to hurt her, but their choice to lay hands on her put leaving is dangerousher head through a wall. A seemingly harmless push can be enough for a victim to lose their balance and slam their head on an island in the kitchen.

Jayna Rice is lucky to be alive and clearly is doing everything she can to survive.

Our rage toward this issue needs to address how we might potentially save her life.

If you need help or know someone in an abusive relationship call the National Hotline at 800-779-SAFE (7233). Ask them about a safety plan.

If you want a better understanding of what domestic violence is go to http://CSS.CharMeck.org and click on the Women’s Commission.

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So now what?

So the Easter holiday has come and gone, lent has passed, and my bracket is done. Now what?

Well it appears to me that all of those are simply opportunities to get spiritual. They heighten our awareness of what we perceive is important to God or they replace God with religion or a worldly passion. Instead of Living On Target. (by Pastor Kelvin Smith > http://tiny.cc/vkzuuw)
05-09-48_basketball_original
For me, going to church on Sunday is like half time of the big game. It is time to regroup, get built back up, and be encouraged to go out there and do it again. For me we are called to be “the church” every day; all day. Why? Because “we are the church” and we are here to help all in need around us, not just a select few.

Now, I have a personal relation with Jesus. You can too. God doesn’t want us to come by for a visit. He sent His son to die for us because He wants to spend time with us. He created us to be in relationship with Him. He is my friend, my helper, my Deliverer, my Savior.

We are not designed to go it alone. The world tells us “we can do it ourselves if we put our mind to it.” When you ask Jesus into your life, the wall between you and God comes down and the promise of Jesus is your’s. He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Religion cannot alleviate your loneliness. Beliefs can’t do it either. Only a person can do that; a person who will never leave you, never forsake you, no strings attached. That person is Jesus Christ.

We might like to think that our lives are all about us, but the reality is that all of our choices in life influence not only us, but the people around us. In the end our lives (and deaths) speak loudly of our love for, or rejection of, God.

Having troubles? God, our Father is standing there ready to help as only He can, but we have got to release any bitterness that is making our burden so much heavier. Why carry that load? Your Father wants to trade your troubles for His grace.

Yes, it’s a lonely world out there. And yes, you may walk on Lonely Street again? But the day you come to Jesus Christ is your last day alone. God never looks away from us or ignores us. He is always there watching over us and working things out in accordance with His plan. You may even feel that He is chasing you. He is, because He loves you and He wants you. He doesn’t need you. He wants you.

Once we come to know Jesus, it becomes all about Jesus and not about us. “Us” gets us in trouble. We are our own worst enemy in many cases. When you make choices with Jesus in your life He intercedes and helps you make those tough decisions. Remember, He will never leave you.
Empty-Tomb-Picture-07
Easter is the greatest day in a Christian’s life. Without His resurrection we are ALL lost. When we invite Jesus into our hearts, repent of our sins (and we all sin), and surrender our lives to Him, we are assured life… not death. By simply believing that Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead, we are guaranteed eternity with Him in heaven.

Won’t you consider giving your life to Him and begin living every day… all day with peace and harmony? If you are willing say this prayer. Either aloud or quietly in your heart. Be open and honest and say…

“Jesus, I am lost without you. I am sorry for my sins and want to follow you. I believe you God that you sent your son to die for my sins. I surrender my life to you and ask that you live in my heart. Change my heart. Thank you Jesus.”

If you prayed this, know that you are now a new believer in Christ. Your past is your past. That means it is behind you and there is no need to look in the rear view mirror.

Now, get connected with a local church. Remember, we are not wired to go it alone. There are people that God wants to connect you with all day… every day.

May His peace be with you and I’ll look forward to seeing you in heaven if not before.

In fact, maybe I’ll see you at half time. Go Saints!

Where was Jesus on Holy Saturday?

Sometimes I wonder when the Bible has gaps in time and isn’t very clear what really took place. Like Jesus’ childhood between His visit to the temple at age 12 (Luke 2:41-51) until His ministry started at age 30.

So what actually took place on Holy Saturday? (the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday)

Was this a day of rest for Jesus where He lay in a tomb? Or was He in a fight with Satan in which He clearly defeated death?
Guards_at_the_tomb
The only biblical reference to what happened on the Saturday in between Jesus’ death and resurrection is found in Matthew 27:62-66. After sundown on Saturday—the end of the Sabbath—the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pontius Pilate and asked that a guard be placed at Jesus’ tomb to prevent His disciples from removing the body. They remembered Jesus saying that He would rise again in three days (John 2:19-21) and wanted to do everything they could to prevent that. We know from the succeeding accounts that the Roman guards were inadequate to prevent the resurrection and those who returned to the tomb Sunday morning found it empty. The Lord had risen.

What is your take?

Reference > http://www.BibleGateway.com (pick your translation of choice)