Category Archives: What We Do

Women and IPV in Pinellas County: What Can We Do?

by ZontaDoris

Do you know anyone with IPV? Many people do not know the acronym even though IPV is a serious, preventable public health problem in our community. IPV is short for Intimate Partner Violence, a reference term for aggressive behaviors that occur between partners in life such as husband/wife, boyfriend/girlfriend, or gay/lesbian couples. The two people have to reside together or have cohabited before but not necessarily be married to each other. Most of the time, it is a male (87%) who abuses his partner.

According to an abstract summarizing data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey published in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, slightly more than one out of five women (22.3%) reported severe physical violence by an intimate partner. Severe physical violence by an intimate partner might include “being hit with something hard, being kicked or beaten, or being burned on purpose.” This statistic does not include other IPV behaviors that may be physical, sexual, economic or psychological in nature.

In Florida Statutes Chapter 741, issues involving intimate partner violence are labeled Domestic Violence (DV). The terms seem interchangeable to laypeople like me but depending on the context in which they are used, one or the other is preferred or required. It’s domestic violence in the court systems. Victim advocates referring to the wide variation of DV often use Intimate Partner Violence.

This distinction is one that I learned since I started attending the Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force a year ago. Donna Lancaster and I committed to be the connectors for Zonta Pinellas with the PCDVTF. We attend their bi-monthly meetings as active listeners and learners, often thinking about how we in Zonta can ally with the Task Force to prevent violence in the home, support domestic violence survivors and their families, and educate others–including policy makers–about the nature of domestic violence challenges in our county. We can all help in some way!

from the 2017 St. Pete Pride guide found at  http://bit.ly/2spXmdr

from the 2017 St. Pete Pride guide at
http://bit.ly/2spXmdr

For instance, we’ll help DV victim advocates from law enforcement agencies and the Family Resource Center staff the DV Prevention Tent on June 25, Sunday, at the St. Pete Pride Street Festival. We’ll interact with children and adults to encourage the development of peaceful behaviors.

I am tickled to see outstanding examples of community-led, trickle-up collaborations to help improve our quality of life in Florida. We don’t need state mandates as much as we need people to come together as advocates, caregivers, parents, educators, law enforcement, counselors, and DV survivors to find solutions that lead to coordinated community care for DV victims and their families and accountability for the batterers.

Look at the Coordinated Community Wheel below to get a sense of the intricacy and power of various systems working in unity to help DV victims and survivors.

coordinated_community_wheel_2017-06-13_1745

Developed by: Domestic Violence Institute of Michigan PO BOX 130107, Ann Arbor, MI 48113-0107 (313)769-6334 Inspired and adapted from the “Power & Control Wheel” developed by the Domestic Violence Intervention Project, 202 East Superiour Street , Duluth, MN 55802 (218)722-4134

When we don’t know something, we tend to simplify it to what we do know. But as the above wheel attests, social service providers–such as CASA and the Haven in Pinellas County–are a valuable but singular entity working to reduce IPV and serve IPV victims. It takes many systems, independently constructed, led and managed, to coordinate their activities to identify and prevent IPV, as well as serve IPV-stricken victims and their families, and push for batterer accountability when home violence occurs.

I saw this wheel in the recently published Pinellas County Intimate Partner Fatality Review Report for 2016. The Task Force, comprised of representatives from the above systems to coordinate and regularly improve service delivery to help IPV victims thrive in life, has a Fatality Review Committee that studies IPV situations resulting in death in Pinellas County. They examine what happened in each situation, whether the victim or batterer had interacted previously with social services, health, or justice systems, and whether family members or friends were aware of the potential for violence. All these bits of knowledge and contact could show missed opportunities and, therefore, ways to prevent abuse from happening in other households in the future.

The Fatality Review Report for 2016 also gave me these important points.

IPV including the ultimate harm–death at the hands of another–can happen to anyone. Race, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender and socioeconomic status do not insulate women, or men, from IPV. The eight IPV victims who died in 2016 in our county ranged in age from 22 to 87 and represented all walks of life. One was a 58 year old man knifed to death by his girlfriend.

Three factors prevent women from leaving abusive situations: fear, finances, and children.

The breadth of what domestic violence centers do in Florida. Not only do they provide safe residence for a small percentage of IPV victims, they also offer “safety planning, relocation assistance, counseling resources, and assistance with filing injunctions for protections” to stop the harm from happening again.

When guns are in the house, IPV victims and their abusers are more likely to die. Guns were used 44% of the time in IPV situations involving victim death.  Guns were used  in 89% of the IPV homicides/suicides in Pinellas County in 2016.

Court-ordered anger management counseling for batterers is not the same as, nor is it as effective as court-ordered and monitored Batterers Intervention Program (BIP) participation for  abusers. 

batterers_anger_manage_tabl

from the 2016 Pinellas County Fatality Review Report

The sad news is that from 2000-2016, the courts did not require or refer batterers to BIP in 90% of the cases. BIP is the only treatment shown by research to lower recidivism by IPV abusers. So we are missing two opportunities to lower the frequency of IPV.

The Fatality Review Committee’s recommendations, on pages 7 & 8 in the report, for action by law enforcement, the State Attorney offices, and Clerk of the Court to improve services and accountability could be done fairly easily. The Domestic Violence Task Force endorsed the Fatality Review Committee’s recommendations for adoption. Some of these recommendations can be achieved locally while others require state-level policy or budgeting changes. One recommendation speaks to the media’s responsibility to change its coverage to include more methods for preventing IPV and promoting victim safety.

Take heart…and action. Advocates must work together to inform and encourage local and state policy makers to strengthen our systemic responses to Intimate Partner Violence.  We have the power as citizens to make things different.

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Picture of woman from Pixabay

Views expressed in this blog post are mine and may not reflect the stance of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County or Zonta International. — Doris Reeves-Lipscomb

Wear Orange on June 2-3 to Honor Gun Violence Victims and Spark Change

by ZontaDoris

Have you heard? 

National Gun Violence Awareness Day is Friday, June 2.

Kathleen McGrory, staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, recently interviewed Michelle Gajda, Florida chapter leader of the advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Gajda explained that the national Wear Orange campaign is intended to end gun violence and save lives.

McGrory reported that “Florida will host more Wear Orange events than any other state — a deliberate attempt to ‘highlight the magnitude of the gun violence epidemic.'” (Gajda)

A horrifyingly high percentage of deaths from Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)/Domestic Violence (DV) happens when assailants shoot their partners. From the 2016 Fatality Review report by the Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force (which we will feature later in June in this blog), we learned that

FIREARMS were the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH in Pinellas County IPV/DV cases 44% of the time, which is far more than knives (used 30% of the time) or strangulation (12% of the time).

In IPV/DV cases in 2016 involving a homicide/suicide in the home analyzed by the Task Force, an OVERRIDING MAJORITY–89% of the Pinellas County homicide/suicide cases reviewed by the Task Force involved a firearm.

AS INSTRUMENTS OF DEATH, GUNS ARE WAY TOO EFFICIENT AND EFFECTIVE. (caps and bold are mine)

Additionally, the report notes that while:

“Federal Statute prevents anyone convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor from possessing or purchasing a firearm, in Pinellas County, many people charged with domestic battery are placed in a diversion program which does not qualify as a conviction, thus allowing them to possess firearms.”

WHAT IS THAT ABOUT? The net impact is that while we try to hold batterers accountable and help them learn better ways to manage their anger and behavior in domestic relationships, because they are not charged with a crime, THEY CAN KEEP THEIR GUNS CLOSE BY, thereby increasing the likelihood that if they lapse and abuse their partner again, death could result for the person they abuse and anyone else who happens to be present. 

TO SUMMARIZE, IPV/DV GUN VIOLENCE IS UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL IN PINELLAS COUNTY.

Wear Orange events in Tampa Bay will be held on June 2 and June 3  as follows:

  • June 2, Candlelight vigil, Curtis Hixon Park, 600 N. Ashley Drive, Tampa, 8:00 PM
  • June 3, St. Pete Wear Orange Party for Peace, Gladden Park, 3901 30th Avenue N, St. Petersburg, 10:00 AM
  • June 3, Orange KISS: Keep It Safe & Smart, The Portico, 1001 N. Florida Avenue, Tampa, 2:00 PM

The Zonta Club of Pinellas County supports the Wear Orange goals.

WE WILL BE IN ST. PETERSBURG ON SATURDAY MORNING. PLEASE JOIN US!

We will participate in our customized orange T-shirts to honor IPV/DV victims and show our support for IPV/DV survivors and our bonds with Zonta Club members in Macedonia and Albania. They held their event early in May to stop violence against women.

macdeonia_18489883_1340513759372094_765197073841635310_o

 

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Views expressed in this blog post are mine and may not reflect the stance of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County or Zonta International. — Doris Reeves-Lipscomb

 

Zonta 2017 Young Women Public Affairs Awards

by ZontaDoris

Malala Yousafzai has said: “I raise up my voice not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard.” 

Do you know Malala’s story?

Found at http://bit.ly/2rgmsrM

Found at http://bit.ly/2rgmsrM

Malala was born in Pakistan.  When she was 15 in October 2012, the Taliban tried to silence her by shooting her in the head. They did this because she attended school, she urged young women to go to school, and she had begun to influence people to do more for girls and young women. Malala survived the assault with the expertise of medical professionals in Great Britain and her family who moved there to support her and escape the death threats against them.

Malala resumed her outspoken advocacy for young women’s rights around the world to become educated, make life choices that benefit themselves, and their families, and live in peace. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 and donated her $500,000 cash award to create a secondary school for girls in Pakistan. This picture of her new book co-authored with  Christina Lamb might inspire you.

To encourage young women everywhere to speak up to right injustice and inequality, Zonta International established the Young Women Public Affairs Award in 1995 to recognize “young women, ages 16-19, who demonstrate superior leadership skills and a commitment to public service and civic causes, and encourages them to continue their participation in public and political life.”

Our Club was delighted to honor two local young women who are using their voices as Malala does to make the world a better place.

Fairl Thomas has been a long-time volunteer for Wildlife Haven Rehab and the Mattie Williams Neighborhood Family Center as she completed Countryside high school this year. At the Wildlife Haven, she gave many hours to help care for injured and orphaned wildlife, including raccoons, birds, squirrels, and opossums. Marilyn Waldorf at the Wildlife Haven noted how Fairl quickly grasped the complex dietary requirements of wild animals and noticed when animals were suffering and needed specialized help. Waldorf called Fairl a “passionate volunteer who took on all responsibilities, even the deep cleaning of cages which most volunteers avoid.”

Fairl testified before the Safety Harbor City Commission to urge the members’ adoption of an anti-bear hunting resolution in 2016, part of a statewide push by citizen advocates to influence local and state policy making officials to forego a bear hunt in 2017. In 2015, a state sanctioned bear hunt resulted in the deaths of 307 bears, including 28 lactating mothers. The statewide pressure caused the State Fish and Wildlife Conservation(!) Commission to back down from approving a bear hunt in 2017.

Fairl_Thomas_PresentationJanet Hooper, Executive Director of the Mattie Williams Center, commended Fairl as a “young woman of excellent character with a strong sense of community service.” Fairl helped the Williams center set up and serve annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, stuff children’s backpacks with school supplies at back to school events, and carry out Toys and Joys fundraisers and Pet Food Donation Projects, among other community-building efforts.

Fairl heads with a scholarship to Eckerd College this summer to study environmental science and eventually work in government sponsored environmental research projects. Fairl was joined at our awards ceremony by her mother Terry and father Chip.

Our second honoree is Kiersten Maricle, also a graduate of Countryside high school, who will enter USF in the Fall. Kiersten received the Young Women Public Affairs award for her service as Senior Class Secretary, Editor-in-Chief for the school newspaper, and funding lead for the annual Relay for Life, a fundraiser for cancer victims. Kiersten also volunteers at local middle schools, helping them set up for the start of the new school year and host National History Day.

Kiersten, described by family friend Dawn Shireman, as a “natural born leader and motivator always bringing positive energy into the room,” plans to study anthropology at USF to better understand cultures and the evolution of our society. She will use her growing understanding to volunteer with a local police/crime lab to solve long-standing cases.

Kiersten brought her cheering section–grandparents Claudia and Bill, her mother Jennifer and sister Madison–to the awards dinner.

Kiersten_Presentation1

REMEMBER: EVERY VOICE MATTERS. Each voice can influence decision-makers to do what’s right for our communities. Zonta empowers women to represent their own interests and support families, elders, children and animals–both domestic and wild. Therefore, let your voice soar, as Malala, Fairl, and Kiersten are doing to make our world kinder, more respectful, inclusive, peaceful, and sustainable. Join Zonta to increase your impact!

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Views expressed in this blog post are mine and may not reflect the stance of the Zonta Club of Pinellas County or Zonta International. — Doris Reeves-Lipscomb