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Tag Archive | "YWCA"

Domestic Violence: Equal Opportunity Destroyer


N-Domestic-violence

By Mary Kuhlman, Michigan News Connection

It’s often a hidden problem, but domestic violence occurs in Michigan homes more often than some may realize.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October is being used to highlight misconceptions about domestic violence. As a social worker with the National Association of Social Workers in Michigan, Erica Schmittdiel has seen the face of domestic violence and she says it never looks the same twice.

According to Schmittdiel, domsetic violence happens regardless of gender, age, race or economic and educational background.

“Domestic violence is an equal opportunity destroyer, and there are no boundaries,” she says. “Whether you have a PhD or a GED, you can be the victim or you can be a perpetrator.”
Schmittdiel says a common misconception is that a victim can simply walk away from an abuser, but a victim often feels a need to stay for children, out of a fear of retaliation or does not have adequate resources to get away. An estimated one-in-four women, and one-in-seven men, will be a victim of partner violence in their lifetime.
Domestic violence isn’t always physical. Schmittdiel says there are other tactics a person can use to control another person, including emotional abuse, sexual violence and economic abuse.
“Maybe they’re telling the other partner they can’t work or they’re taking the partner’s paycheck if that person does work,” she says. “We see a lot of using children. ‘If you leave me I’ll file for custody, I’ll get the kids or I’ll call Children’s Protective Services on you.’”

Another myth, says Schmittdiel, is that alcohol or drugs can cause abusive behaviors. But she contends abuse is a choice and it is not out of the control of the perpetrator.

“They need the support that our shelter and other shelters in Michigan provide,” she says. “Unfortunately, our shelter has been very full, as well as other shelters across the state. That is really unfortunate for people that are ready to leave.”
Schmittdiel works at MSU Safe Place in East Lansing, which provides emergency shelter, counseling and safety planning for survivors of violence. She says having a place to stay is one of the biggest needs of victims, but there is not enough space in the county’s two domestic violence shelters.

Here in Kent County, if you need immediate assistance, call 911.

If you need an emergency shelter and supportive services, contact the YWCA at 616-451-2744 or Safe Haven Ministries at 616-452-6664. You can also visit www.stopkentviolence.org, or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

Data from the Michigan State Police shows over 93,000 domestic violence offenses were reported in 2013.

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Documentary looks at rape on college campuses


 

Youth Council to Promote Prevention, Awareness 

N-Sex-assault-month-Hunting-Ground-Documentary-2015The statistics are startling: someone is sexually assaulted every two minutes in the United States. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and this year, the national campaign focuses on awareness and prevention of campus sexual violence. Here in Kent County, a new youth advisory council has been formed for the prevention of relationship and sexual violence. Young Leaders Against Violence (YLAV) is a diverse group of youth, ages 14-22, coordinated through a partnership between the Kent County Health Department, YWCA of West Central Michigan, Safe Haven Ministries and Family Futures. YLAV has several SAAM events planned in April for their schools and the community.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five women, and one in 71 men, will be raped/sexually assaulted in their lifetimes. “Reaching out to teens and young adults is crucial,” said Adam London, Administrative Health Officer of the Kent County Health Department. “YLAV is a great way to advocate and educate. Teens may be more open to talking to peers about sexual violence, rather than talking to adults. Reaching out to students while they are in high school and college could have a dramatic impact on education and awareness of this serious public health issue.”

The YWCA of West Central Michigan Sexual Assault Program in Grand Rapids reports that in 2014, 75 percent of sexual assault victims reported their assailant as someone they know. This rate is even higher for women and men who report being assaulted or raped while in college. The YLAV, in partnership with the coordinating agencies, plans a screening and discussion panel regarding the documentary “The Hunting Ground,” a movie that takes a closer look at rape on college campuses across the country. The screening will be held April 16, 2015 at 6:30 p.m. at Celebration Cinema North (East Beltline and Knapp NE, Grand Rapids). Admission is free.

“The vast majority of the cases of college aged victims who receive a medical forensic examination at the YWCA Nurse Examiner Program involve the use of alcohol by the victim, the offender, or both,” said Patti Haist, Director Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Program at the YWCA of West Central Michigan. “A rapist sees intoxication as an opportunity for sexual assault or deliberately supplies alcohol to potential victims to make them vulnerable. The rapist knows that a victim who has used alcohol is less likely to report, less likely to fight back and less likely to call out for help. As a society we need to understand that sexual assault is not the fault of the victim, it is the deliberate targeting of vulnerable people by the rapist that warrants our attention.”

For info on YWCA Sexual Assault services visit www.ywcawcmi.org/sa-services.php.

To see a trailer for the film, search for “The Hunting Ground” on You Tube.

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