Archive for the Domestic Violence Crisis Services Category

How Can I Help? A Guide for Families, Friends and Others

How Can I Help? A Guide for Families, Friends and Others

Abusive relationships have devastating effects on everyone. Anyone in an intimate relationship can be abused. It can be difficult to discuss the abuse and to seek help. You can help if you think someone you care about is being abused.

Remember two important things when helping someone who is being abused:

  1. Change takes time.
  2. There is no single “right way” to help. The important thing is that you be there to support them in their decisions.

For people who have not been in an abusive relationship, it may be difficult to understand why a victim remains in a relationship and even “ covers up” for his/her partner. Both of these behaviors can be a direct result of living with a controlling partner. That person’s apparent indecisiveness and loyalty are essential tactics that she/he uses to survive. This does not mean that your loved one does not need and value your help. In fact, just the opposite is most likely true.

The hardest part of talking to a person who you believe is being abused is getting started. Be sure you have enough time and privacy for the discussion. The first conversation may not be easy but, to be of help, you must begin. Here are some suggestions to get started:

  • You seem unhappy.  Do you want to talk about it?
  • What is it like at home for you?
  • What happens when you and your partner disagree or argue?
  • Are you scared of him/her? Does she/he threaten you?
  • How does your partner handle things when she/he doesn’t get her/his way? What does he/ she do?

Support her/him for talking to you; she/he has taken a risk. Let him/her know that you appreciate what they have done and consider their feelings reasonable and normal. Let the other person lead the conversation. She/he needs you to be a good listener. Many people who are abused feel as though they don’t have options and are not able to get out of the abusive relationship. Talking with a loved one or a domestic violence advocate will help them to believe that options may exist. You can learn about domestic violence so you understand as much as possible about what they are experiencing.

Abuse Can Escalate – Get Help Today

Abuse Can Escalate – Get Help Today

Every year in October, thousands rally together and promote “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” It is critical that we discuss and understand the consequences of domestic violence.

According to the North Carolina Council for Women, for the past five years, more than 1000 calls have been placed to police dispatchers in Orange County related to domestic violence incidents, while less than 500 individuals sought out services.

In July 2012, Michelle McClinton of Chapel Hill filed a domestic violence protective order against her boyfriend. In October, she filed a motion to set aside the court order, despite her boyfriend’s violent criminal history. Friends and family of McClinton were aware of the couple’s abusive relationship. Last week, McClinton stabbed her boyfriend to death and is being charged with first-degree murder.

McClinton’s story is just one of many in our county that proves abuse can escalate to the point where retaliation, or sometimes defense, occurs and the victim is then engaged in a crime. In 2012, there were 122 total domestic violence related homicides, seven of which involved a party that had received protective orders from a court.

It is important to discuss domestic violence in the public sphere and seek out resources to help others. Compass Center for Women and Families offers domestic violence crisis services, including support groups and a 24-hour crisis hotline: 919-929-7122. If you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse, we are here to listen and lend support.

Upcoming Compass Center Support Groups

Upcoming Compass Center Support Groups

Compass Center offers support group services for adults and children. These are an opportunity for individuals with shared experiences to come together, offer support to one another and work on their own healing process. Below are upcoming groups that we will be offering.

Self-Esteem Group: This 8-week group is open to women who want to work on building their self-esteem and encourage others in their own journey of personal growth. The focus of the group will be to provide support, encouragement, and information in a safe, nurturing, and confidential environment. Topics discussed in the group include self-compassion, self-care, and building connections with others. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. Screenings for this group are ongoing. Contact Connie at 919-929-3872 or groups@compassctr.org for more information.

Domestic Violence Support Group: This 8 week group is open to women who have experienced or are currently experiencing abuse in an intimate partner relationship including emotional, verbal, economic, sexual, or physical abuse. Topics discussed include dynamics of domestic violence, the relationship between thoughts and feelings, boundaries, managing emotions, self-esteem, and self-care. The group is free. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. Child care can be offered as needed. The next group will being the week of August 19th, weekday evening. Contact Connie at 919-929-3872 or groups@compassctr.org for more information.

Divorce and Separation Support Group: This 8 week group is open to women who have experienced or are contemplating separation and/or divorce. The group will address common issues that women face during this process such as grief, loss, anger, self-esteem, anxiety, depression, legal and financial concerns, parenting/co-parenting issues, and managing change. The focus of the group will be to provide support, encouragement, and information in a safe, nurturing, and confidential environment. A screening interview is required to determine if the group is a good fit at the present time. There is a $40 fee associated with this group, but can be waived as needed. Child care is offered upon request. Screenings for this group are ongoing. Contact Connie at 919-929-3872 or groups@compassctr.org for more information.

Art of Healing Workshop for Survivors of Domestic Violence:  This Group is offered on the first Saturday of every month. Survivors of intimate partner abuse are invited to participate in these afternoons of art-making, processing, and community. Participants will be gently led through easy art and writing activities with a focus on expression, hope, healing, and strengths. No previous art-making or writing experience is required.  Childcare can be offered upon request. Registration is required for each session. Contact Connie at 919-929-3872 or groups@compassctr.org to reserve your spot in the group.

Nearly $5,000 Raised for Martha’s Day 2013

Nearly $5,000 Raised for Martha’s Day 2013

Laura and Martha

UPDATE: As of August 5, 2013, we reached $5,000 raised for Martha’s Day!

The following is a guest post from Laura Morrison, the inspired leader of Martha’s Day…In early June, I got an itch to celebrate my mother’s upcoming 60th birthday. Originally, I thought I’d write a simple letter to friends, family and colleagues, encouraging them to donate to Compass Center to honor my mother’s birthday and her life. However, when I shared my plan with Vimala Rajendran (owner of Vimala’s Curryblossom Café), something beautiful happened. We dreamt up Martha’s Day.

During our initial, hour-long conversation, Vimala and I whipped up a rough event plan, and she even nailed down a band to perform at the event. Within days, Compass Center staff jumped on board, support from the business community poured in, and Martha’s Day was up and running.

The effortlessness of planning Martha’s Day was an early indicator of the generosity of our community, and the actual event was a testament to the ability we have to come together and make a powerful difference in our community.

In only a month, we united behind Compass Center and raised nearly $5,000 to bolster the services the Center provides women, men and children facing domestic violence. And we did it all in the name of my mother, Martha.

Martha’s Day was transformational. When we suffer tragedy, it’s easy to get lost in grief. Martha’s Day was my chance to climb out of my grief and publicly celebrate my mother – her strengths, and her weaknesses. I was honored to share her story in the hopes of helping others survive what she did not – domestic violence. Martha’s Day helped me turn my mother’s tragedy into beauty.

The event reminded me how beautiful the power of community is. Martha’s Day would not have happened had Vimala not been excited about hosting an event, had A Better Image not sponsored our invitations, had DSI Comedy not sponsored our raffle, had the MahaloJazz 3 not graciously performed for us, and had Compass Center staff and volunteers – as well as my friends and family – not dedicated their time to volunteer at the event. It was only after those pieces fell into place that we were able to come together and raise significant funds for Compass Center.

I was blown away by the number of people who stopped by Martha’s Day to show their support and donate to Compass Center (and even more blown away that some of my mother’s childhood friends attended!). And I was definitely encouraged to overhear conversations throughout the dinner about ending domestic violence.

Martha’s Day was certainly about raising money for Compass Center and supporting an organization that is doing amazing work in our community. But my greater aim in organizing Martha’s Day was to pull our entire community into an open and honest dialogue about domestic violence. In that regard, I can say without hesitation Martha’s Day was a success.

At the event, I challenged attendees to ask themselves a few questions:

  • What role can we play in ending domestic violence?
  • How can we support and empower victims?
  • How can we love and rehabilitate abusers?
  • What can we do to educate our kids about this type of  violence
  • How can we lend a hand in breaking cycles of abuse?

I don’t have the answers to those questions. They are big, heavy questions. Domestic violence is a problem, and when you’ve been personally touched by it, the problem feels huge and unbeatable and overwhelming. But as I looked around at the many folks who attended Martha’s Day, I saw my friends, coworkers, family and strangers, and I was reminded that no matter how big a problem is, if we work together, we can defeat it.

Martha’s Day was a step in the right direction. Now it’s up to us to continue our community conversation on domestic violence and plow forward toward ending that violence.

For photos from the event, click here.

Martha’s Day – A Call to Action and Celebration

Martha’s Day – A Call to Action and Celebration

Laura and Martha

This July, Compass Center for Women and Families celebrates its first birthday, which makes now the perfect time to talk about the great work Compass Center is doing in our community. It’s also the perfect time to talk about why we need Compass Center in the first place: because domestic violence happens in our community every day.

I am acutely aware of domestic violence’s effect on our community. After all, domestic violence has drastically altered the course of my life. I have been blessed enough never to have suffered emotional, physical or verbal violence at the hands of a man I’ve loved, but my mother – Martha – wasn’t as lucky. She married a man who promised to honor and cherish her, but instead he threatened her, he beat her and, ultimately, he took her life. She was only 42 years old. I was nine.

I can’t pretend to know all the intimate details surrounding my mother’s relationship with my stepfather or her death. I was too young then to understand what was happening in my family, and I was certainly too young to grasp the concept of domestic violence. But 17 years have passed since her death, and in those 17 years, I’ve been able to explore what domestic violence is and why it happens.

Today, I’m inviting you to join me in that exploration and to start a community conversation about domestic violence at Martha’s Day, a celebration of my mother’s 59th birthday and a fundraiser for Compass Center for Women and Families, 6-9 p.m., Monday, July 8 at Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café (431 W. Franklin Street, Ste. 16, Chapel Hill).

When you join in Martha’s Day, you’ll enjoy live music by the Mahalo Jazz 3 and delicious food from Vimala’s kitchen, and you’ll be encouraged to make in-person donations to Compass Center, an amazing organization that helps individuals and families prevent and end domestic violence and become self-sufficient. Compass Center provides domestic violence crisis services, career and financial education, assistance with legal resources, and adolescent empowerment programs. Your donations at Martha’s Day will make a huge difference in the lives of people in our community touched by domestic violence:

– $25 covers the cost of one session of coping skills education for a child who has lived with domestic violence
– $50 offsets the cost of helping a client get a domestic violence protective order
– $100 provides one night of emergency shelter and food for a victim of domestic violence
– $250 helps to cover the cost of training one volunteer in Compass Center’s 45-hour training program

At Martha’s Day, you’ll also have the chance to purchase $5 raffle tickets for an iPad Mini, courtesy of DSI Comedy. Your raffle tickets also double as a free ticket to a summer show at DSI.

So, why is Martha’s Day important? Why is it important to come together as a community to address domestic violence? At the most basic level, awareness-raising for domestic violence is important because domestic violence is a serious problem. According to the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there have been 19 domestic violence-related homicides in North Carolina since January 2013. There were 63 homicides in our state in 2012. Why, when people are losing their lives, are we not engaging in more community dialogue on domestic violence?

On another level, awareness-raising is important because domestic violence is not just a “woman’s” problem or a “family” problem. It is a societal problem. Domestic violence doesn’t hurt its victims in a vacuum. Those victims are our friends; they are our family. They are our teachers, our co-workers, our employers. Domestic violence – and violence in general – has such a ripple effect; it touches so many people in so many different ways, and because we tend to avoid talking about it, we’re often unaware of how our community is shaped by violence. And that’s why these awareness-raising events and efforts are vital: it’s up to us as a community to start having difficult conversations and to start fixing a problem that ultimately touches all of us.

Finally, we need to raise awareness about domestic violence because there are still so many misconceptions about domestic and intimate partner violence. We have certainly come a long way in how we’ve approached and dealt with domestic violence, but we haven’t come far enough. The most obnoxious and infuriating thing I face when talking to others about domestic violence is “victim blaming.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a variation of, “Well, she should have left him.” People who utter those words usually have no idea what they are saying, but to those folks, I offer a reality check. Often for abused women, leaving the abuser is far, far more dangerous than staying with the abuser.

My mother’s experience is the perfect example. She left my stepfather. She ended the violent relationship. She even involved the authorities. She filed for a restraining order, but the issuing judge denied her that restraining order. Why? Because, he said, “she started it.”

And so, even though my mother took every appropriate step to keep herself safe, she lived out the final months of her life in fear. From what I’ve gathered, she told others that she was scared that my stepfather would kill her.

And she was right, but she couldn’t have done anything more than what she did to protect herself. On November 1, 1995, my stepfather waited until my mother went out to run errands, and he broke into her house. He cut her phone lines, and he waited for her in the kitchen. When she got home, he shot her twice – once in the neck, once in the spine. She did not die immediately. She lay on her kitchen floor, conscious. Not only did she live her final months in fear, but I’m sure her final moments were agonizing. And that thought alone is sickening.

I write all of this to explain that preventing domestic violence-related murders is about so much more than shrugging it off with a “she should have left” mentality. Not only does that mentality put the responsibility of ending the violence on the abused, but it also assumes that our current system for dealing with domestic violence works. And that assumption is just plain wrong.

When I think about my mom’s death, I feel hopeless. I feel like we’ll never make real strides toward ending domestic violence because the system is so messed up on so many levels. But I don’t want to end on that note because I know it’s not true. I know we can make a difference. I know the road to change will be long, hard and heartbreaking, but I do have hope that a change is going to come. And you can be a part of that change.

First, I’d encourage you to educate yourself about domestic violence. Compass Center has many resources on its website to help you understand and become a better advocate against domestic violence, including suggestions for ways to support friends and family, (click here), who may be experiencing abuse. Become an advocate. Write letters to the editor and to congress in support of making strong domestic violence legislation a priority in our community. Create a safe space for loved ones to come to you if they are suffering from domestic or intimate partner violence. Volunteer with organizations that are already doing good work in our community.

Second, if you are in a place to donate money, donate! Join us at Martha’s Day to make in-person donations to Compass Center, or, if you can’t make the event, visit www.compassctr.org, and donate online. Please write “Martha’s Day” in the “In Honor” section of the online donation form.

Outsider Finds Community with Teens Climb High

Reem Lily toolsLily was recommended to Teens Climb High as a sixth grader. She was dealing with a history of abuse and neglect, and had witnessed domestic violence in her own home.  She had been recently adopted by her foster mother, and was struggling academically. Lily grew to love the weekly group sessions at Teens Climb High. She grew especially close with another TCH participant, someone who also seemed to not fit in with a lot of other sixth graders, and began to spend time together outside of TCH. Lily participated in TCH’s community service learning project at a senior center and loved it so much she did not want to leave when the work was complete. She asked if she could continue helping out there. On the last day of TCH for sixth grade, Lily talked about how much her self-esteem had improved because of this program and the support she gets from the leaders and the other students. Lily is planning to go on vacation this summer with her new friend’s family.

Starting a New Life – One Woman’s Journey

Starting a New Life – One Woman’s Journey

Lisa and her two children now live in Orange County in a safe and peaceful home. But it wasn’t always that way.

For years Lisa was married to a man who created a home environment in which Lisa and her children felt hurt, afraid, isolated, unsafe and manipulated. Lisa was constantly ridiculed and called names. She felt like she couldn’t do anything right. At times she would be trapped in rooms, pushed against walls or have objects thrown in her direction. In addition to concerns for her own safety, Lisa was very worried about how her husband’s abuse was affecting her children.

She couldn’t believe that she had stayed in the relationship so long and felt ashamed to talk about it. She was so focused on getting through each day safely without a substantial abusive incident that it was hard to imagine she could have a different life.

At the suggestion of a friend, Lisa agreed to call Compass Center’s hotline. The advocates who worked with Lisa helped her understand that she was not alone and that what she was experiencing was abusive. She talked a lot about what she had experienced and how it was affecting her while the advocates provided emotional support. Lisa also benefited from talking about the advantages and disadvantages of telling friends and family about what she was experiencing.

The advocates were able to help her understand her options for getting a protective order or filing criminal charges if she ever chose to do that. She planned for her safety and that of her children to minimize harm when incidents occurred. Lisa also joined one of Compass Center’s support groups for women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence. She really appreciated being able to talk to other women going through what she was and seeing how they were dealing with their own relationships.

Over time Lisa made a decision to slowly take steps to separate from her husband. Compass Center provided her with attorney referrals and continued to help her plan for her safety. The network of support Lisa received from Compass Center for Women and Families, friends, family and other local services helped her to complete the separation, gain freedom and successfully adjust to the life she and her children have now.

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