Senate passes Violence Against Women Act on bi-partisan reauthorization vote

BettyJean Downing Kling

The U.S. Senate today passed legislation to reauthorize assistance to victims of domestic violence, cast by Democrats as a test of Republicans’ attitudes toward women.

The measure, passed 68-31, would renew the 1994 Violence Against Women Act and authorize $660 million in funding through 2016 for domestic violence shelters and police training.

The amount authorized under the bill is less than the $682.5 million in the previous law, which expired Sept. 30. First enacted as part of a broader violent-crime control bill, the Violence Against Women Act was reauthorized in 2000 and 2005.

House Republicans yesterday said they may vote as soon as the week of May 14 on their version of a measure to reauthorize the law. The 1994 Violence Against Women Act and reauthorizations of the law in the past easily passed both chambers of Congress.

Republican Amendments

At Republicans’ urging, Democrats who control the Senate allowed a vote on a proposal to give the Justice Department funding to address an estimated 400,000 backlog of untested rape kits but amendment failed to gain the 60 votes needed for adoption.

Incidents of domestic violence have dropped by more than 50 percent since the law was enacted in 1994 and yet, one in three women in the U.S. will experience rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner at some time in their lives, according to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

12 Million Victims

The survey found that more than 12 million individuals experienced domestic violence in the one-year period, with women disproportionately affected by domestic violence, men also are victims.

What’s Next?

The time is Now ! I bet we can get just about anything we ask for – but we better ask Now! Call and ask for ERA!

ERA is the signature guarantee by the U.S. government to establish the principle that, “All men and women are created equal and therefore are entitled to their inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard toll-free at 1-877-762-8762. Ask to speak with your member’s office.  Leave a voice mail or message for the person in charge of Judiciary issues (Equal Rights Amendment). Your message is: “Hello, my name is _________ and I am calling from ________(town/city, state). I urge my Representative to cosponsor House Joint Resolution 47 for the ERA because the path to equality and justice for females in America must not have a deadline.”

Call the Capitol Hill Switchboard toll-free at 1-877-762-8762. Ask to leave a voice mail or message for the person in charge of Judiciary issues (Equal Rights Amendment). Your message is: “Hello, my name is _________ and I am calling from ________(town/city, state). I urge my senator to cosponsor Senate Joint Resolution 39 because the path to equality and justice for females in America must not have a deadline.”

 

Ending the “war on women” debate

BettyJean Downing Kling

I have been calling for women to end this ‘war on women’ by refusing to play or rather be played but the beat goes on. As usual the Republicans simply deny they have been less than favorable to so-called women’s issues and the Democrats pump women up embellishing every little thing they can exploit. The following article written by a Democrat is clearly trying to point out facts without creating an escalation to the war and so I applaud the author with one exception. He clearly wants the reader to believe that the current administration has been moving towards supporting the ratification of ERA, that is simply is not the case. If you read the statement carefully it refers to the amendment appears in one or the other’s party platform. We need it passed not just placed in the platform for window dressing. I have not heard one word about ERA out of this administrations mouth. Let’s make that real clear!

The amendment was never again mentioned in the GOP’s platform. By contrast, support for the amendment was reintroduced into the DNC’s official platform in 2008, led in part by then-candidate Barack Obama. http://www.concordy.com/article/opinions/april-26-2012/party-views-of-the-supposed-war-on-women/4565/

I have said and will continue to rant on and on that we need to step up right now and ask Republicans to end the debate by rectifying several issues that will take the wind out of the War on Women’s sails. I am tired of being used by either side and all I ask is that they both give us the equality we deserve by putting the ERA on the table never mind in the party platform where it sits and goes not further.

Now is the time- both parties are vying for the majority vote- don’t waste it – get out and demand they put some bite into their promises and give us our due! We are and can be the greatest lobby for women’s rights and now is the time. Demand ERA from both parties and do it now!

Party views of the supposed ‘war on women’

By Jonathan Parent in Opinions |

We hear it on an almost daily basis from political commentators these days. The idea that Republicans are waging a “war on women” coming from the left, and counter-accusations that Democrats have simply invented the idea out of whole cloth for political gain. The roots of this particular issue frame can be found in the controversy over the Obama administration’s order that religiously affiliated organizations such as Catholic hospitals must provide insurance coverage for contraception in their health plans.

Many conservatives object to this mandate, arguing that it amounts to an infringement of religious liberties by forcing organizations that oppose contraception on theological grounds to violate their consciences.

Speaking objectively, either way of framing the issue, as one of religious liberty or women’s healthcare, could have become the dominant narrative, but for reasons I will explain below, the Democrats’ preferred slogan that the GOP was threatening the rights of women seems to have won out. A simple look at the latest polls, where Mitt Romney trails Barack Obama by nearly 20 points among women would seem to confirm this.

This deficit among women that the all-but-assured GOP presidential nominee faces is potentially a big problem. As Nick D’Angelo ’14 correctly pointed out in last week’s opinion page, voters in crucial states such as Florida, Ohio, and Virginia will likely decide November’s contest as well, and the key to winning these states may well come down to which candidate can win over suburban, middle-class, and largely white women.

But why have the Democrats been so successful, at least for now, in putting forward the “war on women” argument? Indeed, D’Angelo was also correct in pointing out that Democrats haven’t always been terribly judicious in recent months in choosing their words when discussing women generally, and stay-at-home mothers specifically. As a Democrat myself, however, I’m not terribly concerned about my party losing its edge among women because I believe, to paraphrase an old adage, policies speak louder than words.

A look at the last 40 years, as well as laws currently being debated and passed, might help illustrate what I mean. In 1972, Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which would have enshrined legal protection for women against discrimination in the Constitution, though it failed to be ratified by the requisite 38 states. Support for the ERA during the 1970s could be found among both Republicans and Democrats, with even Richard Nixon endorsing the amendment. As time passed, however, the GOP became increasingly hostile to the ERA, led largely by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly. While the party’s platform in 1972 fully endorsed the amendment, this position was revised at the 1980 Republican National Convention to one of neither support nor opposition to the ERA. The amendment was never again mentioned in the GOP’s platform. By contrast, support for the amendment was reintroduced into the DNC’s official platform in 2008, led in part by then-candidate Barack Obama.

Shifting to the present, a series of laws at the state and federal level have been proposed and passed by Republicans which directly and negatively impact the lives of real women. Just a few examples include Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signing into law a measure repealing an earlier provision which made it easier for women to sue their employers over wage discrimination, all eight GOP Senators on the Judiciary Committee voting against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, and Virginia’s state Republicans recent passage of a bill requiring an invasive and unnecessary trans-vaginal ultrasound before a woman can proceed with an abortion. Perhaps the most striking of recent votes dealing with women’s issues, however, was the passage in 2009 of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which amended the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to facilitate litigation against employers discriminating against female employees. In the House of Representatives, only three Republicans voted in favor of the bill, while only five moderate GOP Senators supported the legislation.

I am not suggesting that all Republicans are sexist and all Democrats are progressive defenders of women’s rights. Indeed, it was recently revealed that women working in Obama’s White House were themselves paid less than their male counterparts, albeit by a smaller margin than in the country at large, an embarrassing oversight which I hope the President will soon rectify. However, taking a wide view of the political landscape, at both the federal and state levels, reveals that Republicans do in fact seem more inclined than Democrats to support laws which women perceive as detrimental to their interests. American women are smart, and when they see the GOP working against laws which seek to address the pay inequality that exists between them and their male co-workers, facilitate their access to birth control, and supporting humiliating medical procedures forced on them by politicians, accusations of conservatives waging a “war on women” are likely to resonate. If Republicans want to be electorally viable in the future, they must reign in the those within their party who advance policies which appear more in step with the 1950s than 2012.

An open Letter to Mitt Romney: Remember the Ladies

BettyJean Downing- Kling

Ladies and Gentleman- I would urge you to send a comment to Mitt Romney regarding his position on women. Here is a copy of mine. I also sent one to President Obama a few weeks ago noting that he has had almost 4 years to bring the topic up and has not.

As an Independent tired of all this talk about the “War on Women” it would be a breath of fresh air to hear that the next POTUS will finally support the ERA.

There are 2 bills sitting in the House and Senate year after year unable to pass! We need a Presidential Candidate to tell the women of America who cast a majority of all the votes, exactly what the next administration will be doing FOR the equal rights of America’s women.

See and support:
H.J.Res. 47: Removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment.

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hjres47

and

S.J.Res. 39: A joint resolution removing the deadline for the ratification of the equal rights amendment. https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/sjres39

It’s time to give the ladies some red meat instead of lip service.

In 1776, Abigail Adams writes to her husband, John Adams, urging him and the other members of the Continental Congress not to forget about the nation’s women… She wrote in part, “… I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors…. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation.”

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

BettyJean Downing – Founder: The Majority United

ERA: Only Women can end the “War on Women!”

BettyJean Downing- Kling

ERA is a Bi-Partisan Issue! NOW is the TIME! Women must unite and take advantage of this great opportunity to force both parties to end the “War on Women.” American women need to call BOTH the Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate and tell them to pass these bills! WE need to tell them the war is over and we are united for the benefit of all women. Do we want the ERA or do we want a Democrat only sponsored bill? The Left has been lobbying the left but the women in the center and leaning right deserve ERA too. This is not a liberal bill this is a civil and human rights bill and a bi-partisan issue that affects all women equally whether they work in or out of the home. The time has come to end the bickering that has lead to the infighting that keeps us divided against ourselves. I agree the Republicans have passed bills against women’s rights but what have the Dems done for us lately? Has ERA been on the table, do they pay the women as much at the White house as they pay the men? Do they really value us as much as they say they do or just enough to get by and is that really what we will settle for? Let’s garner the strength of as many women as we can by ending the war against each other, the greater war against women is our own! Together we have the power to have so much more than what we are settling for! The time is now – right now– to demand both parties put their names on these two bills. Only when women unite and show strength – only when we show power will they listen to us and that can only happen when we end our own war on women!  Let them hear from all of us that we all are tired of this war!

Call your Representatives and call your Senators! 

On March 22, 2012, nine Senate Democrats proposed that states be given another chance to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. This is the 40th Anniversary of the Senate’s passage of the ERA and the first time the Senate has ever considered an ERA bill other than the “Start-over.”

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD.) and eight other Democrats proposed a joint resolution that would remove the 1972 deadline for getting 38 states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). By 1982, the ERA had been ratified by 35 states, three short of the 38 needed to become an amendment. Cardin said, that Congress “should give the states another chance,” and said passage of a joint resolution by both the House and Senate extended the deadline once before, in the late 1970s.

Cardin noted that last year, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia said that “certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

Cardin also stated that the 27th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits congressional pay raises from taking effect immediately, was ratified in 1992 – 203 years after first being proposed in 1789 by James Madison.

In 1992, following passage of the 27th Amendment, the ERA Summit, a national coalition working to jump-start a new ratification effort, sought a legal analysis as to whether the ERA’s time limit could be removed. The conclusion of this study: “Why the Equal Rights Amendment Remains Viable and Legally Before the States” pointed out that there was: No time limit in the Constitution, the time limit has already been changed once from 1979 to 1982 and, the ERA’s time limit is in the proposing clause not the Amendment.

Therefore, it was entirely up to Congress whether or not to remove the deadline

Following this analysis, in 1993, ERA activists were successful in getting a Resolution in the US House that would authorize Congress to recognize and accept the ratification by three more states. This bill, known as the “Three-state Strategy” was introduced into every Congress through 2008. During this time, efforts were made by ERA supporters to obtain a companion bill in the US Senate but they were never successful.

In 2009, Carolyn Cook, DC Coordinator for ERA Campaign Network, authored a bill that would remove ERA’s ratification deadline in support of the Three-State Strategy. Jean Landweber, WI Coordinator for ERA Campaign Network, convinced Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to sponsor the House bill HJ Res 47. It was introduced on the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. March 8, 2011.

Since then, Carolyn Cook worked tirelessly to get a companion bill introduced in the Senate.

SJ Res. 39 was introduced by Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) on March 22, 2012 to mark the 40th Anniversary of when both Houses of Congress first approved ERA and sent it out to the states. SJ 39 Res. is the companion bill to HJR 47.

SJR 39 Co-sponsors

Co-sponsors of Cardin’s resolution to eliminate the ERA deadline are: Senators. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NJ), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Frank Lautenberg (DJ), Robert Menendez (D-NJ.) and, Barbara Mikulski (MD).

 
 

Your help is needed call Democrats and Republicans NOW,

tell Republicans you will not stand for a Democrat only women’s bill

 
 

In order to have a hearing, more co-sponsors are needed.

Please call your Senator Toll free (1-877-762-8762). Ask him or her to become a co-sponsor of SJ Res. 39 & call your Republican Congress to join the Democrats who became a co-sponsor of HJ Res. 47.

 
 

Points you can make when calling…

1. Thirty-five states have already ratified  Thus, asking them to “Start-over” takes us all back 40 years as if the ERA had never happened 

 2. The fact that Senator  Durbin, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary where an ERA hearing will be held, signed-on from the beginning should be sufficient justification for your Senator to become a co-sponsor.
3. With the War on Women going on, it is unacceptable for our Senators not to help us get a hearing for this approach to ratifying the ERA.  
4. Women and girls deserve the ERA after more than 200 years of fighting.  
5. The ERA is a matter of simple justice long overdue.

Visit the United4Equality Website
 http://www.united4equality.com

Listen on TMU Radio Carolyn Cook, Founder / CEO of United 4 Equality

ccook@united4equality.com

An open letter to Debbie Wasserman-Schultz

Guest Post By: Barbara Bassett

Debbie, I admire and respect the work you do on behalf of women.

As a woman who works to unite women regardless of political party, I find this “war on women” that the Democratic Party claims the Republican Party is waging does not benefit women. Honestly it is harmful to women because it is divisive. We both know that the intent of the Democrats in proclaiming a “war on women” by Republicans is political grandstanding.

I am deeply offended that the women leaders of the Democratic Party have taken up the “war on women” mantra in an effort to further their own party’s political agenda at the expense of the very people they are professing to protect, Women

Politicians long ago understood that the women’s vote is vital to their election. Unfortunately, women at 52% of the population do not yet understand the importance of their vote as they continue to unwittingly appear to willingly divide their vote behind what I call the Great Uterine Wall (GUW) that is reinforced every election. The GUW was built by both political parties who profess to have the best interests of the women’s uterus on their agendas, women are told to divide according to the beliefs of their Uterus.

The left will protect the beliefs of their Uterus and the right will take away the beliefs of their Uterus.

The wall goes up and women divide according to the beliefs of their Uterus. The all powerful Uterus. It is debated on the floor of Congress, in the media, in the Supreme Court. Organizations have been formed for it, and to protests against it. A political candidate’s career can be made or broken with the answer to the question “what will you do with the Uterus”? So confusing is the question of what to do with the uterus that even the owners of the uterus are confused about what to do with the Uterus.

The 2012 election wants women to believe there is a war against the owners of the Uterus. Yes, “War.” The Democratic Party wants women to believe the Republican Party has declared War on the Uterus. All talks to settle the Uterus issue peacefully have apparently failed so we at war or are going to war.

Can we please stop with the political grandstanding? Can we please just agree that my conscious and my Uterus belong to me and yours belongs to you? Can we agree that men do not have a UTERUS and should have little say over what is done to it, for it, with it or about it? Can we – the rightful owners of our UTERUS’ now ALL unite and move on to issues that do indeed affect ALL American citizens who need to make intelligent decisions regarding the next election regardless of political party. Can we look at more important issues that women share that we need to be united on?

  • While you were reading this, thousands of Uterus owners were abused and raped?
    Many were battered and bruised in their own homes.
    Many were murdered, mutilated, kidnapped, sold, and prostituted into slavery.
    Millions denied an education, human rights and this very minute millions of uterus owners are deciding which child to feed.

WOMAN is waiting for the time when women demand a stop to using her uterus to further a political agenda when in truth their political agenda has not a thing to do with women’s rights because the minute every election is over the GUW comes down and women are left standing there saying WTH?

All that mud-slinging and dividing and yet we still do not have an ERA or a Fair Pay Act. Violence against women is escalating to epidemic proportions. All ignored in favor of the once again battle, make that war on the Uterus. It appears the 2012 election will focus on the wag the dog “war on women” I have received hundreds of emails from the DNC requesting money to fight the Uterine war.

Before women give you their hard earned money will you tell us what is it the DNC has actually done to earn the support of women? Was the ERA brought up by the DNC once in this administration? Was it brought up once during Pelosi’s 4 year reign?

In 2008 the DNC was responsible for the most misogynist campaign in history. Not one email was sent about the Obama campaign “war on women” all that Bitch/slut/Cunt talk was degrading to not only Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin but to ALL women. Mayer, Schultz, Olberman, Mathews etc were “amusing” to you. Yet, Rush Limbaugh Generated hundreds of emails, even warranted a call from the head of the DNC. Barack strutting across the IOWA stage to the tune of ” 99 problems and a Bitch ain’t one” , Obama is sorry a woman was called a slut, but not sorry enough to return a million dollar donation from Mr. misogynist himself, Bill Maher.

I guess I missed the email from the women of the DNC demanding the dirty money be donated to a woman’s shelter, you know that forgotten war on violence against women. With control of both houses in 2008 where was the campaign on women’s rights? Again, I must have missed the national coverage somehow. I could go on but hopefully you’ve gotten my point. HYPOCRICY!

I challenge the women of the DNC to stop being used to help the using of women as political pawns and ATMs and stand with all women regardless of party. The women of the Republican Party are more like you than not—they are not your enemies—they are being used by their leaders as you are by yours. It is time to UNITE. This is not what the parties want but it is what women need in order to succeed, we need to UNITE women rather than divide women. This is not about our Uterus – it is about the whole woman!

I sincerely believe the DNC has underestimated what part of their anatomy women will be voting with in 2012.

Debbie is fighting for a job and her political life- but it is up to American’s women us to fight for our own lives- shall we fight for Debbies Job and future or our own?

Tagged: Anita Finlay, Bettina Viviano, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Gigi Gaston, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Thomas, Paulie Abeles, Sarah Palin, Admit The Horse, Dirty Words on Clean Skin, We Will Not Be Silenced, What Republican war on Women?, Women against women.

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz: Are you ready to party- or are you ready to rumble- this is after-all a war on women?

BettyJean Downing- Kling

Ladies are you ready to fight this war against us? Some of our opponents are other women! Perhaps instead of fighting with them we should talk. 

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz is fighting for a job and her political life- but it is up to American’s women us to fight for our own lives- shall we fight for Debbie’s Job and future or our own?

Before you make up your mind- I urge you to read two books by amazing women who were there when the REAL “War against women” began! I was there and so were millions of women who were forced to sit down and shut up. But our time has come. Gigi Gaston along with Bettina Sofia Viviano, who started her own film production company in 1990 after serving as vice president of production for Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment made a documentary called “ We will not be silenced” http://wewillnotbesilenced2008.com/index.htm

Michelle Thomas who said she received death threats as she gathered the 300 signed and notarized petitions required by Democratic National Convention rules to prompt a count of votes for Hillary Clinton on the first ballot, has just released an astonishing statement that I personally witnessed : “Obama thugs history revealed in Michele Thomas Bettina Viviano interview, Obama stole 1996 Alice Palmer election and 2008 DNC primaries caucuses another documentary. http://citizenwells.wordpress.com/2012/04/09/obama-thugs-history-revealed-in-michele-thomas-bettina-viviano-interview-obama-stole-1996-alice-palmer-election-and-2008-dnc-primaries-caucuses/

Thousands of us are blogging and interviewing each other. Weeks ago I asked, What Republican war on Women? https://freemenow.wordpress.com/2012/03/15/what-republican-war-on-women/

 On Monday I interviewed Anita Finlay on her new book Dirty Words On Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter’s Rude Awakening, here it here:
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/freemenow/2012/04/10/the-majority-united

Women are beginning to author books on the War on Women admitting it exists but bringing the evidence to prove it is not a Republican war waged this election cycle, but the pattern of behavior launched against women every election year by both the Democrats and the Republicans in an effort to use women  for their votes.

The following two books,  Admit The Horse – PG Abeles and  Dirty Words On Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter’s Rude Awakening – Anita Finlay speak specifically to the all out assault waged by the Democrats during the primary elections back in 2008 when a woman had the audacity to actually try to run for the highest office in the land. I have written blogs about this woman hating phenomenon and now women are writing books, finally unafraid to speak out.
I reviewed both books thus:

This review is from: Admit The Horse (Paperback)

In 2008, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama waged an epic battle for the presidential nomination, but was it really a fair fight? The media told the mythical version of a dark horse coming from behind to win the race but Paulie Abeles opens our minds to an alternate narrative.
Perhaps those who wander down the yellow brick road may one day have the courage to pull the curtain back questioning who or what power was really behind the so-called magic of 2008 but those of us who worked the front lines know all to well it was plain old smoke and mirrors concealing the fraud and intimidation of the twenty-first century’s “War on Women”.
“Admit the Horse”, to those of us who lived it, is not a work of fiction at all- it is a factual account of the `war on women’ launched during the 2008 primary by the DNC, the left wing media and the pundits who rely on the political machines that run the land of the free and the home of the brave.

This review is from: Dirty Words On Clean Skin: Sexism and Sabotage, a Hillary Supporter’s Rude Awakening (Paperback)

 Up to now we’ve essentially heard from male authors writing from a male perspective. Dirty Words on Clean Skin, with courage and conviction, recounts the experiences that launched the REAL “War on Women.” Finally, after four years of silence, I am heartened that this woman author is coming forward to expose the truth as we actually endured it. This book is written by one who speaks for millions. Hat’s off to Anita Finlay and thank you for misbehaving! – Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Both are a must read.

Dirty Words on Clean Skin: Anita Finlay

BettyJean Downing- Kling

The Majority United Talk Radio Show was the first to interview Anita about her blockbuster book on April 9, 2012
Podcast= here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/freemenow/2012/04/10/the-majority-united

Up to now we’ve essentially heard from male authors writing from a male perspective while women have remained intimidated by comments like bitter old hags, *washed up *racist *hostile *hysterical *extreme *angry *crazed *sexist

This year, name calling be damned,  women will not be silenced and in this book Dirty Words on Clean Skin, Anita Finlay,  with courage and conviction has set out to  recount the experiences that launched the REAL ”War on Women”. Those who launched this misogynistic war in 2008 have tried to conceal it for 4 years and now attempt to foist the blame for it on the rival party in time for the 2012 election. But the anger of women who were dealt the first blows are still feeling the sting,  and that fury  has finally reached fever pitch and we will not be silenced or confused by what we encountered first hand on the front lines. 

Millions of us were ridiculed, degraded and humiliated, hundreds of thousands were tormented and threatened by what we saw and heard. To those of us who witnessed the unspeakable deceitfulness, corruption and intimidation that ultimately led to the abrogation of our American Democracy, and for those of us who suffered or were humiliated by blatant sexism and misogyny or were by victims of the race baiting of the 2008 presidential primary season our time has come!

Finally, after four years of unbearable silence and cover-up I am heartened that women authors are audaciously coming forward to expose the truth as we actually endured it. Upwards of 3 million women never gave in, never gave up and never gave out. This book is written by one who speaks for millions who, because we were not believed when we spoke up — were silenced — in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

 Hat’s off to Anita Findlay and thank you for misbehaving! - Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History~ Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

In an election year, we can be sure of two things:  First, the incumbent and his opponent are going to pander to groups where their poll numbers need shoring up.  Second, we can count on the mainstream media to function as the de facto PR firm for their favored son, further ginning up whatever problem said politician avers we need to solve, coincidentally ensuring his re-election.  In this case, that favored son is President Obama.

The current pandering is aimed squarely at the hearts and minds of women.  First, we had the contraceptive debate designed to whip us into a frenzy and now, suddenly, and as if it had not occurred to anyone else before him, the President deigns to tell us women we are not cookie cutter people and need to be dealt with as individuals.  Will this political pander work?  Of course it will.  If I’d learned anything in 2008, it is that women have an endless capacity to settle for crumbs rather than standing up to claim the cake.  That is the only way we could have witnessed the more qualified female candidate dragged through the mud, only to watch Ms. Magazine offer up a cover photo of Mr. Obama and declare, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.”

The real war on women is something entirely different than we are led to believe.  It cannot be contained in sound bites and certainly will not be explained in worthy fashion by someone who advantaged himself at every turn by the sexist rhetoric that was used to take down his worthy primary opponent.  In the name of changing the narrative and reclaiming the debate, my book Dirty Words On Clean Skin asks us all to examine the daily media and political brainwashing that deliberately shames, marginalizes and abuses women.  I am so pleased to launch my website to further this cause…please help it to go viral!

Also on the website is a video that shares more information about the book — and why it advantages all of us to get involved:

Please visit my site at www.AnitaFinlay.com.

DIRTY WORDS ON CLEAN SKIN is now available for purchase on Amazon, and is now also available on KINDLE.

Thank you very much for your support of my work

The Majority United Talk Radio Show was the first to interview Anita about her blockbuster book on April 9, 2012

Podcast= here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/freemenow/2012/04/10/the-majority-united

 

Denise Rotheimer: Nominated for Renegade Moms

BettyJean Downing-Kling

Denise is a TMU W.O.M.E.N. Coalition member and is eligible for the Renegade Mom Competition. She was a guest on TMU W.O.M.E.N. ‘s Radio earlier this year and told her story and the difference she is making!  You can use a copy of her story below and take a few minutes of your time and help us make sure she is highly visible. Denise is a renegade mom if ever there was one!

Thanks in advance, below is a sample of a 150 Character max. Nomination entry statment

Following the rape of her then 11-year-old daughter, Jasmine, she proposed legislation in 2003 to prevent other victims from becoming further victimized by the system. she has spent nearly ten years working to amend victims’ rights laws and make victims’ rights enforceable. In 2011 a law that she authored and named after Jasmine became effective in Illinois and doubles sentencing for child sex offenders where alcohol is involved. Jasmine’s Law makes alcohol an aggravating factor. Denise has assisted numerous victims whose children have been victims of sexual violence by providing them with support and information they need to ensure justice. Currently, she is working with the County Board to implement a Human Rights Commission and complaint form for individuals whose rights are violated throughout the criminal justice system. Denise also started writing a book entitled, “American justice and politics” to raise awareness of my experience through the criminal justice system, the State legislature and opposition on legislation authored from victim advocate groups. Ms Rotheimer founded a grassroots organization in 2008, Mothers On a Mission to Stop Violence momsv.org. She hosted and produced an hour cable show entitled, “Enforce justice” enforcejustice.com. Her goal is to continue raising awareness of the unfair treatment victims receive throughout the criminal justice system and working to make our laws enforceable to ensure justice for victims of violent crime.

You can reach Denise Rotheimer  by e-mail denise@momsv.org   or phone 847-406-8566

Anderson Cooper is taking nominations for Renegade Moms. If you would like to nominate her click here http://www.andersoncooper.com/be-on-the-show/695.

Why Don’t We End Domestic Violence?

This post comes from my friend and fellow advocate Barry Goldstein, and was originally post on the Time’s Up blog.  This addresses the real concern of domestic violence and it’s lack of attention and even condoning of it when it is brought up during child custody proceedings.

By Barry Goldstein

Society has the knowledge and ability to prevent a large majority of domestic violence crimes and especially murders. It is not like cancer or heart disease which would require some fundamental changes in human behavior to achieve massive reductions. We could easily put together a change in laws, policies and practices and quickly end the danger of domestic violence for most women and children. If we could as readily prevent most of the deaths from earthquakes, tornados, cancer or terror attacks, we would not hesitate to do so. Why should we continue to tolerate the enormous harm caused by abusers? Many of our leaders have spoken of and dreamed of a world without domestic violence. This is a worthy goal, but I am not naïve enough to believe we can end all domestic violence in our lifetimes. We can, however create a massive reduction in domestic violence crimes. I say let’s do it.

Background

Our publisher asked Mo Hannah and I to prepare a second volume of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY. I decided to write a chapter for the book of a modern tale of two cities comparing Quincy, Massachusetts with Poughkeepsie, New York. I selected Quincy, Massachusetts because they had developed the Quincy Model which had resulted in a drastic reduction of domestic violence homicide. I selected Poughkeepsie, New York because they had been severely criticized for using approaches in custody court that strongly favored abusive fathers. The court system and particularly the judges reacted to the criticism in a defensive and retaliatory manner. Dutchess County has now had a series of domestic violence homicides including the last crime in which the abusive father also killed a police officer. The County Legislature created a committee to study and respond to the series of domestic violence homicides and I am interested to see if they make a connection between the murders and the pattern of mistreatment of protective mothers in the custody court system.

In the late 1970s around the start of the modern movement to end domestic violence, approximately three thousand domestic violence homicides were committed each year in the United States. The frequency of domestic violence homicides did not change significantly until society adopted policies and practices to hold abusers accountable, particularly with pro-arrest policies. The timing of the increased accountability with the reduction in domestic violence homicide supported the belief that these policies led to the reduction, but perhaps what was most convincing was the results in communities that were especially strict in enforcing domestic violence laws. Communities like Nashville, Tennessee and San Diego, California saw even more dramatic reductions in domestic violence homicide as a result of strong programs to prevent domestic violence. Quincy, Massachusetts adopted its model in response to a series of domestic violence homicides and for many years they had no domestic violence homicides in Quincy.

Achieving a Massive Reduction in Domestic Violence Crime

As part of the research for my chapter I have had the opportunity to read about the practices that were so successful in Quincy and elsewhere. I have also read some of the ideas for improving the conditions in Poughkeepsie. We also have the research to establish improved practices in the custody courts. This is particularly important for reducing domestic violence crimes because abuser rights groups have been particularly successful in using common mistakes and flawed practices in the custody courts to undermine the progress society had made elsewhere in reducing domestic violence. The result of the failures in the custody courts has been that more battered mothers are staying with their abusers because they are afraid of being separated from their children and some of them do not survive this decision. Although some have attributed the recent rise in domestic violence homicide after many years of reduction to the bad economy, I believe the problems we see in the custody courts is the more likely explanation. Based upon the research and experience, I believe it would be easy for a group of domestic violence experts to create a best practices model that would result in a drastic reduction in domestic violence crimes.

The basic reforms that would create a massive reduction in domestic violence crime should not be in dispute. Experts may differ about some of the specifics around the edges, but the decisions on those issues would not affect the positive outcome if we included the practices that have been shown to work. We are working on a more complete and detailed agenda for the second volume of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY, but we already know the basics of what is needed. Here is what any reform agenda would include:

1. Coordinated Community Response: The communities that were most successful in reducing domestic violence homicide developed a coordinated community response in which all parts of the community came together to do their part in ending domestic violence. The professionals worked together to coordinate their response and included the domestic violence community as a key resource in the response to domestic violence. The communities had regular meetings to monitor how the campaign to end domestic violence was going and to make adjustments as needed.

2. Make it Easier for Victims to Obtain Protective Orders: Some people disparage protective orders as not worth the paper they are printed on and sometimes it is true, but women with protective orders are safer than those without. Society needs to make it less of a burden on battered women to obtain needed protection by having specified times when the court handles only protective orders so women can get in and out of court quickly. At other times judges should take protective orders before other cases because of the safety concerns. This is important because women may have work or family obligations that make it difficult to wait around the court in order to see a judge. Many judges get frustrated when women seek a protective order and then don’t return for the next court date. Reducing the burdens on victims will encourage them to follow through. At the same time there should be special clerks that help women fill out the forms and prosecutors’ offices should brief victims on the procedures they can expect. Finally judges should take domestic violence allegations more seriously, receive better training and make sure women who need protection can obtain the orders.

3. Strict Enforcement of Criminal Laws and Violations of Protective Orders: The heart of the programs that created a substantial reduction in domestic violence homicide was taking domestic violence seriously. This requires strict enforcement of domestic violence crimes and protective orders. Research demonstrates that abusive men tend to use a cost-benefit analysis in deciding whether to abuse their partners. That is why accountability and monitoring are the best ways to prevent domestic violence. The strict enforcement not only sends a message to the men held accountable, and their children, it sends a message to the entire community. The programs are often launched with important media coverage and those involved in the coordinated community response also help spread the message.

4. Lethality Assessment: The most important purpose of the laws, programs and practices designed to prevent domestic violence is the safety of victims and their children. One of the first things domestic violence advocates learn is safety planning and how to assess the danger. There are several common behaviors of abusers that have been shown to be related to an increased level of danger that domestic violence experts look at in making lethality assessments. These behaviors include choking, strangling or putting his hands around his partner’s throat, assaulting her while pregnant, raping or attempting to rape his partner, killing or hurting family pets, availability of guns, threats of suicide, homicide or kidnapping and a belief she has no right to leave. Incredibly, court professionals rarely use risk assessments or even understand the significance of these behaviors in making judgments about alleged abusers. Criminal courts should be using risk assessments to inform decisions about bail, protective orders and sentencing. Custody courts should use this information in determining custody and visitation arrangements that are safe for the victim and children.

5. Give Domestic Violence Cases the First Priority: Communities that reduced domestic violence crimes gave these cases the first priority. As discussed earlier this means making sure victims can get access to judges quickly so they don’t lose jobs or have to spend a lot of money on child care in order to protect themselves. It means local judges coming to arraignments after hours rather than releasing alleged offenders with an appearance ticket, but no protective order. It also means that custody courts must recognize most contested custody cases involve domestic violence and place a priority on the safety of the children and alleged victims.

6. Best Interests of the Child Should Mean Safety is the First Priority: The most important issue in deciding custody should be the safety of the children, but states usually have a list of factors to be considered and shockingly courts often focus on other less important issues. The second priority should be arrangements that give children the best chance to reach their potential.

7. Use of Current Scientific Research: When domestic violence first became a public issue there was no research to inform professionals about the best way to respond. When professionals modified their practices based on new research it has helped protect victims. Police departments went from practices of separating the parties and having the abuser walk around the block to cool off to a pro-arrest policy. Communities that created more accountability for abusers saw domestic violence crimes reduced. Child protective agencies that have partnered with domestic violence agencies and consulted with their advocates on potential domestic violence cases have been better able to recognize domestic violence and forge arrangements that protect children better. Police and prosecutors need to be aware of the frequency in which abusers involved in contested custody make deliberately false allegations and avoid wasting their resources persecuting their victims before fully investigating the allegations and speaking with the real victims. Custody courts have been particularly slow to modify practices based on current scientific research. They need to recognize most contested custody involve abusive fathers seeking custody as a tactic to maintain their control. They need to limit the role of mental health professionals to their area of expertise which is mental health and not domestic violence. They need to avoid inadequately trained professionals who continue to believe the myth that women frequently make false allegations particularly in sexual abuse cases. The court must also stop permitting unscientific theories like Parental Alienation Syndrome.

8. Retraining Court Professionals: A lot of unfortunate events have combined to create widespread beliefs in a wide range of misinformation about domestic violence. Domestic violence is often counterintuitive which leads to misinformation. The lack of research when court professionals started responding also contributes to the problem. The widespread use of unqualified professionals has encouraged an undeserved confidence in false notions that make them harder to challenge and correct. The media has done a lousy job of covering domestic violence and often fails to understand who the experts are. Accordingly we need to retrain court professionals both to prevent the use of misinformation and to help the professionals learn about current scientific research, domestic violence dynamics and best practices. The training must have the active participation of genuine domestic violence experts such as dv advocates. Professionals working in criminal court must learn the importance of taking domestic violence seriously, prioritizing domestic violence cases and holding offenders strictly accountable. They should particularly learn how communities have dramatically reduced domestic violence homicide. Criminal court professionals must learn that accountability and monitoring are the only approaches shown to reduce domestic violence. Domestic violence is not caused by substance abuse, mental illness or anger management issues. Some offenders may have mental illness or substance abuse and domestic violence issues and each problem should be responded to separately. Custody court professionals must unlearn the myth that women frequently make false allegations of abuse. They need to look at the motivation of alleged abusers and understand the harm to children. They must learn that allegations of child sexual abuse have been totally mishandled and learn best practices to respond to these painful allegations. They also must learn that the way to include both parents in children’s lives that most benefits children is to require abusers to stop their harmful tactics instead of asking their victims to get over their fear and concern.

9. Use of Domestic Violence Experts: We now have a substantial body of specialized knowledge about domestic violence. Courts must stop relying on “experts” unfamiliar with this research and ignorant of domestic violence dynamics and instead listen to genuine domestic violence experts. Courts must stop refusing to listen to these genuine experts and especially until this information is better known to court professionals allow these experts to testify in order to educate the judge and other professionals.

10. Early Domestic Violence Hearings in Custody Cases: A large majority of contested custody cases are actually domestic violence cases. The research is very clear that unless the victim is unsafe, she should have custody and the abuser supervised visitation because that is what works best for children. Accordingly, custody courts can schedule an evidentiary hearing at the start of the case on the domestic violence issue. There is no need for evaluators or GALs as it is a factual issue. This will permit courts to resolve cases in a few hours or less that otherwise would take months or years and provide a huge savings in money and court time. Children also benefit because they don’t have to spend years worried about where they will live. This also avoids less important and distracting issues that only make it more difficult for the judge to understand the issues. This practice is likely to help courts make better decisions as well as quicker ones.

11. Use of Victim’s Advocate: The advocates are used by law enforcement to help and support the victim and provide information and training for law enforcement personnel. They are used in the prosecutor’s office for similar purposes and to acquaint the victim with the procedures. These practices should make survivors more comfortable and thus more likely to cooperate and press charges. In the court clerk’s office the advocate can help victims fill out forms and documents and explain the procedures. These procedures will help provide law enforcement and the courts with needed evidence while encouraging the complainant to continue to participate.

12. New Approach to Child Sexual Abuse in Custody Cases: Although most allegations of child sexual abuse made by mothers are true and deliberately false allegations are rare, 85% of sexual abuse allegations in custody cases result in custody for the alleged abuser and frequently little or no contact with the mother who sought to protect her child. This is a result of the difficulty in proving abuse of very young children and deeply flawed practices. Based especially on the new Department of Justice study led by Dr. Daniel Saunders, we should start by eliminating court professionals who believe in the myth that women frequently make false allegations. Professionals should be trained in best practices that would include understanding why a child might be reluctant to reveal sexual abuse or recant truthful allegations, use of play therapy for young children, avoid giving abusers additional opportunities to silence children and give children a chance to develop trusting relationships with therapists or other investigators before expecting them to discuss the abuse. We particularly need to abandon approaches that retaliate against mothers for good faith allegations.

13. Limit Role of Mental Health Professionals to their Area of Expertise: Mental health professionals are routinely used for evaluations and other services in domestic violence custody cases despite limited and often distorted information about domestic violence. This has contributed to the frequency in which courts place children in jeopardy. Mental health professionals have a role to play when a parent has a serious mental disorder that interferes with the ability to care for the children or other issues related to their field of study and practice. They should be limited to roles they are qualified for and at the very least consult with domestic violence experts on cases involving possible domestic violence.

14. Gender Bias: Over forty states and many districts have conducted court-sponsored gender bias committees that have found widespread gender bias. Other scientific research supports these findings. Women who kill their partner receive seventy percent longer sentences under similar circumstances as men who kill their partner. Women are given less credibility, higher standards of proof and are blamed for the actions of their abusers. Courts cannot do an effective job of responding to domestic violence as long as it continues to unconsciously favor male litigants. Court professionals must be trained about gender bias, attorneys and litigants must be protected and encouraged to raise concerns about gender bias, judges and other court professionals should be transferred, retrained or otherwise disciplined for continued gender biased practices and appellate courts must reverse cases based on gender bias.

15. Improved Police Role in Ending Domestic Violence: Police should make domestic violence cases a high priority and conduct an evidence based investigation instead of just relying on the victim’s testimony. Police must be trained to understand fathers involved in contested custody cases are 16 times more likely than mothers to make false allegations. This means they should take complaints from mothers seriously despite ongoing litigation, but have some skepticism of father’s allegations. They should always speak with the mother to understand the context before making a decision to make an arrest or bring charges. The police must also be aware that abusers tend to be very manipulative, but sometimes the police can use abusers’ sense of entitlement to encourage them to make statements that are actually admissions. Police departments must take precautions to respond to male officers who abuse their partners and particularly use their influence and relationship with other officers to undermine any investigation. There should be no tolerance for domestic violence or covering up domestic violence complaints. Departments should have a procedure for women to have someone in the department they can safely complain to about their partner’s abuse and any assistance other officers provide him.

Can Society Afford to Continue to Tolerate Domestic Violence? 

Politicians sometimes justify their failure to do more to stop domestic violence by citing the costs, but the reality is the costs are much greater by tolerating domestic violence. In reviewing a report about the response to domestic violence in Dutchess County, New York, I noticed how often they undermined substantial parts of the plan to prevent domestic violence in order to save small sums of money. The problem is when they are budgeting; they fail to consider the extra money that will be expended as a result of the increase in domestic violence encouraged by the cutbacks.

Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to engage in a wide range of harmful and costly behaviors including crime. Large majorities of the prison population were directly abused as children or witnessed domestic violence. This creates huge added expenses in police, courts, prosecutors, defense attorneys and prisons. It also creates more expenses in substance abuse treatment. This is in addition to the extra similar expenses in directly responding to domestic violence crimes and custody cases based on domestic violence.

An increase in domestic violence crimes also increases health care costs. Not only is the health care system used to heal the immediate physical wounds, but it leads to other medical problems based on the stress of living with domestic violence as well as emotional and psychological difficulties. If the woman has medical insurance his abuse is paid by all of the policy holders through higher premiums. If she does not have insurance she may not be able to pay for the care so that the rest of the public and the government ultimately pays. Many of the health costs are borne directly by various governmental entities.

When victims miss work it harms the economy thus reducing tax revenues. The same is true when women lose jobs because of injuries or repeated court dates. Government programs like unemployment insurance and crime victim compensation may also be triggered. Significantly domestic violence interferes with the ability to reach their potential. It is hard for women to reach their potential when dealing with domestic violence even if the injuries do not prove fatal. Men who commit domestic violence crimes can’t reach their potential if they are in jail and even if they are not jailed the time they waste abusing and harassing their partners can interfere with the ability to reach their potential. Children who witness domestic violence are significantly less likely to reach their potential and if the children grow up to hurt others these third parties also lose the ability to reach their potential. We don’t know if society will miss out on someone who would have discovered a medical cure, developed a patent, created a major new business or is just a productive member of society. All of this represents a massive loss of economic activity that translates into a huge loss of tax revenue.

While the proposal described above would include some additional expenses, it also includes plans that would save substantial tax dollars. Conducting early evidentiary hearings on domestic violence would help courts make better decisions, but also save substantial sums of money and judicial time. A large majority of contested custody cases which are the cases that take most of the court’s time are domestic violence cases. Since mothers rarely make deliberately false allegations of abuse, a hearing for an hour or two will avoid cases that often take many months or years. There will be no need to spend money on evaluators, GALs or other professionals who provide no help in recognizing or responding to domestic violence. Furthermore, as the practices outlined in this article become better known, abusive men will be less likely to commit domestic violence crimes and children will be sent an important message that domestic violence will not be tolerated. This will save significant sums initially and much greater amounts over time as the message resonates.

We don’t have figures on the full cost of domestic violence or the amount of money this proposal would save, but it has to be at least in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In that context attempting to save thousands of dollars by cutting local programs or a few million on programs nationally is counterproductive based on the financial costs and insane based on the human costs.

How to get Started Ending Domestic Violence

It is common rhetoric to say we should end domestic violence. We may not be able to prevent all domestic violence tactics or even all domestic violence crimes, but we know how to quickly create a massive reduction in domestic violence crimes and especially domestic violence homicide. How do we get from here to there?

Just as people in Quincy, Massachusetts, Nashville, Tennessee and San Diego, California came together to make ending domestic violence the leading priority other communities can do the same and it is easier because they have the successes of those communities to look at and a lot of additional research. Individual states can take the lead by adopting the needed law changes and provide funding to implement a program like the one discussed in this article.

This can also be done on a national basis. The President can announce that we will no longer tolerate domestic violence and create a program to encourage communities to implement the practices that work. Grants and other support can be provided to set up pilot projects around the country to demonstrate that these practices will work. Eventually the federal government can make implementation of these practices a requirement if states wish to receive any federal funding for law enforcement and the judicial system. This should be done on a non-partisan basis. Democrats claim to be supporters of women so they should certainly wish to free women from the fear and risk of domestic violence. Republicans regularly propose spending millions of dollars to promote abstinence for children. If they don’t want children having sex with their peers they certainly will wish to protect them from sex with adults. The bills to end domestic violence should be House 1 and Senate 1 to make them the first priority.

Several years ago I gave a presentation with Mo Therese Hannah at the NCADV Conference in Atlanta. I spoke about the success of Quincy, Nashville and San Diego in implementing these practices. After the workshop, a woman came up to me and told me what I said was no longer true. It seems a new administration took over in Nashville, dismantled the successful program and the domestic violence homicide rate went back up. This was disappointing news, but it also confirmed that it was these practices that are the difference between a substantial reduction in domestic violence crime and requiring women’s lives to be impacted by men’s abuse of their intimate partners.

Domestic violence is not inevitable. It can be prevented. Our daughters and granddaughters can grow up in a world in which domestic violence crimes are rare. The worst crime would be if we take the knowledge, research and ability we have to substantially reduce domestic violence crimes and instead find some excuse to force women and children to continue to suffer.

Barry Goldstein is a nationally recognized domestic violence expert, speaker, writer and consultant. He is the co-editor with Mo Therese Hannah of DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, ABUSE and CHILD CUSTODY. Barry can be reached by email at their web site http://www.Domesticviolenceabuseandchildcustody.com

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