The Domestic Violence Empire; Billion dollar industry in need of reform

 

Maria DiBari | Like TCCC on Facebook

 

Since the enactment of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, the federal government has channeled over a billion dollars into organizations that are required to provide assistance to victims of domestic violence. The VAWA Web site does post figures on grants awarded to specific organizations and the amount of each grant, but does not detail how the funds are expected to be spent. Womensenews, Regina Varoilli.

 

The goal of the domestic violence reform movement is to ensure that all victims are afforded equal protections and services regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, age and their perpetrator’s occupation. Victim resources and public policy must provide services and laws that address the needs of all victims including: women, men, teens, LGBT, officer-involved victims as well as immigrants so equal protections and services for all.

 

Currently, victims of violence on a local, state and national level are being failed by our funded resources.  The problem is that domestic violence shelters and agencies get funding based on the need for services and the number of hotline calls or heads in the shelter, not the cases they solve or the needs they meet.  You or I may call the shelter with a question, and that is then counted as a statistic for their agency.  Whether they help you or I or not, we both become a statistic for the agency and in turn, the agency will get rewarded with funding and grants. 

 

The most effective way to approach the reform issue is to spearhead this movement at the local and state level, while simultaneously gaining national support.  Our local and state resources are flawed and victims are unable to obtain appropriate services from shelters and agencies.  Some problems with the current support system include:

 

  1. Crime victim’s compensation is difficult to obtain for domestic violence related injuries.  Emergency relocation is nearly impossible to obtain due to the lengthy application process and documentation required to proceed with the request; providing an emergency service should be a fast process, not one that takes weeks to complete with the risk of being denied services. 
  2. Pro bono legal representation for divorce and family law cases are lacking. 
  3. Pro bono surgeries after domestic violence are difficult to access for victims.
  4. Career services for victims of domestic violence is a needed resource that should be provided by all shelters.  Helping women re-enter the work place and teaching victims how to be financially independent is vital. 
  5. Transitional Housing is in high demand for victims of domestic violence. 
  6. Victim transportation to court, case related appointments and to and from work while residing in a shelter is needed for all victims to maintain stability, financial independence, and make necessary appointments. 
  7. Stalking resources are non-existent in every shelter.    

 

The list goes on; however, these are the most immediate resources that need to be addressed on a national level.

 

 A lack of funding for domestic violence is not the problem.  Many DV executives are making six figure salaries and beyond, and work 35 hour weeks.  Safe Horizon, the richest shelter in the US located in NYC, gets nearly 42 million dollars per year, while less than 1 million dollars is allocated towards direct services for victims in 5 boroughs. The top executives at Safe Horizon make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year with bonuses of 50K per year.  Even at the local level, executives running the county shelters make top salaries to serve a small population, and even then, many victims are being left behind.  There is nothing wrong with getting paid for a job well done and hard work, but getting rewarded while victims’ needs go unmet and while domestic homicide is on the rise is illogical. 

 

Each year, Mary Kay donates millions to the NNEDV, and this is not surprising since a Mary Kay representative sits on their Board.  This agency does not provide direct services to victims at any capacity.  How do I know that? I was denied services and support by the NNEDV as a victim in need of resources, and I am not the only one.  One of their missions is to empower victims of DV.  I was never empowered by this group.  The NNEDV did provide a victims fund “Amy’s Courage Fund”, which was sponsored by the Mary Kay Foundation, but that fund has closed because the resources were in high demand and the funds were exhausted.  This is a clear example of what victims need most: emergency funds for survival. 

 

In fact, many large corporations sponsor local shelters and national coalitions and agencies each year.  Many sponsors rely on statistics provided by the agencies and truly believe that victims are getting the services they need and are benefiting.  The reality is not as bright as the statistics portray, and, instead, many go without, find it impossible to get help, are denied shelter and services, and even die trying to get assistance. 

 

“Funding needs to be reallocated to lawyers and trained consultants that work one on one with victims of domestic violence, and provide follow-up on cases to ensure needs are met.  National, state and local domestic violence agencies need to be held accountable through proper oversight, which does not exist today.  Follow-up is poor, training is lacking and there are no incentives for agencies to provide victim services throughout the entire victimization cycle” Alexis Moore, Director of Victim Outreach for Tri-County Crisis Center, Inc.

 

Victims need real services.  The most critical point in any given victimization cycle is the point at which the victim picks up the phone and reaches out for help.  At that point it is critical for the victim in need to have access to direct services such as pro bono representation, career services, counseling, emergency funds, housing and shelter, transportation and basic necessities.  Without these services, victims are lost and are unable to survive the cycle of violence.  Without proper follow-up and attention, victims fall between the cracks and are put at risk.  These problems can be solved and should be tackled at the local and state level first, and then the movement must continue nationally with the support of organizations and individuals such as National NOW, NCADV, NNEDV and public officials. 

 

Maria DiBari | Like TCCC on Facebook

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Address Confidentiality Programs fall short in protecting victim’s privacy

By Alexis A. Moore: SIA

Address Confidentiality Programs fall short in protecting privacy

Thirty two U.S. states, including California, offer address confidentiality programs for the ostensible purpose of protecting victims of crimes such as domestic abuse and stalking. Victims count on these programs to protect them from their abusers, but privacy protection in the Internet age has become much more difficult. Technology now enables abusers to penetrate or work around confidential address and other programs—and many abusers do so.

Believing that these programs are ironclad, victims are often caught off-guard when their privacy is breached. The reality is that the protection they provide is limited, and participation in them can give victims a false sense of security. The good news is that legislators, advocacy groups, and prosecutors are beginning to wake up to the need for stricter measures to protect the privacy of crime victims.

Nonetheless, because privacy protection can be a matter of life and death, it is critical for victims themselves, and their families, to fully understand confidential address programs and their limitations.

To a degree, confidential address programs can help prevent perpetrators from locating victims’ home addresses. For example, these programs seal Department of Motor Vehicle records so that only the victim’s private mail box—not her home address—is on file. On the other hand, these programs have severe limitations that can unintentionally undermine victims’ efforts to keep their confidential information private. For example:

  • ·         Although they are designed to protect victims from their abusers, confidential address programs can go far afield from this objective. Rather than simply preventing the perpetrator’s mail from reaching victims, these programs prevent the delivery of packages, certified mailings, and certified letters from anyone. These items are returned to the sender. To keep acceptable mail from being returned, victims must obtain yet another private mailbox through a UPS Store or similar mail-receiving station, requiring even more time and expense and making their lives even more complicated than they already are. Kind of defeats the purpose of having a confidential address, doesn’t it?
  • ·         Water, gas, electric, and cable TV records include victim names, physical addresses, and confidential mailing addresses. With the “confidential address” co-mingled in this way with the actual physical location, it becomes easier to breach privacy. Lawmakers in California are now considering legislation that will regulate the contents and use of utility records.  
  • ·         Property ownership records are available online to anyone, including convicted felons, stalkers, and domestic abusers, through each County Recorder’s Office. For their protection, crime victims as well as law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and other vulnerable individuals should have the option of keeping these records private. Survivors In Action is presently lobbying for legislation that would restrict access to property records. Although this proposal is currently under review at the state and federal levels, many obstacles to implementing it still exist, including the costs of software development and of other changes that would be required in every County Recorder’s Office across the country.

    I cannot emphasize enough that protecting the privacy of a domestic violence or stalking victim can be a matter of life and death. That’s why—at least until these and other dangerous shortcomings of confidential address program are remedied—I encourage representatives of victim support organizations and other advocates to:

    • Inform their clients that confidential address and other privacy protection programs have limitations and should not be assumed to provide full protection.
    • Suggest that their clients seek additional privacy safeguards—such as
    • Using mail-receiving locations outside their county of residence (this costs money so may not be an option for everyone).
    • When possible, completing applications with outdated information already known to perpetrators.
    • Encourage their clients to contact privacy experts like myself who can advise them on other protections they can and should take on their own.

    I believe it is critical for every state to appoint a Privacy Protection Officer who would be responsible for ensuring that advocates and other personnel who assist crime victims are properly trained. Advocates must thoroughly understand privacy protection programs and their limitations and have the knowledge to advise their clients on additional ways they can protect their privacy.

    It is also critical for victim advocates and our nation’s lawmakers to work closely together to develop more effective measures for improving crime victim privacy protection. The current system just isn’t working, and victims are being left behind.

It’s A New Day

Big surprise that the cowards, the Sharia / Quasi-Muslim / Radicalized males of the cult of threats of violence and terror have taken to the streets of London to call for continued abuse of Americans in their daily lives. Any visitor to the TMU site who read through the comments of the family of a man who died at his own hand after attacking the mother of his daughters has observed, in a nutshell, how the typical abuser fails to process information. A family culture of aggressive din fosters disruptive air around the household that prevents mindful understanding.

In the military raid that “removed our Bin Laden Problem,” American Forces eliminated the “wiggle room” enjoyed by incorrigibles who rely on bluster and threats to keep their victims in line. The initial response, outrage, is the UNPROCESSABLE DISCOVERY of an equally strong threat awaiting the abuser. Males who impose terror on their domestic partners with threats of violence parallel gestures to control the United States via the abuse of the American Psyche.

A threat is an admission of impotence. A person who flees from a life of responsible co-existence with fellow sovereigns by taunting, humiliation, describing sickening outcomes, is a person expressing a death wish. No American who has been reared in the culture of the descendents of the signers of the Declaration of Independence can “balance” the respect for the life of a fellow human being with realization of a threat to his own life and security by such a “fellow.”

The conduct of the radical muslim community has triggered the survival instincts of our fellow citizens. The media and exploitive politicians attempt to co-opt the effect of the threatening abusers by contributing to the irrational din calculated to disorient, suppress and distract people from uniting to act in their own best interest. It takes centered, focused people to navigate the atmosphere of oppression and to stay “on purpose” and live their lives. It is important for a threatened people to confront threats to their survival with a “No Nonsense” choice to eliminate the threat.

The shocked men of the radicalized Muslim cult are expressing what we know to be impotence and fear of the American Community unleashing the power of the dignity of a People. Driven, not by hatred or violence, but by the determination to preserve the quality of life and our freedom, we share a unity with the ‘underworld’ of humanity no longer willing to indulge the abuse. The killing of Osama Bin Laden was a statement. It was not the “Death” of Osama Bin Laden; he was killed by American Men of integrity, respect for authority and strength. His reign of terror was repudiated, his psycopathic mind – the incubator of increasingly horrific threats – was snuffed in an instant. According to reports of the mission, he was “confused” and incapable of responding to the threat on his own life. Although esconced in a compound built to protect his vile existence, his “protection” evaporated in the presence of prepared, informed, trained armed men equipped to come face to face with the monster who has been the unwelcomed crasher of this Country’s most important moments for ten years. In the presence of those whom he valued, where he was “at home” living his life, he was confronted with the disruptive, threatening violence he so routinely imposed on us.

Any Wanna Be who aspires to replace him as America’s Number One Enemy can expect this Force of trained “seales” to outpace him with inventive schemes. No longer paralyzed with fear and dread, Americans have determined that a “life” under the thumb of a violent, cruel murderer is no life worth living and any “danger” presented by such a threatening entity is only in his mind, as the victim of that threat has already died to the life so oppressed. Retaliatory attacks advocated by the “muslim brotherhood” are, likewise, expressions of impotent rage at being beaten at their own game. The notion of American Military Coverts operating within their own borders has galvanized the mobs in the Sharia-abiding world.

Really? It offends them to discover that determined men on a mission are living – undetected – in their midst, planning attacks on their cherished institutions? Can you tell us – for the cameras – how does that feel? Can you imagine, in your testosterone churning defiance, what it will feel like when that reality becomes what you face each day with a complicit media blaring unrelenting reminders to you of angry, crazy gun nuts plotting and planning your demise?

Domestic abuser kills girlfriend, cop then self

By: BettyJean Kling

Another coward takes his own life rather than face the music – good riddance – one less monster to have to feed and shelter for life or waste an electric charge on! But this piece of garbage took innocence with him! Hold on to your hats- I am sure the Nettles clan will be on our site momentarily to tell us how he was forced to snap! How we just don’t know this terrific guy who was railroaded and set up and had his life ruined by one or more worthless females and on and on and on! I could bring you four of these a day that end in murder and 96 more that end in severe beatings but my fingers would fall off so I will just bring you a few more – just enough to show you the pitiful lot of BRUTE force batterers out there and their enablers.

Truthfully the enablers are more pitiful then the sicko’s! The enablers who allow these barbarians to walk free among innocent people. SHAME on you cry alone!

The friends and family are one type of enabler- one can almost understand their stupidity- I said almost- but really after a first time- there is no excuse for them either. He was cruel to humans, animals and children no doubt the world is a better place with him off the street.

The law makers, the courts and the entire judicial system are the worse enablers. This guy should never have seen the light of day outside prison walls. He was blight on society and now 2 others besides this pig are dead. What was this animal doing on the streets terrorizing people?

Pierce County Child Rapist Shoots, Kills Cop, Girlfriend and Self in Texas

Barnes Nettles has a history of violence, convicted of child rape in 1997.

A rookie police officer responding to a domestic violence call in suburban Dallas

 was shot to death trying to protect an 11-year-old girl from her mother’s gun-wielding ex-boyfriend, a department spokeswoman said Wednesday.Tiara Ellis Richard said Arlington officer Jillian Michelle Smith, 24, was shot by Barnes Samuel Nettles on Tuesday night as she sought to shield the girl from the 38-year-old man after he entered the apartment of Kimberly Deshay Carter, 29. After shooting Smith, Nettles shot Carter to death in a back bedroom, then returned to the living room, where he killed himself, Richard said. 

“It appears (Smith) was moving in the direction of the child in an effort to protect her and, in that process, she was shot,” Richard said, citing the girl’s statement and forensic evidence.

According to Richard, Smith was shot about 20 minutes after arriving at the apartment. Nettles had left the apartment but returned while Smith was there taking the report, she said.

Nettles was arrested by Arlington police in September for allegedly assaulting Carter’s sister and her mother, Richard said. He was out on $5,000 bail, and his case was still pending, she said.

The arrest warrant affidavit said the alleged assaults were precipitated by Carter’s mother refusing to allow her daughter to date Nettles after learning he was a registered sex offender.

According to the affidavit, Carter’s mother claimed Nettles tried to choke her and throw her over a railing. She said Nettles threatened to kill her and her husband.

The affidavit, prepared by an Arlington police detective on Sept. 16, said Nettles had convictions for rape of a child, domestic violence, burglary, failure to register as a sex offender and possession of a firearm. …

Sources tell Q13 FOX News that Lakewood Police Officers arrested Nettles in 2008 for animal cruelty.  He was accused of throwing his fiance’s dog off the 2nd floor balcony.  He lived in Ruston at the time.

Smith was an Arlington native who graduated from the University of Texas

at Arlington with a criminology degree in 2009. Her interest in police work began at an early age when she participated in an anti-drug program for public school children.
 

The Weaker Vessel

BettyJean Kling for Myra Spearman The Weaker Vessel Inc.
In Coalition with WOMEN
a Majority United Organization

Myra Spearman – Author/Speaker

Myra Spearman, a survivor of domestic violence, lived in an abusive marriage for 18 years and was stalked relentlessly after for 4 years. Now she is spearheading a global effort to help others recognize abusive individuals before the relationship is formed and to assist victims in getting much needed assistance.

Myra was granted an interview with a reporter from KSBW TV in California. In the video you will also meet a survivor who is scared silent believing her attacker will be antagonized into killing her if he is identified in a database. The last women scared silent allowed the D.C. Sniper to go on a murdering rampage for 3 weeks , many lives lost because of one man’s threats.

In 2007, Myra Spearman created, The Weaker Vessel Inc., which is the nation’s first “On-line Database of Domestic Violence Abusers” (www.domesticviolencedatabase.org). This allows women and men alike to go online to see if they are dating someone who has been abusive in past relationships. With the member base of on-line social networking sites (such as myspace.com) and on-line dating services (such as match.com) reaching the 200 million member mark, domestic and family abuse which has already exploded will continue to climb. No one seems to be taking on the cumbersome task of making sure their dates are honestly portraying themselves. More and more people are looking forward, with no regard for the past yet not knowing someone’s past could negatively impact the future.

The Weaker Vessel Inc. was patterned after Megan’s Law which is the Sex Offenders Registry. This site provides a comprehensive overview which contains the conviction records of offenders who have been found guilty of domestic abuse, stalking, criminal confinement, intimidation, strangulation, domestic battery etc. This data is provided free of charge to the general public. Most other sites charge a fee for service or ask for case numbers. When a new relationship is formed, most individuals will tell you what they want you to know about them but not necessarily the truth. Will they ever give you a case number or case details for an abusive past relationship? That part of their past will stay hidden until it is unleashed on you, the next victim.

Ms. Spearman works with many phenomenal women including Alexis A. Moore of Survivors In Action, Randi Rosen of Women’s Legal Resource, BettyJean Kling of The Majority United, Linda Rivera and Maria DiBari. Together they challenge the justice system, victim resources and domestic violence agencies in a continuing effort to advocate improvement of resources for victims across the United States and beyond.

The Danger of “Working while Female”

By Alexis A. Moore 
Survivors In Action (SIA)

I wish our government really cared about women, I have worked with Dawn for 3 years and prior to that she was fighting this case to the US Supreme Court and did not get heard but she will keep trying.

***** FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  *****
Dawn Martin Esq
e-mail: dvmartinlaw@yahoo.com
website: www.dvmartinlaw.com
Specializing in employment discrimination, civil rights and tort law
“Working for Justice in the World”

Washington, D.C. – D.C. Attorney Dawn Martin is urging an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that would expressly protect victims of stalking and domestic violence against employment discrimination. “Many of these victims are afraid to let their employers know that they are being stalked or are victims of domestic violence,” Martin said, “They are afraid of being fired. No woman should have to choose between her job and her safety.” 78% of stalking victims are women. 54% of female murder victims reported their stalkers to the police before being killed by them. New York City Human Rights Law does protect these victims against discrimination. Martin says that a federal statute should as well, since courts may deny the protection. Today, she filed an appeal in her own litigation, Martin v. Howard University, to try to correct, what she says, was an improper and unjust denial of that protection.

When Martin was a Law Professor at Howard University, she was stalked by a delusional, homeless, serial campus stalker, Leonard Harrison. Harrison was searching for the physical embodiment of his “fantasy” wife — a fictional female character in a book, written by the renowned Professor, Derrick Bell. Howard did not ban the stalker from Law School building, despite advice from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department to do so and its own established Campus Police banning procedures. Further, Howard refused to renew Prof. Martin’s teaching contract. Martin sued, alleging sexual harassment/hostile work environment and retaliation. In 1999, the U.S. District for D.C. set precedent in Martin, holding that an employer can be held liable for the sexual harassment of an employee by a non-employee, if it knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take reasonable steps to stop it. Martin v. Howard University. 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19516, 1999 WL 1295339 (DD.C. 1999)

In 2006, a jury agreed with Prof. Martin that Harrison’s harassment did create a “hostile work environment” and that that Howard did not take reasonable steps to end it; however, the jury asked for a clearer legal definition of “sexual harassment” and the judge refused to provide it. The confused jurors then concluded that Harrison’s harassment of Prof. Martin was not based on her sex or sexual in nature. This meant that she was not “protected” by Title VII. Martin is appealing District Court Judge Thomas Hogan’s October 8, 2010 decision: 1) refusing her motion for a new trial based on the Court’s failure to adhere to its own 1999 decision that Harrison’s harassment was based on sex and/or sexual in nature and to instruct the jury in accordance with that holding; 2) imposing Howard’s litigation costs, of $10,000, on her; and 3) failing to order Howard to pay the undisputed $364,0000 in attorney hours spent on drafting her motions to compel discovery, which she won, after Howard withheld crucial documents in the case for years. Ms. Martin said, “Courts do not generally impose the Defendant’s costs on the Plaintiff. I’m sure that Howard paid its outside law firm more than $10,000 just to try to get that much from me. More importantly, it sets precedent that will discourage and punish other plaintiffs in civil rights cases. It’s shocking and ironic that Howard University would establish precedent that punishes civil rights plaintiffs by imposing the defendant’s fees on them and by refusing to punish defendants that withhold evidence from plaintiffs to delay or destroy their cases. This precedent is going to hurt plaintiffs in all employment discrimination cases, including those based on race, national origin, religion, disability and age, as well as sex.”

The National Organization of Women (NOW) and the National Association of Women Lawyers (NAWL) filed an Amicus Brief in Martin.  See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxyzwRGYIgA  (documentary, including then NOW President Kim Gandy, Prof. Derrick Bell and a former Howard Security Officer); Good Morning America http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/erin-andrews-leads-stalking-round-table/story?id=11322694

Cyberstalking:Mom’s Blogger Attacked

Crossposted from Momlogic

As a ghostwriter, Jody Ortiz preferred to keep a low profile, allowing others to bask in the limelight. The Oklahoma businesswoman ran a successful transcribing service out of her home and immersed herself in dozens of writing projects. Jody wasn’t the type who surfed the Web in her free time, looking to pick fights. But all that changed after she stumbled upon a horrifying story of child abuse that turned her world upside down.

Jody’s online blogging about the tragic death of a toddler unleashed a torrent of comments from trolling hatemongers who have relentlessly been stalking her online for years now. It’s a terrifying experience that has changed her life. “I’m Catholic; I went to church,” says Jody. “I never got involved in anything like that.”

Due to her effort to expose the injustice surrounding what Jody believes was the wrongful conviction of that child’s mother, Jody became the target of cyberstalkers. She spoke out and exposed information, causing an uproar among a tight-knit group of blogging bullies. While cyberbullying is more common with teenagers, outspoken moms are increasingly on the receiving end of online attacks. In Jody’s case, the escalating harassment went beyond nasty e-mails. “I have bullet holes in my truck, my truck has been keyed and my home has been burglarized,” Jody says. 

Jody’s nightmare began in April of 2007, after the senseless death of 2-year-old Kelsey Smith-Briggs set off a powder keg of emotions in Oklahoma City. The little girl’s stepfather pleaded guilty to enabling child abuse and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. The child’s mother, Raye Dawn Smith, was about to go on trial for enabling child abuse and faced decades behind bars. No one was convicted of murder; however, Kelsey’s mom had become a social pariah, convicted by the court of public opinion long before a court of law.

While the trial dominated the local news, Jody knew nothing about Kelsey’s death until a former District Judge of Lincoln County hired her to ghostwrite his life story. Judge Craig Key had proceeded over Kelsey Smith-Briggs’ custody case and had decided to place the toddler back in her mother’s home. Four months later, Kelsey was dead and the intense media and public scrutiny of Key’s ruling ultimately ended his judicial career.

Key wanted to write the book to respond to critics by including facts never revealed at trial. At first glance, the case seemed clear-cut. “I had judged [Smith and] I thought she was a terrible mom,” says Jody. But as she began reading the documents, Jody’s opinion about Raye Dawn Smith began to change. She visited Raye Dawn in prison, where the mom showed Jody the baby book she had made documenting every milestone of Kelsey’s short life. “I could tell she really loved her daughter,” says Jody. “I realized she was innocent.”

Two days before the jury returned with a verdict, Jody went online and started a blog called “Seeking the Truth about Kelsey,” aimed at “clearing up inaccuracies in the media reports,” says Jody. Within hours, the site was flooded with traffic, forcing Jody to open a forum that could accommodate the thousands of posted comments. She had no idea that she had opened Pandora’s box. “I was overwhelmed,” says Jody. “I did the blog to correct things, but I didn’t want to get involved.”

The jury came back with a guilty verdict and handed Raye Dawn a 27-year prison sentence. Feeling outraged by what she viewed as an unfair trial and excessive punishment, Jody continued posting her thoughts anonymously online under the name “Truth Seeker.” She also posted explosive evidence that had been suppressed at trial, which included e-mail correspondence between the stepfather and Kelsey’s paternal grandmother.

Once members of Kelsey’s paternal family got wind of Jody’s website, their supporters began a relentless attack against Jody. At first, the cyberstalkers began with personal insults, like “Rot in hell, bitch”; “You’re a piece of crap” and “You don’t deserve to live.” Within months, the trolls began spying on Jody’s e-mail account and uncovered her personal information. They posted lies about Jody’s work history in an effort to tarnish her credibility. They listed her home address, exposing that she worked from home. One person wrote, “Someone should pay her a visit.” 

The online call to action led to a burglary at Jody’s home and bullet holes in her truck. “I was afraid to leave my daughter alone,” says Jody. “I was just terrified.” She called police and explained the situation. Instead of investigating the crimes, the police officer assigned to the case told Jody that he believed Raye Dawn Smith “knew what was going on,” then basically told Jody she was on her own.

While the trolls demonized Jody for supporting Raye Dawn, she also became a symbolic leader for others who sympathized with the cause. “Trying to raise awareness has put her in a horrible place,” says Emily from Pittsburgh, one of the many Raye Dawn supporters who heard about the controversial conviction on FaceBook. Emily is a mother of three and a licensed professional counselor for children and families. After scouring the Internet for more information, she found Jody’s postings and felt compelled to speak out on the issue. “I can’t explain why; it just felt so wrong,” says Emily, who has also suffered the consequences of voicing her opinion.

Immediately after becoming a “friend’ of Raye Dawn‘s FaceBook page, Emily began getting random friend requests. “Trolls were stalking me, trying to trap me into giving them information,” she says. The cyberstalkers lashed out at Emily’s postings with constant name-calling and threats such as, “You better watch out, little girl” … I hope you don’t have children.” The taunts took their toll on Emily. “It wears you down,” she says. “It makes you feel defeated and belittled.”

There are some ways to fight back and minimize your risk of attracting cyberstalkers. “Less is best,” says Alexis A. Moore, of the nonprofit group Survivors in Action. She warns that you should never provide your home address or private numbers when filling out online contact-information forms. If you’re running a blog or an online business, install a free Web counter application that allows you to track information about the people who leave comments. An IP address is like a fingerprint that cyberstalkers leave behind; it identifies a person’s location. “If someone is a threat, you can provide the IP address to law enforcement or an attorney to corroborate the stalking,” says Moore.

Another line of defense is enrolling in a monitoring program like ReputationDefender.com, which can help with damage control. There are also victims’ support groups (such as HaltAbuse.org) that offer additional tips, resources and information about cyberstalking.

The only real way to stop trolls from attacking is by disengaging. “You can’t stop it from happening, but you can change how you feel about it,” says momlogic cyber-expert Lori Getz. She offers this advice: “Don’t put yourself out there if you don’t want that attention.” Getz, who runs her own cyber-education consulting business, frequently receives mean-spirited e-mails. The insults are aimed at trying to silence her from speaking out on cyberbullying and online predators. “I refuse to take it,” she says. “I won’t allow myself to be the victim.”

The anonymity of the Internet can make people feel much bolder and act more brazen than they would face-to-face. “It’s a mob mentality,” says Getz, who believes that’s why Jody’s cyberstalkers went to the extreme. “They get other people riled up. They think everyone agrees with them, and that they’re doing what’s right for the community.”

Unfortunately, there’s little legal recourse for bad blogging behavior, unless someone crosses the line. If they threaten physical harm against you or your child, that’s a crime. “You can’t threaten people; it’s illegal,” says Getz, who advises that you reach out to police if it reaches that point. But cyber-crime is still considered new territory for police, judges and prosecutors. “Law enforcement is behind the eight ball, because cyberstalking evolved so quickly,” says Moore.

With nowhere to turn, Jody Ortiz had no choice but to go underground. “I lost all my business, because I was so devastated by hate,” she says. She was forced to move to another town and invest hundreds of dollars in spyware. The relentless stalking continues to this day. “I’m trying to get back to work, but they keep attacking me on the Internet,” says Jody, who sought counseling to deal with the emotional turmoil. A therapist urged her to express her feelings through writing, which has helped. Jody has just finished writing a book she has self-published about her ordeal, entitled “The Naked Truth Bound in Scorn.”

Jody is still struggling to get her life back and to rebuild her reputation. While she continues to publicly support Raye Dawn Smith and her appeal efforts, “I’m more cautious about what I say online,” says Jody. Although standing up for her beliefs has caused significant hardships, Jody believes she’s doing the right thing. “I’m just a country girl with a big heart,” she says

Read more:

http://www.momlogic.com/2010/07/cyber-stalking_mom_bloggers_attacked.php#ixzz12mJUTtim

Jody Ortiz is an esteem Board Member of The Majority United

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