Exclusive: A Needed Spotlight on Stalking

By: Alexis Moore

The subject of an episode of “Stalked: Someone’s Watching,” the author calls on the media to investigate and report on the kind of help required by survivors of stalking crimes.

On Monday (10:30 PM, EST), Investigation Discovery (I.D., part of the Discovery Channel) will feature an episode of its series “Stalked: Someone’s Watching,” which dramatizes my personal experience as a survivor of stalking.

The attention is welcome.  There has been a dearth of coverage in the entertainment and news media of the reality of domestic violence and stalking issues in the 21st century.

First, some background. In 2004, after years of physical and mental abuse, I fled an abusive boyfriend and the home we once shared; but within 24 hours, I became trapped in a new form of hell as my sociopathic abuser—a professional investigator—began relentlessly stalking and cyberstalking me.  Physically, and using a computer, he was watching my every move.

For almost three years, he devised new ways to control and torment me, foiling my attempts to start a new life. I lost the ability to work.  I lost money and, even worse, my good credit history—which meant I couldn’t move, get an apartment, get a car, get a loan or find a job.  I lost friends and the support of family.  After three solid years of torture and abuse, there was even a point when I lost the will to live.

With equal tenacity, I reached out for help, but I was rebuffed by social service agencies, the police and the courts. That meant I had to rescue myself; so I used my wits to turn the tables on my predator for good.

Finally, five years later, I’m solvent and successful—but it took thousands of hours of attention to the problem to repair my credit and stop his attacks, including having to make extreme financial decisions.  I also filed endless reports to the police, to the sheriff, the FBI and the district attorney’s office.  I finally began braving the outside world again to meet people who believed in me, believed my story and could connect me to others who could help.

I’m not alone as a stalking survivor. According to a major governmental survey released just this week—conducted by the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control—one in six U.S. women has been stalked. And a large majority of the women surveyed who were stalked or victimized by sexual violence also reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of being targeted. The stalkers’ tactics varied: more than half the women said her stalker approached her or showed up at her office or home; nearly a quarter said the stalker snuck into her home or car.

I not only fought back, but now I’m helping others regain control.  Seeing how few useful resources there were for domestic abuse and stalking victims, in 2007 I founded Survivors in Action, a national non-profit organization that: 1) fights for better services for all crime victims; and 2) demands accountability from those who provide them.  We’ve taken the crusade all the way to the White House.

There are solutions to the growing number of victims of stalking, cyberstalking and domestic violence being left behind, and they are more than reasonable. However in order to garner support to bring about reform, exposing the issue is vital. We need proactive media to investigate such issues as reform of domestic violence laws, access of victims to funded resources, and growing homicide rates when victims are unable to find proper assistance or tap into resources. And little is known as yet about how cyberstalking is increasingly being used to stalk and harass.

The media is vital to reform efforts. There is no other way to call to action the public or to pressure politicians to take action. If you are a blogger, journalist, or documentarian, I’d love to work with you; please visit my website at http://www.AlexisMoore.com. Contact me at http://www.survivorsinaction.org for more information on stalking and DV reform. I can also connect you to other survivors and activists.

  • The Majority United is proud to announce Alexis Moore is a TMU and WOMEN Coalition Board Member- Go go go!!! Alexis Moore! IMAGINE Women Organized Mobilized Empowered Nationwide! Please support Alexis Survivors in Action and tune in Monday Night 12/19/11 on Discovery Channel Stalked: Someone’s Watching and support Alexis by visiting her website: http://www.survivorsinaction.org

Sue Else: Even one death resulting from an ineffective NNEDV program is one too many

BettyJean Kling- TMU WOMEN Coalition

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has concluded a recent survey revealing the strain across the nation on agencies providing services to the victims of domestic violence. Reports show that more than 80 percent of domestic violence programs report an increased demand for their services, while nearly the same number report decreases in funding.

Sue Else, president of NNEDV, said that programs around the country are struggling to provide life-saving services to victims.

“The economy is exacerbating domestic violence, and victim advocates across the country are struggling to do more with less,” Else said.

Sue Else said a mouthful, about “programs around the country struggling to provide life-saving services to victims.” Let’s take Wisconsin for example. According to a report, on Sept. 15, 2010, domestic violence victim advocates answered more than 20,000 emergency hotline calls but more than 9,000 requests went unmet, largely due to lack of funding, said Tony Gibart of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCAD).

A recent statewide survey indicated that 88 percent of Wisconsin’s domestic violence programs have experienced funding cuts in the last three years. … Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of Wisconsin programs have had to reduce staff to deal with budget crises.

The year 2009 set decade-high records for domestic violence homicides in Wisconsin, with 67 people losing their lives in 52 incidents. This rise in fatal domestic violence corresponds with recent increased demands on local victim service providers, the study notes.

People Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse (PADA) finds itself in a critical position across the United States.

“Over the last couple of years, we have lost significant funding from the county government and a private foundation,” said Amy Venables O’Neil, executive director of PADA, based in Jefferson County. “We had to make difficult decisions just to maintain basic services. This has all happened while demand increased.”

Clearly, Sue Else, president of NNEDV, has been aware of the severity of the problem for years, she is aware of the 80% rise in demand and corresponding funding cuts yet no cuts in the NNEDV Staffing and administrative costs. Give me a break Sue- have you met any of the goals? Violence is up, laws have not changed nearly enough and exactly how many lives has NNEDV saved because of effectively holding perpetrators accountable?

Staff

Sue Else President
Johnny Capers Chief Financial Officer
Alisha Donovan Transitional Housing Specialist
Nina Gilbert WomensLaw.org Outreach Coordinator
Cheryl Howard Coalition Program Director
Kelly Howard Development Specialist
Kaofeng Lee Safety Net Project & Communications Specialist
Monica McLaughlin Senior Public Policy Specialist
Paulette Sullivan Moore Vice President of Public Policy
Krista Niemczyk Public Policy Coordinator
Erica Olsen Technology Safety Specialist
Kim Pentico Economic Justice Specialist
Rene Renick Vice President of Economic Enterprises
Stacey Sarver Sr. Attorney & WomensLaw.org Legal Director
Ashley Slye Program Coordinator
Cindy Southworth VP. of Development & Innovation
Sarah Tucker Technology Safety Specialist
Mao Yang Resource & TA Specialist
     
 Program Expenses 2007

 

SafetyNet Project: $828,947

Economic Justice Project: $748,764

Transitional Housing Technical Assistance: $663,876

State Coalition Technical Assistance: $468,064

Amy’s Courage Fund: $447,808

Public Policy: $144,522

Other Programs: $78,633

Total: $3,380,614

Mary Kay Foundation and Phillip Morris the biggest contributors to The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) should be notified and encouraged to contribute directly toward saving lives rather than toward the exorbitant salary compensation package for Sue Else amounting to nearly a half million dollars and more than many of the projects themselves i.e. Amy’s Courage fund shown above.

$449,537.00 (including salary and benefits, 2008 Tax Doc on page 24), http://www.free-us-now.com/assets/images/2008-521973408-056e69d1-9.pdf

$275,698 (including salary and benefits) 2009 tax doc, http://www.free-us-now.com/assets/images/2007-521973408-0435a000-9.pdf

According to the Mary Kay Foundation money is given to NNEDV to fund women who need immediate help: If you or anyone you know needs immediate help, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). http://www.marykayfoundation.org/Pages/WomenAndViolence.aspx

Is there any accountability at this national network? Have there been any oversight or performance evaluations? Let’s find out and while we are at it lets get an accounting for where the 25 million went? Did it go to shelters in all 50 states as claimed? The foundation claims: The Mary Kay Foundation has awarded nearly $25 million in grant money to shelters for women and children in all 50 states since 2000.

It is time for us to start asking questions and insisting on answers! The time is now! The proof is in the pudding- after 15 years http://www.nnedv.org/about/history.html what are all these folks getting paid to do and what is being accomplished besides the staff all having a high paying job and a fancy title. Are the victims getting the voice they were promised or the benefits of the listed signature programs?

 NNEDVsignature programs promise but in 15 years have not delivered:

  • Empowering domestic violence survivors to lead independent lives free from abuse;
  • Supporting the 56 state-wide and territorial coalitions against domestic and sexual violence;
  • Advancing economic empowerment and financial literacy for domestic violence survivors and their allies;
  • Improving high-profile media coverage of domestic violence cases;
  • Educating survivors and their allies about safe technological practices and how batterers misuse technology to further abuse;
  • Building the capacity of local and state-wide coalitions against domestic and sexual violence;
  • Providing state-specific legal information for domestic violence survivors; and
  • Promoting federal legislation that effectively holds perpetrators accountable and strengthens services for survivors and their children.

Based on what I’ve experienced firsthand, what women callers tell me on the radio and based on stories from our coalitions partners reported from their readers, bloggers and friends, there are a lot more abusive men out there than we ever realized. It’s way past time we do something about it. And it is way past time we stop settling for window dressing organizations like bogus charities, that collect money just so they can exist but actually use very little of the income for their intended purpose – ‘Network to End Domestic Violence.’ Hell this network isn’t even making a damned dent in it! Like many other Government programs in DC- it’s another failure- victims should do an occupy the NNEDV or at the very least shut ’em’ down and send the money to the volunteers to use for the victims. We are the ones working for the victims and we are doing it for free!

I am getting fed up with the salaries of these folks remaining high while there are shrinking funds to actually help victims. Much like charities – the lion’s share of the funds go to running the enterprise rather than to those in need! Enough is enough, I say we expose this exploitation of limited funds at the expense of victims!

*WEBMASTER NEEDED:

The TMU WOMEN’s Coalition founded the National Domestic Violence Oversight Committee NDVOC.com. We are a non-partisan volunteer group determined to reform domestic violence and stalking victim resources and public policy so that no victim is left behind.

The purpose of the NDVOC web site is to serve as a forum for survivors to share their experiences and rate victim service providers in the United States. The goal of this site is to hold victim service providers, courts and public safety agencies accountable and to ensure the needs of victims are met.

According to Alexis Moore of Survivors in Action, This is desperately needed. “I still remember like yesterday being turned away and ignored by the DV shelter, National Stalking Resource Center and other national, state and local crime victim agencies wondering where do I go to file complaints for being re-victimized?” Today after talking to thousands of victims across the country with the same complaint—NDVOC is vital in the efforts to reforming victim resources and ensuring that no victim is left behind”.

Maria DiBari of Tri-County Crisis Center agrees there is no oversight and no one is watching those who should be watching where the DV funds are going.

Together with TMU and others we have been three years forming this committee and now we need volunteers across the country to make it happen.

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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The case for DV Reform

Posted on October 27, 2011 by DVReform

Gimme Shelter: The Case for Domestic Violence Reform

By the time you go to bed tonight, 3 women will have been murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.

For millions of victims, domestic violence is a matter of life and death, but victims of domestic abuse are being victimized again- ignored and abandoned by the very victim service providers that claim to help them. These publicly and privately funded agencies have no oversight – and are in desperate need of reform.

It’s hard to comprehend, but each month its estimated thousands of victims of abuse are turned away from state and federally domestic violence shelters and agencies. Many shelters refuse women with children, charge fees battered women cannot afford, and reject women because of their immigration status, their sexual orientation or their abuser’s occupation. A majority of those shelters that DO accept all victims are not funded by the private and public sector through NNEDV, NCADV, and state coalitions, so they are limited to the numbers of victims they can shelter.

When a victim of domestic violence calls a hotline at the local, state or national level, instead of help, they are often referred to another agency, which in turn refers them to yet another agency. Many women tell of being referred back to the same agencies, but receiving little or no practical help.

Maria DiBari, an abuse survivor who has since created the Tri-County Crisis Center in New York, says, “A victim will reach out in need of a specific resource and no one can provide it. Hotlines will refer to shelters and shelters will refer to other agencies and programs and those programs and agencies will refer them back to the shelters. So it becomes a vicious circle.”

DiBari approached many agencies including LSHV, OPDV, NCADV, NYS Coalition, every shelter in NY, Justice Centers in NYS, and she contacted all of her state officials for assistance and still could not get the resources she needed.

Alexis Moore, head of Survivors in Action, and also a former victim of abuse, agrees. “I was referred and referred and referred… until finally I was referred back to the same agencies that I had already been through.”

They both point to battered women like Heather Williams, of Connecticut, who has reached out to more than 50 state and local agencies, but has yet to receive the help she needs. Heather’s most dire need: legal representation.

“I am a victim of domestic violence and stalking. I have a four year-old daughter and have been in an ongoing custody battle with my abuser. In the past, I’ve had numerous orders of protection that have been violated, have been unable to obtain my own police reports, and, most recently, have been falsely charged with domestic violence. I’ve already spent $100,000 in attorneys’ fees for child custody and have been unsuccessful in my attempts to protect my daughter and myself from my abuser. I live in fear of retaliation. Once you’ve left, the danger is far from over. Now your abuser is on the war-path, and there’s no one to help you.”

Finding and obtaining legal representation is the biggest challenge for victims. Many victims go without legal counsel because they can’t afford lawyers. Agencies will often refer them to Legal Aid, a service that provides free representation, but few if any of their attorneys are experienced in domestic violence law, an essential to help victims of abuse navigate the courts, DCF/CPS, the paperwork, the endless bureaucracy, and the legal tricks their abusers will play.

Heather, after requesting assistance from more than 50 government and private agencies in New York and Connecticut, as well as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, has yet to find a pro-bono attorney to take her case.

Often services offered women are simply denied. Lily Morales contacted the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence – one of the most heavily funded agencies in the United States – for free reconstructive surgery after her abuser disfigured her face. Though surgery is advertised as a service the NCADV provides, Morales was refused.

Other women are simply given incorrect or bad advice. Alexis Moore was told by prosecutors, law enforcement, victim advocates, domestic violence shelters, and other agencies to change her social security number for safety reasons, only to have her request repeatedly denied by the social security administration, for “lack of ongoing abuse” – the standard reply in such cases. When the SSA does grant a social security number changes, victims have actually been arrested and accused of identity theft or fraud.

Karen Elkins, a pro-bass angler, abuse survivor, SIA advisory board member and DV Reform supporter was denied social security number change for safety in 2009. The letter she received from SSA denying her social security number change for safety is like what is estimated to be millions of letters received by abuse victims from SSA each denied by SSA for the same reason, “lack of ongoing abuse”.

There is little oversight of how federal and state funded agencies spend their money: no assessment as to whether or not these agencies are meeting the victims’ needs. Even worse, victims have no recourse when this happens – no place to report this second victimization.

The problem is NOT money but instead how monies and resources are allocated by publicly-funded agencies. DV Reform is about bringing oversight and accountability to these agencies. DV agencies and victim service providers are not regulated as other agencies are yet they deal with customers i.e. victims who are facing life or death circumstances. Victims left behind need to have a place to file formal complaints like consumers have today with law enforcement, businesses and other government agencies.

Everyone knows all too well what DV is. The problem now is victims who are reaching out for help find that no real help exists and there is no place to turn when they are left behind to complain or file a formal complaint.

We are advocating for there to be a federal domestic violence oversight committee for EVERY agency who operates in U.S. that receives funding from public or private sector – where victims can document experience and file complaints.

By writing to local, state and federal officials in support of DV Reform, individuals can use social media platforms to promote this cause as well and join with Tri-County Crisis Center and Survivors In Action by visiting our web sites and contacting us there.

www.SurvivorsInAction.org and www.TriCountyCrisisCenter.org