Wednesday, May 9, 2012


We have your number and we know who the players are. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Comittee reauthorized the VAWA act, without including the amendments that had been proposed to include special interest groups and let them in on a piece of the funding.

In general, the amendments that had been proposed would have allowed three special interest groups to use VAWA funds for their own special interests: 1) Funds for Native American Women who are victims of abuse on reservations from non-native abusers; (they are women, and already can receive assistance under VAWA), 2) Immigrant visas to increase to over 3000 allowable so that immigrants that come here and claim domestic abuse can obtain a visa to stay here, and 3) the most frightening thing, to include LGBT groups (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) to receive VAWA funds if they claim they are victims of violence; since when are gay MEN to be included under VAWA funds? So, the judiciary comittee shot down the proposed revisions and these groups will not be included.

But this is not the most victorious matter in this issue; we already know there is corruption when it comes to VAWA funds, and victims rarely see any of the money. Most of the funding goes to salaries of non-profit executives. Case in point; I will reference the movement to reform domestic violence that is growing in this country. Survivors are speaking out about the lack of assistance from organizations that purport to help, but are nothing more than clearinghouses for thousands of dollars of government funding that goes to the executives. A survivor is lucky if they receive assistance of food, clothing, and maybe shelter when they get out of the abuse. Safety planning often consists of a used cell phone from which the victim can call 911 if the abuser approaches her again. There might be temporary assistance for shelter, but no assistance for job opportunities and planning. And there are rarely any advocates; most shelter services might offer help fill out paperwork for a FAPA (restraining order) against the abuser, but they do not go to court and advocate with the victim if the abuser contests it. Most Judges do not uphold and endorse restraining orders if there is not an extensive amount of evidence of abuse. So, all these organizations receiving VAWA funds set up websites, write books, give out information about abuse, and refer the victims to a hotline, that refers them to another hotline, and refers them to another hotline...... But don't they tell them to JUST GET OUT? That's what they tell the victims, then leave them to try and survive on their own, while they run with the money. We have a long way to go, but we will not stop. They don't know what's coming next. We will hold them accountable. We will expose the lies and get at your purses.

Friday, April 27, 2012


I'm holding my breath. Yesterday, 4/26/2012 the Senate passed the reauthorization of the VAWA act. VAWA stands for Violence against WOMEN. It was instituted in 1995, and was reauthorized in 2000 and again in 2005. So, we must have enough data now to know that this act has helped the millions of women who have experienced domestic violence and can say that it is working. Or is it?

First of all, VAWA funds are given in large sums to non-profit corporations; VAWA does not ensure that the victims of domestic violence ever receive services, so most of the funds go to the salaries of Executive Directors and others within those organizations. VAWA can only base its effectiveness on so-called decreasing numbers of domestic violence incidents. And where do they get those numbers anyway? From reports from law enforcement for one. Maybe the numbers of reports are going down because we are regressing back to an attitude of "put up, and shut up" of our mother's day and age, because the word is out that when we stand up and speak out we get battered again by systems that coerce us into being helpless victims. We want to be survivors!

So VAWA funds are now awaiting the passage by the House of Representatives. Several congress members are submitting amendments that they hope will be considered. The current VAWA has additions that have not been considered in the past. We will now take VAWA funds and give some of them to LGBT groups, they are the lesbians, gay, bisexuals and transexuals who have experienced violence. Another piece of the funds will go to Native American tribes to prosecute non-natives that come to the reservation and commit violence against their women. Still another piece of the pie will go to funding to increase immigrant visas of those who come here and experience domestic violence. So what's left will be for the women who are victims and need services. Does it really matter anyway, because no one is watching where these funds go to and how they are really used. That is called accountability, or otherwise known as "Quality Assurance;" this is a program that measures whether or not we have done what we have said we are going to do when we started a program to help victims. Most victims know that they fill out paperwork each time they present themselves to a program of assistance; this is how a local shelter can say they have provided services to victims. Yet it is only a number, the outcomes are not defined and not measured. Most victims will tell you that they are LEFT BEHIND. The provision of shelter, food and clothing is only temporary and in some states the victims are lucky to get those meager provisions. So where does all the funding go?

Funding goes to hotlines, like the National Abuse Hotlines or the National Domestic Violence Hotlines. When you call they will refer you to another hotline or give you information about violence and abuse, then send you on your way. Other funds are being given to organizations that run websites that sound good, but do nothing for victims. A victim knows what abuse is. Victims don't need to be educated about abuse. Victims need survival support, legal defense, jobs that can support their children, and protection of their children from further abuse.

Another scam of non-profit organizations is safety planning. They all tell you if you are being abused, get out. They provide you with a cell phone so that you can call 911 if your abuser comes at you. This sounds real good, but try to maintain a restraining order against your abuser in the courts before your abuser hits you again, it won't happen if the abuser has no current charges against them for abuse. At the local prosecuting District Attorney's offices they pick and choose which cases to take to court. So even if a victim reports the abuse, nothing may happen. So the safety plans that shelters purport to provide to assist the victims do not necessarily help.

VAWA funds are being purported as the Magic Carpet Ride out of abusive situations, but in the reality of our current implementation of programs the victims are really just becoming the rugs to be stepped on again. Maybe these special interest groups need to submit their own bills, or we could increase the funds of VAWA, change the name to be Victims of Violence and include everybody under the umbrella. What say you?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Funding Rape

Did I get your attention? I want to tell you about the rape of funds in non-profit organizations that make claims to assist victims of domestic violence. At this time in April 2012 most of them are on the edge of their seats waiting for Congress to reauthorize funds for the Violence Against Women Act, aka VAWA funds. Without these funds most organizations will tell you that they cannot continue to operate and assist victims. But the real problem lies in the fact that victims rarely receive assistance from these funds; most of the funding goes to pay for salaries of the workers that run them.

Many victims have found out that it is not easy to leave an abusive relationship; they are encouraged to get out, but once they get out they receive nothing more than food, clothing, and temporary shelter. Shelters also may provide assistance with filling out paperwork to obtain a restraining order, but they do not go with you as an advocate to the court hearings and most victims cannot afford attorneys. So if a victim is able to get out of the abuse, they may find themselves without further assistance to start over.

Indeed, many shelters at this time are no longer assisting victims of domestic violence; there is no money right now. The dwindling resources and lack of funding is directly related to a new phenomenon of a focus on assisting the abusers, not the victims. Many organizations are tapping into funds from the Department of Human Services for "Responsible Fatherhood Programs." The shelters set up programs to teach men and boys how to be responsible fathers and men. There are no funds at these shelters for programs that assist victims of the abuse. The funds that are available are being raped and plundered to develop programs for the men, who represent about 5% of the population of victims. The rest are all women and children. So everyday victims of abuse are being turned away, and it becomes a revictimization cycle all over again.

There is no accountability for the use of funding once it is allocated; so only a small percentage of victims ever receive the assistance they need. Most for-profit organizations that receive government funding are required to prove that they have provided assistance to the population they have stated they would assist. It's called Quality Asssurance, and all hospitals and medical facilities that receive medicare and medicaid funding are required by law to prove that they have provided the services that the funds were intended to be utilized for. I advocate that all organizations that purport to provide services to victims of domestic violence be held accountable by similar systems. They need to show that they are not only providing services, but also that the incidence of domestic violence is decreasing as a direct result of the services they provide. We do not have Quality Assurance systems in place yet, but we will if the current trend of victims voices continues to speak out about the realities of rape of our funding in these corrupt systems.