1 is 2 Many PSA

Check out this awesome PSA on Violence Against Women from the White House. Share it, step up and speak out!


Raising Awareness

Image from Flickr.com

By Emily Mathis

The first time he hit me I was so scared and shocked that I stayed. After that it was a continuous cycle of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse followed by guilt, blame, and manipulation to get me to stay. I left him after the third time. I am one of the lucky ones. I know that. Every day victims of domestic violence are seriously injured or even killed. According to some statistics, domestic violence is the number one cause of injury in women between the ages of 15-44. That’s more than car accidents, muggings and rape combined. Not to mention that according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center more than three women and one man are killed every day by domestic violence.

I was only 17 when it happened to me. I’m sure there were signs but at 17 how could I be expected to recognize them? Well maybe that’s where we start-with education. Teaching kids, teens, and young adults what is a healthy relationship and what an abusive relationship looks like is important. We need to be teaching everyone what to do if you find yourself in an abusive situation. I turned to my friends at the time. It was the blind leading the blind. But what if my friends had heard about what you do in these situations? Maybe I would have gotten help sooner than I did. There is no one to blame in these situations except for the perpetrator.

With 1 in 4 teenage girls assaulted by their boyfriends, it is time that we broaden our focus to include younger generations. If you stop it early it will be less likely to get to a critical point in the future. But along with teaching kids, teenagers and young adults, we need to be raising awareness among people of all walks of life because domestic violence knows no race, ethnicity, or class. This is one of our nation’s serious problems and it needs to be handled as such.

Here are some links if you or someone you know is in trouble or you just want more information:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Some local information:


Rose Brooks

UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project

Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement)

By Maritza Gordillo

Image c/o Flickr.com

A recent news report on the Spanish channel Univision focused on a group of Colombian men forming a movement called, Movimiento Machista Colombiano (Male Chauvinist Colombian Movement). The group’s founder, Beto Barreto, wanted to start this political movement to defend the rights of the machistas. Barreto says he has seen many incidents in which men have been arrested for raping their wives, and he believes this punishment is ridiculous because there is no such thing as rape within a marriage; it is a woman’s obligation to attend to all of her husband’s needs. To be considered as a member in the movement, the Machos must have more than one woman at a time and cannot have a woman trying to sue him for rape or other abuses since that supposedly shows his incompetency at dominating his wife or partner. Barreto compares the absolute dominance he has over a horse to how men should dominate their women. One of his former followers, Otoniel Castañeda, gave an even more illogical comparison of women and dogs. Castañeda thinks that women should take care of the children and dogs are used to guard the home. Because of Barreto’s troubling belief in extreme masculinity, it comes to no surprise that during his political crusade there were two laws that he wanted to implement:

1. Men should not be held responsible for paying child support to their ex-wives, or give their ex-wives any amount of income to sustain them.

2. Adultery should not be punishable for men, but should be punishable for women.

These are just a couple of the gender-offensive laws Barreto proposed if he were to be elected for a position in which he fortunately did not win, but received an astonishing 8,000 votes. It is hard to believe that excessively sexist beliefs like this still exist and that many Colombian women continue to abide by Machos’ rules out of fear. Even though there are laws that protect these women, the fear of physical and psychological abuse keeps these women silent. According to Sonia Bernal, a lawyer and advocate of women’s rights in Colombia, this type of machismo originates from mothers who raise their children to have this mentality. Bernal says that mothers teach their sons that women should be hit in order for them to obey and that young girls are not autonomous beings, but are dependents of men. Barreto would agree with this child-rearing practice when he asserts that women should be hit in order to learn not to commit the same mistake again. Watching this news report was shocking because ignorant ideologies like these are what aid the continued violence towards women.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Devon White

Image c/o Flickr.com


The month of April marks the  Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) national campaign. The primary goal of SAAM is to raise awareness and educate the public about the realities of sexual violence. According to the SAAM website, the 2011 campaign will explore “common, everyday behaviors and offers individuals viable, responsible ways to intervene.” Since early intervention can reduce the number of sexual violence victimizations and consequences, preventative education is essential for advocates, bystanders and those at risk.

Throughout the month of April, the UMKC Violence & Prevention Response Project will be promoting SAAM with a variety of informative events and resources. If you’re looking to get involved or want to learn more about sexual assault prevention, here are a few important dates that you should mark on your calendar:

Take Back the Night: Wednesday, April 20th – Join us for the sixth annual Take Back the Night march and rally, an event designed to unify women, men, and children in an awareness of violence against women, children, and families. This proactive event is sponsored by the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month Information Tables: Thursday, April 28th – The VPR team will be at the Health Sciences Building with information about sexual assault, how to deal with it, or help a friend deal with it. There will also be information about campus and community resources available. Check it out!

Denim Day Display, Thursday, April 21st & Denim Day: Thursday, April 28th – This sexual violence prevention and education campaign, asks everyone to make a social statement with their fashion by wearing jeans as a visible means of protest against the misconceptions surrounding sexual assault. To learn more about the origins of Denim Day, visit the national campaign website.

These SAAM event dates may be set in stone, but the work to end sexual violence is an ongoing effort that involves policy makers, victim advocates and community-based support. If you’re looking for more ways on how you can get involved visit: UMKC’s Violence & Prevention Response Project and the SAAM official website.

National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Awareness Month

Image from Flickr.com

By Maritza Gordillo

February is the 2nd annual National Teen Dating Violence Prevention Awareness Month (Teen DV Month). This month is dedicated to teens that suffer physical, emotional, or sexual abuse from their partners. During the month of January, we focused on National Stalking Awareness Month (NSAM), but stalking is just one aspect of hundreds of unhealthy teen relationships in the United States. Teen dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. According to the Teen DV Month’s resource center, here are the 10 most common behaviors of an abusive partner:

  • Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Acting extremely jealous or insecure
  • Having an explosive temper
  • Demanding to know where you are and who you are with all the time
  • Isolating you from family or friends
  • Undergoing large mood swings
  • Physically hurting you in any way
  • Being possessive
  • Telling you what to do

This list is just the beginning of a pattern of controlling behaviors that can become more tragic if left unchecked. Because fear is a major barrier for teens leaving an abusive relationship, it is important to raise dating abuse awareness. We can do this by learning to recognize the signs of abuse and taking positive action if abuse is suspected. Teens need to know that they are not alone in their struggle and that they can reach out to their friends, co-workers, or family members. If you suspect a teen is in an abusive relationship or would like more information please visit the official Teen DV Month website.

No Where to Go for Many Latina Women

By Patsy Campos

Image from Flickr.com

I recently came across an article in Latina Magazine which made me realize that many Latina women have an especially difficult time trying to escape from a life of domestic abuse.  It seems that no matter where these women go, they can’t get any support.

 Women in Latin America who have suffered years of violent abuse from their spouses have a difficult time getting support from uncooperative justice systems in their native country. Desperate to protect, themselves and their families, they flee to the United States seeking asylum.  However, due to immigration issues, these women are met with hostility and another uncooperative system. And because of immigration issues, the U.S. has made it difficult for Latina women to be granted asylum status even though they can provide evidence that they are in a violent situation back home.

Latina women are faced with a battle everywhere they go.  If they stay in their home country, they are risking their lives by living through sexual and physical abuse.  If they come to the United States, they are looked down upon because of their undocumented status and they risk being sent home where the abuse will more than likely continue.  This is really unfortunate.  The immigration issue is blinding people from the real issue – which is the need to protect these women from domestic abuse.  

As a Mexican-American, I understand the problems many of these women face, especially the undocumented women.  I have had personal experience with women in these circumstances.  I know that they live in fear every day. They fear the U.S. immigration system. They fear going back home.  But most of all, they fear for their lives.  I understand the immigration issue is sensitive, but the system needs to show some compassion for these women who need asylum and can prove that being sent home is a matter of life or death. Rather than worrying about their immigration status, the focus should be on protecting these women from not only the violent physical and sexual abuse from their spouses, but also the neglect of a corrupt system in their native countries that has failed to provide them with their basic human rights.

The Power of Compassion

By Devon White

Here at the Women’s Center, my fellow staff members and I are annually trained on Safe Space protocols and on the appropriate steps and resources used to handle the Violence Prevention and Response needs for our student body. Everyone from our Executive Director down has been trained on these initiatives and understands the necessity to have this support in place here at UMKC to help make it a learning environment free of violence, harassment and sexual misconduct.

The mission of the Violence Prevention and Response Project at the UMKC is to strengthen the University and community response to gender-based and sexual violence through victim support services, advocacy, training, education, and outreach to the campus and community.  My first Violence Prevention and Response training was enlightening, educational and metaphorically placed me in the shoes of a survivor of abuse. The Victim Services Adjudication Advisor Michelle Kroner and Program Coordinator, Kerra McCorkle, gave us an exercise that reverberates in my mind days later. Near the end of our training session, all of the student assistants were told to pair off and select a Listener and a Speaker role in which to conduct the exercise. I cheerfully looked to my co-worker sitting next to me and said, “Let’s be partners!” and agreed to be the Speaker. None of us had a clue what we were about to do, but we excitedly paired off and moved to the four corners of the room. Then the VPR Program Coordinator told us out of the blue: “Now, Speakers tell your Listener about your first sexual experience!” The room that was buzzing with energy mere seconds ago screeched to a silent halt. We all blinked, peering at the Program Coordinator inquisitively to make sure we heard her right. I heard a few uncomfortable laughs fill the room and we all seemed to instantly draw into ourselves. Someone asked: “Um, can I whisper it?” and another of my peers requested that the conference room doors be closed. Being the only guy doing this exercise, I was already censoring my response down to the bare essentials and leaving out anything uncomfortable or too personal that I didn’t want my avid Listener to know.  Fortunately, Kerra cut off my response when she called out for all of us to stop right as we got started.

Once we regrouped at the table we were asked how that exercise made us feel, and how much information we were willing to share. Some of us remarked that we were reluctant to share such personal information and others expressed their need to rush through the process and get it over with. We quickly learned how a survivor of abuse may feel when seeking help and explaining their traumatic experiences: a purposeful or unintentional lack of details, a desire to rush through the explanation of the experience, not to mention the intense discomfort that accompanied sharing such sensitive information with a stranger. Our experience did not include the stigma that victims of violence and abuse suffer when trying to piece together a narrative of their experience.      

National Domestic Violence Month has drawn to a close, but with one in four women (25%) at risk of experiencing domestic violence in her lifetime, the battle for awareness and prevention is far from over. Prevention and risk reduction are vital in creating a safe campus and community for those affected by sexual violence. It is often difficult for survivors to tell their story so it’s our responsibility to create a safe atmosphere in which to do so.  We must all learn how to compassionately respond to survivors of abuse in their moment of need. If you’re looking for resources or want to learn more about UMKC’S Violence Prevention and Response Project visit their website.

October is Domestic Violence Month, too.

By Emily Mathis

Drive around Kansas City in October and I bet you will see some pink fountains. The city, for the past seven years, has dyed a dozen or so fountains pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, I bet not as many people know that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Why is it that if both issues are important to women’s health, one is more visible than the other?

Here at the UMKC Women’s Center and the Violence Prevention and Response Project, we have many events surrounding Domestic Violence Awareness. For instance, we just wrapped up the Clothesline Project, and coming up we have the These Hands Don’t Hurt tables all around campus as well as educational sessions on Violence Prevention and Dating Violence. However, besides our events, I haven’t seen as much around the community promoting awareness about this important issue.

I am definitely not trying to belittle Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  I know how important it is to women’s health. But statistically speaking, so is Domestic Violence Awareness. According to the Domestic Violence Resource Center, “Between 600,000 and 6 million women are victims of domestic violence each year, and between 100,000 and 6 million men.” This is not light issue.

So while we are supporting the pink ribbon campaign, it is also important to make sure that we are spreading the word about domestic violence. It’s happening and we need to recognize it so we can prevent it.

To learn more about Domestic Violence, including how to recognize it go here.

Father and Son Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Together

The following is a guest post submitted by Jim Doyle, Executive Director of Self-Protection. org.

Walking with my 9-year-old son around the University of Missouri – Kansas City campus with over 100 other men gave me a chance to teach my son that not all men/boys respect women, even though they should.  At the half way point, my son complained that his feet hurt.  The teaching moment descended upon us as I explained to him, in a nine year old appropriate way, about violence against women.  He spent the remainder of the walk in silent thought.  Why were we there?  

Walk a Mile in Her shoes is an international men’s march to end rape, sexual assault and gender violence.  The awkward march of men clanking around the sidewalks of the campus in high heeled shoes revealed our attitudes about sexual violence.  But, the march must become more than a symbolic gesture.  We must use the event as a commitment to respect women, to start a long-term conversation about gender violence and finally as a catalyst to take action.     

Let’s use this event as a commitment to walk in her shoes every day.  These are our mothers and sisters, wives and girlfriends, our daughters.  Let’s make a commitment to treat every woman in our lives with respect all the time.  And we should demand that our friends and brothers and sons and fathers do the same.

Let’s start a conversation among men.  Let’s have a conversation about our responsibilities in preventing rape, sexual assault and gender violence.  What can each of us do?  What would we want our society to look like for our mothers, sisters, wives or girlfriends?  What kind of society do we want our daughters to grow up in? And finally, how can we participate in this change?

“Getting engaged in changing things is quite straightforward.  If we have an idea, or want to resolve an injustice, or stop a tragedy, we step forward to serve.  Instead of being overwhelmed and withdrawing, we act.”  (From Perseverance by Margaret Wheatley, 2010).

So Men, let’s reflect on the blistered toes and stiff calf muscles and act to end violence in all of its forms.

Love the Way You Lie

“Just gonna stand there/And watch me burn/But that’s alright/Because I like/The way it hurts/Just gonna stand there/And hear me cry/But that’s alright/Because I love/The way you lie” – lyrics from “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna

Image from Flickr.com

Is the new video for the song “Love the Way You Lie” by Eminem and Rihanna glamorizing domestic violence or realistically portraying what those relationships can be like?

With something like 1000 women being killed from domestic violence each year, one thing is for sure: this is not a light topic. People can get heated pretty easily when you are talking about abusive relationships.  However, the song is already topping the charts and getting a lot of YouTube play and leaving a lot of people, me included, left wondering if the song is sending the wrong message.

Image from picasaweb.google.com

Megan Fox stars in the video alongside Dominic Monaghan (Fox donated her fee to an abuse shelter). The video follows the couple’s tumultuous relationship cycle. One minute they are fighting and she is leaving, while he tries to stop her by being violent, and in the next moment they are engaged in some intense tonsil hockey. The rest of the video is much the same with the couple going through what looks like cycles of abuse: in one frame he is hitting her and throwing her around and in the next he is apologizing with a stuffed bear and everything is good again.

Throughout the video you see Eminem in a peaceful field of grass rapping about how he “didn’t mean it” but would do it again and Rihanna in front of a burning house singing about how she “likes the way it hurts” and “loves the way you lie.”

It’s all a bit confusing. I have read some blogs that say this is obviously Eminem and Rihanna’s way of saying that these relationships are bad and should end sooner. I have seen other articles that think because you have all these pretty people being shot beautifully that it is “glamorizing” domestic violence.

As for her part, Rihanna was quoted on Access Hollywood saying:

“It just was authentic. It was real,” Rihanna continued. “It was believable for us to do a record like that, but it was also something that needed to be done and the way he did it was so clever. He pretty much just broke down the cycle of domestic violence and it’s something that a lot people don’t have a lot of insight on, so this song is a really, really powerful song and it touches a lot of people.”

As for me I would have to agree with Rihanna as well as a writer for BUST Magazine, that the video shows the relationship for what it is. While I still don’t know what to think about Rihanna’s lyrics, I liked how the video illustrated what the cycle of abuse can look like.

As with almost anything that Rihanna or Eminem do, the song and its video are getting lots of attention and maybe that’s good enough. All the attention is certainly opening up conversations about abuse and what domestic violence looks like from the inside and what each person goes through. “Love the Way You Lie” gives an unabashed look at domestic violence, right or wrong, it’s out there and getting people talking.  Let us know what you think after watching the video.