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Settlement in New York Domestic Violence Case May Set Broader Precedent/ NYTimes.com

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http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/19/business/settlement-in-new-york-domestic-violence-case-may-set-broader-precedent.html?_r=2

The New York State attorney general has reached a potentially significant settlement with Bon-Ton Stores, which has more than 200 department stores across the northern part of the country, over a workplace discrimination complaint filed by a victim of domestic violence

The settlement, to be announced on Thursday, stems from an episode in early October at the company’s store in Williamsville, N.Y., a suburb of Buffalo. It requires the company to educate all employees of its New York stores that victims of domestic violence are protected by state law against retaliation and harassment relating to their abuse.

In a possible violation of the law, the Bon-Ton employee was sent home by a manager shortly after revealing that her estranged husband had threatened her life the day before. Under the terms of the settlement, Bon-Ton did not admit any wrongdoing, but agreed to change its policy so that employees in a similar situation are not required to procure a protective order to stay on the job.

“Victims of domestic violence face unspeakable hardships in every aspect of their personal lives,” the attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a statement. “Our agreement with Bon-Ton Stores stands as a model for other employers.”

Experts on workplace discrimination hailed the settlement as an important step in protecting victims of domestic violence.

“It has a great value in spreading awareness about the law,” said Amanda Norejko, of Sanctuary for Families, an advocacy group and service provider for survivors of domestic violence. “Employers who are willing to flout the law will be given pause by the fact they know the attorney general’s office is investigating these things.”

Bon-Ton declined to comment on the case or the settlement agreement.

In a variety of studies over the years, victims of domestic violence have reported that the abuse interfered with their job performance and undermined their livelihoods. A significant fraction — as high as around 50 percent in some studies — reported having lost their jobs or being forced to quit at least partly as a result of the situation.

“It’s particularly an issue for workers at the lower end of the income spectrum,” said Maya Raghu, a lawyer with Futures Without Violence, a nonprofit that works to end violence against women and children. “They work shifts, don’t have a lot of control or benefits like paid leave, sick leave to deal with this.”

The law in New York, one of a handful of jurisdictions around the country to have enacted similar measures, prevents employers from firing or otherwise punishing employees on the basis of their having experienced domestic violence.

Unlike a similar New York City law, the state law does not explicitly require employers to make accommodations for employees who have experienced abuse — such as granting time off for medical treatment and to obtain protective orders against their abusers. But some of these steps may be necessary for an employer to demonstrate that it was handling the situation appropriately, experts say.

The episode involving Bon-Ton began on Oct. 9, when Jodi Porter, the employee, turned up for her shift as a saleswoman and informed store security officials that her estranged husband had threatened to kill her.

Ms. Porter said in an interview that, within an hour, the store had developed a safety plan that allowed her to go about her work. But shortly thereafter, the store manager told her to leave the store immediately. She was told to stay home until she checked in with the manager several days later, missing at least one more shift in the meantime.

When she spoke with the manager again, Ms. Porter said, she was told she could not return to work until she received a protective order against her husband, which was not immediately forthcoming because he had fled after a warrant for his arrest was issued. She was given no indication that her leave would be paid.

Ms. Porter contacted a hotline at the attorney general’s office on Oct. 13 regarding an unrelated issue and also mentioned her employment situation, which prompted the investigation. Bon-Ton informed her that it would pay her during the leave after she contacted the attorney general, and she was told she would be able to return to work less than one week after that.

The safety plan the store ultimately put into effect under pressure from the attorney general — including allowing her to park closer to the store, giving her access to a safe room to elude her husband and allowing her to use her cellphone while working in the event of a threat — was essentially the same plan the store proposed at the outset of the incident, Ms. Porter said.

She said that being unable to work created a level of emotional distress above and beyond the uncertainty of not knowing whether she would have a source of income.

“I went there going, everything is fine, everything is fine,” she said. “I was trying to go about my work, just do what I’ve got to do to take my mind off of everything.”

Instead, she added, being sent home “made me feel like a victim all over again. It was like a slap in the face.”

Advocates said one of the company’s key missteps was not having a policy in place to deal with such contingencies, leading to the confusion that surrounded Ms. Porter’s situation.

“You don’t want to have a low-level manager operating off the seat of their pants,” said Penny M. Venetis, the executive vice president and legal director of Legal Momentum, a group that works on a broad range of gender equity issues, include domestic violence.

Ms. Venetis said that sending home a worker who has been threatened by a partner was often the most dangerous response an employer could choose. The employee may be less safe alone at home than at work, and the loss of a livelihood can make abused partners even more dependent on their abusers.

Ms. Porter “acted responsibly for reporting it,” Ms. Venetis said. “The actions Bon-Ton took discourage people from coming forward.”

The law in New York and many other states does not necessarily require that employers always allow victims of violence to return to work, some experts say. There may be instances in which a violent threat is imminent and an employer reasonably concludes that the victim, fellow workers and customers may be safer if the abuse victim takes time off, said Jennifer Schwartz, an employment lawyer at Outten & Golden in California.

But in those instances, it is important for the employer to go out of its way to seek input from the employee in order to get a complete picture of the circumstances, including the employee’s needs.

“We’re not saying employers should become experts on sexual violence, stalking,” Ms. Raghu said. “Just that they should be supportive of people who are victims.”

Correction: November 18, 2015
An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misstated Ms. Porter’s status at Bon-Ton. She is a current employee, not a former one.

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Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

November 20, 2015 at 6:19 am

Judge Rules that Wife is Entitled to Damages From her Abusive Husband By Rita Price/ The Columbus Dispatch

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Wonderful legal precedent !!!

In what might be a first for Ohio, a Franklin County judge has ruled that a domestic-violence victim who sued her abusive husband is entitled to civil damages.

Jerry Bailey is liable for the pain and suffering and distress that he caused Jennifer Bailey — now his ex-wife — as a result of his attack on her in August 2013, Common Pleas Judge Julie Lynch said in a written decision this week.

“This sets a clear legal precedent that these victims are going to have recourse to a meaningful remedy. Whether Jennifer Bailey ever collects a dollar or not, that makes this decision huge,” said her attorney, Michael King.

Jennifer Bailey, who recently changed her surname back to Kershaw, said she hopes the case paves the way for other domestic-violence victims to hold abusers accountable in civil courts.

Read more:
http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2015/10/21/domestic-violence-ruling.html

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Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

October 24, 2015 at 2:58 am

#SilenceHidesViolence: Woman ‘beaten by boyfriend’ shows powerful pictures of her injuries/ Metro.co.uk

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A creative project by a professional photographer that is raising awareness about Domestic Violence in a very powerful way;

Earlier this week Brooke Beaton called the police to report she’d been assaulted by her boyfriend.

Before her bruises had time to fade, she used them to make her alleged abuser live up to his actions.

Ms Beaton, from South Dakota, enlisted the help of her photographer friend Tiffany Thoelke to create powerful pictures, which put her injuries on full display.

Some of the images show the 27-year-old crying, but she remains defiant and unbroken.

Ms Thoelke, owner of T.S.T Photography, told Metro.co.uk: ‘I hope we can continue to help the thousands if not millions affected by this [domestic violence] every day.

‘We never expected this, it’s a bit overwhelming,’ she added about the reaction to the photographs.

‘It opened a conversation that could go on forever.

‘Where it goes from here, I’m not sure. It’s only been a couple days, but it’s hitting powerful, powerful people that I’m hoping will use this as their platform.’

To read more and to view these powerful images visit the link ( below)

http://metro.co.uk/2015/08/30/silencehidesviolence-domestic-abuse-victim-makes-boyfriend-live-up-to-his-actions-with-powerful-pics-of-injuries-5367384/

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Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

October 9, 2015 at 5:54 am

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month- Raise Awareness!

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Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

October 8, 2015 at 3:27 am

13 year old reunited with mother after being imprisoned by father

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Florida boy, 13, is reunited with his mother after being found imprisoned behind a false wall in his father’s Georgia home after going missing FOUR YEARS ago Boy, 13, from Florida, reported missing to child welfare authorities in 2010 He had gone to father’s house in Georgia and he ‘refused to give him back’ He downloaded cellphone app and text mother saying he was being beaten Police arrived at scene and found teen hidden behind wall in a linen closet Five people – victim’s father, stepmother and three juveniles, were arrested They are charged with false imprisonment, obstruction and cruelty to child On Saturday morning, boy was reunited with mother in emotional scenes.

The unnamed teenager reportedly downloaded a cellphone app to text his Florida-based mother to tell her he was being held captive and beaten at the house in Clayton County, Georgia.

Police arrived at the scene and found the boy hidden behind a false panel in a linen closet in the property’s garage. He repeatedly thanked officers for rescuing him, according to reports.

In heart-wrenching scenes on Saturday morning, the victim was pictured clinging on to his weeping mother, who had traveled to Georgia, as another female relative sobbed uncontrollably nearby.

Now, five people in the house in Duke Court – the boy’s father, stepmother and three juveniles – have been arrested and charged with false imprisonment, obstruction and cruelty to a child.

The boy was reported missing to child welfare authorities in 2010 after he went to visit his father and he refused to return him to his mother, according to WSB-TV.

However, his mother never contacted the police, potentially because she is an immigrant and was unfamiliar with the system, it is said. But after receiving her son’s text, she immediately called 911.

Following her call, officers arrived at the property at 2am on Saturday. They reportedly questioned the house’s uncooperative occupants for several minutes before locating the victim.

It is unknown what condition the teenager was discovered in, or whether he was taken to hospital.

Sargent Joanne Southerland, of Clayton County Police Department, told the news station: ‘We came here to the home and were able to get inside and talk to the people inside.

‘After several minutes of denying that the child was here and that there was ever any assault or anything like that, we were able to find him in the linen closet.’

Officer Daniel Day added: ‘I just couldn’t believe it. We found him, we saw him. To say it was a great feeling is an understatement. He just couldn’t thank us enough, he was overjoyed we had found him.’

Police have now requested a search warrant for the property. A spokesman said they still have a lot of unanswered questions, including how the boy was imprisoned for so long without intervention.

The boy, whose legal custody is believed to lie with his mother, is expected to remain under the protection of the Division of Family and Children Services for the next couple of days.

Robin McGraw and Dr. Phil Explain The Groundbreaking New App Called ASPIRE News

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Robin introduces a groundbreaking new app for smart phones that could save your life or the life of someone you love. The app is called ASPIRE News, and it’s a major development in domestic violence safety.

Written by protectivemothersallianceinternational

August 27, 2015 at 1:14 am

The Invisible Domestic Violence no one Talks about./ Elephant

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http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/02/the-invisible-domestic-violence-no-one-talks-about/

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There were times when I wished he would hit me.

You know, a nice punch to my face. That way, I could have walked to my neighbors and said, “Look! Look what he did! Please help me!” But with me, as with many other women, it wasn’t that simple. It seldom ever is.

Domestic violence has existed as long as humans have walked the Earth. The majority of abusers are men. Most, if not all, were abused as children in some way, shape or form, and were lacking in affection, self-esteem and good role models. The causes and methods of abuse are many and varied just like the people involved.

Abuse of any type is often a byproduct of years of low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, being abused oneself and a million other things all tied together in a vicious knot. It’s a complex and sometimes difficult situation to read.

So too are the circumstances for the victim. No one stays with someone who abuses them physically or verbally because they like to be abused. Most have come to this point because of childhood trauma, a longterm relationship with someone who is an expert at controlling and manipulating their victim, and numerous other issues with self-worth.

The reasons for abuse are almost always the same: abusers need to have power over someone else to help them feel better about their own deficiencies, low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy.

Women who are in abusive relationships will often defend their abusers and stay in the relationship long past the time they should have left. It is often the female who blames herself and keeps trying to make things work. Sometimes it’s the subtle mind games of the controlling, manipulative partner that cause a woman to doubt herself and her feelings.

This is often difficult for those who have never been in an abusive relationship to understand, but there are many reasons for this. Some are easily understood, some not so much.

Sometimes it is low self-esteem that holds them in place. My therapist kept asking me one question at the end of every session: “Why did you stay?” I kept answering, “I didn’t want to hurt him.” Then one day, it hit me like a brick. Because of past traumas reinforced by my relationship, I didn’t feel like I deserved any better.

Sometimes it is simply fear that holds them in place. It could be fear of retaliation from the partner should they seek help, or, especially in cases involving verbal abuse and controlling behavior, they feel no one will believe them.

Many times women have taken a stand and decided to leave only to have the abuser decide to end it for all concerned. There have been many cases of this resulting in the death of the woman, and sometimes the children, family and friends, before the abuser turns the weapon on himself—finally putting an end to the vicious cycle.

Many think that that non-physical abuse is not as harmful or dangerous. This can be a huge mistake. Unlike the women who have been physically abused, there are no outward signs of mistreatment. All the wounds and scars are deep within the psyche—branded in the soul of the abused.

Verbal abuse, and the controlling, manipulative behavior that goes along with it, are the silent killers. Instead of taking a physical life, these abusers will kill a woman’s spirit slowly and painfully. Those who are adept at manipulation do this without anyone imagining the truth of the situation. Outwardly they may appear as the “perfect couple.” Inwardly the woman is in tremendous emotional pain and turmoil. She may not trust her own judgment any longer and may think that this is just how things are meant to be.

The signs and symptoms are many and varied, but they all share the same core issues. There are some subtle warning signs to look for. They include, but are not limited to the following:

A woman who is overly critical of herself and always defending her partner.
Someone who never socializes without her spouse or partner being present.
An overbearing partner, or one who treats their partner like a child.
Partner is constantly correcting or showing possessiveness with their actions.
And the obvious: unexplained or suspicious bruises, burns and broken bones.
As a society, we must learn to see and recognize these signs and reach out to help in whatever way we can. It may be nothing more than just assuring them that you’re there if they need to talk and really listening if they do so. And if at all possible, let them know they have a place to stay should they need to leave in a hurry. Keep the Domestic Violence Hotline number handy in case they want to call. Sometimes this is all you can do.

We can all learn to listen better, to see more clearly when someone in our life needs help. Sometimes all these women need in order to seek help is non-judgment, kindness, and presence. Chances are they will open up if they feel safe with you.

There comes a time in all types of these relationships when the victim can’t bear it anymore. She must walk away and seek help. Simply having a friend to go to at such a time can be a lifesaver in every sense of the word.

Leaving a long-term abusive relationship is not as easy as most would think. Women tend to blame themselves and keep hoping that things will improve. If someone comes to you for help, please don’t judge. Accept the fact that things are not always as they seem, and reach out a helping hand.

Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

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