Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks Giving

I hope that you all have a wonderful, relaxing and safe holiday.

I will spend the day reflecting on all that I'm thankful for, including a wonderful and inspiring group of Advocates.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Message from OVW Director Susan B. Carbon

from the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women
edited in this post, you can find the entire letter here

Dear Friends,

First and foremost, on behalf of the Office on Violence Against Women, let me congratulate all of our grantees and others in the field on a very successful Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Organizations from across the country spent this last month having important conversations, increasing awareness, and h elping end domestic violence against women. We are proud of your efforts!

Additionally, it was an incredible honor for the White House to host an event centered on the Administration’s unprecedented coordination across the Federal government to combat violence against women on October 27th. President Obama, Vice President Biden, Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett and Advisor on Violence Against Women Lynn Rosenthal addressed the need to continue to confront domestic and sexual violence in this country. The importance of better communication between law enforcement and direct service providers, enforcement of protective orders, and changing public attitudes were discussed at length. President Obama specifically highlighted the financial barriers of domestic violence and the need for emergency relocation and housing accommodations so that “no one has to choose be tween a violent home and no home at all.”


The Office on Violence Against Women worked with Attorney General Holder to re-charter the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women (NAC) to provide advice and recommendations to the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services on how to improve the nation’s response to violence against women, with a specific focus on successful interventions with children and teens who witness and/or are victimized by domestic violence or sexual assault. The committee includes highly regarded advocates, justice system and child welfare professionals, and researchers.


OVW worked with the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to develop the “Sexual Assault Kit Backlog Action Research Project” to identify long term solutions to eliminating the backlog of untested sexual assault kits that have not yet been submitted to a crime laboratory.


As Domestic Violence Awareness Month has now closed, we begin our focus on April: Sexual Assault Awareness Month. When the Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, sexual assault was included as on e of the crimes to be addressed. There is a general consensus, however, that for a variety of reasons, sexual assault has not received the same level of attention as has domestic violence. As a result, sexual assault remains a tragically pervasive and costly problem.

In preparation for what we hope to be a very effective Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, we wanted to begin a national conversation about sexual violence: what it looks like now, and what we want to be able to accomplish in the next five years. With this in mind, OVW was proud to collaborate with the White House Council on Women and Girls to host a first-ever national sexual violence Roundtable. Advocates, law enforcement, judges, survivors, prosecutors, medical professionals and federal employees travelled from all across the country to heighten our discussions as well as develop a plan of a ction to address this unacceptable epidemic. While advocates and experts from the field discussed a public awareness campaign, federal experts were able to listen to the needs of the stakeholders on the ground and hear how the federal government can and should heighten their assistance to address sexual violence in America. The Roundtable allowed those in the field and at the national level to effectively communicate how each can help the other to achieve mutual success, both at the local and the national level, by establishing next steps to ultimately end sexual violence against women.

It is clear from our discussions, as well as the comments from the champions of this cause in the White House, that awareness must be a cornerstone to our actions moving forward. For many community members our advocates and experts interact with each day, the myths of sexual violence are pre valent and hard to un-learn. Contrary to what many Americans believe, sexual violence does not just occur in dark alleys, perpetrated by strangers. Sadly sexual violence is often perpetrated by someone known to the victim, in places where the victim feels the safest, such as at home or at a friend’s home. Sexual violence spans every demographic: every race, socioeconomic background, geographic location, sexual orientation, and age group. On average, one in six women will be sexually assault in her lifetime. For certain populations such as for women on college campus, in assisted living facilities and on Native American lands, this number increases to staggering levels. As President Obama stated: “It is simply unacceptable.”

In a country that has made such progress in addressing domestic violence, it is a moral imperative that we develop a nation al dialogue and focus on ending sexual violence against all women, children and men. As we continue our multi-disciplinary conversations about sexual violence in America, we will be asking for assistance from every member of the community. It will require each and every one of us to end this tragic problem. And as Vice President Biden stated at the White House last month, “It’s not about reducing; it’s about ending.” It’s not only time, it’s beyond time.

With deep respect and gratitude,

Susan B. Carbon
OVW Director
U.S. Department of Justice

Monday, November 22, 2010

Continuing Education Series 2010

I want to thank everyone who has come out to the Continuing Education Series in 2010 making it a great success. And I particularly want to thank those who came out to the event on Thursday evening.

What a great note to end the Series on. It was wonderful hearing from so many advocates. We heard from some who have been Advocates for a few days or weeks, and Advocates who have been doing this for years. Advocates new and old shared Hotline and F2F calls that were difficult and challenging. It was really great hearing the positive feedback among the volunteers and tips that Advocates who have been doing this for a long time were able to give.

Some feedback from fellow advocates
  • Liked the story sharing, it was helpful
  • Great participants, very helpful with tips and what others have experienced. Thank you!
  • Great to hear all the stories- both good and bad!!

So thank you again. I look forward to the CES of 2011!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Help free imprisoned Iranian women

from the Feminist Majority Foundation

Women and women's rights activists continue to be threatened in Iran. Right now, two women need your help. Prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been on a dry hunger strike (no food or water) for more than a week while protesting her imprisonment. Sakineh Ashtiani, who was sentenced to death by stoning after an adultery conviction, is facing imminent possible execution by hanging.

Sotoudeh, who defended many political activists and campaigners in Iran's presidential elections last year, has been held in Tehran's Evin Prison since September 4, when she was arrested and charged with "acting against state security" and "propaganda against the Islamic Republic." She is in grave physical condition as a result of the dry hunger strike. Sotoudeh has been refusing food and water to protest the intolerable conditions of prison and the improper investigation of her case. Activists are concerned she will soon fall into a coma or die.

Ashtiani was scheduled to be executed by hanging last Wednesday, but her execution was suspended. According to Iranian officials, her file is "under review," but the regime has been known to execute people whose files were under review in the past. Ashtiani was convicted in 2006 of having extramarital relations with two men who killed her husband. While she initially received a sentence of 99 lashes for adultery, during an appeal of her case, the court sentenced Ashtiani to death by stoning. This sentence has since been commuted to death by hanging. Her case has caused international outrage due to the inconclusive evidence presented and the barbaric nature of execution by stoning.

Please voice your support for these Iranian women as they struggle to overcome the flagrant disregard for the rule of law displayed by Iran's authorities and the barbarity of this execution sentence.

Indecencies to human rights and to women's rights in Iran, cannot be tolerated. Take a minute to express your solidarity with women in Iran. Your action is needed to save Nasrin Sotoudeh and Sakineh Ashtiani's lives.

For Women's Lives,
Eleanor Smeal
Feminist Majority Foundation
P.S. Your support and emails have helped in the past and these courageous Iranian women need your help again. Please send an email to help Nasrin Sotoudeh and Sakineh Ashtiani.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Ending Slavery in Ohio Town Hall Meeting

A Discussion about Human Trafficking

Thursday, November 18, 2010
6:30pm – 8:00pm
Case Western Reserve University
Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations
10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106

Details: Please park in the Cornell-Mayfield parking garage – Lot #34. For detailed directions, visit Click on Patients & Visitors / UH Construction Corner / Alternate Driving Routes.

For more information, contact Erin Michel at (614) 461-4484 or

Sponsored by:
National Association of Social Workers-Ohio Chapter, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences-
Case Western Reserve University, Renee Jones Empowerment Center, Ohio Abolitionist Coalition

The CRCC's very own VP of Client and Clinical Services, Kirsti Mouncey, will be participating as a panel member!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Private Practice

Whether or not you watch this show, I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on last week's episode...

"It's not anything that the audience can't handle," KaDee Strickland stresses as she sits in the living room of Sam's beachfront house on the Private Practice set during one of the few days she's not covered in prosthetic cuts, scrapes and bruises.

The "it" in this situation is her character Charlotte's sexual assault and brutal beating in this Thursday's episode of Private Practice (10/9c on ABC).

At the end of last week's episode, Charlotte walked out of her office at the hospital only to encounter a deranged man whose face the audience has yet to see (though we know he's played by Buffy alum Nicholas Brendon). After a harsh smack, he shoved her back into the dark office as the episode faded to black.

"The fact that she has this happen in her place of business is a very powerful statement because she has to go back to it," Strickland says. "It will never be the same thing to walk into that hospital and to have all your control taken away."

Charlotte's initial reaction is one of shame and denial — so much so that the once fearless and hardened leader of the hospital will not share what happened behind closed doors.

"Charlotte is so apprehensive," Strickland says, tearing up at the thought of Charlotte's plight and that of the many real-life survivors. "Charlotte is someone who absolutely lives to control things in her life. In this moment and in this act of crime that happens to her, all control is lost. Out of the devastation and the shock that come with that, she wants to act as if it didn't happen."
Just moments after the attack, Pete (Tim Daly) discovers Charlotte in the hospital. "Pete has a unique sensitivity to it, because right from the beginning he suspects she was raped, but chooses to completely respect her privacy on it," Daly says in his on-set trailer, where a small guitar lays strewn across his couch. "The fact that he doesn't push her makes her more vulnerable. It's easier for her to push back when people are nosing into her business."

Because she's in shock, Charlotte will initially reject being subjected to a rape kit. "Addison is trying to convince her to do the right thing — the rape kit, the HIV test, all the blood labs — these are imperative things," says Kate Walsh, clad in a nightshirt and a red parka to keep her warm following a bedroom scene between her character Addison and Sam (Taye Diggs).

"The dichotomy of that relationship changes dramatically because I need to lean into someone," Strickland says. "I feel safe and I also feel that Addison would never betray me in a situation. The thing that I love about the character of Addison, in terms of her being a hero, is that you really see her stand in those shoes with a very new point of view because this isn't hers to do. It's mine. I'm the one living with it and I bring her into it."
Along with Addison, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) will step in to assist with Charlotte's injuries. "In the process of tending to her injuries, she and Charlotte start developing a confidence and a bond," Scorsone says. Charlotte and Amelia will also "discover that they have a very significant thing in common, so the bond that they form is immediately deeper and more significant than it would otherwise be," Scorsone adds.

And because Violet (Amy Brenneman) was raped in college, she will help to guide Charlotte. It "opens up a story between a survivor from a college-age and this story of an immediate victim, having to learn how to become a survivor," Strickland says. "It's not always the easiest thing to come to grips with and certainly not in the hours that pass because so much happens."

Next to Charlotte, her fiancé Cooper (Paul Adelstein) will take the attack the hardest. "She's a very strong woman and he has a lot of trouble seeing her so compromised," says Adelstein, who didn't see Strickland in the full makeup until they shot the first reaction scene, hoping to capture an authentic moment. "He's actively pushing Charlotte to be more present in the investigation and calling the police. He's really encouraging her to close this thing."
"I think all of the helplessness, all of the rage, all of the confusion, the element of him not having been able to prevent it, all comes into play," Strickland adds.

The small victories will come in Cooper attempting to make her smile, though she'll be the one trying to buck-up for Cooper's sake. "At one point she gets afraid that he's going to leave her because they're not back to normal," Adelstein says, adding that Cooper will also be in the dark for several episodes before learning the true nature of her attack.

Exiting Sam's beach house, the Georgia native heads to a hallway in the hospital set, where the media village and director's chairs have been cleared away for her to film the PSA that will air with Thursday's episode.

In one take, Strickland delivers this video message.

RAINN's 24-hour national hotline can be reached at 800 656-HOPE or by going to