We have a fantastic team here at Cherokee Family Violence Center; and while we do our best to celebrate each other, we are always excited to see that others in our community have taken note of our stellar staff members. Today, CFVC Family Advocate, Sheila Lundquist and her family were featured in the Cherokee Ledger News. We are so happy that the Ledger chose to honor Sheila’s efforts as not only an advocate for victims of domestic violence, but children in the foster care system. Make sure to pick up the Ledger this week and read all about the Lundquist family, so you can get to know the Sheila that all of her clients and the staff here, already know and love. If you are not local, you can also read the article online.
We are so very excited to share a video from the Re:Dream Project, which highlights one of our survivors, Lynn Chopp. Re:Dream is about people living in America as they navigate opportunity, meet obstacles, and pursue happiness in the 21st century. Lynn joins 39 other impressive Americans featured in micro-documentaries in the project. By sharing the hopes and struggles of everyday U.S. residents, Re:Dream will find out what opportunities they feel they have access to and if issues of identity —including race, gender, geography, sexuality—impact their ability to grasp those opportunities. The nationwide project is produced by PBS member stations in fifteen different cities, including local affiliate, Georgia Public Broadcasting, who produced Lynn’s piece and made a visit to CFVC while filming. We are so glad to see Lynn getting recognized for her contributions to our community and hope the world enjoys getting to know this exceptional woman as much as we have.
Last week was a week of great progress for intimate partner violence advocates. The Major League Baseball Association (MLB) announced last week that it was working with advocates to revise their policies regarding intimate partner violence. Although the new policies have not been announced, we at CFVC are excited to see how the MLB chooses to address this issue. This process has been ongoing since last September, when IPV was brought to light again by the abuse against Janay Rice by her then fiancée, now husband, Ray Rice.
In the world of college football, the South Eastern Conference has recently adopted a new policy about disallowing players who have been convicted of intimate partner violence from playing on any Conference team. According to ESPN.com, the policy states, “a transfer student-athlete who has been subject to official university of athletics department disciplinary action at any time during enrollment at any previous collegiate institution (excluding limited discipline applied by a sports team or temporary disciplinary action during an investigation) due to serious misconduct (as defined herein) shall not be eligible for athletically-related financial aid, practice or competition at an SEC member institution.” Kuddos to the SEC, a conference known for its passionate devotion to football, for taking a stand against IPV at the collegiate level, especially since the SEC is a large source of future NFL players.
IPV perpetrators are not just athletes, however, we hope that changes like the SEC’s and MLB’s will reflect the growing cultural trend that IPV is a crime that will not be tolerated. If your workplace could benefit from training about keeping IPV victims safe in the workplace, or any potential ways to partner with CFVC, please contact Meg Graham, Volunteer Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There has been a lot of press recently concerning laws on firearms possession by Domestic Violence offenders. The coverage has been seemingly prompted by the State of Washington enacting a law which requires offenders under protective orders surrender their firearms to the authorities. This concept, within the movement to end violence against women, certainly isn’t new; what is new here is that after 10 years of fighting the legislation, the NRA has backed down from their opposition.
The Huffington Post writes: “The NRA’s decision not to oppose the measure was a stark departure from its usual legislative strategy. For over a decade, bare-knuckled lobbying by the NRA has doomed similar bills in state legislatures across the country. Legislators who backed such bills, particularly in states with strong traditions of gun ownership, could practically be guaranteed a challenger after the NRA withdrew its endorsements or backed their opponents.
But over the past year, the NRA has quietly scaled back its scorched-earth campaigns against stricter domestic violence laws. The group has consulted with legislators in states across the country on bills similar to [Washington’s new legislation] HB 1840. With the tacit approval of the NRA, Louisiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota have all passed or advanced bills banning the possession of firearms by those convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse, those served protective orders, or those deemed by the court to pose a physical threat to their families.”
On this subject, the New York Times writes: “Only a few states have workable gun surrender laws, and existing federal laws intended to disarm spousal abusers have proved largely unenforceable. Research on the problem by the Times identified patterns of violence in which the issuance of orders of protection seemed to set off gun attacks on women. It is therefore important that laws require that firearms be surrendered when the restraining order is issued — at the most volatile time in an abusive relationship.”
According to Georgia’s 10th Annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review Project findings: “Greater than all other methods combined, firearms have been the leading cause of death for victims in both cases we tracked statewide (72%) and cases that were reviewed (56%). This finding indicates the urgent need to use all legal means possible to remove firearms from the hands of Domestic Violence perpetrators.”
As we strive to increase victim safety, we must also stay focused on some of the barriers. The NRA and its strong lobby, for example, still maintain opposition to expanded background checks and including crimes such as stalking in the definition of Domestic Violence, thus decreasing potential protections afforded to victims.
Offenders who have been convicted of misdemeanor Domestic Violence crimes and those subject to a qualifying Temporary Protective Order are restricted from possessing firearms and ammunition under Federal law and a violation of either of those provisions of the Gun Control Act carries a maximum period of incarceration for 10 years. Many states have enacted clarifying legislation to aide enforcement of Federal law, but Georgia is not among them.
Here at CFVC, we make every effort to discuss the increased danger that firearms pose to victims as we safety plan with them and we strive to incorporate strict protective language pertaining to firearms in the Temporary Protective Orders we obtain with victims, but there is still work to be done! We will be keeping our eyes on the news for more on this subject and continue to look for ways to make our voices heard on increasing protections for victims and measures of accountability for abusers.
Our friends at the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) have posted an exciting update on their blog concerning the recent, unanimous ruling by the high court in United States vs. Castleman. The ruling clarifies which Domestic Violence crimes qualify for firearms restrictions, previously limited by the Lautenberg Amendment:
In Castleman, the Supreme Court resolved this question by issuing a broad interpretation of the term “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence,” holding that convictions involving only “bodily injury” or “offensive touching” could qualify under the statute. Justice Sotomayor, writing for the majority, recognized that “‘[d]omestic violence’ is not merely a type of ‘violence’; it is a term of art encompassing acts that one might not characterize as ‘violent’ in a nondomestic context.” The Court further stated that, while a squeeze of the arm that causes a bruise may not be able to be described as “violence” in every context, “an act of this nature is easy to describe as ‘domestic violence,’ when the accumulation of such acts over time can subject one intimate partner to the other’s control.” With this decision, the Supreme Court confirms what we know all too well – that guns should not be in the hands of perpetrators of domestic violence.