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October 16, 2007

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Earlier this month we wrote about Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. We believe that this is one of the most important causes there is--it's hard to care about the environment or raise awareness for breast cancer or think about why corporations should respect us more or even do silly stuff like laugh at Rock of Love when you feel unsafe or scared or alone or out of control or like you deserve to be abused. We're going to honor this cause by writing about some truly amazing women and organizations that are out there fighting to end violence against women.

~The website for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence gives us the history of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and how it evolved from a Day of Unity that was organized back in 1981. The rest of the site is full of information and resources, both for victims of domestic violence and people who just want to learn and help. Just one example--got an old cell phone laying around? Donate it to a program that provides phones to victims of violence so that they may have the chance to call for help in an emergency situation.

~Eve Ensler is an anti-violence goddess. She is the founder of V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls, which will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2008. Her creations include The Vagina Monologues, The Good Body, and A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant, And A Prayer, among other things. Her work is all about what can happen when women are not afraid to tell their own stories and really listen to the stories of others. It's 'sisterhood is forever' meets 'the personal is political' meets 'speak truth to power'. (Can you tell I studied this stuff in college?) She rules.

~Many of the women who are currently in prison in this country are victims of some form of domestic violence. Some of them are in prison for crimes that are directly related to their experience of abuse--killing an abuser in self-defense is one example. The state of California has passed some unique laws that apply to women who were convicted of crimes years ago, before expert testimony about domestic violence was allowed to be presented in court. These women now have the opportunity to file a habeas petition that allows them to present this information and challenge their convictions. That's where the California Habeas Project comes in. The Habeas Project is a collaborative effort of groups like Free Battered Women and the California Women's Law Center. They raise money and coordinate legal aid to help women get their day in court and try to get out of jail.

~California may be the only state with these particular laws, but that doesn't mean that victims of violence across the country have no options. The National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women is nonprofit advocacy center that works with women who have been arrested for or convicted of crimes related to their battering. They provide information and resources to defense teams at all stages of the legal process to help improve the chances of a positive outcome. They also maintain a huge resource library and conduct training seminars for people in the criminal justice field and advocates.

~Womens eNews wrote a great piece on the history of the anti-domestic violence movement, the frustrations that some activists and organizations face, and how a master's degree program in domestic violence administration at the University of Colorado at Denver is making a difference. Many of the graduates of the program are survivors of violence themselves, and the program is designed to give students the skills to run programs and come up with creative anti-violence solutions. Consider us officially inspired.

~The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you need help, call. There is also a separate helpline for teens, the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. "Teens and parents anywhere in the country can call toll free, 866-331-9474 or log on to the interactive Web site, loveisrespect.org, and receive immediate, confidential assistance. In addition to a toll-free phone line, loveisrepect.org will be the first interactive dating abuse website, staffed by trained advocates, where teens can write and immediately get assistance in a one-on-one private chat room."

It's not ever okay, and it can change if we change it together. It's not easy, but it's that simple.


lady jane said...

Way to go Evil Sluts! This is such a pervasive issue, and one that no one really wants to know about. I just wrote my D.V. story for the college newspaper. They asked me if I wanted it published anonymously. I said NO! Everyone on campus knows me as the cool, together lady, and would never suspect that I lived through that. We have to put a face on D.V. so people WILL realize that it exists! Three Cheers for you!


No, three cheers for you for being brave enough to speak up, and for being the 'cool, together lady' after what you went through. You're awesome.

(And we'd love to read your article when it's published if you'd like to share: evilslutopia@yahoo.com)