Making changes in national law to protect victim/survivors of domestic violence!


HR 4970 FACT SHEET *****

HR 4970 includes dangerous provisions for many victims, omits crucial protections for others and generally weakens the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) HR4970’s Audit requirements are excessive, burdensome and costly and divert limited grant funding from direct services to bureaucracy

 Since enactment, VAWA has included important reporting and oversight provisions both for grantees and for the Department of Justice (DOJ).

 HR 4970 erodes, rather than enhances, effective oversight. HR 4970:

o Inhibits effective accounting practices by redirecting energy from good
accounting industry standards for small non-profit organizations to “make work”
efforts which serve only to grow government and handicap victim services.

o Fails to include the provision of pre-emptive technical assistance and training to
small—especially rural—non-profit organizations and instead imposes punitive,
resource diverting mandates on local programs.

 In separate letters addressed to Representative Poe and Senator Leahy, DOJ has reported that “VAWA grants are being used effectively for their intended purpose,” that “grant management and grantee recordkeeping are generally sound,” and that when auditing problems arise, they are “not about waste, fraud or abuse, but rather about inadequate accounting and insufficient documentation” and are quickly resolved.

 In order to effectively serve victims, the resources required to implement this substantial new audit requirement would be better spent on technical assistance and financial training for the hundreds of small police departments, courts, and non-profits who are OVW grantees. Erodes important provisions for immigrant victims’ safety and gives abusers additional
tools with which to harm victims.

 Amendments allowing the alleged abuser access to the self-petition process create a
chilling effect on victims’ help-seeking. Abusers who could have adjusted the status of their spouse and chose not to as a tool of abuse and fear will be in a position to block the victim’s access to this critical remedy for battered immigrants. Informing and allowing alleged abusers to provide input in these cases puts victims at significant risk of retaliation. Abusers frequently deny the abuse and falsely accuse victims of fraud or abuse. HR 4970 allows abusers to contact ICE to try to stop their spouse from getting legal status.

 Shifting the self-petition process to local offices is duplicative, expensive, and does not address concerns about fraud. Adding an additional interview requirement is unnecessary, would be very costly and would require extensive training on domestic violence and sexual assault at USCIS offices across the country. Currently, the specialized USCIS center that adjudicates these applications is trained to weigh the evidence and ferret out fraud and can request additional evidence if necessary. Additionally, self-petition applicants have to attend an interview at their local offices to adjust their status to lawful permanent residence. The double interview requirement places an extra hurdle for victims of abuse not required for other applicants for status.2

 Adding an interview process to VAWA cancellation of removal hearings to local offices is duplicative and expensive. In VAWA cancellation of removal cases, the petitioner appears at hearings with an immigration judge, so a separate interview places an unnecessary burden. Adding an interview process to VAWA cancellation hearings will slow immigration court cases down immensely, bogging down the court calendar further. Limits the U visa program, barring the use of unused visas, and will endanger victims who work with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.

 Victims of crime should be able to work with law enforcement to bring perpetrators to justice.

 Limiting the U-visa certification process will discourage victims from coming forward and cooperating with law enforcement. Yet law enforcement tells us that failing to report crimes like these only exacerbates their negative impact on the community. Considering that many who commit U-visa crimes are serial perpetrators, law enforcement wants victims to come forward regardless of whether there is an active investigation or prosecution has begun.

 Restrictive certification requirements discourage cooperation with law enforcement.
Victims who were hurt even long ago can provide useful information in holding serial
perpetrators accountable. This is true for citizen victims as well as immigrant victims. Undermines the potential of lifesaving housing protections in VAWA

 Emergency transfers:

o One of the most pressing needs identified by victims and their advocates is the
ability to relocate/transfer to a safe home to escape violence.

o The housing emergency relocation and transfer section in VAWA should (as it
does in the Senate passed S.1925) require that owners, managers and public
housing agencies (PHAs) adopt the transfer plan developed by federal agencies.

o HR 4970 makes the adoption of such a plan voluntary by owners, managers and
PHAs, essentially undermining the remaining components of this potentially
lifesaving provision.

 Notice of rights:

o The housing rights codified by VAWA protect victims of domestic violence,
dating violence, sexual assault and stalking from eviction or denial of benefit
based on their status as victims and/or the actions of their perpetrators.

o In order to enjoy these rights and avoid unlawful eviction, notice of VAWA rights
should be distributed at key times, specifically at eviction. Without adequate
notice, victims will never know they have the right not to be evicted based on the
actions of their perpetrators or as a result of violence/assault.

o By giving notice at eviction, owners, managers and PHAs can help victims come
forward and avoid costly, contentious and unnecessary eviction proceedings.

o HR 4970 does not require notice at eviction, unlike the Senate passed S. 1925
Fails to include key provisions needed to help reduce violence against young women.
Provisions omitted would have to:

 Require institutions to include in their annual campus crime reports statistics on
domestic violence, dating violence and stalking (sexual assault is already in the Clery 3 Act) reported on campus and would have to provide clear statements regarding the procedures followed when a case of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking is reported.

 Require institutions to give victims a written explanation of their rights any time they report being a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking, including:

o victim’s right to notify (or not notify) law enforcement if they choose e to do so;

o obligation of institution to help the victim report the incident to law enforcement
and seek a protective order from a local court;

o victim’s options regarding changing academic, living, transportation and working
situations, if the victim so requests and such accommodations are reasonably

 Required institutions to establish clear, prompt and equitable procedures for on-campus disciplinary action in cases of alleged domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking

 Given both the victim and the accused with the right to have another person present at disciplinary proceedings

 Provided prevention programs teaching all students, male and female, how to help
prevent sexual violence and dating violence, including bystander education.

Redbook is Seeking Survivor Stories!

A Message from NRCDV:

Redbook Magazine has reached out to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) and other allied national organizations for support in the development of an online video support/awareness campaign featuring the stories of domestic violence survivors. The project will share the stories of survivors of dating/domestic violence in an effort to bring visibility to the issue, help break the silence and shame, and promote collective strength among survivors. Redbook did a similar campaign last year on the topic of infertility called “The Truth About Trying” that you can view here:

Redbook has asked the NRCDV to help gather a list of survivors who may be interested in sharing their stories for this project. The process itself is simple: survivors would upload their own short videos using a set of very accessible directions. All survivors will need is an internet connection and a camera or smart phone capable of recording a video.

Interested survivors should please respond with their name, contact information, and a brief bio that provides a quick synopsis of your background and experience. This information will be forwarded to our contact at Redbook for consideration. Please reply to: Kenya Fairley at by Wednesday, April 25th.

Redbook has stressed the importance of including diverse experiences from survivors (and survivor allies!) of various age groups and backgrounds: long-term relationships, teen relationships, same-sex relationships, trans survivors, children exposed, and sisters, brothers, or parents of victims, etc.

Of course, safety is a priority. Redbook has options available for survivors requesting anonymity, for example: filming their hands or other less-identifying features. For guidance and considerations related to sharing your story, please see the NRCDV’s “From the Front of the Room: A Survivor’s Guide to Public Speaking” at

My DV Story – My Voice

The story of my past experiences with domestic violence and how I have moved forward throughout the years to provide advocacy to others.

Crime Victims Rights Week – Texas City, 2012

bout a hundred people turned out for the Texas City ceremony for National Crime Victims Week. Among those was Jennifer Schuett, who was kidnapped from her home at the age of nine, raped and had her throat slashed by her attacker 19 years ago.

A suspect was arrested in October, 2009. She encouraged those who attended to speak out and let their voices be heard and she said she hoped to inspire other crime victims to do the same.

Jennifer’s VOICE!

Happy New Year 2012!

Posted in on Monday, January 9, 2012 7:15 PM by Jennifer

Happy New Year 2012!

It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to blog with last year being so busy. I had so many amazing opportunities in using my voice last year that I’m truly grateful for. I believe the last time I blogged was after I got home from Pittsburgh, PA. From there I travelled to Denver, CO – El Paso, TX – South Padre Island, TX – and finally, Galloway, NJ. Alot of flying/driving in those last couple of months of the year, but was honored to be able to use my voice and share my story with others. One of the most amazing experiences I had was in El Paso speaking at their “Help. Hope. Healing!” conference for crime victims. Talk about POWERFUL. I usually share my story at conferences that are attended by law enforcement, judges, district attorneys, social workers, therapists, nurses, etc., but to speak infront of hundreds of crime victims…wow, it was unbelievable. To be able to stand up and show a room full of people that “it’ll be okay” and see the hope in their eyes is an indescribable feeling. I love what they’re doing in El Paso and I’m hoping after meeting with our head DA, Jack Roady, here in Galveston County, we’ll be able to soon start a yearly conference of our own for crime victims to bring more awareness to our communities in this area…it’s greatly needed and I know will be beneficial and positive in so many ways!

I’ve taken a break from travelling for at least a few months at the beginning of this year for some personal time. Jonathan finished the welding program and is a certified welder now so he’s looking for a new job and life in general is just wonderful! I feel so blessed by having your continued support, prayers, and positive thoughts! I check my e-mail and read my guestbook daily on the website, and I really thank each of you who have used your voice in expressing your feelings & emotions and those that have shared your personal experiences and stories of survival with me. I hope that with this time off, I’ll have more time to blog and keep you all updated!

via Jennifer’s VOICE!.

via Jennifer's VOICE!.

The Resurrection of a Woman’s Life

The Resurrection of a Woman’s�LifePOSTED BY THELIFEOLOGISTCHRONICLES ⋅ APRIL 8, 2012 ⋅ 6 COMMENTSFILED UNDER �COUNSELING, COURAGE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, EMPOWER, EVE ENSLER, FAITH, GIRLS, GOD FEAR FAITH COURAGE TRUST, RESURRECTION, THE LIFEOLOGIST, V-DAY, VAGINA MONOLOGUE, WOMENI was a victim of domestic�abuse for 20 years; 4 years as a teenager by my boyfriend, who later became my husband of 15 years. I was 16 when this first began and was 35, when I finally got the sense and the courage to leave. However, the affects�of the abuse weren’t quite over. It took 10�long years for me to really regain my life and for him to stop attempting to destroy it for leaving him. In hindsight, there are a plethora of unreasonable reasons why I stayed in this relationship and later married my abuser and why it took me so long to get out of it; I kept it a secret for a long time, it was your classic textbook case with a very unusual twist.�The blessing of it all, is I lived through it, to become the woman I am today. There are tens of thousands of women who didn’t and that’s why I tell my story in hopes of raising awareness�of women and girls out there who�may be�headed down this familiar road to take another route.In May 1997 on Mother’s day and the day after I received my Master’s Degree in Counseling, I was severely assaulted by my husband and ended up in a hospital emergency room and that’s when I finally decided, this was the last time and I would never go back and I didn’t. It took years of spiritual healing, relocating, gut-wrenching sacrifices and a heartbreaking choice that involved saving the lives of my two children as well as my own to heal from the affects of this experience. Over the years, I’ve experienced ongoing financial hardships, have had some friends and family support me and�overcame the emotional harm inflicted by those who knew the truth, but chose to judge me in the aftermath.In 1995, just a few years before my marriage ended, I began to actively help women like me who didn’t know I was also being abused. I know now that I was also seeking help for myself in addition to helping them; it was the beginning of the end of this extremely unhealthy and undeserving life as I knew it.Today, 14 years after my divorce, I have a beautiful new story to tell and the miracle of my life speaks for itself. Although it was extremely difficult at times, I never gave up hope, I never stopped trusting in my faith and in myself and I never stopped doing the hard work I needed to do to forgive myself and my ex-husband in order to�heal.My children are amazing young adults now, I am extremely grateful to God for that and we are making new memories together. I am living the essence of�my dreams, looking forward to more beautiful experiences and by sharing my real and authentic life lessons, I have made it my life’s work with every opportunity I get to inspire and educate women and girls, including my daughter, to make wiser choices in life to help avoid this experience and empower them to take their lives back, if they find themselves in a similar situation.ReTina Broussard “The Lifeologist”Social Commentator/Media Personality/Speaker/Writer/Performercopyright 2012, ReTina Broussard. All Rights Reserved.I have always wanted to be�in a production of “The Vagina Monologues” because of my experience and I�now have the honor of participating in this phenomenal play in this phase of my life, it is a sweet gift from God and dream come true!V‑DAY, THE DISTRICT JOINS GLOBAL EFFORT TO STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS … V-Day The District 2012 Presents a Benefit Production of THE VAGINA MONOLOGUESwithDeborah Bond, ReTina Broussard�and Majic 102.3’s Cortney HicksJoin Us As We Raise Funds And Awareness To End Violence Against Women And Girls�On Sunday, April 22, 2012, at 7 pm, V‑Day The District will present a�ONE-NIGHT ONLY�benefit reading of Eve Ensler’s award winning play “The Vagina Monologues” at Montgomery College Cultural Arts Center in Silver Spring, MD.Tickets may be purchased at

via The Resurrection of a Woman’s Life.

via The Resurrection of a Woman's Life.

Why A Survivor Needs Programs

Recently, I was asked, “Why does a survivor of domestic violence (and/or sexual violence) need a program that provides resources and/or support?” To me, it’s clearly simple — a survivor needs it to be able to thrive.

When one finally gets out of a domestic violence situation where one felt imprisoned, controlled, alienated from others, have civil liberties personally diminished, told that they are not good, that they are not beautiful, that they cannot do anything right, and so much more, they are oftentimes victimized by the resources not fully available in their areas, they cannot seem to think straight (or have forgotten the skill set to be able think on their own due to their dating or marriage partner repeatedly telling them that they cannot even make decisions right) in order to find resources on their own or make a decision what to do next.

Additionally, as good as our domestic violence programs have become more predominant in many communities, they are simply not available in all – especially, in the rural communities. Victims/survivors in rural communities have to think even more creatively when coming up with their safety plans and/or strategies because the nearest program may be 100, 200, or sometimes 300/400 miles away, as well as police in those areas may not be able to respond as quickly due to factors such as not enough staffing on their law enforcements (especially per area covered) and/or simply the distance covered in order to respond to a call.

It might take a village to help others, but it also takes all types within a village to help others. It’s not just the police (or type of law enforcement available in that area), not just the hospital/physicians, not just the teachers, not just the domestic violence programs that open their doors to victims and try to educate as many in their community (and/or neighboring communities), it’s not just the hotlines, it’s not just the counselors, and….the list can go on and on. Everyone has funding limitations which affect the reach of their arms. With more programs stepping forward to bring something unique to the surface that can, perhaps, help to create a means to fill in any gaps, that others working together to protect all victims and survivors helps, too, to build a force that cannot be reckoned with.

We need all survivors to participate (when they are healed enough to participate and share their voice – so that they aren’t re-victimizing themselves) and help others to be able to succeed in becoming a survivor — and, not just at the mere instance that they are currently in the crisis. For many, that survival requires ongoing resources to help facilitate their independence from their abuser and not to have depended upon them any longer. Set them up with institutions who will train them how to keep a checkbook from going into overdraft mode and how to start some sort of an investment for their and their child(ren)’s future. It might require providing them an insight on good, affordable nutrition so that they and their child(ren)’s future might be increased further by living healthy. It might look like being there for them when their abuser tries to get their child custody modified and give them an encouraging word and/or additional resources that fits their needs at the time, after all, you can’t jam up a survivor with too many resources, etc. that they don’t necessarily need at the time, but may need in the future; often times, the trauma will only allow them to proceed one step at a time.

As we know, different challenges present themselves all the time. No one may have absolutely ALL the answers, but we can come as close as possible to that we can and/or stop a moment a moment to help them find the resources that may be able to provide the answers. What path of recovery and/or healing journey will look like for one, will look totally different for another; therefore, the programs available to them cannot be looking like it has been stamped out of a mold of another.

As a survivor myself, I have a passion to help others. I have personally chosen a path that isn’t typical of most — I have graduated from a paralegal program and studied criminal justice, been a Court Appointed Special Advocate (“CASA”) and Guardian ad Litem (“GAL”) to help represent the child(ren) in the Courts in their best interests, been a Guardian for someone that was in a State Home, been a family eldercare advocate, been a shelter advocate, worked in a thrift store supporting victims/survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, been a victims’ advocate in a police department to help provide support to victims, and worked in a hotline to provide crisis intervention support for domestic violence victims/survivors calling in to get help. On the other side, I have also been involved with a variety of survivor support group programs and strive for more change through making changes in laws – and/or gathering support for various survivor voices to come forward and speak out. I provide outlets for them to share their voice through Domestic Violence Voices and other venues. Presently I am contributing to one book for one author and have started two domestic violence guide books to help others with the help of an author. It never, ever seems to be enough.

We need to reach out in any way that we can, via any means that we can, and to as many as we can. I’m here now with National Domestic Violence Survivor Law Project to do that, as I am presently involved too with the Survive2Thrive Foundation. The numbers continue to rise and the victims continue to be killed by the very hands of those they had loved in spite of the hurt received by them. A goal is to save every life that we possibly can, and, in the event that we simply cannot anticipate every victim/survivor, that we help all those that we can possibly reach. If even a few lives are altered and saved, I shall consider myself a success in my advocacy work.

I’d love to hear more about your roles in what you are doing to help curb domestic violence and/or sexual violence from occurring and re-occurring time and time again, and/or be repeated behavior in generations of families.

May all survivors survive and thrive to be able to live out their lives “happily ever after” and as it was really intended for them to live and enjoy, and, in turn, pay it forward to help others who cross in their paths as well — after all, it really does take a community – right?

Author's Comment on "Police: Five Found Dead in Maryland Home" - US news - Crime & Courts -

Reblogged from The Just Call Me Charley Blog:

Author’s Comment:

I used to live in this town with my ex-husband and four children. My ex, a domestic violence felon in possession of nine counts of illegal guns and ammunition was “set free” by Sheriff Chuck Jenkins without so much of a warrant or indictment. Upon confiscating the weapons on April 22, 2011 after eight months of my initial complaint, I was informed that no warrant was obtained; that the guns were retrieved by the sheriff’s “ATF liason”; that NO report would be filed; that no charges were pressed; and that Sheriff does not intend to pursue the matter any further.

Read more… 740 more words

Thank you for sharing the story about the domestic violence killing in Maryland, as well as your own comment. I am currently working with a project called National Domestic Violence Survivor Law Project ( and I am curious as to what has been happening since June 18, 2011. We'd love to hear more!

Survivor Speaks: Ohio’s Dating Violence Protection Bill

A survivor speaks out about teen dating violence in the famous TedTalks series.

March 9th 2010
Ohio Senate Passes Dating Violence Protection Bill
Ohio Senators have unanimously passed a House bill that would allow juvenile courts to issue protection orders for minors in dating relationships.

The Ohio House of Representatives is expected to concur Wednesday. The legislation would then go to Gov. Ted Strickland, who is expected to sign it.

The bill was inspired in part by the plight of Cleveland teen Johanna Orozco, who was shot in the face by her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend in 2007 has had numerous operations. Orozco wanted to get a protection order, but Ohio juvenile courts cannot issue them against minors.

An advocacy group said in a national survey last year that only a handful of states have laws enabling minors the same protection order rights as adults.

This was Ohio in 2010! It’ll be interesting to follow-up with them to see how effective the law has changed since then.

We begin.. March 2012

We are fascilitating a voice to change established State laws to the national level through awareness to the masses about the issues surrounding domestic violence victims and survivors, which are trying to make a movement to provide guidance from the national level in helping to better protect the victims and survivors of domestic violence. Guest bloggers, who are already domestic violence advocates and/or already experts in the field of domestic violence laws and the need for change to incur to better protect all victims and survivors in the future, will also provide input to help provide further structure and guidance in advocating for changes. Enjoy and be prepared to be informed, have continued education on these issues and receive call to actions as we proceed with our efforts! We encourage victims and survivors to provide input through the comment and/or occasional guest blogging.

Heather Piedmont, Policy Director &
Kathryn Krastin, Advocacy Director & Technical Support


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