Month: August 2012

Becky’s Fund soon to launch Peace at Home program to help military families suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD is a topic that affects many, but is openly discussed by few. Soldiers who seek treatment for PTSD face many obstacles, from month long waiting lists to
losing their jobs or status. These obstacles prevent many from seeking the help
that they desperately need, which can lead to greater instances of suicide and
domestic violence. About 1 in 8 veterans will return home with PTSD, and these
men are four times more likely to abuse their spouses than those without PTSD.
These devastating statistics show that it’s time to break the silence.

Becky’s fund is working to create a program called Peace at Home. This program
will work to create a service that will both help the soldiers with PTSD and
support their families. This program will include therapy, an online community,
and other resources to support those affected by PTSD and help to break the
silence surrounding the issue.

Potential Partners:–this group looks to provide online
resources to soldiers with ptsd, might be helpful for the online community portion
of the program–they work to provide interim counseling
while soldiers wait for VA resources

battlingbare—a support system for wives of vets with PTSD

Becky’s Fund Welcomes New Intern Antonice Strickland

My name is Antonice Strickland and I am the newest intern at Becky’s Fund.

I am a recent graduate of Michigan State University (MSU), having earned a Bachelor”s degree in Journalism with an emphasis in International Reporting, Political Science and Public Relations. I was very active on campus while attending MSU, especially in the multicultural community serving as an advocate for unity and multiculturalism. I organized the publication geared to uplift, educate, enlighten and entertain the cultural students at MSU called VOICE Magazine. I served as the charter president of the National Association of Black Journalist and at MSU and have a strong background in radio, working as an on-air personality for IMPACT 89FM. Lastly, I became a member of the Distinguished Delta Zeta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated. With my diverse background it was only natural to be enthusiastic about working with Becky’s Fund and wanting to help with the progress of their mission.

Although I am not a personal victim of domestic violence or abuse, I have seen how it affects people that are close to me, and to get a chance to learn more about this issue is important. Everything I learn here can be shared with someone else and can help in educating the community on domestic abuse.

While at Becky”s Fund I want to learn to do PR and marketing for larger projects on my own and on a larger scale. I have done small programs and events while in school but nothing of this magnitude. I want to enhance my writing and marketing skills so that I will be able to be an asset to any company which is something I will definitely learn from working with Becky’s Fund.

I am so excited for this venture because not only am I working with a wonderful organization but I am able to be in a new place. Michigan is not around the corner from here so I am ready to make the best of this situation and grow to be an important part of Becky’s Fund and of the Washington D.C. community.

Emily’s Farewell

Any kind of farewell is going to sound at least a little bit cliché. So I’m going to apologize in advance and do my best to reinvent all the regular sentiments that are so overused, yet so true. Because frankly, as hot as this summer has been and as nice as it will be to get a break from commuting on the DC metro, I’m really going to miss working at Becky’s Fund, and won’t forget all of the really valuable things I’ve learned while I’ve had the privilege to work here.

So I’ll condense it down into my top 10 lessons from Becky’s Fund summer 2012:

1. Carrots are a noisy food. I learned this the hard way. If you don’t want to feel uncomfortable boss and/or coworkers, pick a less crunchy food for your lunches the first week.

2. Sustainability can be stressful, but always a worthy endeavor. One of the first and somewhat shocking lessons I learned coming into a non-profit for the first time was just how grant and donor dependent our mission is. If there are no funds to make the programs happen, they can’t. And if the programs don’t happen, we can’t make the difference we want to make. So grant writing, sponsorships and fundraising are key. In order to be a successful grant writer or fundraiser, you have to make someone else believe in the importance and effectiveness of what you’re doing as much as you do. I’ve never been more challenged to communicate “why” in so few words as when petitioning for funding, but in the end, it makes sense. If you can explain it clearly, others can understand it clearly and get on board with you to make the change you want to see in the world. The challenges of sustainability end up gifts in their own way.

3. When you hear no, you shrug it off and find a different way (otherwise known as “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”). When a company declines a sponsorship, or you don’t get the grant you were hoping for, you find a new way. Go out searching. Where there’s a will, there’s a way—maybe just not in the first place you thought it would be.

4. Organization will make you or break you. As a casual Excel spreadsheet user and color-coder before I came to Becky’s Fund, I thought I had the whole “get your ducks” in order thing down pat. In a non-profit, there are multiple programs, finances, sponsorships, meetings, grant deadlines and about a thousand other things. Google Drive is your friend. Spreadsheets, your love. Post its and to-do lists, your savior.

5. Believe in what you are doing, and you won’t want to stop. This applies really no matter the cause. Domestic violence and sexual assault as part of the larger sphere of gender violence and social inequality are so important to me, so working at Becky’s Fund has been a really productive outlet. One of the hardest things to do is accept that there are limitations. You can’t solve the issue you care about in one day. Working at Becky’s Fund has helped teach me that you can have your big dreams, but take it one day at a time. Keep going, and we’ll get there.

6. Clean your coffee mug regularly. Or risk the buildup of strange coffee colored residue and less tasty coffee.

7. Don’t panic when the train is late. Because you can’t make it go any faster. You’ll only get yourself worked up. Let someone know you’re delayed and just try to roll with it. And no matter how fast you run down the metro platform, even if you make the train, you still kind of look crazy.

8. Sooner is always better than later. It’s easy to forget about a task or assignment that comes through email if you don’t make a note or get on top of it right away. So just for safety’s sake, I’ll say do both. The more on top of it you are, the more relaxed you’ll feel.

9. C is for Communicate. If you don’t understand an assignment, ask for clarification. When you finish something, let the person who needs to know, know. There are a lot of circumstances where fewer words are better, but if it means getting the job done, more are always better.

10. Have fun. Not only did I love the cause we’re working for, but I loved the “we” who were working for it this summer. Go out to lunch. Ask people about their weekends. Share stupid videos you find on the internet. The people you work with give you the energy to keep going even when you might not want to stay hopeful. Reading about domestic violence incidents and statistics as part of the everyday can get you down, but it’s the good times and the good friends you have around you in the office who will give you the strength you need to keep caring, and keep fighting.

So goodbye to Becky’s Fund, for now. It’s been a blast. I can’t wait to see where the organization goes and all it’s going to be able to accomplish. Cheers to keeping up the good fight one day at a time and encouraging me to do the same. So with admiration, empathy and a lot of love, I’ll say good luck, and see you soon.

See Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law in ACTION!

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

On May 11, 2012, 31-year-old Marissa Alexander, mother of three, was sentenced to twenty years in prison after firing what she claimed was a warning shot at her abusive husband, Rico Gray, 36. Despite previous offenses made by Gray, including an incident in 2009 which left Alexander hospitalized, the state of Florida maintains that Alexander is not protected under the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law and that on the day of the altercation, she was the aggressor.

Florida’s Stand Your Ground law has been met with much debate, and events occurring in recent months have made it into something of a hot-button issue. Following the slaying of Trayvon Martin, 17, by neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, a media storm has fallen upon the Florida suburb of Sanford, posing the question of what constitutes self defense in the state of Florida as well as eliciting the racial implications of the case. Nicknamed the “reverse Trayvon Martin” by some media outlets, Alexander’s situation undoubtedly draws some interesting comparisons to Martin’s, though it seems that a larger issue looms like the telltale elephant in the room; not of race, but of victim’s rights, self defense, and the taboo subject of domestic violence. Rewind to August 1, 2010, 130 miles north of Sanford in Jacksonville, Fla. An altercation erupts at the home of Marissa Alexander and Rico Gray after Gray finds text messages on Alexander’s cell phone from her former husband and father of her two oldest children, Lincoln Alexander. According to Alexander, Gray “assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave.” Alexander eventually escapes to the garage, in the hopes of driving away in her truck. In her haste, she realizes that she doesn’t have her keys, and is briefly “trapped in the dark with no way out.” In order to escape, she must return to the house, and in an effort to protect herself against further assault, she retrieves her semi-automatic pistol. The fight culminates in the kitchen, where Alexander reports that Gray threatened to kill her (all the while in the presence of the two eldest children) and charged at her, prompting her to stand her ground and fire the warning shot that ricocheted off of the wall and hit the ceiling. Alexander is arrested, and convicted of three counts of aggravated assault, against Gray and the two children present. In a sworn deposition, Gray claimed that he was the aggressor in the exchange, but later changed his story in court, asserting that he had begged for his life during the altercation. Alexander’s children (both eleven-year-old twins, nine at the time of the incident) were questioned and expressed their fear, though the eldest son later changed his statement to police. Stand Your Ground states that one has the right to defend oneself when clear and imminent danger is present. If that is the case, why wasn’t Marissa Alexander protected under the law? Angela B. Corey acted as the prosecutor in the Alexander case. Corey has gained a great deal of notoriety and praise from the Trayvon Martin case, ironically bringing down second- degree murder charges on George Zimmerman, who also attempted to invoke the Stand Your Ground law. Corey has actively voiced her condemnation of protesters who maintain that Alexander was wrongly convicted. “Alexander was not fleeing from an abuser,” Corey has stated to the press. Gray has admitted in depositions that he has hit every girlfriend he has been with except for one and had threatened Alexander’s life if she had ever cheated on him, which undoubtedly was the root of the exchange on August 1. He has also been arrested twice for domestic battery. When questioned about Gray’s violent past, Corey stated that, “A person’s propensity for violence is only one factor that would have allowed her to use Stand Your Ground at the moment when she fired…If that’s what you’re saying, she can walk into a room and just see him and shoot.” But Alexander did not walk into a room, see him, and shoot. In which case, she would be guilty, and rightfully so. Instead, Alexander, like countless other women was in an abusive relationship, felt that her life was in danger and then attempted to preserve it. And, like countless other women, Alexander was a victim of victim-blaming. She attempted to invoke a law which, on the surface, appears to protect victims, but instead allows abusers to walk free. One of the primary arguments used by the prosecution was that Alexander could have escaped through the garage, front, and back doors, despite the fact that the Stand Your Ground states that a victim has no duty to flee. A clear message is being sent: “You are abused and are therefore at fault because you did not escape the abuse.” The most dangerous time for a battered woman in an abusive relationship is upon attempting to leave the relationship. It is at this point that self defense is paramount, but if the law won’t protect victims, who will? Coupled with Stand Your Ground is Florida’s 10-20-Life law, a variation of mandatory minimum sentencing, which also hindered Alexander’s defense. Implemented in 1999, the law was credited with helping lower the violent crime rate in the state. The law states that anyone who shows a gun in the commission of a felony gets an automatic 10 years in prison. If the gun is fired, it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone: 25 years to life. The law strips judges of the use of discretion, and, as was Alexander’s case, victims are unfairly sentenced. People like Alexander: a mother, a model citizen with a Ph.D., and, unfortunately, a victim of spousal abuse, are lumped with a “thug robbing a liquor store,” as stated by Victor Crist, Republican state legislator who penned the 10-20-Life bill. Alexander’s fate was not the intention of lawmakers, but laws such as these only perpetuate the idea that victims, overwhelmingly women, are to blame. Though the media and social advocacy groups, most notably the NAACP, have made Marissa Alexander’s case, along with Trayvon Martin’s, into a symbol of racial injustice, such close comparisons to Martin eclipse the greater societal implications of Alexander’s case; the fact that we haven’t come as far as we think in women’s rights, harkening to the days of yore when a woman could be sexually assaulted and then punished as an adulteress. When it’s all boiled down, a female victim in 2012 can still be made into a social pariah, the only difference being the media coverage. 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Does Twilight Make Dating Violence Sexy?

 Breaking Dawn Part 2 (The Trailer)

After the recent release of the official trailer for the Twilight Saga's Breaking Dawn Part Two, it's a fresh reminder of the continual concerns and complaints about what the series says about dating. Despite the “romantic” nature of the novels and their widespread popularity (especially among girls ages 12-16), when taken out of their context, some of the facts of Bella's relationship with both Edward and Jacob are quite disturbing.

A teenage girl, (or a full grown woman, for that matter), probably shouldn't be swooning at the thought of a man who sneaks into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep, who separates her from her friends, who asks her to fake her death to the outside world in order to join his family, and withholds sex to get what he wants (marriage). And though 50 Shades of Grey might be making the BDSM scene popular for the moment, it doesn't matter how strong your boyfriend is, it's not tremendously sexy to wake up covered in bruises.

So what are we getting out of this as a culture? Millions will pour into theaters to watch the final installment of the Twilight Series, where Bella has finally been totally transformed, and cut off from the vast majority of her support network. But, it's all ok because Edward is obsessively in love with her.

So, when Twilight  hits theaters later this year, keep in mind 10 tips & warning signs your partner might be abusive… Edward style.

  1. He has power over if and when you have sex. Manipulation isn't sexy.
  2. Your partner repeatedly tells you that he couldn't live without you, or ever attempts to kill himself (See book 2)
  3. Your partner should never cut your car wires in order to prevent you from  seeing a close friend because he is suspicious about your romantic involvement (a la Jacob)
  4. Your partner should never be breaking into your house, whether to watch you sleep or to steal the keys to your car.
  5. Your relationship should not put you in repeated mortal danger.
  6. You shouldn't be afraid of your partner, and your partner shouldn't have a taste for blood.
  7. Your partner shouldn't feel threatened by or ever try to fight your male friends.
  8. Being in a relationship with your partner requires you to sacrifice dreams and relationships, like going to college or seeing your family.
  9. Your partner shouldn't break things when angry.
  10. Most of all, you shouldn't have to change who you are to be with someone.

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