Category: BF NEWS

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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Read the latest update on the Violence Against Women Act

Photo Credit: www.cnn.com
Photo Credit: www.cnn.com

The Violence Against Women Act hangs in limbo as the Senate and House face off over their respective versions of the bill. Click the image above to read more in a CNN article.

Following House passage of their version of the Violence Against Women Act on May 16th, which cut key provisions from the Senate version including protections for illegal immigrants and LGTB, the bill now sits in limbo. The Senate and the House are locked in a stare-down over their respective versions despite a bi-partisan appeal from senators Patrick Leahy (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) to bring the senate VAWA to the House floor for a vote. President Obama threatened to veto the House bill.

In order to move forward, both houses must appoint negotiators, but as of now, progress has ground to a halt. But unfortunately, the same isn’t true for violence against women.
VAWA provides crucial services to victims and funding for shelters, hotlines and advocacy. Without any renewed version, funding for these critical programs will vanish. Women around the country can’t afford for a Congressional standstill to make them more vulnerable to violence. At that, our country as a whole can’t afford it. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • The cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year, $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health services.
  • Victims of domestic violence lost almost 8 million days of paid work because of the violence perpetrated against them by current or former husbands, boyfriends and dates. This loss is the equivalent of more than 32,000 full-time jobs and almost 5.6 million days of household productivity as a result of violence.
  • There are 16,800 homicides and $2.2 million (medically treated) injuries due to domestic violence annually, which costs $37 billion.

Call, email or write to your representatives today and ask them to come to a compromise. Millions of women and the services that help them can’t afford to hang in limbo.

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Would you cover up bruises from an abuser?

When domestic violence hits the news, it's shocking, high-profile, and often tragic. We hear about the Huguely trial,  politicians and celebrities who allegedly beat their wives, or  the latest murder-suicide, but rarely, if ever, does the news pay attention to preventing the tragedies it covers.

But in an unusual move, HLN Evening Express on CNN chose to shine the light on make up artist Lauren Luke's recent PSA showing how women cover up the bruises instead of getting help. If you haven't seen the PSA yet, click here.

CNN offers a few suggestions, saying that they know the video is shocking but “that's not why we wanted you to see it; we want to move forward from that and give you some tools to reach out to your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, who may be suffering in an abusive relationship.” They instruct viewers to believe victims, offer them assistance, and give them hotline numbers.

While we applaud the fact that a major network like CNN chose to pay attention and expand on this attention-grabbing PSA, we can't help but wonder why. Why the shift in  the usual gruesome after-the-fact domestic violence coverage? Why the proactive stance?

We can't help but wonder if the current political controversy over women's rights and violence against women, as well as the recent White House PSA “1 is 2 Many” may have anything to do with it. Or maybe, just maybe, the news is shifting to the perspective that one more news story about how to stop domestic and dating violence might just mean one fewer tragedy to report. What do you think?

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This One’s for the Boys: DV Prevention Education for Young Men

The lack of dating violence education in American public schools is hardly a surprise. But if you thought that DV awareness programs were rare, prevention programs are like an ice cube in the Sahara. When 1 in 5 female high school students between the ages of 14 to 18 reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a partner, it seems absurd that DV education and prevention efforts are virtually nonexistent, and if they do exist, they’re usually geared towards young women and girls. I haven’t the slightest complaint about that, but the domestic violence discussion is hardly one-sided.

Statistics have proven that men are overwhelmingly the perpetrators of abusive relationships, 85%, in fact. Granted, it’s absolutely necessary to equip teen girls with the knowledge and tools to cope with and avoid unhealthy relationships, but boys need to learn not to be abusers. The Young Men’s Mentorship Program at Becky’s Fund does just this, pairing young men with professional men in the DC Area. Dating violence is an important topic of discussion as well as gender stereotypes and roles and conflict resolution, all of which impact the effectiveness of violence prevention education. Thankfully, Becky’s Fund isn’t the only organization who recognizes the importance teach young men about violence prevention:

  • The Men of Strength Club (MOST) is a program operated by Men Can Stop Rape, a non-profit organization in Washington, D.C. The MOST Club mobilizes young men to prevent sexual and dating violence while building individualized definitions of masculinity which promotes healthy relationships. The MOST Club has been quite successful; so successful that in 2003, the CDC identified it as among the top four gender violence prevention programs in the country. Today, the club’s curriculum is taught in over 100 schools in over 10 states like Florida, Maryland, and as far as California.
  • Positive Choices Inc was started by local activist Aazaar Abdul-Rahim, a graduate of Dunbar High School. Founded over a decade ego, PC’s mission is to “provide an educationally, athletically, emotionally and socially enriched environment for economically disadvantaged inner-city youth”. One of its programs, Men of Valor, works with young men ages 11-19 and, through structured activity, helps young men obtain the skills necessary to become well-rounded and competent men and leaders.
  • Boys to Men of Greater Washington is a program which, through mentoring, guides young men at the critical point of development, adolescence, through adulthood. The mentees are encouraged to participate in civic engagement, instilling in them pride in themselves and their community.

Prevention programs, when coupled with education in school at home can be incredibly effective. Though not all of the programs focus on dating violence specifically, there’s no doubt that the lessons learned, particularly those of respect, communication, and leadership are just some of the skills and characteristics that can lead to a future without violence.

Washington Life Magazine

From Washington Life Magazine:

Lead-Photo-Beckys-Fund

You might not immediately associate high-end fashion with fighting domestic violence, but for Becky’s Fund, things are different. For their third annual Walk This Way fundraiser on November 2nd, the organization has recruited some ultra-manly men – among them Redskin’s Brian Orakpo and Anthony Armstrong, Capital’s player Karl Alzner, and DC United’s Ben Olsen – to pull on some tailored looks from Erin Finn Tailoring and walk the runway.

Read more about 2011 Walk This Way on washingtonlife.com.

The safety and well-being of our clients and staff is our first priority.

Read a note from our Executive Director to our supporters on Becky's Fund COVID-19 plan.