Ladies, It is Issues Time not “Party” Time

One of the bills still up for re-authorization is the “Violence Against Women Act”, the landmark 1994 law that strengthened the nation’s efforts against domestic violence, sexual assaults and stalking.  In April 2012 Republican Senators joined with Democratic Senators to approve a strong re-authorization bill.  Instead of supporting the hard work of the Senators, the House Republicans pushed to pass a watered down version, ignoring President Obama’s veto threat.  Unless change happens, the Republicans will be responsible for blocking the renewal of this popular lifesaving bill.

As of today the House Republicans have not approved this bill because they are against funding for programs and initiatives designed to help victims.  These services are needed to ensure communities have support to help women and children protect themselves.  This bill expired in 2011.  If Romney is elected there is also a realistic chance Roe v. Wade will be overturned.  With the possibility of one maybe two justices retiring during the next administration, this could allow for the president to nominate more conservative-minded judges to the Supreme Court.  This could allow for enough votes to overturn the 1973 ruling.

Even if legality of abortion is not directly addressed, it could center on whether a pregnant woman should be required to view an ultrasound image of the fetus before an abortion.  This could be used as an opportunity to rule on Roe v. Wade as a whole.  If Roe v. Wade were overturned, laws regarding abortion would be decided by each state.  So with the elections just around the corner let’s examine which of candidates value our vote.  Do they want our vote or does it seem like we are a low priority on their list of agendas?  Let them know how you feel by voting the issues at the polls not the parties.  Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, let your voice be heard through your vote.

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Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence laws in the United States are administered by local governments.  Because of this, local domestic violence laws can differ between states but due to the violent and damaging nature of the act the majority of domestic violence laws are somewhat consistent throughout the country.  Domestic violence laws in the United States covers a wide range of offenses including emotional belittlement, rape, stalking, battery, and assault.  Also included are those regulations regarding family abuse and child abuse.  Domestic violence laws regarding assault, rape and protective orders are as follows:

  • Assault – assault and battery against a member of the same household according to majority of domestic violence laws in the U.S. is a Class 1 misdemeanor.  This charge will likely result in probation, in addition to probation the aggressive party is required to pay fines and attend community and education treatment programs.  If the convicted has a prior criminal record or previous convictions of similar charges or third eviction of assault and battery on a family member, it will result in a felony.
  • Rape – Rape is considered a felony throughout the United States; an offender convicted of rape could face life in prison.  If the victim is under the age of maturity or rendered physically helpless, the state will typically classify this as a heinous act and this will undoubtedly carry a life sentence.
  • Protective Orders – these orders are administered under domestic violence laws to protect victims of domestic violence.  These orders prevent the convicted individual from living with or contacting the aggrieved party.  To protect the victim seeking a protective order, a court system may issue a preliminary one.  All protective orders have various conditions imposed against the abuser, such as limited or no contact with the victim or his or her family.  Violation on the order could result in a felony conviction.

These laws are general interpretation of laws concerning these offenses and orders of protection.  To fully know your rights, contact legal counsel in the state where you live.  This will give you a clear understanding of how the laws work in your state.  Also, pay attention to any changes being made to existing domestic violence laws as well as new laws waiting to be passed in government.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as abusive behaviors that some individuals use to control their intimate partners.  This includes any type of violence, abuse or threat of violence that one partner commits against another.  Domestic violence is not only physical abuse but includes sexual, emotional, psychological and verbal abuse.  This is a serious problem that has been going on for centuries and affects millions of people, mostly women.  Domestic violence involves continuous behaviors, examples of this are punches, kicks, slaps, hits, shoves and forcing a partner to perform degrading tasks, using degrading remarks, sexual assault, rape and other tactics used to establish power or control over a partner.

Domestic violence can occur in any relationship, married or unmarried, homosexual or heterosexual.  When it comes to domestic violence, physical abuse is more obvious and easier to determine.  The emotional part of domestic violence can sometimes go undetected and not seen as abuse at all.  Here are some signs of emotional abuse:

  • Need permission to socialize with your friends
  • Being accused of cheating on him when you leave the house to do errands
  • Partners has control over the money and monitors your spending
  • Does it feel more like you have a dad than a partner?
  • Feeling an obligation to be sexual with your partner
  • Your activities and interests are looked upon as unimportant or trivial
  • You become nervous about being on the phone when he is around
  • He tries to turn the children against you

These are some of the signs to look for when determining if you are a victim of emotional abuse.  It is not always easy for a victim to leave an abuser; they may feel helpless due to financial dependency, denial, belief that it will get better and fear of being alone.  But no one should feel it is okay to be abused.  We have to raise the awareness of family violence and encourage individual businesses and faith communities to join in the effort to “break the cycle” of violence.  We must insure peace and safety within relationships and homes throughout the United St

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Because this is a month to bring awareness and attention to domestic violence, I felt this was a great opportunity to educate everyone on what domestic violence is and what we can do to stop it.  I will be doing a six part series during the month of October.  The series will start off with defining domestic violence showing how to identify if you are in an abusive relationship and also how to detect when family members and friends are experiencing domestic violence in their homes.  This will be followed by domestic violence laws.  This will include domestic violence laws concerning assault, rape and protective orders.  The next post will talk about community steps towards prevention of domestic violence.

This will be followed by organizations that help domestic violence victims and how you can contact them.  The next post will be about recognizing domestic violence in the workplace and the last post for the month is about how you can help organizations that help domestic violence victims in your community.  Please make a point to do something to help any woman being abused that you know, especially this month.  You can give them information about shelters and organizations that will help.  You can also make donations to organizations in your community that help domestic violence victims, whether monetary or material things needed to run their facilities.  Remember, you are not just helping the lives of women but the lives of children as well.

Coffee Talk – A True Mentoring Experience

On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a special event at the TD Convention Center in Greenville South Carolina.  It was the first annual “Coffee Talk – A Mentoring Experience for Women”.  As the women arrived we began to register at 8:00 am and helped ourselves to coffee which was supplied by Starbucks.  The event started promptly at 8:30 am with Teri Parker, a professional actress, writer and acting teacher who welcomed us and introduced the first speaker.  Our speaker for the morning was Amy Herman.  Amy designed, developed and conducts sessions called “The Art of Perception” using the analysis of works of art to improve perception and communication skills.

She conducts this program across the country and has adapted these sessions for law enforcement, leaders in industry, education and finance.  She has worked with the New York City Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as hospitals, medical schools and nurses.  Amy is also the head of education at The Frick Collection in New York City for eleven years.   She said her Art of Perception sessions should make us rethink how we see and never be afraid to raise questions.  We were told to never be afraid to talk to people about what we are doing and to find our passion – find what we love to do.

After Amy spoke we began our first mentoring session where two at a time mentors rotated from table to table to engage the women in conversations that really matter and ask questions that challenged our thinking.  The first two mentors at my table was Lori Coon, the Chief Operating Officer of Integrated Media Publishing and Edna K. Morris, Chief Executive Officer / Partner of Range Restaurant Group.  We asked them questions about how they began their careers and what advice they could give us as we moved forward in our careers.  These women are bright, insightful and overflowing with rich experiences that we all seemed to soak up like sponges.

After our first mentor session we took a Starbucks coffee break for fifteen minutes then continued on to our second mentor session.  The second two mentors that came to our table were Chandra Dillard, Director of Community Relations at Furman University and a State House of Representatives in District 23 and Andrea Meade, Executive Vice President of Operations & Corporate Development at ScanSource, Inc.  They talked to us about the best advice they were ever given.  They said in leadership you should listen more, be a problem solver and balance life and our careers.  Both women cultivated an atmosphere of great discussions between themselves and the women at the table.  When the session was complete we move to the dining room for lunch.

Our speaker for the afternoon was Susan Tardanico.  She is CEO of the Authentic Leadership Alliance which is a leadership communications consultancy that advises, coaches and supports executives at major corporations, nonprofits and entrepreneurial ventures.  She is also executive in Residence at the Center for Creative Leadership, writes for Forbes and Forbes Woman and is a member of the adjunct faculties of Georgetown and New York universities where she runs a graduate leadership programs.  Susan’s speech was titled, “How to step into Our Power”.

She told us all solid relationships begin with a solid relationship with yourself.  We should also leverage our intuition and intellect and change our beliefs about our circumstances.  She said that a lot of women suffer from “Imposter Syndrome”, this is defined as “Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved”.   She also said we should let go of limiting beliefs and make choices aligned with who you are.  Make allies and create strategic relationships, these are the ones that matter. Most importantly she told us to know that we are worthy, another words, no your own worth.  The event ended at 1:30 pm and most of the mentors stayed around for continued conversation and questions.

This was an excellent experience and I felt rejuvenated and ready to tackle my purpose head on.

Why Are We Settling For Less?

The wage gap between men and women is a well-documented fact.  But new research shows this gap is attributed in part to the way women are perceived in the workplace.  This study showed that when managers knew they could blame the company’s financial position for their pay decisions, they were more likely to give women smaller raises than men.  It was said that women may be more readily appeased by this excuse than men.  Findings from an experiment of 184 male and female managers with an average of 13.5 years of experience gave 71% of the money available for raises to men and only allocated 29% of the money for women.  Some of this disparity was blamed on the differences in men’s and women’s willingness or skill in negotiating pay.  But if you are giving 71% of the money to men, why would they need to negotiate?

It also showed that managers who gave women explanations or excuses for smaller raises felt they were treating women fairly because they could explain the differences. When managers could not explain their decisions, they gave equal raises to men and women. It is amazing how little we have progressed in the last 100 years.  How much longer are we going to allow ourselves to be discriminated against?  Why are we doing the same jobs with less pay?  Why are we settling for less?

Women in the Olympics Are Winning the Gold But Missing Respect

As the Olympic games come to an end we can look back and see the accomplishments made by women.  But what did we really accomplish?  Gabby Douglas was the first African-American to win the gymnastic all around gold medal as well as the gold for the USA gymnastics team.  But all we heard about was her hair.  The two women from Saudi Arabia were the first women to participate in the Olympics.  But they were called #prostituteoftheOlympics on Twitter even before competing.  Allison Schmitt won a gold medal for swimming but was criticized for not being sexy enough and Lolo Jones was criticized for being too sexy.  Lolo blamed this kind of talk for her lack luster performance in the Olympics.  Serena Williams won two gold medals in the Olympics for tennis, having won the most Golden Grand Slams, man or women in both singles and doubles.  But all they could talk about was her “crip walk” victory dance.  I read an article in the New York Times where the writer said, “Hey, girls, you can play, but only under these rules”:

  • Be pretty, but not too pretty
  • Celebrate but only in approved ways
  • And by all means, when breaking down huge color barriers, make sure your hair is styled in a way that is pleasing to everybody

And women, let’s stop being our own worst enemy by contributing to the double standards in the Olympics. We should be looking at accomplishments of women in the Olympics, not their hair, clothes and looks.  If we don’t support one another, how can we expect to get the respect we deserve?  When we stand by and allow the criticism of these women we are creating discrimination for women everywhere.  So let’s go get the gold but don’t forget the respect.