Posts Tagged ‘victims’

This has literally been one of the worst weeks, ever. Not the worst, mind you, but bad enough to make it into my personal top five of all time. The specific reasons for that are going to have to remain a mystery for most of you, but trust me when I say I’m looking forward to a nice, quiet weekend.

Image courtesy of FelixCo, Inc. / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of FelixCo, Inc. / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It wasn’t all bad, of course. I was reminded once again that I have a great family, wonderful friends, amazing students, and that I just have a lot of support overall. Thanks to all of you.

Another bright spot from the week was the short film below (NSFW – language), which I found incredibly funny and oddly uplifting somehow, despite the subject matter. It was produced by the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles and was an official selection at Sundance 2014.

It tells the tale of a Connecticut teacher’s battle to get the police interested in simply helping him recover his stolen car – even after he had located it.

The real heart of the story, though, is the indifferent attitude of some modern institutions to the very problems the institutions themselves were originally created to solve. That isn’t a very funny idea, but the film itself has a humorous take on it all.

CRIME: THE ANIMATED SERIES – MARCUS MCGHEE – MOCAtv

Have a safe weekend!

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It’s been an incredibly busy couple of weeks, and I’ve fallen behind on almost everything, including my writing. But, today, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released their latest report on crime victimization (PDF), so I wanted to make note of that and share it with all of you.889385_71339437

The news isn’t particularly good, especially in terms of violent victimization rates, but it isn’t all bad either:

The rate of violent victimization increased from 22.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2011 to 26.1 in 2012. Crime not reported to police and simple assault accounted for the majority of this increase. Violent victimizations not reported police increased from 10.8 per 1,000 persons in 2011 to 14.0 in 2012.

Although the report notes that this increase isn’t statistically significant, it does represent the second year in a row that the rate has increased. On the bright side, the rate of domestic violence did not increase, which is always a good thing.

Another positive to remember is that the current overall rate of victimization is drastically lower than the 80 victimizations per 1,000 persons from the early to mid-1990s.

Stay safe!

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Last week, the FBI disclosed it had taken over and operated a child pornography bulletin board service  for two weeks in 2012 as part of an investigation into the site’s activities. They identified over 5,600 users of the site and, at this point, have conducted at least one raid in Washington state to gather further evidence as a result.

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The FBI reportedly obtained a judge’s approval to operate the site after they determined they couldn’t identify users just by accessing the site’s logs.  And, while it doesn’t appear the agents actively distributed child pornography, they did allow the board’s users to continue doing so.

According to an article posted on The Verge:

Over the course of two weeks, the [FBI] attempted to identify more than 5,600 users, responsible for sharing over 10,000 photos of children being abused. In total there were 24,000 posts on the site. The posts contained discussion related to pedophilia, including guides on how to avoid police detection by utilizing encryption and other tactics.

The board also reportedly had threads where users described how to lure and sexually harm children, including one user who wrote in reaction to an image of a girl being raped, “Jesus I would enjoy hurting that child.”

Sting operations are not a new idea, of course. They’re used to investigate many different types of crime, including drug trafficking, theft rings, and espionage. The difference here is that the sting operation didn’t just allow criminal behavior to continue, it also perpetuated the distribution of illegal images of children for those two weeks.

Some may feel – like the agents and the judge involved in this case did – that allowing images to be traded on the board was worthwhile because it potentially aided in identifying the perpetrators. What it also allowed, however, was the further sharing of images that are incredibly damaging to the children pictured, and those who love them.

According to one former victim whose images were shared over the internet in a different case:

“Every time they are downloaded, I am exploited again, my privacy is breached, and my life feels less and less safe,” she continued. “I will never be able to have control over who sees me raped as a child. It’s all out there for the world to see and it can never be removed from the internet.”

Which leads us to this week’s poll question. Should the government be allowed to perpetuate distribution of child pornography when doing so would aid an investigation?

Participate in this week’s Monday Poll and see the results!

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This is a guest post by Crystal Schwindt, author of “Shout the Secret: A Survivor’s Guide Through Domestic Violence and How to Thrive In Its Aftermath.” 

Much as an oil spill in the midst of a giant ocean begins as a drop and spreads quickly, slowly sucking the life out of every living thing it touches, so it is with domestic violence.  It contaminates generation after generation of a family, seeping into the cores of those exposed to it.

chained heart

It even expands to engulf our schools and our churches – affecting teachers and students, worshippers and clerics alike.  And, of course, it overwhelms our court systems, police forces, and other legal entities to the brink of potential victimization of the victim.  All of these cycles continue, much as the oil slick flows and grows on the current of the sea.

From a survivor’s standpoint, overcoming domestic violence is a challenge in its own right.  Recovery from the effects of violence and trauma is difficult to rise above in the best of circumstances.  It becomes even moreso when the person being victimized is forced – by nature of “due process”, bureaucracy, and red tape – to not only deal with their own challenges but also the external factors of a seemingly insensitive, uncaring, and self-justifying criminal justice system.

Ambulance Light

For example, historically, some of the men and women sworn to “protect and serve” within our police forces have been quite uninterested in dealing with “domestic matters.” They have, at times, even been restricted by laws that dictated the limits of what could be done when called to a domestic disturbance.  Fortunately, some states are now passing “mandatory arrest” laws that require officers to make an arrest if probable cause for an assault is established.  The only downside being that it’s not uncommon for the victim to be the one arrested.  Afterall, abusers are master manipulators of many things and perspectives — lying and making up stories being one of the biggest.

Also, police in most states, if not all, are now required to give victims in a domestic dispute a pamphlet about domestic violence with numbers to call for counseling, shelter, and other services.  This is something of an improvement, but it’s far from a total solution.

From a survivor’s viewpoint, I can tell you that the mere thought of engaging with the criminal justice process is daunting.  And, for some, this alone can become a reason not to call the police and to instead stay in an otherwise dangerous and violent relationship.  The confusion and the fear are simply too much.

What happens after the police intervene, the perpetrator is arrested, and then released on bail or bond, and comes back home? Mandatory arrest, pamphlets, and programs are not going to stop him from assaulting again. They may even make things worse.

This is difficult for people, including the police, to understand.

What you need to know is that “I” may be a victim of violence, but “I’m” not helpless and, although I may be ignorant, “I’m” not stupid. “I” make decisions every day about how to survive the challenges of living with a violent partner. Sometimes that means being quiet and staying put, and sometimes it does mean calling the police. It also sometimes means taking him back after an assault — not because “I” want to, but because there is no real, definitive protection (so to speak), and there may be other issues that “you” may not see or know that prevent me from feeling or being capable of rising to the challenges that await “me”, should “I” try to stand my ground.

And, even if none of this makes sense to you, it makes sense to me. It’s about navigating that oil spill – the sticky, unruly, and deadly waters of violence. It’s about survival.

Although Crystal is a DV survivor, she isn’t defined by that. Her experience spans 13+ years, two venues, and a multitude of courtrooms, judges, attorneys, and other legal resources, as well as representing herself on several occasions. Her book “Shout the Secret:  A Survivor’s Guide Through Domestic Violence and How to Thrive In Its Aftermath” is her fulfillment of a commitment to use these experiences for good — to help others so they may not have to endure as long.

Learn more, read about her book, and get connected to other resources at www.shoutthesecret.com.

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