I Am Jamie

In 2012, Harbor House opened their doors to more than 10,000 domestic abuse survivors. Providing, at no cost to them, 24-hour crisis support, safety planning, emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy and child care.

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Their “Purple Door,” a door painted and lined with hundreds of signatures in silver sharpie, serves as a reminder to those of us outside the doors of Harbor House, to help those in need on the inside.

Last year, we created a video for their Purple Door Luncheon and called it, I Am Jamie.

“Jamie,” a victim of domestic violence, benefited from the various services of Harbor House, where staff and volunteers helped save Jamie’s life. But who exactly, is Jamie? Click on the video to find out.

This year you can continue helping Harbor House provide a pathway to safety and Justice. Friday October 11, is the 37th Annual Purple Door Luncheon. By contributing, you’ll be helping break that cycle of domestic abuse, which has impacted families for generations.

Consider partnering with them to save a life today and help them open doors to a better future tomorrow.

For sponsorship information, please contact

Shelley Rodgers, Development Officer | srodgers@harborhousefl.com | 407-886-2244 ext. 231

New School Year! Time For New Conversation About Abuse & Bullying!

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The new school year always brings a sense of excitement for children.  It’s that time of year when days are filled with school supply lists, thoughts of new teachers and bus pick-up times.  They can’t wait to see their friends, meet new ones and see what the new year will hold.  This is also a time when many parents start to make plans for all the things they know will come…things that aren’t quite as exciting as homework and studying.  Before your child resettles into their routine, sit with them and talk about the new year, about expectations and how they can succeed.

I had that talk with my child this past week, as she enters her last year of middle school and takes a high school class for the first time.  Amidst the discussion of GPA, college admission requirements and end-of-year exams, we also talked about another subject I feel is equally important – dating abuse.  We talked about the early warning signs of dating abuse from boys that might like her, and how she needs to watch for those signs in her friends relationships too.

At Harbor House we know how important it is for children to not only recognize the warning signs of abuse and bullying, but also how to intervene.  The Little Leaders and Leaders of Courage programs work to end bullying and abuse not just by helping youth recognize it, but also by giving them the tools to stop it.  Studies now show that bullies grow up to be abusers.  Our children must be empowered to act so we can stem the tide of dating abuse and domestic violence.

Please have this talk with your child.  They will, without a doubt, be put in a situation where they’ll see another child being bullied.  It may be someone in their class, at lunch or on the playground.   How will your child respond?  Will they watch, laugh (even in discomfort) or worse yet…participate.  They need the tools and the permission from you to be a hero and stand up to bullying.

Here are a few tips from our Little Leaders program:

  • If you see someone being bullied or abused ALWAYS speak to an adult/teacher/administrator right away.  Never intervene if you don’t feel safe in doing so.
  • Bullying and abuse is painful emotionally and the victim may need the help of an adult to be safe.
  • If you do feel comfortable intervening, respectfully approach the bully and communicate how you feel.  That bullying is NOT okay.  Always tell an adult what happened.
  • It’s also important to report bullying on any social networking sites (it is anonymous!).  Talk to your child about how to do this.  Visit  http://www.internetsafety101.org/SNSsafety.htm for safety tips and tools.
  • You can always report abuse anonymously by calling 1-800-423-TIPS, visiting  www.speakouthotline.org or by texting “Speakout” to CRIMES (274637).

So, talk to your child before they go back to school.  Tell them what to look for and how to intervene.  At the end of the day, when the bell rings, your child will walk away as a Little Leader as well.

– Carol Wick

Carol is the CEO of Harbor House of Central Florida (http://www.harborhousefl.com), the county’s only certified Domestic Violence agency. She has extensive experience working, not only in the field of women’s issues, but in trauma and child abuse.  JDSA works closely with Carol and Harbor House as strategic planning partners for a variety of fundraising events, producing PSA’s, commercials and writing web-based content.

Same Sex Domestic Abuse. Yes, it Happens…A lot!

By Arati M. Jambotkar / JDSA Intern

           Summers in Los Angeles can be excruciatingly hot.  The undersized, overpriced studio apartment where I was living was part of a shoddy complex in a dangerous section of North Hollywood.  But the key perk was the reliable air conditioning.  So instead of spending my summer days at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, as a lot of young people were prone to do, I chose comfortable “ghetto isolation.”  When a twenty-something becomes a summer hermit, there’s only so much she can do.

           TV: check.

           Video games: check. check.

           Computer: hmmm…

           I met her in a chat-room on an online dating site for single lesbians.  Her profile seemed enticing enough: thirty-two year old Argentinian, long blondish-brown hair, green eyes, very athletic, college graduate, loves to party.  Her picture screamed cuteness.  And since I was feeling particularly bold and invincible, I decided to meet her.

          “Loves to party” apparently meant “LOVES TO PARTY!”  Our first date consisted of getting high and having sex.  I remember not wanting to sleep with her that soon, but I struggled with a deep loneliness of not having dated in quite awhile.  So I was submissive, and I stayed so throughout the entire course of what would be a two-year relationship of the worst kind.

          The initial dating period was textbook romance.  Occasionally, we’d go out to dinner, catch a movie, and engage in other activities those in the early romantic stages do.  She held doors open for me…even bought me kiddie meals at fast food places because I liked the cheap toys inside.  I thought these little moments would serve as fond memories later in our relationship.  They didn’t.  Instead, they faded quickly…hopelessness and pain taking their place.

          I remember the first time she hit me.  It was about a month into our relationship.  I was at my friend Marc’s house when she called my cell, politely asking when I’d be home.  She was leaving her sister’s place in Woodland Hills, she explained.  And wanted to visit me.  I told her I’d be home within the next two hours, and she should come over.  Although, not before me, as I didn’t want her waiting alone.  Half an hour later, she called again.  She was waiting for me.  In her van outside my complex.

          Honestly, my initial feeling was fear – not fear of what I now know were the unreasonable demands of an unstable woman, but fear of disappointing the person I thought was the solution to my inherent loneliness.  I asked Marc to rush me home.  He dropped me off next to her van and I climbed in.  She was angry and disappointed.  Strangely enough, I found myself excusing her anger just so I could appease her disappointment.  I think that’s the moment I was reeled in…hooked.

          I invited her back to my apartment.  Unlocking the door, I walked in first and heard the clicking sound of the deadbolt behind me.  I turned in her direction, and what seemed like one simultaneous motion, my feet fell out from underneath me, my head slammed sideways against the thin, brown carpet with my right ear bending backwards on the ground.  I remember the taste of that carpet – wooly, gritty, coarse.  And I remember feeling stunned – not just emotionally, but physically.  The physical shock, it seemed at the time, trumped the emotional response.  I remember her spitting out paranoid accusations of sleeping with Marc.  I was too scared to object – then and always thereafter.

          The next two years were filled with constant drug use and an endless barrage of physical assaults.  There was slapping, kicking, choking, breaking – destroying me from the outside in.  Once, despite my 103 degree fever, I was dragged by my hair into her van to visit her family for Thanksgiving dinner.  Another time I was punched directly in the nose, forcing it to bleed onto the white linen of our bed.  She told the doctor I tried to burn her with a cigarette, and she had kicked me in self-defense.  I didn’t object.  Unfortunately, neither did the doctor.

          She once chased me around my entire apartment complex in the middle of the afternoon, accusing me of doing the last of the drugs.  I knocked on every door in desperation.  Everyone was somewhere else.  She finally found the drugs in her own pocket.  I really think she would have killed me right then and there if she hadn’t stuck her hand in that pocket.

          My parents were gravely worried, and bought last-minute tickets to Los Angeles with the intention of taking me home to Louisiana.  But I wouldn’t go.  Despite everything – everything – I wanted to stay.  At first, I thought the loneliness was greater than any physical pain she could ever inflict.  But soon enough, through something I can only describe as the love of a Higher Power, I realized that the pain of living the way I was had become greater than my fear of that loneliness.  It was only then that I could seek treatment.

          I got on that plane.  And I never went back.

          A few months ago, she sent me a friend request on Facebook.  I took a deep breath and clicked the ‘Not Now’ button.  I’m worth more than that today.  I don’t need to numb myself at the hands of another…even at the hands of myself.  I can find self-esteem without being controlled or manipulated…without being abused and coerced.  I have an identity apart from that loneliness these days.

          So ‘Not Now’ is so fitting.  Not today.  Not ever again.

R3 APP Goes Global on Twitter

The award winning R3 app, designed to help survivors of domestic violence, is starting to make noise on Twitter. Social Discussion created the @R3app account on Twitter with the goal of spreading the news of a freely available screening tool that can save lives.

The R3 App was created by Carol Wick, the CEO of Harbor House, a domestic violence organization located in Orlando, Florida. Along with Echo Interaction Group, Wick was able to develop an app that can be downloaded, at no charge, from iTunes and the Android marketplace.

R3, which stands for ‘Recognize, Respond, and Refer’, was conceived primarily as a screening tool that could be used by medical professionals and first responders who come in contact with survivors. The app prompts users with a screening process created 13 years ago by Doctor Kevin Sherin, director of the Orange County Florida Health Department. The process named HITS, which has statistically proven to be 91% effective in identifying domestic abuse, is for medical providers to ask four screening questions:

Over the past 12 months, how often did your partner;

Physically Hurt You?
Insult or talk down to you?
Threaten you with physical harm?
Scream or curse at you?

The questions are meant to address all domestic partnering,  regardless of gender, marital status or same sex relationships. Depending on the answers, providers can then refer survivors to the appropriate support and resources specific to their geographic location. Believe it or not, such a seemingly simple tool is invaluable when considering that it has been found that up to 71% of doctors did not routinely screen for domestic abuse. A tragedy in and of itself, when a victim could be introduced to resources that could end the abuse and ultimately save a life.

Within a week of the release of @R3app on Twitter, the app has picked up the following of such notables as the Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Family Homeless Network, MN Senator Al Franken, multiple universities, nation-wide women’s shelters, crisis networks and also abuse centers internationally in countries such as England, Ireland and Argentina.

The R3 app has also received the attention and support of the Institute of Medicine and Avon Foundation for Women. In the Ending Violence @ Home App Challenge sponsored by the aforementioned. Additionally, the R3App received $5000 in a third place finish among entries from over 9 countries.

Following @R3app will be a great way to keep updated and to spread the word of its existence.;

The more people know

The more they download

The more people  use it

The  more lives saved

By following, you join the movement to end the violence and make a difference in the lives of family, friends, and neighbors everywhere around the world.

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