The scandal surrounding NFL star Ray Rice this week has sparked a renewed national discourse about domestic violence – a discourse that’s included some commentators wondering why women stay in abusive relationships.
Now, survivors of domestic violence are speaking out about the reasons “why they stayed” (with a #WhyIStayed hashtag on Twitter, created by writer Beverly Gooden) – and local organizations are getting the word out about the resources available to victims of abuse.
Ardith Burkes, interim executive director of the Compass Center for Women and Families here in Orange County, spoke with Aaron Keck this week on “Aaron in the Afternoon.”
Visit CompassCTR.org for information and assistance.
The Ray Rice scandal has actually been simmering for months. Earlier this year, video surfaced of Rice dragging his then-girlfriend Janay Palmer (who was apparently unconscious) out of an elevator in an Atlantic City hotel – disturbing footage that led to a brief suspension by his NFL team, the Baltimore Ravens. Last week, though, the Ravens canceled his contract altogether after new footage went public proving it was Rice himself who’d knocked her unconscious.
The resulting outcry has swirled largely around the NFL’s response – there’s some evidence that league officials knew the full story long ago and failed to act – but the incident also has people talking about the larger issue of domestic violence. Even there, though, the talk hasn’t been about Ray Rice so much as Janay Palmer – who stayed with Rice after the incident and has defended him publicly through the current scandal. (She’s now Janay Palmer-Rice – they’ve since been married.)
Why do women stay? The question is a troubling one, because (intentionally or not) it implies an accusation: ‘if you’re getting abused, it’s your own fault for not leaving.’ That’s been the undercurrent of a lot of the talk around Janay Palmer.
But the truth is – and this is the point of the #WhyIStayed hashtag that’s been trending on Twitter all week – that it’s not easy for a victim (male or female) to escape an abusive relationship.
“He said he’d kill me if I left.”
“I tried to leave the house once after an abusive episode, and he blocked me. He slept in front of the door that entire night.”
“I felt I had nowhere to go.”
“I wanted my ‘family’ to be together.”
“I thought divorce was not an option in my faith.”
“I thought I deserved it.”
“He convinced me that I was worth nothing.”
“Anyone I asked for help told me it was a ‘family matter.'”
“People (were) brushing it off because they didn’t think it was in his character.”
“Because…I didn’t think verbal abuse and emotional manipulation was considered an abusive relationship.”
“There was no money to get out, or place to go.”
The list goes on. Abuse victims stay because they feel powerless, or because in many cases they are powerless, physically or financially; they stay “for the kids”; they stay because they blame themselves; they stay because they have nowhere else to turn, or because the people they turn to refuse to help. And it’s not easy to leave. People often need support to get back on their feet – and for many victims, the abuse and harassment doesn’t end when they walk out the door.
And abuse does not necessarily have to take the form of physical or sexual violence: abuse can also be emotional or verbal as well. Persistent name-calling and threats, emotional manipulation, or controlling access to vehicles, phones, or friends can all constitute abuse, even without physical violence.
But there is help. In our area, the Compass Center for Women and Families offers a 24-hour hotline for anyone experiencing abuse: 919-929-7122. It’s always available. The Compass Center also offers a wide variety of other resources for women and men experiencing abuse – including counseling, safety planning, support groups, and help with emergency shelter placement and domestic violence protective orders. Volunteers and staff members are trained to help victims through the process at their own pace – and the Compass Center offers services for people after they leave as well.
And the #WhyIStayed hashtag reminds us that abuse does not exist in a vacuum – it’s often reinforced by a society that doubts the victim, blames the victim, and refuses to help. That means the responsibility is on us too, not only to be supportive and offer our help when people turn to us in need, but also – before that even happens – to make it clear we WILL be supportive, that we will be allies if we’re ever called upon. Sometimes a supportive friend or family member can make the difference between someone leaving and not leaving – and sometimes the difference hinges on whether the victim believes she’ll find support if she asks for it.
And, of course, it’s also on us not to be abusive ourselves, to teach each other that abuse is never acceptable, to call out abuse when we see it, and not to turn a blind eye.
Because it’s here, in our community. The Compass Center worked with about 1000 victims of abuse last year alone – and as Burkes points out, that number only counts the victims that have sought and found help. There are many more.
If you are a victim of domestic abuse and you need help, call the Compass Center’s hotline at 919-929-7122, or find them online at CompassCTR.org. The Center is always seeking volunteers as well; visit them online to learn more about how you can help.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/whyistayed-can-get-help/
You’re invited to Vimala’s Curryblossom Café on Tuesday, July 8, from 6-9 pm to raise funds and awareness for the fight against domestic violence.
Organized by Laura Morrison of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, “Martha’s Day” is now an annual event held in memory of Morrison’s mother, Martha Pearson, who was killed by her husband in 1995 at the age of 42. Morrison was only nine.
“Martha’s Day is my small way of celebrating my mom – her life and her courage – on her birthday (July 8), while also pushing our community to come together to confront domestic violence,” says Morrison.
Last year’s inaugural Martha’s Day event drew about 300 attendees and raised $5,000; this year, Morrison says, she’s hoping for an even larger turnout. Proceeds raised will go to benefit the Compass Center for Women and Families.
“Martha’s Day is an opportunity for our community to engage in meaningful dialogue to end domestic violence and celebrate the lives of domestic violence victims and survivors,” says Morrison. “People often think domestic violence doesn’t happen in our community, but data from the Chapel Hill Police Department shows that police officers spent a minimum of 648 hours and $11,000 responding to 335 domestic violence calls in 2013. Domestic violence does happen in our community, and Martha’s Day addresses that violence head on.”
Morrison joined Aaron Keck earlier this month on the WCHL Afternoon News to talk about the event.
Tickets for this year’s Martha’s Day event are $35, which includes dinner from Vimala’s and a built-in donation to the Compass Center. There will be live music and a raffle as well.
Martha’s Day is presented by Molly Maid of Chapel Hill and the Ms. Molly Foundation, and the event is sponsored by Vimala’s Curryblossom Café, Cake LLC, Enitech IT Solutions, A Better Image Printing, DSI Comedy, Chapel Hill Tire Car Care Center, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA.
For more information, visit CompassCtr.org or contact Morrison at email@example.com. You can donate online as well at www.compassctr.org/marthasday. Online donors should write “Martha’s Day” in the “In Honor” section of the online donation form.http://chapelboro.com/news/non-profit-news/july-8-marthas-day-fight-domestic-violence/
CHAPEL HILL – Chapel Hill Police confirms that the condo where an alleged murder took place Wednesday night is the sight of numerous complaints.
Michelle Denise McClinton is charged with 1st degree murder in the stabbing death of her husband, Darryn Maurice Dye.
The incident took place in the condo of Dye’s sister, Angela Gilmore, which is unit G3 in the Brookside Condominiums on Hillsborough Street. Eric Plow, a member of the board of directors at the Brookside Homeowners Association, says there have been multiple complaints about fights, yelling and drunken behavior at G3.
“No one was surprised that a murder occurred in this unit because, for the past couple of years, we’ve had numerous, numerous neighbor complaints and police calls at this apartment,” Plow says.
Chapel Hill police patrol captain Danny Lloyd says police were called to the apartment in question three times this year, with Wednesday’s incident being the fourth.
Mary Jean Seyda, chief operations officer for CASA, says CASA was aware of the complaints from other Brookside residents and was in communication with the Brookside HOA and the apartment’s tenants. Seyda also says that the lease for G3 was near expiration.
“Our most recent action was on June 20 when we notified the HOA that CASA is not renewing the tenant’s lease, effective August 31,” Seyda says.
Gilmore say that McClinton and Dye stepped outside to have a conversation, and when they came back inside, McClinton retrieved a knife and “poked” Dye in the chest and “he just fell out on the floor.”
Police responded to a reported assault and arrived shortly after 10:00 p.m. Dye was pronounced dead at the scene.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/apartment-in-stabbing-murder-case-sight-of-complaints/
CHAPEL HILL- A Chapel Hill woman faces murder charges after a man died last night at the Brookside Condominiums on Hillsborough Street, but a member of the condo’s board of directors says it’s an incident that should have been avoided.
Michelle Denise McClinton has been charged with first degree murder in the death of Darryn Maurice Dye.
The victim’s sister, who lives in the G3 unit of Brookside where the alleged murder took place, says the couple was out on the porch and seemingly getting along when McClinton came inside.
“I don’t know what the situation was and what went on between those two out there. So they came back in the house, and I thought she went in the kitchen to get a cup to pour some beer in,” she says. “Next thing I know, I turn around and he was standing by the door. I didn’t even know she even had a knife. Then I looked up and that’s when she poked him and he just fell out on the floor.”
She says the incident was a surprise.
“I don’t think she meant to do it,” she says.
Police responded to a reported assault at 529 Hillsborough Street shortly after 10 o’clock. Dye suffered stab wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The next-door neighbor in G4, Erica Alant, says she wasn’t home during the time of the incident.
“Last night we came home and there were cop cars outside, but it wasn’t too unusual and there was no screaming or anything going on of that nature and we just went to bed like normal and we woke up this morning and found out what was going on,” Alant says.
However, she says she isn’t surprised with the outcome.
“We’ve been complaining for probably five to six months to the organization to have them removed because they provide an unsafe environment. We have complaints constantly; they’re always screaming. We’ve had to call the cops on numerous occasions,” Alant says.
She told WCHL she has been and continues to be concerned for her safety.
G3 is one of multiple units at Brookside managed by CASA, a Raleigh-based housing management company. Eric Plow is on the Board of Directors at Brookside. He says this unit has a history of problems.
“We have made numerous, numerous complaints about the fighting, the yelling, the screaming, the disruptions that occur over there all the time for months and nothing ever gets done,” Plow says.
Plow confirms that there are other units at Brookside that are managed by CASA, but Alant said she has no problems with them.
Mary Jean Seyda, chief operating officer of CASA, says the managing company first made sure that the tenant of the property, the victim’s sister, was safe, and is working with Chapel Hill Police in the investigation.
“We’ve been in the development and property management business for 21 years, and an incident like this has never occurred in one of our properties at all,” Seyda says.
Plow says this is not the first time the G3 unit has had an issue.
“The tenants before this current one, same thing, we made numerous complaints for months and months and months,” Plow says. “Nothing ever got done. Neighbors are terrorized, neighbors complain. We get so many complaints, we pass them onto CASA. Nothing ever happens.”
And Plow says he’s frustrated with the ongoing situation.
“Your tax dollars and my tax dollars are supporting HUD, housing and urban development, and HUD hires CASA to manage their money, to distribute their money,” Plow says. “I don’t have any problem with CASA renting to disadvantaged people, people low on their luck, but when people start disrupting and terrorizing the neighborhoods, and CASA will not take decisive action to resolve the problem, that’s when I have a problem.”
According to the N.C Department of Corrections website, Dye had a long history of convictions for assault on women, dating back to 1997.
Plow shared a number of emails from tenants as well as correspondence to the housing management company. You can read some of those emails by clicking here.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/ch-police-investigate-stabbing-on-hillsborough-street/
CHAPEL HILL – The Compass Center, a family violence prevention organization, is holding an event to commemorate its one-year anniversary this Monday, July 8.
The Compass Center formed by merging the Orange County Women’s Center and Family Violence Prevention Center.
The event, called Martha’s Day, is meant to start a community conversation about domestic violence, not just in the local area, but around the state, according to Ann Gerhardt, executive director of the Compass Center.
“We’re fortunate in our community to have these resources available, but there have been 19 domestic violence related deaths in North Carolina since January 2013,” Gerhardt says.
The event will be taking place at Vimala’s Curry Blossom Café, from 6 to 9 p.m.
“We’ve had a flood, but there’s also an opportunity here to come out and support an event that is all around us in our community,” Gerhardt says.
Martha’s Day will include a performance by the Mahalo Jazz Trio and a raffle for an iPad.http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/domestic-violence-provention-center-holding-fundraiser/
CHAPEL HILL- Next month, the local community is invited to an event designed to benefit domestic violence prevention by remembering one of its sufferers.
“Martha’s Day” shares its name with the mother of Laura Morrison, who was a victim of domestic violence 17 years ago. Morrison, who’s organizing the program, says it coincides with both her mother’s birthday and the birthday of Chapel Hill’s Compass Center.
“I do something for her birthday every year, but this is the first year I’ve done something public and charitable,” she says. “It all came together really quickly, and I’m really excited about where it’s headed.”
The Compass Center was born last July with the merging of the Chapel Hill Family Violence Prevention and Women’s Centers. The organization is designed to end domestic violence through crisis services, court advocacy, financial literacy workshops, and a variety of other programs.
The Martha’s Day event will take place at Vimala’s Curryblossom Café. Morrison says the restaurant’s owner, Vimala Rajendran, was especially open to the idea because she too was a victim of domestic violence.
“I know she’s very giving, but I didn’t expect her graciousness with this event,” she says. “I think at first, she was almost more excited about it than I was, which was really encouraging for me.”
Morrison says the event will include dinner, with donations encouraged, along with a few other surprises.
“Certain levels of donations will get you certain things from the menu,” she says. “An in-person donation of more than $250 will get you the ‘Martha Plate,’ which will be a special meal and a glass of wine. We’ll have live music, I’m sure someone from Compass Center will speak, and I will likely speak. The other piece of it is a raffle sponsored by DSI comedy for an iPad mini.”
Martha’s Day is set for July 8 from 6-9 p.m, but you can also make a donation online before the event by clicking here.http://chapelboro.com/news/non-profit-news/night-at-vimalas-to-honor-domestic-violence-victim/