BY SCOTT ROTHSCHILD
TOPEKA — Kansas’ leading organization that advocates for victims of sexual and domestic violence has parted ways with the state welfare agency, saying new requirements imposed by Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration on an assistance program would put victims in greater danger.
Joyce Grover, executive director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, said Friday the new requirements “violate the best interests of survivors of sexual and domestic violence.”
Laura Patzner, executive director of the Great Bend Family Crisis Center, was more blunt. “I am not going to put people at risk for dollars. I will not choose to do a contract with someone that I feel is not appropriate and would quite simply be more dangerous,” Patzner said.
The dispute is over a contract between the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services and the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence to provide services to low-income victims.
The coalition has had the contract with SRS since the program’s inception in 1999 and has provided assistance to about 17,500 victims.
The coalition withdrew its bid for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1.
SRS Secretary Phyllis Gilmore said she was “not surprised KCSDV is backing away from providing services” under the program.
“KCSDV had been struggling to meet our new accountability standards for several months,” Gilmore said.
“We tried to work with them, but in the end the bid that KCSDV submitted did not meet even the minimum performance standards set in the request for bid, and they were the only bidder. As a result of their withdrawal, we have decided to take the program in-house, manage it ourselves and provide direct funding to the community programs,” she said.
The amount of grant funds is $2 million, according to SRS, and is provided by the federal government.
Grover disagreed with Gilmore’s assessment and said the coalition withdrew its bid because of several new contract requirements from SRS.
One would require a victim undergo a psychological evaluation, she said. Grover said the coalition was willing to agree to make referrals for those who would benefit by an evaluation, but making the evaluation mandatory in all cases was unnecessary and could be harmful in some instances.
“The basic assumption that comes out of that requirement is that there is something wrong with the survivor,” Grover said. She also said the evaluations could be used unfairly against victims in divorce or child custody proceedings.
Another requirement said that 90 percent of those served had to be employed within 18 months, Grover said. She said this ignored the myriad of problems that many survivors faced and hurdles to employment.
In addition, there is a requirement that would force advocates to report typically confidential information, Grover said, and establish a “corrective action plan.” That insinuates survivors need to be “corrected,” or “fixed,” Grover said.
Sen. Laura Kelly, D-Topeka, said the SRS action was troubling. “I have serious concerns about dismantling a system for service providers for victims of domestic violence that has been in place for years and has proven to be effective.”
Statewide, the coalition and its subcontractors serve about 1,000 people each year.
Joan Schultz, who is the executive director of The Willow Domestic Violence Center in Lawrence, said the organization would have to assess whether it would contract directly with SRS for the program, which is called OARS and stands for orientation, assessment, referral and safety.
“It is an important program to ensure survivors are able to look at all their options,” Schultz said. In Lawrence, OARS provides $85,000 and pays for 2.5 positions that help abuse victims.
The Willow Center has a shelter that can serve 29 people. It served 137 women and 114 children last year.
Schultz said she would be happy to discuss with SRS officials “about how to move the OARS program forward and to keep these services in the city of Lawrence.”
She added, “I will have to take a look at any contract offer, and the board of directors and I will decide if this contract is mission driven for The Willow. I believe SRS has the best interests of survivors in mind, and we will work with them to the best of our ability.” Schultz also added she believed the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence withdrew from the program “in good conscience.”
Schultz said the SRS evaluation requirement of victims was “very problematic.” She added, “Anytime, you have a state requiring services from a professional, like a mental health professional, then you are going down a slippery slope.”
Sarah Jane Russell, who is executive director of GaDuGi SafeCenter in Lawrence, deferred questions about the impact of the funding issue to The Willow. But she added, “There is an urgency for all people to sit at the table and talk truthfully about where we are going with victims services in this state.”
— Statehouse reporter Scott Rothschild can be reached at 785-423-0668.
A bill introduced in the Kansas legislature last week would provide further protections for victims of stalking and domestic violence.
The Kansas Attorney General’s Office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation crafted House Bill 2613, which would make violations of protection from stalking and protection from abuse orders a level-5 felony. Such crimes are now misdemeanors.
The bill would also allow judges to extend the amount of time protection orders are valid, up to life. Orders are now valid for up to one year, but victims have to reapply every year — and potentially face their abuser in court.
Kristen Beaudette of Kansas has been fighting for years for such changes. The father of Beaudette’s daughter, Ty Barnett, has been in and out of prison since 2003 for physically abusing the girl. Barnett had also spent five years in prison after pleading guilty to torturing an infant in Salina in 1995. The infant later died.
Beaudette has changed her identity and done everything she can to hide from Barnett.
“I’ve jumped through so many hoops,” said Beaudette.
But Barnett is eligible for parole in June, and Beaudette fears having to confront him in court in order to apply for a new protection order.
If the bill becomes law, victims like Beaudette would possibly have to go through the court process only once.
KBI deputy director Kyle Smith — who helped write the bill — said the legislation would be a welcome change for victims and advocates.
“They deserve to have the system protect them,” Smith said.
In Douglas County in 2010, there were 295 filings for protection of abuse orders — which is filed when those involved had a previous relationship. Protection from stalking orders — filed when there is no previous relationship between the offender and victim — tallied 219 in the county 2010.
Both orders prevent someone from contacting the victim, who must prove repeated acts of harassment or abuse by the offender.
Lawrence resident shares her story of surviving abusive, violent relationship at ‘Take Back The Night’
Lawrence resident Rebecca Delaney nervously stepped up to the microphone and told her story for the first time. She had survived years of domestic violence and abuse.
She spoke before about 150 people Thursday evening in South Park as part of "Take Back The Night," a global effort to support survivors of sexual assault, rape and violence.
The 31-year-old Delaney’s story began at age 16 with a love note that was left on her car from a man who was 5 years older. He saw her, described how beautiful she was and left his phone number. “It was incredibly romantic,” she said.
They talked on the phone and then started dating.
“I felt like finally somebody understood me. It was like a romance novel,” she said. Delaney — a straight A student — ended up dropping out of school and moving in with the man, and that’s when her nightmare began.
“He was progressively more and more abusive. He isolated me from all of my friends and he took away all of my self-esteem and eventually he just ended up hitting me,” she said.
She had a son at age 19 with him and that’s when the abuse escalated — emotionally and physically. She remembers him backing her up against the wall to where their faces were just inches apart. He called her names, made her feel worthless and then spit in her face.
“I wanted to leave him, but he told me he would kill me and then himself, leaving our son an orphan,” she said. “Very emotionally traumatic.”
At age 21, she left him with the help of family, friends and co-workers who could see the abuse that she couldn’t.
“I think I would have stayed in it longer but those who loved me stepped in and pulled me out of the situation,” she said. “It took a lot of other people to help. I was kind of numb.” She said she suffered from depression and attempted suicide because of the relationship.
Today, Delaney is remarried to a “loving and respectful” man, and they have six children.
She told the crowd: “It does get better. I promise it does. Remember, there is hope and all you have to do is look for it.”
The Willow Domestic Violence Center is seeking people who are willing to wear red high heels and pose for its second calendar.
The Red Shoe calendar raises awareness about domestic violence and money for the Willow center, which provides safe shelter, peer counseling and advocacy to survivors of domestic violence. It serves about 275 women and children annually.
Last year, 32 men and women stepped up to pose for the first one. Among them: Kansas University Coach Bill Self, Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib, Lawrence City Commissioner Mike Dever and Lawrence High School principal Matt Brungardt.
It was a hit.
The Willow center ordered 500 calendars and sold out. The calendar along with its first “Walk a Mile in her Shoes” event in May raised $20,000. It was the first major fundraiser for the organization in 34 years.
“We are going to be working hard to do an even better job this year,” said Cathie Rodkey, Willow center board member and the person who came up with the calendar concept.
The Willow center is accepting nominees for its 2012 calendar through Sept. 2. It can be anyone of any age from Douglas, Jefferson or Franklin counties.
Nominations can be submitted online at www.willowdvcenter.org or by calling Aimee Bradshaw at 785-220-0205.
The goal is to have photos taken by the end of September and the calendars out by mid-November just in time for Christmas.
Gov. Sam Brownback recently announced more than $5.7 million in state and federal funding for agencies that help victims of crime, child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.
Among the recipients were two Lawrence safe centers:
• The Willow Domestic Violence Center — $210,297.
• GaDuGi SafeCenter — $43,647.
From domestic violence prevention efforts to prosecuting child abusers, this grant money will go a long way in helping local organizations and communities. These federal and state dollars play a vital role in supporting and improving the important services each of the recipient organizations provide, especially in slow economic times like these.”
— Gov. Brownback
Both centers received money through the State General Fund Grant Program for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Agencies. The funds are used as matching funds for federal formula grant requirements to support sexual and domestic violence services and to enhance services to underserved areas of the state. The Willow Center received $153,610 and GaDuGi was awarded $43,647.
The Willow Center also received a $56,687 grant through the Federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act Grant Program. The program pays for support group activities for women and children, child care, prevention education in schools and communities, information and referral services, advocacy in obtaining protection from abuse and stalking orders, court accompaniment, and outreach into rural counties.
Every year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence asks the nation's domestic violence programs in all 50 states to tally the number of people -- women and men -- whom they help in just one 24-hour period.
Last September 15 was the day. Of the 1,920 identified domestic violence programs in the U.S., 1,746 participated in the census -- that's 91 percent. Most of the Kansas DV programs participated, including our local Willow Domestic Violence Center. More information on their results, below.
The snapshot shows -- surprise, surprise -- the numbers, they ain't decreasing.
In those 24 hours, from 12:01 a.m. to 12:59 p.m....
- 37,519 people, mostly women and children, were housed in emergency shelters or transitional housing, either being driven from their homes or no longer feeling safe in their homes.
- 33,129 people, mostly women and children, received individual counseling, legal advice, or participated in childrens' support groups.
- 23,522 people, mostly women and children, called hotlines for help. That's 16 each minute.
- 9,541 people asked for help, but programs didn't have enough resources or funding to assist. This included 5,686 people asking for emergency shelter. What happened to them?
Those numbers tell only part of the story. All children in families with domestic violence are traumatized and can suffer long-term health effects. If not physical, emotional or sexual abuse at the hands of the batterer, they suffer trauma when witnessing their mothers being abused, when losing a parent through separation, when a family member goes to jail, or when they're physically or emotionally neglected. Family puppies, dogs, kittens and cats also suffer. Ever wonder how many pets end up killed, injured or dropped off at animal shelters because a family is violently unraveling?
There were some hopeful numbers in those 24 hours:
- 30,134 people participated in community-oriented domestic violence workshops to learn more about how to recognize and prevent family violence.
- As included in the graphic below, 391 people started new jobs, with the help of the staff at the domestic violence centers.
- Although 2,007 jobs were eliminated because programs lost funding, 1,384 jobs were added or continued, thanks to stimulus funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
KANSAS AND DOUGLAS COUNTY
During the 24 hours of Sept. 15, 2010 in Kansas, 1,055 people were provided emergency shelter or non-shelter services, and 436 people called hotlines. That's more than 18 calls each hour. And, sad to say, there were 191 people -- mostly women -- who weren't helped, because the programs didn't have enough resources to assist them; 78 were victims looking for emergency shelter or transitional housing.
All the numbers increased from 2009, when, during the 24 hours of Sept. 15, 918 people were provided shelter or non-shelter services, staff fielded 281 hotline calls, and there were 94 people turned away.
Locally, the Willow Domestic Violence Center serves all of Douglas, Franklin and Jefferson counties. During the 24 hours of September 15 they provided:
- shelter for 10 women and 13 children,
- non-shelter services for 21 women and 5 children,
- and they fielded 37 hotline calls.
That's just one day. The beat(ing) goes on, day after day. In 2010, Willow provided 1,749 non-shelter services, and sheltered 266 women and children for one or more nights. They also measure this in shelter units -- one unit is one person for one night. In 2010, they provided 7,638 shelter units. In 2009, that number was 5,505.
Willow doesn't serve just women and children who are victims of family violence; they serve men victims also. "We provide court advocacy, peer counseling, and hot line services to all survivors of domestic violence," says Audra Fullerton, Willow's outreach coordinator. "But we can only provide shelter to women and children. If men need shelter, or if someone is not comfortable with group living, we refer them to another organization."
So, why ARE things getting worse in the three-county area? And what is the community doing about it?
Answers to those questions in another post, coming soon.
Michelle McCormick, of the attorney general’s office, described a new batterer intervention program that will be offered in Lawrence in late January.
She spoke to about 30 people Wednesday evening during the annual meeting of The Willow Domestic Violence Center at the Lawrence Public Library.
In Lawrence, anger management classes are primarily used to help batterers change their behaviors, but McCormick said these classes are not effective.
That’s because they are short-term — about four classes — and they focus on anger as being the cause of domestic violence.
“What we know is that domestic violence is much more complicated than that,” she said. “Batterer intervention is the opportunity to address all of those different complexities and the dynamics of domestic violence.”
McCormick said the six-month batterer intervention program addresses economic, emotional and verbal abuse.
“We are digging deeper,” she said.
The attorney general’s office has certain standards for a program to become certified. These are research, evidence-based standards.
McCormick said that batterers who go through an intervention program are less likely to re-offend.
“It can be very effective,” she said.
So far, eight programs in Kansas have received its stamp of approval, including Topeka-based Family Peace Initiative, which is starting the Lawrence program.
Steve Halley, director of Family Peace Initiative, said they will open an office and start with one or two groups and grow from there. Halley said they have a tentative location, but it hasn’t been finalized yet.
To grow the program, Halley and McCormick will be talking about the benefits with the district attorney’s office, probation officers, parole officers and others in the community. Most batterers enter anger management classes or other programs because they are appointed by the court system to do so.
Halley hopes that changes in time.
“I like the idea of getting men to come without the court pressuring them,” he said. “They all know that the violence is not OK and that something is wrong, but there is a shame to that, so they hide that until an arrest is made and then they can’t hide anymore.”
Sarah Terwelp, Willow center executive director, said she strongly supports the program. The center provided 148 women and 118 children with shelter this year, and answered 1,683 crisis calls.
“This will be an accredited, certified program that will help batterers understand what they are doing and how it’s impacting survivors,” she said.
The Willow Domestic Violence Center is hosting a volunteer social and information session today!
It’s from 4:30 to 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at Johnny’s Tavern, 401 N. Second St.
You get the opportunity to:
• meet staff and volunteers.
• learn about the center’s services and programs.
• learn about volunteer opportunities at the center.
The center’s other community activities this month include:
• Adopt-a-Family. You can help make the holidays brighter for women and children served by the center. Call 331-2034, and the center will match you with a family. Wrapped gifts need to be delivered to the center by Wednesday, Dec. 15.
• Annual meeting. It will be from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt. A presentation about the Batterer’s Intervention Program, which starts in January, will be given. It’s another opportunity to learn about the center and its services.
• Red Shoe calendar. The center is selling 2011 calendars for $20 at a number of places in Lawrence and Baldwin City. They feature local men and women sporting red high-heeled shoes, including Coach Bill Self and former KU hoops standout Scot Pollard. For the full story, click here on WellCommons.
For more information, contact Audra Fullerton, director of community engagement, at 331-2034 Ext. 104 or email@example.com.
Seven years ago, peace advocate Carmin Ross was brutally murdered in her home northwest of Lawrence.
A jury convicted her ex-husband, Thomas Murray, a Kansas State University English professor, of first-degree murder, and he was sentenced to life in prison.
At the time of the murder, Ross and Murray were arguing over custody of their daughter.
The crime will be featured at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, on Investigation Discovery as part of a new series “Hardcover Mysteries.” Eight crime writers were asked to pick a true crime that had particular meaning to them, and Sara Paretsky picked Ross’s story.
“It was such a shocker and I think it’s just always terrifying when a person, usually a woman, is finally finding the strength to leave a situation like that and then gets killed. It’s just really painful,” said Paretsky, who grew up in Lawrence, but now lives in Chicago.
Paretsky followed the investigation and the trial with a passionate interest, based partly on her own advocacy for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
She said she worked at Rainbow House in Chicago, a nonprofit that helps women and children who have suffered domestic violence. She helped put together a curriculum for children in at-risk situations.
“It’s a subject that really matters to me and to see it happening in my hometown — in Chicago there’s so many murders you don’t really sort them out individually — but when one happens in Lawrence, it really stands out,” she said.
Paretsky also was rooting for Angela Wilson, the young assistant district attorney who prosecuted the case. She said Wilson’s struggles and successes during the trial reminded her of her own, both in life and in writing.
“She is 20 years younger than me, but doing a job that historically hadn’t been done by a woman,” she said. “A lot of people thought she was inexperienced and she wouldn’t handle this well in the courtroom, and just watching her step up to that challenge and really make a success of the prosecution, especially when there wasn’t a lot of direct evidence, was phenomenal.”
Paretsky said she never doubted Murray’s guilt.
“To me, it was very clear that he was guilty,” she said. For example, she said, he had looked up on his computer how to commit murder without being caught.
Paretsky said Wilson, Lawrence detectives and Kansas police will recall the horrific case during the hourlong show, and then she helps piece it together.
Paretsky, who is world renown for her Warshawski book series about a fictional woman detective, said she had never written specifically about Carmin Ross’s murder until now. And, she’s never appeared on TV.
“This is a new thing for me. I was very nervous. I hate watching myself on video,” she said, laughing.
The murder of Lawrence resident Carmin Ross will be featured on Investigation Discovery’s “Hardcover Mysteries.” It will premiere at 8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, on Sunflower Broadband Channel 101, and will be replayed at 11 p.m.