Posted on February 5, 2013. Filed under: Teen Dating Violence | Tags: , , , |

Information every teen and parent should have.

By: Georgette Allen, BSW

February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month. During this time, groups across the nation organize in an effort to shed light on this growing epidemic. Teen dating violence occurs in every racial, socioeconomic, and religious group. Each year, an estimated 1.5 million high school students, both male and female, are physically abused by a dating partner. Types of abuse may include physical, emotional, sexual, and stalking. Abuse can occur in-person or electronically, such as excessive texting and posting sexual pictures of the victim online. Adolescents experiencing dating abuse are at a higher risk for teen pregnancy, substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, further domestic violence, and suicide.

The highest rate of intimate partner violence is experienced by girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24. The onset of violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 (tweens) and 18. Similar to adult intimate partner violence, dating violence often goes unreported to authorities. When asked whom they would talk to about abusive behavior by a partner, 83% of female high school students said that they would confide in a friend and 7% said that they would report to the police. Only 33% of teens who had been in an abusive relationship, ever told anyone. Teen dating violence often goes unrecognized by parents as well. A staggering 81% believe that it’s not an issue or admit that they don’t know if there is an issue.

So what can a parent do? Talking open and often with your teen builds a strong relationship, increasing the likelihood of disclosure in the event that he or she is subjected to abuse by a dating partner. The more informed your teen is, the better he or she will be at recognizing unhealthy relationship behaviors; a tool that will remain valuable throughout adulthood. Characteristics of an abusive relationship include:

  • Verbal Abuse
    o Name Calling
    o Public Humiliation
    o Criticizing
    o Embarrassment
  • Emotional Abuse
    o Making you feel bad about yourself
    o Sharing private information with others
    o Ignoring or using the ”silent treatment”
  • Physical Abuse
    o Hitting, kicking, pulling hair, grabbing, pushing, strangling, etc.
  • Threats/Intimidation
    o Using looks/gestures to intimidate you
    o Smashing or throwing objects
    o Threatening to leave you in a dangerous place
    o Threatening suicide if you break up
  • Destruction of Personal Property
  • Sexual Abuse
    o Getting partner drunk or drugging them to have sex
    o Touching partner in an uncomfortable or unwanted fashion
    o Continuing sexual advances after being told “No”
    o Forcing sex on a partner
    o Treating a partner like a sex object)
    o Reproductive coercion
  • Jealousy & Isolation
    o Refusing to let partner join activities
    o Using jealousy as a sign of love
    o Repeatedly accusing partner of cheating
    o Controlling whom partner speaks with and sees
    o Controlling what partner wears
  • Using Male Privilege
    o Making all the decisions
    o Going out with the guys but does not allow her the same freedom
    o Assuming certain rights/privileges simply because he is male

If you feel that you or your teen might be in an abusive relationship, help is available. A list of local resources can be found at https://sanjuancountydvsataskforce.wordpress.com. For more information about teen dating violence, visit http://www.loveisrespect.org/.



References: http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html

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The Role of an Advocate

Posted on January 9, 2013. Filed under: Advocacy | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

by: Georgette Allen

What exactly does an advocate do? This is a question that I have been asked on numerous occasions. My short answer is usually, “We help victims navigate through the criminal justice system.” Of course my answer is specific to my job as a systems-based advocate. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines an advocate as, “One that supports or promotes the interest of another.” But neither of these answers provides an in-depth explanation of the duties performed by an advocate on a day-to-day basis. 

To give a better understanding of an advocate’s role, let’s start with the difference between a systems-based advocate and a community based advocate. A community-based advocate is one that is employed by an independent, usually non-profit, organization. Examples of non-profit agencies that employ advocates in our local community are Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico and the FamilyCrisis Center.

In contrast, systems-based advocates are employed by juvenile or criminal justice agencies including: law enforcement, district attorneys, probation and parole, corrections, military, and attorney generals. In our community, the Farmington Police Department, Bloomfield Police Department, FBI, and the District Attorney’s Office employ systems-based advocates. The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office is currently in the process of implementing a volunteer systems-based advocate program.

The overall goal of both types of advocates is to provide support to the victim so that he or she can get through their state of crisis and begin the healing process. However, the parameters in which they perform their duties differ greatly. Here are a few of the differences between the two:

  • Community-based advocates are able to work with victims whether they report the crime to law enforcement or not. Systems-based advocates generally work with victims who have an open criminal case. 
  • Community-based advocates typically provide confidential services, meaning communication between the advocate and the victim are considered “privileged.” Levels of privilege may vary from state to state. Communication between a victim and a systems-based advocate are not considered “privileged” under law and therefore, are not afforded confidentiality rights.
  • Many systems-based advocates work with victims of all crimes. Community-based advocates are specially trained in working with victims of a particular group: domestic violence, sexual assault, elder abuse, etc.

Below is a detailed description of services provided by systems-based advocates and community-based advocates from two agencies in San JuanCounty:

The Farmington Police Department (FPD) employs two full-time victim advocates who provide the following services for victims of violent crimes, with a majority being domestic violence and sexual assault:

  • Act as liaisons between victims of violent crimes and the criminal justice system (Communication)
  • Inform victims of their rights and advocate for those rights
  • Explain the criminal justice process
  • Keeping victims up-to-date on case progress
  • Inform victims of court dates
  • Assist with victim statements at sentencing
  • Crisis intervention
  • Assisting victims with filing orders of protection
  • Safety Planning
  • Assisting with the Crime Victim Reparation Commission (CVRC) application process
  • Provide support to victims during court proceedings
  • Transport victims to court proceedings, shelters, or other related appointments
  • Assist victims with accessing additional resources
  • Answering questions about the criminal justice process for victims who are trying to decide whether or not to report

Sexual Assault Services of Northwest New Mexico (SAS) employs a full-time victim advocate and a crisis services coordinator who recruits and trains volunteer advocates. Advocates are called-out upon request of the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to provide the following services for victims of sexual assault:

  • Support during forensic exams conducted by a SANE
  • Assistance in filing CVRC applications
  • Referrals to counseling and/or other resources
  • Support during court proceedings

In addition to providing direct services to victims, advocates from both agencies are actively involved in the community to help facilitate change and create an environment conducive to supporting victims and holding offenders accountable. As members of the San Juan County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force, FPD and SAS advocates:

  • Conduct community awareness campaigns and events
  • Provide education and training opportunities to local law enforcement, professionals, students, and the greater public
  • Engage with local legislators to bring attention to the issues

Advocates play an important role in the community for those affected by these devastating crimes. They are the voice of the voiceless, the ones fighting for the victims’ rights, and the ones who will be there to lend a listening ear.

Are you an advocate from another part of the country or around the world? I invite you to share the work you are doing in your community. Email us at taskforce.sanjuancounty@ymail.com and I will post your story on our blog.

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A Healing ArtMosphere

Posted on August 27, 2012. Filed under: Domestic Violence Awareness Month | Tags: , , , , , |

The San Juan County Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Task Force will be hosting its 3rd Annual A Healing ArtMosphere art exhibit and auction. This fundraiser, which takes place during the fall art walk in October, has been a success and continues to grow each year. Local artists have shown their support and generosity by donating pieces to be auctioned off with proceeds benefitting the task force. We would like to thank the artists who have donated works of art and individuals who have purchased items at our past events.

Please help the task force spread the word about this year’s event by sharing a link to this article.

Thank you!

Georgette M. Allen

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