KCSDV Winter 2020 Newsletter

In this newsletter:

Thank You

Thank you to everyone who joined the efforts during this challenging year to end domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.

KCSDV has hosted training events, webinars, meetings, and conferences. We have produced and updated brochures, websites, manuals, toolkits, and other resources. We have responded to hundreds of contacts through email, telephone, website, and text, answering those seeking assistance with problem-solving and information that will improve responses and safety for survivors and their families.

Thank you for being a part of this effort!

Pictured is a still life of a pine tree branch, red apples, pinecones, and a drink in a mug. The image is by Toa Heftiba via Unsplash.

And, as we wind up the year committed to the goals of safety, justice, and accountability, please remember to support your local domestic violence and sexual assault program and KCSDV. Donations from our friends and partners are critical to this work of ending violence. Your donations are those oh-so-important “unrestricted funds” that allow us and your local program to fill in the gaps that foundation and grant funding just do not fill. Not only do these donations fill in the gaps, but they also remind us that ending this violence will take efforts by all of us.

You may not be able to volunteer or work every day in this field, but your commitment to supporting this work through your donations is equally important. Your donation is important no matter the amount, no matter how frequent.

KCSDV staff look forward to working with all of you in the coming year!

COVID-19 and Services

Since mid-March, KCSDV, like others across the state, the nation, and the world, has been deep into the work of responding and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pictured are some KCSDV staff members in a Zoom meeting. The image is by KCSDV.

KCSDV staff began working remotely in mid-March. We cobbled together laptops and other equipment to make this happen. Gradually, with the support and flexibility of our state and federal funders, we were able to move budget items around, purchase additional computers and technology, and get staff settled for what we thought would be a few months of remote working. Nearly 8 months later, we have two sets of staff on opposing staggered schedules: While one works remotely, the other is in the office, and vice versa. (And, as this newsletter goes to publication, we have gone to our “more remote” plan with a few people in the office to keep things running fiscally and administratively.) KCSDV staff continue to adapt to new working conditions: children at home doing remote learning for school, isolation from family and friends, and much more.

In March, KCSDV immediately began weekly phone calls, which are now Zoom calls, with KCSDV coalition members located in cities and communities across the state.

From our vantage point, we could see that the immediate concerns in the early days were in urban areas and in rural areas where large meat production plants were located. Adaptation of domestic violence and sexual assault services looked very different in the urban areas of Kansas City, Topeka, and Wichita than they did in the more rural areas of southwest Kansas where the COVID-19 numbers in both places immediately spiked. These weekly KCSDV coalition member program calls allowed the coalition as a whole to convene regularly and share information and strategies to keep services open and staff and clients safe. Sexual assault and domestic violence services have been uninterrupted across the state. The dedication of advocates has been incredible. The commitment to the safety of survivors is unflagging.

Pictured is YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment (CSE) staff members each holding a signs on why they each stand with survivors. The image is by CSE.

KCSDV also convened a committee of Kansas advocates to work on general guidance for adapting services in the face of the pandemic.

The committee addressed remote services, confidentiality and privacy, congregate living and sanitation, cell phone use and security, safety planning for children in shelter, virtual services software and safety, and so much more.

KCSDV published a COVID-19 webpage on our website that pulled together these resources and others from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Our COVID-19 webpage includes resources in a variety of languages, resources for self-advocates and people with disabilities, resources specific to Tribal Nations and much more. KCSDV will continue to add to and modify information on this page.

Pictured is part of KCSDV’s website’s COVID-19 resource webpage. The image is by KCSDV.

When the initial state of emergency was issued, the numbers of victims and survivors contacting direct services providers immediately plummeted as people were asked to stay home and avoid contact with others.

Programs are accustomed to working at capacity all the time, so this was alarming. As those emergency orders loosened, the numbers of people contacting programs increased.

Over the last few months, the amounts of people seeking safe shelter have gone up and down, with some people being sheltered in non-congregate, or more isolated, settings like hotels. Sexual assault forensic medical exams, usually performed in hospital emergency departments, have gone through transitions and have seen the same trends in demand for services. But, the availability and work of providing direct services has never been interrupted.

Sexual and domestic violence victim advocates have continued to meet with people remotely, in person, on the phone, or through a virtual service, depending on the need. Services continue to be adapted to the circumstances in the community. The numbers of people in rural areas of Kansas who are now infected with COVID-19 has skyrocketed. Direct victim services providers covering those areas are ready and prepared to meet the needs of survivors.

KCSDV and KCSDV coalition member programs that make up this coalition will continue to adapt and will continue to assure that every survivor receives services and support every time. If you are a victim of domestic violence and/or sexual assault, do not hesitate to reach out to your local victim services program. We and they are here for you.

Stalking Awareness Month

Pictured is text that reads, “National Stalking Awareness Month. Know it. Name it. Stop it.” The image is by the Stalking Prevention and Awareness Resource Center.

January is Stalking Awareness Month. The first National Stalking Awareness Month (#NSAM2021) was recognized in January 2004 by the National Center for Victims of Crime.

The goal of Stalking Awareness Month is to increase awareness about stalking and the resources and the help available for victims of stalking.

Stalking is intentionally or recklessly engaging in a course of conduct targeted at a specific person which would cause that person in the circumstances to fear for their or their family member’s safety.

Any person of any age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race, religion, or nationality can be stalked. Stalking is about power and control and is used by the stalker to intimidate their victim.

Examples of stalking might include: approaching the victim or showing up in places when the victim did not want them there; making unwanted phone calls; leaving the survivor unwanted messages (text or voice); watching or following the survivor from a distance; leaving unwanted gifts; destroying property; writing profanities, threats, or insults on the victim’s property or nearby; or spying on the survivor with a listening device, camera, or GPS (global positioning system).

1 in 6 women and 1 in 17 men in the US experienced stalking victimization at some point in their lifetime.

In Kansas in 2018, 898 stalking offenses were reported to law enforcement agencies. At least 1,601 Kansans reached out for victim services because of stalking, and 5,511 protection from stalking orders were requested.

54% of femicide victims in the US reported stalking to the police before they were killed by their stalkers. In 85% of completed and 75% of attempted femicides, there was at least one episode of stalking the year prior.

Survivors of stalking knew their perpetrator in 93% of all stalking offenses in Kansas in 2018. Current or former intimate partner suspects were responsible for 49% of all stalking offenses in Kansas in 2018. Stalking can happen before, during, and after a relationship.

Stalking can be a red flag, signaling that other types of abuse and violence have occurred, are occurring, or might occur:

  • 46% of victims experienced one or more violent incidents by their stalker.
  • 81% of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabiting partner were also physically assaulted by that partner.
  • 31% of women stalked by an intimate partner were also sexual assaulted.

Stalking victims and survivors are affected in the workplace, choose to move as a safety strategy, and become isolated from friends and family to keep those friends and family members safe and/or because of lack of support from those family members and friends. While victims and survivors experience many additional impacts in a variety of ways, these impacts can cause disruption of social connections, resources, and community and family support.

Victims of stalking need us to listen and support them.

Advocacy Services and Resources

To get help and access services, call the Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-363-2287.

Find a map and listings of Kansas sexual and domestic violence victim advocacy programs at: https://www.kcsdv.org/find-help/in-kansas/dv-sa-services-map.

Learn more about stalking at https://www.kcsdv.org/learn-more/stalking/.

Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (TDVAM). This month is dedicated to increasing awareness about dating abuse within teenage relationships and the resources that are available for teen victims and survivors.

Teen dating violence is more common than many people think. Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. 1 in 3 adolescents in the US is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

Teen dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors done by an abusive partner. Abusive behaviors can include violent words and/or actions. The abusive partner feels entitled to gain and maintain power and control over their partner, the victim.

Cell phones and the internet have become common tools used in teen dating violence. At a rapidly increasing rate, many teens in dating relationships have reported being controlled, threatened, and humiliated through cell phones and the internet.

Pictured is text that reads, “February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.” There are also two teenagers standing next to each other. The image is by loveisrespect.

Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of teen dating violence and intimate partner violence. However, any young person can experience dating abuse regardless of gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic standing, ethnicity, religion, or culture. Abusers do not discriminate. Abusers feel entitled and want to have power and control over their intimate partner. Therefore, abuse can happen to anyone – in any relationship, whether the relationship is one that is considered casual or serious.

Victims of teen dating violence need us to listen and support them.

Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever felt safe and supported to disclose their abusive relationship to anyone.

It is important for supportive adults and communities to understand the dynamics of teen dating violence and the impacts the violence can have on teens and young people. We can provide, or better provide, victims of teen dating violence with the support and resources they need in moments they need it most. Additionally, then, we can support their healthy relationships and future as well as role model our own healthy relationships and futures. Decreasing violence for a teen increases their health and potential.

In 2018, the national organization Loveisrespect documented 118 contacts from Kansas through their text, call, and online chat lines. The most common reason for these contacts was intimate partner violence and teen dating violence. Via this contact, the victims and survivors were provided with 203 referrals and direct connections to resources and advocacy services.

Advocacy Services and Resources

To get help and access services, call the Kansas Crisis Hotline at 1-888-363-2287.

Find a map and listings of Kansas sexual and domestic violence victim advocacy programs at: https://www.kcsdv.org/find-help/in-kansas/dv-sa-services-map.

Learn more about domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and teen dating violence at https://www.kcsdv.org/learn-more/domestic-violence/ and https://www.loveisrespect.org/.

KCSDV's Legal Assistance for Victims Project Impact

The Legal Assistance for Victims Project (LAV Project) at KCSDV is building an LAV Attorney Network of trauma informed attorneys across the state. It is connecting and providing sexual assault survivors with crucial legal assistance and representation they need. The LAV Project seeks to fund legal representation for the various issues that victims of non-intimate partner sexual violence encounter. A non-intimate partner is a person who is not a current or former spouse or current or former dating partner. A non-intimate partner includes family members, neighbors, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers.

By building collaborations along with an LAV Attorney Network, the LAV Project will improve representation available for Kansans who are victims and survivors of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.

On December 11, 2020, KCSDV hosted National Director of Training and Technical Assistance of the Victim Rights Law Center Jessie Mindlin, Esq. Mindlin presented the training “Trauma-Informed and Survivor-Centered Legal Intakes: What Lawyers Need to Know to Serve Sexual Violence Survivors.”

Pictured is the Victim Rights Law Center logo and National Director of Training and Technical Assistance Jessica Mindlin, Esq. The images are courtesy of the Victim Rights Law Center.

Mindlin discussed five core principles of a trauma-informed legal intake, provided tips to help build rapport with a sexual violence survivor client, reviewed grounding techniques, and explored ideas on how to collaborate with survivors while working together to identify their legal needs and effective strategies to support their healing and recovery. Over 35 attorneys, including LAV Network Attorneys and Kansas Legal Services attorneys, as well as many KCSDV coalition member program staff attended.

The project is also distributing the quarterly LAV Project Newsletter to the attorney network. The newsletter focuses on the importance of being victim-centered and trauma-informed as well as providing a deeper understanding of what is meant by “sexual violence.”

Sexual violence encompasses sexual abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and other sexual violations. The impacts of sexual violence for a survivor can result in emotional, physical, and legal needs in the aftermath of the violence the survivor experienced. These effects can have life-long impacts and an appropriate response can be critical to helping reduce these negative impacts.

As part of the LAV Project, survivors who need legal assistance are matched with attorneys, depending on the survivor’s needs. The survivor might need legal representation in the areas of employment, housing, finances, or education. Survivors might need help with protection order hearings. Survivors might face confidentiality and privacy rights issues that impact their safety and security.

Survivors apply to the LAV Project with their local direct victim services program victim advocate. Victim advocates working with a survivor completing an application can submit the application to KCSDV’s LAV Project staff. If the application is approved, KCSDV’s LAV Project staff contacts the survivor with the name of an attorney to schedule a legal consultation. The survivor and the attorney then decide whether to move forward with the survivor’s case.

Questions about the project can be directed to KCSDV . Additional resources may be available even if the survivor’s case might not qualify for the legal representation available through the LAV Project.

If you are an attorney or know of an attorney who is interested in representing victims of sexual violence and joining the project’s LAV Attorney Network, please contact KCSDV’s LAV Project staff at LAV@kcsdv.org to learn more about the scope of the project and how you can help.

The LAV Project is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Violence Against Women for programs authorized by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Learn more about KCSDV’s work in legal assistance for victims via the KCSDV website at https://www.kcsdv.org/what-we-do/legal-assistance/.

Glad You Asked: Does Domestic Violence Increase Over the Holidays?

Figure 11: The image shows two people sitting at a table. One of the people has their hand raised to ask a question. The image is by rawpixel.
Figure 11: The image shows two people sitting at a table. One of the people has their hand raised to ask a question. The image is by rawpixel.

There is a common belief that domestic violence increases during the holidays. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, there is no comprehensive national study linking the holidays with an increase in domestic violence.

While some smaller studies show an increase, other research indicates there is actually a decline in the number of calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline over the holidays. The available research is limited and inconclusive.

However, we do know that while the holidays are a source of joy for many, they can also be stressful. In homes where domestic violence is occurring, the stress of the holidays can worsen already existing abuse. More time off from work may mean more time with the abuser. There could be financial stress or economic abuse due to gift giving. And, traveling or even just changing routines can also add stress. It is important to remember, though, that while the stress of the holidays can exacerbate domestic violence, the holidays and stress itself do not cause domestic violence.

The holidays are a good opportunity to promote health and safety for victims, survivors, and their families. Making sure basic needs are met, planning ahead for safety, and finding ways to be supportive are a few things that can help.

There are resources available.

For safety planning tips for the holidays, visit https://www.thehotline.org/2015/12/04/safety-planning-for-the-holidays/.

For information about how to support a victim of domestic violence, visit https://www.kcsdv.org/learn-more/resources/brochures/general-info/supportdv/.

Resources

Pictured is a map of Kansas with 25 numbers on it. Each number represents one KCSDV coalition member program that is an independent direct victim advocacy services provider. The image is by KCSDV.

Newsletter (PDF)

This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-MU-AX-0021 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Media Contact

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Mobile: 785-633-6648

KANSAS CRISIS HOTLINE: 888-END-ABUSE | 888-363-2287