Nicolas Cage Arrested for Domestic Battery

A few weeks ago, yet another celebrity was arrested and charged with domestic battery. Actor Nicolas Cage was arrested in New Orleans after getting into an argument with his wife over which vacation home was theirs. When Cage disagreed, he yelled at wife, Alice Kim, and then grabbed her by the upper arm and pulled her in front of another house. He became more belligerent, smashing parked cars and attempting to leave in a cab. When police arrived, Cage continually challenged them by screaming to arrest him already. Soon after, he was arrested on several charges including domestic battery. Cage was later bailed out by Duane Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter.

This raises several interesting points about how Cage’s behavior and subsequent arrests were reported. Perhaps we’re overly sensitive to the topic/issue, but it seemed that the media portrayed his alcoholism  as the root of the issue rather than the abusive and controlling behaviors he exhibited towards his wife. Cage has a history of issues related to alcoholism as well as propensity to becoming violent 0r aggressive. Media outlets presented the incident more as domestic battery was the charge they got him on for provoking the police, rather than he was in fact perpetrating physical abuse towards his wife. The fact that Dog the Bounty Hunter bailed him out, was also reported as more significant than his behavior towards his wife. But Nicolas Cage is not the first to be in the recent news for abuse towards his partner. Mel Gibson and Charlie Sheen have also had similarly “bad press” in the past year. Why does the media continue to excuse intimate partner violence in celebrities? What sort of messages do we send by not calling celebrities out on such behaviors and holding them accountable?

As a side note, while Cage is facing financial difficulties, it’s safe to assume that he and his wife were capable of bailing him out of jail. So why did Dog bail him out rather than his wife? All the training and exposure to the intricacies of domestic violence lead us to wonder if Kim even has access to the finances… But then again, perhaps this isn’t the case. What are your thoughts?


Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets

My previous editor at Elevate Difference, Mandy Van Deven, just co-authored a book titled “Hey, Shorty!: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets”. It is a narrative account of how teen women of color at Girls for Gender Equity have organized over the last ten years to end gender-based violence against girls, women, and LGBTQ folks living in New York City. They’re taking the book on a nationwide tour to facilitate conversations about street harassment, sexual harassment in schools, and strategies to increase safety in public spaces. The goal is to build connections among organizations and individuals doing anti-violence work and encourage youth to become agents of social change. You can learn more about this project at

While I haven’t read the book yet, I wanted to pass this resource along and encourage you to check it out yourself! Van Deven has done a lot of great organizing and work to end violence in our communities. I’m sure it holds some useful tips and fresh ideas!

Do you have a favorite book or resource addressing grassroots organizing and/or social change? If so, what is the title? What do you like about it?

By-stander Intervention

Wednesday, April 20th, six people were arrested in Ocala, Florida for the murder of a 15 year old boy. The six hatched a plot after witnessing the victim strike his dating partner. You can read more about the case here.

The elaborate plot and brutal murder is a rather extreme version of what youth often say is an appropriate response to witnessing dating violence. We’re often told by the young men we work with that they would step in and “beat the guy up” for laying his hands on a female. As advocates for peace, responding to violence with more violence is not what we would consider an appropriate means of intervention. Part of our youth programming discusses healthy ways of supporting a victim or intervening. If the recent Ocala case is an example of what NOT to do, what do you think would be an appropriate response to seeing a friend, colleague, classmate or coworker hit their dating partner? How might your response change based on which person you knew or didn’t know? Would you be as willing to speak up if you knew the perpetrator? The victim?

Note: We stress safety first! Please only intervene if it is safe for you to do so.

Importance of Self-care

At the beginning of the month, the Violence Prevention Team had the pleasure of attending the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s Annual Child & Youth Institute. This institute offered professional trainings, tools and skills for engaging in social change work with youth. While some content was intervention focused, there was definitely useful and helpful information for everyone. The VP Team thought it would be helpful to attend a workshop on self care. This is a crucial, but often overlooked aspect of the work we do on a day-to-day basis. We care so deeply for the youth we work with, for our community, for the well being of all things big and small, but do we take the time to take care of ourselves? To be honest, only sometimes. The workshop was a great reminder to make sure we get that invaluable ‘me’ time. Ricky Roberts III, fellow advocate at CASA in St. Petersburg, FL, facilitated the workshop aptly named, “Taking Care of Yourself First.”

The presentation was focused on the importance of self-care for advocates and reminding them of why they continue to participate in the movement for peace and equality. During the workshop, we were asked to do a free write on our feelings at the exact moment, discussed as a group what we do for ourselves, and wrote a letter to our future selves as a reminder to take some ‘me’ time. After the workshop, Roberts shared some more about his own process. You can learn more about Roberts at his website.

What do you do to care for yourself? In what ways to you make space and special time just for you? How often do you do it?

Training Opportunity

Want to learn more? Check out this training opportunity through CALCASA (California Coalition Against Sexual Assault)!

Cultivating Community Driven Social Change:
Integrating the community voice in
sexual and domestic violence prevention efforts

Who defines community? What are promising strategies to incorporate community voice in existing efforts? How do we justify investment in community engagement? Please join us and our guests to explore the who, what and how of community driven sexual and domestic violence prevention. This webinar will focus on translating best practices around community engagement into practical applications for the field. Learn how to ensure community voices are a valuable addition to your planning, coalition, and program and policy change efforts. Participants will be able to join the discussion by sharing ideas or posing questions to our guests via live phone and text chat.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This ninety-minute (90 min) session will start at 11 AM Pacific Standard Time (2 PM Eastern) on May 10, and will be repeated at 11 AM Pacific Standard Time (2 PM Eastern) on the following day, May 11.

Host: David Lee, PreventConnect, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Presenter: Annie Lyles and Christine Chang, Prevention Institute

Guest Speakers: Aimee Thompson, Executive Director, Close to Home; Lydia Guy Ortiz, LGO Consulting

Cost: Free

Learning Objectives:

  1. Engage in a candid discussion of the challenges and opportunities in a community driven approach.
  2. Provide examples of lessons learned from people and organizations practicing community driven approaches.
  3. Identify opportunities to incorporate population-based efforts, such as organizational practice and policy change within this approach.
  4. Identify potential indicators for measuring the impact and outcomes of efforts.

What is a Web Conference?
A web conference is an opportunity to attend an online workshop by watching a presentation on your computer screen (using your internet connection) and hearing presenters through your telephone. Prevent Connect web conferences feature an opportunity to participate in online question & answer sessions and live text chat between participants. If for some reason you are unable to join on your computer, you can download the presentation slides from our website and listen on your phone.

Real-Time Captioning Available:
Instructions for accessing captioning during this web conference will be provided with your registration confirmation.

The iLinc web conference software used by Prevent Connect is compatible with both Microsoft® Windows® and Apple® Macintosh® computers. Click here for detailed system requirements.

Message from OVW Director, Susan B. Carbon – Sexual Assault Awareness Month

While our ‘issue’ isn’t sexual violence or sexual violence prevention,  it is important that we discuss and address all forms of interpersonal violence. We know that sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape are often tactics used in abusive relationships as a means of establishing and maintaining power and control. It is thus, equally important that we talk about what healthy relationship behaviors look like and make sure programs are in place to address this form of violence.

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, please see the letter from Susan B. Carbon, Director of the Office on Violence Against Women, below. The letter details what efforts are being made at the national level to address this issue. You can find other pieces, including the one below, by Ms. Carbon here.

A Message from OVW Director Susan B. Carbon

Dear Friends,

When I started as Director of the Office on Violence Against Women nearly one year ago, one of my top priorities was to make sexual assault a bigger focus at OVW.   When the Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994, sexual assault was included as one of the crimes to be addressed.  There is a general consensus, however, that for a variety of reasons, sexual assault has not received the same level of attention as has domestic violence.  As a result, sexual assault remains a tragically pervasive, costly, and underreported problem.

This April, as we celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness Month with the national community, we have the opportunity to learn more about the crime and the devastating impact it has on victims and entire communities, and to commit ourselves to bring justice to the victims and their families and to hold perpetrators accountable.

Sexual violence is a complex crime that affects every sector of our society.   It has no boundaries in terms of gender, geographic location, race, ethnicity, economic class or sexual orientation.  U.S. government statistics reveal that one in six women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some time in her life.  In certain areas and demographics, this number increases dramatically. As two chilling examples of its far-reaching grasp, studies show that one in four college women will experience sexual assault over the course of their college career and it has been estimated that one in three Native American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. The National Crime Victimization Survey found that there were nearly 200,000 incidents of rape and sexual assault in the United States in one year alone.

Contrary to what many Americans believe, sexual violence does not just occur in dark alleys, perpetrated by weapon-wielding strangers. Often, a sexual violence offender is known by the victim, and the assaults are committed in places where the victim should feel the safest: at home or at a friend’s home. Alarmingly, the 2006 National Violence Against Women Study found that only one in five of the victims assessed reported their rape to the police.  There are a host of reasons for which many victims will never seek justice, including fear of not being believed, having to relive a traumatic experience, or fear of retribution, to list a few.

During this month’s awareness campaign we are shining a light on the crime of sexual assault, working to dismantle myths and transform misguided cultural attitudes and reactions about rape.  Our staff will be participating in Sexual Assault Awareness Month Events in eleven states throughout the country.  These events, coordinated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and local sexual assault organizations and coalitions, will allow us to see some of the important work occurring in the field, as well as share OVW’s national goal of ending sexual assault.  The theme of this year’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, “It’s time…to get involved,” encourages people across the United States to take ownership of the issue of sexual assault and promote responsible actions that ordinary citizens can take to intervene and prevent it. We hope you will view the list of events on our website our website and attend one in your area.

Additionally, this past October, we were proud to collaborate with the White House Council on Women and Girls to host a first-ever Roundtable on Sexual Violence in the United States, beginning a national conversation about sexual violence: what it looks like now, and what we want to be able to accomplish in the next five years.  This event brought together law enforcement, judges, survivors, prosecutors, medical professionals and federal employees from all across the country to heighten our discussions as well as develop a plan of action to address this heinous crime. While advocates and experts from the field discussed a public awareness campaign, federal experts were able to listen to the needs of the stakeholders on the ground and hear how the federal government can and should heighten their assistance to address sexual violence in America.  The Roundtable allowed those in the field and at the national level to effectively communicate how each can help the other to achieve mutual success, both at the local and the national level, by establishing next steps to ultimately end sexual violence against women. Attached you will find a report documenting the important conversations that occurred during this Roundtable.  In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we encourage you to circulate this document to your friends, families, and colleagues.

This year, in addition to the Roundtable and attached Roundtable report,  OVW has launched the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative (SADI), the first large scale project to determine best practices and needed action in reaching more sexual assault survivors and providing comprehensive sexual assault services. The vast majority of supportive services available to victims of sexual assault are currently offered through agencies that are not exclusively dedicated to serving sexual assault survivors, but are co-located or merged in agencies that are also providing services to domestic violence victims.  Researchers have found that these agencies, also known as “dual agencies,” are often weighted heavily toward domestic violence crisis programming, with sexual assault receiving limited attention in terms of agency mission, budget, or dedicated staff with specific expertise in serving sexual assault victims. This is often reflected in the programming of the agency, and unfortunately, the number of sexual assault survivors served and the limited types of services provided to this population.  The needs of sexual assault survivors are not the same as those of domestic violence survivors, and must be met with specialized care.   Dual agencies that seek to create significant institutional change in response to sexual assault are often faced with limited financial and organizational resources to adequately respond to the needs of sexual assault victims within their communities. SADI has been designed to address the challenges that dual agencies face in reaching sexual assault survivors within their communities.

Through the SADI, a limited group of dual agencies that demonstrate a desire to enhance sexual assault services and have the organizational capacity to effectuate change will be selected to participate as national SADI project sites.  Using a strength based self-assessment, each of the SADI project sites will create an action plan to:  1) increase outreach to those populations most likely experiencing sexual assault in their communities, but not currently accessing services; 2) develop models of service provision that prioritize the needs of sexual assault survivors beyond immediate crisis responses currently offered; and 3) assess the efficacy of those steps in increasing the numbers and types of sexual assault survivors who access those newly enhanced services. We anticipate that the SADI project site awards will be announced in the spring of 2011.

Finally, the Office on Violence Against Women will continue to work to end sexual assault through its staff Sexual Assault Working Group, numerous sexual assault specific grant programs, and the commitment of the current Administration to end all violence, including sexual violence, against women.  We are supported in our work by President Obama, Vice President Biden, Attorney General Holder, and countless United  States Attorneys and other elected officials in a commitment to find innovative ways to meet the needs of victims and hold offenders accountable. President Obama became the first President to proclaim the month as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  He did this in April of 2009, a few months after entering office. He emphasized the need for “increased awareness about this issue [to] prevent future crimes, and aid victims.”  This year, President Obama continues his call to end Sexual Assault worldwide in his Presidential Proclamation, where he states:

Each victim of sexual assault represents a sister or a daughter, a nephew or a friend. We must break the silence so no victim anguishes without resources or aid in their time of greatest need. We must continue to reinforce that America will not tolerate sexual violence within our borders. Likewise, we will partner with countries across the globe as we work toward a common vision of a world free from the threat of sexual violence, including as a tool of conflict. Working together, we can reduce the incidence of sexual assault and heal lives that have already been devastated by this terrible crime.

In a country that has made such progress in addressing domestic violence, we feel the moral imperative to develop a national dialogue and national focus on ending sexual violence against all women. We hope this Sexual Assault Awareness Month will give us the opportunity to share our commitment across the country, in communities of all types, spreading the important message that sexual violence must end.  As President Obama stated in April 2010: “Sexual violence is an affront against our national conscience, one which we cannot ignore.”  We hope this month, you will help us shine the light on this tragic crime, and assist in our efforts to give it the attention it desperately needs to ultimately be a part of our nation’s history, and not its future.

With Hope,

Susan B. Carbon

OVW Director

U.S. Department of Justice

We remind all those in need of assistance, or other concerned friends and individuals, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.

We End Violence

As the Violence Prevention Program moves further into the development of our social marketing campaign, we’ve been finding all kinds of different examples. Some are excellent, but may not be appropriate for our target audience. We End Violence has some very witty and clever posters and campaign materials aimed at getting men involved in ending sexual assault and sexual violence. Several of the clever posters include “Warning signs that your favorite penis is attached to a schmuck”, “Masculinity or Stupidity?” and “10 More Ways Not to be an Asshole”. The copy on the posters is savvy and almost a joking tone, but completely serious in the final message. The campaign would be a wonderful addition to any college campus initiative aimed at engaging men and raising awareness. Do you know of any print campaigns that promote healthy relationship messages? If so, which ones? What do you like about them?

Previous Older Entries