Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mothers, Don't Take Your Kids to an Abuse Shelter

Abuse shelters are the domestic violence industry's Holy of Holies. Their ministrations are shrouded in mystery, the High Priestesses unnamed, their locations often kept secret. There abused women can become purified of the patriarchal demon and begin life anew. Of course if you're an abused man, don't bother to ask for help. They're likely to claim you are harassing them and call the police. And abuse shelters don't seem to be very interested in helping the youngsters, either.

Although abuse shelters claim to serve the children of abused women, what passes for child care may be a gum-chewing, tattoo-adorned teenager clocking her community service hours. Or a former drug-user working off her parole plea-bargain. Or there may be no care at all.

Several years ago Renee Heikamp was arrested and charged with criminal negligence following the death of her son Jordan. The five-week-old baby wasted away to skin and bones as the two resided at the Catholic Children's Aid Society in Toronto.

At the Brewster (Ariz.) Center Domestic Violence Services, a 26-year-old resident had sex with a 12-year-old boy in the playground tunnel slide while his mother was away. The predator was hauled off to the Pima County jail and charged with sexual misconduct with a minor.

Shelter residents often complain their children are exposed to far more abuse in the shelter than they had seen outside of it. There they witness taunting, profanity-laden threats, and even physical assaults. Sometimes children find themselves the target of such abuse. One former resident wrote, "Children, especially teens, become the emotional 'whipping boys' of other residents, and if they speak up, they risk getting the family thrown out."

At one shelter a resident was arrested for a bizarre birthday present for a 13-year-old boy at the facility. The woman cornered the boy and proceeded to spank him 13 times - with her clenched fist.

Most shameful of all - most abuse shelters refuse to help adolescent children who are male. After all, we can't let those proto-patriarchs find out what really goes on behind closed doors. Erin Pizzey, founder of the first shelter, believes her movement has been hijacked. She charges abuse shelters now "fund the feminist movements so they exclude young boys because they are the potential enemy."

In Florida, the situation has lurched out of control. Last October, 16-month-old Myliak Dale was playing in the parking lot of the SafeSpace shelter in Stuart, Fla., when a woman started to back her car out. Apparently no one was watching. The toddler's life was snuffed out in minutes. Then 10 days later, 26-year-old Milaus Almore was fatally stabbed by another SafeSpace resident, Marilyn Hooks. Almore was eight weeks pregnant.

On May 6, 2007, a Suwannee County sheriff spotted a cluster of teenagers behind a minivan drinking alcohol. The van was registered in the name of the Another Way shelter in Lake City. One of the minors was a pregnant teenager residing at the facility. As we know, drinking during pregnancy is harmful to an unborn infant. The driver's eyes were severely bloodshot. She was given a sobriety test and failed. The police cited 34-year-old Wendy Pittman for giving alcohol to minors. Turns out, Ms. Pittman was the director of the Another Way shelter.

Pittman was given the boot and replaced by Shanna Travis. Ms. Travis is a nurse who repeatedly tested positive for opiates, failed her rehab, and whose license has been revoked by the Florida Board of Nursing: Things were destined to get worse under Travis' leadership. On June 5, 2008, a four-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a nine-year-old female at the shelter while the two were left unattended. According to the police report, the nine-year-old "took down her underwear and pants down and inserted her finger into her vagina." The incident took place around 9:30 on Saturday evening. But the assault wasn't reported to the police until noon the following day.

So why were the two girls left together unattended? Why the 15-hour delay in reporting the incident? And who had the nutty idea of hiring a former druggie to run an abuse shelter? To get answers to these questions, last week I telephoned Tiffany Carr, director of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, at 1-850-425-2749. Despite repeated attempts, Ms. Carr never returned my call. Apparently it's best to give such incidents the hush-hush.


Why it's best to marry in your twenties

The trend is to get hitched later in life, but Andrew G. Marshall argues that the earlier you take the plunge, the greater your chances of a long, happy partnership

Over the past 35 years we have been waiting longer and playing the field more before settling down. According to the Office for National Statistics, men are getting married for the first time seven years later and women six years later. This means that the average man is aged 32 when he asks "Will you marry me?" and the average woman is 29 when she says "Yes".

But is this trend towards the thirtysomething marriage making us happier and more satisfied? And when it comes to the fortysomething crunch - the most common age for divorce - who is most vulnerable: those who took the plunge early at twentysomething or the ones who waited until thirtysomething?

When couples seek my help as a marital therapist, I start by asking for the history of their relationship. People who married in their twenties often report tough times at the beginning: living with in-laws, financial problems or moving around the country as one partner climbed the career ladder. Most couples overcome these problems, but sometimes there are unfortunate knock-on effects; for example, from hurried and unsatisfactory love-making because they felt inhibited about being overheard. Also, couples who marry relatively early can grow apart, especially when one partner has been successful at work, travelled, met new people and grown in confidence while the other has been home-based.

However, the greatest threat to the twentysomething marriage is reaching 40 and wondering if the grass could be greener elsewhere. This is particularly dangerous when someone who married his or her first love starts fantasising about what he or she has missed. The temptation to have an affair can be overwhelming and very damaging. By contrast, the thirtysomething marriage seems to sidestep these problems. At this age people are more established in careers and can start a relationship on a firm financial footing. They have a clearer idea of who they are and what they need from a relationship. When these couples reach their forties, they are less likely to be nostalgic or curious about the single life.

Yet, when faced with fortysomething couples in crisis, I always feel more optimistic about the outcome for those who married in their twenties than those who married in their thirties. Why should this be? If you marry later, you are more likely to bring old baggage into your relationship. In some cases, I help couples to unravel the influence of someone from maybe two or three relationships back. For example, to someone who once had a suspicious partner - forever quizzing them about their movements - an innocent inquiry such as: "What time will you be back?" can sound aggressive.

A more insidious problem of marrying later is higher expectations. This is because one of the best ways of recovering from a failed relationship and starting to look again is to tell yourself: "I deserve better", or "Next time I'll meet Mr or Miss Right". There is nothing wrong with this strategy. But unfortunately, if the next relationship does not deliver, the bitterness becomes that bit greater and the desire for perfection that bit stronger. On many occasions, the body language of these clients seems to be saying: "I've not survived all that single crap to be treated like this." Worse still, these resentments tend to be unspoken and unexpressed, and become hardened into a barrier.

The final issue about getting married at thirtysomething, particularly your late thirties, is the need to start a family almost immediately. Many couples have no time to get to know each other properly or put down solid roots together. If a relationship has been built on long weekend lie-ins and brunches, the demands of small children can be a shock. This sense of isolation is worse if the grandparents are correspondingly older, too, and not fit enough to help.

By contrast, the couple who married at twentysomething have a longer shared history of both good times and bad times. So when faced with a crisis in their forties, they can look back and feel a sense of pride about past problems overcome. Their body language is often more dogged, suggesting: "We're not going to let this defeat us."

Having started their relationship with lower expectations, they are markedly more tolerant of each other's failings and more prepared to compromise. Most important of all, they have watched the other change and have knocked the rough edges off each other. Meanwhile, the couple who married in their thirties, when they felt fully formed, are less flexible and more likely to have a "take it or leave it" approach to their partner.

What about people who met in their twenties or thirties but did not get married until much later, or have still not tied the knot? What counts, ultimately, is making a deep and abiding commitment; this could be a joint mortgage, starting a business or having children. However, getting married does change a relationship, even if a couple have been living together for years. It creates a formal bond between two families and sends a strong message to friends, employers and the world that this is an important and valued relationship.

Although the ultimate deciding factor for the success of a relationship is the character, determination and generosity of each partner (and that is not determined by age), my advice is always to seize the day and commit. There is nothing sadder than hearing a client talk about a past partner who, with benefit of hindsight, was ideal but who he or she let slip away because "we were too young". I used to think they were talking about a relationship from their teens, but time after time my clients were referring to their mid-twenties and regret not settling down while they could.

Although we want to believe that we will go on for ever, life has a natural rhythm and cycle. Economic and social pressures might be pushing us towards not settling until later, but the truth is that it is always easier to follow the seasons.


Australia: 'No deal' on offer in case of black killer

One law for blacks and whites! How refreshing!

Crown prosecutor Nanette Rogers has drawn a line under a legal convention allowing Aborigines accused of murder in the Northern Territory to be treated differently to white counterparts by refusing to cut a deal with an indigenous man who beat his wife to death in an Alice Springs town camp. Most Territory Aboriginal defendants are offered the chance to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter and rarely face trial for murder.

But Dr Rogers -- whose revelations in 2006 of shocking levels of child sexual abuse in NT communities led to the federal intervention -- refused to be party to such a deal after hearing how Ronald Djana whipped his wife with a hose, belted her with a stick, pounded her head with a rock, stomped on her abdomen and stabbed her in the vagina.

The case also broke new ground with the decision by 21 Aboriginal witnesses to testify against Djana, 32, who had five previous counts of assaulting his wife, Janie Norman, and three restraining-order breaches. Members of the jury wept openly after hearing how Norman -- the 32-year-old mother of Djana's four children -- was killed in May.

Djana's conviction for murder and sexual assault without consent means under Territory law that he will serve a minimum of 25 years in jail, but in pleadings to judge Dean Mildren on Thursday, Dr Rogers asked for a longer sentence, given Djana's history of abusing Norman. If successful, it would be the longest sentence handed down to an Aboriginal man in the NT and would ensure that Djana was treated no differently to white man Bradley John Murdoch, sentenced to 28 years in 2006 for the murder of British tourist Peter Falconio and the accompanying assault of Joanne Lees.

The defence argued that Djana had either not caused all Norman's injuries or did not form the intent to kill her because he was drunk. But Dr Rogers told the jury: "Janie Norman may have lived a lifestyle very different to yours. You may not approve of her lifestyle but she is entitled to the same protection of the law as any other person. "Just because she lived in an Alice Springs town camp, surrounded by alcohol abuse, and lived a chaotic lifestyle, does not mean that her violent death is just another statistic."

Jane Lloyd, chairwoman of the NT Domestic and Family Violence Advisory Council, said she was not celebrating what would be a long sentence for Djana, but said it was right that he was treated as a murderer. "In the past, juries have been somewhat indifferent to violence by Aboriginal men against Aboriginal women," she said. "That did not seem to be the case here. I had the sense that overall ... some kind of value was placed on her life."

The most recent available NT statistics show that in the 10 years between 1996 and 2006, 109 Aborigines were convicted of manslaughter or a dangerous act causing death, and only 12 were convicted of murder. There was a greater will to charge white people for murder in that same period, with 26 convicted of manslaughter or a dangerous act and 13 convicted of murder.

The view has often been that Aboriginal men lead such despairing lives that they ought to be cut some slack when it comes to charges. Dr Rogers's prosecution office in Alice Springs is increasingly demanding that in cases where intent can be clearly shown, Aboriginal killers be charged with murder.

Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Women's Council co-ordinator Vicki Gillick welcomed the decision of indigenous people to give evidence. "It is often the case that Aboriginal witnesses can be reluctant to be involved. But it's a credit when they do, and it's a credit to the prosecutors that they were able to get them to come forward," she said. Djana will be sentenced on August 25.


Official rubbish snoopers in Britain

Bins belonging to celebrities, judges and London mayor Boris Johnson were searched by council-hired snoops. In all, 53 streets in Islington, North London, were secretly targeted by 'bin spies' in an operation which has angered residents. Last night, the Liberal Democrat-run council added fuel to the fire by stating: 'No permission was sought from residents as none is required.' It insisted it had not been snooping but simply 'investigating' the types of rubbish thrown away to see if more could be recycled.

Comedy actress Su Pollard lives in one of the streets involved. Miss Pollard, who starred in Hide-Hi! and You Rang, M'Lord?, said: 'I am quite incensed. It smacks of Big Brother. 'One feels like a suspect in some way. 'There is nothing in my bins that would incriminate me in any way - it's mostly yoghurt pots - but I am terribly uneasy about it. 'It will make you think twice before leaving rubbish out.'

Birds of a Feather star Linda Robson, who lived in the area at the time of the searches, said: 'That is terrible. How dare they? 'I recycle but there may have been private things I was throwing away. It is really intrusive. Is nothing sacred?' Mr Johnson declined to comment.

Emily Thornberry, Labour MP for Islington South and Finsbury, last night said serious security issues could be involved. 'High Court judges and High Court appeal judges live in those streets,' she said. 'I am sure they are careful but a sheet of paper can easily go amiss, and council officers could have seen them. 'My concerns are who authorised this and what they do with the stuff. They should have told people what they were going to do.'

The spying was uncovered after a Freedom of Information request to Islington asking whether it had undertaken any kind of survey of bins during the last five years. The answer was that it had - between August 1 and 12 2005 and between November 8 and 19 2004. In total, 1,000 households had their rubbish inspected secretly. The council said: 'The operatives involved were waste professionals acting under a strict code of conduct which included the possibility of finding items of a personal nature such as confidential paperwork.'

Liberal Democrat councillor Greg Foxsmith said: 'This is not about snooping into households' bins or invading privacy. It was an investigation into rubbish to see what is being sent to landfill and how much more could be recycled. 'Rubbish is not looked at individually or records taken - confidentiality is taken very seriously.'



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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