In the News
Below are a couple of our most recent press releases.
For media inquiries, please contact Amy Schaller, Marketing & Communications Coordinator,
at (520) 795-8001 ext. 7021.
ACTION NEEDED – CALL YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Cuts to VOCA = Cuts to Tucsonan’s Safety Net
November 20, 2015
On Monday, TPD reported that a Tucson woman was killed by her boyfriend, a local attorney and filmmaker. This murder isn’t an isolated occurrence. In fact, we are facing a public safety crisis – on average in Arizona, someone dies every three days as a result of domestic violence.
While some have argued that crime rates across the nation have been going down in the past decade, the Department of Justice reports that “a staggering 42% of victims never report serious violent crime to law enforcement.” For victims of domestic abuse, that rate is estimated to be closer to 90%. In the last year alone, Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse saw a 24% increase in the number of victims seeking services.
“The funding provided by the federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) makes a critical impact in keeping victims of domestic abuse in Tucson, as well as their children, safe. Unfortunately, funds from VOCA are at risk, which puts our community at risk,” says Ed Mercurio-Sakwa, CEO of Emerge!.
VOCA funding doesn’t come from taxpayer-dollars. The money is directly linked to the purpose it serves – it comes from criminals and it’s used to help victims of crime. For example, when a criminal is charged with paying court fines, that money goes into the VOCA fund and each year a percentage is taken out for victims’ compensation and services. Until now. Congress recently took $1.5 billion from the VOCA fund for purposes other than victim services. This reduction will create a devastating long-term impact on our community’s ability to address victims’ needs.
To make matters worse, Congress is now considering drastically reducing the amount of VOCA funding that can be used nationally for victims’ services by 51% – from $2.36 billion to $1.2 billion. This reduction in 2016 would not only eliminate the chance of expanding an overwhelmed victims’ services sector, it would most likely result in cuts to the current levels of funding.
The funding Emerge! receives from VOCA is vital to providing Tucsonanswith the services they require to be safe and heal from domestic abuse. Like Emerge!, many social services organizations in Tucson rely on VOCA funding to provide critical intervention services to crime victims and their children.It’s important that Tucsonans take action by calling their members of congress with one simple message: “Don’t jeopardize my community’s safety net – don’t Cut VOCA!”
Tucsonan’s can directly call their members of Congress using these numbers:
How Many More Are Currently Suffering?
August 6, 2015
A murder-suicide discovered by Tucson police Friday evening brings to light a harsh reality – on average, someone dies in Arizona every three days as a result of domestic violence.
Authorities believe that, after a recent breakup, Marc Florio shot and killed Natalie Beissel before using the gun to end his own life.
It’s difficult not to look back when a tragedy like this has occurred, wondering what more we all could have done. However, the most effective thing we can do now is to recognize domestic abuse as a serious public safety matter and look forward at what we can all do for our community right now. How many more Tucsonans are currently dealing with escalating abuse that, if not addressed, will one day become lethal?
With more than 12,000 domestic violence calls to 9-1-1 in Pima County every year, it is critical that those suffering from abuse have access to support. Some won’t ask for help, others will hide the abuse when questioned about it, and others will listen to an offer for help but won’t act right away or even at all. These instances can all be discouraging when you care about someone and want the best for them, but the most important thing you can do is watch for the signs, offer help, and be there for someone when they are ready. Many times there are underlying barriers that make it difficult to leave an abusive relationship, such as fear and safety risks, financial factors and lack of housing alternatives, child custody issues, etc. – so just because someone resists an offer for help on the surface, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t have a positive, meaningful impact.
If you or a loved one are currently experiencing abuse, you can call the bilingual Emerge! hotline (888-428-0101) 24-hours a day to receive confidential support over the phone and to gain access to services that include emergency shelter, safety planning help, children’s services, information about laws surrounding domestic abuse, and emotional support.
Emerge! Comments on National Coalition Against DV
‘ELONIS RULING BY U.S. SUPREME COURT FAILS VICTIMS’
June 15, 2015
The unclear and far reaching ruling issued recently by the Supreme Court in Elonis v. United States, what’s been titled the “Facebook threats” case, could have profound consequences for those experiencing domestic abuse.
Even if there’s no intention to act, making threats is a destructive intimidation tactic used in abusive relationships. The Elonis ruling is minimizing the impact of this behavior, even though the US Department of Justice’s website includes “any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, [or] threaten” in its definition of domestic violence.
Being threatened and stalked can affect anyone’s mental state, hindering a person’s ability to function at work and home. Unfortunately, this type of abuse does not always cease when the relationship ends, and sometimes it gets even worse. The Elonis ruling implies that survivors of abuse could be faced with prolonged harassment and turmoil, even after leaving the relationship, left to live in fear with no legal course of action.
However, many times threats are carried out, making the risk to survivors of domestic abuse go beyond emotional trauma. In Arizona alone, at least 125 people were killed in domestic violence related homicides in 2013 (ACESDV, 2013). Research has shown a high correlation between prior threats to kill and lethal action, in fact it’s one of the most prominent risk factors consistently linked to murder. The more specific the threat is, the greater the risk of it actually being acted out.
No one deserves to be abused, emotionally or physically. Threats of violence from a current or former intimate partner are a form of domestic abuse, regardless of whether the words are typed or spoken. In an increasingly digital age, the need to assess online safety concerns plays a critical part in ensuring society’s overall wellbeing. The Elinos verdict has fallen short of doing so. Read more about the case in the article below from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Elonis Ruling by U.S. Supreme Court Fails Victims
DENVER, CO, June 2, 2015 —Yesterday, in a concerning turn of events, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Anthony Douglas Elonis in a case that will have a profound impact on victims and survivors of online abuse and cyberstalking. Using a pseudonym, Elonis posted self-styled rap lyrics threatening his ex-wife, his co-workers, law enforcement agents and a kindergarten class. He claimed he was merely exercising his First Amendment rights and did not intend to follow through with his threats.
Elonis was convicted of cyberstalking and appealed his case all the way to the Supreme Court. In his original trial, the court told the jury Elonis should be held guilty if a reasonable person would have known such actions would be interpreted as a threat. He claimed that standard was too low, and the prosecutor should have to prove he actually intended his statements to be a ‘true threat’.
In a 7-2 ruling that is a blow to victims, advocates, prosecutors and law enforcement around the country, the Supreme Court sided with Elonis. However, the ruling did not define the threshold required for conviction, leaving the lower courts to thresh out the issue. The fall-out has yet to be seen, but this ruling has the potential to jeopardize stalking laws nationwide.
“Once again our system has shown that it does not understand nor recognize how creative and manipulative abusers can be, nor has it shown that victims can trust our system to provide full protections. Most everyone else held the stalker accountable for his harmful actions, but in this instance the courts failed the victim,” says Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Stalking is a serious crime that can have profound physical, psychological and financial impacts on victims. It is also a key indicator of lethality. A ten-city study of intimate partner homicide found that 76% of women killed by intimate partners and 85% of women who survived such murder attempts were stalked by their murders. As a society, we must have a zero-tolerance policy toward all forms of abuse.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has worked since 1978 to make every home a safe home. The NCADV works to raise awareness about domestic violence; to educate and create programming and technical assistance, to assist the public in addressing the issue, and to support those impacted by domestic violence. Visit us at www.ncadv.org.
A SLAP ON THE WRIST FOR RICE
May 22, 2015
The New Jersey court system set a dangerous example in a very public domestic violence case yesterday when they dropped charges against Ray Rice, former NFL Baltimore Ravens running back.
The dismissal was based on Rice’s completion of a pretrial intervention program, consisting of only $125 in fines and anger management counseling. The program is intended for non-violent cases, which should raise an eyebrow given that the charge was third-degree aggravated assault and there is substantial video evidence of Rice dragging his then fiancé out of an elevator after knocking her unconscious. The Associated Press obtained records confirming that less than one percent (0.47%) of all domestic violence assault cases that went in front of a judge from 2010 to 2013 in New Jersey’s Superior Court were admitted to this pretrial intervention program.
It is critical that domestic abuse is recognized as a violent and intolerable crime, both within the community and inside the courtroom. Rice’s attorney described the elevator incident as “little more than a misunderstanding,” which seems to be echoed by the decision to drop the charges against Rice. The case has drawn national interest and attention – one version of the video capturing the assault, posted by TMZSports on YouTube, has over 11 million views. The message being sent to these viewers, and more importantly, to victims of domestic violence, is that crimes of domestic violence are not taken as seriously as other crimes – that there are fewer consequences and less accountability if you harm your spouse/intimate partner than if you attack a stranger.
The lack of accountability for perpetrators of domestic abuse, like we’ve seen with Rice, could lead to victims feeling unsafe and unsupported, potentially inhibiting them from seeking help. In Arizona, someone dies every three days in a domestic violence related incident. Emerge! wants those suffering from abusive relationships to know that we are here to support them on their journey to a safer life – through navigating the legal system, safety planning, emergency shelter, housing assistance, children’s services and emotional support. We hope the Tucson/Pima County community will join Emerge! in sending a loud message to victims of abuse that they will be supported as they come forward for help and justice.