Tag Archives: Domestic Violence And Child Advocacy Center

Advocate: Women Watch 2014

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Maggie Stark is the Founding President of the Sr. Dorothy Kazel Club for Systemic Change

Today a little over 25 students, faculty, staff and Ursuline Sisters gathered to recognize the 51 women and children murdered in Cuyahoga County since last year’s event.

As we walked the half-mile loop of red silhouettes, I noticed that the figure I was holding had the name of a 22 year old girl. Being only one year older than her, I couldn’t possibly imagine leaving this world so soon, so tragically.

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Guest Blog: DVCAC’s Teen Advocate Megan Gergen discusses dating violence


February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month! I am excited to introduce myself, Megan Gergen, as the new Teen & Young Adult Advocate at the Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, located in Cleveland. I previously worked with DVCAC at the agency’s emergency shelter as a youth and women’s advocate. After a brief time away, I am happy to be back working at the agency!

In my role, I work with young people, ages 13-24, who have, or who are currently experiencing, dating violence. I assist with risk assessments and safety planning, provide advocacy at police stations and through the court and protection order process as well as provide support and/or connect individuals with counseling referrals or services.

So, what is exactly is dating violence? Dating violence is a patter of behaviors that an abuser uses to gain power and control over a victim. This can be through different forms of abuse including physical (hitting, pushing, slapping, etc), emotional (insults and threats, among others), sexual (touching, coercing, any action that you don’t feel comfortable with), verbal (name calling, yelling, swearing…), and financial abuse (controlling your money, social media, stalking your communications). As many as one in five college females will experience some form of dating violence! And young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence – almost triple the national average. What’s even more staggering is that only 33 per cent of teens and young people ever tell someone about the abuse.

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No More: Discussing Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Sitting at my desk, the sun is shining through the window blinds. It’s mid-morning.

Ursuline’s once green trees have turned shades of autumn. I think of the film I watched over the weekend. Life is beautiful.

My co-worker and I share an office. She is in a meeting at her desk making the number of women in the room three. Anotherwoman sits the office next door and 14 additional women work in offices lining our hallway. Eighteen total.

Based on recent stats, four of us will experience domestic violence at some point in our lives. Some of us may have already been physically assaulted, battered, sexually assaulted, or experienced intimidation or other abusive behavior by an intimate partner.

We’ve never talked about domestic violence, yet. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so let’s start talking.

“One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime,” reports the National Coalition of Against Domestic Violence.

“Approximately 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault byan intimate partner each year; eighty-five per cent of domestic violence victims are women; women are most often victimized by someone they know; those with the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence are women ages 20 to 24; and most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.”

Activism at Ursuline

CUB - WW - 07Ursuline is a women’s focused college and students ages 20 to 24 make up the majority of the our undergraduate population. The College has also been directly affected by violence against women and gathers annually for Women Watch, an annual tribute to Sr. Joanne Marie Mascha. Sr. Joanne was murdered in a wooded area on campus by a mentally ill neighbor in 1995. The community also marches to remember the women and children in Cuyahoga County who have died violently during the past year. This year’s homage was held March 25.

Women Watch takes shape on the College’s campus through a silent procession. The Ursuline community – students, faculty, staff and friends – walk together with hand-made silhouettes illustrated with the names and the ages of those slain.

CUB - WW2 - 07“Women Watch makes us take a closer look at what is happening in our own society. We always hear about violence against women and children, but sometimes we forget how close we actually are to it and become almost passive about the culture. By gathering in remembrance each year, we give the victims a voice and the remembrance that they deserve,” Stephanie Pratt, Ursuline College senior and Women Walk organizer, said.

“This year, we are focusing on the areas of violence against women that are most prominent, yet unheard of in our society such as domestic violence, human trafficking, rape, and violence in the foster care system.”

Here are some common misconceptions about domestic violence, adapted from the article “International Women’s Day: 10 misconceptions about domestic violence”:

1. She keeps going back, so she’s asking for it.

Abusive partners often attack for no apparent reason. Domestic violence is about power, so abusers use many tactics to keep victims under their control. They often convince a victim that they are truly sorry for their actions and that they will change. Children and pets are pawns used by an abuser to control a victim. They dehumanize, isolate and make a victim dependent on them.

2. If the abuse was that bad she would leave.

In 2012, “about half of the intimate partner-related homicide incidents (13 of 27) occurred after the relationship ended or when one person in the relationship was taking steps to leave the relationship,” according to End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. One of the toughest things a person in an abusive relationship will do is leave. There are many variables involved in the decision: money, family shame and hope that the abuser may change.

3. It was the alcohol.

Drugs and alcohol may trigger violence, but they are not the root cause of violence. The person abusing is the one responsible for the violence.

4. But they had a tough childhood.

Some children who grow in in abusive home go on to be abusive themselves, but many will not choose to perpetrate violence.


Ursuline student Rihanna McChesney supports the effort to end violence against women.

Domestic Violence is a social problem and an issue for the whole society. It affects entire families and generations. A victim of abuse may also feel completely isolated because the abuser has cut off all ties to family and friends, as well as made them feel that they are the one with the problem and that they are why the abuser is violent. Sometimes a smart helping hand is needed. 

6. Domestic Violence doesn’t happen in my community.

Domestic violence affects individuals in every community, regardless of economic status, age, religion, race nationality or educational background. Abusers are often selective about when and where they hit their partner. Many abuse emotionally, without ever leaving bruises or scars.

7. I could never be a victim on domestic violence. I am not weak or submissive.

Women have to be strong, resourceful and able to adopt coping strategies in order to survive living with an abusive partner.

Domestic Violence Resources in Cleveland:

The Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center 24-Hour Helpline: Call 216-391-HELP. DVCAC can assist you with crisis intervention, intake for services, general information on domestic violence and referrals for resources in the community.

DVCAC Non-Emergency Help: If you have non-emergency questions, please click here to submit your information online. If you are outside of the Greater Cleveland area, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.


*This post was written by Brittney Teasdale Edelman, Urusline’s Marketing Specialist and Social Media Coordinator. After graduating from university in 2011, she interned full-time at The Domestic Violence Center & Child Advocacy Center in Cleveland, as well as volunteered in the organization’s shelter.