NYT (4/6/20) -How Domestic Abusers Control Your Devices & How You Can Fight Back


If you feel it’s not safe to call a shelter from your phone Visit a public library, or a doctor’s office for a routine appointment, and ask to use their phone to call a local domestic violence shelter, the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE), or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE). You could also live chat with the N.D.V.H. or text LOVEIS to 22522


If you can’t leave the house to call If you can’t leave the house, in most states you can dial 211 (or 311 in New York City) and ask to be transferred to a nearby shelter


To disguise hotline phone numbers on your cell phone Save hotline numbers in your phone’s contact list under a different name to fool your abusive partner


To record your suspicions of being cyberstalked Our experts recommend keeping a handwritten log (PDF) of every time you think you’re being cyberstalked, and then sharing your findings with your counselor.


What to do when you are ready to meet with an attorney or counselor When you’re ready to meet with an attorney, a counselor, or a private investigator, our experts advise parking blocks away from your meeting point, and leaving your electronics in the car or back at home.


To purchase a phone that cannot be tracked Buy a prepaid burner phone (a phone with minimal voice or data services, which are designed to be used sparingly and should not be attached to any shared credit cards) with cash, so you can contact your support network without being tracked.


How to pinpoint how an abuser is monitoring you Visiting an advocacy center that specializes in auditing a survivor’s devices can help pinpoint how an abusive partner is monitoring you so you can collect evidence for an order of protection. (Resources like the N.N.E.D.V.’s Safety Net Project and WomensLaw.org have tool kits on collecting tech-specific evidence for court.)


Documenting accounts you and abuser share


Make a list of shared accounts


List your accounts & devices Make a list of every account and device you have

If any of these items were gifts from an abusive partner, or if they set them up, the partner could potentially use the data they collect to gather information about you. If you have children, also make a note of any devices they use.


What other accounts do you have Tally up the rest of your (non-shared) online accounts, such as email, social media, cloud storage, journaling software, notes, and even to-do list apps. In many cases, an abuser can access data from those services with your username and password. Plus, some of these services, like GoogleApple, and Facebook, allow you to see which devices are currently logged in to the account. If you don’t recognize a device on your list, it may be an abuser’s.


How to make your accounts more secure Secure accounts with two-factor authentication and a password manager

Once you’re in a safe place to do so, you should secure your accounts to prevent further access. You can do this by setting up two security measures: a password manager, which creates complex passwords for you so you don’t have to remember them, and two-factor authentication, which requires access to a specific physical device to log in to accounts.


Change you email address  Sign up for a brand-new email account from a service like Gmail or Outlook, both of which have good security standards, including two-factor authentication


Use technology to generate strong passwords best option is to not know your own passwords. You can do this with a password manager, which generates strong passwords that are impossible to guess and then locks them behind a single “master password” that only you know. When you create a master password, it should be something your abuser can’t guess.


Update your accounts by changing passwords and updating with new email address


Once you get it set up, go through your list of accounts, change their passwords, and update them with your new email address.


Disguise answers to security questions If accounts have security questions (for instance, “What’s your mother’s maiden name?”), you should change those answers to a random word.


Learn about password managers For a walk-through on getting started with a password manager, head over to this guide on the tech website How-To Geek.


Where does two factor authentication come from When you enable two-factor authentication, you’ll need two pieces of information to sign in to your accounts: your password and a multi-digit code. The code can come from either a text message or an app.


What else you can do to make your phone more secure if an abuser can still get into your phone, they may be able to access the authentication codes, so it’s important to secure your devices before you set it up.


When to use two factor authentication You should consider using two-factor authentication for any accounts that contain private information


How else can abuser determine your location Accounts on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter can leak location data or other streams of information to an abuser without you realizing it.


Reduce the chance for abuser to see what you post Take time to run through Facebook’s Privacy Checkup, and lock down who can see your posts, remove any apps that may automatically share your location, and delete any other apps, games, or tools you don’t recognize, use, or remember adding.


Bet an alert if abuser logs into your account Be sure to set up alerts for when someone logs in to your account.


Make other accounts private also consider making your other social media accounts, like those on Instagram and Twitter, private.


Get an extensive guide to which settings you should change The New York Times (Wirecutter’s parent company) maintains a social media security and privacy checklist for journalists that includes many of the settings you should change.


Pause Google’s ability to track where you have gone Google’s privacy controls are worth spending some time with. By default, Google saves every search you make on Google and YouTube, and Google Maps creates a record of everywhere you’ve gone throughout the week. If an abusive partner has access to these accounts, they may find something in your history. You can pause these settings from your account dashboard at any time.


Use passcode rather than fingerprint or facial recognition Enable a passcode. Some abusers may try to unlock a phone using a fingerprint or face login when you’re sleeping, so it’s best to stick with a six-digit passcode instead.


If you don’t want Notifications to be seen Change notification options. – on an Android phone, open Settings, tap Notifications, and choose Hide Content for any apps that might include personal information. On iPhone, open Settings, tap Notifications, and change the Show Previews option to Never.


Know which apps have access to your location Check location settings. Location stalking is a way to see where someone is throughout the day, so it’s a good idea to identify which apps have access to your location and make sure you want them to have that info.


Check which apps are on your phone See which apps are installed. An abuser may install something on your phone to spy on you, or use dual-purpose apps, like child-monitoring software, to track your location.


Make sure your phone updates automatically Update the operating system. Updating your phone’s operating system improves security and wipes out certain types of stalkerware, so set your phone to update automatically.


Think before clicking unknown links Train yourself to avoid clicking links sent through email or text, change your passwords when you notice strange activity on your accounts, and be mindful of what information you store (and share) on your phone.


Consider a secure messaging app If you need to communicate privately with a friend, investigator, or counselor, it’s worth considering switching to a secure messaging app like Signal.


Beware Stalkerware Stalkerware is any software used to spy on or stalk someone else. It often includes several tools, like GPS tracking and keyloggers (which record keystrokes). In extreme cases, it can also record audio from mics or capture photos from a camera.


How to recognize Stalkerware  Stalkerware typically comes into play when a phone or laptop was a gift from an abuser, is an older model, or has gone missing for an extended period of time. Once installed, you’ll notice your data usage skyrocket (you can check this on your monthly bill). “It’ll double,”

Recognizing and removing stalkerware takes technical know-how and isn’t recommended for most people. If you want to search your devices for this type of software, the Coalition Against Stalkerware has a guide to help you, but Walker from New Beginnings said a factory reset is “a much simpler and safer process


Ere to t before you take any steps Ultimately, it’s important to contact an organization like the N.N.E.D.V. before you take steps to regain control of your devices on your own.


If you are in danger…. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.


If your calls are being tracked If your calls are being tracked, call your local services hotline, like 211 or 311, and ask to be transferred to a local resource center.


If you are in an abusive relationship If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship or has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (you can also chat live with an advocate at N.D.V.H., or text LOVEIS to 22522).


Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/smarter-living/wirecutter/domestic-abusers-can-control-your-devices-heres-how-to-fight-back.html

LEGAL MOMENTUM: The Women’s Legal Defense & Education Fund

 Legal Momentum Logo

LEGAL MOMENTUM is the oldest gender-justice legal advocacy group in the United States. Legal Momentum does not rest on its laurels, however. We continue to work on cutting-edge issues, and use cutting-edge tools and strategies to advance the rights of girls and women, with a particular focus on girls and women of color.Legal Momentum works to advance gender equality and freedom from violence at home,in public places, the classroom, the courtroom, and the workplace !y using civil rights litigation, legislative change, policy reform, and education “of the public, judges, and government officials#. We are collaborating with policy makers, legislators, corporate leaders, and media experts.
OUR MISSION is to ensure economic and personal security for all women and girls!y advancing equity in education, the workplace, the home, and the courts.
• Protect Domestic Violence Victims in the Workplace
• Advocate to End Commercial Sexual Trafficking of Girls and Women
• Promote Education Equity and Combat Campus Sexual Assault
• Protect Pregnant Workers and Eliminate Workplace Barriers
• Eliminate Gender Bias in the Courts and Criminal Justice System
• Educate the Public and Policymakers About Online Sexual Abuse

Abuse Defined

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

Here at The Hotline, we use the Power & Control Wheel* to describe most accurately what occurs in an abusive relationship.

Think of the wheel as a diagram of the tactics an abusive partner uses to keep their victim in the relationship. While the inside of the wheel is comprised of subtle, continual behaviors, the outer ring represents physical, visible violence. These are the abusive acts that are more overt and forceful, and often the intense acts that reinforce the regular use of other more subtle methods of abuse.

*Although this Power & Control Wheel uses she/her pronouns for the victim and assumes a male perpetrator, abuse can happen to people of any gender in any type of relationship.

Power and Control Wheel

Click image to enlarge.

Copyright by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
202 East Superior Street, Duluth, MN, 55802

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
  • Controls every penny spent in the household
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

Explore the tabs below to learn some of the common warning signs of each type of abuse. Experiencing even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present. Remember, each type of abuse is serious, and no one deserves to experience abuse of any kind, for any reason. If you have concerns about what’s happening in your relationship, contact us. We’re here to listen and support you!

To read more from Domestic Violence Hotline, CLICK HERE

10 Ways Narcissists Take Control

Logo_Sized_larger-1   By    November 7, 2017

What is a narcissist, you might ask. Are you controlled by one? Narcissists are the most confusing (and dangerous) people on earth.  If they are toxic or malignant narcissists, they take control and rob you of your independence in every way. Don’t confuse a garden variety selfish person with a full on narcissist or sociopath.

See it coming and run for the hills. What’s difficult to assess in the beginning is that narcissists can seem super nice and generous and caring. Then slowly things begin to change as their masks slip and they morph into the black hole of need, of demand, of criticism. And the list goes on. Until you’re walking through a minefield, trying not to be punished for offending.

A narcissist will commonly choose someone raised to be co-dependent as prey. Co-dependent people tend to be nice, sweet, reasonable, eager to please. They can be taken in because they don’t see what’s coming and don’t believe people can be toxic for no reason. Most people don’t know how to defend ourselves against a chronic malicious controller. They just can’t see the hurt coming and, over time, they are destructively conditioned to take more and more of it until they are tiptoeing through a mine field, fearful that they are the crazy ones. A narcissist will take control by any means at hand. Let us count 10 common ways: 

1. Gaslighting

We’ve written a lot about gaslighting a lot, and how destructive it is. This is not an official psychological term. When you are gaslighted, you feel uncomfortable and know something toxic has occurred, but the narcissist in your life tells you: “That didn’t happen. You imagined it. You’re crazy.” In a nutshell you’re lied to and that makes you doubt yourself. Gaslighting may be the most insidious manipulative tactic. A steady diet of doubting your ability to tell it like it really is alters your sense of reality. Your self-doubt eats away at your ability to trust yourself, and inevitably disables you from feeling justified in labeling and calling out abuse and mistreatment.

Solution Write events down so you have a record later. Have a trusted group of friends and relations you can share information with who can validate what really happened, so you are grounded in reality. Your reality is sacred and needs respect. Note, telling and discussing what’s happening to you with others who love you is different from triangulation, which is using others to cause conflict. Best case scenario, get away from people who gaslight you. If they’re family members, limit their access to you.

2. Projecting Negative Feelings On You

Projection is a defense mechanism narcissists use to displace responsibility of their negative behavior and traits by attributing them to someone else. Narcissists cannot bear to think of themselves as bad, responsible for anything, angry, or difficult. Narcissists are constantly projecting feelings that they cannot tolerate outward to others rather than turning inward. They can’t admit or own up to what they have done. The narcissist creates his own world. Everything revolves around him/her. He believes that he is the initiator and master of his personal and professional domain. Everyone else has a role and that is of serving him and his specific purposes.


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The #MeToo Moment: Dream Crushers

New York Times              December 5, 2017
By Jessica Bennett


As the sexual misconduct scandals continue to unfold, our gender editor, Jessica Bennett, is providing updates and analysis on the coverage and conversation in a new newsletter. Sign up HERE to receive future installments, and tell us what you think at nytgender@nytimes.com.

She called them “dream crushers.”

Her name is Elizabeth Dann, and her story is no less upsetting for its familiarity. She is one of nine women who told me in detail about the sexual harassment and assault they suffered over decades at the hands of the celebrated playwright Israel Horovitz, the subject of an investigative article that was published last week.

Ms. Dann, who was 28 at the time of the abuse, did not stop acting — but she did veer away from the theater, instead doing mostly television commercials. She is now 56, and said the toll never fully went away.

“It’s not just that you’ve been manipulated and your personal space has been invaded — but it messed with me,” she explained. “It messed with how I saw my talent.”

That quote never made it into the story — one of many of the anecdotes that, after weeks and in some cases months of reporting in stories like these, often fall to the cutting room floor.

Also unpublished are the anecdotes of how we as journalists do this reporting, which often requires us to delicately ask people to divulge — and trust us — with memories among most painful of their lives.

My colleagues Jodi Kantor, Megan Twohey and Emily Steel — the investigative reporters who, along with Michael Schmidt, broke the stories about Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly — spent many months doing just this. Tuesday night in Los Angeles, they discussed what it was like behind the scenes of that process, and they were joined by the actress Ashley Judd, whose own story of harassment by Mr. Weinstein helped spark the current #MeToo Moment.

You can watch the replay below , or in a separate window by clicking here.

Before the event, we asked Ms. Kantor, Ms. Twohey and Ms. Steel to answer three brief questions.

jodi kantor ashley judd

At a TimesTalks event in Los Angeles, actor Ashley Judd speaks with the New York Times journalists whose stories about Harvey Weinstein and Bill O’Reilly sparked a national conversation about sexual harassment.

 Publish Date: December 5, 2017. Watch in Times Video »

To read more click HERE

Time Names ‘The Silence Breakers’ As 2017 Person Of The Year

They’re the women who launched a movement against sexual harassment.

Time cover

Huffington Post       December 6, 2017
By Willa Frej

Time’s 2017 Person of the Year is The Silence Breakers, what the magazine refers to as “the individuals who set off a national reckoning over the prevalence of sexual harassment.”

The cover image accompanying the story features actress Ashley Judd, Taylor Swift and former Uber engineer Susan Fowler, who have all spoken out against various forms of sexual misconduct. It also highlights the plight of sexual harassment among people who don’t have as large of an audience by featuring Isabel Pascual, a woman from Mexico who works picking strawberries, and Adama Iwu, a corporate lobbyist in Sacramento.

“The galvanizing actions of the women on our cover … along with those of hundreds of others, and of many men as well, have unleashed one of the highest-velocity shifts in our culture since the 1960s,” the magazine’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said in a statement.

The movement gained momentum after The New York Times published a damning exposé featuring several women who publicly accused Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and assault. What followed has been a tidal wave of both women and men feeling empowered to publicly air their own accusations against powerful men in a variety of industries, many using the #MeToo campaign. It’s led to the downfall of top executives, journalists, actors, producers and politicians.

Time’s list of “Silence Breakers” includes big names like Rose McGowan and Terry Crews alongside names the public has likely never heard.


“I started talking about Harvey [Weinstein] the minute that it happened,” Judd said in an interview with TIME. “Literally, I exited that hotel room at the Peninsula Hotel in 1997 and came straight downstairs to the lobby, where my dad was waiting for me, because he happened to be in Los Angeles from Kentucky, visiting me on the set. And he could tell by my face — to use his words — that something devastating had happened to me. I told him. I told everyone.”

Tarana Burke, the woman credited with creating the #MeToo campaign, shared her thanks on Wednesday in a tweet.


The magazine’s shortlist, announced Monday, included 2016 winner President Donald Trump, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, special counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Dreamers and former San Francisco 49ers football player Colin Kaepernick.


Time Magazine called to say that I was PROBABLY going to be named “Man (Person) of the Year,” like last year, but I would have to agree to an interview and a major photo shoot. I said probably is no good and took a pass. Thanks anyway!

Trump claimed last month that the magazine told him he was the likely winner for the second consecutive year, which Time later disputed.


“The President is incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year,” a Time spokeswoman told CNN in a statement. “Time does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6.”


Trump has been accused of sexual harassment by more than a dozen women.



Doris Kearns Goodwin

Well, look. I think it’s a mistake when people say that standards have simply change. You can’t rationalize behavior in the past that was wrong. If it was wrong now, it was wrong a hundred years ago. It was wrong 50 years ago. I mean, what’s changed now is that the victims are speaking up in a way that they didn’t 50 years ago. And they’re speaking not just by themselves, but in a chorus. And it’s become a movement. And that’s why I think the thing you said at the very end, that young women now are making this a movement. This is a watershed moment. I keep thinking of Bobby Kennedy’s talk. He said at South Africa, and this is exactly what’s happening now, “It is from numberless diverse actions of courage and belief that human history is shaped. “Each time a man stands up, or a woman stands up, for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and those ripples eventually build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” That’s what’s happening now. This is going to change the way men feel about women, it’s going to change their relationship, it’s not a moment that’s going to go away.

Measuring the Intensity of Sadism

Scientists developed this 9-question test to measure how sadistic you are

Business Insider        April 9, 2017
By Rafi Letzter

Science can’t say whether people in your life are good or evil, per se. But it’s getting better at figuring out whether they enjoy hurting you.

A fairly new field in personality research studies “misanthropic” traits: characteristics that lead people to hurt those around them for their own benefit. And psychologists have established a “dark triad” of harmful personality traits: narcissism, psychopathy (or a lack of empathy), and Machiavellianism (or a tendency to manipulate others.)

Any one of these traits makes a person stressful to those around them. Taken together they add up to an “antagonistic and selfish” strategy for getting ahead at other people’s expense.

Now, some researchers suggest a fourth trait should join the triad: sadism, or joy in inflicting pain on others.

Why sadism matters

Sadism is a term with a long history. Sadists take pleasure in hurting other people. They’re our most fearsome and evil villains — whether real or imagined, like Ramsay Bolton of “Game of Thrones.”

But the idea of sadism is fairly new to clinical settings. That’s in part because the whole study of personality, and specifically of “dark” personality traits, is fairly recent and underdeveloped. But it’s also because traits like sadism, along with the rest of the dark triad, are difficult to tease apart with clinical precision.

Even papers that support the idea of sadism as part of a larger “dark tetrad” acknowledge that its effects can be difficult to distinguish from the three existing triad traits.

But a growing body of work in just the last few years has shown that sadism correlates specifically and strongly with cruel behavior — for example, trolling and cyberbullying.

The sadism test

In order to develop a rigorous test for sadism, researchers assembled a list of questionsdesigned to poke right at the heart of a sadistic personality.

The first version was 20 questions long. Subjects were asked to say how strongly they agreed or disagreed with a list of (rather chilling) statements, using a scale from one to five. (One meantcompletely disagree and five completely agree.)

  1. I have made fun of people so that they know I am in control.
  2. People do what I want them to because they are afraid of me.
  3. When I tell people what to do, they know to do it.
  4. I never get tired of pushing people around.
  5. I would hurt somebody if it meant I would be in control.
  6. I control my friends through intimidation.
  7. When I mock someone, it is funny to see them get upset.
  8. Being mean to others can be exciting.
  9. When I get annoyed, tormenting people makes me feel better.
  10. I have hurt people close to me for enjoyment.
  11. I enjoy humiliating others.
  12. I get pleasure from mocking people in front of their friends.
  13. I think about harassing others for enjoyment.
  14. I have cheated others because I enjoy it.
  15. I think about hurting people who irritate me.
  16. I’d lie to someone to make them upset.
  17. I have stolen from others without regard for the consequences.
  18. Making people feel bad about themselves makes me feel good.
  19. I am quick to humiliate others.
  20. I have tormented others without feeling remorse.

When 199 undergraduate students took the test, the results were promising but inconclusive.

The test, researchers found, was good at measuring sadism and dark triad traits. And it suggested that there were specific and interpretable patterns in people’s misanthropic personalities. But it didn’t as good a job as they’d hoped in identifying sadism as separate from psychopathy and the rest of the dark tried.

So they weeded out questions that might have caused too much overlap and tried again with a nine-question version of the test:

  1. I have made fun of people so that they know I am in control.
  2. I never get tired of pushing people around.
  3. I would hurt somebody if it meant I would be in control.
  4. When I mock someone, it’s funny to see them get upset.
  5. Being mean to others can be exciting.
  6. I get pleasure from mocking people in front of their friends.
  7. Watching people get into fights excites me.
  8. I think about hurting people who irritate me.
  9. I would not purposely hurt anybody, even if I didn’t like them.

This time, when 202 students took the test, the results were stronger. It still correlated with other dark triad traits like psychopathy as expected, but did a better job of showing that sadism is a separate category. In both tests, men scored much more highly than women for the negative traits. These results were published the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

The researchers note that there’s a lot more work to do on what they’re calling the Assessment of Sadistic Personality (ASP), including finding subjects who aren’t college undergrads taking questionnaires for course credit (not the most diverse or representative sample). But they expect it will play a significant role as they come to understand sadism in clinical terms.

ISOLATION: One of the most important elements in understanding victims and victimizers

  1. Isolation and domestic violence are two sides of one coin. It is used to create a bubble in which harm (physical, mental, financial, emotional, spiritual, etc.) can easily take place.
  2. Isolation is an effective tactic employed to increasingly separate the victim from her family, friends, social circle and most importantly, her sense of a healthy empowered free self.
  3. Isolating the victim gives the controller more opportunity to be abusive and involved in every aspect of the woman’s life, i.e., where she goes, what she wears, what she eats, the home she lives in, the money she has access to and the entire socialization process of both her and her children if they are involved.
  4. As the torture and abuse intensifies, in a predictable pattern of escalation, not being with people and having the ability to live a normal social community involved life becomes a new norm. In order to hide the painful truth, deep shame and tremendous embarrassment to both herself and in the outer world, she withdraws to his advantage.
  5. This is a tragedy that is foundational to the domestic abuse relationship and why isolation is the tool most often used by perpetrators who seek to dominate and control women.



Choking seen as prelude to murder

By Marisol Bello, USA TODAY

More states are trying to reduce fatal domestic assaults by increasing penalties against abusers who choke their victims.

New Hampshire and Delaware in May become the latest states to pass laws making it a felony to choke someone. A similar law that passed both houses of the New York Legislature this month awaits the signature of Democratic Gov. David Paterson.

States are targeting choking incidents because when an abuser tries to strangle someone in a domestic assault, it is a leading indicator that he will escalate his attacks and eventually kill his victim, says Gael Strack, a former prosecutor and founder of the Family Justice Center Alliance, which helps abuse victims.

Strack says states also need to train officers and prosecutors to look for evidence of strangulation, which can be hard to prove without bruises on the victim.

A 2008 study in the Journal of Emergency Medicine found 43% of women who were murdered in domestic assaults and 45% who were victims of attempted murder had been choked in the past year by their male partners.

Twenty-nine states have laws that make strangulation a crime, says the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, a program of the National District Attorneys Association.

New Hampshire passed its law after Melissa Cantin Charbonneau, 29, a mother and nurse, was killed by her husband two days after he tried to strangle her.

Jonathan Charbonneau, 32, shot and killed her in October. He also shot his father-in-law and then killed himself, a report by the state attorney general found. He was out on $30 bail after being charged with a misdemeanor for throwing her down a flight of stairs and trying to strangle her.

Her father, John Cantin, who survived the shooting, says his daughter would still be alive if her killer had been in jail, charged with a felony.

“I’m doing this for my daughter,” he says. “I don’t believe this bill will stop the person doing the choking, but at least when it does happen and they are arrested, they are put away.”

In Delaware, two state troopers who tracked domestic abuse cases found that over a four-month period, more than half of the cases in one county involving strangulation were prosecuted as misdemeanors, says Brian Selander, a spokesman for Democratic Gov. Jack Markell. The troopers pushed for the new law, which carries a penalty of up to five years.

In New York, Democratic State Sen. Eric Schneiderman introduced a strangulation bill after chairing a committee that investigated a state senator for domestic abuse. During the hearings, he learned there was no penalty for strangulation, even though women who were choked have a higher risk of being killed by their partner.

“I’m just sorry it took us so long in New York state to do this,” he says. “I think this will save a lot of lives.”

Source: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2010-06-24-choking_n.htm

Several States Make Choking a Felony Charge

Several states across the country are moving to tighten the laws on choking and strangulation by making it a felony charge. Several states across the country are moving to tighten the laws on strangling. A much debated topic, choking and strangulation is one of the top domestic abuse crimes, but is not considered a felony by many states.

Those in favor of making it a felony believe abusers deserve more than a slap on the wrist when severe choking occurs, while those who oppose the bill fear the felony charge will be loosely tossed around, which is a problem when it comes to false complaints.

Prosecutors and police have long been frustrated by the legal system regarding choking cases – victims can suffer brain damage, even come close to dying, but often show no outward sign. Generally, assault and battery crimes that rise to the level of a felony include significant physical evidence such as bruising, blood or broken bones.

Experts note that choking often precedes murder, and that most victims of choking have experienced it more than once in an abusive relationship.

Nearly 30 states have made strangulation and choking (or “knowingly impeding someone’s breathing”) a felony over the last 10 years. The state of New York took the law the furthest by requiring no physical proof of injury. Instead, police officers are trained to notice other signs of strangulation that might not include bruising and marks around the neck.

There are also hold-out states where lawmakers believe there are enough protections in place for victims of domestic abuse. Many criminal defense attorneys believe the idea of accusing someone of a felony charge without physical evidence will undermine the fairness of the system. In other words, fair trials in the area of domestic violence should not rest on “he said, she said” accusations.

There is an obvious need to protect victims of domestic abuse. There is an equal need to maintain a level playing field for those accused of domestic abuse. We’ll have to see how the felony charge of choking plays out.

Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

Source: https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=27274

Stanford Law Professor says, “Fair to Whom?”


Harriet —

In the same courtroom where Judge Persky sentenced Brock Turner to a lenient six months in county jail for three counts of sexual assault almost one year ago, another privileged perpetrator was given a lenient sentence.Neha Rastogi, a former Apple executive, suffered at the hands of her husband, Silicon Valley CEO Abhishek Gattani, for their entire relationship. He was first arrested in 2013, but the abuse only intensified. Recently Neha went back to the police for help and Gattani was charged with felony domestic violence.

But the prosecutor offered Gattani a plea deal to reduce the charge from felony domestic violence to accessory after the fact, with an accompanying misdemeanor of “offensive touching.” The deal includes a six-month jail term but Gattani will serve less than 2 weeks in jail and he will have the chance to expunge the felony from his record entirely. The prosecutor described this extremely lenient deal as a “fair outcome.”

Fair to whom? Certainly not Neha. She has described Gattani’s actions as terrorism — the plea deal lets him off the hook while his actions will stay with Neha for the rest of her life. Please sign our petition to #StandWithNeha and demand justice for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

With a previous domestic violence charge, recordings of Gattani’s abusive behavior, and pictures of her injuries, Neha thought her long nightmare was over — but the Santa Clara court system failed her. Neha prepared to object the lenient sentence in a harrowing victim impact statement — but in a further slap in the face, Judge Danner wasn’t even there. Danner had scheduled her vacation the same time as the sentencing.

Judge Rodney Stafford, a substitute judge who didn’t know anything about the case, was so moved by Neha’s statement that he has rescheduled the sentencing so Judge Danner must consider Neha’s statement before sentencing her batterer.

It seems fitting that a plea deal so lenient for a privileged defendant happened in the same courtroom that Judge Persky made his special exception for Brock Turner — a privileged Stanford athlete after sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster.

It is the judge’s job to make sure that justice is done — the judge has the ability and the obligation to refuse a plea deal if it is too lenient.

Please sign our petition to #StandWithNeha to urge Judge Danner to listen to Neha’s victim impact statement before Gattani is sentenced. With the recall of Judge Persky, we can send a message that violence against women must be taken seriously by the courts.

Thank you,
Michele Dauber
Chair, Committee to Recall Judge Persky




PAVE stands with courageous teen sexual assault survivor Chessy Prout! Last week, Owen Labrie was back in court seeking a new trial. Labrie, a former prep school student at St. Paul’s School, was convicted in 2015 of sexually assaulting his classmate as part of the “Senior Salute” where senior men competed with friends to see who could “slay” the greatest number of younger girls.
The media surrounding the trial has been filled with language that seems to place blame on the survivor, not the perpetrator. Language is powerful! #ChessyProut is a survivor, not an accuser. Journalists, don’t blame survivors for sexual assault. They deserve support not scrutiny.
Chessy launched #IHaveTheRightTo with PAVE – get involved and post on your social media!
PAVE Ambassador Delaney Henderson pictured above said, “Chessy is my hero. Sexual assault is the most under-reported crime in the country and when reporters use victim-blaming language, it keeps other survivors silent.”
Join Chessy’s grandma – please support Chessy and participate today!
1. Take a picture and/or a short video with #IHaveTheRightTo _________
2. Post to social media with the hashtag #IHaveTheRightTo
3. Invite your friends to participate
4. Sign up for updates CLICK HERE
5. Tweet/FB in support of this
SOURCE: http://campaign.r20.constantcontact.com/render?m=1101460741521&ca=be7e351f-e252-4482-960d-08f01556c46f