Season of Giving

Keep The Women’s Center In  Mind During This Season of Giving

‘Tis the season for giving.  And we are blessed to live and work in such a generous community. We hope while you are out and about this holiday season, you will remember The Women’s Center in your giving plans.

We shelter more than 120 women, children, and men each year, as well as provide counseling and other services to our clients. Our organization could not function without our big-hearted donors.

Here are a few ways you can give to The Women’s Center this year:

Support Our Shelter Mortgage Matching Campaign. The Women’s Center’s biggest and most important campaign of 2018 is our Shelter Mortgage Matching Campaign. Our thoughtful donors, Rod and Holly Aldrich, have offered to match any donation in 2018 directed at paying off our shelter mortgage debt of $507,000. Freeing up monthly bank mortgage payments would mean so much to our operating budget. This additional money could go right to client needs. Please help us reach this goal before the end of the year by clicking here.

Donate Items to Harbor House. As most people prepare their homes for the holidays, our Harbor House clients prepare to spend this year away from theirs. We always accept basic household donations at Harbor House like toilet paper, paper towel, or more personal hygiene items. But special holiday treats for parents and kids would make this difficult time easier. Gift cards to downtown area Marquette businesses are a nice option and help our whole community.

Bring Extras to Pak Ratz. As you prepare to decorate and open your homes to family and friends, you may find yourself doing a bit of clutter reduction. Maybe there are decorations in perfectly good condition that no longer suit your style. Or maybe you encourage your kids to pass along outgrown toys to make room for new Christmas morning surprises. Whatever the case, bring your extras down to Pak Ratz! While you are there, do a bit of shopping yourself and cross a few people off your list. You can feel good knowing all the proceeds go right back into the Women’s Center mission!

Sponsor Our Fundraisers. The Women’s Center staff and board work hard to create engaging fundraisers like this year’s “A Night Out.” We are always looking for event sponsors, clever baskets to raffle, and gift certificates.

Make a New Year’s Resolution. Make your New Year’s resolution early this year by wrapping up your 2019 giving goals now. Consider helping us pay our monthly bills in 2019. Can you cover our electric bill for a month (or more) in 2019? Could you donate to cover our advertising costs for promoting Pak Ratz? All of these leave us more money to pay for client’s healthcare co-pays, bus tickets, and children’s school supplies, to name just a few.

We thank all who support The Women’s Center and our clients on a year-round basis. Your donations are always appreciated and we are grateful.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

From the Staff and Board of The Women’s Center

 

Are you a survivor of sexual assault and/or rape?

The University of Hawai’i is conducting a study:Examining Healing Trajectories for Survivors of Rape and Sexual Assault

Are you a survivor of sexual assault and/or rape?

Would you like to share your experience in healing to help improve services for survivors?

If the answer is YES . . .

If you are a survivor of sexual assault and/or rape, please consider participating in a study exploring the types of therapeutic services and healing practices that are used by survivors. The study is an anonymous online survey that will take approximately 30 minutes to complete with an optional follow-up phone interview for survivors who are interested. The purpose of this study is to increase awareness and understanding of the healing process after sexual violence in order to hopefully improve services for survivors. If you are interested in participating or would like more information please visit: https://manoahawaiiss.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_3EtYqzHDamy2wbH

If you have any questions, please contact Christine Weingarten, the principal investigator, at cweinga@hawaii.edu. Thank you!

 

Women’s Center Encourages Voting

Women’s Center Encourages Voting

 

Here at the Women’s Center, we want to encourage everyone to vote.

 

This November, the voters of Alger and Marquette County will have the opportunity to vote for candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, Michigan voters will have the ability to make their voices heard on statewide ballot referendums as well as local millage requests.

 

The Women’s Center is on the frontlines and understands how different policies affect domestic violence survivors in many ways. We urge you to take a look at the candidates running for office and vote for those who support the initiatives that will help domestic violence survivors in Marquette and Alger counties.

Legislation Affects Domestic Violence Survivors

 

Here are a few of the issues that affect the Women’s Center and the people we serve:

 

  • Economic Security Concerns including:
    • Equal Pay
    • Paid Maternity Leave
    • Paid Family Leave
    • Paid Medical Leave
    • Affordable Health Care
    • Liveable Wages
    • Affordable Childcare

 

  • Gun Violence
    • Especially measures that close loopholes for abusers to possess or obtain firearms

 

 

Thank you for considering these issues as you vote this year.

Voting Absentee Is Easy

 

If you are not able to be in town or will have difficulty getting to a polling place on November 6, please utilize absentee ballot voting. It really is quite easy.

 

Just stop by your city or township clerk’s office during normal business hours and ask for an absentee voter ballot application. Or you can request an absentee ballot application by mail at https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1633_8716_8728-21037–,00.html

 

You will have to name one of six reasons in order to vote absentee. Here are the reasons that are listed:

 

  • Age 60 or older
  • Unable to vote without assistance at the polls
  • Expecting to be out of town on election day
  • In jail awaiting arraignment or trial
  • Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
  • Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence

 

If you choose to get your ballot at your clerk’s office, you will have the option to fill it out there, in private, and return it to the clerk immediately. Or, you may take it home and return it to the office, either in person or by mail.

 

The ballot must be received by 8 pm on election day to be counted. You must be a registered voter to receive an absentee ballot.

Thank You For Voting

 

We thank you for your continued support of the Women’s Center’s mission through your donations, shopping at Pak Ratz resale shop, continued prayers, and your participation in this year’s voting process.

 

If you know someone who is in need of our services, please let them know we can help. Do not hesitate to have them call us at (906) 225-1346.

The Loneliness of Domestic Violence

The Loneliness of Domestic Violence

Alt title: Why You Feel Alone

In many crises, one of the first things counselors and loved ones will tell you is that you aren’t alone. If you are going through cancer treatment, are in financial trouble, or suffer from anxiety, a million websites and friends will explain how you aren’t the only one suffering and that support is a phone call away. Unfortunately, though supporters often say the same thing about domestic violence, it’s hard for victims to accept the truth of that statement.

Why You Feel Alone

The loneliness of abuse starts at the earliest stages of a relationship. Abusers isolate their victims, not just physically, but emotionally. People who suffer from abusive situations believe they are alone because their partners – people who victims love and trust despite abuse — tell them they are. The seeds of isolation tend to start in the beginning, where an eventual abuser criticizes friends and family. Victims in this stage often feel pressure, even if it’s emotional rather than physical, to disassociate from other people who love them. By the time physical or more severe emotional abuse begins, victims feel too disconnected from other relationships to tell anyone what’s happening.

Abusers often tell their victims that the violence they perpetrate is the fault of victims. Abusers may feel remorse for the violence but, in their “apologies,” explain that it wouldn’t happen if only the victims didn’t or did act in a certain way. At the Women’s Center, we want to you to know this isn’t true – abuse is never an answer and perpetrators of violence should be the ones feeling shame. However, even if victims don’t believe this in their mind, their hearts often trust their abusers, meaning they feel like they did something to deserve the abuse and too are ashamed to talk about it.  That shame is isolating.

But it’s not the only shame victims of abuse must overcome. People who try to help victims inadvertently isolate them by suggesting that they are “better than that.” Victims interpret this as, if I’m better than that but can’t leave, then something must be wrong with me. Other times, friends may say “how could you let him/her do this to you,” making it difficult for victims to ask for help. Advocates and allies mean well, but victim-blaming is another isolating factor for those suffering from domestic violence.

But You Aren’t Alone

When you feel like no one understands what you are going through, consider the following stats:

  • Almost 20 people a minute suffer abuse at the hands of an intimate partner in the U.S. In one year, that’s over 10 million people.
  • One in three women and one in four men have experienced physical abuse by a domestic partner in their lifetime.
  • On an average day, domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls nationwide.
  • Domestic violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
  • Just 34% of people who suffer domestic violence seek medical care, despite injury.

That’s a lot of people being very quiet about real suffering. If you’re suffering from domestic violence, trust us when we tell you that you aren’t alone. At the Women’s Center, we offer help when you need it, but we also want you to know others have traveled this path and come out on the other side happier and healthier. You can, too. Contact us for help leaving an abusive relationship.

How to Avoid Being Triggered by the News Cycle

How to Avoid Being Triggered by the News Cycle

Whether you follow politics or not, the recent news cycle has been rife with stories of sexual assault and abuse. For people who are recovering from physical violence, some of these stories – even the ones told in solidarity – can be a psychological trigger. A trigger is something that ignites memories of victims’ past trauma, causing further anxiety. A trigger can cause hours, days, or even weeks of emotional pain. If strolling through social media or watching TV has been difficult for you lately, here are some ways to avoid being triggered by what’s happening in the world.

Some people might suggest simply not watching the news during these times, but it can be impossible. The worst of the stories show up on all social media sites, and people share them without thinking about how others will react to the worst of these. From the Kavanaugh hearings to the various news reports regarding Kevin Spacey, Woody Allen, and Harvey Weinstein, among others, most of these mainstream media stories are trying to the change the world for the better by exposing predators. Some of that change, unfortunately, involves retelling stories of such trauma that hearers who have suffered violence must relive painful instances.

Negotiating a Traumatic Past When Assault Dominates the News

During this time of change for the nation, where we feel both relief that these stories are being told and fear those stories might be a trigger of past trauma, those who have suffered violence must protect themselves. Some of that involves creating an emotional toolkit to guard against the worst of these storms.

Here are some ways to help you with triggers when sexual violence is always the news lede.

  1. Plan for a calm moment. Sometimes, awareness is the only protection you have. Practice self-care by having a plan in place when you know the news cycle will involve triggers for you. If you’re reading Facebook and a story pops up that triggers trauma, have something in mind that you can do – meditate, go for a walk, or call a friend – so you don’t have to think about the next steps.
  2. Put on a timer. It can be easy to fall into the rabbit hole of digital life or mainstream news, but if you set a timer, you can catch up and give yourself the time you need to recover. It’s tough going from news to real life, so add some time to do something positive if you’re feeling anxious.
  3. Support each other. If the news cycle is triggering for you, you can bet you’re not the only one. Take to social media and plan blackout for victims times for victims of domestic assault. Create a coffee date for those in your circle to talk about how they are handling what’s happening. Be active. When you become a leader for those who are suffering, it can help you handle the trauma you’ve faced.

It’s Okay to Switch It Off

Remember, you’re allowed to take some time away from the news. You don’t owe it to anyone to be in the “know” regarding current Supreme Court shakedowns, pop culture happenings, or even sports drama if it is a trigger. It also might help to know that things will get better. Healing after a trauma doesn’t happen in a line; some days are going to be fine and some will be a challenge to get through – and you can’t count on how you felt yesterday or how you’ll feel tomorrow. Give yourself space to heal and permission to shut the noise off when you need.

A Night Out

The Landmark Inn presents “A Night Out,” a benefit for the Women’s Center. Tickets are $50 per person, and includes food and music. A cash bar.

Tickets available by calling 906-225-1346, or stop in at The Women’s Center at 1310 S. Front Street.

Sponsors: Landmark Inn, UPHP, Downtown Eyecare, Elegant Seagulls, VAST, VANGOS, Huron Mountain Bakery, Andrew & Erica Griffin, Gary & Colleen Walker

We hope to see you there!

Filing a Personal Protection Order

Steps for Filing a Personal Protection Order in Michigan

Leaving an abusive partner is a difficult first step. Once you’ve left, protecting yourself from this person may still be an issue; many abusers continue to haunt their partners longer after the decision to leave.  Obtaining a personal protection order, known as a PPO, is one way for those facing violence or threats from a domestic partner to find more adequate legal protections. Not only will it mean another layer of protection for you, a record of a PPO may protect other people in vulnerable situations from this person’s violent tendencies. Here’s what you need to do to obtain a PPO against an abusive partner in Michigan.

We will explain the steps, but here at the Women’s Center ,we can help you through the process.

Steps for Obtaining PPOs in MI

The first step for obtaining a PPO is to file a petition with the circuit court clerk. The one in Marquette is located on 234 W. Baraga Avenue, but you can file in any Michigan county. Your petition, which you can download here, should detail the abuse you have suffered at the hands of your partner and how you’ve been emotionally and physically harmed. You are the “petitioner” and the abuser is the “respondent.” When possible, offer dates or time of the year you suffered abuse, threats, or fear. Though police reports or medical evidence are helpful, they aren’t necessary. If you have them, attach them to your PPO petition.

Ex Parte Orders for Immediate Danger

If you are in eminent danger or fear your abuser will try to harm you immediately, ask for an emergency order, called an ex parte order. In these cases, if a judge gives you an ex parte order, you won’t have to wait for a hearing. In these situations, the abuser won’t know you are asking for a PPO until after you have one in hand. Ex parte orders become active as soon as a judge signs them. They are usually valid for six months but must be served to be effective.

For other PPOs where victims aren’t in immediate danger or if a judge needs more information before granting a PPO, there must be a court hearing. This hearing will be within 21 days of your filing the PPO. Before the hearing, you must serve the abuser a notice of the hearing.

How to Serve a PPO

For an ex parte order or a PPO hearing, you must serve your partner notice. The sheriff’s department in Marquette can serve notice for $26 (applications are available for those who can’t afford the fee). You can send the PPO through registered mail, or you can have a friend or adult family member hand the notice to the abuser. Keep in mind, this is not an optional component to obtaining a PPO. If you get a PPO but never serve it, your domestic partner cannot be prosecuted for violating the order.

What Happens After Filing a Protection Order

After you file, a judge will review your petition. If a judge immediately grants your ex parte order, it’s effective immediately, and you just need to serve it. In other cases, a judge may request a hearing or deny your petition for a hearing. Even if you do not receive a PPO, know that the police are there to protect you – call someone for help if an abusive partner is threatening harm or actively pursuing harming you.

If you’ve filed a protection order and the courts have granted it, keep a copy with you. Though it can’t guarantee your safety, it may stop an abuser from:

  • Having access to shared domestic records, like telephone numbers or work addresses
  • Buying a firearm
  • Entering your home or stalking you

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and many orders depend on the situation or the types of abuse.

When to Get a PPO

You may consider obtaining a PPO in preparation for leaving an abusive relationship if you fear this person will continue their abuse after you leave. If you’ve left someone who continues to threaten or abuse you or your children, it’s time to file a PPO. When you need help getting protection from an abuser or getting out of an abusive relationship, talk to one of the counselors at the Women’s Center, available 24/7. We believe in empowering sufferers of domestic abuse and work to make their lives better.

Why You Should Be Shopping At PakRatz

Why You Should Be Shopping At PakRatz

 

If you haven’t discovered PakRatz ReSale Shop in Marquette yet, you are missing an Upper Michigan gem. Conveniently located near the shores of Lake Superior at 1310 S. Front St, PakRatz features a spacious showroom and ample parking. It is a favorite stop among locals and out-of-towners alike.

 

PakRatz receives fresh inventory almost daily and is excellent at keeping the merchandise timely – which allows for some awesome end-of-season clearance sales! The best part? All proceeds from PakRatz support the mission of The Women’s Center.

 

Here’s the kind of gently used items you can expect to find during your visit to PakRatz:

 

  • Women’s Clothing
  • Men’s Clothing
  • Children’s Clothing
  • Housewares
  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Decorative Items
  • Jewelry
  • Accessories
  • Books

…and much more!

 

They even have a special boutique section for name brand finds. Current Women’s Center board member, JoAnne Garrow, notes she often goes a bit early to board meetings so she can take a peek at what’s new. “I love coats, so I’m often looking for a unique one to buy just before winter,” says Garrow.

 

When you shop at PakRatz, you are not only getting a good deal, you are supporting your community and a great cause to boot! Revenue generated from the PakRatz Resale Shop is reinvested into The Women’s Center’s endeavors. Shopping and helping make your community a better place — it’s a perfect combination.

 

For more than 45 years, The Women’s Center has been supporting victims/survivors of domestic and sexual violence in Alger and Marquette counties through programs that:

 

  • The Women’s Center provides 24/7 acute intervention services. They operate Harbor House, the only safe house of its kind in Marquette and Alger counties. They also provide assistance to women seeking Personal Protection Orders (PPO).

 

  • Education is provided to victims/survivors regarding their rights and the services available to them. It also educates the public about the prevalence and danger of domestic and sexual violence in our community.

 

  • Our professionals offer court support and provide judicial officers with information on resources when possible.

 

  • Trained staff answer questions on our 24/7 call line. Additionally, one-on-one and group counseling is provided by The Women’s Center.

 

  • The Women’s Center strives to empower all victims/survivors of domestic and sexual violence in our community through education and awareness.

 

So, the next time you are doing a bit of spring cleaning or looking for a new pair of jeans, stop by PakRatz. They are doing great things!

Staying Strong After Leaving an Abuser

Staying Strong After Leaving an Abuser

Even in the best divorce or separation, it’s often hard for people to get back on their feet. To leave an abusive relationship, you have the same difficulties, coupled with the strength it takes to walk out the door. It’s not easy, especially after your partner has likely pained not just the body but poisoned the mind into believing a lesser version of yourself. At the Women’s Center, we believe in you – not as a victim but as the empowered individual that you are. If you’re having trouble staying strong in your decision to leave an abuser, here are some reminders of how amazing you are. Remember, too, that it takes more courage to leave than to wait for someone to change.

You Are Courageous

People describe others as being brave when they face challenges, but the most brave people are the ones who have lived in fear and overcome that fear. When you decide to walk away from an abusive relationship, you are overcoming fears many people have never had to face – and that takes courage.

You Are Loving

To believe the good of a person who hurts you – long enough to stay in a relationship – is evidence that your heart is loving. Unfortunately, the message from the media, friends, and even family tells those who’ve lived in abusive relationships that they made a mistake by loving someone. Loving someone is not a mistake, though you should never stay with someone who hurts you. What’s crucial to remember is that the abuser is the one who did something wrong, not you.

You Are Empowered

Just by reading this blog, right now, you are arming yourself with the strength you need by finding answers to tough questions. That simple act is helping you discover the next step to take. Those who suffer abuse don’t have to think of themselves as victims; walking out the door to a new life – though terrifying – is empowering.

You Are in Control

Living in an abusive relationship often means giving up control, but if you’ve given it up, know that it’s in your power to take it back. No one has power over you unless you give it to them. Whether you are leaving an abusive partner today or planning to in the future, know that you are in control of you. Whatever power this person thinks they have over you is only temporary and dissolves when you say so.

You Are Ready

A million reasons may pop into your head about why you should stay, but if you’re here, you’re ready to make a change – a change that means no longer living in fear or anxiety. Don’t let those million reasons stop you from acknowledging the most important reason to go – your safety.

For help with the next steps of leaving an abusive relationship or what to do after you’ve already gone, find help from the Women’s Center of Marquette. We believe in empowering victims and survivors. We believe in empowering you.

How to Prep for a Dangerous Days

Despite previous abuse, the day your spouse goes one step too far and puts you or your children in danger, you likely won’t have time to pack up what’s most necessary before walking out the door. If you are worried that your spouse may become too violent for your safety but aren’t ready to leave, consider some small preparations. Just in case an episode gets out of control, these small measures can be a lifeline.

Stay Safe by Planning Ahead

Don’t assume one incident will be the only time a spouse loses control. If your spouse has made you afraid once and you fear another such eventuality, take these precautions ahead of time.

  • Keep a digital record. You may not have time or access to your home to retrieve social security cards, birth certificates, or bank statements. Take photos of these important documents to keep stored on a device. You will eventually need the originals, but, in the meantime, having evidence of these documents as well as their information may be crucial to your next steps.

 

  • Leave a bag with a friend. Some situations mean you should immediately walk out the door – even the time to snatch a pre-packed bag may be scarce. To avoid the fear of needing to walk out with nothing but the shoes on your feet, prepare a bag with an extra set of car keys, some clothes, cash (if available – but don’t let lack of money keep you in a dangerous relationship), medications, and a prepaid phone. Leave the bag with a trusted friend in case you need to get out fast.

 

  • Memorize phone numbers. An abusive partner might take your phone, or you may need to leave before you can grab it. Even if you are able to leave with your phone in hand, many smartphones are easily tracible. If you share a phone plan with your partner, access to that technology may be easy for your partner to get. Instead of revealing your location by using your phone, have the phone numbers of at least one friend and the Women’s Center in your head. Our number is 906-226-6611.

If you are actively planning to leave an abusive situation, you may consider further measures to ensure you and your possessions are safe. Slowly packing, stashing away funds, and planning for your next living situation are a few things to consider. Creating a safety plan is a great first step. If you need a computer, consider using the library’s or a friend’s. The personal computer in your home may expose information to your spouse about your plans or your future living arrangements.

Call for Help If You Are Scared of Your Spouse

No one should live in fear. If you are in an abusive relationship, it’s best to get help immediately. However, if danger is a possibility and you haven’t been able to leave, prepare ahead. Take these steps if you have reason to believe your partner might become unexpectedly violent. For more help on next steps when you are ready to leave, contact Marquette’s Women’s Center. Find shelter, counseling, career help, and more when you need it most.