Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape, and Domestic Violence Quarterly Newsletter
The Director’s Desk
Happy Fall! I am looking forward to this new season, mainly because of cooler weather (please!) and Razorback football (WPS!), but also for the opportunity to highlight and share about our partners that are working on the frontlines in the fight against Domestic Violence across Arkansas. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and many of the shelters around the state will be involved in activities that will bring awareness to their communities about Domestic Violence and what we all can do to help prevent it and how to support the survivors. Please make an effort to reach out to your local shelters this month to see what you may be able to learn about their efforts to combat domestic violence in your city or county, and how you may be able to help them in those efforts.
Sara Rudolph-Pollard, our Domestic Violence Prevention Coordinator, and I have resumed our visits to the shelters around the state after a break over the summer. We had an amazing visit to the shelter in Batesville in August and I was truly impressed with all the great work that they are able to do for those they serve. They have wonderful support from their community and it shows in the services they are able to consistently provide. I look forward to a future visit with them to hear about using their new location to better serve their clients, and I look forward to our visits to other shelters throughout the state.
I am excited to announce that we have hired a new Child Welfare Ombudsman and thrilled that it is Stasia McDonald. I have known Stasia since our juvenile court days when we were both new lawyers. She comes to us from the state Attorney ad Litem office, where she has been the Director since 2018. Before that, she was with ACCARDV as the MDT State Coordinator. I know she will do a fantastic job serving our children and families involved in the child welfare system and working to make the system better. As the first Child Welfare Ombudsman for Arkansas, I am so grateful to hand the reins over to someone as experienced and passionate about child welfare as Stasia.
ACCARDV will be releasing our Child Abuse Prevention RFP again in October. Organizations can apply for two grants, one that focuses on primary prevention ($10,000) and one that focuses on secondary prevention ($50,000). Sherry Williamson did excellent training on proposals that support the development or expansion of child abuse and neglect prevention programs by utilizing primary or secondary prevention to increase protective factors in families and communities. It was inspiring to hear of programs already doing this by increasing the protective factors that strengthen families. We look forward to seeing what organizations across the fields of child welfare, sexual assault prevention, and domestic violence prevention submit. We were able to award grants to some incredible programs last year that encompassed all three of our discipline fields, and I do not doubt that this year’s submissions will be just as great. Look for the release of the RFP in mid-to-late October. If you have questions before then, please get in touch with me or Sherry Williamson.
Domestic Violence Division
“Domestic violence is not a new phenomenon. Unfortunately, violence within families and households, especially directed toward women and children, has existed since the beginning of recorded history. Still more troubling is the fact that laws throughout history have often ignored, or even supported, this kind of violence. In fact, it was seen as a justifiable punishment by an abuser to keep their women and children under control”.
“Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, ‘involves the physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse of one person by another in order to intimidate, humiliate or frighten‘ and thereby maintain power and control. In modern times, we have become far less tolerant of domestic violence in our laws as well as in our attitudes. However, as a society, we are still burdened by hundreds of years of negative precedence. Some cultural and belief systems in contemporary American culture still harbor troubling attitudes about family relations and domestic violence. Even more alarming are the statistics. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
We have seen many social and cultural changes throughout history. Is it possible that these advancements have left the pervasive problem of domestic violence behind? How much has truly changed over the centuries? The following article will explore the historical timeline of domestic violence. We will see what has changed and then discuss ways to seek help if you or someone you love is experiencing domestic violence.”
Domestic Violence Awareness Month Activities
The Haven of Northeast AR – Blytheville, AR
9/30/22 – Proclamation Day
A day for the governing officials throughout Mississippi County to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month – Gazebo at Walker Park, Blytheville, AR @ 10 AM
10/4/22 – Candlelight Vigil
To remember those who have lost their lives to domestic violence and honor the survivors of domestic violence – Blytheville Prayer Garden, 1st Christian Church, 600 West Walnut Street, Blytheville, AR @ 6 PM
10/6/22 – “Respect in Relationship
Lunch and Learn Series – Arkansas Northeastern College @ 11 AM
10/8/22 – Blytheville Chili Cook-Off
In front of the Outreach Office, 107 W. Main Street, Blytheville, AR, Info Booth from 10 AM – 4 PM
10/8/22 – 5K Run/Walk Against Domestic Violence
The race is timed by Agee Timing-Jonesboro – Ribbons & Trophies will be presented for each age group and overall winners – “Fastest Badge in the County” trophy for the fastest officer’s time – Registration is OPEN @ www.thehavenofneainc.org
10/17-20/22 – Awareness Projects
(on loan from Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence)
Clothesline Project – Recognizing Arkansans who have lost their lives to domestic violence over the past ten years Arkansas Northeastern College – 2501 S. Division, Blytheville, AR, Adams/Vine Gallery from 9 AM – 6 PM
**9am-12noon on 10/20/22**
Silent Witness Project – Recognizing known Arkansans who have lost their lives to domestic violence in 2021 – Mississippi County Library – 200 N. 5th Street, Blytheville, AR – During Normal Library Hours
**Until 12noon on 10/20/22**
Women’s Crisis Center of South Arkansas – Camden, AR
10/8/2022 – 4th ANNUAL COLOR FUN RUN
Start of Race: Women’s Crisis Center Business Office – 1112 West Washington @ 8:00 AM
Registration fee: $30 adult & $20 child
Registration forms are available at the WCCSA Business Office and are due by September 20th – For more info, call 870-836-0375.
10/18/22 – “Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Abuse”
Arkansas Northeastern College – Adams/Vines Recital Hall @ 5 PM
Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter – Rogers, AR
10/22/22 – Monte Carlo Casino Night
DoubleTree Suites in Bentonville
For more info or tickets, folks can visit www.nwaws.org/fresh-start-2022
Margie’s Haven House, Inc. – Heber Springs, AR
10/1 – 10/31 – Purple Lights Nights
People are asked to put a purple porch light on every night of the month of October. Communicated through social media by asking the community to wear purple and tag Margie’s Haven House in their social media pictures.
10/1/22 – 10/31/2022 – Facebook Post
Facebook posts to spread awareness of Domestic Violence.
10/20/22 – National Purple Thursday
Promoted by asking the community to wear purple and tag Margie’s Haven House in their social media pictures.
10/24/22 -Domestic Violence Awareness Day
Cleburne County Judge has declared October 24th DV awareness day in Cleburne county, AR. Proclamation signed in 2019.
Turning Point of South Arkansas – El Dorado, AR
10/3/2022 – Drive Through Donation Day
Old City Park – 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM – Need Paper towels, toilet tissue, dish detergent, & laundry detergent
10/4/2022 – Proclamation Day
Guest Speakers: Mayor Veronica Creer & Chief Hickman – Union County Courthouse – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
10/7/2022 – Post it Purple Day
Tag Turning Point on all of your social media posts – #turningpoint
Serenity, Inc. – Mountain Home, AR
10/1/2022 – 10/31/2022
Clothesline project on the town square for the month of October
Serenity is hiding purple tokens around our area with DV facts on them. The people that find them will have the opportunity to post the fact on Facebook, tag us, and win a prize.
10/14/2022 – 10/17/2022
ACADV’s silent witness project at the shelter
As mentioned in last quarter’s newsletter Laura and I (Sara Rudolph-Pollard) are visiting the shelters around the state and it has been nothing short of wonderful to see firsthand the great work that is being done. Below is a letter we received from Billie Grady, ED at Family Violence Prevention.
September 13, 2022
Family Violence Prevention, Inc. would like to take a moment to thank Sara[h] [Rudolph] Pollard and Laura Robertson for taking time out of their busy schedules to visit our organization.
Being able to sit with two ladies who understand this line of work was such a wonderful moment for us. We started the day out with a few snacks in our new building that we hope to use for training and staff events before heading out to our site visits.
We stopped by our Safe Haven Women’s Shelter first, where Sarah and Laura had a chance to tour the residence and speak with our child advocate on hand. Then we went to the Taylor House Men’s Shelter before stopping by our Fresh Start Resale Shop.
During the visit, we had such a fun time talking and just learning about the struggles and triumphs that we have seen during our time working with domestic violence victims.
I know we learned so much from them, and can’t wait to visit again.
Sexual Assault Prevention Division
With autumn approaching (though certainly far slower than I’d prefer), I can’t help but think of college. Maybe it’s because of the beginning of college football season. Perhaps it’s because my alma mater frequently posts photos of campus in fall colors. Maybe it’s simply because Fall was always that part of the semester where things felt like they were falling into place. Regardless of the reason, the season serves as an important reminder of campus safety issues, some of the existing solutions, and ways for students to advocate for their well-being.
Campus sexual assault is a distressing and pervasive issue, with 13% of all college students experiencing it. While college-aged women are at three times the risk of rape compared to all women, it is essential to note that the risk is 20% higher for non-students than students. The picture isn’t much better for men, with male students between 18 and 24 having a 78% greater risk of rape and sexual assault than non-students. Furthermore, 23.1% of trans, genderqueer, or nonconforming college students are victims of sexual assault. Of even more significant concern is that among college-aged female victims, students are less likely to report than non-students (RAINN). This statistic is particularly sobering because rape is the most underreported crime in the US. Because of this, we must understand how to address campus sexual violence and improve students’ access to justice.
The primary tool used to combat campus sexual violence is Title IX, which requires that schools receiving federal funds protect students from all forms of gender-based violence and harassment from ensuring equal access to education. Not only does Title IX protect students facing sexual violence, but it also protects against intimate partner violence. Suppose the violence and harassment hinder a student’s access to their education and are perpetrated by someone under the authority of the school. In that case, that school is required to do something about it (ACLU). It is also important to note that Title IX is not replacing the criminal justice system. Instead, it is a different system by which victims can seek justice. However, much of Title IX is out of students’ hands, which begs the question: what can students do to advocate for themselves and make their campuses safer?
Fortunately, organizations like Know Your IX have made it their mission to assist students in grassroots organizing to improve the state of campus safety and advocate for change. Know Your IX provides detailed, extensive policy playbooks at the campus, state, and federal levels that students can use to address various aspects of gender-based violence. In particular, there are many policies and strategies to prevent gender-based violence. This is especially exciting as we at the Commission are uniquely situated to utilize these methods and foster and support existing campus movements to prevent gender-based violence. One of those current efforts is being undertaken by the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which offers technical assistance and education for Title IX staff on campuses in Arkansas.
Sexual Assault Prevention Division – Human Trafficking
Melanie Mata – Chair of the Committee on Rape and Sexual Assault Prevention
Recent grant funding of 6.2 million dollars, over five years, was awarded to ACASA through their anti-human trafficking program. Shannon Holman Anti-Human Trafficking Program Director – ACASA has been spearheading this project. The state has been divided into 12 regions. With this funding, all regions will have an anti-human trafficking specialist assigned to assist with getting adult victims needed resources/services. Currently, there are 10 regions who have an anti-human trafficking specialist assigned. The other two regions will have their specialist hired within the next couple of months. The Advisory Council for Human Trafficking will begin to meet again around mid-October. This council includes each region’s anti-human trafficking specialist and several non-profit organizations throughout the state who are working with victims. Through ACASA Anti-Human Trafficking Program, Annie Smith with University of Arkansas School of Law, was consulted to look at where the state is regarding the implementation of the 19 recommendations set forth through the Arkansas Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking done in 2014. The rough draft has been done but will not be released until officially reviewed. All trafficking cases involving minors are to be followed through the Child Advocacy Centers as outlined in ACT 975. Future projects will incorporate which 2014 Task Force recommendations need more focus and development of a state human trafficking registry for accuracy of data collection.
Child Welfare Division
As the season begins to change, I look forward to the coming months and am reminded that November is National Adoption Month. We adopted a sibling group from foster care several years ago, and the boys came home to us during the month of November after we met them in October at a DCFS picnic. November is a big deal in my family.
During the most recent annual reporting period, we had more than 117,000 children in foster care waiting to be adopted in the United States. That is the combined population of North Little Rock, Benton, and Bryant. This is not acceptable, and we can all do something about it. We are not all cut out to be adoptive parents, but we can all do something to help foster and adoptive families. We can support them so they do not give up. We can help them so they can stay engaged.
I remember in the earliest days of going from a family of two to a family of five overnight how much it meant to me when I got a random message from a friend asking for our physical address and what we wanted on our pizza. I cried. Something as simple as taking that one decision off my mind that day gave me a little more much-needed patience. You could offer to run errands for a foster or adoptive family with new kiddos. Sometimes it is more helpful to hear a concrete offer… “Do you have anything I can pick up for you? Groceries? Prescriptions? Dry cleaning?”
We had a fantastic support system- personally and professionally- and we needed it. We had friends, family, supervisors, and co-workers who jumped into action sometimes before we knew we needed help. If you see the need for foster and adoptive families but do not feel it is something you can do, you can provide support for someone directly engaged in the process. If you do not know a foster or newly adoptive family who could use your support, please reach out, and I will help you find one. I hope you will consider honoring National Adoption Month by becoming a support to a family who needs it. I speak from experience when I say it makes all the difference in the world.
Name: Stasia Burk McDonald
Hometown: I grew up in Dallas, Tx
Role: Child Welfare Ombudsman
UAMS: I was previously employed by UAMS at the Commission from 2007-2018 as the MDT Project Coordinator. I started as the Ombudsman on September 6, 2022.
Away from work: I serve on a few committees at church and am involved in settling refugees from Afghanistan. I love true crime documentaries, reading, cooking, and spending time with my family.
Joy: Helping others
Favorite Vacation: I love visiting cities, especially new ones I have not been to before.
Domestic Violence Committee Meeting Invitation
This announcement is your invitation to join the Domestic Violence Committee for its quarterly meeting at noon on October 17, 2022
The Commission is excited to announce that we are taking steps to start a domestic violence fatality review team here in Arkansas! Our first step is to hear from the fatality review team expert, Neil Websdale, Ph.D. Neil is the Director of the newly formed Family Violence Institute at Northern Arizona University and the Director of the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative (NDVFRI). He has published work on domestic violence, the history of crime, policing, social change, and public policy. In 2002, Neil won the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences Outstanding Book Award and the Gustavus-Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Award. His social policy work involves helping establish networks of domestic violence fatality review teams across the United States and elsewhere. His extensive fatality review work has contributed to NDVFRI receiving the prestigious 2015 Mary Byron Foundation Celebrating Solutions Award. He has also worked on issues related to community policing, full faith and credit, and risk assessment and management in domestic violence cases. Dr. Websdale trained as a sociologist at the University of London, England, and currently lives and works in Flagstaff, Arizona.
What is a Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team: Domestic violence fatality review refers to the “deliberative process for identification of deaths, both homicide, and suicide, caused by domestic violence, for examination of the systemic interventions into known incidents of domestic violence occurring in the family of the deceased before the death, for consideration of altered systemic response to avert future domestic violence deaths, or for development of recommendations for coordinated community prevention and intervention initiatives to eradicate domestic violence.” This deliberative process can be formal or informal, relatively superficial, offering basic demographic details of victims and perpetrators, or very detailed (Barbara Hart).
If the above Zoom link does not work, contact Sara Rudolph-Pollard at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward the Zoom link to you.