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domestic violence

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For many people, staying at home has provided some sense of safety during the coronavirus pandemic. But for Michigan residents who live under the threat of domestic violence, staying home during an especially stressful time feels anything but safe.

Shelters that take in victims and their children are trying to protect their guests on multiple levels right now. People fearing abuse at home arrive at shelters where group settings present an increased risk of COVID-19 exposure.

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Today on Stateside, we talk to a Republican state senator who says that Governor Whitmer’s extension of the emergency stay at home order goes too far. Plus, how students with disabilities who rely on schools for important services are faring at home. 

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Public health experts say in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, it's essential for people to stay home and stay healthy. But for those living with an abusive partner or family member, the danger inside the home may be as threatening as the risk outside of it.

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Everytown for Gun Safety

Hundreds of volunteers gathered at the state Capitol on Tuesday morning. Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action advocated for two bills; one would make it illegal in Michigan for convicted domestic abusers to own or buy firearms. The other is meant to close the "boyfriend gap," which makes it harder to convict abusers who are not married to their victims.

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Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy has charged 34th District Court Judge David Parrott with domestic violence assault and battery.

General Motors

Today on Stateside, bribes, kickbacks, lavish spending of union dues and federal bailout money. We hear about the recent Detroit News investigation that revealed years of corruption orchestrated by Fiat Chrysler and UAW leaders. Plus, a domestic abuse survivor who became an activist focused on preventing relationship violence among young people.  

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Courtesy of the Mosaic Youth Theatre

 

 

Today on Stateside, we talk to a state senator who wants to see Michigan enact so-called "red flag laws," which allow police to seize firearms from those deemed a threat to themselves or others. Plus, Detroit’s Mosaic Youth Theatre revives one of its most popular productions in honor of Motown Records' 60th birthday.

 

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Kalamazoo County is taking a new approach to address domestic violence.

The county unveiled its plan for a "trauma court" on Monday. It's a program that would consider the past trauma and abuse that perpetrators of domestic violence have experienced in their lives, operating under the idea that "hurt people hurt people." 

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Advocates for victims of domestic violence say a new federal law will help Michigan women looking for help for themselves and their pets.

The Pet and Women Safety, or PAWS Act, was signed into law in December. It allocates funds to domestic violence shelters and expands protections to include survivors’ pets.

Studies have found a quarter to a third of domestic violence victims delay leaving their abuser out of fear for their pets.

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Intimate partner violence occurs just as often in relationships between two men as it does between men and women. That's according to a new study from the University of Michigan's Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities.

 

The study enrolled 160 couples. Forty-six percent of the 320 men in the study reported that they had experienced some form of intimate partner violence within the prior year. That includes physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, and controlling behavior.

Nicole Beverly
Stateside Staff / Michigan Radio

Lawmakers in Lansing are focused on giving some crime victims more rights and protections.

Governor Rick Snyder will have to decide if convicted criminals should be required to listen to their victims in court. The legislation, on its way to his desk, is in response to a defendant who was convicted of killing a woman – but who left the courtroom during the family’s statements.

“For me, it’s a matter of putting victims first,” said bill sponsor Holly Hughes, R-Montague. “Putting humanity first is the principal of all this and making sure you do the right thing.”

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There’s an important part of the national conversation about violence against women that hasn’t received as much attention as it deserves: the role of men and boys in preventing domestic violence.

Nicole Beverly
Stateside Staff / Michigan Radio

The torrent of death threats made an impression on the Washtenaw County jury because on Tuesday, that jury convicted Kevin Beverly of felonies for extorting and intimidating his ex-wife, Nicole.

Nicole Beverly first spoke with Stateside last summer. On Stateside, we heard her story of years of terrifying abuse, stalking, and threats from her ex, Kevin – including threats made while he was in prison, serving a five year sentence on a 2012 conviction for stalking Nicole.

portrait of Brian Kischnick
City of Troy

The Troy city council voted unanimously to fire its city manager after a closed-door session March 11.

Clawson police charged Brian Kischnick with domestic assault and battery. He’s accused of tackling a woman to the ground after a dinner party Friday night.

Kischnick has denied the charges and in a handwritten statement, he called the incident a “misunderstanding.”

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The #MeToo movement has launched us into a national discussion about sexual harassment, especially harassment and assault committed by men in the workplace.

Shervin Assari, an assistant professor of psychiatry and public health at the University of Michigan, believes we should also be talking about another aspect of sexual assault that happens at home, behind closed doors: forced sex in intimate relationships.

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Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking would get more support under a package of five bills introduced in the state House.

Supporters say the goal of the legislation is to fill gaps in state law that leave survivors without adequate protection.

"Every survivor should have the resources they need to put their lives back on track without fear of intimidation as the try to move forward," said Rep. Kristy Pagan, D-Canton.

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The argument that bad guys will always find a way to get guns, so gun laws don’t help, doesn’t appear to apply to intimate partner homicides.

Nicole Beverly
Stateside Staff / Michigan Radio

Update October 20, 9:30 a.m.:

Nicole Beverly took the stand yesterday to testify against her ex-husband, and saw the man who has threatened her life and the lives of their sons for the first time since he was sent to prison for stalking her in 2012.

After her testimony, Ann Arbor District Judge Karen Quinlan Valvo ruled that there is sufficient evidence for Kevin Beverly to stand trial against the new charges brought forward by Attorney General Bill Schuette. Those charges include witness intimidation and extortion.

Nicole Beverly
Stateside Staff / Michigan Radio

There's been an important development in the story of Nicole Beverly.

Beverly is the Ypsilanti mom who spoke to Stateside last month, describing the abuse she's suffered from her ex-husband Kevin Beverly even as he's been serving a five-year prison sentence for aggravated stalking.

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Stories like that of Nicole Beverly, whose abusive husband is set to be released from prison in August despite alleged threats to kill her and her children, are nothing new for Barbara Niess-May, executive director of SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor.

“Her story is common, in that there are many survivors who find themselves needing to relocate because of the assailant,” Niess-May said. “What’s uncommon is the fact that she has gone public with her story.”

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“All she wanted to do was leave.”

 

That’s how Barbara Niess-May, executive director of SafeHouse Center in Ann Arbor, described the case of Francine Hughes of Dansville, Michigan.

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Yes, this is a real thing.

But if you've never heard of reproductive coercion before, you're not alone.

It's a dimension of domestic and intimate partner violence that's only recently been recognized by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And researchers just started studying it in the last 15 years or so.

Heather McCauley, an epidemiologist and an assistant professor at Michigan State University, says she first heard about it through a colleague.

SafeHouse Center director Barbara Niess-May told us community is key in preventing domestic violence and protecting victims.
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A couple of weeks ago in Dearborn Heights, four children were killed and their mother was bound, slashed with a box cutter and shot in the foot.

The man charged with the crime is her husband. The same man murdered his previous wife in 1991.

To talk about the best ways to hold domestic violence assailants accountable and keeping victims or potential victims safe, we turned to Barbara Niess-May, director of SafeHouse Center in Washtenaw County.

Humble Design

Humble Design has come a long way from its humble beginnings in the garage of its co-founder, Treger Strasberg.

Strasberg got the idea for the non-profit after a co-worker and her children became homeless. 

After some time in a shelter, the family found a house to rent. But they had almost no possessions.  Strasberg recalls visiting the home and being shocked at how they had to live.

"(They made) little nests on the floor of where they were going to sleep with their coats and their clothing," she says, "and (they had) no furniture at all."

Chuong Le

A new law will help victims of domestic violence get out of shared cell phone plans with their accused abusers. Prior to this law, victims did not have a way to cancel or change their cell phone plans unless they were the primary account holder. Under the new law, victims who have a personal protection order would be able to get a court order from a judge to cancel or transfer their cell phone or data plan that they share with an accused abuser. 

Carla Blinkhorn, CEO of the YWCA West Central Michigan, says cell phones can be dangerous for individuals in a violent relationship.

Domestic violence bills clear Michigan Legislature

Apr 20, 2016
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A bipartisan  package of bills that would increase protections for domestic violence victims in Michigan is heading to Gov. Rick Snyder for signature.

"I think we have antiquated domestic violence laws in Michigan," said State Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, sponsor of one of the bills. "And I think this is a first step to righting the ship and making things right."

One bill in the package would allow victims to include their pets in personal protection orders. 

Kosowski said abusers often threaten  family pets as a means of controlling their victims.

Uniting Three Fires Against Violence advocacy organization logo.
Uniting Three Fires Against Violence

The Next Idea

How does a community address domestic violence and sexual assault when calling the police is not often an option?

This is the question facing Native communities in Michigan, according to Lori Jump and Rachel Carr of the advocacy group Uniting Three Fires Against Violence.

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Victims' rights advocates say Michigan lags behind some other states when it comes to laws meant to keep guns from domestic abusers.

  More than a dozen states have taken steps in the past two years to strengthen laws that would keep guns from domestic abusers. But Michigan State University legal expert April Zeoli says Michigan has no law to ensure those barred by a judge from owning guns in domestic violence cases don't have them.

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Headlined "Love Does Not Hit," a wanted poster has been released by Silent Observer, a Grand Rapids crime-stopper organization, to bring attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The poster shows 24 people with outstanding arrest warrants on domestic violence charges in the Kent County cities of Grand Rapids and Wyoming.

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Women are being arrested more frequently than they were 20 years ago.

A new study from Michigan State University says arrests have increased 26.7% since 1993, while arrests for violent crimes have jumped 53.2%.

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