Thursday, October 12, 2006

When Programs To Protect Victims Fail

In so many cases of violence against women, the systems that victims interact with or that are designed to help victims are designed by people who have no first hand insight into the problem they are trying to deal with or well-designed programs get approved but then become little more than a shell because there isn't a political need to provide effective programs.

We wouldn't allow a highway system to be designed with no one on the design team who will ever go on those roads and no one who has gone on the existing roads. We also wouldn't spend millions to build roads and then have little or no funding to keep the roads in good repair and expect everyone to say the system works well.

So why would anyone not be outraged over the experience Holly Desimone had with the NIVA PROGRAM, New Identities for Victims of Abuse? She applied for the program before the end of 2000 and withdrew from the program this year because she couldn't take living in limbo any longer. More than 5 years is too long to be under consideration for a program like this.

I don't want to blame those who sincerely are trying their best to make the system work with the resources they've been given. The problems may be heartbreaking to those who truly care. Some people are put into positions beyond their skills and have little chance of helping victims and survivors effectively and respectfully. Other officials may have goals which don't mesh with the needs the program was created to address.

Often those who are suspicious of programs that help people insist on putting so much red tape into the process (so no one can abuse the system) that they effectively cripple the system and waste more money than those intent on fraud ever could. But one woman who lied about being abused is bigger news than millions of dollars wasted keeping that one woman out of the system. The women and children who are hurt because they didn't get the help they needed may not be seen as tied in any way to systemic failures designed to help victims.

What sense does it make that one woman who wanted into a protective program couldn't get in before the limbo became untenable while another woman felt unduly pushed into the program and now faces an uncertain future?

Another related issue is that our criminal justice systems often lets very dangerous people go so that their victims are hunted or don't have the security to know they aren't being hunted.

For those who sympathize with victims and survivors, but who feel the cost of helping them to keep surviving is too high, remember that many of these costs would be lower if more was done by all of us to prevent violence against women.

Finding statistics and reasons to explain why so many women are raped or murdered by the men around them, while insisting men are victims just as often as women are, might make some people feel better about doing nothing, but it is still doing nothing about a problem that can strike close to home with no warning.

The next rape or murder might be committed against a woman you love.

This is only a feminist issue because so many other people have turned their eyes away and try to pretend that the problem is limited to a few rogue individuals who are born to be violent. But the selective use of violence is a learned behavior.

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posted by Marcella Chester @ 1:03 PM   2 comments links to this post


At October 12, 2006 9:40 PM, Blogger Gracchi said...

As a sidelight to your post, with which I completely agree, I was wondering about your one woman who lied (as oppd to the thousands who don't)- if you think about it if that person lied about being raped then they must be psychologically very disturbed, that is a hell of an accusation to make and so putting them in a place where they get help and support isn't such a bad idea.

Overall though I think you are right and helping people even if the criminal charge doesn't make it through the courts because there isn't enough evidence or because guilt can't be proved is a great idea. The fact that guilt wasn't proved doesn't mean that someone hasn't suffered trauma and doesn't imply that guilt should have been proved either.

Incoherent comment I know but I hope the gist is that you are right.

At March 04, 2007 9:03 PM, Blogger Holly said...

Great Carnival Marcella,
Thank you for including my blogs. The awareness continues....

Update for everyone about my experience in the NIVA Program is that the Canadian Border Patrol has stated it deported Ali Rasai. Which leaves only more questions? Thank you for the support. Holly Desimone


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