June 2022 Newsletter

June 2022 Newsletter

MCADV Community Partners:

Article Submitted by Latisha Latiker, Director of Grants Programming, WFM

The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi’s (WFM) mission is economic security for women. We invest in organizations and activities across the state because we know that when women are economically safe and secure – so are their families, and so are their communities. We believe that when women thrive, Mississippi thrives.  WFM is a public foundation and the only statewide grant maker focused on women and girls. We make grants, conduct research, provide education and awareness and advocate for change.   

WFM operates from a social change model that all women should have the opportunity to obtain a degree or credential, good jobs with benefits, and plan their pregnancies.  Women and families who have experienced domestic violence can restart their lives when they have access to programs and services that lead to a path of opportunity.  Many of the programs and initiatives that the Foundation funds through its grant focus areas can be a benefit to women starting over.  WFM focuses on Access to Opportunity (2-year degree/credential/skills training), two-generation approach, and reproductive wellness/health women to advance its mission of economic security. Under the Access to Opportunity grant focus area, the Foundation strategically partners with most of the state’s community colleges to fund programs that address the needs of women by providing funds for wrap around serves such as assistance with childcare, food, rental assistance and other barriers that prevent graduation.  Currently the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi is partnering with the Bower Foundation and selective community colleges and four-year universities to specifically increase the healthcare workforce in Mississippi.  Through the Two-Generation grant focus area, the Foundation works with community-based organizations and community colleges to provide programs that focus on economically vulnerable families and directly address the needs of parents and their children simultaneously in a holistic way.  Finally, WFM’s Reproductive Wellness/Health Women focus area funds community-based reproductive health programs, access to adolescent health services/teen health clinics, and access to contraception and research.  

The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi also addresses advocacy issues that directly impact women and their families.  The Foundation sponsors the Women’s Policy Institute. The Mississippi Women’s Policy Institute (WPI) is a program designed to train community-based leaders in Mississippi in public policy advocacy. The goal of WPI is to increase the number and capacity of visionary leaders, their organizations and/or their communities so that they can actively shape and implement policies that affect the lives of women in Mississippi. Recently one of WFM’s Policy Fellows was placed with the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence to specifically work with the Coalition on state domestic violence policies and laws. 

The Women’s Foundation of Mississippi understands that it takes a lot of support for women to restart their lives after experiencing domestic abuse.  Women need access to an education, wrap around services and health care (especially reproductive health care), as well as state policies that help women secure economic security. The Foundation funds community-based organizations, community colleges, and four-year colleges and advocates for policies that address some of those needs. WFM encourages everyone to view our website to learn more about the programs funded and supported policy initiatives. Follow us on social media for current updates on our work to promote economic security for women. 

Reaching Victims Where They Are

Servicing Victims with Disabilities

Hagar’s House

Many victims of domestic violence flee the familiarity of their homes in search of safety. Some leave with no money and no idea of what to do next, leading to a feeling of vulnerability. This can be magnified when the victim has a disability. Domestic violence shelters are charged with providing safety and services to help victims begin their journey to becoming survivors. This must be done with compassion and understanding of the needs of each individual. This is especially true when servicing victims with disabilities. Domestic violence shelters must have the capacity to assist any client, regardless of their physical or mental limitations, to truly be able to effectively service their community.

Hagar’s House, located in central Mississippi, is a safe haven for women and children who are homeless due to domestic violence or human trafficking. They provide emergency shelter, temporary housing, and supportive services, to help women become empowered and self-sufficient. During a 30-day program, victims are assisted through a crisis phase, given job training, and are provided access to professional counseling for themselves and their children. Staff members ensure that residents are seen by doctors when necessary and get any needed evaluations. Clients are able to access and continue taking prescribed medication through the Hagar’s House medication management process. Specific staff members are trained to be knowledgeable of and distribute all medication.

Hagar’s House is experienced in servicing clients with physical and mental disabilities. Shelter manager Aleicha Carter understands that trauma does not just affect those that are able bodied. Individuals with disabilities are at a disadvantage and she ensures that services are modified to assist those who are not as able as others. Hagar’s House continues to make changes based on requests from clients such as making sure hallways and bathroom doors are widened for clients in wheelchairs. Carter ensures that visually impaired clients are comfortable by confirming they work with the same staff member throughout their transitional process so that they are comfortable in knowing they are not divulging personal information to someone that should not be privy to it.

Aleicha Carter finds that regularly observing her clients affords her the best way to provide individualized treatment. In one instance, she saw that a client was complaining about pain and having trouble getting in and out of bed. The shelter normally provides bunkbeds to utilize spacing and this client had mobility issues. Carter quickly reached out to community partners to obtain and install an individual bed with a lower frame for her client. They were now able to get in and out of bed with ease and had a better quality of sleep.

Graduating more than 77 clients since their founding, Hagar’s House has proven that they are able to effectively service victims in need, regardless of their mental or physical capability. They continuously answer the call to help their clients reach their full potential. Carter shared, “It feels good when I see that a person is no longer dependent and has transitioned to being self-sufficient and economically empowered. I am blessed that God allows me to be a part of their journey of getting to that next level.”

To learn more about Hagar’s House, click here to visit their website.

Get On The Inside TRAC!

Advocates Coffee Break:
Applying the Learning

The Power of Pronouns

One of the cornerstones of Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence is providing training about domestic violence. It is our goal that victim advocates participating in Advocate Coffee Breaks will be proactive and better prepared to provide culturally specific services when survivors from diverse backgrounds seek their services.  The greater question is always, “What happens after the Advocate Coffee Break?”  Attending the session is just the beginning. The success is the application of the learning in their daily work and interactions with the victims, survivors, and the community. 

A message that has been addressed by several Advocate Coffee Break presenters regarding LGBTQIA+ communities is the use of pronouns.  Pronouns are the way that we refer to people in place of their name.  When you use someone’s correct pronouns, it serves to create an inclusive environment where you demonstrate that you care for and respect them. Some best practices we can apply immediately are: 

  • Don’t assume someone’s pronouns just by looking at them
  • Introduce yourself and provide your pronouns. This is a small gesture that establishes that you are respective of honoring one’s identity. By opening the conversation with your pronouns, you are signaling to the other person that you are familiar with the concept of pronouns and may be safe to talk to, particularly if you’re speaking to a member of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, you are increasing the normalcy of sharing of pronouns in public spaces and interactions. 
  • If you make a mistake and use the wrong pronoun for someone, apologize, use the correct pronoun, and proceed. Avoid dragging out the apology and making the other person comfort you for your mistake.
  • Include pronouns in your email signature, bios, and name tents.  This normalizes the idea of sharing one’s personal pronouns, making it easier for trans and gender non-conforming people to do it without feeling like the odd one out.
  • Avoid using the word “preferred” in front of pronouns because it insinuates that the pronouns are optional. Instead, say “my pronouns are” or “their pronouns are”.

Using the power of pronouns and chosen names for good helps to remove walls of isolation and build relationships of inclusion and equity.  It affirms a person’s identity and personal conception of their true selves. To deny someone of their preferred name and pronouns would be the equivalent of denying them their identity.  Successful “learning” is when it can be applied to benefit or improve a situation. Let’s continue to improve our society by applying the learning and normalizing and embracing pronouns.  

Gun Violence and Domestic Violence: The Boyfriend Loophole

Guns and domestic violence are a lethal combination. Intimate partner violence and gun violence have been uniquely linked, impacting millions of communities across the country. Studies have shown that abusers with firearms are five times more likely to kill their victims. They often use guns to inflict emotional abuse and exert coercive control over their victims. Every month, an average of 57 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner.

One of the most significant threats to victims of domestic violence is a perpetrator’s access to firearms. Firearms are the primary weapon of choice in most domestic violence homicides. When abusers have access to firearms, a survivor’s life is in danger. Limiting abusers and stalkers’ access to firearms is critical to reduce the number of women murdered in this country every year. Unfortunately, state and federal laws make it easy for domestic violence offenders to obtain guns.

Gun safety laws can save lives by restricting access to firearms by people with a demonstrated history of domestic violence and abuse. The Lautenberg Amendment, adopted in 1996, prohibits people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from buying or owning guns. However, federal law does not require a background check to be performed before every sale of a gun, including sales by unlicensed, private sellers. This allows people who would fail a firearm background check due to their domestic violence record to find private sellers for access to guns. Additionally, current federal law does not prohibit people convicted of misdemeanor stalking crimes from having guns. Many states have adopted laws that fill gaps in federal law by more thoroughly restricting access to firearms and ammunition to people who commit domestic abuse. But there are still critical matters that need to be addressed such as the Boyfriend Loophole.

Unmarried partners can also be victims of domestic violence. Because of a gap in federal gun laws, abusers who are convicted of a domestic violence crime against their dating partners are still legally eligible to access a gun. This is known as the Boyfriend Loophole. An exception is made only if the partners have lived together or if they have a child together. In the United States, an average of 70 women are killed by an intimate partner. Almost half of the shooters had dated, but not married their victims.  (1)

The Violence Against Women Act Reauthorization of 2022 was signed in March. Unfortunately, it did not address the Boyfriend Loophole. Federal law failed to include dating partners convicted of a domestic violence offence in gun ownership restrictions. The National Rifle Association’s (NRA) public position on closing the Boyfriend Loophole is that “it’s an attempt to increase gun control by Democrats.” (2) Other opponents fear that closing the loophole would be retroactive, implying that criminal punishment would be based on actions that occurred before the loophole was closed.

Removing gun access reduces the chances of escalation of a domestic violence incident. Having barriers in place may deter an abuser from acting on their urge to kill their partner. Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Missouri, and Alabama have the highest firearm mortality rates in the country, according to the CDC. Studies have shown that stricter gun laws in a state are related to its lower level of gun violence. Laws that favor background checks for ammunition purchases, bans on assault rifles, or identification for firearms could have an impact on firearm mortality. Until the issue of gun violence is addressed and followed up with strong action plans, Mississippi’s firearm mortality rate will continue to rise.

This publication was funded in whole or part through support from Grant No. 15JOVW21GG00719STAT, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice from the Violence Against Women Act Grant. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Justice.

Author Tara Steverson. Copyright Right 2022. MCADV.org

RedRover + Purina’s Purple Leash Project Team with Greater Good Charities to Enable Domestic Violence Shelter to Welcome More Pets

RedRover + Purina’s Purple Leash Project Team with Greater Good Charities to Enable Domestic Violence Shelter to Welcome More Pets

We’re pleased to announce that $40,000 in grants provided by Greater Good Charities, BI Cares, and the Purple Leash Project will allow Domestic Abuse Family Shelter to expand onsite housing for the animal victims of domestic abuse. The Purple Leash Project is a partnership between RedRover and Purina with a goal of ensuring there is at least one pet-friendly domestic violence shelter in every state by the end of 2020. There are only two states remaining — Hawaii and Rhode Island — that do not have a pet-friendly domestic violence shelter.

Rescue Rebuild, a program of Greater Good Charities, will greatly expand the pet-friendly spaces at Domestic Abuse Family Shelter. Rescue Rebuild repairs and renovates domestic violence shelters and animal shelters in need all across the nation. Each domestic violence shelter build always includes a variety of indoor and outdoor pet-enrichment spaces to ensure pets can stay active and stimulated while living and healing in their new space.

In collaboration with Purina, RedRover provides Purple Leash Project Safe Housing grants to domestic violence shelters so they can build pet-friendly, co-sheltering spaces for survivors with pets, allowing them to escape abuse and heal together. Currently, 17% of domestic violence shelters in the U.S. allow pets, according to RedRover’s SafePlaceforPets.org database.

“Expanding pet-friendly spaces at domestic violence shelters means that more people and their pets can escape abuse together and heal together. We are proud to partner with Purina and Greater Good Charities to enable Domestic Abuse Family Shelter to welcome more pets into their safe haven,” said RedRover’s President and CEO, Nicole Forsyth.

Over eight days, Rescue Rebuild will install two dog runs and build a carport style structure over the runs to provide dogs protection from the weather. The team will also build a large dog play yard with enrichment equipment such as agility steps and tire tunnels, and install privacy fencing around the building to enable survivors and their pets more bonding time outdoors. The existing cat room will be given a fresh look and filled with cat enrichment equipment to help cats destress. 

Bryna Donnelly, the Director of Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild Program, is always happy to swing a hammer for animals in need but says, “We are super excited to be able to help the amazing team at the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter and all that they are doing to help people and their pets. This is going to be a great space for people to spend quality time with their furry family members.”

“This has been a three-year project. We’re very excited to be able to expand this service for our clients, and we know we will be able to help a lot more people,” said Rebecca Stewart, Executive Director of Domestic Abuse Family Shelter.

About RedRover

Since 1987, RedRover has focused on bringing animals out of crisis and strengthening the human-animal bond through emergency sheltering, disaster relief services, financial assistance, and humane education. Through their RedRover Relief program, they have helped thousands of animals and provided thousands of safe nights across the United States. To learn how RedRover is building a more compassionate future, visit RedRover.org.

About Purina

Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness. Subscribe here to get the latest Purina news.

About Greater Good Charities

Greater Good Charities is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization, with a 100/100 rating on Charity Navigator, that works to amplify the good in the world to improve the health and well-being of people, pets, and the planet.Since 2007, Greater Good Charities has given over $300 million in cash and in-kind grants to over 5,000 charitable partners worldwide and funded projects in 121 countries. To date, Greater Good Charities has provided $18 million in support for COVID-19 disaster-relief, including cash grants, in-kind supplies, and programmatic support. To learn more about how Greater Good Charities is amplifying the good across the globe, please visit greatergood.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

About Domestic Abuse Family Shelter

Domestic Abuse Family Shelter, Inc. is a non-profit agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of abuse. With two shelters in Hattiesburg and Laurel, DAFS serves female and male domestic abuse victims, along with their children and pets, in an 11-county region of southeastern Mississippi. We embrace and serve victims regardless of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

October 2020 Newsletter

October 2020 Newsletter

First observed in October 1981 as a national “Day of Unity,” Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) is held each October as a way to unite domestic violence advocates across the nation in their efforts to end domestic violence. Communities and advocacy organizations across the country connect with the public throughout the month to raise awareness about the signs of abuse and ways to stop it. It’s also an opportunity to uplift domestic violence survivors and provide resources to leaders and policy makers. Domestic violence affects millions, both women and men, of every race, religion, culture and status. It’s not just punches and black eyes. It’s yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats and isolation. It’s stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs online, non-stop texting, constant use of the silent treatment, or calling someone stupid so often they believe it.

This year has been particularly difficult for many people.  Countless challenges, including a global pandemic, have made it extremely difficult for victims to physically escape their abusers or even call for help.  Social distancing precautions made for fewer vacancies at shelters and limited available resources and services available to victims.  However, advocates for domestic violence victims have found creative ways to continue providing the help that these survivors desperately need.*

MCADV has been working diligently to be more visible and bring domestic violence to the forefront of the conversation. We are working closely with advocates and policy makers, providing them with resources and tools needed to help in the fight against domestic violence. MCADV has hosted multiple domestic violence training sessions, educating participants on issues such as domestic violence law, current policies, and understanding advocacy.

On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.* If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, there are resources available to provide help. Advocates and organizations are ready to provide assistance needed to help you move from victim to survivor. Domestic Violence Awareness Month provides an opportunity for all to take a stand to support survivors and speak out against domestic violence. 

*During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Offer a Resource to Somebody in Need of Help

*NCADV National Statistics

Helpful Resources

The National Domestic Violence Hotline

National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV)

Break the Cycle

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence


Federal Advocacy Leads to COVID-19 Relief Package Victory

In early June, MCADV partnered with the National Network to End Domestic Violence for Virtual Advocacy Day with Congressional Leaders. MCADV staff held conversations with congressional staff discussing the importance of providing additional funding and resources to victims and survivors of domestic violence. One of the few talking points included a major federal funding fix on the Victims of Crime Act. On Sept 28th, the U.S. House of Representatives released a smaller COVID-19 relief package, about $1 trillion less than the $3 trillion House passed HEROES Act (H.R. 6800). This new package maintained and even strengthened investments in programs that address gender-based violence, over what was included in the original HEROES Act.  Although this is not the final Covid-19 relief package, it is very exciting to see the U.S. House keep survivors, victims and advocates in mind.

Here’s what the Relief Packages includes:​

  • Victim Of Crimes Act (VOCA) deposits fix – Included in LegislationAdvocates requested a grant matching fix and amendments to the deposit process used to funnel monies into this fund.
  • Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA) – $100 million ($2 million for National DV Hotline);  Advocates’ initial request was $200 million to provide additional resources.
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) programs – Funding Increased
  • Sexual Assault Services Programs (SASP) – $100 millionAdvocates’ initial request $50 million for rape crisis centers
  • STOP formula grants – $100 millionAdvocates’ initial request $222M to improve criminal justice and victim services.
  • Tribal programs – $50 million 
  • Transitional Housing- $40 millionAdvocates’ initial request $42M to bridge gap in emergency housing and permanent housing.
  • Culturally Specific Services – $25 million
  • Outreach to Underserved Communities – $25 million
  • Rural- $20 million
  • Families in the Justice System – $15 million

As news out of Washington seems to change regarding COVID-19 relief package negotiations, it may seem that negotiations are stalled at the moment. It is critical that supporters and advocates continue to let the Senate know just how strongly we support the provisions in the newly passed House HEROES Act. Share you support with your Congressional leaders on TwitterFacebook & Instagram. Take a moment today to celebrate this amazing victory.

For more information email robin.jackson@mcadv.org or contact Policy and Systems Advocacy Coordinator Robin Jackson at 601-981-9196. 

Click Here To Make a Donation to the 40for40 Campaign

MCADV Welcomes New Special Projects Coordinator

In September 2020, MCADV welcomed Vera McFarlin Johnson as our Special Projects Coordinator.  A native of Hattiesburg, Vera has spent over twenty years in the Metro Jackson area working in the nonprofit sector.  Prior to joining the coalition staff, she worked for Make-A-Wish Mississippi, Parents for Public Schools of Jackson, and Girl Scouts of Greater Mississippi. When asked about beginning work with MCADV, her response was, “Whether it is work or personal, I want to know what I can do to help. I’ve been very fortunate to work in mission-driven (as opposed to profit-driven) environments.  I’m looking forward to contributing to the great work of the coalition and shelter programs by focusing on the underserved communities throughout the state of Mississippi.” Vera’s strong work ethic and energetic personality is a great addition to the MCADV staff.

MCADV Hosts Annual Candlelight Vigil

As a part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, MCADV is hosting a candlelight vigil to honor the memory of domestic violence victims. This year, our candlelight vigil will be held at the Outlets of Mississippi on Tuesday, October 27th at 6pm. MCADV welcomes all to come out to honor the lives and memory of the individuals of our state lost to domestic violence. MCADV staff will be available to provide information and resources. For more information, call 601-981-9196 or email Communications Coordinator Tara Steverson at tara.steverson@mcadv.org.

Spiritual Abuse: You Have the Right NOT to Remain Silent

Maybe this is your cross to bear. You just need to be more submissive. Just pray about it. You know, God hates divorce. What did you do? All marriages hit tough spots. You need to rethink your expectations. It can’t be that bad. What about your children? You all need couples counseling. Has he hit you? Has she cheated? You’re not the first one this has happened to, and you won’t be the last—Deal with it. 

Joni and Laird have been married for almost thirty years. Laird is a beloved leader in the community, president of a credit union, and sits on several prominent boards. Joni is a gifted speaker who never meets a stranger. She is known in the community for extending care and hospitality to strangers and friends alike.  Additionally, she is a successful business woman. Laird is jealous, insecure, and controlling. Joni’s problem, he says, is that she doesn’t stay in her god-ordained place. He prides himself for never hitting her, but Joni confesses sometimes she would rather that he hit her than yelling, calling her names, spitting on her, and trying to choose her friends.  Joni identifies Laird’s problem as unresolved childhood issues and never having learned how to “play well with others.” Fighting and withdrawing describe the cycle of their relationship. Four children, three grandchildren, and countless threats to divorce, they remain together. They attend one of the city’s largest churches and have turned to their spiritual leaders, looking for answers to heal their marriage. “You all are one of Davenport’s power couples,” their pastor told them, “Do you know what it would do to our congregation if you split up?” Joni was advised, “Fix him a good meal every now and then and rub his feet.” Laird was encouraged, “You know it’s hard to tame a woman. You all just need to pray.” WHAT?

One of the places where domestic violence is tolerated and sometimes even condoned is in spiritual spaces. For those with religious roots and foundations, the message is often confusing when it comes to domestic violence. It’s not unusual to hear a sermon or homily on the role of a wife. Occasionally, a message is shared on the role of the husband. What is noticeably absent, though, is how to prepare for and navigate through a tough marriage, how to deal with the issues that no one talks about and many people face.

Domestic violence thrives in silence, festering within the walls of our places of worship. Fear is often the muzzle causing an abused spouse not to reach out. He or she may be afraid of the consequences of exposure. They may fear for their lives, loss of financial support, the possibility of losing custody of their children or the uncertainty of how the children will deal with the restructuring of the family. In some cases, the victim may not realize that the misuse of religious texts and traditions is abuse and therefore, they believe that it is their “cross to bear.” 

“Domestic violence is a serious moral and spiritual concern. It violates the dignity of human beings and the basic moral principles of all religious faith traditions…Religious traditions are often misinterpreted, particularly by abusers, to justify their abusive behaviors. Usually such support comes from citing selected passages from sacred scriptures or teachings of a particular religious community, or from arguing for the authority of traditional practices from the past that justify violence, especially against women…

“All of the world’s religious traditions, in their own way, call upon their adherents to be especially mindful of those individuals and groups who are without power and privilege, and who represent the most vulnerable within a society. Faith communities can play a significant role in providing support for victims of domestic violence and in holding abusers accountable.” (The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Governor’s Office of Faith Based Community Development Services, in Cooperation with New York Theological Seminary, “Domestic Violence and the Faith: A Guideline for Faith Leaders.”)  https://opdv.ny.gov/professionals/faith/guidelines.pdf

If you or someone you know is in a spiritually abusive relationship, please contact your local domestic violence shelter or call 1.800.799.7233 (SAFE). For more information about Domestic Violence, visit our website www.mcadv.org

Simple versus Aggravated Domestic Violence

Picture this: Your significant other is physically abusive to you. You call the police, they show up, and they arrest them. You would probably wonder what they are charging them with. There are several possibilities. Those charges are: Simple domestic violence, simple domestic violence third, aggravated domestic violence, aggravated domestic violence third and fourth or subsequent domestic violence. A brief description of each charge is below.

For any domestic violence charge, a certain relationship between the abuser and victim is required. The relationships are:

  • A current or former spouse of the defendant or a child of that person
  • A person living as a spouse or who formerly lived as a spouse with the defendant or a child of that person
  • A parent, grandparent, child, grandchild or someone similarly situated to the defendant
  • A person who has a current or former dating relationship with the defendant
  • A person with whom the defendant has had a biological or legally adopted child

Simple domestic violence is:

  • The attempt to cause of purposely, knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another
  • Negligently causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm
  • Attempts by physical menace to place another in fear of imminent serious bodily harm

Simple domestic violence third is:

  • A Felony
  • Simple domestic violence by someone who has 2 prior convictions whether against the same or another victim
  • Within 7 years

Aggravated domestic violence is:

  • The attempt to cause serious bodily injury to another, or causes such injury purposely, knowingly or recklessly under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life
  • The attempt to cause or purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon or other means likely to produce death or serious bodily harm
  • Strangle or attempt to strangle

Aggravated domestic violence third is:

  • Aggravated domestic violence by someone who has 2 prior convictions whether against the same or another victim
  • Within 7 years

Fourth or subsequent domestic violence is:

  • Any person who commits simple or aggravated domestic violence by someone who has at least 3 previous convictions whether against the same or different victims
  • Any combination of simple or aggravated domestic violence

This publication was funded in whole or part through support from Grant No. 2019-DW-AX-0013, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice from the Violence Against Women Act Grant.

The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Justice.

September 2020 Newsletter

September 2020 Newsletter

September is National Suicide Prevention Month. Throughout the month of September mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States for all ages. In Mississippi, suicide is the 13th leading cause of death.  Suicidal thoughts can affect anyone regardless of gender, age or background.

Suicide and Intimate Partner Violence are closely linked. Studies have shown that survivors of intimate partner violence are twice as likely to attempt to commit suicide multiple times. The risk of suicide attempt is heightened when victims experience continuous abuse that leads to feelings of hopelessness and weakened self-efficiency. These feelings can be intensified when combined with a lack of support from family and friends. Murder-suicides can also result from domestic abuse. This usually happens when a spouse victimizes and hurts their partner or someone in their care. They then immediately take their own life. In most cases, distress, sense of entrapment and hopelessness arising from domestic abuse can sometimes cause victims to feel that suicide is the only way out.*

If you are worried that a loved one is thinking about suicide, reach out to them and listen to their story. Tell them you care about them and encourage them to seek help. If you are in distress and having thoughts of suicide, reaching out is the first step to safety. Below are links to dedicated services that are available to provide confidential support and crises resources.

*Intimate Partner Violence A Pathway to Suicide

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Crisis Text Line

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Additional Resources

Suicide Facts – S.A.V.E. (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education)

Crises and Suicide Prevention Resource List


Law Enforcement and Domestic Violence

When a victim is forced to leave their home because of violence or threats of violence, they are entitled to have a law enforcement officer go back to the home and assist in retrieving personal property necessary to the victim. This is a vital procedure until the matter can be handled in court. Officers are required to take the steps necessary to protect the victim from harm, but they are not required to accompany a victim to another city or county. The officer is required to advise victims of any sources available in the community such as shelter, medical care or counseling. If the victim needs transportation and it’s within the officer’s jurisdiction, the officer must provide this service.

When a victim calls for assistance in domestic violence, there are a couple of things that are helpful to know. First, an officer is mandated to make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe that domestic violence has occurred at any time during the last 24 hours. Probable cause is determined by interviews of victims, abusers and any eyewitnesses. A warrant is not needed for an officer to arrest a person for domestic violence. If there is a current protection order in place, the person violating the protection order should be arrested if the order has been violated. When an officer makes an arrest within the 24-hour period, the officer should file the affidavit on behalf of the victim.

The hardest thing for an officer to determine is who is the victim and who is the abuser. It’s difficult because a victim may have acted in self-defense and scratched their abuser. When this is the case, the officer must determine who is the “principal aggressor.” The principal aggressor is the person who is the most significant aggressor or who poses the most serious ongoing threat in the situation (it’s not always who hit first). The officer looks at things such as prior calls, arrest records, extent of violence, likelihood of further violence occurring if no arrest and observations of the parties. The only time both parties are arrested is when both are determined to be principal aggressors.

Lastly, officers are required by law to provide victims of domestic violence with a packet of information (The Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights). This packet contains information regarding the criminal justice system, a list of community services that may assist a victim, contact information for the law enforcement agency and prosecutor and other helpful information. 

Thank You For Your Continued Support

MCADV would like to thank everyone for their support of our 40 for 40 Campaign. The fight is not over yet. We still need your help to reach our goal. Your Contribution to our 40 for 40 Campaign will make a difference in the fight against domestic violence.

Remember, a $40 donation will:

  • Assist in making sure when a survivor calls, they get the help and resources needed.
  • Support our efforts to bring awareness and educate the community about domestic violence.
  • Underwrite trainings for advocates to increase the service delivery system for victims and survivors.

The goal of our 40 for 40 Campaign is to raise $40,000 so that we can better assist victims and survivors of domestic violence. We are asking supporters to donate $40 towards this goal. Being able to help victims and survivors of domestic violence get the support needed is one of many ways your donation will help in the fight against domestic violence.

To make your $40 donation click the link below. Be sure to put 40for40 in the notes.

40 for 40 Donation

The Magic of Gratitude

“Gratitude turns negative energy into positive energy. There is no situation or circumstance so small or large that it is not susceptible to gratitude’s power. We can start with who we are and what we have today, apply gratitude, then let it work its magic.” Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

I’ve made it a point to bookend my days with gratitude, and to splatter grateful moments throughout the day. Why am I sharing this with you? Because I am certain I am not alone in dealing with a myriad of “unexpected’s” and “have-to’s” on a daily basis. Everywhere we turn, we are pommeled with staggering statistics or bombarded with unsettling news—things over which we have no control. Life demands that we keep it moving, that we keep adjusting. May I encourage you to remember that there are things over which we do have control?

As advocates, we stand on the frontlines to bring about social change through advocacy, technical assistance, and public awareness.  We have the privilege to impact the lives of victims and survivors of interpersonal violence. We have the responsibility to raise awareness about the prevalence of unhealthy relationships and to shine the light on the characteristics of healthy ones. We have the opportunity to step away from our challenges in order to step up and come alongside those whose lives are riddled with uncertainty and emotional pain. We get to choose to fulfill these callings and to envelop them in gratitude. When we do, we become forces for change who turn negative energy into positive energy.

You are not alone! Together, we have the strength. So, take a deep breath, prioritize gratitude and let it work its magic. 

Submitted by Paula Granger, MCADV Training Coordinator

Mississippi Shelters Are Open!

Even during these unprecedented times, our Shelter Programs are dedicated to providing emergency shelter and supportive services to domestic violence survivors. The crisis lines remain open 24 hours a day and shelters are serving clients while adhering to CDC guidelines. For more information on MCADV’s member shelter programs, visit our Shelter Help page here

Understanding Advocacy: A Dive into Issue Advocacy, Case Advocacy and Policy Advocacy

Victim Advocates across the state work endlessly to provide services and resources to victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Human Trafficking. Accompanying victims to court, securing Transitional or Permanent Housing, assisting with employment applications, and various other services are forms of advocacy. The key to effective advocacy is understanding which form of advocacy best fits the needs of your client and your service program.

Advocacy is a method or approach used to change policies and practices, reform institutions, change attitudes and behaviors in hopes of a broader impact for victims and survivors. There are three forms of advocacy: Case Advocacy, Issue Advocacy and Policy Advocacy. Case advocacy (often called casework) attempts to solve one person’s, one family’s, or one community’s problem at a time. For example, if a client’s family does not have clean running water in their home, we work with the local authorities to address this problem for their family and their home. This advocacy isolates one issue or problem and focuses on the methods and systems that affect a single issue.

Issue advocacy is about raising awareness around a broader problem or issue. This can include multiple micro issues that cause a macro or large impact in a community or system. If domestic violence or sexual assault is a concern for you community, but not being taken seriously by local law enforcement, launching  a publicity and activism campaign about these problems to draw attention to them and, ideally, create change as a result. This form of advocacy is most common and can also be identified as awareness or educational outreach.

Policy advocacy is solution-based. Instead of solving a problem for one person at a time, or simply raising awareness about a problem, in policy advocacy we analyze the causes of a problem and develop policy-based solutions to address these in a manner that creates sustainable and enduring change. Policy advocacy refers to organized initiatives that seek to change official policy or legislation or the manner in which these regulations are applied. Policy advocacy efforts typically try to establish new policies, improve existing policies or challenge the development of policies that already exist.

Regardless of what form of advocacy advocates perform, it is important to perform it effectively. Effective advocacy takes true dedication, knowledge of trauma informed care, and relationships with decision makers in your community.  Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence appreciates the many advocates across the state of Mississippi who work day in and day out to meet the needs of victims of Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Human Trafficking. 

For more information and training on Systems Advocacy contact our Policy and Systems Coordinator by email at robin.jackson@mcadv.org or call 601.981.9196.

This publication was funded in whole or part through support from Grant No. 2019-DW-AX-0013, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice from the Violence Against Women Act Grant.

The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U. S. Department of Justice.

August 2020 Newsletter

August 2020 Newsletter

Irreconcilable Differences

Making the decision to file for divorce can be difficult and confusing. There are 13 grounds to which you can do this. Twelve are fault grounds and one is a no fault ground, Irreconcilable Differences. As a domestic violence victim, many times you would pursue a divorce based on a fault ground, namely habitual cruel and inhuman treatment, and more specifically, spousal domestic abuse. But sometimes, even though an individual is a domestic violence victim, they will choose to pursue an irreconcilable differences divorce as the sole ground or as an alternative if the fault ground isn’t granted.

A person generally pursues an Irreconcilable Differences divorce because it is less stressful, avoiding a big fight in court. Both parties mutually decide they want a divorce and what the divorce entails concerning custody or property. This will be reflected in the Divorce Complaint. Once the Divorce Complaint is drafted, both parties sign in front of a notary. After it is notarized, the Complaint is to be filed in the Chancery Court and must sit on file for 60 days before being heard.

In some cases, the parties agree to the divorce but disagree on custody and maintenance of any children or property. When this happens, the parties can consent to the divorce and permit the court to decide the issues upon which they cannot agree. This consent must be in writing and signed by both parties. If there has been a contest or denial, then the divorce cannot be granted on this ground unless they were withdrawn or cancelled. 

An individual must be a resident of Mississippi for 6 months before they can file for divorce. It must be filed in the county of either party when both parties are residents of Mississippi. However, if both are not residents, the divorce must be filed in the county where the resident of Mississippi lives. It must be stated in the Divorce Complaint that the wife is not currently pregnant. The wife can also request for her name to be changed back to her maiden name.

If you have any questions or want more information about Irreconcilable Differences divorce, please reach out to our Legal Services Coordinator at legalservices@mcadv.org or 601-882-5550.

Community Member Spotlight:

Chief R. Luke Thompson:  Police Chief, Byram Police Department

Chief Luke Thompson is a native of Byram, MS. A graduate of Mississippi College, he began his law enforcement career with the Hinds County Sheriff Department, where he served as Emergency Dispatch and Patrol Officer. After time with the Hinds County Sheriff Department, he began a fulfilling career with the Gulf Coast Police Department in 2004. In 2010, Chief Thompson was appointed as Byram’s first Police Chief and was tasked with creating the city’s first ever municipal police department. He spearheaded the implementation of Lethality Assessments. This resulted in the Byram Police Department reducing the overall number of domestic violence calls by over 23%, having officers take only 3 ½ minutes to ask 12 questions to connect victims to resources. Chief Thompson was vital in the passage of the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS), a newer universal crime reporting system that allows officers to log up to seven crimes collected from initial investigation. The system will greatly assist in our state’s reporting of crimes

Chief Thompson currently sits as President on the Executive Board of the MS Association of Chiefs of Police and is also a member of MCADV’s Board of Directors. This year, MCADV has chosen Chief Thompson to receive the Purple for Peace Award for his continuous efforts in the fight to end domestic violence. We recently had a chance to ask Chief Thompson a few question to see what motivates him. Find out his answer to that question and more below.

Best Vacation?

New York at Christmas / Rockettes’ Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall

Favorite Food?

Anything but Mexican and Indian

Least Favorite Food?

Mexican and Indian

Favorite Movie?

Back to the Future Trilogy. Anytime it comes on television, I have to watch it.

If you won the lottery:

You’d never see me again.

Character trait you most admire:

Honesty. I can work with anyone; I can disagree with anyone; I can respect differences, but if I’m lied to, I have a hard time working with that person again.

What do you do for fun?

Woodworking. I love to build furniture, especially tables. I grew up in a house where life happened around the table. When I get to build a table for someone, I feel like they’re inviting me in to their life.

What motivates you?

One day hearing, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

What book are you currently reading?

I’m always reading more than one. Right now I’m reading, “The World as I See” It by Albert Einstein and “Be the Bridge” by Latasha Morrison

What drives you to achieve great results in your organization?

My mom always told me to I could do anything I put my mind to; my dad was one that never let me quit. Many folks that know me know my parents. It’s important to me that I represent them well.

How long have you been at your current place of employment?

Ten years, which is remarkable seeing that most people in my position only make it about 3 ½ years.

Your favorite memory at work?

The months following Hurricane Katrina. I worked for the Gulfport Police Department. During the COVID epidemic, I’ve heard so many people talk about how “we’re all in this together.” I truly experienced that after Hurricane Katrina. Neighborhoods came together and the community and police worked together because we were truly living out the circumstances together. In spite of all of the destruction, I saw the best in so many people of different races, religions, backgrounds, and everything else you can imagine. That was probably the most memorable part of my career.

What makes you angry?

Seeing someone take advantage and/or exploit someone else. Someone that has to cheat someone else isn’t good enough to come in second place.

Best advice anyone has given you?

“There’s an exception to every rule.” I’m learning that life’s journey is figuring out when the exceptions are appropriate.

What can you simply not resist?

Good coffee and fresh cannoli. You just can’t find good cannoli in our part of the country. I make them, but there still not as good as you can find in the Italian neighborhoods of big cities.

Do you have any nicknames?

I’ve been called a lot of things in my career, but nothing that has ever stuck to be a nickname.

Your life would be meaningless without:

My wife and family. My wife is my biggest cheerleader and there is simply nothing better than having those little girls excited to see me at the end of the day.

Most famous person you’ve met?

I got to meet President George W. Bush in 2015. My favorite was meeting Mac Powell (singer).

Craziest thing you have ever done?

Moved my wife and family several hours to my hometown to start a brand-new police department.

What are your best attributes?

I tend to say what I think

What are your worst qualities?

I tend to say what I think

Are you married? How long?

2020 made 12 years

Do you play sports?

Sometimes, but it’s not pretty.

What is the first thing you do when you wake up/start your day?

God and coffee. I spend the first hour of my day in God’s Word seeking His knowledge and wisdom for the day.

In honor of MCADV’s 40th anniversary, we have initiated the 40 for 40 Campaign. Our goal is to raise $40,000 so that we can better assist in enhancing our state’s victim service delivery system. Additionally, MCADV will be able to continue our work in supporting victims and survivors needing shelter and services, systemic advocacy, and legal services.

A $40 donation will:

  • Assist in making sure when a survivor calls, they get the help and resources needed.
  • Support our efforts to bring awareness and educate the community about domestic violence.
  • Underwrite trainings for advocates to increase the service delivery system for victims and survivors.

To make your $40 donation click the link below. Be sure to put 40for40 in the notes.

40 for 40 Donation

A Call to Congress: Supporting Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence during COVID 19 Relief

Over the past five months, Congress has passed multiple bills to help respond to the coronavirus. These bills have created various resources for families across the nation during the pandemic. Although many packages like the CARES Act have provided financial relief to some citizens, there is still more to be done for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence. While parties and chambers continue to discuss how to best help Americans, we urge Congress to act now to pass a COVID- 19 relief package that addresses housing, economic, and physical and mental health needs of survivors of domestic and sexual violence and the advocates that serve them.

The House passed a $3.4 trillion bill called the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act in May. The HEROES Act includes: investment in grants like the Family Violence Protection and Services Act (FVSPA) and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a critical fix to the Victims of Crimes Act (VOCA) to maintain funding for victim services, and addresses the needs of non-citizen immigrant victims. Recently, the Senate introduced a series of bills known together as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection, and Schools (HEALS) Act. The cost for the HEALS Act is estimated to be $1 trillion and it includes increases in urgently needed supplemental funds for FVPSA to provide shelter and services to domestic violence survivors. While both bills include advances for survivors, neither meaningfully address the needs for sexual assault survivors or Survivors of Color. The Senate Bill also fails to include the critical VOCA fix.

The coronavirus pandemic continues to severely impact domestic and sexual violence survivors and Communities of Color. Advocates on the frontlines need additional resources to ensure the safety of survivors and their staff. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence urgently need help to escape violence and rebuild their lives. Systematic racism has caused the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black Communities and Communities of Color, and additional barriers to safety and justice. MCADV stands with the National Network to End Domestic violence to urge Congress to support all domestic and sexual violence survivors in the next COVID-19 relief package.

For more information on how you can help urge Congress to support victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence email our Policy and Systems Coordinator at robin.jackson@mcadv.org.

Navigating the Waves of 2020

I tested negative for the COVID-19 virus, but I am positive that I have been affected. Not infected, but affected by the virus itself and the resulting changes in how we live. To mask or not to mask? How is the virus spread?  Is it safe to eat out? To return to the classroom or school at home? Does the person who coughs or sneezes in the grocery store have the virus? Will disinfectant spray and wipes ever be easily accessed again? Toilet paper? Paper towels?  Add to this the uncertainty of the ever-mounting racial divide? And what about the November election—what will life look like after the results are in, regardless of who wins?  I am definitely affected.

The CDC, in an article entitled “Mental Health and Coping During COVID,” offers support to those of us who are trying to make sense of the present normal and who are hoping that this will not be our permanent new normal. The article assures us that the uncertainty is normal, that pandemics elicit stress, fear, anxiety, and uneasiness. It acknowledges the ways our uncertainties play out: disrupted sleeping patterns, changes in eating patterns, worsening chronic health and mental health conditions.  It also reminds us that people react differently to the changes a pandemic brings. We may not immediately recognize how much we miss social interactions from the stranger at the gas station or with the person by whom we sat at our place of worship. We may not immediately recognize how much we miss impromptu meet-ups with friends, family gatherings, social gatherings like sporting events and concerts—things we did without wondering if we would catch (or transmit) a deadly virus. All of these normals that are absent from our new normal or at best, restricted, take a toll on our mental health.

If you find that you’re not feeling like your old self, maybe sadder, angry, or more uneasy than you used to be, know that you’re not alone. I suggest you read this ARTICLE. It offers tips on taking care of ourselves and our community, healthy ways to cope with and reduce stress, and resources to help us to take care of our mental health. First step—Take a deep breath and slowly exhale. We’re going to make it through this!

Submitted by Paula Granger, MCADV Training Coordinator

MCADV Hosts Advocate Coffee Break Series

MCADV is hosting a series of trainings facilitated by our Legal Services Coordinator and our Policy and Systems Advocacy Coordinator. The series will explore the basics of Advocacy as it relates to systems, policy and the law. Each session will be held from 10:00 am to 11:00 am. The date of each session and a brief description of each is below. For more information on any of the training sessions, please email support@mcadv.org.

September 15 – What Is Advocacy? Understanding Systems Advocacy – An exploration of the importance of understanding the correlation and interconnectedness between systems and advocacy.

September 16 – What is Advocacy? Understanding Policy Advocacy – An exploration of the importance of understanding the correlation and interconnectedness between policies and advocacy.

September 23 – Advocate Confidentiality – An in-depth look at HB 1386, Section I to educate advocates on what advocate confidentiality is and to whom it applies.

September 30 – Domestic Violence Defined – An expansive definition of Domestic Violence, description of the types of Domestic Violence and how Domestic Violence is defined by Mississippi law.

October 7 – Sexual Assault and the Law – An expansive definition of Sexual Assault and how it is defined by Mississippi law.

October 14 – Stalking and the Law – An expansive definition of Stalking and how it is defined by Mississippi law.

October 21 – Protective Orders Simplified – The different types of Protective Orders, how and where to apply for them and how long they last.

October 28 – Mississippi Grounds for Divorce – An in-depth exploration of all of the grounds for divorce in Mississippi.

This publication was funded in whole or part through support from Grant No. 2019-DW-AX-0013, awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice from the Violence Against Women Act Grant.