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Is It About Character or Profits?

by Casey Gwinn
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Monday, 08 September 2014 Category General 0 Comments

By Casey Gwinn, JD

I have been a San Francisco 49ers fan since I was a child. I have been a Jim Harbaugh fan since he coached at my alma mater, Stanford University. But I have a question for Coach Harbaugh. Is it about character or is it about profits?

Last week, defensive tackle Ray McDonald of the 49ers was arrested for a felony domestic violence case involving his girlfriend. She is ten weeks pregnant and had bruises on her neck and arms. He will become the first test case for the NFL’s new domestic abuse policy instituted in the wake of the horrific mishandling of the Ray Rice case. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, after facing a media firestorm, has now instituted a tougher policy for domestic violence abusers. McDonald was arrested Sunday morning at 3 AM, less than three days after the new NFL policy was announced. But I am more concerned with the actions of the 49ers than what the NFL will do months down the road.

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Why Do We Still Focus on the Victim Instead of the Perpetrator?

by Jennifer Anderson
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Wednesday, 28 May 2014 Category General 4 Comments

By Casey Gwinn, JD

A 25-year-old woman and mother of a small baby this past week walked into a police station in Bell Gardens and told them she was kidnapped, drugged, and raped by her mother’s boyfriend when she was fifteen years old.  She said she has been held against her will for ten years.  Bell Gardens police referred the case to the Santa Ana Police Department to investigate what happened ten years ago.  Some neighbors in their Bell Gardens neighborhood were shocked.  They seemed like such a happy couple.  One said, “He seemed like such a nice guy.”

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Tell Anyone Who Will Listen Why Everyone Should Wear Denim

by Natalia Aguirre
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Tuesday, 22 April 2014 Category General 0 Comments

By Casey Gwinn, JD

This week we should all wear denim on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.  If you miss it, wear denim on Thursday and Friday.  Maybe you should wear denim every day until somebody asks why you are wearing jeans every day!  And when they do ask, tell them why those that care about gender-based violence and sexual assault are wearing denim.  My friend, Patti Giggans at Peace Over Violence in Los Angeles tells the story most eloquently from the annals of Italian legal history in the 1990’s.

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

by Casey Gwinn
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Friday, 04 October 2013 Category General 2 Comments

By Casey Gwinn, JD


As we all celebrate and promote October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month across this country in the days ahead, we must take a moment to remember and thank all those who work tirelessly in the trenches to make a difference for survivors and their children.  We should also celebrate the courage and perseverance of each and every woman, man, and child that has struggled to overcome violence and abuse this past year.  People who care, those who overcome abuse, and all those who donate time and resources to help us in this global struggle all deserve to honored during October (and year around).  We have made tremendous progress over the past 30 years but we are not done.  The struggle must continue until no one lives in fear of their partner, their parents, or someone who has professed their love and then uses violence, power, and control against them.  Many years ago, Sarah Buel challenged me to carefully think through how to speak to those we love that are being hurt and suffering in secret and in silence – speaking to them without judging them and without using power and control to try to help them.  I never forgot Sarah’s challenges and put them in a book written with Gael Strack in 2010 – Dream Big: A Simple Complicated Way to Stop Family Violence (Wheatmark Press).  Let us be reminded during this October of those five powerful statements and how we can lovingly and with care support all those still trapped in violent and abusive relationships:

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Family Justice Centers Europe: Working Together to Address a Worldwide Problem

by FJC Alliance
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Monday, 24 June 2013 Category General 1 Comment

By Gael Strack, Esq.

I just returned to San Diego, weary but enthused, from Poland where I met with our friends starting Family Justice Centers across Europe.  I am inspired by the teams from five countries that are developing Family Justice Centers in six locations.  The trip was worth every hour of travel, delayed flights, and forgotten sleep.  Once there, you are instantly energized by the moment, the historical significance of the meetings, and always, the people.  You immediately realize you are meeting with sisters, brothers, and cousins from around the world who share the same passion and vision of the future.

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Giving HOPE in 2013

by Casey Gwinn
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Tuesday, 04 June 2013 Category General 0 Comments

By Casey Gwinn, Esq.

Children exposed to domestic violence and related physical and sexual abuse suffer severe and long term impacts (ACE Study Overview).  The majority of all juvenile and adult offenders in correctional institutions came from families of origin with histories of domestic violence, child abuse, and some mix of alcohol and drug abuse. (Family Of Origin, McCord).  The prevalence of gang membership, teen relationship violence, bullying, and sexual assault have all been associated with children growing up in violent and abusive homes. (Gwinn/Strack, Hope for Hurting Families, 2006). The research is also clear that creating resiliency and competency in children and providing “turning point” opportunities can help children overcome the trauma and modeling impacts of family violence.  (Werner, Smith, Kauai Longitudinal Study).  The research is also clear that one mentor/advocate/friend can play a crucial role in enhancing protective factors, increasing resiliency, and giving children exposed to trauma and abuse the courage and strength to avoid repeating the vicious cycle of violence and abuse they have experienced.


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Hopelessness is an Epidemic And the Antidote is HOPE

by Casey Gwinn
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Friday, 22 February 2013 Category General 1 Comment

By Casey Gwinn, Esq.


As the news is filled with stories of Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius shooting and killing his girlfriend on Valentine's Day in South Africa, and his long history of domestic violence and guns, a related epidemic of much greater proportion is playing out across the United States. The emerging epidemic is found at the intersection of Valentine's Day, unabated violence, and hopelessness. Since Valentine's Day 2013, hopelessness is rising in this country but no one is paying attention. There have been fourteen murder-suicides in the United States in the last eight days and there has been no national news coverage. Pistorius has enjoyed hundreds of published news accounts in the United States, but no one is even paying attention to the 13 women and 2 children who have died in eight days of murder-suicides. And this count does not even include the two attempted murder-suicides, the killers themselves, or the other 24 women killed by intimate partners in the last eight days where their killers did not take their own lives after killing their partners. The murder-suicides crisscross the country.


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It Was a Clear Case of Domestic Violence

by Casey Gwinn
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Tuesday, 04 December 2012 Category General 19 Comments

By Casey Gwinn, Esq.

 

As the news stories continue to flood my Yahoo and Google Alerts about the recent murder-suicide in Kansas City, three things trouble me about the stories.  First, the name of Jovan Belcher comes up over and over in headlines and sub-headings but Kasandra Perkins’ life and background is rarely mentioned.  Second, NFL experts and others are trying to focus on head trauma and concussive injuries as a likely cause instead of the domestic violence and the actions of an abusive man that form the true foundation of this tragedy.  Third, this one murder-suicide is getting tremendous coverage when the many other women, men, and children dying each day in the United States from domestic violence do not merit any national media attention.

Tags: violence against women, family justice center, domestic violence

We Never Imagined...

by Casey Gwinn
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Monday, 08 October 2012 Category General 4 Comments

 

Ten years ago when we opened the San Diego Family Justice Center we never imagined what would happen.  This was just the natural evolution of our journey in San Diego.  We had created a coordinated community response in the late 1980’s.  We had created specialized investigation and prosecution units in the early 1990’s.  We had a strong Domestic Violence Coordinating Council.  We had begun co-locating professionals from five different agencies in the prosecutor’s office in 1990.  We were committed to an evidence-based prosecution approach.  And we had close working relationships among all the community and governmental agencies.  Bringing everyone together under one roof was an idea whose time had finally come by 2002.  Survivors wanted to come to one place for all their services and we had the support of local government to fund the location where this exciting public safety initiative could happen for all the participating agencies.  It was our local vision. We simply did not want victims to have to go from agency to agency and place to place to get all the help they needed.  But we never imagined where it would all lead.

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One Special Week in Guam

by FJC Alliance
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Monday, 08 October 2012 Category General 1 Comment

The day before our departure to Guam, my daughter Samantha sent me a text message with the worrisome title “Spider Epidemic in Guam.”  A National Public Radio news release warned travelers about a massive proliferation of spiders in Guam.  That caught my attention.  I looked it up.  Turns out Guam has been conducting a long and losing battle with a certain kind of snake, introduced years ago to control rodents.  It’s unclear whether the rodent population was brought under control, but what is evident is that the snakes have a healthy appetite for birds.  Without birds to eat the spiders, well, we imagined the worst.  I think all of us envisioned spider webs hanging from every light fixture, doorway and bed-post; hairy, eight-legged beasts lurking under every table top and chair; snakes coiled in our open suitcases and waiting expectantly in the passenger seat of our rental car.

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World Changing Leadership

by Casey Gwinn
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Thursday, 28 June 2012 Category General 0 Comments

The last few weeks have been life changing as I have had the opportunity to see children from the San Diego Family Justice Center and the Shasta Family Justice Center (Redding, CA) come to sessions of Camp HOPE, a specialized camping program for children exposed to family violence and other forms of trauma and abuse.   There are a few major passions in this work over the last 27 years that have captured me – bringing everyone together in a community under one roof to serve victims and their children, creating high risk case responses and strategies that get us to “before” the homicide and change the tragic ending we see so often in family violence situations, and…camping.  For everyone who ever went to camp as a child, you know the magic of camping, especially when we are talking about breaking the vicious generational cycle of domestic violence with children who often seem destined to the misery of their parents.  In the words of my daughter, Karianne, Camp HOPE is about “giving children their childhood back.”  Lt. Bernie Colon, Client Services Coordinator Katie Llamas, my wife Beth, and the whole team at the San Diego Family Justice Center have touched the lives of so many children in their effort to bring children to Camp HOPE San Diego this past year.  With the support of the local businesses, the District Attorney, the Police Chief, and San Diego City Council members, the San Diego Family Justice Center has changed the world for so many children with the camping vision.

 

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Women, Children, and Men Die with Partisan Politics

by Casey Gwinn
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Monday, 30 April 2012 Category General 1 Comment

Last month, as the battle raged to pass the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the United States Senate, over 150 women, men, and children were killed in this country in domestic violence related incidents.  The deaths included police officers killed responding to domestic violence incidents and officers killed by men with a history of violence against women.  Indeed, more people died in domestic violence related murders last month than did American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.  No one questions our responsibility to do everything possible to protect American soldiers in combat but partisan politics were still on display in the battle to pass VAWA in the U.S. Senate.

 

As I write this, the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act is now awaiting passage in the House of Representatives.  The Senate finally passed the Act but now we await action by the House.  Their responsibility is very simple really.  Pass the Violence Against Women Act and send it to the President for his signature.  Some Republicans appear to be posturing and are proposing a different version of the Act to reduce funding and take out provisions they do not like around protecting victims in same sex relationships, victims on tribal lands, and undocumented immigrant victims.  I urge the Republicans not to do it.  Women, children, and men die when we play politics with domestic violence prevention efforts.

 

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In Memory of Ellen Pence

by Casey Gwinn
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Friday, 06 January 2012 Category General 1 Comment

Today, Ellen Pence won her struggle with cancer.  She soared above it.  She did not let it take her soul, love, joy, beauty, or power.  She is now at peace.  Her pain is gone.  Her happiness is complete and she has finished the race with glory.  She was a mentor and friend to me and many others.  She taught me over 25 years ago to try to see the world as it should be but to never ignore how it really is.  She lived life with so much passion, determination, and humor.  She, more than most people I have ever known, changed the world.  The world is a different place because Ellen Pence invested her life in helping others.  Her work resulted in saving thousands of lives and helped break the cycle of violence for millions of people who never even heard the name “Ellen Pence”. And hundreds of communities, systems, agencies, and people altered the course of their work and lives because of Ellen.  I am one of those many

 

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Looking Forward into 2012

by FJC Alliance
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Thursday, 05 January 2012 Category General 0 Comments

Happy New Year, to all our friends and supporters around the world!  We wish you a year blessed with fulfilled expectations, realized dreams, and stunning accomplishments.

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It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month - Are We Aware?

by Casey Gwinn
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Wednesday, 19 October 2011 Category General 1 Comment

As we celebrate Domestic Violence Awareness Month across America, the struggle to reduce and prevent domestic violence and related sexual assault rages.  Each week this month approximately 20 women, men, children, and police officers have died in family violence related incidents (an average of four per day). Last week, the Topeka City Council decriminalized domestic violence in an effort to save money.  Sadly, many communities are prosecuting less abusers and holding less violent offenders accountable for their violence against women, children, and men even though they don’t get the attention like Topeka.  Even with strong support from the Obama Administration, less and less resources are available in local communities even as the amount and type of violence increases.  And as I write today, we are in week 12 of a series of domestic violence mass murders or near mass murders that have swept across America. Not including the daily array of murders and murder-suicides, forty-six people have died in nine domestic violence-related murders since July 8, 2011 and there has been no national media or public awareness about this epidemic of deaths.

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First Responders

by FJC Alliance
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Friday, 26 August 2011 Category General 0 Comments

Rolando had just fled the scene.  I watched him speed away, weaving recklessly through heavy commuter traffic on Interstate 5.  Cynthia said he was likely headed for Mexico — a mad man, consumed with rage, oblivious to everything around him.  She was sitting in the backseat of my car, crying softly.  My heart was racing. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed and I couldn’t believe I was the only person who was willing to stop and help Cynthia.  It was 6:51 am.  I called 911.

 

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The Birthday Boy

by Casey Gwinn
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Thursday, 28 July 2011 Category General 0 Comments

It was his birthday.  He was 11 years old and all his friends were coming to the roller skating rink for the party.  The young boy was excited and happy.  What a fun day for a little boy.  His mom had worked so hard to plan the party and make sure relatives and friends would be there.  At 5:30 PM, it was anticipation and laughter and excitement.  By 6:30 PM, the air was filled with music and action and stolen glances between the boys and girls skating and celebrating the birthday boy.  But with fifteen minutes left in the party, at 7:15 PM, the exciting day took an unimaginable turn.  Dad arrived and started arguing with Mom.  And then, Dad pulled a gun and shot Mom in front of the birthday boy and his three year old sister.  As Dad stood over his dead Mom, he said, “I told you so.”  Pandemonium was everywhere as people quickly realized what was happening.  Children were running, people were screaming.  Then, Dad shot three of Mom’s family members.  The terrified little boy begged for his life as his Dad pointed the gun at him.  Dad spared his life by turning the gun and killing himself right in front of his son.

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With Great Love and Respect from Mexico

by Casey Gwinn
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Thursday, 09 June 2011 Category General 1 Comment

 

This morning during the final session of the Seminario Centros de Justicia para las Mujeres in Chihuahua, Mexico at the Governor’s Palace, the Mexican National Anthem could be heard echoing through the courtyard of the beautiful Palace.  The seventy-five attendees at the seminar immediately stood out of respect and love for their country and their people.  And then they began to sing.  They all sang…with great affection for Mexico, their homeland.  It was a moment that Gael Strack, Enrique Curiel (our SDSU Intern), and I will never forget.  Enrique has dual citizenship.  Gael’s Latina heritage stirs in her deeply when here in Mexico.  And I have grown to love the people of Mexico.  They have such a passion for their work and such love for people in need.

 

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