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Featured Image for Trump Administration Turns It’s Back on Survivors Seeking Asylum, Advocates Remain Committed to Safety for All

Madison – In the last week, the Trump Administration once again demonstrated its antipathy towards victims of abuse and trafficking and those seeking asylum in the United States with several unprecedented announcements that will jeopardize survivors’ ability to safely enter the country and seek available legal protections to which they are entitled. In the first of two controversial moves, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will begin implementing its Notice to Appear (NTA) Memo with respect to T-Visas, U-Visas, VAWA self-petitions, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), and other humanitarian petitions on November 19, 2018.


Following this change in policy, minors as well as victims of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault who applied for, but were denied, protective status may now be subject to deportation, a policy that was up to this point widely viewed as inhumane. This will have a chilling effect on applications for humanitarian relief, longstanding forms of protection for vulnerable families created by a bipartisan Congress. Furthermore, this chilling effect impedes law enforcements ability to detect, investigate and prosecute domestic violence in our communities. While there is a chance that this new policy memo could change before an ultimate decision is made, those with pending applications and those considering applying for protective status are encouraged to speak with a licensed immigration attorney if they have questions.


Additionally, the administration announced last week that it will bar from asylum anyone who enters the U.S. anywhere except at a port of entry, a move that flies in the face of U.S. law established by Congress decades ago and jeopardizes the safety of numerous vulnerable families who are lawfully seeking out protection from persecution and violence. Representatives of End Domestic Abuse WI, the statewide coalition representing domestic violence shelters across Wisconsin, and RISE Law Center, a legal aid office for immigrant and undocumented survivors of violence, expressed their extreme disapproval of these changes which are sure to put victims of violence and their children directly in harm’s way.


“The idea that we as a nation are implementing limits on the ability of families fleeing abuse, trafficking and sexual assault to seek refuge here in the United States is an affront to human decency, particularly given the fact that so much of the instability and violence that survivors are escaping from can be directly linked to U.S. involvement in these regions,” said Patti Seger, Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “While we have come to expect this behavior from the current administration, we hope people across the country will stand up and take action to oppose these policies which represent the absolute worst of our nation’s legacy of white supremacy, nationalism, xenophobia, bigotry and violence. All people have a right to safety and basic human dignity, and I want to make it clear that advocates across Wisconsin will always be here to honor and serve survivors, regardless of their immigration status or country of origin.”

As the Tahirih Justice Center has noted, migrants traveling from Central America are coming from one of the most dangerous regions in the world for women and children, who are often specifically targeted for rape, sex trafficking, domestic abuse, and other crimes. The families who approach the southern border seeking asylum therefore qualify as refugees under the 1951 International Refugee Convention. They are often fleeing for their lives and do not have the luxury of arriving to the U.S. at a port of entry.

“Many of our clients are survivors of sexual or domestic violence who have applied for legal protective status, including seeking asylum and visas created for victims of violence and human trafficking as a means to help law enforcement. These immigration opportunities created to enforce human rights already hold strict standards and take years to process. The idea that we are now adding further limitations to that process is truly disheartening,” said Robin Dalton, Senior Immigration Attorney at RISE Law Center. “These recent announcements by the Trump administration are the exact opposite of what our clients need. The families we serve deserve nothing less than a humane immigration system that honors the experience of all survivors and ensures that all asylum seekers are treated with dignity.”

The Trump administration has attempted to justify the new rules by claiming that the entry of migrants is a matter of national security. At this point there is no apparent evidence to support any claim that the migrants who may be trying to seek entry to the U.S. pose any threat to the country.


Featured Image for With Kavanaugh Confirmation, Victim Advocates See All Too Familiar Pattern

Madison – Following the United States Senate’s vote today to confirm Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, advocates for victims of domestic violence are speaking out to emphasize both their outrage over the proceedings, but also their lack of surprise at the behavior of President Trump and his nominee throughout the process.


“As victim advocates know, the actions of abusers typically fall into very predictable patterns of behavior meant to manipulate, overwhelm, and control victims,” said Patti Seger, Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “Considering that President Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct or abuse from 16 different women and that three survivors have now come forward with detailed allegations of a similar nature against Judge Kavanaugh, the behavior of these two men over the last few weeks does not come as a shock to anyone working in the movement to end violence against women.”

Research shows that common traits of abusive personalities include a failure to take responsibility for one’s actions, emotional instability and lashing out, immaturity, manipulative tendencies, hypersensitivity, and a propensity for seeing oneself as a permanent victim. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, emotional abuse often entails behavior such as calling names, insulting or continually criticizing a victim, humiliating a victim in any way, blaming victims for the abuse they experienced, gaslighting, and more.

“Over the last few weeks, advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence were forced to watch as two men with multiple credible accusations of assault against them used some of the most common tactics of abusers to discredit, demean, and disempower Dr. Blasey Ford on the national stage,” continued Seger. “This behavior is appalling, but unfortunately it fits the profile of what we see from abusers every day in Wisconsin. In the past we may have expected more from those holding the highest positions in our government but considering that President Trump openly bragged about sexually assaulting women on tape, I cannot honestly say we are surprised at the behavior of these men. Our message to all survivors of domestic and sexual violence is very simple: your President, your new Supreme Court Justice, and leadership in the Republican party may not believe you, but we do, and we always will.”


Featured Image for Domestic Violence Advocates Condemn Kavanaugh Confirmation to Supreme Court

Madison – The following is a statement by Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse WI (End Abuse), Patti Seger. End Abuse is the Wisconsin coalition representing victims of domestic violence and the 70+ victim service providers across the state that comprise its membership.



This week, like many around the country, advocates for victims of domestic violence across Wisconsin witnessed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously step forward to disclose her experience with Brett Kavanaugh, a man who is poised to join the most powerful court in the United States for a lifetime appointment. As advocates, we wish to express our unequivocal support for Dr. Ford, and all survivors, throughout what has surely been a traumatic and violating evaluation of the assault she experienced. Conversely, we would also like to express our disgust at comments made by Senate Majority Leader McConnell, President Trump and other members of Republican leadership regarding Dr. Ford’s statements. Their willingness to prioritize loyalty and a successful court appointment over multiple credible allegations of assault and abuse is an affront to all survivors, as well as those that advocate on their behalf. 

The notion, expressed by President Trump and others that a lack of immediate reporting of the sexual assault at the time it occurred is a reason to discount the credibility of Dr. Ford’s claims is offensive, misguided and dangerous. Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault frequently choose not to report the crimes they have experienced for a multitude of reasons including fear of their assailant, fear of social isolation, discrimination, a desire to maintain their privacy and the fact that victims are so often not believed when they reach out for help, among many others.

Dr. Ford, Julie Swetnick, and the other accusers of Brett Kavanaugh have sacrificed their privacy, safety and normal lives in order to speak their truth. Their principled stand is nothing less than an act of heroism, and Dr. Ford’s testimony is deserving of nothing less than full consideration by the 100 members of the US Senate who now hold the future of Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment in their hands.

Despite objections from those members of the Judiciary Committee who voted to approve Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court, this is not an issue of due process. Brett Kavanaugh is not being tried in a court of law. His rights as an accused person are not in question. What has been violated, however, is the safety and well-being of millions of victims of domestic and sexual violence who were forced to sit idly by as a man with credible accusations of sexual assault against him moved one step closer to a position of extreme power and authority.

Survivors of domestic and sexual violence deserve to know that the people making decisions about the laws that govern their lives are honest, non-abusive members of society. We, as advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence call on the members of the US Senate to oppose the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh, a man with multiple credible accusations of sexual assault against him.

At End Abuse we prioritize victim empowerment and offender accountability because we recognize them as the keys to restoring justice to those for whom it has been taken. We hope the full Senate will honor these same principles and give Dr. Ford the consideration she, and all survivors, deserve by voting no on the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.    

Patti Seger

Executive Director

End Domestic Abuse WI



Featured Image for Annual Gala to Feature Live Music, Aerial Dance Performance, Awards Honoring Champions of Domestic Violence Prevention and More

Madison — This week, End Domestic Abuse WI (End Abuse), the coalition representing the domestic violence victim service providers across the state, will hold its annual Soar Above fundraising gala in Madison, Wisconsin. The event, which will take place on Thursday, September 13th from 4:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Monona Terrace, is open to the public and all proceeds will support End Abuse’s work to support survivors and serve the 73 domestic violence programs throughout Wisconsin. 

"Each year Soar Above is one of our most important and dynamic events, and this year promises to be especially exciting" said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse WI. "With multiple performances, featured guests, award presentations, dancing, costumes and more, we hope attendees will feel our appreciation for their ongoing support and join us in embracing the joy of community-led advocacy. The funds we raise through ticket sales, sponsorships, donations and silent auction bids are directly linked to our organization’s ability to support survivors as well as the service providers they rely on for safety every day."

Featured guests at the 1920’s-themed event (attendees are encouraged to wear attire from that era) will include Los Angeles-based fashion designer George Styler, aerial performance group Cycropia, Madison-based soul band Half Rose Half Nelson and master of ceremonies Jason Ilstrup.

"We want to express our sincere gratitude to all the people who attend Soar Above annually, and we hope to see lots of new faces at this year’s event,” said Seger. “Whether you are a survivor of domestic violence, a business owner, an elected official or simply a community member who wants to support our work to end domestic abuse in Wisconsin, we welcome you with open arms. This event promises to be as exciting as it is critical to the safety and empowerment of survivors in our state."

For more information about the event, including ticket sales, directions, descriptions of this year’s special guests, sponsorship opportunities and more, interested parties are encouraged to visit


Featured Image for Dare2Know Prevention Campaign Launches Statewide!

The launch of our Dare2Know campaign has brought excitement, hope, and strategy for building healthy relationships among Wisconsin teens. The first of its kind in WI, this statewide prevention initiative is a challenge for teens to rally around healthy relationships by focusing on values of connection, networking, prevention, and education. It gives young people the tools to lead the change our state needs, and it works to prevent violent cycles before they begin. By emphasizing the power of youth when they value their own voices, persuade their peers that everyone deserves dignity, and connect with their community to foster healthy relationships, Dare2Know aims to normalize healthy relationships and build a better future.


As the campaign launches, we asked some of those who have shaped this by-youth, for-youth movement what makes them hopeful about Dare2Know (D2K). Perhaps the most powerful feedback we’ve received comes from One of End Abuse's D2K Youth Outreach Specialists in Milwaukee who is also an active member in End Abuse's Teen Council since the beginning of 2017.

“I’m super excited about the Dare2Know campaign for this year!” shares Simone Lewis-Turner. “I’m happy to know we’re getting the word out and spreading the awareness of abuse. Every day I am inspired to lead by example and share with others everything it has taught me. I’m hopeful to see the outcome shown with our lives because of it.”

“It’s really important to me because many people tend to build up a blind eye when it comes to abuse, and now it’s ‘normalized.’ I believe by teaching us how to spot or uncover the warning signs of abuse, we and our friends and family will be more likely to spot it out. [D2K] has taught me that it’s strongly needed, especially with black and brown communities. I want it to encourage other young people like myself to gain the knowledge and teach one another the importance of it, as well.”

End Abuse staff, including those who have played essential roles in shaping the major and minor details of this important effort, also offered their excitement about D2K. 

“The Dare2Know campaign inspires me because it gives youth an accessible outlet to engage in promoting healthy relationships,” says End Abuse’s Prevention & Public Awareness Coordinator Stephanie Ortiz, who has been a key player behind the Dare2Know movement. “The message of Stronger YOU, Healthier US makes it clear that we must transform ourselves first if we want to begin healing families and whole communities. The fact that this is a youth-informed campaign makes me hopeful because too often our society minimizes the wisdom and role of our young people in creating a just world for all of us.”

“The Dare2Know campaign inspires me because it gives youth a platform to LEARN more about healthy relationships and teen dating violence so that they can KNOW how to support healthy relationships and TAKE ACTION in preventing teen dating violence,” offers Cody Warner, End Abuse’s Children and Youth Prevention & Outreach Coordinator who has also played a major role in the development and implementation of this campaign. “Really taking a dive into understanding where youth are at with promoting healthy relationships and preventing teen dating violence lets us best support these efforts in their communities.

End Abuse Associate Director Tony Wilkin-Gibart gets to the heart of this youth-driven movement when he shares why he is so passionate about our organization driving this prevention work.

“I am inspired because D2K will elevate the voices of youth who are focused on creating a healthier and safer future for us all. They possess enormous potential and passion that will make a positive impact.”


Don’t miss additional media coverage of this inspiring campaign, including End Abuse Executive Director Patti Seger speaking on WPR and Prevention & Public Awareness Coordinator Stephanie Ortiz on WFRV-Green Bay!

There are opportunities for everyone to get involved, in every part of the state: encourage youth to bring this campaign to their schools by becoming Teen Ambassadors at, or sign up to be a community partner by visiting

Find a way for you and your community to prevent teen dating violence and promote healthy relationships today! We DARE you.

Featured Image for Saying "Job Well Done" to Tess
In 1995, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin (then the "Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence" hired its first staff attorney. At that time, having a dedicated attorney to provide training and information on domestic violence law and policy to advocates around the state was a big deal.
Tess Meuer was first person to occupy that important position. Tess is still in that position, and she still is a big deal.
This October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin will wish Tess a happy retirement and thank her for a job well done. Tess has reduced her hours at End Abuse and will be finishing a few trainings through the end of year before she fully starts the next phase of her life.
Tess has increased awareness of domestic abuse within all facets of the legal system through her exemplary lectures and presentations. Tess is an accomplished teacher who has provided countless trainings to a wide range of audiences including domestic violence advocates, attorneys, judges, clerks, probation officers, and law enforcement. Tess also developed and taught courses on domestic violence at the University of Wisconsin Law School and Marquette University Law School. During her 20-year teaching career at Wisconsin’s law schools, Tess has influenced hundreds of students who are now practicing attorneys, prosecutors, and judges. Tess has also mentored numerous legal interns at End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, many of whom go on to help survivors of domestic abuse throughout their careers. In recognition of her academic teaching, Tess was named the Warren H. Stolper Adjunct of the Year Award in 2016 by the University of Wisconsin Law School Alumni Association and Board of Visitors for her wide array of legal work pertaining to domestic violence.
In addition to training, Tess works with domestic violence programs, as well as other agencies and individuals in the legal system, to answer questions and improve organizations’ responses to domestic violence cases. Tess is frequently asked to serve on committees and assist organizations with published materials because of her vast knowledge and expertise in the area of domestic abuse. For example, she is a member of the Director of State Courts Office’s STOP Grant Advisory Committee and has frequently consulted with the Records Management Forms Committee on issues related to the restraining order forms. Additionally, Tess is the author of a chapter entitled Domestic Abuse published by the State Bar of Wisconsin in their Lawyer’s Desk Reference since 1997.
Tess is also deeply passionate about improving the lives of children who live in homes where there is domestic abuse. For the past few years, Tess has dedicated her time and energy on improving the family law system’s response to domestic abuse cases. Tess was instrumental in working with the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse to develop the Domestic Abuse Guidebook for Wisconsin Guardians ad Litem: Addressing Custody, Placement, and Safety Issues. Since the guidebook has been completed, Tess has provided numerous trainings and presented to hundreds of advocates, family attorneys, guardians ad litem, and judges on the handbook and how the family law system can better account for the safety and well-being of non-abusive parents and children. Through these trainings, Tess has combined her knowledge of the law and best practice with her firsthand accounts of growing up in an abusive home to stir the hearts and minds of judges and other legal professionals. A number of attendees have said that Tess has allowed them to see the issue and impact of domestic abuse in a completely different light.

Even more difficult than saying farewell to all of Tess's talents, we will miss Tess as a coworker and friend. Anyone who knows Tess can attest that she is one of the most genuine, thoughtful, and compassionate people they have ever met. Despite being dedicated to her work, she is also a fiercely loyal friend and family member, often going above and beyond to make sure those in her life are cared for and supported. Tess exudes kindness and positivity and is truly someone who makes the world a better place.

Featured Image for Wisconsin Domestic Violence Survivor Threatened by ICE, End Abuse and RISE Call on Agency to Stop the Intimidation Immediately

Representatives of End Domestic Abuse WI, the statewide coalition representing domestic violence shelters across Wisconsin, and RISE Law Center, a legal aid office for immigrant and undocumented survivors of violence, expressed outrage at recent actions taken by ICE representatives against María Portgual, a survivor of domestic violence who has lived in Wisconsin for over 20 years. Directors from the two organizations emphasized the appalling nature of ICE’s use of threats of deportation against a victim of domestic violence in order to locate her abuser, a man with whom she has had no contact in over a year.
“A survivor of domestic violence being threatened by ICE with deportation and separation from her daughter in order to locate her abuser is one of the most egregious examples of re-traumatizing and cruel enforcement tactics that we have ever seen in this state,” said Patti Seger, Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “The fact that ICE is using fear, intimidation and threats of family separation against undocumented families is appalling in its own right, but it is truly hard to put into words just how disturbing it is to see these tactics used against a victim of domestic violence because of the actions of her abuser. ICE’s use of threats against this victim not only blame her for the abuse she experienced, but could threaten her safety by forcing her into contact with her abusive husband.”

The two organizations are supporting their allies at Voces de la Frontera by calling on ICE Regional Director Ricardo Wong to meet with a delegation of families threatened by ICE, and to clearly and publicly state that ICE will immediately stop threatening María with detention and separation from her daughter. 

“María Portgual has had a pending U-Visa application for over three years, so there is absolutely no excuse for ICE to target her with threats to locate her abuser” said Gricel Santiago-Rivera, Executive Director of RISE Law Center. “While María is not one of our clients, we help survivors process U-Visas regularly at our organization to protect them from deportation while they work with law enforcement to hold violent offenders accountable. The idea that ICE would punish a survivor for bravely stepping forward and working with law enforcement by threatening her with deportation is inhumane and absurd. This injustice must stop immediately and this survivor must receive assurance that she will not be targeted for deportation because of the actions of her estranged husband.”

Members of the media are encouraged to attend a press conference regarding the case at 5pm at this evening at Madison Christian Community, located at 7118 Old Sauk Rd, Madison, WI 53717. Speakers at the event will include María Portgual and other families under threat of separation by ICE, as well as representatives of Voces de la Frontera, Dane Sanctuary Coalition, Latino Consortium for Action and others.


Featured Image for Diving Deeper: Exploring Issues Relating to Domestic Violence through the Coalition Chronicles

For more than 20 years, End Abuse has released semiannual publications highlighting innovative and inspiring efforts to address domestic abuse – both within Wisconsin’s communities and beyond its borders. Formerly the Educational Journal and currently called Coalition Chronicles, these publications offer in-depth exploration of the many intersecting issues that domestic violence survivors and advocates must navigate in their daily lives and work.

Over the years, these publications have included input from experts in their fields, offered resources for delving deeper into complex issues related to gender based violence, and challenged us to reflect on our work in the larger social justice context. We’ve examined such topics as Transformative Justice, Mental Health & Substance Abuse, the Incarceration of Battered Women, and Global Perspectives on Violence Against Women, to name just a few.

In the latest edition of the Chronicles, we look at the topic of Family Law and share the important data collection End Abuse has done on family law system failures to protect survivors of domestic abuse and their children. In addition to providing an overview of the issues at play, End Abuse staff offer their insights on the importance of Guardians ad Litem, recommendations for using the SAFeR Framework outlined in the Domestic Abuse Guidebook for WI Guardians ad Litem, a summary of research findings, and policy recommendations drawn from these findings.

Check out the latest edition of Coalition Chronicles, and view our past editions at


Featured Image for End Domestic Abuse WI and RISE Law Center Support Rallies to End Family Separations

Representatives of End Domestic Abuse WI, the statewide coalition representing domestic violence shelters across Wisconsin, and RISE Law Center, a legal aid office for immigrant and undocumented survivors of violence, spoke out today in support of rallies occurring across the country to protest family separations at the border. Directors from End Abuse and RISE emphasized their outrage at the Trump administration’s ongoing approach to border security and detention, focusing in particular on children who have yet to be reunited with their parents.

“The Trump administration’s so-called “zero tolerance policy” on immigration is immoral, inhumane and cruel,” said Patti Seger, Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse WI. “The policy of detaining and deporting all people attempting to cross the border is not only tearing apart innocent families who are legally seeking asylum, often from domestic and sexual violence, but is also heightening the fear that immigrant and undocumented victims of violence feel all across the country. When undocumented survivors of violence do not feel empowered to engage with law enforcement to stay safe, violent abusers capitalize on their victim’s fear to continue their cycle of control unimpeded. We hope the nationwide demonstrations planned for this Saturday will make it clear that the American people will not stand for the continuation of this humanitarian crisis at the border.”

End Abuse and RISE are calling on the Trump administration and leaders in Congress to use their executive and legislative authority to reunite every single family that remains brutally torn apart and prove it. Additionally, they are demanding the permanent end of the separation of children and families, an immediate and permanent reversal of the zero-tolerance policy and the passage of a clean DACA bill to ensure protections for young people brought to the United States as children.

“Every day, we work with clients who live in constant fear of deportation and separation from their children,” said Gricel Santiago-Rivera, Executive Director of RISE Law Center. “The climate of fear that the Trump administration created with its abhorrent actions regarding immigration has had a direct impact on the willingness of survivors to contact police, seek out restraining orders or even pick up their children from school. The people we serve are loving parents who are in this country lawfully seeking out asylum from abuse. Whether that abuse stems from an intimate partner or instability and violence abroad, no one deserves to be detained, separated from their family and deported for simply wanting to live a dignified life free of violence. We demand the reunification of these families immediately, anything less is an affront to basic decency and human rights.”

In the past month, more than 2,000 children were separated from their parents, and many more were separated in the previous month. Rallies to protest family separation will take place on Saturday, June 30, 2018 in over 700 cities across the United States including Madison, Milwaukee, La Crosse, Green Bay, Wausau, Appleton and many more.   


Featured Image for Advocates Concerned that Trump Executive Order Doesn’t Go Far Enough
Madison—Yesterday, President Trump signed an Executive Order to stop the heinous practice of separating families at the border. Advocates were elated to know that the US government will no longer pull families apart. However, that joy quickly deteriorated with the knowledge that a child’s first experience in this country will still be behind the unwelcoming, cruel bars of a jail.
“Week after week of attacks on immigrants have left us all feeling devastated and frankly, ashamed. How can the United States of America continue to treat immigrants and refugees seeking safety and hope so wickedly? At End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, every day, we strive to provide the tools and resources necessary to support human beings out of traumatic and violent situations. Although President Trump’s Executive Order is a step in a better direction, it does not erase the trauma this country has already perpetrated against thousands of families and children. It will also not prevent the continued degradation of immigrants and refugees. President Trump and his administration need to stop traumatizing children and families. We have a responsibility to protect families fleeing violence and poverty, no matter who they are, or where they come from,” said End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin’s Executive Director, Patti Seger.
Although President Trump’s Executive Order ended the practice of separating children from their families, it did not end the jailing of children and families at the border. Based on a 1997 Supreme Court ruling, families cannot be detained together for more than 20 days. The Executive Order did not address this ruling, meaning that children could still be separated from their families after 20 days.  Additionally, the over 2,000 children separated from their families since the practice began were notably absent from the President’s order. 
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We envision communities fully engaged to provide safety and to give a voice to all affected by domestic abuse, while creating the social change necessary to address its root causes. We honor the wisdom and strength of domestic abuse survivors across the lifespan. Our mission is achievable through survivor-centered work that includes strategic partnerships and collaboration. As advocates for social justice, we embrace the voices of diverse communities.