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Featured Image for New Resource: Domestic Abuse Guidebook for WI Guardians Ad Litem

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Governor's Council on Domestic Abuse have released the Domestic Abuse Guidebook for Wisconsin Guardians ad Litem: Addressing Custody, Placement, and Safety Issues. The Guidebook is a comprehensive, step-by-step manual for approaching the consequential issue of domestic abuse in child custody and placement actions. In Wisconsin, guardians ad litem (GALs) are attorneys who are charged with representing the best interest of children when child custody and placement is disputed. Therefore, when domestic abuse has occurred, GALs have a critical role to play in protecting the safety and well-being of domestic violence victims and their children.

The Guidebook offers easy access to important legal definitions and concepts, tools for understanding how domestic abuse affects children and practical guidance to make informed recommendations to the court. The Guidebook walks GALs through a four-step process when approaching a case, giving the GAL the knowledge to:

  • Identify whether or not domestic abuse has occurred;
  • Define the nature and context of domestic abuse;
  • Evaluate the implications of domestic abuse in the family; and
  • Make informed recommendations that account for domestic abuse.

At every step in the analysis, the Guidebook relates the applicable concepts to the Wisconsin State statutes, making it easier for GALs to harmonize appropriate concern for the safety of victims and children with the relevant legal standards. 

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin encourages all GALs in the State of Wisconsin to read the Guidebook and use it in their practice. Reflecting the gravity of GALs' roles, the Guidebook concludes with this thank you note from a domestic violence survivor who was nearly killed by her abusive ex-husband: 

When I went through my divorce, I tried to get the guardian ad litem and judge to understand my ex-husband’s controlling and jealous behavior, his history of violence, and the continuing harm he was causing my family. I remember the guardian ad litem only interviewing my ex-husband once and the guardian ad litem coming away from that meeting convinced the man who would later try to kill me was a great person and deserved more time with his children. There was plenty of information available that would have allowed the guardian ad litem to identify the seriousness of the domestic abuse that was committed against me. There were many warning signs that could have been used to predict what could happen to me and my children. But, that information was not investigated and taken seriously. As a result, my ex-husband was given the opportunity to continue the abuse and ultimately attempt to kill me. If I hadn’t been ordered to have ongoing contact with him during exchange of our kids, I could have stayed away.

The work that you are doing as a guardian ad litem can help ensure that other victims of domestic abuse and their children are not put in the same position as my family. When you gather complete information, when you recognize controlling behavior and risks of lethality, when you make custody and placement recommendations that prioritize the safety of children and victims, you will be preventing continued abuse, and you will be giving children the best chance to be resilient and move past the abuse they experienced in their families. Thank you for taking on this life-changing and potentially life-saving work. Know that you can make all the difference for the children and families you encounter as a guardian ad litem. 

Featured Image for Consider Presenting at Our Statewide Conference in Green Bay, November 15-17!

End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin invites you to share your ideas, skills, experience and passion at its statewide conference, Collective Liberation: Movement Building for the Years Ahead. Our audience includes advocates and activists for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse and their communities, and stakeholders who work to end and prevent violence.

With a goal of radical movement building, this conference will feature more than 40 diverse workshops, two dynamic keynote speakers, and other related special events. It is our goal to embrace a radical message of unity with a racial justice framework, while maintaining intentional inclusion and radical healing at its core.

We seek a wide variety of presenters who can share knowledge and skills related to addressing root causes of domestic violence. We welcome presenters with lived experience or professional experience, who wish to share in traditional and non-traditional presentation formats, including workshops, seminars, panel or facilitated discussions and interactive activities. It is our main goal to bring historically marginalized voices to the forefront of discussion. Opportunities are available for 60-minute workshops in morning and afternoon sessions. 

Click here to learn more!

Featured Image for ACT NOW: Urge Congress to Vote No on the American Health Care Act
The American Health Care Act (AHCA) is bad for victims! Now is the time to make your voice heard!
This evening, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives plan to vote on a bill (the ACHA) that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Loss of the ACA would threaten the healthcare of millions of people across our country, but victims of domestic violence would face particular harm. Please make sure your Congressional Representatives know that this is simply inexcusable.  
Call on your Representatives today and ask them to prioritize the health of victims across the country and vote NO to the AHCA.
The AHCA would make health insurance more expensive, and by putting coverage decisions in the hands of the insurance companies, far fewer services for victims will be covered. Coverage for many low-income survivors of domestic violence will be eliminated, and healthcare plans will no longer have to pay for screening or counseling related to domestic violence. Additionally, under the AHCA victims would no longer be able to access health care without their abuser's knowledge as they could under the ACA. Please contact your Representatives to urge them to oppose the repeal of the ACA and the enactment of the ACHA.

Please click to email and ask your Members of Congress to vote NO to the ACHA (American Health Care Act) or call their office directly and leave a message.
If you can make the time, telephone calls are a vital help on this important issue. You can look up your Congress members' names at the link below, and reach their office at the switchboard number. 
  • House:
  • Capitol switchboard: 202-224-3121.  Ask for the staffer who handles Health Care issues, and say that you oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

Sample telephone script: Hello, my name is [your name], and I am calling from [your city and/or organization].  I am calling to tell [your Representative's name] that Congress needs to halt the repeal of the Affordable Care Act in order to maintain victims and survivors of gender-based violence access to essential, life-saving services. The ACA has helped millions of women purchase health insurance, allowing them to get the services they need. Should the law be repealed, survivors could lose their autonomy and be penalized for wanting to access the same benefits at the same cost as their peers. 

Featured Image for End Abuse Attorney Authors Immigration Article

End Abuse Immigration and Poverty Attorney Megan Sprecher is encouraging law enforcement executives across the country to build better relationships with immigrant crime victims. Megan co-authored an article in the March issue of The Police Chief, which is the magazine of the International Association of the Chiefs of Police. The article describes successful partnerships between police departments, victim advocates and legal service providers to help undocumented victims access help from the police. Many undocumented victims are often too fearful of immigration enforcement to report crimes committed against them. U Visas and other forms of immigration relief can help ease some of these concerns and make it more likely that victims, their children and the community are protected. Megan’s article ends with this story about an undocumented woman who survived a gunshot to the back of her head:

The perpetrator was apprehended and charged….[W]ithout the women’s cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of the crime, the community would be less safe. The U Visa was a tool that helped the young woman gather the courage necessary to cooperate. She still is recovering from her traumatic brain injury, but she is happy to be able to watch her young son, who wants to serve in law enforcement, grow up.

Against waves of anti-immigration policies and rhetoric, End Abuse continues to advocate for sensible immigration policies that guarantee immigrant victims the ability to seek help and safety for themselves and their children.
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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.