Zonta Says No! Panel on Violence Against Women Direct service experts from three Snohomish County human service agencies answered questions about violence against women at the Zonta Club of Everett breakfast meeting on August 8, 2013.
The panelist were Lisa Nicholson, director of legal advocacy for Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, who shared a legal perspective on violence against women; Elysa Hovard, outreach supervisor at Cocoon House, who spoke about violence against teen and young adult women; and Nathalie Gauteron, outreach manager for Senior Services of Snohomish County.
Nathalie Gauteron shared her professional knowledge and experience with elder abuse.
Key points made by the panel were:
- The primary factors common to violence against women are poverty, lack of a support system, and perceived vulnerability of the victim by the perpetrator.
- Teens and elderly women are especially vulnerable if they are isolated, dependent, and without family support. Caregivers are often the perpetrators of elder abuse and teens and young women often become victims of sexual and physical violence, including forced prostitution, because they are trying to survive and meet their basic needs of food, shelter, and protection. Pimps and other perpetrators are experts and identifying vulnerable women who have a weak or no support system.
- Many victims refuse to pursue legal action or recant. In the case of prostitution, women and girls are often jailed, while the pimps stay on the street where they continue to exploit vulnerable women. Sometimes women believe they are in love with their abuser or are dependent on the abuser for support. 1 to 5 years of jail time is contrary to their survival.
- The victims choice is often between violence, abuse and survival. Fear of retaliation is also a factor. As a result, victims deny, recant, or refuse help.
- In elder abuse, the victim is often isolated and dependent on their abuser for very basic care needs. Financial exploitation is a form of elder abuse. Ways to help are to: Contact your legislator now. October is the month that legislators decide what bills to put forth; Educate yourself and others about violence against women and victim rights; Help identify victims. Check on your elderly neighbors. Report anything that makes you suspicious to the police, child protective services, or adult protective services; Trust your gut; Be careful in directly intervening – your good intentions may result in more harm to the victim, or to yourself.