Categorized as: stand your ground

Mother’s Day… Everyday!

The day after Mother’s Day is usually a solemn one. For the celebrated mothers, it is a reminder of being back to the toils of normalcy. For those whose mothers have transitioned, the challenge of returning to work or school to hear about the ‘wonderful times with Mom’ can be excruciating.

Mothers, you are worth a daily celebration for all you do to ensure our happiness and upbringing. At times, I am often apologetic for my lackadaisical approach to showing appreciation to the matriarch of our family structure. I am blessed to have a spouse who can assist me with such a daunting feat. I can only empathize with single parents; imagining the task of raising children to be embraced by today’s society while educating them to be passionate, righteous and safe.

So this day, the day after Mother’s Day, I want to say thank you to all of the mothers of the World. Even though you too may be challenged with personal faults, you are still appreciated!

I have a special place in my heart for mothers who have to illustrate a false sense of happiness while covering wounds of depression and abuse to protect their children. Can you imagine facing a child or children who sense your pain and vulnerabilities after witnessing your abuse? The strength of Mom is immeasurable beyond belief.

Take a moment out of your day to show a mom, even if not your Mom, some appreciation for all she does. Something as simple as a phone call, a smile or words of encouragement can show a mother the love she deserves.

Trick Or Treat, Safely!

As the leaves fall and the weather gets cool one of the most festive, crazy and creative holidays is quickly approaching. It is loved by the young and old, the at home- costume doers along with the over the top house decorators. If it isn’t for the bags full of candy or the mystery of “who is behind the mask” you cannot help but enjoy some part of Halloween.

This post will be packed of little Tricks and Treats to keep you and you family safe next weekend.  With every one running around getting that last eye ball to glue on  or finding the ‘just right shade of white face paint’ we at Divas In Defense do not want you to forget that safety is key to a successful evening.

Before you or a group of your Lil’ Ladybug or Fireman friends head out; make sure you have completed your check list:

  1. Have route already planned out.
  2. Make sure designated watchers are assigned.
  3. Costumes are properly fitted with reflector tape or some type of light that can be seen by drivers and walkers.
  4. You can even make your own waterproof informational tattoo. All you need is a sharpie and clear nail polish!

Costumes – Beware! Of people in mask or face covering costumes. They are not only cool to scare but they are an easy way to disguise a person real intention.

Candy – Check your kid’s candy and ‘When in doubt, Throw it out!!! For adults this rule applies as well, check those party favors and punch bowls.

Pets- You will want to keep your cats indoors especially the unofficial mascot of Halloween the Black Cat. Some may take this opportunity to really bring harm to your for legged friend.

Fierce & Fabulous Divas 21+ – With so many goblins and ghouls roaming the streets on All Hallows’ Eve, things can get a little scary. Here are some Uber tips so you have a safe night with treats and no tricks.

  1. Make sure driver ID, type of car and plate matches.
  2. Pre dial 911 – so you can hit send ASAP
  3. Call someone beforehand, while in the car and once you have reached your destination.
  4. Place a business care or matchbook in your purse to ensure you return to your correct hotel.

Halloween can be a fun time of year for both children and adults alike. Whether you plan to get decked out in an elaborate costume and attend a haunted bash, take the kids trick-or-treating, or stay home and hand out goodies to all the ghosts and goblins who appear on your doorstep, the usage of these little tricks and treats will ensure everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

“It’s On Us” To Stop Sexual Assault

Lately, it seems like every time I turn on any news station, there is another college fraternity being suspended for allegations of some type of sexual assault. Recently the University of Virginia has suspended all fraternities and parties associated with the fraternities following a Rolling Stone Magazine article that describes one student’s account of being gang raped and her annoyance with her school to hold her attackers responsible. President Teresa A. Sullivan wrote in a statement to the university community. “Rape is an abhorrent crime that has no place in the world, let alone on the campuses and grounds of our nation’s colleges and universities.

How can we, the female society, willing fill out applications to our dream schools and most of the social clubs are on suspension or investigation for sexual assault. I wanted to know, what are college administrations and our governments doing to protect us on campus from sexual assaults?

Well here is the answer. The Obama Administration launched “It’s On Us” Public Awareness Campaign this year. This campaign has been formulated:

• To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
• To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
• To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
• To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

“It’s On Us” I believe is a pledge that all schools and colleges can implement to make a big difference on how the female student body.

When a victim can have the support of her school and that her allegations will not go unheard, that is already a strong unified campus that I would want to be apart of.

While on winter break sign your Young Diva for Divas In Defense “On Her Own” Workshop December 20th, 2014:

Take the “Its On Us” Pledge Here:
http://itsonus.org/#pledge_open

“UVA Suspends Fraternities after Report on Gang Rape Allegations.” CNN. Ralph Ellis, 23 Nov. 2014. Web. 23 Nov. 2014

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Fire(harmless) Training

I recently went to the shooting range for the first time.  While I’ve always been somewhat hesitant about firearms I must say it was an amazing experience.  The feeling of pulling the trigger and hearing that subsequent “pop” is exhilerating.  With the proper firearm training, a woman can protect herself in an instant.  The news is always relaying a story about domestic violence against women.  The statistics are astounding, and only seem to get worse and worse by the year.  According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.”  That’s a 25 percent chance that you or someone you know will fall victim to the anger of a trusted person.  Knowing this it’s important to not only learn basic self-defense techniques, but also educate yourself on the use of a gun.  Remember that we offer firearms training at Divas In Defense with our Fire(Harmless) Gun Training course.  Be sure to contact us and sign up today!

Three Safety Tips to Defend a Home Invasion

There’s no place like home!

Time and time again we chant, “Lord, let me make it home safely.” What if the same dwelling you find solace in is compromised? What would you do? Yesterday, an intruder armed with a machine gun entered the home of Oscar-winning actress, Sandra Bullock. After spending over an hour in her home, she managed to stay safe. See more of the story from CNN here.

Here are a few preliminary steps you can take to ease the stress of an intrusion:

  • 1. Have an evacuation plan in place. Knowing what you are going to do before you have to actually do it, makes life simpler. If you and your family (housemates) practice what to do in case of an invasion, fire or natural disaster, it can minimize the stress of finding everyone should there be an emergency. Have a place INSIDE the home to meet or escape to if someone breaks in. In addition, a place OUTSIDE the home in case of fire or following a natural disaster assists with an adequate head count. Put in place and practice often.
  • 2. Put that OLD CELLPHONE to use! If you, like most of us, change out your cellphone every couple of years; it’s likely you have an “extra” around the house. If a cellphone has had service at least one day, it is permanently registered with 911 and is able to make calls to emergency operators. It is recommended for you to keep an old phone in the “panic room” for access. Having to worry about finding your phone may not be as easy if you are in fear.
  • 3. Arm yourself with a “household” weapon if you don’t own a gun, stun gun or pepper spray. You can order some non-lethal weapons such as stun guns, pepper sprays or door stoppers and alarms from Divas In Defense. Something as simple as a stick or aerosol spray can act as your last line of defense if need be. Keep a weapon in your panic room and be prepared to use it. Instruct your family or housemates on the location and proper use of the weapon as well.
  • As self-defense teaches, preparation and awareness is a majority of the battle. Visit Divas In Defense to register for self-defense training.

    April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

    April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, also known as SAAM. The month of April is dedicated to providing events and opportunities to promote awareness of rape and sexual violence prevention. Sexual Assault Awareness Month was first observed in 2001 under the direction of the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA).

    The theme for the 2013 National Sexual Assault Awareness Month is “It’s Time . . . To Talk About It.” This year’s focus is on healthy sexuality and it’s connection to child sexual abuse prevention. We are asking you to join the conversation and help us promote the awareness of sexual assault in your communities.

    Want to get involved but do not know where to start? Here are a few event ideas to get you started:

    1. Start the conversation.

    Plan a dinner, coffee meeting or lunch with people in your organizations or network to discuss sexual assault prevention and resources in your area.

    2. Promote a teal ribbon campaign.

    Teal is the color associated with sexual assault. Distribute teal ribbons to your co-workers, family members and friends to promote sexual assault awareness.

    3. Walk, March, Unite.

    Register for local walks or runs in your area focused on sexual assault awareness this month.

    4. Participate in Denim Day.

    Join the movement of wearing jeans on Denim Day, April 24. Wearing jeans on denim day is an international social statement and fashion statement as a visible means of protest against negative attitudes towards sexual assault. Click here to learn more about Denim Day.

    Need more ideas and resources? Visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

    Marissa Alexander Sentenced: Florida Mom Who Shot At Abusive Husband Gets 20 Years In Prison

    “Injustice Anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
    Marissa Alexander, the 31-year-old Florida woman who fired what her family calls a warning shot at her abusive husband, was sentenced Friday morning to 20 years in prison.
    Alexander was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon for firing into a wall near her husband and his two young children at their Jacksonville home in 2010. Alexander has maintained that she wasn’t trying to hurt anyone and that she was standing her ground against a man who had over the course of nearly a year punched and choked her on several different occasions. Alexander says that she believed she was protected that day under the state’s Stand Your Ground Law, which gives people wide discretion in using deadly force to defend themselves.
    A judge and a jury disagreed.
    The State Attorney’s Office offered a plea bargain that would have sent Alexander to prison for three years, but she rejected it, hoping to convince a jury that she had been defending herself when she fired the weapon.
    Alexander’s case has become the latest battleground in a fight against what Alexander’s supporters call the misapplication of the Stand Your Ground Law and Florida’s mandatory minimum sentencing laws, which offer stiff sentences for crimes involving guns.
    According to Florida’s 10-20-Life statutes, anyone who pulls a gun during a crime receives a mandatory 10-year sentence. Firing a gun during the commission of a crime equals a mandatory 20-year sentence. Anyone convicted of shooting and killing another person during a crime is sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
    Alexander, who did not have a criminal record before the shooting, was convicted of felony assault with a gun.
    “Florida’s mandatory 10-20-life gun law forced the Court to impose an arbitrary, unjust and completely inappropriate sentence,” said Greg Newburn, Florida project director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums, a group that fights to repeal such laws. “As long as Florida keeps its inflexible gun sentencing laws, we will continue to see cases like Ms. Alexander’s.”
    Alexander, a mother of three, and her family have vowed to keep fighting.
    “It’s like a nightmare that we can’t wake up from,” Helen Jenkins, Alexander’s mother, told HuffPost shortly after the sentencing. “But we just take it one day at a time. Emotionally we are spent, but every day we start over because we have to fight for Marissa.”
    Jenkins said the family is currently raising funds to hire another attorney to appeal Alexander’s case.
    Angela Corey, the state attorney who oversaw the case against Alexander, said that justice was indeed served and that Alexander was angry and reckless, not fearful, on the night of the shooting. Just because no one was harmed in the incident doesn’t make the shooting any less a punishable crime, Corey said.
    “I feel like when someone fires a loaded gun inside of a home with two children standing in the direction where the bullet was fired, we have to have tough laws that say you don’t do that,” Corey told HuffPost. “Justice, with the laws of the state of Florida, was served. But I don’t believe her supporters will ever believe that.”
    The Jacksonville courtroom in which Alexander was sentenced was packed with Alexander’s family and supporters. At one point, according to news reports, a group of young supporters stood up and sang or chanted, “We who believe in justice will not rest!”
    One by one, Alexander’s family members addressed the court, including Alexander’s mother and father, a sister and a brother who broke down in tears as they talked about their sister and how they believe the system had wronged her.
    Alexander’s daughter, Havelin, 11, read from a letter she’d written and questioned “how my mom could be beaten but she’s the one arrested,” according to Lincoln Alexander, the girl’s father and Marissa’s ex-husband.
    “That’s the reason why I’m fighting,” Lincoln Alexander told Huffpost. “I’m fighting for my kids … I knew this day was coming and my thoughts were on them. Would they be strong enough?”
    If Alexander’s future appeals are unsuccessful, and she serves her full 20-year term in prison, her twins will be 31 years old when she is released. Her youngest will be 22.
    “Today was another tough day for them,” Lincoln Alexander said of his kids. “Once they took Marissa away and we walked out of the court and everything was over, that’s when it was toughest.”
    On Aug. 1, 2010, a fight between Alexander and her husband, Rico Gray, 36, left her cornered in the couple’s home. She fled into the garage to escape but was trapped behind a jammed door, she stated in court documents. She said she grabbed the gun she kept in the garage, returned to the house and, when Gray threatened to kill her, fired a single shot to ward him off.
    Gray ran out of the house with his two sons and called the police. Alexander was arrested and charged. She unsuccessfully invoked her right to stand her ground in court. Alexander’s sentencing comes 435 days after the shooting. It took a jury 12 minutes to find her guilty.
    Gray himself admitted in a deposition to abusing “all five of his babies’ mamas except one,” and to hitting Alexander. Alexander’s family and supporters say that Gray’s testimony should not be trusted, because he perjured himself by changing his account of events on the night of the shooting between his early depositions and later court hearings — a claim that was not disputed by Corey, the state attorney.
    Alexander’s case has drawn comparisons to the case of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot to death in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer who claimed he shot Martin in self-defense. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was initially released after the police said he was within his legal rights to defend himself. He was later arrested and charged with second-degree murder more than 40 days later.
    Both the Martin and Alexander cases have stirred controversy around Florida’s self-defense and gun laws, but it wasn’t until some media pivoted from the Martin case to Alexander’s that her name became known outside of Jacksonville.
    Her family has set up a website and has appeared on cable news shows and nationally syndicated radio programs to spread the word about the “injustice” that they believe Alexander has suffered.
    But in the past week, Angela Corey, the state attorney (who also is prosecuting Zimmerman in the Martin case), has launched a media offensive to combat what she has called “misinformation” being spread by the family about the circumstances of the shooting.
    Shortly after the sentencing, Corey echoed comments she made to HuffPost earlier this week, saying that Alexander’s own actions on the night of the incident and in the following months have landed her in the position that she is in.
    While Alexander’s family has portrayed her as a victim at the end of her emotional rope and in fear of her life, Corey says Alexander fired in anger and not in fear. Corey disputes the so-called warning shot into the ceiling with photographs that show bullet holes much lower, going through a kitchen wall and into the living room where Corey said Gray and his boys were.
    “The fact that nobody got hurt has to be balanced with the fact that someone could have gotten hurt,” Corey said. “The kids being right next to him changed everything.”
    About four months after Alexander was released on bail, on orders to have no contact with Gray, she got into an altercation with him at his home that gave him a black eye, Corey said. Alexander was arrested and charged with battery, to which she pleaded no contest.
    Corey said that Alexander’s actions — engaging with a man of whom she claimed to be deathly afraid, and assaulting him — “didn’t show much of her being remorseful” or “being a peaceful person.”
    “Everybody is still ignoring that she got out on bond and chose to go back over there and hit him a second time,” Corey said. “That was kind of an indication of where putting her on probation, where you might have been able to do that before, was off the table since she disregarded a judges order.”
    Alexander’s family said the second incident took place just days before her newborn would have been dropped off of her insurance, and that she went over to Gray’s home to have him sign paperwork that would have kept the baby insured. The family say that he attacked her that night and provided HuffPost with her medical records, which show that she suffered minor scrapes and bruising on her face, hand and arm.
    After the altercation, Alexander left Gray’s house, and Gray called the police.
    On Friday Corey’s office provided a police report, photographs and a 911 call that counter Alexander’s claims.
    In the police report, Gray claimed that Alexander came over to drop off their daughter, and that when he rebuffed Alexander’s request to spend the night, she “became enraged and began striking him on the face.” Gray said he raised his hands, the report continues, and he yelled out to his sons to call the police. The responding officer wrote that Gray’s children corroborated that account.
    When the police contacted her an hour or so later, according to the report, she said she didn’t understand why they were contacting her and that she had an “alibi.” The police noted swelling and a cut under Gray’s left eye and no visible injuries on Alexander. But on the way to the jail, Alexander said she felt light-headed and became unresponsive.
    An officer then “observed that there was a small cut under the suspect’s eye that was not there prior to her being placed in my back seat.”
    Alexander was rearrested that night and has remained in custody ever since.

    See original story HERE.

    In The State Of Florida – Marissa Alexander Had A Gun Permit, Stood Her Ground, Did Not Shoot Or Kill Anyone and Faces 20 Years In Prison

    Dear Supporters:

    On August 1 2010, my premature baby girl, born nine days earlier, was in the Baptist South N.I.C.U. fighting for her life and I would too be fighting for my life in my own home against an attack from my husband.

    My name is Marissa Alexander, I am a mother of three children, but at the present time, I am not able to be with them due to the following circumstances. I am currently sitting in the Pretrial Detention Facility in Jacksonville FL, Duval County awaiting a sentence for three counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon with no intent to harm. Before my life changed drastically on that August afternoon, I was in the perilous position of leaving an abusive relationship with my husband who has history of violence and documented domestic abuse towards women. Our history included one which required me to place an injunction for protection against violence and was active during the month of August 2010.

    In an unprovoked jealous rage, my husband violently confronted me while using the restroom. He assaulted me, shoving, strangling and holding me against my will, preventing me from fleeing all while I begged for him to leave. After a minute or two of trying to escape, I was able to make it to the garage where my truck was parked, but in my haste to leave I realized my keys were missing. I tried to open the garage but there was a mechanical failure. I was unable to leave, trapped in the dark with no way out. For protection against further assault I retrieved my weapon; which is registered and I have a concealed weapon permit. Trapped, no phone, I entered back into my home to either leave through another exit or obtain my cell phone.

    He and my two stepsons were supposed to be exiting the house thru the front door, but he didn’t leave. Instead he came into the kitchen that leads to the garage and realized I was unable to leave. Instead of leaving thru the front door where his vehicle was parked outside of the garage, he came into the kitchen by himself. I was terrified from the first encounter and feared he came to do as he had threatened. The weapon was in my right hand down by my side and he yelled, “Bitch I will kill you!”, and charged toward me. In fear and desperate attempt, I lifted my weapon up, turned away and discharged a single shot in the wall up in the ceiling. As I stood my ground it prevented him from doing what he threatened and he ran out of the home. Outside of the home, he contacted the police and falsely reported that I shot at him and his sons. The police arrived and I was taken into custody.

    I was devastated and would continue to be for months following the incident. I had to appear in court all the way up until trial as I plead not guilty and know that I acted in self-defense. I believe my actions saved my life or prevented further harm, but preserved that of my husband who was completely irrational, extremely violent, and unpredictable that day.

    Florida has a self-defense law and it includes the right to stand your ground. Below are the facts of my concern with the incorrect way the law was applied and ultimately the injustice in my case.

    • The alleged victim, my husband, under sworn statement in November 2010, admitted he was the aggressor, threatened my life and was so enraged he didn’t know what he would do.
    • The alleged victim, my husband, was arrested for domestic violence two times, once for abuse against me. The attack against me was so violent; I ended up in the hospital.
    • Prior to my arrest, I told the office I was in fear for my life due to the prior violence against me. I also told the officer there was a domestic injunction in place to protect me against abuse from the alleged victim. This information was written in detail by the officer in my arrest report, but ignored for some unknown reason.
    • In July of 2011, a hearing was held, where I along with the alleged victims testified as it relates to the stand your ground law and its immunity from prosecution.
    • After the hearing, Judge Elizabeth Senterfitt denied my motion, citing that I could have exited the house thru the master bedroom window, front door, and/or sliding glass back door. The law specifically states: No duty to retreat.
    • My attorney entered a standing objection on the record to the ruling and we proceeded to trial.
    • During that time, Angela Corey, our State Attorney met with the alleged victims. I also along with my attorney met with Angela Corey, John Guy, and then prosecutor Christen Luikart. I justified my actions to them and the truth as I have told it has remained the same.
    • Knowing our prior domestic abuse history, Angela Corey was hard pressed for the minimum mandatory, which provisions allow for prosecution to wave those stipulations. I was not guilty, nor did I believe that was fair and just under the circumstances. She also allowed for those same provisions in the State vs. Vonda Parker, same charges different circumstances which did not include self-defense.
    • Florida uses a law commonly known as 10-20-life as a sentencing guideline when a felony takes place with the use of a weapon. Under this statute, my felony charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon without intent to harm carries a twenty year mandatory sentence.
    • Stand your ground law has been applied in multiple recent incidents, the following is just a couple of incidents. Carl Kroppman Jr was allowed to use this law to avoid being arrested/charged during a road rage incident on the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville, FL in August of 2011. Marqualle Woolbright of Ocala, FL avoided murder charges due to the stand your ground law when he shoot and killed someone.

    I am a law abiding citizen and I take great pride in my liberty, rights, and privileges as one. I have vehemently proclaimed my innocence and my actions that day. The enigma I face since that fateful day I was charged through trial, does the law cover and apply to me too?

    A step further and more importantly is in light of recent news, is justice for all include everyone, regardless of gender, race or aristocratic dichotomies. I simply want my story heard, reviewed and the egregious way in which my case was handled from start to finish serve as an eye opener for all and especially those responsible for upholding judicial affairs.

    The threat that day was very real, imminent, and the battery on me occurred minutes before the decision I made to protect myself. That decision was a last resort, necessary and a reaction to the continued threat on my life. I am a believer that grace allowed for my response to be carried out in a non-lethal manner. This prevented the imminent threat and harm a non-fatal tactic, but not against an unknown attacker, rather my very own husband. That was by far the most difficult position to be in nine days after giving birth to a six week premature infant. My heart goes out for my two stepsons and always has had a hurt and sincere empathy for them being subjected innocently to that trauma.

    The law states that I was justified in standing my ground and meeting force with force up to including deadly force, but political views and concerns states otherwise in the 4th circuit court.

    So my last questions and valid concerns are what was I supposed to do that day and the stand your ground law who is it for?

    Sincerely,
    Lincoln B. Alexander Jr on behalf of Marissa Alexander

    View original article here.

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