Only one organization unites women's voices in strategic action to change policies for
Shelby County women and girls - the Memphis Area Women's Council. With the help of a passionate volunteer board and linkages to the right partners and funders on specific strategic actions - the Women's Council is making change.
--Deborah Clubb, Executive Director
Congressman Cohen, Commissioner Gibbons, DA Weirich Among Officials Reporting More Than $30 Million in Memphis Area Spending to Address Violence Against Women
Memphis, Tennessee – Echoing reports heard throughout Tennessee, officials and advocates from Shelby, Fayette, Lauderdale and Tipton Counties recently offered testimony before the Tennessee Economic Council on Women (TECW) about the tens of millions of dollars it costs to respond to local violence against women.
State Public Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons testified that more than half of all violent crimes in the state are linked to domestic violence, and in Shelby County, 18 percent of occurrences in 2012 were committed by repeat offenders. Commissioner Gibbons reported a slight decrease in incidences in 2013 to date, but cautioned that it is too soon to determine what the year's full figures might look like.
Memphis Mayor AC Wharton emphasized the pervasive impact that such crimes have on municipal spending in Memphis, where public safety accounts for 70 percent of the city budget. "Not only do crimes like domestic violence take up a large share of Memphis Police efforts, they are also responsible for more than half of the city's Fire Department calls," he said, because of the need for ambulances.
Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell's shared that his administration provides services for crime victims and batterers, from counseling to corrections. Shelby County's Division of Community Services spends $725,000 on rape crisis services and almost $1.4 million in grant-funded initiatives to reach children exposed to violence and to make criminal justice response increasingly victim-centered. One report prepared for the hearing also estimated that 18 Shelby County non-profits spent $10.2 million related to domestic and sexual violence for shelter/housing, legal services, counseling, parenting support, community awareness and other services.
District Attorney General Amy Weirich shared well more than $10 million in expenses incurred by Memphis and Shelby County law enforcement and the District Attorney's office to respond to and prosecute related cases and to jail offenders.
Domestic violence also has a large footprint in the counties surrounding Shelby. Tipton Sheriff Pancho Chumley reported that his office answered 397 domestic calls in 2012 and made 250 related arrests.
Speakers representing medical and mental care providers shared significant expenses as well. Dr. Martin Croce, Medical Director at the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center shared that his trauma unit employed approximately 200 people at a cost near $14 million annually, and estimated that half or more of its patients had injuries related to domestic or sexual violence. "[Domestic Violence] is a matter of public health and we should address it as such," said Dr. Croce. He also cited estimates from national research that twenty percent of all women seeking emergency care suffer from domestic violence-related injuries, and that one in five high school students report having been the victim of some manner of sexual or domestic abuse.
ServiceMaster representative Trina Hyman reminded attendees that violence in the household spills over into the workplace, where victims suffer extensively from anxiety and missed work, and are often at risk of losing their jobs. Offenders cause hardship in their own workplace as well, says Hyman, as 70 percent report missing work due to an arrest.
Pretrial Services Administrator for Shelby County, Richard Harrell, pointed out that rehabilitation efforts are critical as well. "A batterer is as sick as a victim, if not more," said Harrell, who noted that local success rates for offender treatment were poor, and that our society is not managing to break the cycle of abuse. Shelby County Public Defender Stephen Bush shared that more than 80 percent of children in the Juvenile Justice System are victims or witnesses of domestic violence. Bush reinforced that mental health and other services must be made a priority, stating that "we cannot punish our way out of this problem," and that the longer it takes to intervene with a child who has witnessed incidents of violence, the more expensive and difficult it will be to help them.
Congressman Steve Cohen shared information about the federal Violence Against Women Act and impressed upon attendees that making investments to enhance response and prevention of domestic and sexual violence against women is not only the right thing to do, but is also cost-effective. Congressman Cohen cited a study showing that VAWA saved U.S. tax payers more than $12 billion in its first six years, alone.
"As we continue to work together to gather data in our four counties, we will see even more clearly the economic impact these crimes have on women, on our capacity to succeed and our capacity to care for our families," says Memphis hearing chair and Executive Director of the Memphis Area Women's Council, Deborah Clubb. "This data will help us see ways policies and systems can change to increase our safety and our economic success. Imagine how much stronger our state can be when these thousands of our citizens are free to be all we can be!"
The Memphis hearing will be followed by three more in the TECW series in:
• Trenton, June 20th
• Jackson, July 15th
• Johnson City, July 31st
For further information about the TECW's hearings on Violence Against Women, please contact the Tennessee Economic Council on Women at (615) 253-4266, www.tennesseewomen.org, www.facebook.com/TNECW, or info.ECW@tn.gov.
Party and showing of 'Purple'
Is this year's Council fundraiser
For the sixth year, the Council is holding a party in conjunction with a show at Playhouse On The Square, and this year we'll be entertained by a performance of The Color Purple.
So please mark your calendars for June 22 and buy tickets!
The party begins at 6:30 p.m. and will feature fresh hot sliders prepared on-site by the staff from The Slider Inn.
The play, sponsored by the generous support of MAWC treasurer and founder Happy Jones and her husband Fred Terry, begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $50. You can send a check to MAWC at 2574 Sam Cooper Blvd., Memphis, TN 38112, or you can purchase online by clicking on the Donate Button (above). For more information, contact email@example.com, or phone her at 901-378-3866.
Thanks for your continuing support.
Remembering a friend and DV pioneer
Memphis Area Women’s Council Chair Sonja White passed away May 4, 2013 after a valiant struggle against cancer. She always brought strength, skill, vision, humor, compassion and passion to her life’s endeavors — especially when she was working on behalf of victims of family violence.
From left, Council President Deborah Clubb, Memphis Police Col. Mike Ryall and
Council Chair Sonja White at the 2nd annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes™ event.
Sonja was a 2009 recipient of a Women of Achievement Vision award for which an essay was written about her life's accomplishments. You can read it here.
They walked the mile
to protest gender assault
Some of the spirited marchers in this year's 'Walk a Mile' event.
2013 crime victims award
presented to Council director
At an outdoor ceremony that included a tree-planting, Deborah M. Clubb, executive director of the Memphis Area Women's Council, was given an award for her work in helping victims of violence in Memphis and Shelby County. read more
Walk A Mile awareness
march gets TV-24 coverage
The station filed a news report about the Broad Avenue Spring Art Walk and included
footage about the fourth annual Walk A Mile In Her ShoesTM event that took place around the art district April 19.
Women's voices are powerful when united. We make things happen. We change how things are done.
It is in that spirit that the board of the Memphis Area Women's Council initiates WomenTalk - a regular monthly time for women to gather and share the joys, sorrows, aggravations, issues, rights and wrongs in our lives.
The door of our office at 2574 Sam Cooper Blvd. will be open each second Thursday starting in April - come sip a beverage and join the conversation, 5:30 to 7 p.m. The topics will be whatever those who gather want or need to discuss. We expect - at the least - some fun and interesting conversations. Come join in!
Signed: Sonja White, president; Happy Jones, secretary/treasurer; Dr. Phyllis Betts, Lila Beth Burke,
Dr. Carol Danehower, Charlotte Wilson Hoyle, Dr. Glenda Moses, Dr. Owen Phillips, Janet Shipman, Linda Williams, Jocie Wurzburg, directors.
Walk to raise DV awareness returns to Broad
The fourth annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes™ domestic violence awareness event and fundraiser is coming soon. The one-mile march — including men who dare walking in women’s high-heeled shoes! — returns to Broad Avenue April 19 where it once more is a sanctioned event at the Broad Avenue Spring Art Walk.
Men and women are invited to come and take part in this fun event. Registration begins at 5:30 at the music stage, on the north side of Broad Avenue. The walk is a mile around the district.
Women’s Council sponsors
national program on WKNO-TV
If you missed it, you still can see our sponsorship spot that ran at the beginning of the WKNO show, “MAKERS: Women Who Make America” to be rerun in the near future.
Here’s our spot:
Women’s Council achieves important change
Based on news reports and our conversations with City Council leadership the renaming parks committee will be enlarged to add women! We celebrate success on behalf of all local women.
Our thanks to the Council members for their quick response and to all of you who added your comments. Also our thanks to all who support the Women’s Council so that we are here to undertake this kind of action.
At the recent 2012 Economic Summit for Women in Nashville, MAWC Executive Director Deborah M. Clubb and Dr. Carol Danehower, University of Memphis professor, met with national icon Lilly Ledbetter. In the photograph, from left: Ms. Clubb, who serves as a member of the state Women's Economic Council Foundation board; Ms. Ledbetter, author, advocate and namesake of the game-changing Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2009, and Dr. Danehower, Fogelman College of Business and Economics associate professor and immediate past chair of the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.