April 2021 Newsletter

Community Spotlight, Harris County, TX

Houston, Texas is safer, thanks in part to implementing the Safe Surrender program. The Safe Surrender program in Harris County requires individuals who are the subject of a protective order in domestic violence cases to surrender their firearms to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office until the case is resolved. Harris County District Judge Judy Warne was a driving force behind firearm surrender. Judge Warne, along with members of the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council and local law enforcement agencies, established the Safe Surrender Committee. The committee met monthly to find ways to decrease firearm possession among abusers. In Texas, people who have a protective order issued against them are required by law to surrender their weapons. However, like many jurisdictions, Harris County didn’t have a formal surrender protocol in place to enforce the law.

In October 2018, Harris County piloted the Safe Surrender program in the 280th Family Court with the first firearm being surrendered on December 13, 2018. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office led the effort along with the Domestic Violence Coordinated Council. Together they applied for a grant to fund their surrender efforts. When they were not awarded the grant, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez recognized the importance of disarming violent offenders. He supported the project through the Sheriff’s Department budget.

Almost a year later, the Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to expand Safe Surrender to cover all 22 felony district courts in the county. The Commissioners Court allocated $247,000 to fund the expansion, including two positions within the Sheriff’s Office, as well as a vehicle equipped with a gun safe and gun storage equipment. The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed progress on expanding the program to other criminal courts, but those involved are still anxious to see Safe Surrender expanded in Harris County.

More on Model Communities
Across the country, communities are effectively disarming domestic violence offenders by implementing firearm prohibitions in domestic violence cases. To learn more about these communities, visit the Safer Families, Safer Communities website.

Grant Reviewer Opportunity 

The Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB), Family Violence Prevention and Services (FVPS) Program is gearing up for its 2021 grant review season. FYSB will soon begin identifying qualified candidates to read, score, and evaluate grant applications in response to FVPS's anticipated Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs). Grant reviews are scheduled to be held between July and September 2021.  *Grant review dates are tentative and subject to change*

To learn more about participating as a FVPS grant reviewer, please contact Review@FYSB.net or visit reviewerregistry.net for additional information. 

More Than Just a Piece of Paper: A Toolkit for Advocates

In the context of COVID-19, economic and social stressors have provided the perfect environment for firearm-related domestic violence to thrive. Our staff at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and Firearms (NRCDVF) knows this more than most. With the support of the Joyce Foundation, NRCDVF staff put together important information, messaging, social media guidelines, and more in a comprehensive toolkit directed at advocates. Find it at PreventDVGunViolence.org and contact us with any questions or comments.

Save The Date

Please join us for our upcoming online conference and webinars! 

*National Training Institute on Protection Order Practice for Attorneys & Advocates

May 27th - June 17th (every Thursday) | 10- 3p.m central | 11- 4p.m. eastern | 8- 1p.m pacific | 

*Firearm Prohibitions: Understanding Federal Law

May 18, 2021 | 1- 2:15 p.m. central | 2- 3:15 p.m. eastern | 11- 12:15 p.m. pacific |

Should They Stay or Should They go: Helping Survivors with Interstates Custody and Relocation Cases
May 19th, 2021 | 11a.m. central | 12p.m. eastern | 9a.m. pacific | 

*Restricting Access: Preventing Prohibited Parties from Purchasing Firearms and Ammunition
June 9, 2021 | 1- 2:15 p.m. central | 2- 3:15 p.m. eastern | 11- 12:15 p.m. pacific |

*Domestic Violence-Related Mass and Spree Killings
June 22, 2021 | 1- 2:15 p.m. central | 2- 3:15 p.m. eastern | 11- 12:15 p.m. pacific |
*Responding to Intimate Partner Violence Homicide Part I and II
Part I: July 13, 2021 | 1- 2:15 p.m. central | 2- 3:15 p.m. eastern | 11- 12:15 p.m. pacific |
Part II: July 27, 2021 | 1- 2:15 p.m. central | 2- 3:15 p.m. eastern | 11- 12:15 p.m. pacific |
*Talking with Survivors about Gun Violence
August 11, 2021 | 1- 2:15 p.m. central | 2- 3:15 p.m. eastern | 11- 12:15 p.m. pacific |
*Pending OVW approval*

Gabrielle Davis Retires

We wish to recognize and thank Gabrielle Davis as she retires from the Battered Women’s Justice Project. Gaby came to us from her work as a Clinical Professor of Law at the University of Toledo College of Law. There she founded and directed a domestic violence clinic, developed curricula, and taught courses on gender violence and feminist legal theory. 

Gaby took on the position of BWJP’s Legal Policy Advisor in 2010 and became a leader in U.S. efforts to improve custody and parenting time decisions by family courts when cases involved domestic violence. She co-led the BWJP Custody Project. This project was informed by an advisory group involving Praxis International, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts. The BWJP Custody Project used an innovative method to analyze how current family court practices can lead to outcomes that do not account for intimate partner violence. Gaby compiled an extensive library of research and writings on the topics of domestic abuse, family court, and child custody. She conducted hundreds of focus groups and interviews with practitioners and parents, and drew a comprehensive picture of the practices which lead to the troublesome outcomes in these cases. This work led to the development of a new framework to guide practitioners involved in custody decision-making.

In collaboration with Loretta Frederick and Nancy Ver Steegh, Gaby developed SAFeR, a comprehensive and groundbreaking approach to child custody decision-making. The approach is implemented through the use of materials, which she led in developing, including screening and interview guides, worksheets, and other tools useful to all practitioners - advocates, attorneys, custody evaluators, guardians ad litem, mediators, and judges. In recognition of this groundbreaking work, SAFeR was honored by the Mary Byron Project with the Celebrating Solutions Award in 2018. 

Gaby served on the drafting task force which produced the Association of Family and the Conciliation Courts (AFCC) Guidelines for Examining Intimate Partner Violence: A Supplement to the AFCC Model Standards of Practice for Child Custody Evaluation. This document guides custody evaluators to screen for and assess the nature, context, and effects of intimate partner violence. She authored several influential journal articles and continues to serve as an important member on the Editorial Board of the Family Court Review. She was honored with the AFCC President’s Award in 2014. Her work earned her a 2018 Fulbright Specialist designation. Over the past decade, Gaby has traveled extensively around the country and to Australia, conducting hundreds of trainings on the SAFeR model and consulting with courts and communities in implementing SAFeR. 

“Gaby is one of the most creative and brilliant people I have ever known. Her work was truly groundbreaking and represents a huge leap forward in the effort to create a family court system which responds to the lived experience of abuse survivors and their children,” said her colleague, Loretta Frederick.

We are truly grateful for Gaby’s significant contributions to the field on behalf of survivors and their children. We wish her some well-deserved rest and new adventures in the next chapter of her life!

BWJP Welcomes the Newest Additions to our Team! 

We would like to welcome Daisy Bautista, Communications Manager; Christina Jones, Deputy Director on Policy Initiatives; Anadelle Martinez-Mullen, Project Director for the SAFeR project; Alexandra Morris, Fund Development Manager. BWJP is excited to work with the new staff on increasing survivor safety and addressing community needs.

Meet Daisy Bautista: Ms. Bautista joins BWJP as the new Communications Manager. She graduated Cum Laude from Shepherd University in West Virginia. Throughout her college career, she was involved in social justice organizations and played Division 2 collegiate soccer. Prior to joining the BWJP team, Ms. Bautista worked as a Marketing and Operations Coordinator for a semi-professional soccer league. Her previous work experiences include operations, marketing, communications, programming, and public relations. She has launched a non-profit organization called "Kick Like a Girl" for marginalized communities throughout the Washington, DC metro area.

Meet Christina Jones: BWJP welcomes Ms. Jones as the Deputy Director of Policy Initiatives.  She joins us from the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, where she served as the Special Counsel for Strategic Youth Initiatives. In her position, she advised the Attorney General on youth-facing policy and programming. Ms. Jones is a strong advocate for sexual assault prevention and has used her training and experience to design and implement consent and sexual assault seminars to teenagers around Washington D.C. Before she was appointed Special Counsel, she was the Assistant Chief for the Criminal and Juvenile Section for the Office of Attorney General for the District of Columbia. There she helped shape criminal and juvenile justice policy by directly supervising attorneys who handled cases in D.C. Superior Court. Prior to her time at OAG, she was an Assistant State's Attorney in Prince George's County, Maryland.

Meet Anadelle Martinez: BWJP welcomes Ms. Martinez-Mullen as the Director of SAFeR. Ms. Martinez-Mullen graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For fourteen years she worked diligently for Jacksonville Florida’s Hubbard House, Inc. assisting victims of intimate partner violence achieve a violence-free life. She served in the positions of outreach advocate, shelter case manager, court advocate, specialized service coordinator, and outreach services manager. In 2011 she graduated from Florida Coastal School of Law and was admitted to the Florida Bar. Her area of practice focused on family law.  She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Florida Coastal School of Law. She most lately comes to BWJP from Hubbard House where she served as the Senior Attorney for the Injunction For Protection Project. 

Meet Alexandra Morris: BWJP welcomes Ms. Morris as the Fund Development Manager. Ms. Morris graduated from The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. Prior to joining BWJP, Ms. Morris spent five years working to elect female candidates across the United States. She successfully built principal and major gift programs while maintaining a thoughtful approach to community-based relationship building.

Daisy Bautista
Christina Jones

Anadelle Martinez-Mullen

Alexandrea Morris

Protection Orders & Working with People with Disabilities

People within the deaf and disabled communities have a higher chance of experiencing violence. They are more likely to need a protection order. This community may also lack access to resources and accommodations that meet their specific needs. Because of these reasons this community has an increased need for protection orders. 

Effective advocacy for victims with disabilities requires lawyers and advocates who understand the system places an additional burden on this community. Once professionals are familiar with the unique burdens that people with disabilities face, they can provide their clients with solutions. The goal is to improve the justice system by providing services that are more inclusive and ensure that survivors with disabilities can access the protection order process.

Publication:  Protection Orders and Working with People with Disabilities

The tip sheet, Protection Orders and Working with People with Disabilities, is a helpful tool for attorneys and advocates. The purpose of this tool is to help individuals familiarize themselves with common types of disabilities and barriers to access. The tools provide strategies for overcoming those barriers that can be implemented into attorneys and advocates work. The publication is available at bwjp.org under training materials.

Prerecorded Webinar: Removing Barriers for People with Disabilities Seeking Domestic Violence Protection Orders

(NCPOFFC collaborated with the Center on Victimization and Safety, Vera Institute of Justice)

This webinar examines some of the unique dynamics of violence against people with disabilities as well as the barriers they face when seeking protection orders. The webinar provided assistance to attorneys and advocates with tips on minimizing and eliminating barriers throughout the protection order process. The system won’t be changed overnight, but with tools like this, we feel strongly about the future becoming more accessible to all. 

This project was supported by Grant Number 2016-TA-AX-KO52 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the reviews of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

Safe Space Radio: From Violence to Voice

Dr. Anne Hallward founded Safe Space Radio to bring uncomfortable topics into the public sphere. The episode we’re highlighting, From Violence to Voice, features nearly a dozen interviews. Dr. Hallward speaks with survivors of all kinds of violence, from child abuse to structural racism, who chose to speak up and share their stories of trauma and healing. The stories they share are incredibly diverse and overlap significantly in terms of harms and effects with the relationship violence that we center at BWJP.

Listen to the full episode, or just a few segments, at SafeSpaceRadio.com.

Annual Report

BWJP’s FY2019-2020 Annual report is available on our website. In it, find a letter from our Executive Director Amy Sánchez, stories of challenges and successes we’ve faced during the pandemic, and gratitude to all of our generous donors.
Find it at BWJP.org.