“Creaming:” Why Many DV Victims Don’t Get Help

Searching for Justice © 2009, Carole May
Searching for Justice © 2009, Carole May
Today I’m blowing the whistle on a corrupt system.  I promised myself when I started this site that I would only write positive stories.  But, I think it is time for y’all to know the truth about how the system operates. . .notice I did not use the word “works.”
While I was researching the story of Nancy Tyler yesterday, I discovered the story of Alice Morrin in the Hartford Courant.
Both women were trying valiantly to survive relationships with pit bull abusers.  Both women frantically contacted friends for help.  Nancy survived.  Sadly, Alice did not.
Linda Blozie of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence was quoted in articles about each of them:
. . .the onus gets placed on the victim to keep themselves safe. . .
. . .there’s always some kind of trigger point that would put someone more at danger.  I don’t know if you can ever predict that someone is going to be murdered.
Those of us who have survived domestic violence know the first statement is ever so true, and the last sentence of the second statement is pure bullshit.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to predict that Richard Shenkman would burn down the house before he’d surrender possession to Nancy.  He’d done it before.
Neil Jacobson and John Gottman published their excellent book When Men Batter Women: New Insights into Ending Abusive Relationships in 1998.  The book clearly explains the difference between a “cobra” and a “pit bull” abuser.
The domestic violence system deals fairly effectively with people fleeing “cobra” abusers.  Why does the system so frequently fail people fleeing “pit bull” abusers?
“Creaming” is a non-profit term for the practice of accepting clients who present a quick and easy fix. . .like skimming cream off the top of an old-fashioned butter churn.
It’s relatively easy to get free from a “cobra” abuser.  All you have to do is call in sick and wait for him to leave for work.  By the time he comes back home, you can be safely relocated.  He’s not likely to hunt you down or stalk you.  He’s more likely to slither on to his next victim.
But, “pit bull” abusers don’t let go.   They stalk.  They engage in litigation abuse.  They destroy careers.  They burn down houses and kidnap people.  And, when they realize the relationship is, in fact, over, they kill.  Their victims need lots of help and resources to survive.
When they don’t, their murders present fantastic fund raising opportunities for domestic violence agencies.
I’m blowing the whistle because I know for sure that Crystal Brame and Rebecca Griego both called domestic violence agencies.  Crystal also called NOW.  Rebecca worked for the University of Washington which bragged about their workplace safety program for DV victims, but they did nothing to protect her.  Crystal and Rebecca did everything they knew how to do to stay alive.  But, the system failed them miserably.
Vernetta Cockerham similarly did everything she knew how to do to protect her daughter.  But, the cops let her down.
What leaves me furious is that the people who were paid to protect them didn’t.  And, most of them still have their jobs.
We need to start holding the system more accountable.  Like the good folks in Connecticut, we need to start asking hard questions.  Why wasn’t Richard Shenkman in jail?  He’d been terrorizing Nancy Tyler for years.  Yes, he got arrested.  Several times.  The judges always grant his bail requests.  He’s yet to be prosecuted.  Why?
We also need to be vigilant about who gets Violence Against Women (VAW) funding from the Department of Justice (DoJ).  They dispense the bulk of their funding to domestic violence agencies and police departments.  Some do wonders with the funding they receive, but others let us down.  We need to lobby our elected federal representatives and the DoJ to make sure VAW funds are increased for agencies who get the job done, and funds to the rest get cut or eliminated.
No more excuses.

12 responses to ““Creaming:” Why Many DV Victims Don’t Get Help

  1. I heard about your website, and am experiencing something similar from my family, only it’s sisters (nb: Plural), and elderly mother — though controlling, not exactly emotionally supportive — being dragged in the mud also.

    And a brother in law.

    And I have daughters.

    I (too) had to sift through Christian abuse versus Christianity, i.e., the Bible. Doing OK on that, less so on churches, as my abuse happened in front of pastors (yes, plural), who continued going the psychological route, instead of the mandated reporter rout they are required to do.

    I track the money trail, with others, and it tells a story for sure.

    I hope you are NOT homeless, and would like to communicate off-line (As this is your blog, you have the email); we seem to have several threads in common. Perhaps I can help, or be one of those helping thrive sort of person.

    once I began researching, and saw what went where, and through whom, I finally got smarter. Not out, but smarter, at least, and try not to waste my time barking up trees that have federal grants fruit that women actually trying to protect themselves (and their families) don’t get to pick. Must join a program with certified experts to actually pick it.

    I am very outgoing (locally) and am daily astounded at how commonplace it is to kick women, or mothers to the side, while the experts confer — behind closed doors, just like that abuse.

    Financial self-suffiency will have to happen by involving government interventions (commonly called “help”) in one’s life at all points.

    Unfortunately, given who was enabling, versus intervening, during the difficult years (my marriage, I mean), my only means of getting free at that time was utilizing a local anti-violence agency (scrupulously avoiding naming them here). They did that initial trick, then bounced me straight to a mediator who promptly almost undid the restraining order, and has done significant, and life-changing damage (I am SURE without losing sleep over it, or even a step…) several times since. I have come to this point of view:

    Self-sufficiency (esp. financial)

    Self-sufficiency canNOT be through child support, generally speaking — they are in on some of the undue influences in the courts and administering grants that affect (well, I’m a Mom), custody decisions.

    It’s unlikely that a person coming out of abuse is going to be smart or lucky enough to bypass family courts. Given that, they will NOT have a normal work life, and PTSD WILL be a factor, for most. (See “self-appointedfool.org” for another take on this). Therefore, we can’t “do” typical jobs if the litigation is ongoing, and shouldn’t try to. I believe we should upend the typical advice to “stabilize” and go in the opposite direction, designing an income, (if possible) that is more buoyant and flexible — think surfing. Or the rapids. It needs to probably NOT involve us too much, because we are likely to be busy elsewhere, like filing an appeal or whatnot. Or a police report.

    Although I acknowledge concentration on a single task and pursuit can be very healing to PTSD. Which is I also believe why my family plus ex simply would not allow me to do this for a half year in a row, if that, once I began setting boundaries, and stating my principoles.

    The other thing is, when working with bullies and extortioners, understand how that mindframe works, that such personalities (I gather you do, already) are often attracted to professions such as — along with good folk, no doubt — law,which can turn to being a judge here or there, law enforcement (a factor in my case — couldn’t get anything, pratically, enforced, meaning, no stability), teaching, and did I say mental health / psychology professions, etc.?

    I am learning more every day, and ALMOST every single day, meet some soul who’s been dumped on by failure to enforce. This puts me back to the faith thing, which is where the Rock (yeah, ThAT Rock) kicks in for me.

    Even the few close supportive friends I do maintain, somehow — typically they’ve gone through this also, and so understand.

    Also, when society is troubled (as obviously it is these days), the concept that their basic formerly trusted structures — at least for certain middle class folk, who may have THOUGHT so — are not dysfunctional, from “simply being uninformed, and more education will solve this…”but from that old, old cause — “the love of money’ [think “The Pelican Brief”??] and of course of power, and what goes with it.

    Anyhow, I have limited internet access, but hope to look further at your site, and possibly to email off-line. I’m middle-aged and been around the block several times, educated, diverse work life, etc.

  2. Major Error in my last comment, above:

    This phrase is missing a big fat “NOT”:


    “Financial self-suffiency will have to happen by NOT involving government interventions (commonly called “help”) in one’s life at all points.

    I.e., showing up helpless (even if one is) is to too many groups, is a sign saying “fleece me.”

    The last person likely to understand this is a woman who has been abused, possibly isolated (access to funds, internet, phone, car, jobs, friends, etc.) who has just begun to say NO! Compared to a batterer, or other narcissist, most offers & organizations look somewhat better. . . . . By the time we have figured out who is paying which pipers to pipe which tune, and that much as we’d LIKE to approach people trusting their motives are good, it’s far smarter to have a healthy skepticism, and check the funding,and associations between Boards of Directors, adn so forth. Which takes time, and internet access to do, and some minimal guidance.

    [[nafcj.net, lizgates, trish wilson, etc. ]]

    [[I recommend still California NOW Family Law Page (the right side), check out those documents, and yes, i know something about what you’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog)]]

    . . . and top on my brain at this time

    ANYHOW, what I meant is if at all possible, do NOT, i repeat, do NOT get involved with the government assistances (through social service routes) at all.

    one group I was unable to almost any help from after RO was kicked off, after which things really began to heat up — this same group (since I was out of my profession and looking for work again) DOES have help for Educators in the schools to “prevent” violence.

    i think the best way to “prevent” violence is send a real clear message that it’s unacceptable. Instead, men across the nation are sending a very clear message as to what may happen if one attempts to leave an overentitled, abusive, or dangerous relationship marriage or not. And the courts are likewise saying, “Wow! We “had no idea!”

    (rest of the comment from above).

    “Unfortunately, given who was enabling, versus intervening, during the difficult years (my marriage, I mean), my only means of getting free at that time was utilizing a local anti-violence agency (scrupulously avoiding naming them here).

  3. Thanks for taking so much of your very limited and valuable time at the computer to post these comments. And, thank you very much for your concern. I am deeply touched.

    I am particularly blessed by your comment about focused concentration being good for PTSD. I do this, but I didn’t realize it was healing. It makes a lot of sense. I’m surprised my therapist didn’t pick up on this.

    My experience has been the opposite of your experience. I’ve gotten absolutely NO help from the DV agencies ~ anywhere in the US. The only person who DID help me got fired from her job. Tells you something, eh? Your comment about looking at who sits on the boards is apt.

    On the other hand, I have gotten considerable help from a survivor who works for the government. I had to raise holy hell twice with the county council to find her, however.

    I agree with you about abusive people being drawn to certain professions where they have a great deal of power and control. The law ~ especially litigation ~ is lousy with these folks.

    BettyJean Kling, who has a very successful blog and radio show, is trying to form a coalition of bloggers who are committed to change. But, the problem is money. Same old same old ~ the abusers have it, and we don’t.

    Good luck to you with your blog. Thanks again for visiting. I hear you about faith, but I confess that it feels a lot of the time like I’ve been abandoned.

  4. Though OLD, this shows a pattern.
    I think I’ll blog it today…

    THIS (below)is an EXCERPT only, and the statement below the >>>’s below, I do not know how much it applies to of that web page. My intent is to direct readers to that site and judge for themselves what’s up in family courts, at least in California:

    I disclaim any responsibility for any action anyone takes on the site, which is not my own. i.e., expect a fight, and possible retaliation; choose your battles wisely…
    / / / /

    Filed Sep 11, 1998
    September 10 1998


    ACCUSED: Tyler McCauley – Assistant Auditor – County of Los Angeles
    Frederick Bennett – County Counsel of Los Angeles
    Amy L. K. Shek – County Counsel of Los Angeles
    Henry Stewart – County Sheriff of Los Angeles
    Clarence Markham – County Sheriff of Los Angeles

    Now – Ongoing

    DAMAGES: Amount to be assessed by trial by jury

    DESCRIPTION: The ACCUSED are part of an underground of white collar criminals who are involved in the theft of CITY, COUNTY, STATE, and FEDERAL money. The scheme started before their time as an organization known as the CONFERENCE OF CONCILIATION COURTS. That organization changed its identity and assumed the name ASSOCIATION OF FAMILY CONCILIATION COURTS. Using various identity changes, the organization was listed in the LOS ANGELES SUPERVISORS DIRECTORY in 1993 as JUDGES TRUST FUND ACCOUNTING.

    The crime ring is an underground Mafia that posed as the COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES – by using the FEDERAL EMPLOYMENT IDENTIFICATION NUMBER 95-6000927. In recent dramatic announcements, the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE has informed me that the EIN or FEIN number assigned to the latest version of the organization – the – LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES ASSOCIATION – is an EIN that was not assigned to the organization. It Is a COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES EIN!

    I previously attempted to get this discovery – in the lawsuit BRYER vs PENTONEY – but 298 judges and commissioners in LOS ANGELES were disqualified on a ruse orchestrated by JUDGE GARY KLAUSNER – a ring leader of the scheme. JUDGE GARY KLAUSNER’S name is on the signature card of BANK OF AMERICA account listed under the name LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES ASSOCIATION EIN 95-6000927.

    I was forced into the corrupt county – ORANGE COUNTY – where a co-conspirator named JAMES P. GRAY told me he would throw me in jail if I tried to make any more discoveries. FEARING FOR MY LIFE in a county that is FOREIGN to me – I dismissed my case without prejudice and continued to seek discovery away from the strength of ORANGE COUNTY.

    On AUGUST 28, 1998, the LOS ANGELES DISTRICT ATTORNEY arrested my former defendant for the scheme – GREGORY S. PENTONEY -. The underworld known as the LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT JUDGES ASSOCIATION – posing for the COUNTY – has attempted to sway the case by offering PENTONEY his job back so they can get GOVERNMENT IMMUNITY for PENTONEY – and get the case dismissed. The JUDGE DALE FISCHER lowered the bail from 500,000 to 300,000 so PENTONEY can get out and confer with his old employer.

    > > >
    (at bottom of same webpage which contains many documents, not just one….)

    “I swear under penalty of perjury by the laws of the State of California that the foregoing is true except that which is based on information and belief – and I also believe that to be true. I would like the county to sign under oath that my statements are true.

    Marvin Bryer 9-10-98


    Copyright © Design Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.
    Last update 5/8/99”

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  10. Hello all! I like this forum, i organize multifarious gripping people on this forum.!!!

    Great Community, consideration all!

  11. I am a Domestic Abuse Survivor! It feels really good to say that and I am proud of the fact that I had the courage to finally leave with what was left of my sanity, self-esteem and self-worth. Of course there is a “but”. I survived and got out…but I am now left to try and rebuild a life left in shambles. Financially, he left me utterly destroyed and for me there is no help…. why, you ask… well, I am a middle class professional woman who works as a paralegal and according to all the charts, I don’t qualify for assistance. Oh sure I could get reimbursement for a changed lock or maybe legal assistance but since I don’t need those services, then, well…good luck to you is what I hear. When the relationship started, I had excellent credit and money in savings and now after eight years of being forced into paying his legal bills (which he incurred due to being arrested for abusing me), having to stay silent because he wants the car, boat, tools and anything else his heart desires or having to meet his wrath for speaking up and all the other endless expenses I had to incur to make sure that my children had food, heat, clothing, school supplies, etc… I am left living in a 270 square foot room, driving a 10 year old car that barely keeps going, and having to scrap to pay the endless amounts of debt and bills that he left me with and refuses to help pay (even with a court order). In all honesty, I would rather try to get by and pay everything myself then have to see him, talk to him or deal with him on any level. Oh, and on a side note, he bragged about the fact that his court case was dismissed AGAIN….he gets probation again and is free to terrorize whomever he wants. The point, I am trying to make is that for women like me, I too am dismissed by the system. Because I am not considered living at poverty level or because I don’t qualify for assistance, I am on my own. There needs to be more awareness and support both mentally and financially for women like me. The powers that be need to stop just looking at an income chart and find out the back stories and let all women feel like true survivors.

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