WBEZ | Mujeres Latinas en Acción http://www.wbez.org/tags/mujeres-latinas-en-acci%C3%B3n Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Gang mediators take on domestic violence http://www.wbez.org/story/advocate/gang-mediators-take-domestic-violence <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Kerr_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A Chicago-based group called CeaseFire works in the city&rsquo;s toughest neighborhoods. It trains former gang members to mediate conflicts that could turn violent. Those conflicts might be over turf or money, a pecking order or a personality clash. Now CeaseFire is addressing another source of gang tension: wives and girlfriends. But some advocates for battered women worry that mixing gang intervention with domestic-violence work could backfire.</p><p>MITCHELL (at the scene): I&rsquo;m at the offices of a Humboldt Park group called the Alliance of Local Service Organizations. It runs a CeaseFire chapter and they&rsquo;re letting me listen in to a debriefing about a shooting this month.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Could there be retaliation to this incident?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: There could have been, very likely, but since we talked them down and...<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Because somebody went around on a graffiti rampage, right?<br />MITCHELL (at the scene): I&rsquo;ve agreed not to identify the CeaseFire workers or anyone involved in the conflict.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: The victim was in a relationship?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: He&rsquo;s in a relationship. He was having another relationship outside the relationship....<br /><br />MITCHELL (in the bureau): Here&rsquo;s the gist of the story&mdash;all of it alleged. A gang member got a teenager pregnant and started slapping her around. This didn&rsquo;t sit well with her family. And, the thing is, her family&rsquo;s in a different gang. So someone in that mob tracked down the man and shot him.<br /><br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Did the victim die?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: No.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Did the victim know the perp?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: Yes.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Violence involving gangs and girlfriends is nothing new in Chicago. But it&rsquo;s only lately that CeaseFire&rsquo;s Humboldt Park chapter responds this way:<br /><br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: OK, so a domestic-violence advocate has been notified and is working with the related parties around safety planning. We don&rsquo;t know if that has taken place, right?<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: No.<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Because we gave her the card but...<br />CEASEFIRE WORKER B: It&rsquo;s on her if she wants to go get the help. We can&rsquo;t force her to do anything.<br />KERR: And there are other services that we&rsquo;ve connected with as well so...<br /><br />MITCHELL: This last guy is Norman Kerr. He&rsquo;s a social worker who oversees the CeaseFire chapter. Kerr speaks with me after the meeting.<br /><br />KERR: A year ago, we didn&rsquo;t really concern ourselves with needs of the victim in a domestic-violence case. If there was a young lady who was victimized by her boyfriend, that really wasn&rsquo;t something that we addressed.<br /><br />MITCHELL: So Kerr and some former gang members he supervises got some training from the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women&rsquo;s Network. And the CeaseFire chapter has developed an approach to what it calls &ldquo;intimate-partner violence.&rdquo;<br /><br />KERR: If we know someone is victimized, we want to make sure that they&rsquo;re getting the help that they need. And, at the same time, we&rsquo;re sitting here talking about how we can educate the young guys that they shouldn&rsquo;t be perpetrating domestic violence.<br /><br />SHAW: That&rsquo;s a dream come true.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Barbara Shaw heads a state agency called the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.<br /><br />SHAW: Men sometimes feel that they have a right to hit their girlfriends or hit their wives&mdash;that they&rsquo;re supposed to maintain control. And having other men, particularly men who have a macho image themselves, telling them that this is not OK and not manly increases the validity and strength of the message.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Shaw says gang interventionists with roots in the neighborhood have much more access to perpetrators than victim advocates do. That&rsquo;s actually the idea behind expanding the program. Starting next month, the Humboldt Park chapter will train CeaseFire street workers citywide about intimate-partner violence.&nbsp; But some battered-women&rsquo;s advocates warn that CeaseFire could be putting those workers in greater danger.<br /><br />ABARCA: The offender may try to send other people after him or may teach him a lesson for getting into his business.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Rosa Abarca heads the domestic-violence program at Mujeres Latinas en Acción. That&rsquo;s a women&rsquo;s center in Chicago&rsquo;s Pilsen neighborhood. Abarca says a perp. might mistake what a CeaseFire worker&rsquo;s up to.<br /><br />ABARCA: He may feel like this is a boyfriend that&rsquo;s trying to help her out. And that can escalate the abuse for her because he&rsquo;s probably thinking that, &quot;She&rsquo;s being unfaithful. I need to control her more.&quot;<br /><br />MITCHELL: And Abarca points out some victims may not be ready for help.<br /><br />AMBI: Debriefing.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Back in Humboldt Park, the CeaseFire workers are still talking about the shooting.<br /><br />CEASEFIRE WORKER A: Let me ask you this: What happens if she does end up getting slapped again tomorrow?<br /><br />MITCHELL: I ask the group&rsquo;s leader, Norman Kerr, whether Abarca has got a point.&nbsp; Maybe a CeaseFire worker could make a domestic dispute worse. Maybe he could spark more violence.<br /><br />KERR: We&rsquo;re not trying to work directly with female victims. We&rsquo;re making referrals. We&rsquo;re making sure that the female victims in those situations are getting some services.<br /><br />MITCHELL: Kerr wants his crew to be careful. But since so many gang disputes involve girlfriends and wives, he says, CeaseFire has no choice but to get involved.</p><p><em>Music Button: Calibro 35, &quot;Appuntamento Al Contessa&quot;, from the CD Rare, (Nublu) </em></p></p> Mon, 24 Jan 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/advocate/gang-mediators-take-domestic-violence