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County clerk hosts summit on domestic violence and child support

Thursday, September 27, 2007
Chicago Defender
by Anita P. Bryant

He's abusive. She's a victim. He's a deadbeat. She's just another single mother raising a child who may become another menace to society.
When hearing of women being abused by their spouses or about men deserting their families, the blame falls mostly on the men and the women who allow these things to happen to them.
Dorothy Brown, Clerk of Circuit Court of Cook County, hosts "Our Children. Ourselves. A child support, a domestic violence summit," held at Wilbur Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett, Saturday, Sept. 29 from 8:30a.m. to 4 p.m. focusing on the misconceptions about both issues.
"Every person, whether a man or woman, deserves to live peaceful life, deserves to live a life without intimidation, without violence, whether that's physical, mental, sexual or emotional," Brown told the Defender. "If you have one person that is suffering that's one too many people suffering."
Other participants and organizations at this full-day event include: Richard Devine, Cook County State's Attorney; Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services; Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network; Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, and the Chicago Police Department.
Brown said the goal of the event is to educate people about the resources available to individuals plagued by these problems. Experts will be available to teach people how to fill out the forms they need when filing for child support, getting an order of protection, requesting an adjustment on child support payments, and more. Attendees can get free professional legal advice from volunteer attorneys onsite and community activists and survivors will share their stories.
Brown said she personally experienced domestic abuse from a boyfriend as a teenager, and she struggled with trying to get a child support order from her ex-husband.
"I understand both of these issues. I understand the fact that women and men need to know that two people created that child. Therefore, two people should take care of that child…, " Brown said, adding that men and women should not be discouraged to say "I don't want that person in my life anymore." It's okay to believe that they can take care of their children on their own.
"That child deserves to live the life they would have lived if they had two parents," she said and she just wants people to understand that they do not have to do it all by themselves, because the resources are available.
Activist Danny Lopez is the keynote speaker for the seminar. His speech is entitled "Seven attributes of a real man."
He said the violent patterns of men and negative treatment towards women starts during childhood and is perpetuated through media, rap and song lyrics. The problem is "fatherless America," and it is due to the lack of strong male role models available to teach boys that women are not just mere objects, he said.
"We have no male icons. We have boys growing up with no real superheroes," Lopez said.
 "Anger is the number one problem among men today. Men are hurt, they are frustrated and men are very insecure," Lopez told the Defender. "They are hurt because of how they grew up in society, they are frustrated because they can't succeed and they don't know how to, and they are insecure because they have low self-esteem."
T.A.  Banks, 38, is a domestic violence survivor and a speaker for the summit said she hopes other women understand they can leave before it is too late. She wrote He Won't Hit Me, He Won't Hit Me Again, We Thought That Too, a book to help other women see some of the controlling signs in their mates prior to the abuse.
"I want to let the women know you can get out of it. It's okay. You can walk away, and you cannot change him. You cannot change an abusive spouse," Banks said.
Today, she is proud to have overcome many obstacles including teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, and enduring an abusive husband. It took the night her husband tried to kill her to wake her up, she said.
Although Banks is now a successful accountant, the trauma of the experience still impacts her sons now adults dealing with their own relationship concerns. She now understands how the cycle of abuse can hurt the children, she said.
"If I could tell the women anything- it's time to live for you because when you are in abusive relationship, you are really not living for yourself. You are living for him. You are being who he wants you to be. Doing the things he wants you to do. It's not about you," Banks said. "So it's time for women to learn how to live for themselves."



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