Survivor Story April 2018

At 23 years of age, Marcus has sage advice for others seeking a way out of an abusive situation. “If you’re on the fence about seeking help, I want you to remember two things: First, your circumstances never determine your value or worth,” says Marcus. “Secondly, remember to never be ashamed of your story, or what you’re going through, because one day your story could be used to help someone else.”

The stigma attached to domestic violence means people who are trapped in abusive situations often need reassurance that they are doing the right thing by seeking help. Many victims are understandably hesitant to step forward, and this reluctance is magnified in the LGBTQ community, where victims are afraid to be outed to their family or co-workers.

Marcus decided to seek help when his previous sexual partner would not stop harassing and stalking him. Stalking often goes unreported but it can escalate quickly and is known to be a precursor to violence. In Marcus’ case, the sexual partner was stalking him and harassing him with texts threatening to kill him. Unfortunately, Marcus’ situation is not uncommon and technology has only made it easier for abusers to stalk and harass victims.

Stalking is defined as “conduct directed toward a specific person that would lead a reasonable to fell fear.” Experts advise that when it comes to stalking, trust your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, you probably are. The majority of victims know their stalker: 61% of females and 44% of males know their stalker.

“Coming into the Family Safety Center I was very anxious and scared,” says Marcus. “However, immediately after I stepped through their doors and met the staff, I felt an overwhelming sense of acceptance, love, and most importantly I felt safe. The staff really left a lasting impact on my life.”

Click here for a Fact Sheet on stalking.

FSC Reaches Out to LGBTQ Victims

A series of focus groups facilitated by the Family Safety Center last year revealed a real disconnect for the local LGTBQ community seeking DV services. As a result, FSC hired a full-time staff member focused on the community, pursued more diversified housing options, and began sensitivity training for law enforcement.

Domestic violence victims are often hesitant and frightened to step forward and speak up. Those dynamics are compounded when victims are members of the LGBTQ community, many of whom are not comfortable going public in the first place.  In addition to hesitancy coming forward, these victims are more likely to experience discrimination when they try to access services, something Phillis Lewis says she witnessed i 2011 when she was trying to help a victim in her role as a Victim Witness Coordinator in the District Attorney’s Office.

Lewis came in contact with a victim who was in a same sex relationship and needed help. Lewis referred her to an agency that she thought could cater to the victim’s needs. She later found out that instead of helping her through her traumatic experience, the agency focused on the victim’s sexuality.

“This was upsetting to me because DV is already under-reported in the LGBTQ community,” says Lewis, who now works at FSC. “I began doing research to see what the numbers were for reporting in Shelby County for DV in the LGBTQ community, and the numbers were extremely low. After speaking with friends within the LGBTQ community we came to the conclusion that victims did not want to be outed. When someone does come for help, it is our duty to help them without judgement.”

Click here for LGBTQ Power & Control Wheel

In October 2017, Lewis joined FSC as a full-time Navigator/ LGBTQ liaison, due in part to feedback received in a series of focus groups, facilitated to explore the barriers that LGBTQ DV victims may face when seeking support. Key take-aways were that interactions with law enforcement can be harmful if officers allow their own biases to interfere with serving victims, including failing to use proper pronouns when addressing transgendered individuals. Participants also said that faith-based services sometimes focus more on a victim’s sexual orientation than the services needed at the time. Housing is also a challenge since there are restrictions about who is allowed in which shelters.

“FSC is committed to serving all victims of DV in our area. We work hard to be a welcoming and affirming community for all victims seeking support,” says Olliette Murry-Drobot, executive director of FSC. “After the focus groups, we took a long hard look at our operations, we took study recommendations to heart, and we began to look at areas for improvement. I feel we are having an impact on multiple levels and Phillis has been a great addition to the team.”

Lewis is sensitive to the unique challenges of LGBTQ victims who feel overlooked or remain in the shadows, and she has been instrumental in developing relevant programming at FSC such as the sensitivity training for local law enforcement which was a direct result of the focus groups. Most importantly, victims who come to FSC for help see her as a source of strength who provides support in a non-judgmental way.

“I was in a very bad place and I did not know what to do. All that’s behind me now,” says Deborah (not real name.) “Phillis let me know that it’s okay to not be okay and to seek out help…I was very alone. She gave me the resources I needed, told me where to go, and what to do,” says Deborah.

In addition to hiring a full-time staff member to serve as a liaison to the LGBTQ community, Murry-Drobot says the FSC is exploring ways to increase awareness about FSC services among area agencies that work with this segment of the community so they know to refer clients to FSC. Plans are also underway to develop peer support groups. Being able to provide various housing options has helped families with children as well as transgender victims.

In one of FSC’s more ambitious LGBTQ programming initiatives, Murry-Drobot and Lewis are conducting sensitivity training for local law enforcement thru the MPD training academy, and there are plans to provide training during roll-call sessions throughout Memphis/Shelby County on a weekly basis.

“We already work with law enforcement on a daily basis. They are great partners,” says Murry-Drobot. “Domestic violence units from MPD and Shelby County Sheriff’s office are located at our facility so in addition to working on specific cases, we collaborate to come up with creative ways to fix gaps in the system. That’s how we engage with all of our partners, together we can create a community where domestic violence survivors can thrive.”

In June, Murry-Drobot and Orisha Bowers, director of education and outreach at SisterReach, a FSC partner organization, will present their findings from the year-long LGBTQ study, including the focus groups, at the 2018 Saving Ourselves Symposium, in Birmingham, Alabama. Murry-Drobot hopes that by sharing the research, more advocates can better understand the barriers and factors impacting Black women who identify as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, or transgender, and non-conforming people navigating domestic violence support services.

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Survivor Story

If you believe the research, there is a high probability that Cady (not her real name) will become a statistic like her mother. Camp HOPE America wants to change that. One-third of children who experience domestic violence are likely to be victims themselves, and another third will grow up to be abusers.

During her week at Camp HOPE America in Memphis last summer, Cady had fun with new friends and found comfort in meeting children with similar life experiences… children trying hard to separate their dreams for the future from the tragedy that has dogged them so far. The days are filled with typical camp fun and games, but there is plenty of time for serious discussions about coping with stress, sharing feelings, and healthy relationships.

“I just try not to think about what happened that much and have fun,” Cady told a journalist at camp last summer.

Teaching children to cope with their trauma and be hopeful about their future is one of the key goals of FSC’s Camp HOPE America, TN. According to experts, children who are resilient are less likely to fall into the trap of a violent relationship. Cady’s mother was trapped throughout her seven-year marriage before she finally decided to leave and sought a restraining order against her estranged husband. It was too late. In the fall of 2014, her husband showed up at the day care where she worked in Whitehaven and killed her.

Over 200 clients seek help from FSC each month. For the children caught in the middle, the scars can last a lifetime. Camp HOPE is a chance to break that cycle.

At least for Cady, it seems to be helping. She looks forward to attending Camp HOPE this summer and is already thinking of coping skills she can share with first-time campers this year, says her grandmother.  “She is looking forward to when she can contribute to others and help them learn coping skills,” she says. “She understands that the best way to continue learning is to stay involved.”

 

 

Survivor Story

Whenever he got mad, Lisa’s husband would scream and often hurt her, then physically prevent her from going out the door. A few times Lisa did manage to get away to sleep in her car or spend the night at a hotel. But she was never away for long.

“He’d call and manage to convince me it was my fault and I always went back, she says. “I went to my sister’s apartment once, after he had thrown a chair at me, and he tracked me using my phone; I was embarrassed so I didn’t do that again. I just told myself that he had an anger problem, not that it was abuse, and so I didn’t reach out for help.”

Lisa admits for a long time she was too embarrassed to confide in her parents or friends. That all changed one day last fall when she feared for her life. Realizing she needed to protect her 11-month-old daughter, she was suddenly “beyond the point of being embarrassed.” Lisa confided in her friend in Nashville.

“She is the one who ended up connecting me to a domestic violence hotline, and they connected me to the safety center for emergency sheltering. It was by the grace of God that I was finally ready to ask for help, and that through my good friend I got connected to people who could help me. I tell her all the time that she saved my life,” says Lisa.  The Family Safety Center gave her the support and validation she needed.

“The most helpful thing for me — outside of helping me file for the ex-parte protection order (which I would not even have known to do, had it not been for them) — was that they listened, they hugged me, and they told me I did the right thing. That was something I needed to hear, over and over again,” says Lisa. “I actually still have “YOU DID THE RIGHT THING” written on a post-it note on a wall in my bedroom. It’s been 5 months now since I left, I’ve been in therapy and understand the cycle of abuse, and there are still days when I need that reminder.”

Now that she is starting over in a new community, with family nearby, Lisa hopes to use her experience to encourage other victims to come forward. On average, a person attempts to leave an abusive relationship eight times before they succeed. Things get further complicated when an abusive relationship extends beyond the physical, to financial and emotional abuse.

“My husband controlled all of our finances, had isolated me from my family and was in the process of isolating me from my friends. He is a master manipulator and liar. He had me convinced that I was the cause of and deserved the abuse,” she says.

In addition to their personal physical and emotional barriers to seeking help, many victims argue that the system makes it hard to leave. For example, when they file for an order of protection, the burden of proof is on the victim, who must recount the instances of abuse in detail.

Helping clients make sense of a fragmented and intimidating process is a priority for the police, legal, and social service agencies co-located at Family Safety Center. Staff meet regularly to brainstorm, discuss best practices from other communities, and improve outcomes for victims. They understand that victims of domestic violence have enough on their plate.

Lisa empathizes with victims who feel overwhelmed.

”In addition to dealing with the emotional trauma of finally processing all the abuse you’ve been subjected to over the years, and the emotional pain of realizing your marriage is over, you’re also trying to take care of your child, navigate a confusing legal system you don’t understand, hold down your job, open your own bank account and credit cards, learn how to manage your finances all over again, and find a safe place to live,” she says. “Meanwhile, some part of you still loves your husband and hopes he’ll change. And every time you hit a snag — your husband keeps calling, work is stressful, bills are adding up, your judge doesn’t believe in DV — that little voice that your husband planted in your head tells you to just give up and go back. I know why a lot of women do. And it breaks my heart.”

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FSC Navigators help clients weigh their options

Once a domestic violence victim makes the decision to contact the Family Safety Center, a trained Navigator will confidentially help him or her sort through the law enforcement, legal, and social services they need to bring their abuser to justice and start a new life.

According to Charlotte Ray, FSC’s Client Services Manager, who has been an Navigator since 2014, every encounter is unique to the individual seeking help, but there are definitely some common themes. She says all the victims arrive with mixed emotions and they are overwhelmed about the different options that are available.

“I tell them the main thing is to be safe. When I meet with them I make sure to reaffirm that they are doing the right thing and that they are believed,” says Ray. “They come to us in a state of disbelief, they are in denial that things have been escalating. They’ll say, ‘that was not the first time I answered in that manner…I don’t know what set him off this time’.”

Lisa (not her real name) walked into FSC five months ago. Now living in a different state, with plenty of family support, she says she still needs to be reminded that she did the right thing.

“I actually still have “YOU DID THE RIGHT THING” written on a post-it note on a wall in my bedroom. It’s been 5 months now since I left, I’ve been in therapy and understand the cycle of abuse, and there are still days when I need that reminder,” she says.

Multiple services. One location.

Because FSC brings to one location the agencies necessary to help someone safely leave a violent situation, a victim can file an order of protection, get legal advice, and arrange for emergency shelter all in one visit. Working closely with partners in law enforcement, justice, and local community services, Ray and other FSC staff create a plan specific to each client. The FSC is based on a national model for family justice centers, which co-locates domestic violence services for the victim’s benefit. The approach has revolutionized how communities serve victims who otherwise would have to travel to multiple locations to find relief.

Victims are able to access support after-hours using the FSC Domestic Violence Hotline, where trained advocates are able to provide safety planning on the spot, crisis counseling, and link victims to emergency housing.

In addition to their obvious physical and emotional trauma, Ray says victims are often confused about the orders of protection and the legal process in general. The orders of protection are not automatic, and what may work for one client, does not work for another. The order of protection process requires the abused to prove to the courts that he/she is in imminent danger. If the court rules the individual is in imminent danger, an ex-parte order may be granted until a hearing is held within two weeks for an order of protection.

A big step

According to Ray, victims are sometimes discouraged by the process, the long form, and the evidence needed to successfully file for an order of protection, because among other things, it requires them to provide details of the abuse and re-live the trauma.

“Without evidence, it’s your word against theirs,” Ray tells clients. At the hearing, victims are encouraged to provide pertinent information, or evidence, such as witnesses, photos, text messages, police reports, anything to support their statement. But getting the police and courts involved is a very big step, adds Ray, who says it is not uncommon to have clients change their minds about going through with their request for an order of protection.

FSC Navigators are the calm after the storm. Charlotte Ray says it is their mission to arm victims with the information and tools they need to leave their abusive situation. FSC clients have the odds stacked against them. In a frail emotional state, they are expected to navigate a complicated process.

“We try to smooth the way for them. People always ask them ‘Why do you stay?’, but I get it. It’s not that easy for victims to leave,” says Ray. “I wish someone would ask, ‘Why does the abuser abuse?'”

 

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FSC Housing Program Opens the Door to Healing

Linda (not her real name) came to the Family Safety Center (FSC) with her three-week-old infant after her intimate partner jumped on her and beat her. It wasn’t the first time he had beat her, but it was the first time she decided to seek emergency shelter. By the time a victim contacts Family Safety Center in the midst of a crisis, one issue weighs heavily on her mind: “Where will I sleep tonight? I have to go where he can’t find me.”

The average victim attempts to leave a violent situation eight times before succeeding. Approximately 22% of the victims who seek help from FSC each month need immediate shelter. Some victims can’t escape to the home of family or friends for fear the abuser can track them down. That’s what happened to Linda: her abuser found her, and convinced her to come back. Emergency shelter allows victims to find safety apart from the places they normally frequent which are the first places an abuser will go to find them. FSC offered Linda and her baby the safety and distance they needed.

On leave from her job, Linda was a 38-year-old new mom, with no income and few options. Linda worked with her FSC navigator to obtain an ex-parte order, an order of protection issued temporarily and in emergency situations. She was given food, formula, an emergency supply of diapers and other basics, and sent to a hotel. While she waited for a court date to receive an order of protection, the hotel was a safe haven.

Eventually, the Navigator put her in touch with a partner agency where Linda qualified for an apartment and some rent assistance. Today Linda is working, living on her own, and her now nine-month old son is thriving.

FSC has arrangements with a few area hotels and operates several apartments to provide victims with safe shelter. More traditional group shelters are not a solution for everyone, and communities across the country are looking for ways to serve an increasingly diverse victim population. Some group shelters do not accept adult males or males over the age of 12 and others are not welcoming for members of the LGBTQ community.

FSC Emergency Housing Manager Priscilla Blackmon says the different housing options give FSC more flexibility. When someone calls the hotline in the middle of the night there is no time to wait for paperwork at a community shelter so the hotel room fills the immediate need. Depending on the abuser’s situation, whether they are incarcerated or not, a victim may ask to be transferred from one location to another because they are concerned for their safety. “It’s all about making sure our clients feel safe,” says Blackmon.

More work remains

The Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Programs, which provides funding for FSC’s housing program, has commended the Center for its innovative approach to emergency shelter, but the reality is that Memphis and Shelby County have a serious shortage. “It is an ongoing challenge,” says Olliette Murry-Drobot, FSC executive director. “The FSC believes that DV victims and DV survivors should have a variety of shelter and housing options spanning from a night at a hotel to homeownership opportunities. It is critical that FSC and other partners work collectively to provide a continuum of viable options,” says Murry-Drobot.

Ways to help

Clients who need housing also need basics like food, toiletries and diapers. “Just think of a typical family with five children, two in diapers, three in school, who leave their home abruptly often after police have been called to a disturbance,“ says Blackmon. “What would that family need? We prepare boxes for them with basic necessities to try to get them through the first few days.” FSC lends ongoing support throughout their stay in a shelter until families get settled.

FSC accepts donations of food, toiletries, diapers, and bus passes. Clients are sent to other community agencies for clothing. Financial donations are also accepted. To learn more about how to get your organization involved or how you can help as an individual, please visit familysafetycenter.org.

Survivor Story January 18

In the past, Linda* had fled to a friend’s house. That didn’t work out so well when her abuser found her and convinced her to come back home. Emergency shelter allows victims to find safety apart from the places they normally frequent which are the first places an abuser will go to find them. FSC offered Linda and her baby the safety and distance they needed.

On leave from her job, Linda was a 38 year-old new mom, with no income and few options. Linda worked with her FSC navigator to obtain an ex parte order, an order of protection issued temporarily and in emergency situations. She was given food, formula, an emergency supply of diapers and other basics and sent to the hotel. While she waited for a court date to receive an order of protection, the hotel was a safe haven.

Eventually, the Navigator put her in touch with a partner agency where Linda qualified for an apartment and some rent assistance. Today Linda is working, living on her own, and her nine-month old son is thriving.

* Not her real name

National Study: Camp HOPE America Has Positive Impact

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Memphis’ Camp HOPE America Part of National Study

Camps Report Powerful Results from Working with Children Exposed to Domestic Violence

 (MEMPHIS, TN), February 26, 2018 – Without hope and the skills to cope with the trauma in their lives, children who have witnessed domestic violence are likely to perpetuate the same cycle of violence when they become adults. Camp HOPE America strives to break that cycle. It is the first camping and mentoring program in the country focused on children impacted by domestic violence, and the Family Safety Center in Memphis operates the only Camp HOPE America site in Tennessee.

“Hope is measureable and malleable,” says Camp HOPE America founder, Casey Gwinn. “We can measure hope and we can increase it in the lives of abused children. Once we increase hope, we can change the trajectories of their lives.”

Camp HOPE America started as a camping program in San Diego, CA but it has now moved on across the country with support from the Verizon Foundation and many other corporate and private donors. In 2017, Camp HOPE America operated in 11 states, including Tennessee, with more than 22 weeks of camp in the summer as well as year-round activities. Camp HOPE America in Tennessee, a six day overnight camp experience, will take place July 22-27, 2018 in Raleigh. Both locally and nationally, the camps are netting positive results.

The University of Oklahoma’s (OU) Hope Research Center, under the leadership of Director, Dr. Chan Hellman, has been evaluating the effectiveness of the Camp HOPE America camping and year-round mentoring program for four years. The evaluation report released by the OU Hope Research Center this week stated, “The results of this evaluation support a growing body of evidence for the power of Camp HOPE America to change the lives of children exposed to domestic violence. The Pathways to HOPE Project can help sustain Hope and Resilience year-round among children and teens who are exposed to domestic violence.”

“Hope is the best predictor of long-term well-being in children exposed to trauma,” says Dr. Chan Hellman. The OU report concluded that an increase in children’s hope was associated with increases in the child’s belief in self, others and their dreams, psychological resilience, and positive attitude toward academics. Similarly, higher resilience is positively associated with academic self-perception, academic goals, motivation, and self-regulation.

According to more than 2,000 published pieces of research now, hope represents a positive psychological strength that promotes adaptive behaviors, healthy development, and both psychological and social well-being. Higher hope is associated with better coping skills and better health and health-related practices.

Camp HOPE America in Memphis is offered to children of Family Safety Center clients. The Family Safety Center is part of a national alliance of Family Justice Centers and Multi-Agency Centers serving victims of domestic violence under the Alliance for HOPE International umbrella.

“Locally, our campers last year reflected the same positive improvements stated in the national report,” says Olliette Murry Drobot, executive director of Family Safety Center. “This program has a good track record in those states that have operated the camps for several years. We hope to expand the Memphis program this summer. We have some funding from Verizon but we are looking for individual donors and local businesses to step up. It is a good investment in the future of our community,” says Murry-Drobot.

The national research report is attached and more information can be found at www.camphopeamerica.org/outcomes/. For information about Camp HOPE America in Memphis visit familysafetycenter.org/camp-hope/.

About Family Safety Center: Founded in 2011, the FSC co-locates domestic violence services in Memphis and Shelby County in order to improve outcomes for victims. The Shelby County Sheriff’s Department, Memphis Police, the District Attorney, and Memphis Legal Services have a fulltime presence at FSC. This innovative approach brings together the resources necessary to help victims find safety, justice, and hope. FSC navigators work closely with victims connecting them to appropriate services either at the Center or at partner agencies in the community.

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Hope for Tomorrow: FSC Camp Breaks the Cycle

Camp HOPE America, TN in Memphis offers standard activities like swimming, ziplining, hikes, ropes courses, and silly songs. But it is a curriculum focused on providing campers “a pathway to hope,” that sets this residential camp apart. Small group cabin discussions and awards for outstanding character traits provide children the tools to cope with adversity. Camp HOPE America is a national evidence-based mentoring program focused on victims of domestic violence. The Memphis camp is the only one in Tennessee.

Camp HOPE America defines hope like this: believing in yourself; believing in others; believing in your dreams. University of Memphis researchers who evaluated campers before and after last year’s camp found significant improvements in several key measures including self-esteem, with an average self-esteem score of 4.35 on a scale of one to five.

“Above all else, we want to make sure campers feel safe, encouraged, seen, and appreciated. The feedback from last year’s camp has been great. We hope to be able to make the camp available to even more kids this year,” says Olliette Murry-Drobot, executive director of Family Safety Center. The average camper last year was eight years old.

Investment in the future

Domestic violence usually happens behind closed doors, but it is reflected in public statistics that measure crime rates, student success, and overall quality of life. Research indicates that children witness nearly half of all incidents of domestic violence. One third of those eyewitnesses will grow up to be abusers, and one third will end up in an abusive relationship. And then the cycle begins anew.

“The Family Safety Center brings together multiple agencies that work daily on creative solutions to make Shelby County safer for victims of domestic violence,” says Murry-Drobot. “Given what we know about the generational impact of the tragic cycle of domestic violence, I think Camp HOPE America is one of the most effective programs FSC has in its toolbox.”

It takes 11 positives to undo one negative

Camp HOPE America began in 2003 in San Diego, California. By 2015, the successful program was introduced in five more states. Today 11 states have the camps. In March of 2016, FSC was awarded a planning grant from Verizon to bring Camp HOPE America to Memphis in the summer of 2017. In its first year, the Camp served 26 children ages 7 to ll, whose parents or guardians have received services from FSC.

Research indicates that hopeful children — a child who believes tomorrow will be better than today – are better problem solvers, stronger academically, and able to set goals. Using a comprehensive matrix of “hope and resiliency scores” researchers have proven that campers are more hopeful after their Camp HOPE experience.

University of Memphis partnership

The FSC has partnered with Dr. Kathryn Howell and her research team at the University of Memphis to conduct a thorough evaluation of the effectiveness of Camp HOPE America in Memphis. “Our comprehensive evaluation includes interviews with campers, their caregivers, and camp counselors to determine how participating in Camp HOPE strengthens youth resilience, improves academic engagement and performance, and reduces behavioral and psychosocial difficulties,” says Dr. Howell. “We will also measure whether the experience enhances the parent-child relationship.”

 

Support Camp HOPE TN 2018

Camp HOPE America, TN 2018 is scheduled for July 22-27 at For the Kingdom Camp and Retreat Center, in Raleigh. Project Director Kelbert Fagan is visiting local high schools and churches to recruit youth volunteers to serve as counsellors and talk about other ways in which the community can support Memphis’ Camp HOPE.

“Most of our campers need some basics to spend a week at an overnight camp so we accept donations ranging from toiletry items and flashlights to close-toed shoes and bathing suits,” says Fagan. “We are also turning to the business community for help. Last year, for example, a local hotel donated linens and towels.”

It costs approximately $350.00 for one camper to attend Camp HOPE. You can sponsor an entire week or just one day for $70.00. Visit familysafetycenter.org/donate and complete the secure online form to donate.

MPD, FSC’s Olliette Murry-Drobot Point Out False Information Being Shared on Social Media

 

 

By: Bridget Chapman, WREG

An article bashing the Memphis Police Department for how they treat domestic violence and sex assault victims is making its rounds online.

The article was posted by an organization called “The Raw Story,” which has over a million followers on Facebook.

The article talks about untested rape kits and controversy with the Shelby County DA’s office, but it also has information about domestic violence victims that is causing concern.

The post has gotten about 3,000 likes and over 1,000 shares.

It was posted on Friday with the caption “WTF?!” and the headline, ‘Memphis police put ankle monitor GPS devices on dozens of domestic assault victims.’

There’s also a picture that appears to show a woman wearing an ankle bracelet with it.

“That’s inaccurate information,” said Major J.D. Smith, Memphis Police Department Commander of the domestic violence unit.

He says it’s inaccurate because GPS bracelets are what sex offenders and domestic violence offenders are court-ordered to wear — not victims.

Victims are given the option to have their own GPS devices, but they are not ankle bracelets.

The devices victims are offered are portable and smaller than the size of a phone.

“It’s super small and they can take it with them when they want to,” said Major Smith. “You can even decide to leave it at home, but it’s up to you.”

There are about 50 victims who currently choose to have them in Memphis. It lets them and police know if offenders are violating their conditions of where they’re allowed to go.

“We see it as an additional tool in the toolbox in terms of increasing victims’ safety as well offender accountability,” said Olliette Murry-Drobot, executive director at the Family Safety Center.

Police think it’s a win-win since offenders violate these terms every day, but they worry the article being shared will put fear in victims.

“They have their opinion, but the accuracy of the information is what’s important,” said Major Smith. “Let’s make sure we get the message out clearly.”

He says he hopes more victims will choose to have them but understands the choice is theirs.

The GPS program kicked off in Memphis last July and has resulted in over 160 arrests so far.

The article has since been updated with a note at the bottom acknowledging the devices are optional, portable and don’t have to be physically worn. However, the misleading headline and main picture remain the same.

If you or someone know is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, you can call the Family Safety Center at 901-222-4400.