Federal Grant Provides Domestic Abuse Protection for Cleveland Deaf Community

Speaking through an interpreter for the deaf, Dawn Marie Fucile recalled the horrors of her three-year abusive relationship. Her ex-boyfriend, who is also deaf, pushed her down, hit her, and threw her at their coffee table. It’s only by sheer luck that she missed it “by an inch,” she says.

Unfortunately, the reality of domestic abuse within the deaf community is that it’s startlingly common. A recent study from the Rochester Institute of Technology showed that individuals in the deaf community are 1.5 times more likely than hearing individuals to become victims of relationship violence.

The eight-year study surveyed college students at RIT, home to the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. The study was one of the first to examine the relationship between relationship violence and the deaf community. Relationship violence includes physical and psychological abuse within domestic relationships, as well as sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Partner violence is already an overwhelming problem in the United States. Every year, approximately 4.8 million women experience physical violence by an intimate partner. However, not only are women in the deaf community more likely to suffer physical abuse, they also have a more difficult time reporting their assaults.

According to the CEO of Cleveland’s Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center, the fact that deaf and hard of hearing victims lack easy access to education or communication services presents a big problem. Once Dawn Marie Fucile finally gathered the courage to contact police after her boyfriend assaulted her, she became frustrated with police who assumed she couldn’t understand them or communicate at all.

Fortunately, a recent federal grant has supplied the Cleveland Police Department and the domestic violence center with iPads that can remotely connect with interpreters for the deaf and hard of hearing. Officers can now bring these iPads with them on calls, which is particularly helpful given Cleveland’s tight-knit deaf community. In addition, police officers in Parma, Ohio have implemented a text messaging service to communicate with deaf individuals. Both Parma and Cleveland police utilize live interpreters for in-depth interviews.

Although Fucile’s ex-boyfriend has since been tried and convicted, police departments across the nation still have a long way to go in order to provide reporting services specifically for deaf individuals. Fucile says the use of technology is “a step in the right direction,” and urges domestic violence victims to be unafraid to ask for help. One can only hope that there will be a nation-wide push for police squads across the country to use similar technologies in order to protect the particularly vulnerable people in the deaf community.

Snowbirds and RV Enthusiasts Flock to South Mississippi Every October

The population of South Mississippi is about to grow significantly as RV enthusiasts from across the country begin their annual migration south for winter, bringing business to the area’s restaurants, casinos, and local RV parks. In fact, the RV industry has an estimated $269 million economic impact on Mississippi.

“About the first of October the snowbirds start coming through,” said resident James Lee. His family owns Indian Point Campground in Gautier, which spans 186 acres and has 200 sites, 36 cabins, two swimming pools, and access to deep water all the way to the Gulf of Mexico. According to Lee, the RV park is fully occupied for the majority of the year.

The Recreational Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) estimates that across the country, there are as many as 30 million RV enthusiasts. According to a 2011 study, the typical RV owner is 48 years old, married, and has an annual household income around $62,000. However, in South Mississippi in early October, nearly 100% of RV campers are seniors. RV park owners say that the older crowd is drawn to the area because of low prices, casinos, and the vast natural landscape ideal for fishing and bird-watching.

“What we like about it is the people we meet,” said Carlie Fears, an RV owner who traveled to Mississippi from Missouri with her husband and two English bulldogs.

At the Gulf Haven Campground on the Mississippi coast, there are plenty of activities for seniors to enjoy — Saturdays are movie night, Monday is game night, Wednesdays they hold a potluck dinner. The park offers exercise programs and craft projects, and the local senior center is directly behind the campgrounds.

According to Wesley Stinchcomb, the general manager of the Camping World retailer in Biloxi, low gas prices have helped keep the RV industry consistent. Then again, he noted, people who own RVs aren’t all that worried about gas mileage.

An RVIA report revealed that gas prices would have to quadruple for RVers to lose their economic advantage over alternative methods of travel.

President Obama Vacations As Flood Worsens In Baton Rouge

According to a survey, when Americans go on vacation, about 61% of them continue to work. And while this is somewhat true for President Obama, who is vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s not true enough for many people affected by the severe flooding in Louisiana.

After three days of heavy downpour, historic flooding has killed 13, and 30 parishes have been declared as disaster zones.

The U.S. Coast Guard, along with other first responders, have rescued more than 20,000 people over the weekend. More than 70,000 people have registered for federal disaster assistance, and 9,000 have already filed flood insurance claims.

Amid this disaster, President Obama has received heavy criticism for vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard, and for failing to cut that vacation short.

Earlier in the week, the President approved John Bel Edward’s request for federal disaster funding, and reportedly is being updated on new developments on Martha’s Vineyard by his officials and aids.

Lousiana’s largest daily newspaper, The Advocate, called the President out on his lack of action last week.

“A disaster this big begs for the personal presence of the President at ground zero,” read the editorial. “In coming here, the President can decisively demonstrate that Louisiana’s recovery is a priority for his administration — and the United States of America.”

The column continued to call on Obama, saying that “The President’s vacation is scheduled to wrap up on Sunday. But he should pack his bags now, and pay a call on communities who need to know that in a national catastrophe, they are not alone. The President’s presence is already late to this crisis, but it’s better later than never.”