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Mulla Sameena Yaidelise Neris Carmen Pitre   Andrea Schneider    

When Safer-at-Home is Not Actually Safe: Supporting Intimate Partner Violence Survivors during Quarantine


Presented by: Sameena Mulla, Associate Professor, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, Marquette University; Yaidelise Neris, Student and Research Assistant, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, Marquette University; Carmen Pitre, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sojourner Family Peace Center; Andrea Schneider, Professor, Law School, Marquette University and Director, Institute for Women’s Leadership, Marquette University; Andrea Ortiz, Student and Research Assistant, Klingler College of Arts and Sciences (photo forthcoming)

In March 2020, state governments began issuing “Safer-at-Home” orders to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. But for women living with abusive partners, being quarantined at home was anything but safe. Andrea Schneider, professor of law in the Marquette University Law School and director for the Institute for Women’s Leadership, has created a research team to analyze the effect these orders had on the prevalence of domestic abuse cases, and their impact on the wellness and mental health of survivors.

Hear how this team, in partnership with Milwaukee County Circuit Court and the Sojourner Family Peace Center, is working toward improving services for survivors during the pandemic, to enhance court processes, and to guide best practices in advising workplaces on how to respond to Intimate Partner Violence.

This project was a winner of the 2020 President's Challenge, which provided funding for innovative, interdisciplinary, collaborative work addressing needs in Milwaukee’s community that have been created or magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic and representing critical areas in the community’s recovery efforts.

More about this session

Sameena Mulla is associate professor of anthropology in the Department of Social and Cultural Sciences at Marquette University. She is the author of The Violence of Care: Rape Victims, Forensic Nurses, and Sexual Assault Intervention (New York University Press, 2014). The American Anthropological Association and the Society for Applied Anthropology recognized her with the Margaret Mead Award in 2017. Since 2019, she has been the founding co-editor of the journal Feminist Anthropology. Her next book, Bodies in Evidence: Race, Gender, Science and Sexual Assault Adjudication, is co-authored with Heather Hlavka and will be published in November. Dr. Mulla is currently the faculty advisor for the Anthropology Society, Empowerment, and Men's Ultimate Frisbee.

Yaidelise Neris is originally from Chicago and is a senior at Marquette, majoring in biological sciences and minoring in culture, health, and illness. Yaidelise is the treasurer of the Club Softball team; an events intern for the Institute for Women’s Leadership; a research assistant, exploring how COVID-19 has impacted domestic violence victims.

Carmen Pitre is the president and chief executive officer of Sojourner Family Peace Center, Wisconsin’s largest service provider for families dealing with domestic violence. Under Pitre’s leadership, Sojourner provides crisis housing, system advocacy and individual support to thousands of women, children and families.

Pitre draws on decades of work and personal experience to improve the way the community supports families impacted by domestic violence. Pitre believes – and data proves – a holistic approach of co-locating services and coordinating resources is effective, efficient and yields better outcomes for families. In 2016, Pitre rallied key community leaders to create the Sojourner Family Peace Center where people impacted by domestic violence can access emergency shelter, domestic violence services, physical and mental health services, law enforcement and legal assistance, counseling, employment services, financial literacy, community education and professional training – all under one roof.

Pitre was integral in the 2009 merger of Sojourner Truth House and the Task Force on Family Violence when she became co-executive director of the new agency, Sojourner Family Peace Center. Before the merger, Pitre was the cxecutive director of the Task Force on Family Violence from 2002 to 2009. Pitre served as the director of the First Judicial District Judicial Oversight Demonstration Initiative and the coordinator of the Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault from 1997 to 2000.

She chairs the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice Violence Against Women Advisory Committee and is a founding member of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Human Trafficking Sub-Committee. Pitre serves on the Aurora Sinai Community Steering Committee and is a member of Professional Dimensions and TEMPO Milwaukee. She served on the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice Crime Victim Rights Board from 2010-2012, is past-chair of the City of Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and served on the Medical College of Wisconsin Violence Prevention Initiative Steering Committee from 2008 to 2012.

Under Pitre’s leadership, Sojourner received the Milwaukee Business Journal 2016 Project of the Year Award, the 2015 Milwaukee Business Times Non Profit Excellence Award, and was named Professional Dimensions’s Charity Fund Partner 2015–2017. Pitre was recognized as a Milwaukee Business Journal Power Broker in 2019, 2018 and 2017 and named BMO Celebrating Women Milwaukee – Women Who Inspire Honoree in 2018. She received the Herb Kohl Champion Award in 2018 and the Donald Driver Foundation Driven to Achieve Award in 2016. Pitre was named Milwaukee Magazine’s Most Influential Person in 2015 and was honored with the Sacajawea Award from Professional Dimensions in 2013. She received the Business Journal Women of Influence Award in 2012.

Pitre received a bachelor's from the University of Southwestern Louisiana in 1984.

Andrea Schneider is a professor of law at Marquette University Law School where she has taught dispute resolution, negotiation, ethics and international conflict resolution for over 20 years. She is the director of Marquette’s law school dispute resolution program and last year became the inaugural director of Marquette’s Institute for Women’s Leadership. She frequently publishes law review articles and book chapters on negotiation, gender, international conflict, and dispute systems design and has co-authored several leading legal textbooks on Alternative Disptue Resolution, Negotiation and Mediation. She was named 2009 Woman of the Year by the Wisconsin Law Journal and, in 2016, gave her first TEDx talk entitled "Women Don’t Negotiate and Other Similar Nonsense." She was named the 2017 recipient of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work.