Swan Song: Sunsetting My Work on Domestic Violence

joanne swans

Photo: Joanne Rosanio, 2017. Seaside Park, NJ

I admit, at first, it began as a vanity project. I was high off the success of my two prior Internet-based startups and felt invincible.  I had a lot of friends.  I felt empowered that I could do this.  I brought a whole lot of arrogance and conceit to the fight.

Then, nearly as soon as I began, I got knocked off my my pedestal.  I had to learn how to really work… how to really do research, how to make a real relationship, how to inspire someone to work for me for free with no guarantee of any return at all.  I had to learn how to persuade people very different from me that I could be trusted and that I was sincere.  I had to learn how to accept rejection, in the face of all logical evidence to the contrary that what I was selling was highly effective and worthy of investment.

I was told, “YOU HAVE NO STANDING” to have conversations in this field.  In other words, GO AWAY.

Nevertheless, I persisted.  But maybe, (h/t Stevie Wonder), like I fool I went and stayed too long––  I actually made progress against my goals.  I believe what I’ve set in motion will pay substantial dividends in the future.  I’ve said it hundreds of times: The Answers are in the Data.  The problem in domestic violence is the offender, and we can identify, track, predict, and control their behavior with proper data analysis and monitoring.  I’ve even filed a provisional patent for a software tool that will save lives if implemented properly.

Yet, after three years, I’m quitting.  Maybe quitting while I’m ahead, but quitting nonetheless.  The reason is personal, not business.  You see working on domestic violence brings me to the front lines of my own personal horror show every damned day.  I simply cannot continue to work on this for health reasons.  Let’s call it a graceful exit.

I will leave behind the seeds of an important beginning conversation about the vast potential of data, and the powerful transformational story told by High Point, NC in our film.  We should have a final cut soon.  I wholly underestimated the toll this work would take on my mental health.  At my peril.

Over time,  I’m contemplating writing a short ebook about my experiences working in this field featuring what I learned–– the challenges and opportunities as I see it–– but there I go being thought-leadery again.  I may also consider doing some public speaking aligned to the film, but we’ll see.

For now, I’m going back to tech consulting, and continuing with my R&R time in the comfort of the Florida winter chillzone.

Namaste.  And a sincere thanks to everyone who helped Big Mountain Data and our ambitious goals.

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Update 4/15/18:  I was asked to speak at a National conference in the fall and looks like the software tool is moving forward in the hands of some industry experts who can take it to the next level.  So, not exactly gone for good.  Plus, I have a meeting tomorrow with a  local data scientist who’s interested in our work.  There is that UPenn machine learning case study I’ve been interested to replicate on the assessed risk of DV bond hearings… 

 

Help!

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So, I’m trying something that makes me uncomfortable. It grates on my professionally honed ego.  In short, I’m asking for help.

Ahhhh!  So horrible.

But, the grownup in me has realized that there are just some mountains I cannot climb alone.  I’m seeking help in three categories.  Two I’m willing to talk about right now, and the last I’ll reserve for a later date.

  1. Help with my business.  I (reluctantly) applied to join a social enterprise accelerator here in Central Florida.  After you’ve started a few businesses, you start to believe you know everything there is to know.  Nothing could be further from that truth.  I got word last week I was accepted into the program.  The kickoff starts today.  It’s going to be an adjustment, but I’m willing to walk into this with open eyes.
  2. Help with my big, bad self.  I’ve been seeing a therapist for a few months now.  It is also humbling to admit that I have not processed everything terrible and traumatic that happened to me… and that I need a lot of help doing that.  The therapy has had a positive impact on my everyday living and has reoriented how I think about the future.  Looking back on the past is still painful, and I know I have a long way to go to triumph over those lived experiences.

The net result of these actions is– rather than diminishing me, they’ve strengthened me.  Asking for help is not a sign of vulnerability.  It’s a sign of maturity resting on a foundation of confidence.  I’m confident I will grow and evolve to become a better version of the person I am today.

12/4 Update: You can see #3 on my Fatcinating blog.

Let’s Make Life a Little Easier for DV Victims – But, You Have to Move Quickly

sealwebThis morning when I woke up, I saw this note from the new Clerk of Court, Grant Maloy, asking for support for his improvements at the Clerk’s office.  In addition to various improvements needed in the office, he mentioned he’d also like to provide better service to Domestic Violence victims.

Now, unless you work in the field, you probably don’t know a woman can file an injunction (aka restraining order) outside of the criminal justice system  –– right at her local Clerk of Court’s office.  This relieves a little of the fear and trauma associated with taking that brave step. It’s still an unsettling and upsetting ordeal, nonetheless.

I applaud the new Clerk of Court for recognizing the sensitivity and care involved in serving domestic violence victims.  Please read the dialog below:

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It’s short notice (the Commissioners meet this morning at 9am), but if my friends in Seminole County would simply cut and paste this email, and send a note to the County Commissioners who are meeting this morning, maybe we can provide these funds and services to assist victims and those who serve them valiantly every day.

Suggested email, feel free to personalize:

Subject: Clerk of Court requested assists for Domestic Violence Victims

Domestic Violence victims take a courageous step when they file for an injunction.  I applaud Grant Maloy’s efforts to provide space at the office of the Clerk of Court to facilitate a smoother and less traumatic, dehumanizing experience. Public Service shines when we take care of our most vulnerable citizens. This one is a no-brainer. I urge you to consider his recommended suggestions to increase space and bring some dignity to this oftentimes harrowing and emotional act for self-protection.

Thank you,
YOUR NAME

County Commissioners‘ email addresses:

Lee Constantine: lconstantine@seminolecountyfl.gov

For Bob Dallari: kedenfield@seminolecountyfl.gov

For John Horan: jspry02@seminolecountyfl.gov

For Brenda Carey: stucker@seminolecountyfl.gov

For Carlton Henley: gvenn@seminolecountyfl.gov