Jane Wagley, Executive Director/Client Advocate

Our Sister's Place, Inc. is so proud to provide a new initiative that we hope will address the issue of domestic/dating violence in our community. It is called the RESPONSE Project. What does that mean? Let me explain:

R = Recognize the Problem

In 2018, there were 4,613 reported incidents of domestic violence in Palm Beach County. This is 1/7th of the actual number of incidents that occurred. 10 individuals were murdered by someone they thought loved them. In the first six months of 2019, there have been 6 domestic violence homicides. The most dangerous time for a victim is when they leave the relationship.

E = Educate the Public

Through the RESPONSE Project, Our Sister's Place will continue to educate the public at awareness events, workshops, trainings and through our website and other social media venues. Survivors also share their stories and experiences with the public to raise awareness.

S = Screen Routinely

Our Sister's Place will continue to train doctors, nurses, medical office personnel, dentists and dental hygienists, hairdressers and salon personnel, emergency room staff and law enforcement to screen for domestic violence and assistance for victims.

P = Primary Prevention Focus

Prevention is still the best methodology for addressing domestic violence, sexual assaults, homelessness for victims of domestic violence as well as other societal issues that keep women (and some men) from leading healthy and violence-free lives. Our Sister's Place presents an anti-bullying/abuse curriculum (Look At Me, I'm Violence Free!) to pre-school and elementary students, to middle school students (It Stops Here) and a dating violence awareness curriculum to high school students (Love Shouldn't Hurt). The agency also has an alternative to suspension program for students who have identified as being victims of abuse.

O = Ongoing Community Education

Our Sister's Place, Inc. provides ongoing education to the community when there are new domestic/dating violence and stalking laws passed as well as informing them when new programs and services are available to victims/at-risk of domestic/dating violence and stalking.

N = Need

Need to reduce secondary victimization by providing direct services to remove barriers blocking victims' road to safety, self-sufficiency and independence.

S = Strategies for Intervention

Our Sister's Place, Inc. continues to lead domestic violence programs in providing strategies to prevent victims from returning to their abusers due to a lack of programs and services. The agency prides itself on finding solutions to each and every victim's individual and unique needs.

E = Engage with Community Partners

Our Sister's Place, Inc. strongly believes in collaboration with other social service agencies, law enforcement, attorneys prosecutors, judges, funders and volunteers (the agency has over 60 active volunteers) to provide the most comprehensive and effective services to victims/at-risk of domestic violence. The agency believes that together we can work towards eradicating domestic/dating violence and stalking; thereby, helping to make our communities safer for everyone.

I am asking you all to join us in this project and volunteer some time to help make our communities stronger and more aware of what we do and how we can all work together! Training is available and your skills and input are truly needed to make the RESPONSE Project a success. You can call me or our new Client Advocate, Michelle Mackey at (561) 529-1324 or visit us at our office for more information as to how you can be part of the continuing mission to help victims/at-risk of domestic violence.

Day One

Recently, there was a triple domestic violence homicide in Palm Beach County that left me horrified, saddened and angry.  The young woman had done everything our legal system allows to protect herself and her family from her abuser but it did not save her or her two brothers. 

Our laws are not strong enough and our community response to domestic violence is not loud enough.  We must let our local, state and federal leaders know that our current laws are too weak and that guns in the hands of abusers leads to  the death and destruction of our neighbors, friends, family members and co-workers. We must stand up together and demand stronger protection and laws for victims of abuse. 

Contact your Mayor, County Commissioner, Governor Ron DeSantis, your state Representatives and Senators from your district, Senator Marco Rubio and Senator Rick Scott and demand they stand with victims of domestic violence NOW. 


March is Women's History Month

Jane Wagley, Executive Director/Client Advocate

March is Women’s History Month which gives us an opportunity to really reflect on the women we have known that have made a major impact on our lives and choices. Some of us think about our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, teachers, etc. that have shaped, guided, supported, and helped us become the women we are today.

While the famous women who have contributed so much to our culture, history and society are particularly showcased this month, I would like to tell you about two women who impacted my life and the path I chose. They have also changed our culture, history and society but they are not household names and may never be but their contributions have helped our country to understand domestic violence, its impact on our communities and how protecting women from abusive partners has evolved.he first battered women’s shelter in the United States opened in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1973. Before then, women in communities throughout the United States sheltered abused family, friends, colleagues and even strangers in their homes, apartments, dorm rooms, motels – anywhere they could find to keep a victim safe from their partners. The laws were almost non-existent in domestic violence cases and the stigma was so shameful that too many women remained silent. Police would rarely arrest an abuser and in many cases would lecture the victim on being a better wife or girlfriend.In 1976, Pennsylvania established the first state coalition against domestic violence and became the first state to pass legislation providing orders for protection (restraining orders) for battered women. Oregon became the first state to legislate mandated arrest in domestic violence cases.Ellen Pence and Dr. Lenore Walker are the two women I had the pleasure of learning from for a short time and who influenced me to advocate for victims of domestic violence. Their hard work, research, diligence, and positive attitudes taught me that the safety, dignity and integrity of all women are the keys to a society that values all its members.

Ellen was a co-founder of the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project in Duluth, Minnesota with a group of other social activists in the early 1980’s. They went on to pioneer key domestic violence innovations, including the power and control wheel, mandatory arrest, batterer intervention programs and the coordinated community response to domestic abuse that is paramount in addressing this issue. In 1997, Ellen founded Praxis International ( to join with other progressive social change organizations and programs to work toward the elimination of violence against women and their children. Specifically, Praxis focuses on the many ways that violence is used to subjugate women. The Advocacy Learning Center at Praxis is where I trained and met Ellen. She inspired us all and instilled in us the importance of our work and the need for advocates to join together to make institutional and systemic change.Dr. Lenore Walker wrote The Battered Woman in 1979 and introduced us to the Cycle of Violence. It was a groundbreaking book that inspired women and men to understand domestic violence, its impacts and how the cycle of violence was an important tool in defining the reasons women stayed in abusive relationships. Dr. Walker inspired me to continue learning and advocating for victims. She helped me with a curriculum I co-authored and she has continued to be a major force in the movement to end violence against women.

You can find more information about these two remarkable women on-line or in the library.

These two women shaped, supported, guided and impacted my life and choices. Who are your choices? Who made you the woman you are today? Reflect on their wisdom and gifts to you during this month especially. Honor them as you continue on your own special and unique path.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the calendar is full of events and presentations regarding this issue. Our Sister’s Place has a domestic violence awareness event planned on October 25, 2018 from 7-9 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Tequesta. More on that to come!

Since the beginning of time, domestic violence has been minimized and considered a private family issue that is not to be discussed or even acknowledged. It’s not uncommon for victims to not be taken seriously, which leads to abusers avoiding consequences. By taking a stand, we can remind the nation and our leaders that there are still countless people---victims and survivors, their children and families, their friends and family and their communities that are impacted by domestic violence.

We must make our voices heard! The Violence Against Women Act ran out on September 30, 2018 and was then included in a defense and spending bill to reauthorize it until December 7, 2018.

What happens on December 7? This year’s Violence Against Women Act version was a House Bill sponsored by Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee of Texas. She proposed expanding the law to allow law enforcement officials to take weapons from domestic abusers who legally can’t own them. The new version also significantly increased funding for rape crisis centers. It doesn’t seem to be a priority in Congress and there have been no reported lobbying efforts for reauthorization.

I am asking you to make your voice heard and to take a stand by calling or emailing our Florida Senators:

Senator Bill Nelson: (561) 514-0189 (local)

(202) 224-5274 - Washington


Senator Marco Rubio: (561) 775-3360

(202) 224-3041 -Washington


Remind them and your Representatives in Congress that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and that THEY must be aware and vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act.

Our voices have power and we can stay silent no longer.

There is a sort of implicit belief that in the case of domestic violence and killings in the home that maybe someone was triggered by something the victim did, said, ate, drank, wore, did not wear, etc. This excuse leads to a victim blaming perspective where we think about domestic violence as something that happened because the victim deserved it.

We have recently seen victim blaming and shaming forcefully put out in the national arena. We have seen victims be mocked, minimized, dismissed and blamed for the possible ruination of the abusers’ lives. The victim is never to blame but it is only through laws like the Violence Against Women Act that we will ever convince our society and leaders to understand and believe that.

Let’s stand up and be heard! October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; let’s protect victims and make sure our government leaders are fully aware that we will be watching how they vote when it comes time to reauthorize VAWA.

We stand together!

What do you think?

Peace At Home

As the Executive Director/Client Advocate for Our Sister’s Place, I would like to introduce this page to everyone as a discussion forum.  I will post information and points of discussion and would urge everyone to become involved with our work to assist survivors of family violence.  Please let me know of any topics you would like to discuss and please voice your opinions on our efforts.  We will soon be starting a radio program on Blog Talk Radio and will let you know all about that very soon.

Together we can work to help, heal, educate and prevent domestic violence in our community!

Jane Wagley



More than six months ago, the Me Too movement exploded with a near daily accusation against high-powered men.  Intimate partner violence which 1 in 3 women have experienced, has largely been absent from the Me Too media coverage.  “The way the Me Too movement has gotten some traction has, in many cases, been around workplace violence, and I think that is a little bit less stigmatizing than intimate partner violence”, said Sherry Hamby, a psychology professor and founding editor of the American Psychological Association journal Psychology of Violence.

Me Too’s hashtag was meant for anyone who experienced harassment or assault—a broad range of abuses that could be committed by any type of abuser.  Many who shared their experiences on social media did not identify their perpetrators as intimate partners.  Doing so may have brought retaliation which is always a fear for victims of domestic violence.

We still have a culture in our society where the victim is scorned for not leaving  sooner or asked what she did to provoke him.  That stigma is why many victims do not come forward – they are already suffering from a lack of confidence and to be judged by others outside the relationship can be crushing.

 “Unless you have been a prisoner of war, you don’t understand”, said Ruth Glenn, Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 

The practicality is victims often can’t leave.  They are afraid he’s going to kill them if they walk out the door.  They are afraid he will take the children.  They are afraid he will close the bank account.  They are afraid he will find them if they leave and harm them.

In 1992, months after Ruth Glenn left her abusive husband after 23 years of marriage, he tracked her down and shot her three times, once in the arm and twice in the head.  The most dangerous time for a victim is after she leaves her abuser, yet the public, law enforcement and the justice system do not seem to understand that.

Me Too was bolstered by celebrities.  In contrast, few high-profile women have spoken publicly about their experiences with domestic violence. A Me Too style movement could help debunk common myths about domestic abuse as well as pressure the criminal and legal systems to make things easier for the victims.

Every time a victim goes to court, she is taking time off from work, is having to find child-care for her children, missing opportunities, losing money and having to go through the trauma of retelling her story once again.  The abuser may bring friends and family to court which intimidates the victim even more than having to face him in a courtroom.

As an advocate, I believe survivors need:

·      Law Enforcement to believe them and take them seriously.  A National Domestic Violence Hotline survey in 2015 found 2/3rds of survivors said police would not believe them or would do nothing.

·      Attorneys who specialize in abuse cases.

·      Protections to ensure employers won’t penalize survivors for taking time to go to court---or to receive counseling.

·      Prosecutors who do not drop cases and judges who are holding abusers accountable.

Survivors of domestic violence need their voices heard, their stories told and support from their communities.  The Me Too Movement can be a vital part in helping with that by  encouraging and including more survivors of domestic abuse in their platform.

What do you think?