Pioneering a source for awareness, preventing violence

June 26th, 2012 | SMWC

Myra Spearman
Myra Spearman, Executive Director of the
National Domestic Violence Registry

All too often, young women and men dive into a new relationship quickly, seriously and with eyes half open. With this blind leap of faith comes the risk of dating a complete stranger, or worse, a dangerous enemy. Myra Spearman of Gary, Ind., a current Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) student with the Woods Online paralegal studies program, has experienced this vulnerability firsthand. Once caught in the tangles of an abusive marriage, she has since overcome, thrived and pioneered a source that is gravely necessary, with a passion so strong, it is contagious.

Spearman founded the very first National Domestic Violence Registry (NDVR) and serves as its executive director. Formed in 200 7 and modeled after the National Sex Offender Registry, the NDVR is a not-for-profit organization based out of Gary, designed to provide the records of criminals who are repeatedly found guilty of domestic violence or related offenses. An entirely online database, the registry is the first free national database model for domestic violence convictions available to the public.

The organization is fueled by donations and corporate sponsors, and boasts a small group of dedicated leaders, spread out throughout the country. When having to face the harrowing fact that one in four women and one in six men will be the victim of domestic violence in their lifetime, this vital resource could not have come at a better time.

When asked why she believes this registry is so important, Spearman adamantly explained, “You cannot take someone at face value. Looking at their past to see if they have had criminal convictions of domestic violence is the most accurate way to determine the worthiness of a partner.”  This belief in awareness and safe dating, harnessed with her education and past experiences, provided Spearman with the fire to expand her message beyond the borders of the Hoosier State.

With thirteen states currently involved, the NDVR has experienced a number of triumphs. In May 2011, Spearman and the registry’s former deputy director, Lyn Twyman, attended a meeting at the White House with Lynn Rosenthal, White House advisor and enthusiastic advocate for domestic violence awareness. This meeting garnered attention and interest in the registry at a national level.  Additionally, Guam became the first United States territory to have its own registry. An iPhone application is also in development. In 2009, NDVR won the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center's Award from the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana for its creation. The organization also holds a lifetime membership with the Society of Innovators.

Other areas of focus are:

  • Prevention of domestic violence
  • Intervention of repeat offenders
  • Educating the youth and the public at large
  • Safety of victims and the public at large
  • Self sufficiency for victims, and
  • Improving the way law enforcement and the legal system by and large process domestic violence related incidents and cases

According to Spearman, her recent successes largely stem from what she is being taught through her online education.  A future law school hopeful, she said that the college is “grooming me for success.  You are not simply getting a degree here.  You are getting an education.”  Spearman is surprised to discover that guidance is always close at hand even in an online format. “My academic advisor makes my goals possible,” she said.  “She always calls me back, and is eager to provide explanations.  And, she understands that I am balancing the registry, family and education.” 

This unique combination of technology-based education and sincere relationship building has provided Spearman with well-rounded, well-exercised confidence in her ability to push forward in her efforts with the NDVR, as well as in her ability to help and influence others.

 

Visit the National Domestic Violence Registry for more information.

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