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Sexual Assault Awareness Month – Please reach out! April 5, 2012

Posted by Kate in Sexual Assault.
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To follow is a suggested letter to the editor crafted by the National Sexual Violnence Resource Center.  It is well written and powerful.  If you can, please use this as a basis for writing to your local newspaper – customize it however you wish for your area!

Let’s be honest, “it” is not an easy subject to talk about. Most of us are uncomfortable talking about sex. But let’s take a moment and get past the blushing, because this conversation is so important.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this April, communities across the country are proclaiming “It’s time … to talk about it!” This year’s campaign encourages individuals and communities to bring healthy sexuality into the conversation on how we connect with and respect one another in order to prevent sexual violence.

By talking about “it” we are making the connection that promoting healthy behaviors encourages relationships that are consensual, respectful and informed. That is what healthy sexuality is about. Healthy sexuality is having the knowledge and power to express sexuality in ways that enrich our lives. Healthy sexuality is free from coercion and violence.

It is important to understand that sexuality is much more than sex. Healthy sexuality is emotional, social, cultural and physical. It is our values, attitudes, feelings, interactions and behaviors. It changes with time and experience.

Individuals need accurate information about relationships, sexuality and positive behaviors to ensure the opportunity to make healthy sexual choices. These choices impact our lives, loved ones, communities and society.

All of us have a role in building safe, healthy relationships and communities. When we start the conversation about healthy sexuality, we raise awareness. Prevent sexual violence by talking about “it.”

It’s time … to talk about it!

Your name here,

Your city here

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National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month January 20, 2012

Posted by Alicia in Education, How To Help, Teenage Relationships, What We're Up To.
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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.  What have we done, and what can we do to promote healthy relationships among teens?  In November, our bloggers and friends of unfollowcharlie raised awareness and contributed to Break the Cycle, a campaign in conjunction with loveisrespect.org.

With the help of our donation, Break the Cycle is:

Teaching teens the signs of abuse
Training the next generation of leaders about dating violence
Ensuring that teens in every state have basic rights, like access to restraining orders.

What can we do without even leaving our computers, iPads and iPhones?

On each Monday beginning January 16th (oops, missed one) you can tweet comments and answers to teens about what healthy relationships are. Tweet to #whatlovemeans on these dates:

Monday January 23rd
Monday, January 30th
Monday February 6th

The best answers will be retweeted at @Love_isNotAbuse and @Seventeenmag

On Facebook, you can post on your wall raising awareness.  Or do more, get creative!  And “like” or post on this page:

You can check out this list of states to see how yours stacks up with others in passing legislation about teen dating violence education and new laws protecting teens in need of a restraining order.  Don’t like what you see?  Contact your legislator, and if they don’t respond with legislation, ask the schools.  There are community programs that can help the schools and provide in-service training for certified teachers.

Read a transcript of the DVD available from the PBS program ‘in the mix’ for teens.

And, here is a FREE curriculum on teen dating violence with videos included to educate yourself, or even receive certification.

What still needs to be done to help teens maintain healthy relationships?

A lot.  But let’s start here. Very few domestic shelters accept teens as the primary victims, and most teen victims are not protected by law unless they are living with the abuser or have a child with him.  Advocating for effective and well funded programs to protect teens and help their abusers receive counseling is essential.  In terms of prevention, since most teens confide in their friends, and spend much of their day at school, educating teens about how to help their peers should be a top priority.

Project Speak Out December 11, 2011

Posted by Syd in Cool Stuff, Domestic Abuse, How To Help, Local Heroes.
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Last weekend, I had the pleasure of training with some of the women from Project Speak Out.  Project Speak Out is a new initiative run by four Asian-American domestic violence organizations in the New York City area, with a goal to reduce and prevent domestic violence.  The training was comprehensive and extremely well run  – I can’t say enough about the good work these people are doing.    In writing for our blog over the last several months, we’ve all had the opportunity to become aware of the unfortunate statistics about domestic violence in our respective states (or even countries) but the training with Project Speak Out also reminded me the additional hurdles the immigrant population faces, especially in the cases of domestic violence.    The four groups involved are:  Garden of Hope, the Korean American Family Service Center, the New  York Asian Women’s Center, and Sahki for South Asian Women.   These organizations offer a multitude of support services, including multilingual hotlines, economic empowerment programs, and youth programs.    I highly encourage you all to click over to each of their websites and learn more about the work they are doing, and make a donation if you can.    You can also follow the progress of Project Speak Out on their blog, as well as on facebook and twitter.

I intend to get involved locally in my own neighborhood, as we have a significant Asian population in my section of Queens, but if you are New York based, please consider getting involved with Project Speak Out, or getting involved with one of these groups.    Obviously, domestic violence is not something that affects one single culture or immigrant population, and of course, these services are open to anyone who needs them.

As always, if you know of any other organizations doing great work, let us know!   We’d love to write about them.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month October 12, 2011

Posted by Kate in Uncategorized.
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THE WHITE HOUSE – Office of the Press Secretary – For Immediate Release October 3, 2011

 

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AWARENESS MONTH, 2011

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

 

A PROCLAMATION

 

During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recognize the significant achievements we have made in reducing domestic violence in America, and we recommit ourselves to the important work still before us. Despite tremendous progress, an average of three women in America die as a result of domestic violence each day. One in four women and one in thirteen men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. These statistics are even more sobering when we consider that domestic violence often goes unreported.

 

The ramifications of domestic violence are staggering. Young women are among the most vulnerable, suffering the highest rates of intimate partner violence. Exposure to domestic violence puts our young men and women in danger of long-term physical, psychological, and emotional harm. Children who experience domestic violence are at a higher risk for failure in school, emotional disorders, and substance abuse, and are more likely to perpetuate the cycle of violence themselves later in life.

 

My Administration is working not only to curb domestic violence, but to bring it to an end. Last year, we announced an unprecedented coordinated strategy across Federal agencies to prevent and stop violence against women. We are empowering survivors to break the cycle of abuse with programs to help them become financially independent. We have prevented victims of domestic violence from being evicted or denied assisted housing after abuse. And we are promoting tools for better enforcement of protective orders, while helping survivors gain access to legal representation.

 

In addition, as part of the Affordable Care Act, the Department of Health and Human Services announced historic new guidelines that will ensure women receive preventive health services without additional cost, including domestic violence screening and counseling. The Affordable Care Act also ensures that insurance companies can no longer classify domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.

 

Last December, I reauthorized the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, giving communities life-saving tools to help identify and treat child abuse or neglect. It also supports shelters, service programs, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, linking tens of thousands of victims every month to the resources needed to reach safety. I encourage victims, their loved ones, and concerned citizens to use this hotline for more information at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit http://www.TheHotline.org.

 

 

This is not just a job for government; it is a job for all of us. Vice President Joe Biden’s “1is2many” initiative reminds us that everyone has a part to play in ending violence against youth. By engaging men and women, mothers and fathers, and schools and universities in the fight, we can teach our children about healthy relationships. We are asking everyone to play an active role in preventing and ending domestic violence, by stepping up to stop violence when they see it. During National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we recommit to making sure that no one suffers alone, and to assisting those who need help in reaching a safer tomorrow.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim October 2011 as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I call on all Americans to speak out against domestic violence and support local efforts to assist victims of these crimes in finding the help and healing they need.

 

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this

 

third day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.

 

BARACK OBAMA

Intimate Partner Rape October 7, 2011

Posted by Kate in Uncategorized.
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© Pandora’s Aquarium 2008

In this article we’ll look at the commonality of partner rape, other forms of abuse that may also happen, and a little on why abusers rape and excuses they make. If you are a survivor new to acknowledging partner rape and healing, the following may help to “normalize” your experiences. Please be aware that although the victims are identified as female, and perpetrators male, these may be interchangeable depending on your situation.


HOW COMMON IS PARTNER RAPE?


If you are a survivor, you are certainly not alone. Researchers have been telling us about marital/partner rape for more than 25 years, and the news is not good: Partner rape is incredibly common. Let’s have a look at the stats:

    • In 2006 the Australian Bureau published the results of the Personal Safety Survey. According to the Survey, an estimated 27,400 women in Australia have experienced sexual assault by their current partner, and 272,300 by a previous partner. According to the Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACCSA) these figures are likely to be underestimates (http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/PrimaryMainFeatures/4906.0?OpenDocument)
    • In 1975, the results of an American study on many rape situations were published. Diana Russell was so appalled by her findings on rape in marriage that she decided to conduct a research project on this area alone. From the 930 interviews conducted with women from a cross section of race and class, Russell concluded that rape in marriage was the most common yet most neglected area of sexual violence (Russell, Diana E.H. ‘Rape in Marriage’ MacMillan Publishing Company, USA 1990)
    • In 1994, Patricia Easteal, then Senior Criminologist at the Australian Institute of Criminology, published the results of survey on sexual assault in many settings. The respondents were survivors of numerous forms of sexual assault. Of these, 10.4% had been raped by husbands or de-factos, with a further 2.3 per cent raped by estranged husbands/defactos. 5.5 percent were raped by non-cohabiting boyfriends (Easteal, P. “Voices of the Survivors”, Spinifex Press, North Melbourne, 1994.)
    • David Finkelhor & Kersti Yllo’s famous 1985 study estimated that 10 to 14 per cent of all married women have been or will be raped by their spouses .(Finkelhor, D. and Yllo, K., “License to Rape”, The Free Press, New York 1985)
    • In the UK, statistics disseminated by the Rape Crisis Federation yield the information that the most common rapists are current and ex-husbands or partners. (Myhill & Allen, Rape and Sexual Assault of Women: Findings from the British Crime Survey)
    • Figures on teenage girls in danger from boyfriends caused shock in research communities in the 1980’s. Teen Dating violence, which often involves rape and sexual assault, continues to be on the rise. Approximately one in ten high school students experiences dating violence – that figure is 22% in college students (Wilson, K.J., When Violence Begins at Home: A Comprehensive Guide to Understanding and Ending Domestic Abuse, Hunter House Inc .Publishers, California, 1997) For more figures on teen dating violence, go here.
  • Other figures estimate that one in seven women is raped by a sexual intimate.

PARTNER RAPE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE 

Sexual abuse and assault happen in relationships that may not be overtly abusive. However, partner rape itself is domestic violence, and since it is an act of control, we shouldn’t be surprised when it coexists with other forms of abusive control.

These might be any of the below:

  • Physical abuse i.e. battery. Studies do indicate that the tendency toward partner rape increases significantly in men who batter. (Bergen, R, Wife Rape: Understanding the Response of Survivors and Service Providers, Sage Publications, California, 1996) Physical abuse also takes the form of throwing objects, hurting pets, or pushing and shoving.
  • Emotional Abuse: Putdowns, emotional blackmail, shaming, making jokes at your expense, withdrawing affection as punishment, deliberately embarrassing you
  • Mental Abuse: Negative comments about your intelligence, “mind-games” such as insisting something didn’t happen when you know it did; calling you crazy or trying to drive you crazy, “second-guessing” you.
  • Social Abuse: Insisting on accompanying you on all social outings or refusal to allow you to go at all; isolating you from family and friends.
  • Financial Abuse: Insisting that you work in the family business for no money; preventing you from earning your own money, making you account for every cent, giving you an “Allowance”, controlling any money you make.
  • Spiritual Abuse: Mocking your religion, insisting that you embrace his religion, preventing you from going to church, distorting and quoting scripture to manipulate you into submission
  • Using “Male Privilege“: Claiming the right to do as he pleases while the same right doesn’t extend to you because you’re a woman. Male privilege may also be a part of sexual assault; for example he may say that as your husband, it’s his right to have you whenever he wants you.

If you’ve experienced these other forms of abuse, you may have come to doubt your own worth or sanity, and have little self-confidence. But just remember: These are tactics that abusers use to control and intimidate. Whatever you may have come to believe about yourself is a reflection of the abuse, not of truth. Please do think about seeking help – you deserve much better. Nobody has the right to control and hurt you.

(Source: Easteal, P. And McOrmond-Plummer, L, Real Rape Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partner, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2006)

TYPES OF PARTNER RAPE

It’s a common misconception that rape – particularly partner rape – is about sex, rather than an act of power, control and violence. Here are common types of partner rape (note: They are NOT excuses for abuser behaviour, and just because an abuser is motivated by, say, power one time doesn’t mean he always is; I can clearly identify times when my ex-partner was motivated either by power or by anger):

  • Power Rape: This happens to “show her who’s boss.” Batterers often want sex after beating their partners, and it’s a means of forcing the woman to forget the fight and make up. It may happen because she said no to sex, or because she wants to leave. It may not be physically violent, but can involve sufficient force to get what he wants. Power rape occurs also when a woman is bullied or intimidated into giving in “to keep the peace.”
  • Anger Rape: Anger rape is often very violent and is carried out in retaliation when a man perceives his partner “deserves” it – perhaps by calling his masculinity into question. It might be a response to her leaving, “flirting”, showing him up in front of others.
  • Sadistic Rape: Where an anger rapist hurts the woman to punish her, in sadistic rape the abuser gets off on causing the pain, fear and humiliation. Cutting, biting, burning, urinating upon the victim or other painful and humiliating treatment characterizes sadistic rape.
  • Obsessive Rape: If you experienced sexual assault from a partner who was obsessed with pornography or forced you into repeated sex-acts that were bizarre or fetishistic in nature, this is characteristic of obsessive rape. It may also be repeated and constant acts of anal or oral rape – something the abuser is fixated with doing.

(Sources: Finkelhor, D. and Yllo, K., License to Rape, The Free Press, New York, 1985; Russell, Diana E.H. Rape in MarriageMacMillan Publishing Company, USA 1990; Easteal, P. and McOrmond-Plummer, L, Real Rape Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2006)

COMMON WAYS THAT ABUSERS AVOID RESPONSIBILITY FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT

  • Denial: Acting as if nothing out of the ordinary happened, boldly stating that it didn’t happen, calling you crazy for saying that it did, saying he doesn’t remember.
  • Rationalization: “You must have wanted it” “You could have stopped me,” “A husband is entitled to it”; Rationalization is also blaming you: ” If you gave me more sex I wouldn’t have to force you” “You are a cocktease”
  • Minimization: I didn’t really hurt you” “You’re making a fuss about nothing” “I just wanted to make love to you.”
  • Claiming Loss of Control: “I was too turned on to stop”, “You make me so angry” [/b]

(Source: Easteal, P. And McOrmond-Plummer, L, Real Rape Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners, Hybrid Publishers, Melbourne, 2006)

If you identify with any of the above, please know that there is help available. Don’t be afraid to call domestic violence or sexual assault services- also Pandora’s Aquarium has many survivors of partner rape who will gladly support you.

This article is copyrighted and unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.

If you wish to use this article online or in print, please contact us to request permission.  www.pandys.org  PERMISSION RECEIVED FOR THIS REPRINT.

Voices Against Violence September 30, 2011

Posted by Alicia in Domestic Abuse, Education, help a friend.
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Voices Against Violence

My alma mater, the University of Texas is a beautiful, sprawling campus that holds great memories for me.  However, my freshmen year I was oblivious to the services that were available to me regarding safety on campus and stalking.  Had I known, I may have stopped in the campus Counseling and Mental Health Resource Center to ask what to do about a stranger who showed up after my classes, asked me out, and after I declined, followed me on campus for three days.  I think of all the women who aren’t as fortunate to have it end with the perpetrator just stopping the behavior. Today on the campus, programs like Voices Against Violence are raising awareness that help is available.

This year, UT is celebrating the tenth year of its program Voices Against Violence, sponsored by the Counseling and Mental Health Resource Center.  They have an extensive program that assists students with a variety of mental health concerns including dating relationships, sexual violence, and stalking.  Check out Building a Healthy Relationships from the Start.

CMHC’s biggest event to raise awareness occurs in October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  If you walk through what we call the West Mall of the campus on awareness day, chances are you will be handed a carnation with a slip of paper attached to it.  Written on the paper is the story of a Texan who died that year due to domestic violence.  In 2008, program coordinators and volunteers passed out 2000 carnations.  Also at the event are students reading aloud some of the stories, calling out the warning signs of abusive relationships, and performing spoken word dialogues.

Voices Against Violence Theatre for Dialogue   is a program that uses theatre as a medium to involve students in learning about realistic scenarios in unhealthy relationships and healthy ways to respond to them. They give performances to student groups, faculty and community outreach programs.  The audience is an active participant in the performances.  Check out the video in the link!

The Counseling and Mental Health Resource Center also has reading materials that appeal to college students, offering realistic dialogue between someone in an unhealthy relationship and the friends who try to help.  Here is one example, the story of Kris and Franky, told in comic book style format.

Katy wrote about and posted the power and control wheel, an excellent visual educational tool for dating violence. The University of Texas takes pride in the degrees offered in its college of liberal arts for students who wish to be counselors  to the GLBT community, so I’d like to share with you the  GLBT power wheel, designed by the NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti Violence Project and posted at UT’s  CMHC site.  It has scenarios I wasn’t really conscious of until I saw the wheel, but now I know I’ve seen the type of control they are describing.

I encourage you to look at the links, there’s a comic,  a video,  a power wheel, and lots of great info on the healthy progression of relationships.

What did you learn in high school? September 28, 2011

Posted by Syd in Domestic Abuse, Education, Uncategorized.
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As mentioned (and sorry for the delay, folks!), Part II of the school coverage.  We would LOVE to hear about your experiences, too, so please feel free to comment!

So, I went to a great school in New York – the Bronx High School of Science.  It’s a specialized high school, with a heavy emphasis on math and science, and in a lot of ways, I found it more challenging than college.    (NYC based parents, I encourage you to check it out if you think it’s something your child would be interested in).  And in those 4 years, I took exactly 1 semester of Health, which was all that was required to graduate.  Health was that general class where you would learn about nutrition, general health, and sexual health, as I recall.  Our textbooks had the scary pictures of herpes, and I definitely remember giving a report on partial birth abortions. I do not remember covering relationships or emotional health.  Like many high schools, Bronx Science had a readily available number of guidance counselors, as well as a great teaching staff – but it’s not enough.  I do not blame Bronx Science – they were adhering to the New York requirements for the Regents diploma.  Here’s the problem – I graduated in 1997.  The requirements for graduation have not change significantly, and they have not changed as it relates to the Health requirement.

Domestic and dating violence is not a new phenomenon.  The problems that existed when I was that age still exist today.  Do we know more about them now due to the advent of the internet and other social media?  Absolutely.  While internet resources allow students to look up hotlines and outreach centers, it has also paved the way for cyber-bullying and sexting.

Is there hope?  Maybe.  There is legislation pending in New York and several other states to make  a dating/domestic violence curriculum mandatory for students in grades 7-12, although similar legislation failed in Maryland, Oregon, Oklahoma and Virginia.

Tell us about your experiences in high school, or tell us what is happening with your children.  There are several states that HAVE adopted acts similar to the Lindsay Ann Burke Act – but it is difficult to determine if the schools have implemented that curriculum.

Am I Being Abused? September 21, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, help a friend.
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Am I Being Abused?

Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it’s abuse.

Does your partner…
____ Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
____ Put down your accomplishments or goals?
____ Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
____ Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
____ Tell you that you are nothing without them?
____ Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
____ Call, text, or email you several times a day or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
____ Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
____ Blame you for how they feel or act?
____ Pressure you sexually for things you don’t want to do?
____ Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
____ Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
____ Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson”?

Do you…
____ Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
____ Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
____ Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
____ Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
____ Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
____ Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke-up?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.  National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

(Adapted from Reading and Teaching Teens to Stop Violence, Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, Lincoln, NE).

1 is 2 Many September 14, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Teenage Relationships.
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Our friend Joe Biden has announced a new initiative in honor of the 17th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act.  Please click here for full details.

There is a form to share your feedback at the link above or you can share your ideas on Twitter with the hashtag #1is2many on how to make our schools and campuses safer from domestic violence and dating abuse.  I piped in with the idea for a federal Lindsay Ann Burke Act.

Please get the word out.

The Power and Control Wheel September 6, 2011

Posted by Kate in Domestic Abuse, Uncategorized.
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Above is a small version of the power and control wheel.  To see the larger version, please click here.  It is used to illustrate to victims, therapists, advocates etc. the components of abuse.

The wheel is made up of eight sections:

MALE PRIVILEGE: Treating her like a servant: making all the big decisions, acting like the “master of the castle,” being theone to define men’s and women’s roles. 

COERCION AND THREATS: Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her.  Threatening to leave her, commit suicide, or report her to welfare. Making her drop charges.  Making her do illegal things.

INTIMIDATION: Making her afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures. Smashing things. Destroying her property. Abusing pets.  Displaying weapons.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE:  Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes. Limiting her outside involvement.  Using jealousy to justify actions.

MINIMIZING, DENYING, AND BLAMING:  Making light of the abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously. Saying the abuse didn’t happen.  Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior. Saying she caused it.

USING CHILDREN: Making her feel guiltyabout the children.  Using children to relay messages.  Using visitation to harass her.  Threatening to take the children away.

ECONOMIC ABUSE:  Preventing her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money. Giving her an allowance. Taking her money.  Not letting her know about or have access to family income.