Many communities “plant pinwheel gardens” each April of colorful pinwheels spinning in the wind which represents a child living in the community who was abused last year.
April is National Child Abuse Awareness Month and many local organizations offer tips on preventing abuse.
Congress first declared April as National Child Abuse Awareness Month, a time designated each year to raise awareness about child abuse and neglect, in 1983, and each year the president issues a proclamation calling on Americans to use the month to help prevent child abuse.
The first step in helping abused children is learning to recognize the symptoms of child abuse. Although child abuse is divided into four types – physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional maltreatment – the types are more typically found in combination than alone. A physically abused child for example is often emotionally maltreated as well, and a sexually abused child may be also neglected. Any child at any age may experience any of the types of child abuse.
Child abuse leaves more than just bruises. Long after children have recovered from the physical results of any type of abuse, abused children suffer from emotional and psychological trauma that can last the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, many bystanders witness child abuse and do nothing about it. Neighbors and friends may hear or even see child abuse happening, but don’t want to intrude or interfere with “the rights” of the parents. Such inaction can mean years of pain and heartbreak for young children who are unable to get out of a horrific situation.
Abused children need your intervention. In their helplessness, they must rely on capable adults who are willing to take a stand and get them out of an abusive environment. By being aware of child abuse, and helping to educate the people you know, you can help prevent child abuse in your community.
Identifying Child Abuse
While it is impossible to determine the presence of abuse or neglect by behavior, the following signs may signal the presence of child abuse or neglect:
- Shows sudden changes in behavior or school performance
- Has not received help for physical or medical problems brought to the parent’s attention
- Has learning problems or difficulty concentrating that cannot be attributed to specific physical or psychological causes
- Is always watchful, as though preparing for something bad to happen
- Lacks adult supervision•Is overly compliant, passive or withdrawn
- Comes to school or other activities early, stays late, and does not want to go home
- Shows little concern for the child
- Denies the existence of, or blames the child for the child’s problems in school or at home
- Asks teachers or other caretakers to use harsh physical discipline if the child misbehaves
- Sees the child as entirely bad, worthless, or burdensome
- Demands a level of physical or academic performance the child cannot achieve
- Looks primarily to the child for care, attention, and satisfaction of emotional needs
The Parent and the Child:
- Rarely touch or look at each other
- Consider their relationship entirely negative
- State that they do not like each other
Preventing Child Abuse
Learn about child abuse. Educate yourself and keep these key facts in mind:
- Child abusers can be any age, any gender and any race. They can be from any economic class, and have any level of education.
- Children are more likely to be abused by their own parents than by a stranger.
- Rarely does an incident of child abuse happen in isolation. When a child is abused once, it is likely to happen again.
- Educate your neighbors and friends about child abuse.
Stop child abuse when you see it. If you have trouble identifying the difference between child abuse and acceptable forms of discipline, learn the Federal and State laws and find resources that distinguish between discipline and abuse. Do not hesitate to contact the National Child Abuse Hotline (1-800-4-A-Child). During your anonymous call, their counselors can help you evaluate the situation and help you make a child abuse report to the proper authorities. If you are nervous about making a report, they will even stay on the line during a 3-way call to offer you support. If a child is in life-threatening danger, call 911 immediately.
It’s time that people take a stand against child abuse. Your simple actions will help prevent child abuse and give abused children hope for a brighter future.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Security On Campus and Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment Launch Unprecedented Approach to Shattering the Silence of College Sexual Violence
For Immediate Release
Via Security On Campus, Inc.
May 26, 2011
Washington, DC -Soon-to-be high school graduates entering college this fall may not realize there’s more to worry about than getting good grades. Many should be worrying about sexual violence.
PAVE and SOC announce the launch of the “Safe Campus, Strong Voices” Campaign to follow today’s introduction of the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act – national legislation designed to help campuses better respond to and prevent sexual violence. “Safe Campus, Strong Voices” is a nationwide campaign to raise awareness and shatter the silence of college sexual violence. To end the epidemic of campus sexual violence, students and faculty, men and women, will to work together to create safer and more supportive campuses.
According to the US Department of Justice, 1 in 4 college women will be sexually assaulted, and the majority of those sexual assaults happen fall semester to freshmen and sophomore women. An astounding 95.2% of these will never be reported. Addressing this issue is critical when thinking about the safety of everyone in that environment.
PAVE: Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment and SOC: Security On Campus, Inc. are joining together with other leading sexual assault groups for this campaign during September for National Campus Safety Awareness Month.
“Safe Campus, Strong Voices” focuses on prevention of sexual assault and raising awareness of the high level of under reporting by victims of these crimes. NPR’s recent series “Seeking Justice for Campus Rapes” reveals how most colleges are not successfully dealing with this issue. The campaign will empower students as bystanders to make changes in their campus environment, and encourage victims to seek justice.
PAVE Founder Angela Rose said “Every time I speak on a college campus, there’s a line of students who want to disclose that they have been affected by sexual assault and most have never reported. This unprecedented campaign will help build the national movement to shatter the silence of sexual violence on college campuses.”
SOC and PAVE have put together tool kits to create effective, simple-to-run campaigns in an ever-busy campus environment. The campaign provides materials, training, and ideas to bring prevention education programs to campus, to hold tabling events, and to collaborate with other groups and offices on campus throughout the month of September and beyond. On September 30, all participating groups across the country will stand in solidarity by holding simultaneous rallies. They will encourage reporting of sexual assault and a culture shift to create the safest most supportive campus community for survivors of sexual violence.
“This campaign seeks to shed light on crimes that so greatly impact the lives of far too many college students every year,” said Melissa Lucchesi, SOC’s Outreach Education Coordinator. “By speaking out and encouraging a supportive response to sexual assault survivors, students across the country will be a part of a movement that creates ripples of change in their campus community.”
Take care and STAY SAFE!
It can happen at home. It can happen at work. It can happen in a car. It can happen in a dorm. Sexual assault occurs whenever someone is forced, coerced or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. The list of offenses is graphic and includes rape, incest, date rape, marital rape, sexual harassment, child sexual assault, stranger rape, forced prostitution, exposure, voyeurism and statutory rape. Silence continues to surround the topic of sexual assault, yet according to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, one in six American women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime. Seventy three percent of rapes were committed by a non-stranger — a friend, intimate, relative or acquaintance. In other words, sexual assaults are happening more often to people we love by people they know, rather than the stranger hiding in the bushes. And it’s happening to our daughters, mothers, girlfriends, sons and co-workers.
There are many myths that still exist today that place blame on the victim, such as past consensual sex, whether alcohol was involved and even the type of clothing worn by the victim. No one, under any circumstances, deserves to be sexually assaulted . Period. Sexual assault is not about sexual desire gone wrong but about power and control over another, utilizing sex as a weapon. Most often sexual assault happens as a pervasive result of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that assert male privilege over females, as evidenced by advertising, music videos, video games and other media. When males are taught to respect their peers, both male and female, how to understand boundaries, the elements of consent and how to appropriately challenge negative behaviors of peers, then change at the individual level can happen. However, beyond individual responsibility, we need organizations that support the redefining of positive parameters that define masculinity beyond brute strength and sexual activity. We need organizations that challenge young people to develop effective communication and negotiation skills for healthy relationships. We need systems that support victims and understand the devastating impact of trauma due to sexual assault. We need churches, educational institutions, community agencies, parents and youth organizations to step out of the box and talk about sexual assault in authentic, informed and creative ways.
Sexual violence is preventable. However, prevention is more than educating individuals concerning objectification and healthy sexual boundaries. By following the Spectrum of Prevention, a tool developed by the Prevention Institute and tailored by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, communities like yours can participate in comprehensive sexual-violence prevention initiatives. The spectrum consists of strengthening individual knowledge and skills, promoting community education, educating professional providers, fostering coalitions and networks, changing organizational practices and, finally, influencing policies and legislation.
Programs to help youth navigate the maze of relationships that often includes violence in many forms. Teens-4-Change is a social-change organization for young women ages 14 to 18 that focuses on healthy bodies, minds and relationships. R.A.P., Raising Awareness and Prevention, works with males at the high-school and college level to challenge pervasive attitudes, beliefs and behaviors that perpetuate sexual violence.
Take the opportunity during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, to learn more, do more and understand more about an issue that affects entire communities. Challenge leaders to reinforce positive cultural norms and send clear and consistent messages that sexual violence is traumatic in any form, as well as inappropriate. Because sexual violence happens in all races, socio-economic classes, genders and age groups, we need to send the message to everyone that no one, under any circumstances, should be blamed for being sexually violated. Intervention is important and necessary; however, primary prevention, stopping sexual violence before it ever starts, is a worthy goal for ALL communities.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Contributor Al Renna
If you watched last week’s episode of ABC’s hit show Private Practice then I’m sure that like me you were on the edge of your seat, mouth agape in shock during the final few moments of the episode. As Charlotte King, Chief of Staff at St. Ambrose’s Hospital and the doctor whose specialty is sexology, leaves her office she is attacked by an unknown man and thrown into her office with a slamming door.
From the looks of the chilling teaser for the November 4th episode, it was a violent attack and if you’ve read the inside scoop from Entertainment Weekly you’d know too that it was in fact a violent rape.
The Aftermath of the Attack
Last week’s episode focused on the immediate aftermath of the attack. From the start King is adamant that she was robbed – not raped – even reporting so to the police. It isn’t until she is alone with Addison, played by Kate Walsh, that the reality of the rape becomes evident but King herself isn’t ready to admit it.
“I wasn’t raped. I was robbed. No rape kit…He took my wallet. He didn’t take anything else.”
Addison later tried to convince King to report the rape but King is unwavering. She does however give Addison (and viewers) a glimpse at the horror she experienced:
“It’s dirty and sweaty and he licks your face and he wipes himself off in your hair and when you try to scream he punches you so hard you see God. And then he goes at you again, raping stuff you didn’t even know you had because he enjoyed it so much the first time.”
This raw picture of the attack is chilling but one thing is clearer than anything else – King will not play the victim.
“I know you’re trying to help,” King says to Addison, “but if helping means that everyone, that Cooper [her finance], is going to be looking at me like you’re looking at me now, well, then please don’t help me.”
Not a Victim
One of the most striking aspects of the episode for me was King’s refusal to play the victim. She is adamant in keeping the rape a secret from anyone but Addison and unlike the “typical victims” we normally see on TV who breakdown and cry, King’s loudest emotion is her anger. In fact, it is her anger that gives her strength and helps her cope.
I know many will say that King’s refusal to admit the rape or be labeled a victim is her denial, and I wouldn’t argue with that, but I think that for King it is more about how this label – victim – would change how people see her, how she sees herself.
When attacked she fought, she screamed, yelled, punched and kicked much like many other women. She will not be the victim because she survived and makes it clear she won’t have anyone calling her one when Cooper uses the word (albeit concerning the robbery, the only thing he thinks happened) and she lashes out saying:
“You ever call me the victim again this marriage is off.”
A System Full of Flaws
One of the most frustrating aspects of the episode for me was the many flaws we see with the criminal system. The man who raped King is questioned by police and Sheldon, the practice’s psychiatrist after he is found confused on the street and covered in someone else’s blood, but because no one has filed any charges the longest they can keep him is 72 hours for assaulting Sheldon and kicking a cop.
The fact that he raped someone is clear, but without a charge he is relatively a free man. Regardless of the fact that King refused a rape kit and lied to police, this man is a rapist with or without a named “victim” – or shall we say survivor. Not only is he a rapist but in this case he is a mentally ill man with a temper and vendetta again women after recently finding his girlfriend cheating.
Unfortunately, women who are raped often keep the attack a secret like King and refuse a rape kit or press charges. For some it is denial, for others shame or fear or like King the need not be to labeled a victim, but for whatever reason charges are not made and rapists walk free.
Both Strickland who plays King and Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer of the show, understand the severity of undertaking such a story line.
“A lot of violence against women on television is from the point of view of law enforcement,” points out Rhimes, “as opposed to standing in the shoes of the actual victim and seeing how it is for them and the people around them.”
“Creatively, it’s a real gift for an actor,” said Strickland. “But I also knew that this would reach so many people who have either experienced it or have been close to people who have experienced it. The only thing I said was that we have to get it right.”
Part of getting it right means that King’s rape will not serve as a single episode or fleeting moment in her character’s storyline.
Not only did she ensure that the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) worked with her and the show’s writer every step of the way, but she’s going beyond her acting duties and using the scene as a platform to work with and build awareness on the issue of sexual abuse and its devastating mental health effects.
“The thing I’ve learned from my work with survivors is that they want this. The only way people can confront their feelings is to see that there are more outlets for their stories being told,” Strickland told Pop Tarts.
In preparation for the scene, Strickland spent time at a rape treatment center in Los Angeles, where she was confronted with children as young as five who were undergoing professional medical help to recover from the ordeal.
“It’s never too late to get help. Women can go in there, never having talked about it for 20 years and get treatment, no questions asked. If it’s a family member, or your own husband, a lot of people shy away from speaking out,” she continued, “There had also been a five-year-old girl just brought in when I was there, who had been repeatedly raped, waiting in the room. There was another young girl seeking therapy.”
“I knew instinctively going into it that you can’t let the storyline die off because once this happens to a person, this is their reality and it’s their life,” she said. “When something like this happens, it is absolutely devastating and it shatters a person’s reality and the thing that I love moving forward is that you really see what a person deals with in terms of whether they can come to terms with the fact that this happened – can they try to be proactive in taking this person off the streets and can they be a partner in a relationship again?”
And while performing a rape scene for the lights and camera was certainly a challenge for the 34-year-old actress, she was more concerned about the show’s crew having to stand there and watch.
“The difficulty is that you want it to be as realistic as possible without being un-watchable because the reality of the event is so horrific,” Strickland added. “We did the scene for a very long time and more than anything, my concern going in was if there were any people in the crew that needed to step away, I completely understood because we have some survivors in our crew.”
“We in no way are going to let this thing go away in four episodes” says Strickland, “Charlotte will live with this for as long as she’s a character on Private Practice,” much like any other woman who is violently raped.
How do you think Private Practice handled the rape storyline? Please share your comments with others.
Take care and STAY SAFE!
Respectfully submitted via care2 and FoxNews.
“Private Practice” airs Thursdays on ABC at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
Preparing Children to Be Safe at College
Money can buy many things to help children excel academically, like tutors and private school educations. But as those children go off to college, the one thing otherwise protective parents typically do not spend money on is making sure their children do not become victims of a crime.
One reason is cost. The price of protection ranges from consultations billed at several hundred dollars an hour to Ostrander International’s security assessment and training program, mainly for the children of international business executives, royalty and celebrities, which starts at $41,000 for the first year.
Parents may also believe that security at college is not something they have to worry about.
But just because you are paying tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars for your child’s education does not mean the university is a safe place.
A report released this week by Insite Security is sure to shake parents’ confidence. The security firm analyzed crime statistics on and around the campuses of the eight Ivy League colleges as well as Duke, Stanford, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Chicago. This study was intriguing because it looked not only at the on-campus statistics that colleges are required to report, it also took into account crime in the areas where students socialize off campus. (The off-campus statistics were drawn from the F.B.I.’s uniform crime report.)
The Insite report, whose data goes only to 2008, said three-quarters of the colleges and their surrounding areas had sex offense rates that were 83 percent higher than the national rape average, with Dartmouth having the highest rate. It said that Harvard had the highest rate of burglary among the 12.
“Keeping kids safe or making a wise decision about where your kids go to school is more complicated than reviewing the police log at the college security office,” said Christopher Falkenberg, president of Insite.
In response to the report, Sylvia Spears, dean of Dartmouth, said, “Increased reporting is not necessarily an indicator of increased sexual violence on campus but may be indicative of better education about sexual violence and increased awareness of various services and offices on a campus that are available to a victim.”
A spokesman for Harvard said, “It is important to note that how property crimes are classified and reported varies from school to school, and when you look at property crime statistics as a whole, Harvard does not lead in the rankings.”
For prominent families, the costs of a security plan to reduce these risks are part of life, but for most affluent families, such security is prohibitively expensive — even though their children may be just as susceptible to crime.
Several security advisers I spoke with offered advice to wealthy families contemplating security plans while also providing tips to parents of more modest means.
TOP THREATS Curtis Ostrander, the founder of Ostrander International and former vice president for risk management and public safety at Cornell, said the biggest threat he sought to counter was students’ belief that nothing was going to happen to them.
His business focuses on the top targets for campus crime: international students and children from affluent homes. It might seem obvious that someone adjusting to a new culture while getting used to college could run into problems. But children from families who are upper-middle class and higher on the wealth ladder are often naïve about personal security, and that makes them targets for theft, alcohol-related crimes and sexual assault.
“If you grew up in a poorer neighborhood, you’d be more aware of someone coming up behind you and stealing your bag,” Mr. Ostrander said.
He added that the very rich were the least prepared: “Having security growing up makes it worse because they never had to consider the threats.”
Mr. Falkenberg said a new scam illustrated this problem. It starts with an attractive, older woman pretending to fall in love with a wealthy male student in the hope of getting pregnant, if not married, and laying claim to his family’s money.
“They’re dweebishly nerdy kids, and the story is always the same,” he said. “It’s really hard because you have to tell the kid this is not the love of his life.”
STUDENT RESPONSIBILITY Regardless of the threat, the key is to work with students before they leave for college. And this is where the fees for one-on-one preparation start to climb.
Mr. Ostrander, for example, has a psychologist and a self-defense instructor on staff, and he will work personally with the student in the home country or on campus. Thomas Ruskin, president of CMP Protective and Investigative Group, said his agents had accompanied clients’ children on trips in the guise of tour guides or drivers, but had also done simple things like monitoring tracking technology on their cellphones.
“It’s about teaching them how to leave the nest but also to teach them what they’ve been protected from,” Mr. Ruskin said.
Short of hiring an expensive consultant, parents themselves can do more to prepare children for what can happen on campus. For male students, the main worries are being beaten up or involved in an alcohol-related crime, and for women, the concerns center on sexual assault.
Yet Mr. Ostrander says parents usually do not do enough to prepare children for theft and computer scams. These include the infamous Nigerian prince asking for money and more personalized scams devised from the abundance of personal information on the Web. “Some of us say that’s just common sense, but not for people without a lot of life experience,” he said.
PARENTAL ANXIETY Thinking about what could happen to your child is enough to send the most level-headed parent into overprotective mode. Yet the experts offered some simple steps for parents to take. Encourage your daughter to use the buddy system when she goes to a party and have a plan if she or a friend drinks too much. Another is to use campus escorts at night.
Even with prominent children, less can be more. “It’s a little bit of a give and take with security,” Mr. Ruskin said. “It’s a necessary evil, but you don’t want to go overboard and then you’re smothering the person.”
The worst thing a parent can do for a child, the experts agreed, is send a bodyguard to class. The same goes for the middle-class parent repeatedly warning a child not to drink. That could lead to worse behavior.
“We don’t say, ‘Don’t drink,’ ” Mr. Ostrander said. “We say, ‘If you drink, here are some of the possible problems.’ ” He added, “I teach these kids in classes, but these are the same skills they will use the rest of their lives to be safe.”
And that is what any parent wants from college.
Respectfully submitted via New York Times.
How much is your daughter’s life worth? You cannot put a price tag on her life. She will have personal safety skills; mentally, emotionally and ultimately physically (if taught properly) for the rest of her life. She is worth the investment!
Urge NFL Commission & Team Owners to institute new Sexual Assault Awareness Training Program.
Time after time we hear about an NFL player being accused of sexual assault or domestic violence.
*Lawrence Taylor rape arrest: Ex-Giant accused of raping, beating teen girl in NY hotel
*Ben Roethlisberger Accused of Sexual Assault AGAIN (second allegation in 365 days)
*Former NFL Player Michael Irvin, accused of rape (Cowboys)
*4 NFL Players Accused with Drugging, then Raping Woman – Dedric Ward, Charlie Batch, Ron Rice and Tyree Tolton
*O.J. Simpson Questioned on Domestic Abuse – (The Washington Post, January 26, 1996)
Need we say more? Enough is Enough. Now can we talk?
These players need to know that issues of violence affect everyone. Our children look up to and aspire to be like these players. Therefore, they should be expected to conduct themselves responsibly, promoting good and lawful values to be emulated.
Our goal is not to humiliate or hold a public trial. Our goal is to work with the NFL and the teams in order to educate them on the severity of their actions. Roger Goodell recently issued a memo in regards to the leagues personal conduct policy. It reads:
“The Policy makes clear that NFL and club personnel must do more than simply avoid criminal behavior. We must conduct ourselves in a way that ‘is responsible, that promotes the values upon which the league is based, and is lawful.’ This standard reflects the recognition that the conduct and behavior of our players and other league and team employees is critically important. Whether it involves your team or another, these incidents affect us all — every investigation, arrest, or other allegation of improper conduct undermines the respect for our league by our fans, lessens the confidence of our business partners and threatens the continued success of our brand.
“As your club begins its offseason programs and approaches the Draft, I encourage you to be vigilant in reinforcing this message with your players and staff. It makes no difference whether an incident occurs during the season or in the off-season. At every opportunity, you should remind them of your standards and the public’s expectations, of the need to use good judgment, particularly when in a public place, and of the resources available to help us all in meeting these standards.”
Obviously the commission understands the severity of the issues and that the number of recent complaints are alarming to us all. This shows that additional measures need to be instituted. It is not enough to merely state “this is wrong.” They need to understand first hand how their actions affect victims and society. In order to accomplish this we believe that additional requirements need to be added to the league’s current personal conduct policy.
1. Yearly required Sexual Assault Awareness Training for every player and employee.
- AND -
2. The training should include victims & survivors of sexual assault telling their stories of abuse, the affect it has on their lives and the lives of the people around them. (Examples of organizations: RAINN’s Speakers Bureau, Elite Speakers Bureau.)
- AND -
3. The training should include Men from an organization similiar to “NOMAS” (National Organization for Men Against Sexism) or “Men Can Stop Rape.” An organization that mobilizes men to use their strength for creating cultures free from violence against women.
- AND -
4. The policy should include financial penalties (preferably not less than 10% of their gross income) to be paid to the local rape crisis center.
Until policies that include education and financial penalties are instituted we see no end in sight. That’s why your support for this petition is urgently needed. Tell the NFL Commission and the Team owners that you support educating and holding these players accountable by signing this petition today.
TO SIGN THE PETITION CLICK HERE
Thank you for Advocacy and Support.
Help empower females to understand safety awareness, mental and physical self-defense.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
From TCADSV’s press release:
‘My Strength’ is a public awareness initiative focused on preventing first-time perpetration of sexual violence. The campaign works with young men and centers on the theme, “My Strength is Not for Hurting,” which emphasizes positive masculinity and enables men to utilize their strength to stand up and speak out against sexual violence. The campaign launches statewide in April and includes digital billboards and television and radio public service announcements.
“Statistics show that one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner,” comments Kathy England Walsh, Executive Director of the Tennessee Coalition. Walsh continues, “This campaign will help us get the message out to 3.6 million Tennesseans that young men can prevent violence and break the cycle of abuse.”
“Verizon Wireless is proud to support the Tennessee Coalition’s effort to bring awareness to a topic like domestic abuse and violence, which effects one in three women in their lifetime,” comments Jerry Fountain, President of Verizon Wireless in the Carolinas and Tennessee region.
Avoiding Dangerous Situations
While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way to get out of a bad situation.
- Try to avoid isolated areas. It is more difficult to get help if no one is around.
- Walk with purpose. Even if you don’t know where you are going, act like you do.
- Trust your instincts. If a situation or location feels unsafe or uncomfortable, it probably isn’t the best place to be.
- Try not to load yourself down with packages or bags as this can make you appear more vulnerable. Always have one arm/free.
- Make sure your cell phone is with you and charged and that you have cab money.
- Don’t allow yourself to be isolated with someone you don’t trust or someone you don’t know.
- Avoid putting music headphones in both ears so that you can be more aware of your surroundings, especially if you are walking alone.
If Someone is Pressuring You
If someone is pressuring you to engage in sexual activity, it is important to remember that being in this situation is not your fault. You didn’t do anything wrong, it is the person who is making you uncomfortable who is to blame. But if you need to get out of an uncomfortable or scary situation here are some things that you can try:
- Trust your instincts. Don’t feel obligated to do anything you don’t want to. “I don’t want to” is always a good enough reason.
- Be true to yourself. Do what feels right to you and what you are comfortable with.
- Have a code word with your friends or family so that if you don’t feel comfortable you can call them and communicate your discomfort without the person you are with knowing. Your friends or family can then come to get you or make up an excuse for you to leave.
- Lie. If you don’t want to hurt the person’s feelings it is better to lie and make up a reason to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse. Some excuses you could use are: needing to take care of a friend or family member, not feeling well, having somewhere else that you need to be, etc.
- Try to think of an escape route. How would you try to get out of the room? Where are the doors? Windows? Are there people around who might be able to help you? Is there an emergency phone nearby?
- If you and/or the other person have been drinking, you can say that you would rather wait until you both have your full judgment.
In a Social Situation
While you can never completely protect yourself from sexual assault, there are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of being assaulted in social situations.
- When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other and leave together.
- Practice safe drinking. Try not to leave any beverages unattended or accept drinks from someone you don’t know or trust.
- Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if something is making you uncomfortable or if you are worried about your or your friend’s safety.
- If someone you don’t know or trust asks you to go somewhere alone, let him or her know that you would rather stay with the group.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Knowing where you are and who is around you may help you to find a way out of a bad situation.
What Can Men Do?
While individuals of both genders are perpetrators of sexual assault, the majority of those who commit sexual assaults are men. Even so, it is important to remember that the vast majority of men are not rapists.
There are many things men (and women) can do to help prevent sexual violence.
If you see someone in danger of being assaulted:
* Step in and offer assistance. Ask if the person needs help. NOTE: Before stepping in, make sure to evaluate the risk. If it means putting yourself in danger, call 911 instead.
* Don’t leave. If you remain at the scene and are a witness, the perpetrator is less likely to do anything.
* If you know the perpetrator, tell him or her that you do not approve of what s/he is doing. Ask him or her to leave the potential victim alone.
Be an ally:
* When you go to a party, go with a group of friends. Arrive together, check in with each other frequently and leave together.
* Have a buddy system. Don’t be afraid to let a friend know if you are worried about her/his safety.
* If you see someone who is intoxicated, offer to call him or her a cab.
If someone you know has been assaulted:
* Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
* Be patient. Remember, it will take your friend some time to deal with the crime.
* Help to empower your friend or family member. Sexual assault is a crime that takes away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your friend or family member to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
* Encourage your friend to report the rape to law enforcement (call 911 in most areas). If your friend has questions about the criminal justice process, talking with someone on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE can help.
* Let your friend know that professional help is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1-800-656-HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
* If your friend is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany them wherever they need to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.)
* Encourage him or her to contact one of the hotlines, but realize that only your friend can make the decision to get help.
Changing the culture:
There are certain things in our culture that make sexual assault more possible. By speaking out and educating ourselves and others, we can help to decrease the number of sexual assaults.
* Become knowledgeable about the issue and share your knowledge with others.
* Volunteer for RAINN or your local rape crisis center and help educate your community about preventing sexual violence.
Violent acts are always choices that individuals make. Yet, people who are harmed by violent acts most often are on the receiving end of negative responses from loved ones as well as various social outlets. Why are some victims and survivors of violent crimes blamed for what happens to them through no fault of their own?
Crime victims are scrutinized as to who they were with, what they were wearing or what they might have done to cause the violence committed against them. One would think that by this day and age that “victim blaming” would be non-existent whereas total concentration is focused on speaking out against those who choose to use violence.
Victim blaming is a devaluing act that occurs when a victim of a crime or an accident is held responsible – in whole or in part – for the crimes that have been committed against them. Blame can appear in the form of negative social responses from legal, medical, mental health as well as by media and even immediate family members and friends. Some victims of crime receive more sympathy from society than others. Responses toward crime victims are based on the misunderstanding of others. This misunderstanding may lead them to believe that the victim deserved what happened or that they are individuals with low self-esteem who seek out violence. As a result……it can be very difficult for victims to cope when they are blamed for what happened to them.
So we ask, “Why do people blame victims?” There are a number of reasons why people choose to blame victims for the crimes that have happened to them. Reasons stem from misconceptions about victims, perpetrators and the nature of these violent acts. Victims are often wrongfully portrayed as passive individuals who seek out and submit to the violence they endure. Offenders are seen as individuals who are compelled to act violently by forces they cannot control.
There are individual’s that believe that this world is a safe place where people get what they “deserve”. And, often many have the perception that “good things happen to good people” and “bad things happen to bad people”. When people with these beliefs view victims, they believe that their victimization was caused through some fault of their own. Blaming the victim maintains beliefs of personal responsibility and control over the outcome.
In cases of intimate partner violence where females are abused by male assailants, women are often blamed for the actions of their abusive male partner. Male offenders often use external attributions to justify their abusive behavior. They may blame their partner or claim that they deserved the abuse because of their offensive personality. Male offenders may also attribute their behavior to occupational stress or substance abuse, without taking ownership of their actions. These characteristics minimize an assailant’s abusive actions. It is also common for women to be blamed for being withholding, asking for it or deserving it. Questions such as “why didn’t she just leave?” are common and reinforce the notion that a woman likes to be abused and therefore stays in the relationship. These are devaluing actions that remove the responsibility from the offender. Blaming the victim releases the assailant who commits the violence from the responsibility for what he has done.
The most obvious outward and visible expression of victim blaming appear in sexual assault cases. Female victims of sexual assault are often blamed for being provocative, seductive, suggestive, teasing, or “asking for it”. In the past when there was a case of sexual harassment or rape before the court, the victim’s dress, lifestyle, and sexual background was likely a more important factor than the incident that had occurred. The role of the victim became the role of the accused. The introduction of rape shield laws has given the victims protection during rape trials. Rape shield laws do not allow the defense to ask victims questions regarding their sexual history which decreases the likelihood of discrediting the victim.
Assault statistics reveal alarming numbers and prove that we have an epidemic on our hands. Crime is random, senseless and can happen to anyone regardless of the precautions that are taken to prevent victimization. Victims have had less opportunities or resources available to them to better protect themselves and because of social conditions (NOT VICTIMS) promote crime regardless of their actions. Hence, when crimes occur the victim is blamed for failing to take sufficient precautions.
What should we do? Thanks to studies, we can now focus on victims vulnerability reduction. Today many victim-oriented prevention programs are offered. It is imperative to educate and reinforce to females that they are not at zero option. When I refer to “zero option” it is meant to empower females as I am a firm believer that with proper education both mentally and physically a female can protect and defend herself if the need should arise. Indicating to individuals to “take care and stay safe” is a positive outward expression of compassion and to be alert and aware. We are our own best “bodyguards” and we must be trained how to instinctively and properly fight back in all respects. Everyone must take ownership for their own personal safety, not to the point of being paranoid but rather being smart (knowing the warning signs and red flags). By no means is this implying that females should dress, act, speak or walk differently – simply stressing to follow your gut instincts.
Advocates…….we do not have time to debate “words”, attacking one another or pointing the finger – it’s time to shake things up, roll our sleeves up and get the ball rolling in order to give many generations to come the upper edge. First and foremost, victims and survivors – you are not alone. There are many valuable programs, resources and counseling available to you. Advocates must continue to move forward rather than to be stuck in neutral or going in reverse. Let’s pull together working toward a common mission and embrace our passion and goals. Time is of the essence.
Yes, TIME’S UP! in all areas of victimization. What can you do or are you doing to extend your hand to all victims of crime and/or assisting to prevent victimization?
Take care and STAY SAFE!
The Realistic Female Self-Defense Company
Project Safe Girls