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Pinwheels Call Attention to Child Abuse, Ways to Identify and Prevent It!

April 1, 2012 Comments off

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:

The Child:

  • 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

The Parent:

  • 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!

Shane Alexander Donates Proceeds From His Song “Look Out For Me” to Darkness to Light – an Organization to Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

June 10, 2011 Comments off

Via Music Blog

LA based singer/songwriter/guitarist Shane Alexander is paying it forward. He has written his latest song “Look Out For Me” to help the charity Darkness to Light, whose ultimate mission is to end childhood sexual abuse through education and awareness. CEO of Darkness to Light Anne Lee says, “Shane Alexander’s “Look Out for Me” is a beautiful, melodic reminder that our children need us and depend on us to protect their only childhood.”

Possessing a singularly evocative voice, Shane Alexander writes songs that Performing Songwriter Magazine has called “stunning,” and The Los Angeles Times described as “beautiful.” Shane has opened multiple US tours for Jewel and Seal and performed in Europe with Bon Iver and Suzanne Vega, among many others. Since his debut in 2005, he has released 4 solo albums, including his latest effort Mono Solo, on his own BuddhaLand Records imprint. No stranger to the road, he tours the US and Europe constantly. This fiercely independent artist has amassed a global fanbase and has nearly one million plays on MySpace to prove it. His popularity has been driven in part by over 50 television and film placements, including the season finale of MTV’s highly rated “My Life as Liz” (aired April 29th 2011). He has recently signed with Warner Chappell Publishing and Rough Trade Distribution in Europe.Even with all this success, Shane Alexander is finding the time to help others; he has a huge talent but a big heart to match it.

Shane Alexander’s current efforts have been directed at raising funds and awareness for the charity Darkness to Light (D2L). This is a cause Shane feels strongly about: “I believe in giving back as much as possible, and to lend my voice to an organization with such a noble mission just felt right. The statistics of childhood sexual abuse are pretty staggering, and Darkness to Light is working so hard to help prevent the suffering that these kids might face. It’s a real privilege for me to be working with such great people.” Shane Alexander was so compelled by what the charity stood for that it inspired him to write this touching and poignant song and to donate proceeds to the charity upon its release. Anne Lee believes that Shane Alexander’s song “has captured the pure essence of childhood that every adult needs to hear.”A portion of the proceeds from Shane’s US summer tour will be donated to the Darkness to Light as well.

Child sexual abuse is regarded as an epidemic. According to statistics from D2L, There are more than 39 million survivors of sexual abuse in America and they estimate that 1 in 4 girls will be sexually abused by the time she is 18. More than 90% of abusers are people children trust love and know.

Darkness to Light was founded in 2000 by Anne Lee, now President and CEO. The ultimate mission of D2L is to end childhood sexual abuse and empower adults through awareness and educational programs to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to childhood sexual abuse. Recently featured in April 4th 2011 issue of People Magazine’s Heroes Among Us, Anne Lee shared her story of abuse and how it led her to launching Darkness to Light. A true “hero among us,” Anne says, “Darkness to Light is honored to have had Shane write this song for our organization and we are excited about his working with us to raise awareness.” Darkness to Light and Shane Alexander are both dedicated to preventing sexual abuse in this lifetime.

To purchase the song please go to:

http://bit.ly/mS4L3r  

I am an Authorized Facilitator via D2L to bring Steward’s of Children training to your community throughout the US ;every adult in every capacity from professional to parents, grandparents, family, faith based communities, law enforcement, etc.  should be educated about prevention and awareness. please feel free to contact me for further information.  I am also a Prevention Specialist via D2L to introduce our program to communities to speak about the emotional impact as well as the economical impact that child sexual abuse has every community and  individual – even if you have not personally been touched by child sexual abuse….you have.

Please feel contact me TODAY for further information, details and how we can make a difference in your community and protect our innocent children from this epidemic.

Thank you.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Mom Forces Kids to Have Sex

June 4, 2011 4 comments

A building that once housed a daycare center and later became a “swingers’ club” in Mineola, Texas turned into a house of horrors for four children who were forced to perform sex acts on others and each other.

Shauntel Mayo, 29, the ringleader of this unthinkable abuse, made her three kids (then age 5, 6, and 7) and her own 6-year-old baby sister perform sex acts if they wanted dinner. “The unthinkable,” said Smith County assistant district attorney Joe Murphy. “She had her kids have sex with each other and taught them to masturbate. She taught them how to strip. She withheld food from them. All so she could make money.”

According to prosecutors, the kids were groomed for sex shows in what Mayo called “kindergarten” classes. At “kindergarten,” they said they learned how to strip, dance and perform sexual acts–first on dolls, then on each other. Upon “graduating” from “kindergarten,” they were forced to have sex with each other in front of 50 to 100 adult members of a swingers’ club once a week. Before going on stage, they were given the painkiller Vicodin  — which their abusers called “silly pills” — to loosen them up for their performances. The children were forced to have sex with each other or perform sexual acts for club members who paid a fee to watch. Investigators believe up to 15 other children were victimized, and are still trying to locate them.

According to the Associated Press, the police department first investigated a complaint in June 2005 in which the siblings’ foster mother said one of the girls described dancing toward men and another child said that “everybody does nasty stuff in there.”

“We learned to strip (at ‘kindergarten’),” said the 7-year-old. ” I had to touch my privates with my sister’s and brother’s privates for the people in the club.”

The mother of the three siblings and her live-in boyfriend have already been convicted in the case and were sentenced to life in prison. A third person goes on trial today to face charges of aggravated sexual assault of a child, tampering with physical evidence and engaging in organized criminal activity. Four others are awaiting trial.

The siblings, who have been adopted and have gone through intense therapy, are now doing better, the welfare agency said. However, the man who gained permanent custody of the children, John Orville Cantrell, 64, of Mineola, was arrested last week for aggravated sexual assault of a child on a California case from 18 years ago.

His wife, Margie Cantrell, who has been a foster mom for 36 years, said Thursday she believes the accusations are in retaliation for their roles in the Mineola sex ring case. “What John and I want to do is continue to seek justice for the kids in this case,” she told the Tyler Paper. “And if we have to climb a few mountains to get there, it will be worth it. And at the end of all this, John will absolutely be proven innocent.”

What’s your reaction to this horrifying case?

One more reason, not that I personally need one but I WILL continue to make a bold effort to reach into communities across the country, as a Child Abuse Prevention Specialist and an authorized Facilitator for Stewards of Children through the Darkness to Light program, an organization whose mission is to train adults in every community to responsibly attack the issue of child sexual abuse.   The focus of the Stewards of Children Program is to effectively shift the responsibility of recognizing and reacting to child sexual abuse to adults, and teach them how to make a local impact.

Won’t you take a stance?  Won’t you be a leader in your community?  Won’t you be a voice for innocent children?  Enough is enough! 
Take care and STAY SAFE!

 

Via momlogic

Anny Jacoby Facilitating Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children Program

May 31, 2011 Comments off

Program trains adults to prevent, recognize and react responsibly to child sexual abuse

Taking a bold effort to reach into communities across the country, Anny Jacoby is a Prevention Specialist and an authorized Facilitator for Stewards of Children through the Darkness to Light program, an organization whose mission is to train adults in every community to responsibly attack the issue of child sexual abuse.   The focus of the Stewards of Children Program is to effectively shift the responsibility of recognizing and reacting to child sexual abuse to adults, and teach them how to make a local impact.

“Stewards of Children is the only national program which is evidence-based and proven to increase knowledge, improve attitudes, and change child protective behaviors. Training is offered to community groups, parent groups, grand-parents, all organizations that serve children and youth (paid staff and/or volunteer), church congregations, every employee in school districts, coaches, law enforcement, etc.  All adults.”   (www.d2l.org)

Not only is the Stewards of Children a training program, but it’s also being used to change the way society looks upon child sexual abuse, to remove the secrecy, denial and fear and move the issue into the open where children can grow up in a safer environment, find assistance when needed, and know that there are responsible adults within the community to meet their needs.

Anny Jacoby, whose expertise is in personal safety and victim advocacy, has broadened the scope of her experience by joining forces with Darkness to Light and advocating through the Stewards of Children program.

Jacoby is also an independent Consultant for the organization and, if there is not the  Stewards of Children program or it may be inactive in your community, she can assist in its development.  She is also available for workshops and events to promote, educate and bring training of the program to your community.  Anny can connect with area Prevention Specialists and Facilitators, and aid in reaching out to those who wish to provide adults with the training necessary to become actively involved in preventing and repairing the damage of child sexual abuse.

To arrange assistance from Anny Jacoby, she can be reached at anny@annyjacoby.com

Security On Campus and Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment Launch Unprecedented Approach to Shattering the Silence of College Sexual Violence

May 26, 2011 Comments off

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!

Sugar Ray Leonard Says Coach Sexually Abused Him

May 20, 2011 1 comment

The opening segment of a forthcoming autobiography by Sugar Ray Leonard runs counter to the cunning style he used in winning boxing championships in five weight divisions more than a quarter-century ago. It is more like hearing the bell, rushing to the center of the ring and being hit with a straight right hand.

Most fans of Leonard remember him for his sweet smile and lightning-fast hands, as a transcendent and breakout celebrity in a brutal profession. But by Page 36 of “The Big Fight: My Life In and Out of the Ring,” to be published next month by Viking, Leonard has mentioned his cocaine use, growing up in a home with alcohol abuse and domestic violence, luckily surviving a car wreck with his mother at the wheel, almost drowning in a creek as a child who was unable to swim, and fathering a son at 17.

Two pages later, Leonard delivers the book’s bombshell while indirectly addressing a growing concern in the sports industry at large. He reveals publicly for the first time that he was sexually abused as a young fighter by an unnamed “prominent Olympic boxing coach.”

Leonard writes that when the coach accompanied him as a 15-year-old and another young fighter to a boxing event in Utica, N.Y., in 1971, he had the teenagers take a bath in a tub of hot water and Epsom salts while he sat on the other side of the bathroom. They suspected “something a bit inappropriate” was occurring but did not want to question a strong male authority figure.

Several years later, Leonard describes sitting in a car in a deserted parking lot across from a recreation center, listening intently as the same coach, said to be in his late 40s, explained how much a gold medal at the 1976 Olympics would mean to his future.

Leonard was flattered, filled with hope, as any young athlete would be. But he writes: “Before I knew it, he had unzipped my pants and put his hand, then mouth, on an area that has haunted me for life. I didn’t scream. I didn’t look at him. I just opened the door and ran.”

He adds that when he first decided to discuss the incident in the book, which is written with Michael Arkush, he offered a version in which the abuser stopped before there was actual contact.

“That was painful enough,” Leonard writes. “But last year, after watching the actor Todd Bridges bare his soul on Oprah’s show about how he was sexually abused as a kid, I realized I would never be free unless I revealed the whole truth, no matter how much it hurt.”

Through his publisher, Leonard, who turned 55 on Tuesday, declined to comment for this article, saying that he would begin doing publicity for the book in June. But several people who were close to him when he was routinely banking multimillion-dollar purses for title bouts with Roberto Duran, Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler were taken aback when told of what he has revealed in the book.

“This is the first time I’ve ever heard that, and I’ve known Ray since he was just a kid,” Dave Jacobs, who was Leonard’s first trainer as an amateur and later served as assistant trainer for many of his professional fights, said in a telephone interview. “He never talked about that to me and no one in the group ever mentioned it, so I assume he never talked about it to them, either.

“But if that incident did happen, I feel sorry for him in that part of his life and for having to carry that around with him.”

Angelo Dundee, who achieved fame as Muhammad Ali’s trainer and later became the head man in Leonard’s corner, said he knew very little about his fighter’s personal lives and preferred it that way.

“Ray never mentioned anything, but I never mingled with anything to do with a fighter except fighting,” Dundee said from his Florida home. “You never wanted personal stuff getting in the way when you sent a kid into the ring. And as far as I could see, Ray was as mentally tough as they came.”

Continue Reading:  http://nyti.ms/kt4Phn

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Sexual Assault Can Be Prevented

April 12, 2011 5 comments

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

Private Practice Tackles a Violent Rape Storyline

November 9, 2010 Comments off

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.

What’s Next?

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.

Surviving After Rape

April 26, 2010 1 comment

How Can You Help When Someone You Know Is Raped?

Rape victims experience a broad range of powerful emotions–a friend or family member can help by allowing her to express these feelings. You can help by listening and validating her fears and feelings; by helping her make changes to her environment that make her feel safer. Rape victims often feel unsure of themselves and their ability to make decisions. Encourage her if she finds it difficult to make decisions by helping her to understand her choices, but let the decisions be her own.

Remind her that the rape was not her fault. Advocate for her when she needs your help facing the medical and legal systems. Let her know that you believe in her, and that you know that she has the strength and courage to heal and survive.

Getting Help: The Key to Being a Rape Survivor–Not a Rape Victim

Many years ago, I had a roommate who told me she had been raped several months before she moved in with me. She trembled and stuttered as she relived her terrifying ordeal. As she described each agonizing detail, her lips began to swell–swelling to the point I wanted to call for help. She declined my offer to find help, saying she would be alright. I hope she is…

Survivors of rape often experience changes in their overall health. Sleep disorders such as insomnia or eating disorders often occur following rape or sexual assault. Some women experience nightmares and flashbacks. Others encounter body aches, headaches, and fatigue.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the most common disorder seen in victims of rape or sexual assault. Rape victims sometimes experience anxiety, depression, self-injury, and/or suicide attempts, as well as other emotional disorders. They sometimes try to cope with their feelings by indulging in alcohol or drugs.

Women who have been raped, many times, face an enormous uphill emotional battle to regain self-respect, self-esteem, self-assurance, and self-control. It is a battle that can be won with the help of caring and supportive friends, family, counselors, and physicians.

The Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) provides a toll-free 24-hour hot line for victims of sexual assault at 1-800-656-HOPE. RAINN also maintains a searchable database of rape crisis centers designed to help you find counseling in your area.

There is hope–but you must take the first step and ask for help.

Source:

Sexual Assault. Womenshealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/sexual-assault.cfm. Accesed 08/20/2009

Secrecy clouds picture of sexual assault at Colleges & Universities

December 17, 2009 Comments off

By Melissa Ludwig – Express-News

When Marisa was raped during her freshman year at Trinity University by a fellow student at an off-campus house, she hesitated before telling university officials. Dean of Students David Tuttle, then a stranger, was about the last person on earth she wanted to confide in.

But a friend made her do it, and her disclosure led to a conduct hearing in which the student was found responsible and suspended from campus. He withdrew from school, allowing Marisa to reclaim her life at Trinity.

It is the general policy of the San Antonio Express-News to not identify sexual assault victims. In this case, Marisa agreed to be identified by her first name.

“I felt validated by it, and I felt like I received justice,” Marisa, now a senior at Trinity, said of the outcome. “I feel like that is such a rare feeling in sexual assault cases.”

Statistics attest to that rarity.

According to a report released this month by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative journalism organization based in Washington, D.C., students often encounter a “depressing litany of barriers” to justice, with university officials more interested in keeping things quiet than in helping victims.

The report also cited spotty reporting of sexual assault statistics, rendering public data almost meaningless.

“What we found overall is very troubling,” said Bill Buzenberg, the center’s director. “It exposed a heavy blanket of secrecy around sexual assault.”

In a nine-month investigation, the Center interviewed 48 experts on the college disciplinary process, reviewed 10 years worth of complaints filed with the U.S. Education Department, surveyed 152 crisis services programs and clinics, and interviewed 33 women who reported being sexually assaulted by other students.

In cases in which students did not file a criminal case or local law enforcement declined to prosecute, victims sought justice through university judicial proceedings.

Those included off-the-record negotiations with administrators and closed hearings in which victims were sworn to secrecy, the report found. Rarely did they end in substantial punishment for the accused.

Locally, campus officials agreed with many of the report’s findings. But they rebutted the notion that university officials care more about keeping things hush-hush than about the welfare of victims.

“These are really, really, really hard cases,” said Gage Paine, vice president for students affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio. “In my experience over the years, almost always there are two people in the room and nobody else. It is one person’s version versus the other person’s version. One or the other or both have been drinking, recollections are not clear, and it is really hard to find truth in those situations. I have yet to see a case where everybody walked out satisfied.”

Spotty statistics

To look at the numbers, it would appear that rapes almost never happen at local colleges.

Five San Antonio universities with a combined enrollment of more than 45,000 reported just 18 sexual assaults in the past three years, according to data posted under the Clery Act, a law requiring universities to report crime statistics on campus.

But experts say underreporting and differing interpretations of the law result in numbers that can’t be trusted.

UTSA reported four sexual assaults in the past three years. But Elizabeth StanczakÖ, UTSA’s director of counseling and health services, said she handles between two and six cases per month.

Technically, Stanczak is exempt from reporting because she is a licensed counselor. But she said she forwards every case to UTSA police, sharing what information she legally can, and Chief Dan Pena says his agency reports qualifying cases.

But the Clery Act covers only assaults that occur in campus housing or in public places on or near campus. At UTSA, the bulk of students live in private apartment complexes surrounding the university. About 3,700 of the university’s 29,000 students live on campus.

Texas State University in San Marcos reported nine sexual assaults in 2008, the highest of the six universities. University police said seven of the cases were linked to one man caught fondling random women and pulling down their pants.

The real picture of campus safety is not in Clery numbers, and parents know it, said Kathy Sisoian, vice president for student development at St. Mary’s University.

“As a parent of college-aged children, I get my own sense of the environment by visiting,” Sisoian said. “I have never heard anyone talk about Clery who doesn’t work in higher education.”

Parents may be more interested in hearing how university officials react to reports of sexual assault, Sisoian said, and whether or not the university educates students about date rape and other forms of sexual assault.

Officials at most local universities say they do address prevention, typically during freshman orientation, using guest speakers or skits.

When a student reports a sexual assault, officials say they react with compassion.

The first step is directing students to police to file a report, then to the hospital for a rape kit, an exam that preserves physical evidence. The student is offered a victim’s advocate, which could be a university staff member, a parent or a trained professional from the Rape Crisis Center. At some point, the university lays out options for seeking justice. Some students choose to press criminal charges, others request a university hearing. Some do neither.

Empowering the victims to make their own decisions is paramount, officials and counselors said.

At times, “we have had to fight the perception that (university officials) want to sweep things under the rug and we don’t support victims,” Trinity’s Tuttle said. “But we very much take a stand that we don’t push a complaint forward unless the (victim) wants to push it forward.”

Closed doors

Despite good intentions, many victims walk away from the university judicial process feeling betrayed, according to the Center report. It cited examples of what some deem bad university practices: gag orders, mediations and secret hearings.

When Mallory Shear-Heyman was raped in a campus dorm at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, she claims university officials pushed her toward mediation, a confidential negotiation between victim and attacker, facilitated by university officials.

With no outside advocate to help weigh the options, Shear-Heyman agreed.

The student ended up apologizing, but because Shear-Heyman had signed a confidentiality waiver, she could not use the confession to pursue a criminal case.

“Generally speaking, mediation was a horrible experience, one in which I was misled and given different answers,” said Shear-Heyman. “It left me five years later unable to pursue any sort of justice.”

Experts call mediation in rape cases a bad idea because it carries no threat of punishment. And the Education Department prohibits schools from issuing gag orders.

Locally, university officials say they do not issue gag orders. Trinity has done mediations in the past, but Tuttle said he is “not a fan.”

Still, secrecy prevails because disciplinary hearings are generally closed to the public and documents requested under open records laws would either be withheld or heavily redacted. Private schools are not subject to open records laws.

According to victim advocates, the secrecy makes it too easy for the university to act in its own interests.

“Who is the university advocating for, the victim or the perpetrator? They have them both on the same campus,” said Lynn Blanco, president of the Rape Crisis Center. “If you have closed doors, you don’t have that check and balance system.”

Local officials say federal privacy laws bar them from holding public student conduct hearings, but at some schools parties can request an open hearing or invite supporters and witnesses.

And yes, officials must often strike a neutral pose, affording the accused the benefit of the doubt.

That’s why it’s crucial to involve an advocate for the victim, Blanco said, someone whose role is to believe the victim and help them weigh options.

But even that doesn’t guarantee a good outcome, Tuttle said.

“For the victims, they just want their dignity back and want the other person to know what they did was wrong. The university system is set up for that to happen,” Tuttle said. “But if the (accused) is not found responsible, it can be a disaster.”

A slap on the wrist

In Marisa’s case, she said the rape occurred in 2007 at an off-campus party, where she was keeping an eye on an intoxicated friend. She was alone at some point, and a soccer player and fraternity member she knew pushed her into a small room.

The next day, Marisa went to the hospital for a rape kit and was questioned by two police officers. The Bexar County district attorney’s office asked her to prosecute.

“I guess I am really naive or really optimistic about people, but I wanted to give him the chance to be a better person ….. and not have to go his whole life and have to register as a sex offender,” Marisa said.

But she did pursue a university hearing. Until then, the harshest punishment meted out in recent memory was a one-semester suspension. She made it clear that wasn’t good enough.

“I feel like a one (semester) suspension for rape is a slap on the wrist, like ‘Don’t get caught next time,’.” Marisa said. “I have wanted to go to Trinity since I was in junior high. The place I had been looking forward to my whole life ….. came crashing down at the end of my first year.”

At Trinity, students are allowed to invite one supporter, typically a parent or attorney, to the hearing. A panel of two professors and one student render a verdict.

In Marisa’s case, they found the student responsible and issued a two-year suspension.

Rather than risk an appeal, Tuttle allowed him to withdraw from Trinity with the caveat that Tuttle would have to reveal the student’s disciplinary record if asked. No one ever asked.

“That’s kind of disappointing,” Marisa said. But Overall, pursuing the hearing was worth the risk, Marisa said. Marisa said of the process and outcome: “I was very proud that I had set the bar higher for girls in the future.”

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