Tag Archives: HAVEN news

Teachers Should Educate and Protect

Recently, there have been numerous headlines about teachers being arrested or convicted of criminal sexual conduct. Unfortunately, this is not new behavior but an ongoing problem in our society. It is also incredibly unfortunate that the reaction to these crimes by the media and others offering commentary appears to minimize the action of these adult perpetrators and/or focuses the blame on the young people who have been victimized.

One recent headline, Grand Rapid Teacher Faces Prison in Sex Case, is a great place to start.  Criminal sexual conduct is not about sex!  It is about an abuse of power.  For most of us, when we see or use the word “sex”, we conjure up an image of a consensual experience or relationship.  Not for a sex offender – it does not bother them to have sex with someone who does not want it.

Many commenters on local media stories or social media sites are often sympathetic to the abuser.  In many posts, commenters write about their own “hot” teacher experiences of their youth and others are quick to blame it on the student.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s incredibly unlikely that these incidents are just snippy little games cooked up by bored girls and boys.

The reality is that the unethical and downright disturbing behavior of a teacher making sexual advances or assault on a student is wrong no matter what the circumstances.  Again, it’s not about sex, it’s about power and control.  Many times, there is manipulation or “grooming” that takes place to gain their trust prior to the assault.

As parents, we entrust our children to the teachers and other staff at their schools.  It is their job to educate and protect – not violate – your child.  It is important to talk to your child or teen about the warning signs that someone is attempting to take advantage of them.  They need to know that if a teacher or another person of “authority” is doing something to make them uncomfortable, on any level, they have the right to speak out.

The HAVEN Prevention Education Department offers age-appropriate school programs that help children, from pre-K to high school, understand many topics, including body ownership, risk reduction strategies and bystander intervention.  To learn more or request a speaker call 248-334-1284, ext. 360, complete the speaker request form.

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New Website Provides Better Access with Live Chat

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We are proud to announce the release of our newly redesigned website. It has been crafted to provide an all-access pass to information about HAVEN 24-hours per day.

The site is an improved outlet for HAVEN information and resources to help support those who need services, including an exciting, new option to live chat with a crisis counselor.  Services are now also available for the deaf community.

The site also features simplified navigation and menus that will help you easily locate the information you need when you need it.  Feel free to explore to:

We hope this new format and feel  offers you an improved online HAVEN experience.

I also want to share a heartfelt thank you to the exceptional staff at Lowe Campbell Ewald for generously sharing their in-kind time and talent to develop the site.  It is truly a wonderful reflection of our organization.

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Response to “Stop Telling Women How to Not Get Raped” by Zerlina Maxwell, appearing on EBONY.com

By Mark Nesbitt, Prevention Education Specialist

Recently an article was published on EBONY titled Stop telling Women How to Not Get Raped. The piece goes on to detail the need for anti-rape campaigns that are targeted toward men. The reason being that men are the majority of the ones committing these crimes and that it is inherently victim-blaming (and ineffective) to have anti-rape campaigns aimed at women, putting the onus on them to make themselves safer and prevent rape.

This is a sentiment that is very-much shared by HAVEN, as well as many other groups and organizations working to end oppression and gender-based violence. There are whole organizations like Men Can Stop Rape and A Call To Men that produce campaigns specifically designed to target male peer culture and encourage positive social change. We at HAVEN are striving to do it as well.

Currently, we are offering an eight-week program called Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP). MVP was originally developed by Jackson Katz and Byron Hurt at Northeastern University and is now run by the school’s Center for the Study of Sport in Society.

HAVEN adapted the well-established, evidence-based, curriculum into an eight-week program that can be administered in high schools and middle schools across Oakland County. MVP is a leadership development program that motivates male student-athletes and student leaders to play a central role in solving problems such as sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault. Utilizing a bystander approach to prevention, the MVP program views the young men not as potential perpetrators or victims, but as empowered bystanders who can engage in proactive, preventive behavior and leadership to bring an end to gender-based violence and the cultural norms that support it.

The goal of the program is to raise awareness, challenge thinking, open dialogue, and inspire leadership around these topics that are often considered “women’s issues,” due in large part to the way that many anti-rape campaigns are targeted towards women. We, too, believe that men play an important and necessary role in ending this violence and are working to foster that sentiment in male youth culture with our MVP program. For more information about the program, or to schedule it for your school, contact Mark Nesbitt by phone (248) 334-1284 ext. 352 or by email mnesbitt@haven-oakland.org.

Another way HAVEN is working to engage men is this work is with Gentlemen, an anti-sexist group for men. Gentlemen is an activist group that supports gender equality and is dedicated to encouraging healthy and respectful masculinity, challenging sexism and other forms of oppression, and supporting HAVEN in its mission to end gender-based violence. Gentlemen works to break down typical gender role expectations and inspire more men to step up and play their role in primary prevention of gender-based violence and promotion of respect and equality for all.

We seek to encourage masculinity that values virtues of healthy and respectful adults, but leaves the specific embodiment and expression of such virtues up to the individual. Gentlemen is for men in that engaging males and challenging traditional notions of masculinity is a major focus, but this group is not intended to be solely of men. This work cannot be done without a wide variety of representation and we invite people of all sexes and identities to work with us. This group aims to place men’s role in supporting feminism and all that entails at the forefront, as this is an undeniable and essential piece to fostering equality. We strongly reinforce the message that we need to tell men not to rape, rather than teach women not to get raped.

Gentlemen holds two kinds of meetings each month, a Community Meeting and a Council Meeting. Community Meetings meet every second and fourth Wednesday from 6:30  - 8:30 p.m. at social establishments around Oakland County such as coffee shops and libraries (currently being held at Torino, 201 E 9 Mile, Ferndale). These are casual meetings meant to reach into the community to increase education, create dialogue, and inspire activism through discussion.

For the business side of things, Council Meetings are held on the first Saturday of the month from 10:00 a.m. – noon at our HAVEN offices (30400 Telegraph Rd., Suite 101, Bingham Farms). Council Meetings are held to set goals, plan activities, and discuss decisions about the organization, structure, and direction of the group. Again, everyone is welcome to attend any Gentlemen meeting, Community or Council. If you would like to keep up to date with Gentlemen happenings please visit us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/HAVENGentlemen. If you have any questions feel free to email gentlemen@haven-oakland.org

Engaging men in our work is a large part of our mission here at HAVEN. It is imperative that we engage men in prevention discussions and challenge victim-blaming anti-rape campaigns. Sexual assault is NEVER the victim’s fault. Instead of telling potential victims how not to be raped, we need to be telling people how not to rape. And because the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by men, we need campaigns that are aimed at men that encourage social change and reinforce positive behaviors that can truly make everyone safer. This is not anti-male, this is just being honest about the realities of these crimes. We know that most men would never commit a sexual assault. Violence is not inevitable or inherent. Violence is a choice. And until we all work together to change the attitudes around sexual violence, this culture will continue to support those men that choose to commit these crimes. We want to hold men to a higher standard than current masculinity asks. Our mission is to encourage respect for all, to treat everyone with kindness and acceptance. This is about keeping us all safe. This is primary prevention.

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My condolences to the family, friends and neighbors of Jane Bashara

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

Nearly 11 years ago, my next door neighbor, and dear friend, was murdered.  A murder that remains unsolved to this day.  My neighborhood, much like your quiet street, was rocked to the core with daily speculation – did he (her husband) kill her, did he have her killed, he is the prime suspect, he is the only suspect.

As a neighbor and friend, I couldn’t believe (nor did I want to believe) that someone I knew could be capable of such an awful crime. Yet, as the director of a domestic violence program, how could I ignore the statistic that in nearly one-third of all female homicides, the killer is an intimate partner. Time and time again, we have all read the stories where next door neighbors and coworkers tell the media how “Mr. X was one of the nicest guys ever, friendly and helpful.” Everyone is shocked that such violence could happen right next door.

While we contemplate if he did it, we need to remind ourselves that statistically we do know a batterer.  When one in four women experience domestic violence – we have batterers in our lives. They are our family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, spiritual leaders, teachers, business owners, bankers, attorneys, police officers.  He is the fun guy on the bowling league, the quiet guy at the grocery store. Besides working hard to control his intimate partner, his other job is to keep the rest of us out of “his personal business.”

But when we know about the abuse, we can’t remain silent. When we hear the violence, when we see the fear, when we see the physical injuries, when we notice the isolation; we must act. We must support her efforts to be safe and we must stand firm on a “no tolerance for abuse stance” with the abuser.

 Ending intimate partner violence is the responsibility of all. And a first good step is to drag the conversation out from behind closed doors and into the light.  If my friends’ murder remains unsolved and if Ms. Bashara’s murderer remains unknown, the least we can do is use their tragedies to talk about the horrific violence that occurs behind closed doors on streets throughout our community.

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The power of numbers

By Megan Widman, HAVEN Social Action Program Director

In December, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a 124-page report outlining the prevalence of domestic violence and sexual assault in the United States as measured by phone surveys to over 16,000 households.  For those of us who work at HAVEN, the report was not as noteworthy for its content as it was for the attention it garnered from many media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, and the BBC – and rightfully so. 

After all, it should be front page news when we discover that nearly 1 in 5 women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape, and that over half of these victims were raped by their intimate partners.   Our country should be shocked when we learn that more than one out of every three women (35.6%) has experienced rape, physical violence or stalking at the hands of their intimate partner.  We should be taking to the streets upon hearing that nearly half (48.4%) of all women in our country have experienced psychological aggression and abuse by their intimate partner.

This extensive report confirmed what we already know – that intimate partner violence is an epidemic in our country.  It is a crime that disproportionately affects women and girls.  Perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault use these tactics deliberately, to gain or maintain power and control.  And, because of this, intimate partner violence and sexual assault are now widely recognized as preventable public health issues.  It is exciting that the CDC is now approaching violence prevention in the same way that they have approached the spread of infectious disease – and understanding the scope of the problem is an important step in approaching prevention in a systematic, informed manner.

But the fleeting attention this report received is not enough.  And we at HAVEN are again reminded of how much work we still have left to do.  And the questions still abound: How can we raise consciousness on these issues every day of the year?  How do we work in our community to change the attitudes and norms that support these crimes?  How do we continue to engage our community members to do this hard work? 

And, so, numbers are powerful.  They paint a picture.  They lend credibility to an issue.  And we are thankful for any public attention that is given to the issues of domestic and sexual violence.  But we brace ourselves as the spotlight fades – because we know the next time the media shines a light on these issues, it will probably be because a tragedy has occurred.  We hope that through our advocacy, counseling, and prevention work in our community that we can perhaps prevent the next murder-suicide or violent sexual assault. 

We believe that intimate partner violence affects all of us.  If you or someone you love has ever experienced domestic violence or sexual assault, you know that even one person is too much.   Isn’t that the only number we need?

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Sexual harassment and teens

By Beth Morrison HAVEN CEO

My heart raced. I was dreading walking down that long hallway and just wishing I could evaporate.  Each and every day from 7th grade through 12th grade, I felt this dread and had this awful moment occur over and over again.  I was enduring sexual harassment, although in the 70’s I had no idea what it was called, I just knew it was painful and wrong.

In my school the boys would line up against a long row of windows and during breaks between classes, they would “rate” the girls that walked by them daily, and often hourly. We were rated on our breast size, weight, appeal, appearance, “easiness” – you name it.  I don’t recall in the six years of experiencing this harassment, ever seeing a teacher or another student questioning it or attempting to put a stop to it.

So how much has changed since the 70’s? Apparently, not much. In a recent study released by the AAUW nearly half (48%) of the students surveyed experienced some form of sexual harassment in the 2010-11 school year, and the majority of those students (87%) said it had a negative effect on them.  Verbal harassment (unwelcomed sexual comments, jokes, or gestures) was the most prevalent form of harassment. 

Girls are sexually harassed more than boys, and girls’ experiences tend to be my physical and intrusive than boys’ experiences. 1/3 of girls and 1/4 of boys said that they observed sexual harassment at their schools. More than half (56%) of these students witnessed sexual harassment more than once during the school year.

Many of the students who admitted to harassing others didn’t think of it as a big deal (44%) and many were trying to be funny (39%).

So most of the victims said the harassment had a negative impact on them and nearly half of the perpetrators said it was no big deal or a joke.  When are we going to realize, across all ages, that talking inappropriately about a woman’s breast size, laughing and taunting about a person’s sexuality, talking offensively or inappropriately about sex, is NOT FUNNY!

Take Herman Cain for instance. We actually have someone running for President who believes his sense of humor is fine, that these women just can’t take a joke. In 2011.

It is time to take sexual harassment seriously. It is time that we give our children a safe place to learn and appropriate role models to surround themselves.  Let’s give our children the skills they need to be safe and the skills necessary to learn respect for those that are different from themselves. Let that be our legacy instead of handing down another bad “joke.”

To get more information about HAVEN Prevention Education presenting at your child’s school, please call (248) 334-1284 ext. 360.

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Take action to prevent domestic violence

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

Many believe that domestic violence is a private matter that happens behind closed doors. This belief, I’m sure, was shattered in Seal Beach, California after 8 people were killed and one critically injured as news reports indicate the shooter was the ex-husband of one of the victim.

Domestic violence impacts us all, in one way or another.  It is a financial drain to businesses and the health care industry.  It has a huge impact on law enforcement, educational system, coworkers and colleagues.  It changes lives forever.  We have all seen the statistics – 1 in 3 Michigan households are impacted by domestic violence, 1 in 4 women will be victimized during their lifetime.

In just the past 4 days, we have witnessed on the national news Topeka, Kansas deciding to reverse their decision to no longer prosecute domestic violence cases and then this horrific murder.  In Topeka, during the period of time they stopped prosecuting cases, 18 batterers were able to walk away from jail with no further accountability and 35 calls for help went unanswered.  That equals 53 abusive men getting a free pass and a clear message that domestic violence is acceptable in their community.  And 53 women received the message that their community doesn’t care.

Let’s take a stand here in our own local community.  We do care. We will hold batterer’s accountable. We will do whatever it takes to prevent a massacre from occurring.  Domestic Violence will NOT be tolerated here!  Be an active bystander, be an active citizen, and be a proactive friend, neighbor and colleague.  Visit our website to learn more about how you can become engaged and make a difference.

Do something today!

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

One in two Americans live in fear.  Fear of being beaten, raped and/or abused.  Consciously or unconsciously, the fear permeates all facets of life – home, work, recreation, school, even shopping.

So who is experiencing this fear? Women and girls, from the very young to the elderly.  For many years the burden of this fear fell mostly on the shoulders of women. We were taught to be leery of strangers, to avoid being out at night alone, to watch your back, to avoid certain “types” of men, to fake being married if you live alone and the list goes on and on. And then we passed the message on to our daughters, nieces and other young women.

For generations, women have not only lived with this fear, but have done almost all of the work to eliminate domestic violence and sexual assault. Men have done little  to end such violence even though the majority of perpetrators are men.  For too long, violence against women has been seen as a women’s issue..

Times have changed!  It is time for men to step up, learn and be proactive in working toward ending violence against women.  We know that there are many more well-meaning men, than abusive men.   We need these well-meaning men to stand beside us and work with us to end these horrific crimes. We need well-meaning men to stand up and speak out about domestic violence and sexual assault. 

It’s not just about being a superhero.  A Call to Men, a national organization focusing on men’s role in ending violence against women, spells out 10 things that men can do to prevent domestic and sexual violence. On this list is a reminder that silence is affirming, when we choose not to speak out against domestic violence and sexual violence we are supporting it.  The HAVEN website also has some great everyday tips about what men can do to prevent violence against women. 

At HAVEN we invite the men of our community to stand up and speak out! Make this October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, your time to take a stand and become involved.  Email us at gentlemen@haven-oakland.org to  more about HAVEN efforts to engage men in ending violence against women, and to become a participant. 

And remember, we all have the right to live without fear.

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Real Men. Real Allies.

By Billione, HAVEN guest blogger

Before 2005, I was oblivious to issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. I associated such issues with women, and placed the responsibility of addressing them into their hands. I thought I had no role and was in no way responsible for what countless women experience every day all over the world. After accepting invitations to numerous fundraisers, marches, rallies and demonstrations in support of women, I began to understand that not only am I responsible for addressing issues of domestic violence and sexual assault (DVSA), but it is in my best interest to be a vocal ally. But, what exactly is my role?

I began holding my sign as high as I could during ‘Take Back the Night’ marches, lent my support at various Women’s rights rallies, and shouted as loud as I could at a great number of demonstrations in support of women I didn’t even know. However, it wasn’t until I saw my first production of the Vagina Monologues, a play written by Eve Ensler, that I understood my role in addressing DVSA.

 In this play, I saw women I knew speaking out about their bodies and self-image, the expectation to fit into antiquated gender roles, and the difficulties associated with a patriarchal society that perpetuates sexism in America. Then it finally hit me: issues of DVSA are men’s issues, as much, if not greater, than they are women’s issues. The responsibility to end DVSA rests in the hands of all of us.

 But, how exactly do men go from being perceived as possible adversaries, to contentious supporters, and subsequently active allies? We must first debunk the various myths about DVSA that we encounter through the various mediums that compete for our attention. Television, radio and film are three major mediums that influence our knowledge and shape our views as it relates to DVSA, and does us a disservice when it comes to supporting those affected.

 How do we make change when we have been misinformed? The following is a few ways to equip yourself with tools for your journey as an ally to those affected by DVSA.

 1) Learn how to identify DVSA. Seek out resources that allow you to recognize patterns of abuse and share those resources with others.

 2) Acknowledge that DVSA affects women and men, and either can be an aggressor or victim.

 3) Lead by example. Be sure to model healthy behavior and relationships. Those around us are watching our every move and we owe it to them the lead them in a positive direction.

 4) Be an ally. Don’t simply support. Actively address negative language and attitudes toward woman and those in DVSA situations. Use these moments to teach others how to identify DVSA and be allies.

 5) Don’t make excuses for abuse. If you witness or suspect a case of DVSA, don’t look for justification or a rational reason for the abuse. There is none.

 6) Be active in breaking the cycle of abuse. Don’t allow future generations to inherit a legacy of DVSA.

7) Offer your support to organizations. Whether it is time, money or other donations, help strengthen the impact of organizations working diligently to end DVSA.

 We must recognize our roles in ending the stigma associated with DVSA, and do all we can to help other men do the same. We must see this as an issue of power, not shame. We cannot allow ourselves to stand on the sidelines while our families are being destroyed, some by our own hands. We must learn to recognize abuse, how to address it, and support those affected. We must use our voices and take advantage of opportunities to break cycles of abuse.

 Every opportunity to address DVSA is also an opportunity to help save at least one life. If every person identifies their role and responsibility, we will be better able to improve the health of our communities, strength of our social movements and power of future generations. We must speak up and speak out, so that we do not become oppressed by our own silence.


A Detroit native, Billione is a versatile writer, and the author of several books of poetry including Centric, Love: In Hindsight and Beautyful. His poems Man: or Woman, Anthem and the Hearts of Men have become signature pieces that continue to haunt audiences. In 2008, He published a tribute to the LGBT community entitled USA: United States of Adversity. Billione recently finished writing a short play that examines masculinity entitled the Birth of Mars , scheduled for a summer 2012 release. (Photo credit: Ken Anderson Photography)

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Stalking awareness

By Beth Morrison, HAVEN CEO

Over the past few days, we have seen several very troubling and downright scary news stories in the media.  First was the story of a female bank employee that was stalked by a male customer, Aundrey Wiley, which ended when he broke into her home and then awaited her arrival (with duct tape, zip ties, condoms, and a knife in his possession). Thankfully, he was scared off and later arrested. But imagine the fear and trauma his victim has been left with by his actions.

Second was the tragic story of the Hinze family in Independence Township.  Via news reports it appears that Matthew Adair stalked and then attempted to harm a young woman employed at his community service site by breaking into her home and awaiting her arrival. This assault ended tragically with the murder of the young woman’s mother and shooting of her father.

In both of these cases, it appears that both assailants stalked their victims and both with intent to do harm.  In Adair’s case, he was clearly not going to take no for an answer when rebuffed by the victim on at least one previous occasion.

Not too long ago, we shared a story written by a HAVEN staff member, on stalking and its prevalence in our society. We reminded readers that stalking is not reserved for high-profile celebrities but happens routinely to our neighbors, family members and friends.  

There are many things to be troubled by in these two cases, but one that stuck out for me was the response by the manager at the store in which Adair met his victim.  The manager is stated as saying that the suspect had also shown interest in other female employees but there weren’t any signs that anyone had been in danger.  I am not placing blame for Adair’s behavior on this manager, his choices were his own.  However, it is critical for employers to educate their employees on workplace violence and have clear policies and procedures in place regarding all forms of violence including harassment and inappropriate behavior.  Making sure that employees feel comfortable and able to report behavior that is troubling and concerning is key.  Having a male employee, or in this case a volunteer, approaching female employees or “showing interest” in them is not right.

Most of us are pretty naïve and many of us ignore our “gut feelings” when we are “creeped out” by others behaviors. Adair probably appeared harmless to many at the work site or viewed just a creepy guy. Little did anyone realize that he was capable of assault and ultimately murder.  Taking our intuition seriously is key, if something doesn’t seem right or feel right, it probably isn’t. Talk to your employer today about your company’s work place violence policy and procedures and if they don’t have one, encourage them to do so. Let’s all work to make sure America’s work places are safe for all employees.

To learn more about stalking, download the HAVEN fact sheet.

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