Tag Archives: sexual assault

Sexual Assault on College Campuses

DepressedWoman

Guest post by Meghan Talbot

Nowadays, when incoming freshmen enter college, they are not just nervous about making friends, doing well in classes, and adjusting to life on their own. A study showed that college students are more afraid of being raped than they are of being murdered. And unfortunately, that fear isn’t completely exaggerated. Sexual assault is becoming an epidemic in the college setting, as an estimated 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted as undergrads. It is reported that college freshmen are the most likely to be sexually assaulted (though researchers are not completely sure why this is). Most rapes occur at college parties where drinking is involved, and by someone the victim knows. However, the crime can happen to victims of all ages and in a variety of settings. It is also important to understand that no colleges are excluded from this epidemic — high percentages of sexual assault occur in both rural and urban schools, co-ed and single gender, large and small, secular and religious.

Though sexual assault is extremely common in the campus setting, very few cases are reported to the authorities or to school officials, and even fewer will result in judicial action. Victims may keep silent about what happened as they often believe it’s their fault- because of what they were drinking or wearing, or for voluntarily going out with the assailant. They also may fear unsympathetic treatment from officials, interrogation from police, or retaliation by their attacker. In addition, because the majority of reported sexual assaults do not result in prosecution, victims often decide it is not worth the trauma of going through a judicial hearing.

Because victims often keep silent about what happened, they are more likely to suffer from mental health conditions such as depression or PTSD. Over 30% of victims say they have considered suicide after their attack, and many have succeeded.

Colleges are becoming more aware of the epidemic and are trying to prevent sexual assault in a variety of ways. In 1972, the Title IX law was passed in order to prevent gender discrimination in athletics, but is now being reinterpreted to protect victims of sexual violence in college. Through the law, students are allowed to change class schedules or housing arrangements after an assault in order to avoid their attacker if need be. Victims may also be provided counseling and assistance reporting the crime under the law. However, the law is controversial and a number of universities are under investigation for violating the law.

Schools are taking other steps to prevent sexual assault. Prevention techniques are often taught to incoming freshmen during their orientation week and sorority and fraternity members are often required to take a course in alcohol safety and consent. In addition, a variety of student organizations exist for victims to get involved on campus and heal together. It is the hope of many that through education and protection sexual assault will become less common in the university setting.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, HAVEN can help. Call the free and confidential 24-hour Crisis and Support Line at 877-922-1274.

 

 

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Altered Books, Altered Self-Compassion

Guest Blog by Anne Sutton, MA LPC, HAVEN – Counseling Program

“Self-compassion is extending compassion to one’s self in instances of perceived inadequacy, failure, or general suffering.” – Dr. Kristen Neff, author of Self-Compassion

Self-Compassion as a daily practice can be very difficult for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Trauma alters our inner self-talk, increasing our critical voices and muting our loving compassionate voices. The negative voice can become so strong it becomes a bully. It bellows and overwhelms our quieter, loving voices.

art1 art2Survivors’ representations of the “inner bully,” their negative self-talk

It is important to train our compassionate self because that’s the part of us that is most helpful. If we only listen to the anxious/angry/self-critical part of ourselves, we get a biased view.

We all want to be more loving to ourselves but HOW? What are the tools? What can help us to remember to have self-compassion for ourselves? What can help us quiet our inner bully?

The group members in HAVEN’S on going trauma support group, Surviving and Thriving through Trauma began a lengthy group project focused on increasing feelings of self-compassion and developing a daily self-compassion practice. Each group member developed a personal handbook of self-compassion by creating an Altered Book.

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Four of the group members with their completed Altered Books. 

Altered books are an art therapy technique that takes an old hard cover book, destroys it and transforms it into something completely different, something amazingly beautiful and personal.

 

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Wisdom

The group started on this project in early May, 2016 and had a final celebration of their hard work in September. The women started by destroying the original books (most were brought from home or garage sales) to craft pages to create upon. We ripped out pages in the books, leaving large gaps in the books and filling the group room with discarded pages.

We then glued the remaining pages together leaving 10-12 thick and solid pages. These became our foundation to paint, draw, write and collage upon. The group members spent the next 10 weeks reflecting upon and making creative representations of ten key aspects of self-compassion:

  • May I be kind to myself
  • My inner bully
  • Compassionate people in my life
  • A compassionate place
  • A compassionate color
  • Wisdom
  • Strength
  • Responsibility
  • Warmth
  • My perfect nurturer

Here are some more amazing creations:

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May I be kind to myself

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My compassionate color

 

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My perfect nurturer

 

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Warmth

The project became a fun, messy and very creative way to address a difficult issue for trauma survivors, learning to be loving to ourselves.

 

Self-compassion is an important part of ALL of our lives. The group and I would like to share with you one of our favorite self-compassion meditation practices (from Kristen Neff) to use when your inner bully shouts at you or life is just hard:

This is a moment of suffering

                  Suffering is a part of living

                  May I be kind to myself

                                    May I give myself the compassion I need

                                    May I learn to accept myself as I am

                                    May I be strong

                                    May I be safe

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My Compassionate Self – cover art

 

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Strength and Wisdom

If you’d like to learn more about the HAVEN Counseling Program, click here.

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True Teamwork

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The team from Lear Corporation, also the event’s presenting sponsor, poses with the Lions’ mascot, Roary, at the 2015 HAVEN Tailgate Party. 

Guest post by Lindsey Ransone, HAVEN Intern

It’s wild to think that the Olympics ended three weeks ago. The image of Rio’s Mayor, Eduardo Paes, handing over the Olympic flag to Tokyo’s Governor, Yuriko Koike, at the closing ceremony, is left engraved in our memories. It gives us the feeling of unity – anyone, regardless of our differences, or locations, can come together and participate in a global event that symbolizes teamwork.

Not only was true teamwork exhibited by the US Women’s gymnastics team, allowing them to take home the gold, but the team efforts of Abbey D’Agostino of the United States and Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand in the Women’s 5,000-meter run were astounding. Both D’Agostino and Hamblin, who were competing against one another’s country in the event, fell a mile into the race. Instead of leaving one another behind, D’Agostino and Hamblin exemplified great compassion and leadership by helping one another get up and move forward. The message for us is that you can find supporters to help work towards a common goal outside of your group and help each other reach the finish line.

Like those two women, HAVEN has been blessed with a partnership with the Detroit Lions. Both organizations, HAVEN, and the Lions understand that though we are two separate entities, together we are more effective in working towards ending crimes that affect everyone. And it will take all of us to tackle these issues, because sadly one in three Michigan families have been impacted by domestic violence and one in four women and one in 33 men have experienced an attempted or completed rape.

On September 25, HAVEN will be partnering with the Lions once again for HAVEN’s 4th annual Tailgate Party at the Birmingham Athletic Club. The event coincides with the Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers game and features a buffet lunch, raffles and auctions, beer and wine, special liquor tastings, as well as speakers to share HAVEN’s mission during halftime.

Together we can achieve the level of teamwork that was showcased during the Olympics and through the Lions’ partnership, to collectively end domestic violence and sexual assault. Won’t you join us?

For more information about HAVEN’s 4th annual Tailgate Party on September 25th and to purchase tickets click here. 

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Engaging Men in Gender Equity

Redefine Blog

Guest Post by Averett Robey, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

This year marks (the end) of the first year of the Detroit Lions partnership with HAVEN to bring redefine, our young men’s leadership development program, to Oakland and Wayne Counties. As the school year closed earlier this season, I reflected upon all the schools, classrooms, educators, and dedicated and awesome students we had the opportunity to engage and meet. We were fortunate enough to celebrate these students’ dedication and commitment to ending violence in their communities in a big way. Together we celebrated the young men’s completion of the program with an event at Ford Field. It was an opportunity for them to meet former and current Lions players, get signed memorabilia, and go on a tour through the locker room and field. Not only was the event remarkable, but having an opportunity to hear students say “This is the best day ever,” “Thank you for bringing this to our school,” and “Can’t we be in the program next year?” was an awesome experience.

To anyone looking from the outside, they would most likely assume that hearing those statements was the best thing about the whole experience. However, to me it is not. You see, redefine is not only about building empathy and teaching young men about the epidemic of intimate partner and sexual violence. It is about working with young men to redefine what it means to be a man. To develop a definition that is not rooted in violence, domination, or control, but centers on respect, equity, and empathy. This is crucial for a couple of reasons. First, the current definition is taught, and then reinforced, to help build a foundation where violence is linked to masculinity. Sayings like “get up, and act like a man!” and “don’t let nobody disrespect you” are great examples of how we teach men and boys this toxic definition every day. All of these things work together to create the reality where 90+ of every 100 violent crimes are committed by men, 88.8% of homicide offenders from 1980-2008 were men, and where 99.8% of convicted rapists are men. These statistics do not mean that most men would commit these crimes, it is a small percentage of men that do, but what is important is how we work with the men and boys who would never perpetrate that violence to intervene and become change agents. This is important because violence affects everyone, people they love and care about; as well as, themselves. Its impact on men and boys is great. This toxic definition of masculinity, linked with stoicism, works in tandem to create a framework where less than 50% of boys and men with mental health issues seek help and every day in the U.S. 3 or more boys commit suicide.

For me the greatest part of our redefine program is working with young men to redefine masculinity, to establish working definitions that help create the change that we desperately need. Our program is an intentional push away from other prevention efforts that focuses on putting women on pedestals and “protecting” them, and instead centers on working alongside women and girls to eliminate intimate partner and sexual violence. This is key because it is only in equity that we can create sustainable systemic change. It is on all of us to come together to eliminate violence in our communities.

For more information on violent masculinity and its impact, access these hyperlinks.

To bring prevention programming to your school in Oakland County, Michigan in the coming year contact our Prevention Education Program at HAVEN.

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence or experiencing power and control dynamic in their relationship that feels abusive or unsafe HAVEN is here to help. Our crisis and support line is always open for you 877-922-1274. 

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Bittersweet

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Bittersweet – defined by Webster’s as pleasure alloyed with pain. But today it is defined by me as a mix of sadness, tears, excitement, challenge, and change. After 13 years at HAVEN, my bittersweet moment of saying goodbye has come.

I will be leaving this incredible organization at the end of July and moving to my home away from home, Tucson, Arizona. I have accepted the position of CEO at another wonderful nonprofit organization in Tucson, Our Family Services. For years, it has been a dream of my husband and me to return to the beauty of the desert, and it is now time to make that dream a reality. With family ties to Arizona and great memories of having lived there a number of years ago, we are anxious to make our return.

My time at HAVEN is one filled with so much adventure, joy, success, friendship, growth, and service. This organization is special. The rich history of serving the community, the incredible staff and volunteers, the position of financial strength, and the partnership with so many other amazing organizations and agencies, makes it especially difficult to say goodbye.

But an organization, such as HAVEN, is bigger than one individual. I am confident that it will continue to grow, flourish, and remain a high quality program for years to come. Its new leader will have many challenges but with the continued dedication and support of the community, she will find the same support that I found.

Over the past decade, we have stabilized our financial picture, added an incredible depth and breadth of services due to our collaborations and partnerships, and built a beautiful space to do our work. These successes are due to the concentrated efforts of a dedicated board of directors, the expertise and passion of our staff, and the belief and trust of our funders and supporters. Clearly I am not the only person who knows just how special HAVEN is and will continue to be for years to come.

To the thousands of survivors that have been served by HAVEN during my tenure, I offer you my thanks. Thank you for allowing me to play a part, directly or indirectly, in your healing journey. In observing your courage and strength, you have challenged me to be a better person.

To the HAVEN staff, board, and volunteers, I thank you for your passion and dedication to a mission which often seems unsurmountable. But if there was ever a group of people who can achieve this giant challenge, it is you. The incredible culture at HAVEN is what kept me motivated to do my best and to weather a few storms along the way.

To the community of donors, funders, and supporters, I thank you for your faith and trust in my ability to be a good steward of your support and to lead HAVEN to go forth and do good. To think that an agency of our size can provide quality services and programming to nearly 20,000 individuals each year and to do so when 50% of our budget must be raised each and every year directly from our community is a bit crazy. Your belief in the importance of our work and your dedication to giving us the tools to do our work is what makes change happen.

Thank you for allowing me to have both the honor and the privilege to lead HAVEN. I can’t wait to see the greatness which happens next!

Image source: relatably.com

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Looking Back to March Forward

Rosie

Guest post by: Nkenge Burkhead, Prevention Education Specialist, HAVEN

March is a month of many celebrations. The March celebration that is most dear to my heart is the observation of Women’s History Month. A time to acknowledge our fore-mothers who made noise, made progress, made room for change, and made herstory! When you celebrate the fortitude of a community of people you must also recognize the forces they are up against.

Sadly, one of the factors that give women a similar connective experience is the constant threat of sexual and physical violence. Women are disproportionately targeted (1 in 3 women) and have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. When over 33% of a single community report surviving intimate partner violence, and then we consider the number of women who are not in a position to report their experiences, we can assume that at some point in our lifetime we will either become a victim or know and love a woman who is a victim of gender-based violence.

This is an unavoidable plot in our story. Women are at risk of being preyed upon by abusers in dark alleys near our jobs, but also in well-lit hallways near our kid’s room. Intimate partner abuse (wife beating as it’s been called) wasn’t against the law in the United States until 1920. There were no legal consequences in place until the 1970’s, and The Violence Against Women Act was passed in 1994. The statistics are appalling. The response survivors have received from police, medical staff, and even friends and family are often injurious and insensitive.

It is a time to proclaim that yes women have been victimized, but that women have also been on the front lines for the progression of services and support concerning intimate partner violence. March is a time to celebrate Women’s History! We celebrate women and their contribution to raising awareness, providing support, and challenging social attitudes around violence against women.

This month we have been motivated by Oleta “Lee” Abrams, who co-founded the first rape crisis center in the U.S. In response to her daughter’s rape and lack of support from the doctor who treated her daughter after she was attacked. Oleta and two friends opened Bay Area Women Against Rape. This center is still open today.

We are encouraged by Erin Pizzey. Erin established the first domestic violence shelter in Europe more than 40 years ago (1970). She also wrote one of the first books on the topic “Scream Quietly or the Neighbors Will Hear” in 1974.

We are indebted to Maria Macias who was killed by her estranged husband when police failed to enforce her restraining order after 22 calls for help.

Today the U.S. has over 1,900 shelters or support programs for survivors. While the survivors continue to out-number the beds, there are 1,900 places with caring people who will listen and believe survivors. Those same people ask how we can systematically end this and remember the history and attempt to reshape the future for women.

How will you March forward into the rest of the 2016? Will you read more about accomplishments women have contributed? Will you donate to a local domestic violence shelter? Will you teach the boys and men in your life about consent?

If you or someone you know is a victim of intimate partner violence or experiencing power and control dynamic in their relationship that feel abusive or unsafe HAVEN is here to help and our crisis and support line is ALWAYS open for you: 877-922-1274.

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Only 1 in 16 Rapists…

 

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I am somewhat of a news junkie but too much news, for me at least, is not healthy for my soul. In the past few weeks due to vacation, evening obligations, and the horrible political discord being covered by the media, I fell into a much needed media break. The other day, someone asked me my thoughts on the arrest of Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III for sexual assault and I was clueless.

Being an advocate to end sexual violence and having once lived in the Lansing area, I jumped online. The story of Mr. Dunnings on its own was horrific but I also found another headline. High profile former athlete Mateen Cleaves was also in the news for sexual assault charges and buried within his article was mention of another former MSU athlete, Branden Dawson, arrested for domestic violence. In just one day, three high profile individuals arrested.

Needless to say, arrests for violence against women happen daily across the US and here in Michigan, not all make the news. With the statistics, 1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence and 1 in 5 women will be a victim of sexual assault, we know these crimes happen daily. But we also know that both domestic violence and especially sexual violence are two of the least reported forms of victimization. Although the incident rate is high, low reporting rates aid in keeping the media coverage rate low, hence these high profile cases stick out and grab us.

All perpetrators of violence should be held accountable, high profile or the average citizen. Based on statistics from the US Department of Justice, most rapists are not held accountable.

Jailed-rapists December 2014

Image credit: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN). See reference information below.

The simple answer often becomes pushing victims to report an assault. But as a community, we have to be fully prepared for her report and frankly, we aren’t there yet. First, there are numerous reasons why rape is not reported – fear of further harm from the rapist (over 66% of rapists know their victim), retribution, loss of employment. But primarily, many rape victims do not report or seek help because they won’t be believed – believed by family, friends, police, and others.

So when we look at these high profile cases, we can salute the fact that the system worked. The laws on the books were enforced, investigators did their legwork, and now prosecutors will do their part. Yes, these individuals are innocent until proven guilty but we must not forget the survivors of the assaults as well. When the community, without full knowledge of what occurred, jump on the band wagon of blaming the victim, we continue to tell other victims to not speak up. Let’s lift up survivors of rape by standing with them, while we let the process work.

The above graphic scares me to no end – only 1 in 16 rapists will ever spend a day in jail. We must flip that statistic. We can only do so by starting at a place of believing and supporting survivors and insisting on social change. Work with us to place the burden of accountability on perpetrators of violence and not on those victimized. Click here to learn more.

References
  1. Justice Department, National Crime Victimization Survey: 2008-2012
  2. FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, Arrest Data: 2006-2010
  3. FBI, Uniform Crime Reports, Offenses Cleared Data: 2006-2010
  4. Department of Justice, Felony Defendents in Large Urban Counties: 2009
  5. Department of Justice, Felony Defendents in Large Urban Counties: 2009

 

 

 

 

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