Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: A Training that Changes You

In Professional Training, Sexual Assault Awareness on November 25, 2009 at 9:00 am

Being a current graduate student interning at RCASA, I knew September would bring the usual introduction into a new school year, new settings, and new classes.  However, this time included my first experience at a therapy site in relation to the Clinical Psychology track in my program.  I was feeling comfortable and confident coming into the meetings, having been in the field for a while and having already spent a year working at a Domestic Violence agency, which required a similar type of training.  However, this was a more informative and exciting training that I had ever expected, and I am partially talking about Corey this time.

The trainings helped me to understand the depth and the core of the issue of sexual assault.  It was something that no previous experience in the domestic violence realm or any class or textbook could explain to me as powerfully as Corey and her many helpers did, her team of educators.  I thought I had an idea of what the issue of sexual assault meant and what it meant to me as a future interning therapist, but I was wrong. 

Beginning with the training and continuing into what I am doing today, RCASA has taught me a lot.  Whether you are in the field or just looking to do some volunteer work, this is an experience that will fulfill you in multiple ways.  The skills and tools you will learn will not only help you in your RCASA role, but will help you to better deal with your everyday life and maybe even help your friends to cope at times!  Active listening, understanding, and empathy are skills that will better anyone’s life and the relationships you maintain.  Working with these skills to do what you can to help another human in a crisis situation is only the current frame of skills you will learn in training.

Coming into Corey’s trainings with an open mind is the best thing to can do to help yourself most clearly understand what the issue at hand is and what RCASA is about.  She has a special way about helping one to understand the gravity of the situation, while making the trainings a time to be thoughtful and thankful. Thankful that you are currently in a position to be able to offer your own special form of help.   It is a special talent that Corey has, to be able to take a subject that is so heavy, yet inspire you to want to do all that you can to help anyone and everyone who comes across your path.


RCASA’s Tuesdays with Traci: Personal Empowerment- Dealing with Difficult People

In Sexual Assault Awareness on November 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

Few things can make us feel crazier than expecting something from someone who has nothing to give. Few things can frustrate us more than trying to make a person he or she isn’t; we feel crazy when we try to pretend that a person is someone he or she is not. We may have spent years negotiating with reality concerning particular people from our past and present. We may have spent years trying to get someone to love us in a certain way, when that person cannot or will not.

It is time to let go. It is time to let him or her go. That doesn’t mean we can’t love that person anymore. It means that we will feel the immense relief that comes when we stop denying reality and begin accepting. We release that person to be who he or she actually is. We stop trying to make that person be someone he or she is not. We deal with our feelings and walk away from the destructive system of trying to control someone or something over which we have no power. We begin to make healthy choices for ourselves.

We learn to love and care differently. 

We enter into a relationship with that person on new terms– taking ourselves and our needs into account. If a person is addicted to alcohol, other drugs, misery, or other people, we let go of his or her addiction. We take our hands off of it. We give his or her life back. We no longer feel the need to change them.  We can stay or go as we see fit. We can set healthy boundaries. And, in the process, we are given our life and freedom in return.

We stop letting what we are not getting from that person control us. We take responsibility for our own life. We go ahead with the process of loving and taking care of ourselves.

We decide how we want to  interact with that person, taking reality and our own best interests into account. We may get angry, we may feel hurt, but we land in a place of forgiveness. In setting him or her free, we become set free from bondage.

This is the heart of detaching in love. This is the heart of loving ourselves.








RCASA- Definición de la violencia sexual

In Hispanic/Latino on November 23, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Les damos las gracias a todos los usuarios de nuestra bitácora cibernética por sus últimas participaciones y les pedimos que por favor nos dejen sus comentarios.  Por favor, recuerden que si son bilingües y desean donar voluntariamente su tiempo, son bienvenidos.  Sólo tienen que llamar a nuestra oficina al (540) 371-6771 y preguntar por Corey.

Antes de irnos, nos gustaría dejarlos con lo siguiente:

 La violencia sexual es una conducta de naturaleza sexual

 en donde no hay un acuerdo común

 entre las personas involucradas en esto,

se logra a través de


coacción – (presión física o emocional para lograr que una persona se comporte de una manera involuntaria),




incapacitación física,

incapacitación mental,

poder y/o autoridad.


Sexual Violence is

conduct of a sexual nature,

that is non-consensual

and is accomplished through






physical incapacitation,

mental incapacitation,

power and/or authority.

Por favor, dejemos a un lado los mitos culturales y sintámonos libres al compartir nuestras experiencias, frustraciones o comentarios que hayamos tenido en el transcurso de obtener ayuda con casos de violencia sexual.   Nuestra agencia cuenta con personal latino bilingüe listo para ayudarles.  Puede llamar a nuestra línea de ayuda al (540) 371-1666 y preguntar por Sandra o Giovanna.

RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Sexual Assault and Military Culture

In Fundraisers, Sexual Assault Awareness on November 18, 2009 at 1:15 pm

This week I am headed up to Quantico Marine Corp Base to present to their victim advocates. This brings up the subject of how different life is for our service people. The Military has a culture all its own, and those of us who work to help victims of sexual assault need to be aware of and sensitive to this culture. In the military you work closely with your “unit”. These are not just your closest co-workers; they are people you trust with your life. One thing we have to keep in mind about sexual violence is that the victim may be in the same command as the perpetrator. Can you imagine being a victim and having to face your perpetrator every day? To work with them, to live near them– even more, imagine you are a million miles away from home and fighting a war. Everyone else around you may know what happened. The rest of your unit may even be taking sides. “The key to understanding military culture and how it impacts survivors of sexual assault is appreciating the role of command discretion. It is commonly understood that military culture is based on a system of hierarchy called the chain of command. Broadly, the chain of command gives higher ranked persons authority over lower ranked persons. As such those entitled to utilize command discretion in regard to the legal system are more than just individuals with a higher rank (or the highest rank) – they are individuals who are in command of the entire unit, units or base. Thus the commander may be responsible for both the victim and the offender, in command of both or either of their units, or the entire base or ship where the assault occurred. More specifically, command discretion empowers commanders to decide if the case goes forward to court martial. They determine which JAG officer will serve as prosecutor and which as defense counsel; who oversees the investigation; they may serve as the convening authority in court martial; and determine any disciplinary action. All of these functions are given to the discretion of one person. In a state or federal court, several different entities would be involved with the above functions. Thus the great deference afforded command discretion raises legitimate concerns about conflicts of interest and the potential for abuse of power.” – Understanding Sexual Assault in the United States Military Culture by Courtney Mullins There are two options of reporting for a victim of sexual assault in the military: restricted and unrestricted. Restricted reporting can be done to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC), a military victim advocate, medical personnel or a chaplain. This allows the victim to obtain medical treatment and counseling with his or her command only being given limited information such as: an assault occurred, rank, sex, etc of those involved. Unrestricted reporting goes through the chain of command, the commander is given all the details and decides from there what to do. If anyone at all other than those listed in restricted reporting is aware of the assault, it is automatically unrestricted. One fear of unrestricted reporting is collateral damage. Victims may choose not to report for fear of being exposed for doing something they might not want others to know, such as underage drinking or not being where they said they were. In the military victims may be afraid of actual punishment for their actions. They may also fear that their security clearance may be affected. They may also feel that they will be perceived as weak if they were unable to fend of their attackers or be afraid that they may be judged as fragile if they seek counseling. As you can see, privacy is a huge concern for our service members. Here at RCASA we are considered health professionals and are not part of the military system; therefore, we can offer much more privacy to our service members. It is important that the on-base advocates can refer clients to us where they may feel safer to heal. It is also important that our staff here receives training on all the specific issues listed above. At RCASA we are committed to helping all people heal from sexual assault, no matter what culture or background they come from.

RCASA’s Tuesday’s with Traci: Rejecting Shame

In Sexual Assault Awareness on November 17, 2009 at 10:05 am

Shame can be a powerful, negative force in our life. It is the trademark of dysfunctional, unhealthy families.

Authentic, legitimate guilt is the feeling or thought that what we did is not okay. It indicates that our behavoir needs to be corrected or altered, or an amends needs to be made.

Shame is an overwhelming negative sense that who we are isn’t okay. Shame is a no-win situation. We can change our behaviors, but we can’t change who we are. There is no need to. Shame can propel us deeper into self-defeating and sometimes self-destructive behaviors. Shame causes us to dislike who we are as human beings, to dislike our own unique, individual selves.

What are the things that can cause us to feel shame? We may feel ashamed when we have a problem or someone we love has a problem. We may feel shame over things that have been done to us, things over which we had no control. We may feel ashamed for making mistakes or for succeeding. We may feel ashamed about certain feelings or thoughts. We may feel ashamed when we have fun, feel good, or are vunerable enough to show ourselves to others. Some of us feel ashamed just for being.

Shame does not belong to us. It is a spell others put on us to control us, to keep us playing a part in unhealthy relationships. It is also a spell that many of us have learned to put on ourselves.  We learn to feel shame at the core of our soul. We must break the cycle in order to experience true freedom and joy. It is possible. You deserve joy.

Learning to reject shame can change the entire quality of our life. It’s okay to be who we are. We are good enough. Our feelings are okay. What may have been done to us in the past is not our fault. What we have done in our past is okay. The past is the past. It is okay to have problems, make mistakes, and struggle to find our path. It is our right. 

Accepting ourselves is the first step toward gaining peace in our lives. Letting go of shame about who we are is the next important step. You are valuable. You have worth. Claim that worth.

RCASA Welcomes you to blog in Spanish

In Hispanic/Latino, Sexual Assault Awareness on November 16, 2009 at 10:44 am

Querida Comunidad Hispana:

El concilio Rappahannock Contra el Abuso Sexual, les invita a ser participes de su nuevo recurso cibernético llamado “Weblog, blog o blogging” Este recurso también se conoce en español cómo bitácoras cibernéticas que se pueden interpretar como un  diario. Otro usos que tiene una bitácora cibernética es enfatizar o explicar alguna noticia que esta agencia este lista a exponer o también se puede utilizar  para actualizar algún tipo de información en general.

Por favor, todos los lunes tómese un momento y participe de éste weblog o bitácora cibernética donde usted se  podrá enterar de nuevos temas, consejos o recursos en referencia al abuso sexual y sus consecuencias.

Por último, no olvide mandarnos sus comentarios, que son muy importantes para la realización de esta bitácora cibernética.

Muchas gracias por su tiempo y cooperación.

Save the Date: Holiday Party at RCASA 12/15/09

In Events on November 14, 2009 at 9:37 pm

RCASA is having it’s annual open house and holiday party on December 15th, Tuesday from 4pm – 7 pm.  Come by and meet the staff and board, learn about our services, and share some holiday cheer!

Sexual Assault and the Aging- Ninth Annual Caregivers Symposium

In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on November 11, 2009 at 2:20 pm

This Saturday, 11/14/09, we will be headed out to the ninth annual Caregivers Symposium, Help is Here- Navigating through Stormy Times. This symposium is put on by the Rappahannock Area Council on Aging. You might wonder at first what RCASA- an agency against sexual assault- is doing there?

 Sexual Assault does not just affect any one age group. Our aging population is actually more vulnerable than anyone may like to think. Some of the reasons that our seniors are more vulnerable to sexual abuse are: physical disabilities, cognitive disabilities, limited mobility, limited social interaction, and isolation. Older persons may also be perceived as easy to overpower and manipulate. They are less likely to report abuse due to the dependency on others, use of threats about nursing home placement to keep the victim silent, or generational beliefs about sex and morality that create feelings of shame and guilt.

 Elder victims rarely report sexual abuse. Sexual abuse is generally a private crime—only the victim and perpetrator are present. If the victim does not come forward, the perpetrator certainly won’t, and the abuse is not recognized or treated. They also may simply not know that what is happening to them is sexual assault.

 Elder sexual assault is any situations in which a person over the age of 60 is forced, tricked, coerced, or manipulated into unwanted sexual contact, or where the elder cannot consent due to incapacitation. As in all violence, the perpetrator seeks power and control.

 We here at RCASA will be there to raise awareness of the problem, the warning signs, and the resources available to the victims. We are dedicated to serving all victims of sexual assault, especially those who are most vulnerable!

RCASA’s Tuesday’s with Traci

In Sexual Assault Awareness on November 10, 2009 at 1:58 pm

Our Right To Be Ourselves

It is time to stop picking ourselves to pieces.

Many of us have walked through much of our lives apologizing for ourselves, either directly or indirectly– feeling less valuable than others, believing that they know better than we do, and believing that somehow others are meant to be here and we are not.

We have the right to be here.

We have the right to be ourselves.

We are here. There is a purpose, a reason, and an intention for our lives. We do not have to apologize for being here or for being who we are.

We are good enough, and deserving.

Others do not hold our magic. We hold our own beautiful, unique magic. It is within us.

It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in our past. We all have a past, woven with mistakes, successes, and learning experiences. We have a right to our past. It is ours.  It has worked to shape and form us. As we progress on this journey, we shall see how our experiences will be turned around and used for good.

We have already spent too much time being ashamed, being apologetic, and doubting the beauty of ourselves. Be done with it. Let it go. It is an unnecessary burden. Others have rights, but so do we. We are neither less than nor more than. We are equal. We are who we are. That is who we were created and intended to be.

And that is our greatest gift.

RCASA’s Friday Facts

In Friday Facts on November 6, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Every Friday, RCASA will blog important facts and information in an attempt to raise awareness about sexual assault……

GET REAL: Safety Information for Middle School Students

WARNING SIGNS: Behaviors of Potentially Unsafe People

Unsafe people target a victim who they can have access to without making others suspicious and who they judge to be vunerable in some way.

The way a person looks or acts is NEVER the cause of sexual abuse or sexual assault

Unsafe people then test their target using intrusive actions that make a potential victim feel nervous, confused, or unsafe. Some intrusions are:

  • inappropriate comments
  • extremely personal questions
  • standing or sitting too close
  • using touch to intimidate

If unsafe people find that the intrusions effectively confuse or intimidate the person, they try to isolate the potential victim.

The unsafe person may use threats to control the victim. Unsafe people may…

  • blame the victim
  • abuse a position of authority
  • tell the victim that no one will believe him or her
  • threaten to harm the victim or someone close to them

TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: Things you Can Do To Stay Safer

Sexual abuse can still happen even if a person follows every safety guideline. Remember, no matter what the circumstances, sexual abuse is never the victim’s fault.

If you find yourself in a situation that makes you uneasy, trust that “gut feeling,” and get away, if possible.

Your best tool for staying safe is ASSERTIVE COMMUNICATION. When talking to the person who is making you feel unsafe make sure you:

  • Make eye contact
  • Use your serious, forceful voice
  • Clearly tell people to STOP the behaviors
  • that make you feel unsafe

You may say things such as:

  • “Stop touching me”
  • “Don’t do that”
  • “You’re making me feel uncomfortable”

ALWAYS tell a trusted adult, such as your parents or teacher, about someone who makes you feel unsafe. If the person doesn’t believe you or won’t help, then keep telling until someone listens!

If you need help, you can call the RCASA Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at (540)371-1666. Sexual assault or harassment is NEVER ok!

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