Archive for February, 2010|Monthly archive page

RCASA’s Prevention Saturday: Prevention- Part II by Tanya Singleton

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 27, 2010 at 9:00 am

Prevention – Part II

Tanya Singleton, BSN, MPH, RNC, LCCE – Counseling Intern

                In our last prevention blog, we mentioned several guidelines developed by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.  Let’s focus on the first guideline – developing prevention strategies that promote protective factors.  Strategies such as these are best developed early, and programs can focus on developmentally appropriate educational programs to promote and sustain the development of healthy sexuality.  This dovetails into another blog that discussed ways to decrease bystander apathy; reinforcing healthy, age appropriate, mutually respectful and safe behaviors.

One program laid a foundation for healthy sexuality by working to remove shame and silence about aspects of sexuality.  Another important aspect of this guideline is the promotion of strategies to encourage healthy relationships among peers; between youth and their older role models, and those who have been entrusted with their well-being, such as parents, teachers, caregivers, coaches, youth group leaders, etc.

The second guideline encourages the development of strategies that strive to be comprehensive. It is not realistic to attempt to have all strategies housed in one service provider, few programs have the resources to be effective at all levels of the social ecological strata – individual, relationship, community and societal.  It is suggested that activities take place in multiple settings; school as well as church-based curricula.  Programs should be designed to complement each other – in other words, a unified message that is addressed at all levels and in multiple settings.

The third guideline suggests that effective strategies are those prevention strategies that are concentrated, and can be sustained and expanded over time. High contact/exposure produces more sustainable results.  Research has shown that one-time programs focused on raising awareness rarely produce behavioral change.  It is important to note that these programs include strategies that reinforce the message through a variety of developmentally-appropriate activities that encourage the use and practice of skills learned.  It is also crucial that the program addresses the individual, relationship and community levels in the same concentrated and sustained manner.

 The fourth guideline encourages strategies that use varied teaching methods to address multiple learning processes.  Such strategies include using active/interactive approaches to engage multiple learning styles, provide opportunities to practice skills learned, includes modeling of healthy relationships, and operate with the premise that each individual is a teacher and a learner.

 I must share an example of a local program that meets these guidelines, and although its primary focus is not SV and IVP, it uses these principles effectively in its delivery of risk-avoidance skills.  The Rappahannock Teen Awareness Program, known as RappTAP (yuw8), has evolved from a program that initially delivered a one-time, once a year message to high school students (only because that was the only venue open to the program) to one which delivers a risk-avoidance message to middle and high-school teens, utilizing the Worth the Wait© curriculum to teach students about healthy choices in regards to sexual activity, substance use, violence, and healthy relationships.  In venues that allow the delivery of the full curriculum, the students are given detailed information regarding the consequences of risky behavior, followed by interactive vignettes that include role-playing, review of media clips, activities which provide analysis and synthesis of information, and homework.  This instruction is presented during the Family Life Education segment of the school year schedule.   The program has a parental information and education portion available which is offered to parents in community settings as available, and community awareness is enhanced by participation in health fairs and the like.

I will also add that in the first year of implementing this curriculum, several children felt safe in coming forth to identify themselves as having been victims of sexual violence, leading to the apprehension and conviction of at least one perpetrator.  This trend has continued over the years.


Lee, D., Guy, L., Perry, B., Sniffen, C., Alamo Mixson, S. (2007) Sexual Violence Prevention.  The Prevention Researcher, 14 (2), pp. 15-20.

Sexuality and Social Change: Making the Connection Strategies for Action and Investment (2006).  Ford Foundation: New York, NY.

Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance (2009) Guidelines for the Primary Prevention of Sexual Violence and Intimate Partner Violence. Richmond, VA: Author.

RCASA’s Friday Facts: Substance Addiction and Sexual Assault Survivors

In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 26, 2010 at 9:00 am
  • Victims of rape are 13.4 times more likely to develop two or more alcohol related problems and 26 times more likely to have two or more serious drug abuse-related problems. 

(Kilpatrick and Aciemo (2003) “Mental Health Needs of Crime Victims: Epidemiology and Outcomes”, Journal of Traumatic Stress).



  • In a study of male survivors sexually abused as children, over 80% had a history of substance abuse, 50% had suicidal thoughts, 23% attempted suicide, and almost 70% received psychological treatment.




(Lisak, David, (1994) “The Psychological Impact of Sexual Abuse: Content Analysis of Interviews with Male Survivors.” Journal of Traumatic Stress, 7(4): 525-548).



  • 75% of women in treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse report having been sexually abused.




(Najavits, L.M., Weiss, R.D., and Shaw, S.R. (1997) “The Link Between Substance Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Women: A Research Review.” American Journal on Addictions, 6:273-283).



  • In a study of 100 adult patients with polytoxic drug abuse, 70% of the female and 56% of the male drug abusers had been sexually abused prior to the age of sixteen.


(Mueser, K.T., Rosenberg, S.D., Goodman, L.A., & Trumbetta, S.L. (2002) “Trauma, PTSD, and the Course of Severe Mental Illness: An Interactive Model,” Schizophrenia Research, 53:1-2 and 123-143).  


  • Nearly 90% of women with alcohol dependency were sexually abused as children or suffered severe violence at the hands of a parent.




(Switzer, G.E., Dew, M.A., Thompson, K., Goycoolea, J.M., Derricott, T., & Mullins, S.D. (1999) “Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Service Utilization Among Urban Mental Health Center Clients,” Journal of Traumatic Stress, 12 (1), 25-39).



  • Teenagers with alcohol and drug problems are 6 to 12 times more likely to have a history of being physically abused and 18 to 21 times more likely to have been sexually abused than those without alcohol and drug problems.




(Clark, H.W., McClanahan, T.M., Sees, K.L., “Cultural Aspects of Adolescent Addiction and Treatment,” (Spring 1997) Valparaaiso University Law Review, Volume 31:2).



  • From a sample of 100 male and female subjects receiving treatment for substance abuse, more than a third was diagnosed with some form of a dissociative disorder stemming from childhood sexual or physical abuse.

G. (1992) “Dissociation Comorbidity in 100 Chemically Dependent Patients,” 

(Ross, C.A., Kronson, J., Koensgen, S., Barkman, K., Clark, P. and Rockman, Hospital and CommunityPsychiatry, 43:8, 840-842).



  • Without trauma-informed intervention, there can exist a circular self-perpetuating cycle involving PTSD and substance abuse, where trauma leads to the development of PTSD symptoms, triggering the use of alcohol and drugs to cope…, resulting in higher likelihood of subsequent traumatic events and retraumatization,… triggering heightened substance use and so on.


(Najavits, L.M., et al. (1998) “Cocaine Dependence With and Without PTSD in the NIDA Cocaine Collaborative Study,” American Journal of Psychiatry).

RCASA’s Art Therapy Thursday: Found Art by Beth Peacock

In Art therapy, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 25, 2010 at 8:12 am

We search and sometimes we don’t find what we are looking for; but it can find us.  And in the most unlikely places.  The glimmer of a button dropped on the sidewalk, a giveaway piece of furniture, bits of string saved over the years.  When the moment of recognition comes, will we trust our sudden enthusiasm and create whatever we feel called to make, regardless of whether its fits with anyone else’s idea of beauty, usefulness or even propriety!   Art made from other’s discards can be bring the thrill of recognition of own uniqueness and our ability to see beyond the ordinary.  Creating requires no explanations, no statements or excuses.  It may be that it is simply relaxing to sew 100 jelly beans to a piece of cardboard.  Or it may be that those yellow jelly beans make a statement, at the very least to ourselves, that we have longed our whole life to make. 

Making found art requires nothing but the belief that we are free to make our own choices of what is valuable. 

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand,  And Heaven in a Wild Flower…..”  from Wm. Blake’s Auguries of Innocence

 Beth Peacock

RCASA Wednesday Outreach with Corey

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 24, 2010 at 10:01 am

“The positive thing that has come out of my situation is that people can learn from that. I want to give as much insight as I can to young women, because I feel like I represent a voice that really isn’t heard.”

Rihanna , in her first interview since former boyfriend Chris Brown was convicted of assaulting her in February.

Unfortunately, a lot of times it takes the experience of another being publicised before teens realise theirs is not a unique situation. The incident between songstress Rihanna and her then boyfriend, songster Chris Brown brought forward a subject that tends to be overlooked. Teen domestic Violence otherwise known as dating abuse. While it is very sad that it takes an act of brutality to surface in the media, it has gotten the topic on the front page.

“Teenage girls can’t tell their parents that their boyfriend beat them up. You don’t dare let your neighbor know that you fight. It’s one of the things we [women] will hide, because it’s embarrassing.”

– Rihanna says she was too ashamed to reveal that she was being abused.

If  Rihanna , who appeared fearless and super confident in her stage life felt too embarrassed to reveal her abuse, how would the average teen feel? As adults we need to be watching for the warning signs because of this tendency to not report the abuse.

Early warning signs that your date may eventually become abusive:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Controlling behavior
  • Quick involvement
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Explosive anger
  • Isolates you from friends and family
  • Uses force during an argument


  • Shows hypersensitivity
  • Believes in rigid sex roles
  • Blames others for his problems or feelings
  • Cruel to animals or children
  • Verbally abusive
  • Abused former partners
  • Threatens violence


Common clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:

  • Physical signs of injury
  • Truancy, dropping out of school
  • Failing grades
  • Indecision
  • Changes in mood or personality


  • Use of drugs/alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • Emotional outburst
  • Isolation



I do have to thank Rihanna for coming forward, it was not easy for her. She did not choose to become the poster child for dating violence. However, she has graciously become a voice for the downtrodden anyway.

“When I realized that my selfish decision for love could result in some young girl getting killed, I could not be easy with that part,” she says. “I couldn’t be responsible for that. Even if Chris never hit me again, who’s to say their boyfriend won’t? Who’s to say they won’t kill these girls? I didn’t realize how much of an impact I had on these girls’ lives until that happened.”

Spotsylvania County receives Community Awareness Project Funding

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 at 6:48 pm

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                       

CONTACT:        Carol Olson/RCASA     

February 2010                                                                                       540-371-6771

Spotsylvania County Receives Community Awareness Project Funding for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

             (Spotsylvania/Virginia) – The Spotsylvania County Victim Witness Assistance Program in collaboration with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault has received funding from the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators (NAVAA) through a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), within the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, to promote community awareness of crime victims’ rights and services during 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

                The week of April 18 – 24, 2010, is National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), which was first designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1981.  This annual observance seeks to increase public awareness of, and knowledge among crime victims and survivors about the wide range of rights and services available to people who have been victimized by crime.  The theme for 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is “Crime Victims Rights: Fairness. Dignity. Respect.”

                Through the provision of funding for Community Awareness Projects and its sponsorship of the National Crime Victims’ Rights Week Resource Guide to help thousands of victim assistance and allied professional organizations promote the Week, OVC seeks to increase general public understanding of crime victims’ rights and concerns, and to educate crime victims and survivors about resources available to help them.

NCVRW Community Awareness Project funding encourages communities to collaborate on victim and public awareness activities, and develop innovative approaches to victim outreach and public education about victims’ rights and services during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and throughout the year.

Spotsylvania County Victim Witness Assistance Program in collaboration with the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault was one of the 70 projects recommended by the National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators and selected for funding by OVC for 2010 from the 142 applications that were submitted.

                According to Joye Frost, Acting Director of OVC, the Community Awareness Project helps generate widespread public awareness of crime victims’ rights and needs, and the importance of engaging all Americans in victim assistance efforts.

                “National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is our commitment to help increase public awareness of crime victims’ rights and of the thousands of programs across our Nation that can help them,” Frost said.   According to Carol Olson, Executive Director of the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, the Community Awareness Project that will be sponsored in Spotsylvania will a publication on Sexual and Domestic Violence Response Services in our county.  This project will highlight our Sexual Assault Response Team and area service providers who provide needed services to victims of crime. 

                “The support from NAVAA and OVC for our 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities will help us help crime victims,” Carol said.  “Members of our community are encouraged to help promote justice through service to crime victims by joining our 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities and supporting victim assistance programs throughout the year.”

                For additional information about 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week activities or about victims’ rights and services in Spotsylvania County, please contact The Victim Witness Assistance Program in Spotsylvania County (540) 507-7666/7667 or The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault 540-371-6771, or visit RCASA’s website at http://www.rcasa.org  For information about national efforts to promote 2010 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, please visit the Office for Victims of Crime Web site at http://www.ovc.gov.

 The National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators is a non-profit organization that represents the 56 state agencies that distribute funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to more than 4,300 direct victim assistance service providers.  All of the funds for VOCA programs come from criminal fines and other penalties paid by federal criminal offenders and not from taxpayer dollars. For more information about NAVAA, contact info@navaa.org.

La propuesta de ley sobre las Victimas y los Testigos de Delitos se escuchará el 1 de marzo

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 at 5:45 pm

FAVOR DISTRIBUIR AMPLIAMENTE: La propuesta de ley sobre las Victimas y los Testigos de Delitos se escuchará el 1 de marzo

La actividad dentro de la Asamblea General  se está poniendo muy fuerte,  y mientras necesitamos que continúen alertando a sus legisladores acerca de los recortes presupuestarios a los programas de violencia doméstica (sus llamadas y cartas sí han tenido un impacto!), necesitamos que actúen a favor de una propuesta de ley ESTA SEMANA.
El próximo lunes, 1 de marzo, el SB462 se escuchará en una reunión de la Subcomisión de los Tribunales Penales de la Cámara durante la tarde.
El SB462 (hagan click aquí para leer el texto completo: http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?101+ful+SB462) fue presentado por la Senadora Janet Howell (por el tercer año) y dice que oficiales de la policía no pueden preguntar sobre el estado de inmigración de las personas quienes se reportan como víctimas o testigos de un delito.  La propuesta de ley NO prohíbe que los oficiales de la policía les pregunten sobre su estado de inmigración si ellos creen que estas personas han participado o cometido un delito.  Esta propuesta de ley incentiva a las víctimas y testigos de delitos que se presenten y reporten delitos, y asistan en la prosecución del delito.
Como un miembro de Action Alliance, ustedes saben que las víctimas de violencia doméstica y sexual enfrentan muchos obstáculos para reportar estos delitos. Esta propuesta de ley ayudará a eliminar alguno de los obstáculos que confrontan las víctimas y testigos. 
Necesitamos asegurar que esta propuesta de ley se apruebe para que los inmigrantes con documentos o sin documentos puedan presentarse y reportar delitos  sin temor de que sean deportados. 
Para el viernes, 26 de febrero, por favor hagan lo siguiente:

1)      Solicitar a su jefe de policía local y el fiscal del estado para apoyar esta propuesta de ley, y decirles a sus delegados que apoyen esta propuesta de seguridad pública. 
2)      Llamar a su delegado y pedirle a él o ella que apoye el SB462, una propuesta de ley que promueve la seguridad pública incentivando a los inmigrantes de que pueden presentarse y reportar delitos ya sea como víctimas o testigos.
3)      Pedirle a sus trabajadores, miembros de directorio, voluntarios, sobrevivientes, organizaciones de apoyo, y amigos en la comunidad que llamen a sus delegados para que apoyen el SB 462 (esto es especialmente importante si su delegado es un miembro de la Comisión de Tribunal de Justicia de la Cámara – vea la lista abajo detallada) y que distribuyan esta alerta a sus colegas, amigos, y familia.
4)      Únanse a nosotros el 1 de marzo, en el salón C de la Cámara en el edificio de la Asamblea General, durante la tarde (la Subcomisión se reunirá después del cierre de la Cámara, y este horario varia cada día), para apoyar la aprobación de esta propuesta de ley para que se escuche en la Cámara de Delegados.

Si usted no conoce quién es su delegado, visite a:
Para los números de teléfono de los delegados:
¿Preguntas?  Llamar al Action Alliance al 804-377-0335 o publicpolicy@vsdvalliance.org
Por favor revise las dos hojas adjuntas para más información.

RCASA’s Tuesday’s with Traci: Resisting Negativity

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 23, 2010 at 10:05 am

Some people are carriers of negativity. They are storehouses of pent-up anger and volatile emotions. Some remain trapped in the victim role and act in ways that further their victimization. And others are still caught in the cycle of addictive and compulsive patterns.

Negative energy can have a powerful pull on us, especially if we are struggling to maintain positive energy and balance. It may seem that others who exude negative energy would like to pull us into the darkness with them. We do not have to go. Without judgement, we can decide it’s okay to walk away, okay to protect ourselves.

We cannot change other people. It does not help others for us to get off balance. We do not lead others into the Light by stepping into the darkness with them.

RCASA-Si alguien a quien usted ama la ha maltratado

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 22, 2010 at 10:00 am
Si alguien a quien usted ama la ha maltratado
Debemos preocuparnos por su bienestar

¿qué son las medidas de seguridad?

Si alguien a quien ama o a quien usted amó alguna vez la ha maltratado o amenazado, hay muy buena posibilidad que pueda ocurrir otra vez. Hasta puede empeorar la situación. No hay manera de saber cuando esa persona intentará amenazarla o maltratarla.

Pero usted puede estar prevenida a fin de reducir los riesgos para usted, sus hijos u otras personas a quienes cuida.

Esto se llama medidas de seguridad . Este folleto le ayudará a tomar las medidas necesarias para su seguridad. Si desea hablar, llámenos a la


violencia intrafamiliar & agresión sexual

1.800.838.8238 (V/TTY)

Como todo el mundo es diferente, use solamente las sugerencias que le indicamos y que puedan aplicarse a su caso.

¡Su propia experiencia es el mejor indicio para las medidas de seguridad que ha de tomar!

para comenzar piense primero…

  • dónde y cuándo puede estar usted en peligro:

¿Vive usted con la persona que la maltrata ?
¿Trabajan ambos en el mismo lugar?
¿Tiene hijos de esta persona?
¿Tienen los mismos amigos o visitan a los mismos familiares?
¿Van de compras en los mismos lugares?
¿Irán al tribunal al mismo tiempo?
¿Existen otros lugares u ocasiones cuando usted puede estar en peligro?
entonces piense…

…que puede hacer usted para sentirse segura

He aquí algunas ideas que han compartido otras víctimas de maltrato intrafamiliar:

  • Cuando el ambiente se vea peligroso, trate de pensar en la manera de calmar la situación. Esto podría darle más tiempo para pensar en lo que le convenga hacer luego.
    Dígale a la gente lo que está pasando y hágales saber cómo podrían ayudarle. Por ejémplo: dígales a sus vecinos y pídales que llamen a la policía si ven u oyen alguna pelea. Cuéntele a su jefe y decidan que hacer si la persona que la maltrata se aparece en su lugar de trabajo.
    Si siente que su compañero podría ponerse violento , trate de ir a un lugar donde haya una puerta y/o un teléfono.
    Si no vive con la persona que la maltrata, trate de cambiar su rutina. Vaya de compras o al banco en lugares diferentes. Cuando salga, trate de ir en el vehículo de otra persona, acompañada con una persona amiga, o lleve a una persona amiga cuando tenga que salir. Cambie su número de teléfono y las cerraduras.
    Recuerde que usted no merece recibir golpes ni amenazas. Puede tomar medidas para protegerse a sí misma.


  • ¿que tal si tiene niños?

Para proteger a sus hijos, padres de edad, u otras personas a quienes usted cuida:

Dígales que no se involucren en una pelea.
Hable con ellos acerca de cuándo deben pedir ayuda, a quien llamar, y que deben decir.
Déle copias a las escuelas, o a enfermeros, etc. de las órdenes judiciales que usted tenga. Esto le ayudará a que dichas órdenes se cumplan.
Enséñele a sus hijos a usar el teléfono para llamar a la policía y dar su dirección.
personas a quienes puede llamar para pedir ayuda:

Los programas locales contra la violencia intrafamiliar pueden ofrecerle refugio a usted, a sus hijos y a algunos de sus mascotas.

Los programas contra la violencia intrafamiliar tienen personas con quienes usted puede hablar en cualquier momento, de día o de noche. También dispone de personal capacitado para acompañarla al tribunal cuando usted lo necesite. Algunos programas le pueden ayudar a conseguir un teléfono celular o sistema de alarma para mejorar su seguridad.

Para comunicarse con el programa más cercano, llame al 1-800-838-8238.

indicios de peligro que debe tomar en serio

Puede haber indicios de que hay un alto riesgo que la persona que la maltrata le hará daño.

Si recientemente usted ha abandonado a la persona que la maltrata y esta persona ha amenazado matarla o matarse a sí misma…
Si las amenazas y la violencia contra usted van empeorando más y más y se vuelven más locas…
Si usted se está presentando ante un tribunal para cargos penales o cuestión de patria potestad y la persona que la maltrata en vez de calmarse le hace más amenazas…
Si la la persona que la maltrata la ha amenazado anteriormente o usado un arma contra usted y podría encontrar un arma de nuevo…
Si le va “mejor” a usted que a la persona que la maltrata…ha seguido su vida tranquila, está ganando más dinero, recibiendo más apoyo y la persona que la maltrata parece estar muy celosa y empieza de nuevo a amenazarla…
Si la persona que la maltrata parece pensar que ya no tiene nada que perder…
y si se siente usted en peligro…


  • Trate de no estar sola.
  • Considere mudarse.
  • Llame a un programa contra la violencia intrafamiliar ó a la línea de emergencia-HOY MISMO!
  • Busque refugio.
  • Mantenga a sus hijos con usted.
  • Busque una Orden de Protección/ Preventiva y llévela siempre consigo (es válida en todos los Estados Unidos).
  • Escriba las amenazas que le han hecho.

¿sabía usted?

La violencia intrafamiliar es un delito serio en Virginia. Se ha entrenado a la policía y a los alguaciles para responder a su llamada, para hacer un arresto, para recaudar pruebas, y solicitar una Orden de Protección/ Preventiva para protegerla a usted.

Cuando llame a la policía debe decirles:

si la persona que la maltrata tiene alguna arma
si alguien más vio ó escuchó el maltrato
si sufrió usted lesiones personales o daños en sus propiedades.
las medidas de seguridad funcionan

Otras personas que han estado en su misma situación nos cuentan que sí puede funcionar.

Usted no puede cambiar a la persona que la maltrata pero sí puede tomar medidas para protegerse a sí misma. Esta información puede ayudarle.

Todos los días las víctimas del maltrato intrafamiliar toman medidas que son el comienzo de acabar con la violencia en sus vidas.

Puede que requiera más de un ensayo, más de dos o tres, pero sí ocurre.

Usted misma lo hará ocurrir.

RCASA’s Sunday Book Review: The Gift of Fear

In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 21, 2010 at 8:45 am

The Gift of Fear is a book on violence — how to recognize it, how to predict it, how to avoid it, and how to cope with it if avoiding it doesn’t work. Its author, Gavin de Becker, is considered one of the greatest living experts on violence, and runs a personal security firm with clients ranging from battered women’s shelters to Hollywood stars to the U.S. Secret Service. He learned about violence early on — living in a violent home with a mentally ill, heroin-addicted mother and a series of battering stepfathers. de Becker spent much of his childhood dodging bullets, hiding, and trying to protect his younger sister. He knows what he’s talking about.

 The various forms of violence common in western society and, to some extent, human societies as a whole, include:

  •  Acts of physical violence, such as murder, assault, battery, rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and the like — in all its forms.
  •  Acts of mental and emotional violence, such as threats of physical violence, stalking, harassment, patterns of insulting and degrading comments to spouses, family members, and close associates, refusal to recognize boundaries and privacy, etc.

This book discusses how to live in a violent society, protect yourself and those you love, and not be dragged under by the violence around you. de Becker gives clear, simple explanations of what to look for in a person’s behavior or a situation — how to predict whether an individual is just blowing off steam or is likely to act violently. de Becker provides practical, helpful advice on how to handle different kinds of potentially-violent situations. These situations range from a woman dealing with an overly friendly stranger who makes her feel creepy, to a battered spouse, to someone being stalked by a mentally-ill person.

By giving his readers clearly stated, accurate information on how to assess the danger posed by violent or potentially violent individuals, de Becker demystifies violence. This gives his readers the tools they need to understand and learn from their own fear, and therefore not be obsessed with it or paralyzed by it.

First and foremost, de Becker respects instinct, and tells you why in clear, specific, and convincing language.

Second, de Becker explains what boundaries are, and how to deal with someone who insists on violating them.

  • Forced Teaming. This is when a person tries to pretend that he has something in common with a person and that they are in the same predicament when that isn’t really true.
  • Charm and Niceness. This is being polite and friendly to a person in order to manipulate him or her.
  • Too many details. If a person is lying they will add excessive details to make themselves sound more credible.
  • Typecasting. An insult to get a person who would otherwise ignore one to talk to one.
  • Loan Sharking. Giving unsolicited help and expecting favors in return.
  • The Unsolicited Promise. A promise to leave someone alone when none was asked for, this usually means they won’t leave the person alone.
  • Discounting the Word “No”. Refusing to accept rejection.

Each of these techniques is a means of manipulating someone into dropping their defenses and handing control over to the other person.

In addition to predicting a violent incident by observing the perpetrator before it happens, de Becker gives the all-important cues to listen for when you are actually in the situation, including: 

  • A nagging or suspicious feeling– most of the time, women in particular will have an intuitive sense that something is wrong. Listen to this instinct!!! It will save your life.
  • Anxiety, particularly unexplained anxiety. The woman who sits on a bus next to a killer who strikes up a conversation, and who is suddenly anxious that the bus is going to crash is being alerted by her body to get away from the killer.
  • Humor, particularly dark humor, is an interesting one, because we often use humor to defuse a volatile situation, but people also often laugh at inappropriate moments because our laugh reflex kicks in when we don’t know what else to do.

De Becker has an entire list of these, but they boil down to the same message. When your mind and body genuinely tell you to fear, you should listen to them. 

Over and over throughout the book, de Becker stresses that, by paying attention to verbal and behavioral clues an individual gives off, you can predict whether or not a person or situation will turn violent. He uses examples from his own personal life, from the studies his protective services company has conducted, and from nationwide studies. Time and again, he demonstrates that the guy who “kept to himself, no one could predict” was clearly a simmering time bomb waiting to go off, usually with weeks of predictors for violent behavior preceding whatever horrific tragedy this quiet loner enacted.

He also provides a list of predictors, kind of the basic tools for survival, 

  • a history of violence in childhood (as the victim), violent incidents leading up to the crime, verbal or written threats and statements of intention (“I’m going to kill you”– not uncommon as a threat),
  • a fascination with weapons. De Becker points out that no crime happens without someone thinking to themselves that they want to do it, and that they can do it. The thought is there. Then the words come– the threat of violence is a sure predictor, and the one we are most likely to ignore. Finding a means in the weapon, or simply taking advantage of the weapon of opportunity.
  • Finally, there are usually violent incidents leading up to the big crime– practice, in a way– the murderer is testing his own limits.

This isn’t just for serial killers– de Becker points out that these predictors are common in spousal abuse cases, child abuse, school and workplace shootings, fatal robberies, rapes, and public assassinations.

The central message of de Becker’s ‘Gift of Fear’, is that in just about every case of seemingly ‘random’ extreme violence, whether it be attack from a co-worker or a spouse, the violence could have been predicted hours, days, months and even years in advance.

Violence is predictable, says de Becker, when we learn to trust the fear instinct and read the signals of incipient aggression. Fear is not the same as anxiety or neurosis. It is an instinct of the mind, not a distortion, and de Becker claims you can develop your instinct for fear. Although the book is heavily weighted towards American culture, the themes of dangerous obsession and violence are universal and timeless.  

de Becker says victims of violent behavior have often felt a sense of fear before any threat of or actual violence even took place. They may distrust the fear or rationalize it away, or it may get them to take action to avoid harm and save their own and other people’s lives.  A person may ‘explode’, but the fuse is lit long before actual harm occurs. This is especially so for those who murder.

The Gift of Fear is full of case histories of stalkers who turned violent and co-workers who went berserk. He convincingly highlights how these tragedies could have been averted had the signs (which clearly were there) been picked up and then acted upon.

The book also explains how to identify warning signs of potential attack. There are strategies for dealing with those may become violent.

De Becker says: “People don’t just ‘snap’ and become violent. There is a process as observable, and often as predictable, as water coming to a boil.” Gaining the knowledge to predict violence is the best way, of course, of preventing and avoiding it.

According to De Becker, the biggest mistake made by most people who are in danger of injury from others is to disregard their instincts. Victims who survive attacks usually say they sensed something was wrong when they encountered their attacker. The attacker usually sends subtle behavioral clues indicating an aggressive situation. The victim usually notices the clues on a subconscious level, and gets an uneasy feeling. But we have been taught to “be polite” and to “give other people the benefit of the doubt,” so we disregard the warning. This can be fatal! Trust your gut!

The Gift of Fear is a real page-turner full of thought provoking and potentially life-saving information. It’s worth the read.


In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 20, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Please help! Show your support! Promote the message to not decimate services to victims of sexual and domestic violence and their children and other safety net services.

SEE ACTION STEPS 1 and 2 below.

In addition to the cuts for domestic violence, other services such as Thurman Brisben, Hope House, free lunch programs, K-12, disabilities, health insurance for children, child abuse services, forensic nurse examiners, are all about to be chopped drastically by recommendation from Governor McDonnell. Cuts in general funds results in cuts in Criminal Injuries Compensation Funds. This results in fewer services and less access to qualified mental health providers for victims of all violence.

Severe cuts to state domestic violence programs will end services to thousands of Virginians whose lives depend on the shelter and services these programs provide. Governor McDonnell asked the General Assembly to cut more than $3.5 million in funding[1] that supports domestic violence shelters and services to victims and their children across the Commonwealth. These cuts would be in addition to across the board cuts of 10% proposed in the Governor Kaine’s introduced budget. If adopted, Governor McDonnell’s recommendations will bring the total cuts to 50% of state funding – which translates to an average cut of $100,000 for each community Domestic Violence Program across the Commonwealth.

How funds will affect our local domestic violence services: Potential results at RCDV: no court advocacy (about 500 victims per year), no children’s services (167 children would lose support group and attention at the shelter to help them enroll in school, safety plan, and be assessed for child abuse), no support group services (over 175 women not served), lack of 24 hour support at the RCDV shelter which would require closing some of the beds at the shelter- less families sheltered with no place to go.

2009 Virginia survey results for victims sheltered: When asked “What would you have done if the shelter had not existed?”

• 22% of service recipients surveyed[2] indicated that they would have been homeless

• 21% reported that they would have been compelled to return to their abusers

• 10% believed that they would be dead at the hands of their abuser.

1. Call Governor McDonnell (804-786-2211) and ask him to continue his commitment to domestic violence as a public safety priority and restore the $3.8 million in funding cuts to domestic violence programs.

2. Call state Senators and Delegates who serve our agency’s service area (include your Senator and Delegate and those that serve all of RCDV’s service area, see attached for the list if you have time). (With the same message- do not vote to accept the Governor’s recommended cuts)

To determine who your legislators are go to: http://conview.state.va.us/whosmy.nsf/main?openform.

For Senator Capitol office phone numbers: http://sov.state.va.us/SenatorDB.nsf/$$Viewtemplate+for+WMembershipHome?

OpenForm For Delegate Capitol office phone numbers: http://dela.state.va.us/dela/MemBios.nsf/MWebsiteTL?OpenView

3. Write letters to the editor and op-eds. Post information on your Facebook page. Blog about the impact these cuts will have on victims in our community. Tweet action alerts.

Also, in an email from Senator Houck, he includes the results of a survey sent to his constituents- this may help you state how you would like to see the State lawmakers handle the situation (here is an excerpt from that email):

Below are the results of the survey, which focused on closing the $4 billion shortfall in the budget. 572 individuals responded.

QUESTIONS: 1. How do you close the shortfall?

TOTAL PERCENTAGE Spending reductions 149 26% Tax Increases 88 15% A combination of both 257 45%

2. What cuts do you support? Public Education 80 14% Sheriff Departments 90 16% Local Police departments 96 17% Medicaid funding 102 18% Higher education 244 43% 3.

What spending increases do you support? Delay car tax reimbursement 283 49% One percent income tax increase 248 43% Sell ABC stores 318 56%

If you have any further comments or questions, please do not hesitate to telephone at (804) 698-7517 or via e-mail at district17@senate.virginia.gov.

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