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RCASA’s Friday Facts: What Does Sexual Assault Cost?

In Advocacy, Friday Facts, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 18, 2010 at 8:00 am

What does sexual assault cost?

A Commentary by Cynthia Kelley, Fort Polk Army Community Service

Most rape victims are too embarrassed to report their assault to the proper agencies because they know their perpetrator and are worried about repercussions.

We see that phenomenon quite a bit in the military when dealing with clients through the Army Community Service Family Action Plan Victim Advocacy Program. Most of our victims know their offenders and the fear of being shunned or not being part of the team anymore makes them reluctant to report.

It is easier for most victims to report a sexual assault if the assailant is a stranger, somebody waiting for them in a dark corner on their way home, rather than the nice guy that everybody at work respects.

Many clients we have worked with did not want to come forward and report because they blamed themselves. “Maybe I shouldn’t have been drinking…”, “I should not have agreed to watch a movie with him without anybody else present…”, “It’s my fault for trusting him…” are statements that we hear on a regular basis.

Besides self-blame for the traumatic experience they have been through, victims of sexual assault deal with other physical and psychological problems. It is important for victims to seek help and get counseling.

The Army offers resources including victim advocates, Social Work Services counselors and chaplains, just to name a few. The problem we see is that victims that decide to deal with their trauma themselves ultimately get to a point where they cannot function anymore, whether at work or in their Families. One rape victim shared the following account of her assault …

“Rape has repercussions far beyond the physical trauma, the damaged clothing, the embarrassment. Rape damages a victim in ways seen and unseen. The physical wounds heal but the emotional trauma is forever.”

My journey into victimhood began on a warm night during my freshman year. I was an 18-year-old high school graduate enjoying my first taste of freedom and adulthood at my state college. I’d never experienced such freedom. I was raised in a large family, all brothers, guys were my friends, and I had a steady boyfriend back home.

Living in the dorm was beyond exciting — always someone to talk with, always a party and we felt safe because it was an all girl dormitory. When you’re 18, nothing bad is ever going to happen to you and your friends are your world. Well, on a beautiful fall night, one of my friends raped me. We were drinking but not enough to blot out the images that flash through my mind even today. We were laughing and watching television and somewhere between laughter and morning I was introduced to sex in the most brutal fashion imaginable.

Years later, when I finally told someone, I found myself saying over and over again, ‘I wish it had been a stranger, a stranger.’ I would have felt less guilty, less ashamed … I let my rapist into my room, offered him food and drink, shared my company and sofa and he left with my soul.

While writing this story, I was asked: “What did rape cost you?” It cost me my youth, trust, faith in my own judgment … in hindsight I can see that I reacted to my rape by self-destructing. I alienated friends and family because I couldn’t share my experience. My rape became a shield that I used to keep people at a distance. I didn’t want my parents, boyfriend and brothers to be disappointed in me and I knew if I told them they would blame me just as I blamed myself. Rapists are monsters; any idiot should be able to recognize a monster, shouldn’t they?

What did rape cost me?

It cost me college – I flunked out.

It cost me my body – I viewed it as something damaged, something dirty. I abused it for years.

It cost me love – I couldn’t let the man I love touch me and he didn’t understand, so he left. I cloaked myself in anger and despair. I careened through life going from job to job, avoiding commitments, avoiding love. Punishing myself by denying myself every dream I had ever cherished.

As I write this, I ask myself – all this trauma from just one physical act of aggression? I could detail the aggression; my rapist used his size and strength to control and hurt me. But it was more than the physical assault. It was having no control, no right to stop what was happening to me. I thought he would kill me. I didn’t tell and in doing so I protected my attacker.

Today, I’m a lot older. I found the help I needed to put my rape where it belongs. Today, if I were hurt in the same way I would not say no just to my rapist. I would be screaming it for my whole community to hear. ‘I am here – I have been hurt – it is not my fault – I do not have to cooperate and be a good victim – I will take my control back. I am finally free.’

If you have questions or need help, please contact the RCASA Hotline at: (540) 371-1666

Visual Journaling through Art

In Art therapy on June 17, 2010 at 8:24 am

I have always done journaling, starting when I was a preteen writing all my angst down.  I used a mixture of art and writing, and writing “ghost” letters to people I imagined I knew.  As I grew up and started thinking about going to art school and then art therapy, I continued my journaling and began both larger visual art journals as well as smaller combination journals of art and writing.  I have about one large journal a year or so and smaller ones as well.  I even title them at times as to how my year went. The use of imagery in journaling is like the cliche – a picture is worth a thousand words – and it also give a person an option for creative expression if they feel they can’t write.  As an art therapist I have used art journaling with many of my clients as well, to help re-engage the creative inner voice to dialogue with in therapy sessions and therapeutic growth, as a narrative tool especially with trauma victims, and to quote Katherine Williams, one of my favorite professors and former director of the art therapy program at George Washington University, “it gives you more grist for the mill”

Art journaling can be using collage in a blank book, or drawing and painting.  There is also altering already printed books and adding your piece to them.   A future post will show you more on altered book art and how to use that for communication and expression tools.

I am including a few of my images:

Trees are a frequent theme in my art journaling

I also create characters - like my Tree girl.


RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: LGBTQ2 Task Force

In Advocacy, Education, Outreach on June 16, 2010 at 8:00 am

The LGBTQ2 Task Force is a part of the membership structure of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.  The Task Force was created in November 2003 to provide outreach, training, and education to sexual assault crisis centers, domestic violence programs, and LGBTQ organizations in Virginia to better outreach and serve LGBTQ individuals who have experienced sexual and/or intimate partner violence. Task Force membership includes individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender AND allies of this community.

We believe that in order to end homophobia and heterosexism, we must also work against all forms of oppression including, but not limited to, racism, sexism, classism, ageism, and ableism.

The goals of the LGBTQ2 Task Force are (1) to increase the visibility of LGBTQ individuals who have experienced sexual and/or intimate partner violence through building collaborations with LGBTQ organizations in Virginia and (2) to provide training for domestic violence, sexual assault, and LGBTQ service providers.

In the years since its inception, the LGBTQ2 Task Force has developed and facilitated a full-day training entitled Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault in the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Questioning Community. This training provides basic information to advocates in domestic violence and sexual assault agencies, as well as to those working in LGBTQ service agencies, so that they are more prepared to outreach and serve LGBTQ individuals who have experienced sexual and/or intimate partner violence.

If you are interested in receiving on-site training from the LGBTQ2 Task Force, please contact Sherrie Goggans at Membership@vsdvalliance.org or call 804.377.0335. (E-mail is not a secure form of communication. To ensure confidentiality please call the Family Violence & Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.838.8238 (V/TTY).

The LGBTQ2 Task Force welcomes any and all new voices to join in the dynamic work of this group, but consider yourself forewarned, a Task Force meeting is not just any ordinary meeting. We laugh, we cry, and we eat really good food… The group hosts it’s three-hour meetings every other month, on Saturdays, and the meeting location alternates between Richmond and Charlottesville. Please join us; we’d love to meet you! If you are interested in participating please call 804.377.0335.

RCASA’s Tuesdays with Traci: Getting Through Hard Times

In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 15, 2010 at 8:00 am

Hard times, stressful times, are not all there is to life, but they are part of life, growth, and moving forward.

What we do with hard times, or hard energy, is our choice.

We can use the energy of hard times to work out, and work through, our issues. We can use it to fine-tune our skills and our spirituality. Or we can go through these situations suffering, storing up bitterness, and refusing to grow or change.

Hard times can motivate and mold us to bring out our best. We can use these times to move forward and upward to higher levels of living, loving, and growth.

The choice is ours. Will we let ourselves feel? Will we take a spiritual approach, including gratitude, toward the event? Will we question life and our Higher Power by asking what we’re supposed to be learning and doing? Or will we use the incident to prove old, negative beliefs? Will we say, “Nothing good ever happens to me… I’m just a victim… people can’t be trusted?”

We do not always require hard energy, or stress, to motivate us to grow and change. We do not have to create stress, seek it, or attract it. But if it’s there, we can learn to channel it into growth and use it for achieving what’s good in life.

Abuso Sexual Infantil, ASI y Virus de la Immunodeficiencia Humana, VIH

In Advocacy, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 14, 2010 at 9:00 am

¿Cuál es el efecto del abuso sexual infantil en la prevención del Virus de la Immunodeficiencia Humana, VIH?

¿Qué es el abuso sexual infantil, ASI?

El abuso sexual infantil (ASI) tiene muchas definiciones, pero en esta hoja informativa nos referimos al contacto corporal no deseado antes de los 18 años, que es la edad en que se considera que una persona puede dar su consentimiento para tener contacto sexual. El ASI es una experiencia dolorosa a muchos niveles que puede tener, posteriormente, efectos profundos y devastadores en el desarrollo psicológico, psicosocial y emocional.

Las experiencias de ASI pueden variar respecto a: duración (varios incidentes con el mismo agresor), grado de fuerza/coerción o grado de intrusión física (desde una caricia, a la penetración digital o al sexo oral, anal o vaginal intentado o consumado). La identidad del agresor/a (que podría ser un desconocido, una persona de confianza o un familiar) también puede influir en las consecuencias a largo plazo para las víctimas. Lo que distingue el ASI de la experimentación sexual exploratoria es el contacto indeseado o forzado o la clara desproporción de poder; comúnmente, se determina como agresor/a alguien que resulte por lo menos 5 años mayor que la víctima.

El número de abusos sexuales infantiles excede el número de casos reportados a las autoridades.1 Se calcula que la prevalencia del ASI en EE.UU. es del 33% entre chicas menores de 18 años y del 10% entre chicos menores de 18 años.2 Los hombres son considerablemente menos propensos a reportar un incidente de ASI que las mujeres.3

La probabilidad de que el ASI ocurra aumenta en familias que sufren mucha tensión. Los niños están en riesgo de ser abusados sexualmente en familias que padecen estrés, pobreza, violencia y consumo de alcohol o drogas y cuyos padres y parientes tienen antecedentes de ASI.

¿Afecta el riesgo de contraer el VIH?

Sí. Ya que la niñez y el comienzo de la adolescencia son etapas críticas del desarrollo sexual, social y personal, el ASI puede distorsionar la autoimagen física, mental y sexual de las víctimas. Estas distorsiones, junto con los mecanismos de defensa adoptados para compensar el trauma del ASI, pueden conducir a sus sobrevivientes a prácticas de alto riesgo en el sexo y al consumir drogas, las cuales aumentan sus probabilidades de contraer el VIH.4

Quienes han sufrido el ASI pueden sentirse sin poder respecto a su sexualidad, la comunicación sexual y la toma de decisiones en la edad adulta, pues no tuvieron la oportunidad de tomar decisiones propias sobre su sexualidad durante su niñez o adolescencia. Consecuentemente, es posible que estas personas participen en prácticas sexuales de alto riesgo, sean incapaces de rechazar a una pareja sexual agresiva y sientan menos satisfacción sexual en sus relaciones.

Los sobrevivientes del ASI pueden disociarse de sus sentimientos y tener dificultades para formar lazos afectivos y relaciones a largo plazo, por lo cual llegan a tener varias parejas sexuales, “aventuras de una sola noche” y relaciones sexuales cortas. Los adultos que perciben algún aspecto positivo de su propio ASI (por ejemplo, la atención que recibieron) pueden usar el sexo como una manera de consolarse o reconfortarse, una conducta que puede llevar a la promiscuidad y a patrones sexuales compulsivos.5

El ASI puede tener efectos diferentes en hombres y en mujeres. Las mujeres sobrevivientes del ASI pueden usar condones con menos frecuencia, ser menos eficaces para establecer el uso de condones con sus parejas sexuales, demostrar más pasividad sexual y atraer o sentirse atraída a parejas exageradamente controladoras.6 Los hombres que sobreviven al ASI pueden sentir un mayor grado de erotismo, exhibir una conducta agresiva y hostil y agredir a otros.7

Los adultos con historial de ASI pueden valerse de la disociación y de otros mecanismos para evitar los pensamientos, emociones y recuerdos negativos asociados con el abuso. Uno de los métodos más comunes de disociación es el abuso del alcohol y drogas. Un estudio de hombres y mujeres con antecedentes de alcoholismo y drogadicción encontró que el 34% fueron víctimas del ASI. En comparación con otros consumidores de alcohol o drogas que no fueron víctimas, los
sobrevivientes del ASI con problemas de alcohol o drogas tenían más probabilidades de tener sexo por dinero o drogas, de tener una pareja VIH + o de alto riesgo y de no usar condón durante el sexo.8

La revictimización sexual también puede influir en la conducta sexual de alto riesgo. Un estudio de mujeres afroamericanas y caucásicas encontró que las sobrevivientes del ASI revictimizadas ya siendo adultas tuvieron más embarazos indeseados, abortos terapéuticos, enfermedades de transmisión sexual (ETS) y prácticas sexuales de alto riesgo que quienes sólo fueron abusadas sexualmente en la niñez.9

¿Qué se está haciendo al respecto?

Existen muchos recursos para quienes sobreviven el ASI, pero escasean los programas que aumenten el bienestar psicológico y reduzcan las prácticas riesgosas relacionadas con el VIH en el sexo y en el uso de drogas. La mayoría de estos programas se enfocan en la mujer; los programas destinados a los sobrevivientes masculinos son aun más escasos.

Good-Touch/Bad-Touch es una intervención integral de prevención del abuso infantil diseñada para los niños de preescolar y kindergarten hasta los del sexto año de primaria. El programa utiliza una variedad de materiales para enseñar a los niños métodos de prevención que incluyen las reglas de la seguridad corporal, en qué consiste el abuso y qué hacer si se sienten amenazados.10

En una clínica para víctimas del ASI, el Children’s Medical Center en Dallas, TX, ofrece prevención del VIH/ETS para jovencitas víctimas del abuso sexual. Las adolescentes entre 12 y 16 años reciben una evaluación individual y educación personalizada de una consejera de VIH/ ETS especializada en las necesidades de las jóvenes. La provisión de consejería sensible y cercana al momento en que se reconoce el abuso, puede ser un buen método de educación preventiva.11

En la Universidad de Stanford, CA, una intervención de terapia grupal sobre el trauma busca reducir las conductas de riesgo del VIH y la revictimización entre mujeres adultas sobrevivientes al ASI. Los grupos se centran en los recuerdos que las sobrevivientes tienen del ASI para ver si éstos les ayudan a aumentar conductas más seguras y a reducir el estrés. Las mujeres también reciben servicios de manejo de casos.12

El Visiting Nurse Service de Nueva York ofrece servicios integrales a domicilio para familias infectadas con el VIH. Los niños de estas familias corren un alto riesgo de repetir las historias y conductas de sus padres, incluyendo la adquisición del virus, el abuso de drogas o alcohol, el abuso sexual y la enfermedad mental. El programa proporciona intervenciones realizadas en el hogar que incluyen terapia del juego, educación en salud y protección sexual, consejería familiar e individual, prevención de recaídas para los padres y concientización y prevención del uso de drogas para los hijos. Al ayudar al niño a afrontar el enojo y resentimiento que sienta hacia el padre, es menos probable que dirija ese enojo hacia sí mismo y que termine repitiendo la conducta de los padres. Para romper el ciclo del VIH y del abuso en estas familias, es fundamental apoyar a cada uno de los miembros de la familia.13

En la Universidad de California, Los Ángeles, y en la Universidad King-Drew, CA, una intervención psicoeducativa pretende incrementar las conductas sanas y disminuir las prácticas de riesgo del VIH en mujeres VIH+ con antecedentes de ASI. Las mujeres aprenden técnicas de comunicación y de resolución de problemas y vinculan sus experiencias de ASI con riesgos pasados y actuales.14

¿qué queda por hacer?

Aunque abordar el ASI parezca una tarea de enormes proporciones para muchos programas de prevención del VIH, existe una variedad de métodos utilizables para tratar el tema del ASI en adultos. Los programas pueden: incorporar preguntas sobre el abuso en la evaluación inicial de todos los clientes, hacer reevaluaciones periódicas, brindarles información básica sobre los efectos del ASI y remitirlos a programas de tratamiento de abuso de drogas y alcohol así como a servicios de salud mental. El personal de prevención del VIH necesita capacitación básica y apoyo para ayudar a sobrellevar los efectos de la consejería sobre el ASI y su prevalencia relativamente alta en ciertas poblaciones.15

El personal que probablemente tenga contacto con sobrevivientes del ASI como serían los profesionales médicos, consejeros religiosos, de pares, de abuso de drogas y de víctimas de violación, así como los policías para los delincuentes en libertad condicional, debe ser orientado de los efectos del ASI sobre las prácticas de riesgo en el sexo y en el uso de drogas. Estas personas también necesitan capacitación para reconocer los síntomas del ASI, afrontar la situación y remitir adecuadamente a los servicios de tratamiento existentes.

Los profesionales deben mirar más allá de los síntomas del ASI e indagar sobre otras experiencias que tal vez fueron problemáticas durante la niñez. Muchas veces, los sobrevivientes del ASI son obligados a sufrir otras formas de abuso y un ambiente familiar disfuncional. Un ambiente familiar problemático puede crear condiciones favorables para el abuso y dejar al sobreviviente con poco apoyo para sobrellevar la experiencia.

Preparado por Gail Wyatt PhD, Tamra Loeb PhD, Inna Rivkin PhD, Jennifer Carmona PhD, Dorothy Chin PhD, John Williams MD, Hector Myers PhD, Douglas Longshore PhD and Charlotte Sykora PhD. UCLA Women’s Health Project. Traducción: Rocky Schnaath.

September 2003. Fact Sheet #52S

¿Quién lo dice?

1. Green AH. Overview of child sexual abuse. In SJ Kaplan (ed.), Family violence: A clinical and legal guide. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Press. 1996;73-104.
2. Finkelhor D. The international epidemiology of child sexual abuse. Child Abuse & Neglect. 1994;18:409-417.
3. Roesler TA, McKenzie N. Effects of childhood trauma on psychological functioning in adults sexually abused as children. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. 1994;182:145-150.
4. Prillo KM, Freeman RC, Collier C, et al. Association between early sexual abuse and adult HIV-risky behaviors among community-recruited women. Child Abuse & Neglect. 2001;25:335-346.
5. Paul, J. Understanding childhood sexual abuse as a predictor of sexual risk-taking among men who have sex with men: The Urban Men’s Health Study. Child Abuse & Neglect. 200;125:557-584.
6. Watkins B, Bentovim A. The sexual abuse of male children and adolescents: a review of current research. Journal of Child Psychology & Psychiatry & Allied Disciplines. 1992;33:197–248.
7. Wyatt GE, Guthrie D, Notgrass CM. Differential effects of women’s child sexual abuse and subsequent revictimization. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 1992;60:167-173.
8. Morrill AC, Kasten L, Urato M et al. Abuse, addiction and depression as pathways to sexual risk in women and men with a history of substance use. Journal of Substance Abuse. 2001;13:169-184.
9. Wyatt GE, Myers HF, Williams JK, et al. Does a history of trauma contribute to HIV risk for women of color? Implications for prevention and policy. American Journal of Public Health. 2002;92:1-7.
10. Harvey P, Forehand R, Brown C, et al. The prevention of sexual abuse: Examination of the effectiveness of a program with kindergarten-age children. Behavior Therapy. 1988;19:429-435.
11. Squires J, Persaud DI, Graper JK. HIV and STD prevention counseling for adolescent girls seen in a child abuse clinic. Presented at the 14th International AIDS Conference, Barcelona, Spain. 2002. Abst # TuPeF5249.
12. Group Interventions to Prevent HIV in High Risk Women. www.med.stanford.edu/school/ Psychiatry/PSTreatLab/TraumaStudy.html
13. Mills R, Samuels KD, Bob-Semple N, et al. Breakin the cycle: multigenerational dysfunction in families affected with HIV/AIDS. Presented at the 14th International AIDS Conference, Barcelona, Spain. 2002. Abst #. ThPeE7828.
14. Wyatt GE, Myers H, Longshore D, et al. Examining the effects of trauma on HIV risk reduction: the women’s health intervention. Presented at the International Conference on AIDS, Barcelona, Spain. 2002. Abst# WePeF6853.
15. Paul JP. Coerced childhood sexual episodes and adult HIV prevention. FOCUS. 2003;18:1-4.

Special thanks to the following reviewers of this Fact Sheet: Ruth Kelley, Jay Paul, Elizabeth Radhert.


Reproducido por Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, RCASA (540) 371-1666 de la fuente informativa:



Lláme a nuestra línea de ayuda, alguien le responderá en español, o pida hablar con alguien en español.  También ofrecemos de servicios de consejería individual y de grupo, contamos con un administrador de casos legales, incluyendo acompañamiento al tribunal si lo necesita, marque al (540) 371-1666 y solicite nuestros servicios.

Poetry Review: Kathleen Wakeham “A Rape”

In Sexual Assault Awareness on June 13, 2010 at 9:00 am

Kathleen Wakeham published a small book of poetry in 1974 entitled:  These feelings of Love, Life and Loneliness, just some poems.  It’s a beautiful collection of poems about being a woman, living, loving, and feeling both a part of the world and separate from it.  One of her poems she has written about rape, an intense monologue of an experience of violence against a woman.

A Rape

Her teeth knocked out, blood strewn around

the walls reek with pain,

while the floor is covered with tearful shredded garments

His calling was a leap of risk, from roof

to window pane through her

so a torrent of senselessness gushed.

Torn through slicing lips, gouging pits

plunging at lily bed roots

whose only self is to grow, give nutrients,

be caressed by nature’s rain drops.

Smashed beauty, brass knuckles  into a fragile nose bridge

Crying, pleading, Why? Why?

But the lashing and the thrusting go on.

Only stopping after the last spill of sour creamed extermination

the stilhetto falls limp, the skull relaxes its hardened gourd.

But the blood, crying, sores, pain don’t ever seem to stop

Not stopping now or then or, it seems, ever.

Madmen and lunatics roam about

preying on the loving, the harmless

smashing glass into her vulva on a night of quietude.

Rampaging innocence, locking her mind in a padded cell

of fear, hurt, humiliation (no, you’re not a slut)

in the name of

the poor boy had a bad home and is misunderstood, forgive, understand, he’s aman and nature was only calling his natural need.

And her eyes are cloudy glass in a misty self

of voidful womanhood, talking with a tongueless mouth

and a slashed face of dazzlement — Why?  Why?

RCASA’S Friday Facts: Child Sexual Abuse

In Advocacy, Art therapy, Education, Friday Facts, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 11, 2010 at 9:00 am


Child sexual abuse has been at the center of unprecedented public attention during the last decade. All fifty states and the District of Columbia have enacted statutes identifying child sexual abuse as criminal behavior (Whitcomb, 1986). This crime encompasses different types of sexual activity, including voyeurism, sexual dialogue, fondling, touching of the genitals, vaginal, anal, or oral rape and forcing children to participate in pornography or prostitution.

Child Sexual Abusers

Perpetrators of child sexual abuse come from different age groups, genders, races and socio- economic backgrounds. Women sexually abuse children, although not as frequently as men, and juvenile perpetrators comprise as many as one-third of the offenders (Finkelhor, 1994). One common denominator is that victims frequently know and trust their abusers.

Child abusers coerce children by offering attention or gifts, manipulating or threatening their victims, using aggression or employing a combination of these tactics. “[D]ata indicate that child molesters are frequently aggressive. Of 250 child victims studied by DeFrancis, 50% experienced physical force, such as being held down, struck, or shaken violently” (Becker, 1994).

Child Sexual Abuse Victims

Studies have not found differences in the prevalence of child sexual abuse among different social classes or races. However, parental inadequacy, unavailability, conflict and a poor parent-child relationship are among the characteristics that distinguish children at risk of being sexually abused (Finkelhor, 1994). According to the Third National Incidence Study, girls are sexually abused three times more often than boys, whereas boys are more likely to die or be seriously injured from their abuse (Sedlak & Broadhurst, 1996). Both boys and girls are most vulnerable to abuse between the ages of 7 and 13 (Finkelhor, 1994).

      • Although child sexual abuse is reported almost 90,000 times a year, the numbers of unreported abuse is far greater because the children are afraid to tell anyone what has happened, and the legal procedure for validating an episode is difficult (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2004).
      • It is estimated that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will have experienced an episode of sexual abuse while younger than 18 years.  The numbers of boys affected may be falsely low because of reporting techniques (Botash, Ann, MD, Pediatric Annual, May, 1997).
      • Sixty-seven percent of all victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies were juveniles (under the age of 18); 34% of all victims were under age 12. One of every seven victims of sexual assault reported to law enforcement agencies were under 6. Forty percent of the offenders who victimized children under age 6 were juveniles (under the age of 18). (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000).
      • Most children are abused by someone they know and trust, although boys are more likely than girls to be abused outside of the family. A study in three states found 96% of reported rape survivors under age 12 knew the attacker. Four percent of the offenders were strangers, 20 percent were fathers, 16 percent were relatives and 50% were acquaintances or friends (Advocates for Youth, 1995).

      All the above statistics were retrieved from The National Center for Victims of Crime:  http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32315

Art Therapy Thursday: Sustainable Art

In Art therapy, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 10, 2010 at 9:36 am

The expression Sustainable art has been promoted recently as an art term that can be distinguished from environmental art that is in harmony with the key principles of sustainability, which include ecology, social justice, non-violence and grassroots democracy.  Sustainable art may also be understood as art that is produced with consideration for the wider impact of the work and its reception in relationship to its environments (social, economic, biophysical, historical and cultural).  Wikipedia

The “ART PEACE SUSTAINABILITY” Event, Sponsored by the Art Therapy Alliance & International Art Therapy Organization , asks individuals to create art (reflecting the concept of art, peace, and sustainability) in response to the following questions.

Does art therapy impact peace and sustainability on the planet?
How do art, peace, and sustainability intersect?
Does the creative process of art making resolve conflicts?
Does art therapy build and sustain community?
Is art therapy a “green” practice?

Click here to view the Online Gallery of Artwork Created.

Intuit Wellness Fair

In Education, Events, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 9, 2010 at 8:00 am

This week we are headed to the Intuit Wellness Fair. That leads me to address what sexual assault has to do with wellness.

I will start with the obvious, what it has to do with unwellness.


Guilt/Shame/Blame: Sexual assault can lead to these feelings, especially if there is secrecy around it or if the body felt pleasure. There may have been manipulation or coercion involved to force the act which may be very confusing and further these feelings.

Anger: Not only may the victim be very angry at the assault or perpetrator themselves, they may also have felt like their anger had little effect and may feel that their anger was not useful or unhelpful ,hindering ability to constructively express it in the future

Trust: Learning to trust again can be a long and difficult process

Grieving/ Mourning: The loss of trust, innocence, and ability to function normally in relationships.

Low Self Esteem: May be a result of the messages sent by the abuser, or because of the negative feelings about the assault that are internalized

Setting Limits/Boundaries: When personal boundaries are invaded and given no value, it becomes hard to put importance on them

Defensive: Many defense mechanisms may be in place that may lead to anxiety, fear, aggressiveness, helplessness, suspicion, or isolation.

Emotional/Psychological Effects:

Borderline Personality Disorder: People with this disorder are 4 times more likely to have been child sexual abuse victims, in particular victims of abuse by their fathers, than women diagnosed with other psychiatric disorders.


Eating Disorders: 2 out of 3 sufferers of anorexia or bulimia are identified victims of child sexual abuse

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Substance Abuse: 70% of Female and 12% of male substance abusers in treatment reported sexual abuse

Suicide: Rape victims were 13 times more likely than non crime victims to have made a suicide attempt

Sexual Dysfunction


Abdominal Pain and Gastrointestinal Disorders: women who were abused in childhood, 46% reported abdominal pain, 36% had diarrhea, and 39% had constipation in the past 6 months

Pelvic Pain and Gynecologic Disorders:Sexual abuse has also been consistently related to greater reporting of pelvic pain, painful intercourse (dyspareunia), painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea), vaginal infection, and other gynecologic disorders

Headache: S.A. victims are twice as likely to report debilitating frequent headaches

Physical Symptoms Associated with Anxiety, Panic, or PTSD: such as shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, numbness, and weakness or faintness

Pregnancy: Not just as a result of the assault itself, victims are more likely to have teen pregnancies, more likely to have multiple sexual partners, and more likely to have unprotected sex

Sexually Transmitted Diseases


Now on to the Wellness, RCASA offers many services to help heal these lasting effects of sexual assault. We have Counseling, including art and play therapies, Groups, Studio Time, Hotline, Hospital Accompaniment, Case management and Legal Accompaniment.

To begin the healing process please call us and do an intake so we can help you through the process of healing.

  1. S. Zierler, et al. Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse and Subsequent Risk of HIV Infection. 81(5) Amercan Journal of Public Health (May 1991).Paolucci EO, Genuis ML, Violato C. A meta-analysis of the published research on the effects of child sexual abuse. J Psychol 2001;135:17–36.[Medline]
  2. Molnar BE, Buka SL, Kessler RC. Child sexual abuse and subsequent psychopathology: results from the National Comorbidity Survey. Am J Public Health 2001;91:753–60.[Abstract]
  3. Herman, Judith, Christopher Perry, and Bessel Van der Kolk. Childhood Trauma in Borderline Personality Disorder. 146(4) American Journal of Psychiatry (1989).
  4. Drossman, D.A., et al. Sexual and Physical Abuse and Gastrointestinal Illness: Review and Recommendations. 123(10) Annals of Internal Medicine (Nov. 15, 1995): 782-794.
  5. Silverman, Jay G. et al. Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality. 286 (5) Journal of the American Medical Association (2001): 572.
  6. Substance Abuse and the American Woman. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, Columbia University (June 1996).
  7. Kilpatrick D.G., C.N. Edmunds, and A. Seymour. 1992. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. Arlington, VA: National Victim Center.

Tuesdays with Traci: Owning our Power

In Advocacy, Art therapy, Education, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on June 8, 2010 at 9:29 am

We don’t have to give others so much power and ourselves so little.  We don’t have to give others so much credit and ourselves so little.  In recovery from codependency, we learn there’s a big difference between humility and discounting ourselves.

When others act irresponsibly and attempt to blame their problems on us, we no longer feel guilty.  We let them face their own consequences.  When others talk nonsense, we don’t question our own thinking.

When others try to manipulate or exploit us, we know it’s okay to feel anger and distrust and to say no to the plan.  When others tell us that we don’t want something that we really don’t want, or someone tells us that we don’t want something that we really do want, we trust ourselves.  When others tell us things we don’t believe, we know it’s okay to trust instincts.  We can even change our mind later.

We don’t have to give up our personal power to anyone:  strangers, friends, spouses, children, authority figures, or those over whom we’re in authority.  People may have things to teach us.  They may have more information than we have, and may appear more confident or forceful than we feel.  But we are equals.  Our magic is not in them.  Our magic, our light, is in us.  And it is as bright a light as theirs.

We are not second-class citizens.  By owning our power, we don’t have to become aggressive or controlling.  We don’t have to discount others.  But we don’t discount ourselves either.

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