Archive for October, 2010|Monthly archive page

RCASA Sunday with Case Management.

In Sexual Assault Awareness on October 31, 2010 at 8:00 am

Hello and welcome to RCASA’s Case Management Sundays!  The purpose of this blog is  to explore how community resources and  current events  impact victims of sexual violence.    We will look at whether community cohesion or lack of cohesion impacts the victim and to what degree.  We will also explore how high-profile cases and current events impact these victims.  Each week we will look at questions such as,  how are homeless victims affected?  What resources are available to someone who doesn’t have stable living conditions or regular support?  Does this impact how the police work with these victims?  What about mental health resources?  As a Case Manager and Court Advocate, it is my responsiblity to advocate and empower the victim as they move through the court process.  It is critical that someone  help connect the dots within the community as they move through the trauma they are experiencing. Each Sunday this blog will explore  different layers of the process by which that connection happens.

See you next Sunday.

Tuesday’s with Prevention: Bystander Intervention

In Prevention on October 30, 2010 at 7:45 am

Recently a woman was physically assaulted because she is Transgender. Video of the assault showed up on youtube (of course). An article about the assault can be found at http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/bs-md-mcdonalds-beating-20110423,0,3336656.story

Sadly, this is unremarkable. Attacks against transgender individuals are common, far more common than we even know because of the barriers they face when it comes to reporting. Viewers of the video note that nobody did much to prevent/stop this assault from occurring. There was an employee who stood in front of the victim. However, he did a very poor job and can be seen allowing the two girls to kick and punch the victim repeatedly. An older woman tried to help but became the target of the girls as a result. You can also hear other employees laughing and the person taking the video, when one of the blow’s to the victims head causes her to suffer a seizure, advises the attackers to leave and that the cops are coming.

There are three types of people involved in an assault.  The first two are obvious, the perpetrator and the victim.  The third is the bystander.  This person(s) plays an important role in the way the perpetrator responds and how he or she treats the victim.  The bystander can either support the perpetrator or the victim.  Unfortunately, sometimes bystanders are afraid and don’t wish to get involved, so they do nothing.  Research shows that an individual is less likely to intervene if there are other bystanders present. In emergency situations, many things prohibit bystanders from intervening:

  • If no one else is acting, it is hard to go against the crowd.
  • People may feel that they are risking embarrassment.
    (What if I’m wrong and they don’t need help?)
  • They may think there is someone else in the group more qualified to help.
  • They may think that the situation does not call for help since no one else is
    doing anything.

Are you a good or poor bystander?  Your actions can make a difference in someone’s life. In some cases, sexual assault can be prevented when people take responsibility for each other and get involved when someone is at risk. When you see someone who looks like they could use assistance do you respond in a helpful or hurtful way? You don’t have to confront the perpetrator if you are concerned that you may be in danger.  You may ask the victim to come and join you and your friends.  You may report the situation to an adult or the police.  Or, if you are willing and able, let the perpetrator know in a non-threatening manner that what is being done is unacceptable and it should stop.  If someone doesn’t recognize trouble, do something to intervene and prevent the situation from becoming worse. We all have a responsibility to look out for each other.

Some Bystander Strategies are*:

“I” statements

  • Three parts: 1. State your feelings, 2. Name the behavior, 3. State how you want the person to respond. This focuses on your feelings rather than criticizing the other person.
  • Example: “I feel           when you               . Please don’t do that anymore.”


  • Reduces the tension of an intervention and makes it easier for the person to hear you.
  • Do not undermine what you say with too much humor. Funny doesn’t mean unimportant.


  • Snaps someone out of their “sexist comfort zone.”
  • Example: Ask a man harassing a woman on the street for directions or the time.
  • Allows a potential target to move away and/or to have other friends intervene.
  • Example: Spill your drink on the person or interrupt and start a conversation with the person.

Group Intervention 

  • There is safety and power in numbers. It is much easier to avoid/ignore one person but difficult when it is several people.
  • Best used with someone who has a clear pattern of inappropriate behavior where many examples can be presented as evidence of his problem.

Bring it Home

  • Prevents someone from distancing himself from the impact of his actions.
  • Example: “I hope no one ever talks about you like that.”
  • Prevents someone from dehumanizing his targets.
  • Example: What if someone said your girlfriend deserved to be raped or called your mother a whore?”

We’re friends, right….?

  • Reframes the intervention as caring and non-critical.
  • Example: “Hey Chad…..as your friend I’ve gotta tell you that getting a girl drunk to have sex with her isn’t cool, and could get you in a lot of trouble. Don’t do it.”

When a situation makes us uncomfortable, we may try and dismiss it as not being a problem; “I’m just overreacting.” When in doubt, trust your gut! You have the responsibility to intervene. When you fail to act, you condone the bad behavior.

Bystander Intervention is a successful strategy because it discourages victim blaming behavior which contributes to the perpetration of violence and the silence of its victims. It also changes social norms, attitudes and behaviors that contribute to the occurrence and acceptance of violence. Interviews with convicted rapists reveal behaviors that began in early childhood that went unquestioned. While it is not accurate to say that bystander intervention would’ve prevented all of the crimes these men committed, it is likely that their behavior would have set off red flags and intervention could have occurred, thus reducing the likelihood of future offenses.

*adapted from Virginia Tech’s ‘Stop Abuse’ page http://www.stopabuse.vt.edu/bystander.php#strategies

RCASA’s Friday Facts:Chemical Castration of Sex Offenders

In Friday Facts, Sexual Assault Awareness on October 29, 2010 at 8:00 am

The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of RCASA.

Chemical Castration: The Benefits and Disadvantages Intrinsic to Injecting Male Pedophiliacs with Depo-Provera

Katherine Amlin

Child molestation is a serious problem in the United States. The legal system is lenient with pedophiles, punishing them with insufficiently brief prison sentences that are further abbreviated by the option of parole. Some child molesters are released back into society after serving as little as one fourth of their prison-time (1). Recidivism is extremely high among child molesters; 75% are convicted more than once for sexually abusing young people (6). Pedophiles commit sexual assault for a variety of reasons. Some rape children because of similar instances of abuse in their own childhoods (1). Some view the act of molestation as a way to gain power over another individual (1). Some pedophiles act purely on sexual desires. No matter what causes these heinous criminals to molest children, their crimes are inexcusable. Unfortunately, utilizing prison as a punishment for child molestation creates only a Band-Aid solution for the issue of sexual assault and other resolutions need to be investigated.

Alternative options for the punishment of male pedophiles are being explored in the status quo. Scientists have observed the link between testosterone and aggression and concluded that high levels of testosterone correspond with increased violent and aggressive behavior in men (5). “It is the reason that stallions are high strung and impossible to train, the reason male dogs become vicious and start to bite people. It’s why boys take chances and chase girls, why they drive too fast and deliberately start fights. In violent criminals, these tendencies are exaggerated and carried to extremes” (8). In an effort to stop male pedophiles, male child molesters have the option of being chemically castrated in some states. “Chemical castration is a term used to describe treatment with a drug called Depo-Provera that, when given to men, acts on the brain to inhibit hormones that stimulate the testicles to produce testosterone” (2). Depo-Provera is a common birth control pill that containing a synthetic version of the female hormone progesterone. Advocates of chemical castration hope that injections of Depo-Provera will prevent men from molesting children.

However, some experts argue that Depo-Provera is ineffective and will not prevent molestation. Forced castration may have the adverse affect of angering a criminal, increasing his violent tendencies and lead to additional sexual abuse (2). Additionally, Depo-Provera is reversible. Therefore, unless injections are mandatory and monitored, pedophiles will not be “cured” by the drug therapy. The child molester will have renewed sexual fantasies and high levels of testosterone if the injections are discontinued (7). Joseph Frank Smith, a convicted child molester, became an advocate for chemical castration after undergoing the therapy in the 1980s. Smith stopped using the injections in 1989. In 1999, he was convicted for molesting a five-year old girl and immediately returned to prison (3). Depo-Provera also has caused side effects in some men “including depression, fatigue, diabetes, [and] blood clots” (2). Chemical castration may cause some detrimental effects in child molesters.

Regardless, Depo-Provera has been proven to inhibit the abilities of pedophilias to assault children. The progesterone in Depo-Provera counteracts the biological tendencies that lead men to rape children (4). By lowering testosterone, Depo-Provera reduces sex drive (6). Males can have sexual intercourse (7) but do not want to. Depo-Provera also decreases aggressive tendencies by reducing testosterone. “[T]he castrated criminal would be more docile and have a better opportunity to be rehabilitated, educated, and to become a worthwhile citizen” (1). Castration removes the biological and chemical tendencies that are intrinsically linked to the desire to rape in males.

Depo-Provera also reduces recidivism rates. When used as a mandatory condition of parole (6), chemical castration decreases the occurrence of repeat offenses from 75% (6) to 2% (1). Prison is less desirable because it serves no rehabilitative purpose for sexual offenders. Pedophiles who spend time festering in a prison cell are given extensive downtime to concoct new sordid sexual fantasies involving children. These horrific visions are translated into terrifying realities once the criminal comes back into contact with children following his inevitable release from prison (1). Prison simply produces sneakier criminals. Pedophiles do not want to be incarcerated again so they think of new ways to rape children that will avoid detection and future detention (6). Prison increases aggressive tendencies in male pedophiles while chemical castration addresses the root causes of sexual assault and decreases further sexual deviance.

Although chemical castration is not the perfect solution to inhibit child molestation, it discourages sexual assault better than incarceration. Injections of Depo-Provera decrease the aggressive tendencies that lead to rape in males. Castration also discourages sexual fantasies and eradicates sexual obsessions. Pedophiles are reduced to apathetic pacifists. Regulated chemical castration should be encouraged as an alternative to prison for male child molesters in order to stop recidivism and decrease instances of sexual assault.


1) Castration Works, an article by Susan Feinstein for 212.net regarding the implications of chemical castration on pedophiles.

2) Chemical Castration Law May Backfire, Experts Warn, an article off the ACLU Newswire from September 18, 1996.

3) Convict Who Had Chemical Castration Gets 40 Years For New Sexual Attack, the Roswell Daily Record Online, February 4, 1999.

4) Is Chemical Castration an Acceptable Punishment For Male Sex Offenders, by LaLaurine Hayes for the online database “Sex Crimes, Punishment and Therapy” constructed by students in a Psychology course at California State University Northridge.

5) High Testosterone Levels Linked to Crimes of Sex, Violence, Volume 1 No. 3, 1995, pg. 2.

6) Repeat Sexual Offenders Must Face Chemical Castration, an article
prepared by Crystal Hutchinson, a student at Monroe Community College in New
York State.

7) Chemical Castration: A Strange Cure for Rape, from the Kudzu Monthly, an e-zine popular among the
Southern States.

8)Dr. Robert Girard, in a scientific study on factors that contribute to criminal conduct, in an article by Susan Feinstein chronicling the effects of chemical castration as posted on 212.net.

Join RCASA for a riveting one-act drama at Colonial Forge High School – Tonight

In Sexual Assault Awareness on October 28, 2010 at 1:51 pm

On October 28th at 7 pm, join us for the riveting one-act drama I Dream Before I Take the Stand by Arlene Hutton.  A defense lawyer cross examines a woman during her testimony in a sexual assault case. This drama has mature elements and themes-parents should use discretion for students under 13.

The playwright Arlene Hutton has said that her play is about every woman’s fear of being raped and being blamed for it. The character of “She” is imagining what will take place the next day in the courtroom when she is interrogated by the defense attorney. So it is a dream play, or rather a nightmare. In an actual courtroom the lawyer would not be able to ask some of the questions he does. Hutton gets around this by making it surreal. The lawyer verbally rapes the woman and the play ends as it begins, the cycle starting over, the feeling of being raped never ending. The play is dedicated to “every woman who ever walked in a park.”

Colonial Forge High School, 550 Courthouse Road, Stafford, VA 22554

Admission will be $5, and a donation will be made to The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault.

RCASA Therapy Thursday: Supporting Survivors of Sexual Violence

In Therapy, Trauma on October 28, 2010 at 11:12 am

Many people are unsure of what to do when they learn that a friend or family member is a survivor of  recent sexual violence.  There are many questions and feelings that might arise.  The most important things to remember are:

1.  Listen

2.  Believe them

3.  Do not pass your own personal judgements or values onto them

4.  Remind them that you are there to support them

5.  Help them go over options of how to proceed

6.  Encouarge them to talk to an advocate and then a therapist

The sooner an individual receives help and support after trauma, the more quickly the healing process can begin for them.  It is helpful to encourage survivors to call their local sexual assault crisis hotline as the victim advocates have been trained in specifics related to sexual assault cases.

It is also important to remember that secondary survivors can experience vicarious trauma as well so it is essential to remember to invest in your own self-care as well.

RCASA’s Wednesday: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Tonight!

In Sexual Assault Awareness on October 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

Join RCASA and the UMW Student Anti Violence Educators for a showing of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A Panel Discussion will follow the film addressing:

  • Generational Sexual Abuse in families
  • What we can do as a global community to reduce cases of rape/sexual violence
  • Abuse of individuals dependent of the system
  • Mental Health: How to help victims

UMW Dodd Auditorium, Wednesday October 27, 2010. Doors Open at 5:30.

Based on the first of the popular Millennium trilogy books by Swedish author Stieg about a journalist and a young female hacker. The native title (Män som hatar kvinnor) is Swedish for ‘men who hate women’. It’s a challenging and complex film which requires a depth of intelligence from its viewers to keep up. Before he turned to fiction, the author was a crusading journalist, and the novel incorporates two themes important to Larsson: Nazism and violence against women. Three movie adaptations have been made of the books so far. “The Girl  with the Dragon Tattoo,” the first in the series, opened earlier this year in Europe. According to Music Box Films, the company behind the movies, the Swedish-language film has grossed more than $100 million so far, with English-speaking territories still to come.

The films female protagonist represents a popular-culture convention of individuality, whose gender construction clashes with standards of government authorized gender equality, mandated implementation of paternity leaves, and what are popularly perceived today as politically correct but pedestrian feminist discussions of equal pay for equal work. The character is construed in stark relief to both sexual and social normality. The narrative strategy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo depends on a direct use of corporate structures, which replace character psychology and setting specificity by turning a metaphorical and implicitly global register of entrepreneurship, finance, and economics into predominant vehicles of storytelling. This interest in corporate structures reflects obliquely on the novel’s commercial success but also masks and suppresses the significance of the ethically most jarring egregious crimes of the story: the cover up and depreciation of violence against, and murder of, women.

Hugh Hart of SFGate.com writes a stunning review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo replete with quotes from Director, Niels Arden Oplev about making this film for women and their reaction to the violence against women that is central to the movie’s plot.To learn more about the book, film, and to find a theater near you, visit: www.dragontattoofilm.com.

The film illustrates the real life effects of sexual violence on victims and survivors, emphasizing the importance of getting help. Portrayals of sexual violence in film have the potential to trigger strong memories and emotions for those who have been personally affected by sexual violence. RCASA Advocates will be available for crisis intervention during and after the event. Download flyer here.

Virginia Has a Plan for Primary Prevention of Intimate Partner Violence

In Prevention on October 26, 2010 at 8:14 am

Our statewide sexual and domestic violence agency: The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (VSDVAA) with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented a project on domestic violence prevention back in 2003.  This program continues and will continue past 2009.  This project, the Domestic Violence Prevention Enhancement and Leadership Through Alliances (DELTA) major role was to develop the Virginia Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Plan.  The overall goal was to create evidenced-based strategies that prevent first-time perpetration of intimate partner violence.  Goals were developed for the next 8 – 10 years with achievement by 2014.

Goal 1:  Increase the number and diversity of communities in Virginia that engage in effective programs to promote healthy relationships. This goal is to increase funding to $500,000 a year, located 50% of the projects in historically oppressed communities and increase the capacity of local communities to engage in the promotion of healthy relationships.

Goal 2: Increase the VSDVAA members commitment to achieving economic equality in Virginia. This goal will achieve the salaries of all staff to a living wage with family leave and health care benefits for partners and dependents, increase member agencies to be able to provide the same, and increase organizational commitment to address racism by 25 percent.

Goal 3:  Increase the capacity of young adults to effectively identify and respond to behaviors that may be precursors to IPV. 75% of students surveyed on 3 diverse college campuses and 75% of high school students, after the Red Flag Campaign, will demonstrate that they are more likely to intervene in behaviors that are potential precursors to intimate partner violence.

Goal 4: Increase the resources available to professionals who serve youth for building healthy relationship skills and positive racial identity for African-American youth in pre-K through elementary school. This goal is to develop a partnership with key leaders from the African-American community and develop five new tools for modeling healthy relationships; promoting media literacy related to gender, race, and violence; teaching skills for engaging in healthy relationships; providing lessons that promote positive racial identity for pre-K through elementary-school-aged African-American children.

Goal 5: Increase our understanding of perpetration of intimate partner violence. This goal is to partner with Va. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and law enforcement leaders to structure a set of qualitative data, specific to perpetration of Intimate Partner Violence that could be consistently collected in IPV homicide investigation and through surveillance.

This report has been originally published by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance.  You can request a full report by emailing info@vsdvalliance.org

Qué es lo que debo hacer despúes de un asalto sexual?

In Advocacy, Awareness Campaigns, Case Management, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Legal Advocacy, Medical Accompaniment, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness, Systems Advocacy, Therapy on October 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

Qué es lo que debo hacer despúes de un asalto sexual?

RCASA Sundays with Case Management: Halloween Safety for Kids

In Sexual Assault Awareness on October 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

Trick or Treats….Candies and Sweets…

Parents just  a few reminders on keeping kids safe this upcoming weekend.

First  of all websites such as http://www.familywatchdog.us/ and http://sex-offender.vsp.virginia.gov/sor/ are good to preview prior to making you trick or treat runs.

I collected the follow information for the following  website http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art27863.asp to share with you.

Halloween Safety and Offender Laws
Many states, like Illinois and Missouri have strict laws regarding what registered sex offenders can and cannot do on certain days of the year like October 31, when high volumes of children will be running around neighborhoods due to the holiday like Halloween. Most laws prohibit Registered Sex Offenders from passing out candy or having any contact with children on Halloween.

In fact, the law in many places requires sex offenders to stay inside their home on Halloween, inside the house, with the door locked, and their porch light turned off. In most neighborhoods and communities if a homeowner turns off the porch light, it is an indication to all the little ghosts, ghastly ghouls, and flying witches scurrying through the darkness that this house is not participating in any Halloween activities this year.

Parents should remember that these laws are only set up to work in the situation of a convicted and registered sex offenders. There are unknown amount of offenders that either refuse to register or move and simply forget to register. In addition, many sex offenders are never caught or convicted in the first place.

If a sex offender has his or her porch light on and appears to be passing out candy, the parent should contact local authorities with the address. Authorities will be making door-to-door visits on Halloween checking individually on sex offenders, making sure the offender is actually home, and that the offender is not passing out candy or having any contact with children.

Parents can check local sheriff department websites and the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Registry. Two other free programs to help monitor sex offenders in local communities are Family Watchdog and Many people will print out a map or list of the sex offender homes and addresses in their immediate neighborhood. Also, be sure to educate any older children who walk to school or to a bus stop about local sex offender homes. Being educated and prepared in a situation is often the best policy. Help your child understand that if there is an emergency he or she should try to go to any other home in the area first before knocking on a sex offender’s door.

Finally, be sure to go over the rules of Halloween safety before children leave to go out for trick or treating.

Travel in groups, or with a grown-up, there is safety in numbers.

Do not eat any candy until inspected for tampering by a parent.

If unsure of the quality or safety of an item, throw it out.

Walk in well-lit areas, with a flashlight so you are visible to drivers.

Be careful around candles most costumes are flammable.

Never go into anyone’s home without first getting parent’s permission.

Remember adults should never ask kids for help, only other adults. 

Also, parents be aware of people trying to take pictures of kids.  That happened to us last year…a lady in the neighbor whom I did not know took it upon herself to try to take my 3 years picture…Lady, I am sorry, I don’t know you and you DO NOT have permission to take pictures of my children!  At any rate…keep a close watch on your little ones and have a Happy and Safe Halloween!!!!!


RCASA Saturday Prevention: Sexting

In Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on October 23, 2010 at 7:00 am

Thanks in part to high profile child pornography cases, and recently Brett Favre, sexting has become a part of the way the we express our sexuality, young and old(er) alike. Sexting refers to the act of sending messages and/or images via text messaging. Posting pictures and/or messages over the internet can be considered sexting as well. A recent study found that 20 percent of teens (ages 13-19), 22 percent of girls and 18 percent of boys, has sent nude or semi-nude images of themselves or posted them online.[i] Another study reported that 1 in 6 teens (ages of 12 and 17) have received nude or nearly nude pictures via text message from someone they know.[ii] Teens are not the only ones ‘sexting’ either, adults are sexting as well.

Virginia has seen its share of sexting cases in the past few years. Last year two boys, ages 15 and 18, in Spotsylvania County were charged with possession of child pornography. The boys had pictures of three girls, ages 12, 13, and 16.[iii] Five teens have recently been charged in Rocky Mount, VA under child pornography charges as well. Possession and/or distribution of child pornography is a felony in the state of Virginia.

Teens may ‘sext’ with their partner and that message(s) may be private until the relationship is ended, then the picture(s) me be spread to friends or over the internet. Some may be blackmailed or otherwise intimidated into cooperating.[iv] They may also send pictures as a way of flirting. As we have seen with Favre, sexting can also be a form of harassment. Sex is often viewed as a method to obtain partners, or keep them, to attain status (more for boys than girls), and so, teens may feel (or be pressured) that participating is the way to be loved and feel attractive.

Having your private images spread to friends, throughout your school, and/or over the internet can be just as devastating as being assaulted. It is a clear violation of one’s bodily integrity. The victim may have consented to the picture being sent to their partner, but they didn’t intend for it to be spread around school. Jesse Logan, a teen, in Ohio committed suicide after a ‘sext’ she sent to her boyfriend was forwarded around her school after the two broke up. Logan was repeatedly harassed and called a ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ by other teens at her school because of the pictures.[v]

How do we prevent ‘sexting’?

We talk about it.

Talk to your kids about ‘sexting;’

  • the Dangers (someone else could see it, how quickly images can spread);
  • the Law (it may be considered child pornography and thus illegal);
  • Healthy sexuality (consent, coercion, trust);
  • Communication (between you and your child, and your child and his/her friends/partners).

Begin early in your child’s development building a foundation for open and honest communication with them. This will ensure, or at least make it more likely, that when there is a problem that they will feel comfortable coming to you about it. This will also aid in their other relationships (friends and partners).

I think that it is important to remember that as our society changes, in this case change is expedited via technology, that sexuality and social interaction will change as well. As a whole, we are all under virtually constant surveillance and are also bombarded with images from the moment we wake up until we go to sleep. From the security cameras in stores to 24-hour news service, from GPS to Instant Messaging on our phones, our images are no longer private. This mixed with the nature of adolescent identity forming leads to unhealthy boundaries and expectations. This is not to say that ‘sexting’ should be encouraged, but rather that when teens participate (assuming there is no coercion) that we should be understanding and not judgmental. We need to talk to our kids about healthy sexuality, when we don’t we get ‘sexting’ and assault.

In its 2004 Teens and Parents project, the Pew Internet and American Life Project, “found that 45% of teens had a cell phone. Since that time, mobile phone use has climbed steadily among teens ages 12 to 17 — to 63% in fall of 2006 and to 71% in early 2008.”

Clearly, kids are going to continue have phones and technology is going to evolve and so will the ways in which individuals interact, and thus how we can be hurt.

[iii] Coffey, C. (2009, March 12). More charges could come in sexting case. Retrieved from http://www.myfoxdc.com/dpp/news/031209_spotsylvania_sexting_case

[iv] Englander, E.K. (2010, January 18). ‘Sexting’ blackmail. Retrieved from http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/letters/articles/2010/01/18/sexting_blackmail/

[v] Celizic, M. (2009, March 6). Her teen commited suicide over ‘sexting’ . MSNBC, Retrieved from http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/29546030/

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