Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Valores Sexuales

In Awareness Campaigns, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 28, 2011 at 8:00 am

Artículo extraido y modificado de:


para propósitos de prevención, educación y concientización a la comunidad.

Por cualquier más información o consulta puede llamar en español al: (540) 371-5502 Concilio Rappahannock Contra el Asalto Sexual – Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, RCASA (Fredericksburg, Virginia)

Valores de la sexualidad

Un valor sexual es una cualidad real o ideal, deseada o deseable por su bondad, cuya fuerza estimativa orienta la vida humana, desde su dimensión comunicativa y simbólica.

Así se pude afirmar que el valor sexual dinamiza el crecimiento personal. En la apropiación creativa de valores sexuales se va ensanchando el horizonte de nuestra vida como un continuo estar-dando-de-sí nuestra propia realidad personal, para bien nuestro, de quienes nos rodean y de la entera humanidad.

La estructuración –siempre pedagógica- de las categorías de valores sexuales que utilizamos para un cuestionario sobre valores sexuales de los futuros profesionales de la Educación en la Facultad de Ciencias de la Educación de Granada es la que presentamos ahora: valores sexuales corporales, intelectuales, afectivos, estéticos, individuales-liberadores, morales, sociales instrumentales e integrales.

  • Valores sexuales corporales: aquellas cualidades relacionadas con la sexualidad humana cuya fuerza o centro principal es el cuerpo como materia viva de la persona.
  • Valores sexuales intelectuales: cualidades cuya referencia central es la naturaleza racional del hombre, en cuanto contenido, proceso o resultado, en relación con la sexualidad.
  • Valores sexuales afectivos: cualidades sexuales cuyo contenido afecta a nuestras reacciones psíquicas de agrado: a los estados de emoción, sentimiento o pasión.
  • Valores sexuales estéticos: cualidades sexuales que son deseadas o deseables por su belleza en sus manifestaciones en las personas, en el arte o la naturaleza.
  • Valores sexuales individuales-liberadores: los valores sexuales individuales-liberadores son cualidades sexuales que prioritariamente refieren el aspecto singular y autónomo de la persona, así como sus consecuencias.
  • Valores sexuales morales: los valores sexuales morales se centran en la estimación ética: la bondad o maldad de las acciones sexuales en cuanto tales, atendiendo al fin o al deber.
  • Valores sexuales sociales: afectan directamente a las relaciones sexuales sociales e institucionales, en su contenido y en el procedimiento o finalidad.
  • Valores sexuales instrumentales: son aquellos que estimamos más como medios que como fines, relacionados con los beneficios que reportan en nuestro crecimiento sexual.

Valores sexuales integrales: se refieren principalmente a varias o a todas las dimensiones sexuales de la persona, mostrando percepciones más globales.

RCASA Sunday with Case Management: A Closer Look at Sexual Assault

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 27, 2011 at 8:00 am

The trauma surrounding acts of sexual assault and rape is undeniable.  Let me begin by saying no survivor is the same.  Each survivor is an individual and each will react to trauma in an individual way.  While, there are many normative behaviors associated with traumatic experience, by no means should one expect a survivors of sexual assault to act or react the same.  It is critical for those working with survivors to 1) seek deeper understanding of the trauma process and 2)  get to know the individual that has experienced the trauma. 

  It is difficult to imagine all the things that sexual assault survivors must face.   First, facing what has happened and the physical and emotional pain.  When a person has been sexual assaulted it is a violation of self.  They have had something taken from them and may experience difficulty in identify exactly what was lost (this may take years of work) , survivors will undoubtedly experiencing a grieving process and may need help walking that path.   Sometimes, individuals don’t even want to be identified as a victim or a survivor of any assault, let alone sexual assault. 

I want to point out some brief statistics from www.rainn.org :

About Victims
  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.
  • College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.
Sexual Assault Numbers
  • In 2007, there were 248,300 victims of sexual assault.
  • Every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted.
Reporting to Police
  • 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
  • Reporting has increased by 1/3 since 1993.
About Rapists
  • Approximately 73% of rape victims know their assailants.
  • Only 6% of rapists will ever spend a day in jail.

Unless you have been assaulted, have a closed loved one who has been assaulted or you have worked with victims of sexual assault; it is quite possible that you haven’t truly considered what happens to the victim and to the community when a person is sexually assaulted.   I think that many people believe that sexual assault or rape is mainly a violent act committed by violent strangers or that it is something that happens when women get too  drunk and then they get taken advantage of.  However, if you consider the types of and occasions when rape is reported, consider all the unreported acts of sexual violence and you should begin to get sick to your stomach. 

  • Consider this from www.rainn.org  1 out of every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.” 
  • Consider this research from the The National Center of Victims of Crime  “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).
  • 15% of sexual assault and rape victims are under age 12.
  • 2.78 million men in the U.S. have been victims of sexual assault or rape.

These numbers are staggering.  Those number indicate that we obviously have a bigger problem with sexual assault than many of us chose to recognize.  Sadly, so many of those victims are voice children, who are assault by family members and loved ones.  Many of them learn that they have no choice and no voice.  Sadly, they live with the pain and often go on to be victimized further and/or develop maladaptive coping skills that do not lead to proper healing. 

So what I am saying is we need to educated!  We need to work to expose perpetrators of sexual assault and violence.  We need to look at triggers and help educate and prevent BEFORE the trauma happens.  Believe me this is serious business folks.  No one thinks it is ever going to be them or anyone that they know, but based on these statistics it is very probable it IS someone who is close to you, perhaps even someone you know and love.  So go out get educated so that you can begin to make a difference.

Statistics from www.rainn.org and http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbName=DocumentViewer&DocumentID=32315

Underserved Communities: African-American Population & Intersectionality

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 26, 2011 at 9:57 am

Kimberle Crenshaw developed the theory of Intersectionality, Patricia Hill Collins and other writers popularized the theory. Intersectionality operates on the the notion that categories such as gender, race, class, ability, and other categories of identity interact on multiple levels, often simultaneously.

Sexual violence in, and against, the African-American community is a serious issue. AA victims of sexual violence experience the same psychological symptoms (duh!). However, unlike white victims, AA victims must also deal with the racism of society and how that affects their healing process, their support system, and the potential legal process. The rates of victimization, depending on where you look, are about the same as for white women, or could be higher. Most AA victims were assaulted by other AA individuals.

Expanding upon the information from yesterdays blog, the ‘Jezebel’ still exists, albeit in more subtle ways. The idea of the hypersexualized black woman still remains, and vice versa, the image of the black male rapist pervades. If black women are Jezebel’s, they cannot be raped because they are always hitting on men. The black identity is associated with sex. So, women cannot be raped, and black men are a threat (to the white male property; white women). This racism prevents black women from coming forward, and black men may be easy suspects.

Racism is a vulnerability for sexual violence. Historically, and in contemporary times. Racism is also a reason for sexual violence being underreported. Whether it is because of racism experienced from law enforcement (regardless of whether or not it is related to the assault) may prevent AA victims from coming forward. Also, AA women may not want to validate racist images of black men as insatiable rapists and possibly further increase the number of incarcerated black men. Experiences of services offered from rape crisis centers may also prevent victims from coming forward. Inability to offer emergency housing or locate employment may prevent AA victims from reporting. This negative experience may also be a result of counselors ignoring the influence of racism during therapy.

Class is an obvious issue in the AA community. As that relates to sexual violence, it creates a vulnerability for sexual violence as reporting becomes more difficult, dependency (financial) becomes more likely, and any number of other issues complicate and make more likely victimization. Research has shown an astonishingly high rate of sexual violence amongst poor AA women, 42% have been raped (Kalichman, Williams, Cherry, Belcher, & Nachimson, 1998). Another study fond that 67% of low-income welfare-dependent AA women had a history of sexual violence (Honeycutt, Marshall, & Weston, 2001).

Ability and Homophobia can also influence the risk of sexual violence. AA disAbled individuals may be at higher risk because of ableism and racism. Homophobia is still a serious issue in the AA community and may contribute to the occurrence of sexual violence (corrective rape) and its underreporting.

RCASA’s Friday Facts: A Historical Overview of Sexual Violence in the Lives of African American Women

In Friday Facts, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

“Who knows what the Black women thinks of rape? Who has asked her? Who cares?” –Alice Walker (2004)

As our society becomes more multicultural, it is imperative that our research, treatment, and intervention efforts meet the needs of women of color who have survived sexual violence.  Although this is a richly diverse population, spanning the spectrum of lifestyles and interests, education and income levels, religious background, and extent of assimilation, the unique legacy of slavery, racism, sexism, and economic oppression continues to influence the lives of contemporary Black women. As a result, a disproportionate number of African American women are young, single, impoverished, and urban dwellers. These are all demographic risk factors for criminal victimization, including rape (Catalano, 2006). Despite the level of trauma in their lives, African American women are remarkably resilient (West, 2002).

Historical Overview

In her narrative, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl , Harriet Jacobs (2001) wrote that “Slavery is terrible for men; but it is far more terrible for women” (p. 66). Embedded in her bold pronouncement was the recognition that Black women experienced a unique threat and danger in slavery—that of sexual assault. In 1619, the first ship loaded with enslaved Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia. For many women, rape was part of their initial journey. When they arrived, Black women were placed on the auction block, stripped naked, and examined to determine their reproductive capacity. Once they were sold, enslaved women often were coerced, bribed, induced, seduced, ordered, and of course, violently forced to have sexual relations with their slaveholders and overseers (Sommerville, 2005). Historians estimate that at least 58% of all enslaved women between the ages of 15 and 30 had been sexually assaulted by White men (Hine, 1989).   

When the importation of Africans was banned in 1808, the systematic sexual exploitation of Black women was used to produce a perpetual labor force. Some slaveholders paired healthy slaves, a practice known as “slave breeding,” with the goal of producing children who were suitable for heavy labor. Considered chattel property, similar to other farm animals, Black women’s children could be sold to other slaveholders, which separated families and created unimaginable grief (for an audio description of slave breeding see Berlin, Miller, & Favreau, 1998).

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 did not liberate African American women from sexual terrorism. For instance, White vigilante groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, whipped African Americans, destroyed their property, and savagely gang raped Black women (Sommerville, 2005). Sexual harassment also frequently occurred in the workplace. Well into the twentieth century, Black women were employed primarily as servants and domestic workers. Desperate to support their families, African American women were coerced into providing sexual favors to their employers (Hine, 1989).

Rape laws did not provide equal protection for all women. 3 In fact, during the 1800s some rape laws were race-specific. For example, an 1867 Kentucky law defined a rapist as one who “unlawfully and carnally know any white woman, against her will or consent” (Sommerville, 2004, p. 148). Lynching, castration, and incarceration were possible penalties for Black men who were accused or convicted of raping a White woman. In contrast, White men faced no legal sanctions for sexually assaulting Black women. Nor did the criminal legal system recognize Black-on-Black rapes. As evidence, in 1859 a Mississippi judge overturned the conviction of an older male slave for the rape of a Black girl under the age of ten. He concluded that “[t]he crime of rape does not exist in this State between African slaves…Their intercourse is promiscuous” (Roberts, 1997, p. 31). Embedded in this court decision, and embraced by the larger culture, was the myth that Black women were hypersexual. This belief, which was referred to as the “Jezebel” stereotype, was used to justify the limited social and legal support Black women received after being raped (Hine, 1989; Sommerville, 2005).     

Black women used many strategies to resist sexual victimization. They ran away, fought back, engaged in activism, and developed a culture of silence. For example, in 1835, Harriet Jacobs (2001) escaped her master’s sexual advances when she hid in her grandmother’s attic crawlspace for seven years. After she had endured five years of brutal sexual assaults, Celia, a Missouri slave, killed her master in self-defense and burned his body in a fireplace. In 1855 she was convicted of murder and hanged at the age of 19 (Sommerville, 2005). The earliest efforts to systematically confront and organize against rape began in the 1870s when African American women, most notably Ida B. Wells, organized anti-lynching campaigns. These activists challenged the deep-seated ideas about the innate promiscuity of Black women and attempted to protect African American men from false rape allegations (Sommerville, 2005). Despite the efforts of well-known activists and their anonymous sisters, many African American women preserved their emotional health and dignity by creating a “culture of secrecy” around their sexual violence (Hines, 1989).

This historical trauma is intergenerational and continues to live in the collective memories of contemporary African American women. For example, in Wyatt’s (1992) interviews with Black rape survivors, all the women in one participant’s family were told about a relative who was abducted, beaten, raped, and murdered while her family lived in the South. Even though the family moved West following the incident, retelling this story, almost as a “rite of passage” into womanhood, sent a clear message: “Rape was described as something that could happen to you just because you were Black and female” (p. 88).

To summarize, several points can be gleaned from this historical overview: (1) Throughout much of U.S. history, the rape of Black women was widespread and institutionalized through economic and labor systems. (2) Regardless of the perpetrators’ race, the legal system often failed to protect Black women from sexual violence. (3) The Jezebel stereotype, which stigmatized Black women as promiscuous, was created to justify their rape. (4) Black women developed a culture of silence and secrecy to cope with their sexual assault. (5) Black women have a long history of resilience and anti-rape activism, which includes a sense of racial loyalty that encourages them to protect Black men from an unjust legal system.

The preceding was adapted from the article Sexual Violence in the Lives of African American Women: Risk, Response, and Resilience written by Carolyn M. West, Ph.D.

Cuerpo de Mujer, Cuerpo de Victima, Cultura del Silencio

In Education, Hispanic/Latino, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness, Trauma on February 24, 2011 at 8:00 am


Cuerpo de Mujer, Cuerpo de Victima, Cultura del Silencio

 Las violaciones a mujeres,  son una realidad mundial. Tanto en los países ricos como en los pobres, pese a las diferencias culturales, religiosas y sociales las mujeres siguen consideradas frecuentemente como meros objetos.

 En épocas de guerra, en el cuerpo de la mujer se ha escenificado  el odio hacia el enemigo y las ansias de su destrucción: la violación puede ser pública, en presencia de sus familiares; a padres y familiares se les fuerza a su vez a violar a sus hijas y seres queridos. Mujeres, niñas y niños serían las victimas escogidas. Todo en un intento de anularles como personas y de perpetuar la victoria sobre la comunidad sojuzgada cargando a sus mujeres con los hijos de sus enemigos.

 La violación es el crimen de profanación por excelencia contra el cuerpo femenino, y, consecuentemente, contra toda promesa de vida del conjunto de la comunidad.

 Desde el momento en que se llama violación a una violación, todo el mecanismo de vigilancia de las mujeres se pone en marcha: y se inicia el control social: ¿y ahora que vas a hacer?, ¿quieres que se sepa lo que te ha sucedido? ¿Que todo el mundo te vea como a una mujer a la que eso le ha sucedido? Y de todos modos, ¿cómo es posible que hayas sobrevivido sin ser realmente una mujer de la calle, que no vale? Una mujer que respeta su dignidad hubiera preferido que la mataran. Entonces la  supervivencia, de haber quedado con vida, es un delito, es una prueba que habla contra la victima/sobreviviente.

 Porque lo digno dentro de la cultura machista debería ser  que la mujer quede traumatizada, que sea víctima,  y después de una violación, hay una serie de marcas visibles que deben ser respetadas: tener miedo a los hombres, a la noche, a la autonomía, que no le gusten el sexo ni las bromas. Eso se lo repiten de todas las maneras posibles: “es grave, es un crimen, los hombres que te aman, si se enteran, se van a volver locos y te rechazaran, porque no tienes nada que ofrecer”. Así que el consejo más razonable, por diferentes razones, sigue siendo “guarda eso en  secreto, en lo más privado”.

 Es el silencio la mejor opción si es que la mujer  consigue salir viva de ese infierno, de ese trauma irrecuperable. Entre las frases más comunes de los familiares durante las denuncias son de culpa: “pero viste, yo te dije, ¿para qué fuiste a ese lugar, vestida de esa manera?”, o de negación: “bueno, terminemos todo rápido, no hablemos más de esto”, o la madre que dice “justo a mí me tuvo que pasar esto”. Entonces las víctimas terminan haciéndose cargo de lo que le pasa a la familia, callando, dejando sus historias guardadas.

 Sumada a esta cultura del silencio, se añade a esta violencia de género, el hecho de ser mujeres emigrantes,  que en busca de mejores oportunidades de vida, se enfrentan  en mayor o menor grado durante el traslado, y su permanencia trabajando  en un  país desconocido, en el que enfrentan una serie de barreras de ley, idioma y vulnerabilidad por no tener redes sociales y familiares, es significativo que tales agresiones casi nunca se denuncian ante las autoridades locales, federales  según las protecciones que hay el país,  pues están acostumbradas a callar, a no denunciar, consideran que lo sucedido es parte de sus vidas.

 Las mujeres latinas inmigrantes, vienen de la cultura de la no denuncia, de países en guerra internas, con desastres naturales,  de la violencia social y la pobreza.   Cualquiera que sea su lugar de origen, durante el proceso de traslado y cruce hacia los Estados Unidos, si carecen de los documentos migratorios correspondientes, se ven obligadas a traspasar la frontera por sitios solitarios, como ríos, montañas o desiertos que las exponen a sufrir las situaciones ambientales y desorientación por desconocer esos territorios.

 Además para protegerse de la autoridad migratoria estadounidense y del clima extremo, los grupos de migrantes buscan caminos alternos que no son frecuentados y que aprovechan las bandas delictivas. Los asaltantes saben que por ciertos caminos pasará un grupo con mujeres que desconocen el camino y son su principal objetivo para cometer agresiones.

 Las mujeres migrantes enfrentan problemas adicionales relacionados con su condición de género que, por su naturaleza, no han denunciado y que también ocultan los medios de comunicación. Ante esa situación, se hace imposible que tales violaciones sean investigadas y consecuentemente, mucho menos que se adopten medidas para remediarlas.

 En el traslado a los Estados Unidos, las mujeres enfrentan acoso sexual, solicitud de favores sexuales a cambio de protección, sufren en algunos casos de violación con daño físico y emocional por parte de sus mismos compañeros de viaje, particularmente cuando viajan solas. También los llamados “polleros”  ó” coyotes” y/o las autoridades involucradas en el tránsito hostigan a las mujeres migrantes.

En muchos  casos de violaciones de “polleros”/”coyotes” o de personas ligadas con ellos. Al profundizar en el tema, las mujeres que deciden buscar ayuda, han revelado que la necesidad las hacía “prestarse” y dejarse violar para continuar con vida.

 En otros casos, tras sufrir una violación, las mujeres se avergüenzan del hecho. En esa situación de debilidad emocional, deciden cambiar su destino original  hacia los  Estados Unidos y “con ayuda del pollero”/”coyote” son trasladadas a negocios ligados a la prostitución “para trabajar”.

 El mecanismo que sigue el traficante de personas para abusar de una mujer migrante es el siguiente: seleccionan a las mujeres jóvenes, incluso a aquellas que viajan acompañadas, argumentan que les brindarán más seguridad y las conducen hacia parajes solitarios. Por la noche, un grupo de hombres que previamente le pagaron al “pollero”, las violan varios hombres en la misma noche.

 De este modo, los traficantes de personas obtienen ganancias por el cobro del cruce, por la venta de las mujeres y obtienen además una comisión si la mujer decide caer en una casa de citas.

Ser mujer migrante  implica más desventajas y riesgos en los Estados Unidos, sobre todo cuando –como en los casos de varias de las mujeres latinas – se carece de experiencia migratoria y de los documentos legales correspondientes, y se es muy joven o no se cuenta con familia confiable.

 Cuando la mujer migrante finalmente,  se atreve a romper el silencio, ya sea porque llega a un hospital, o porque  llega a una Organización sin fines de lucro, donde la reciben, para apoyarla y la orientan de manera que ella conozca que es su derecho a denunciar, que no está sola, se inicia un proceso de recuperar su voz, su cuerpo y su derecho de tener una vida con dignidad.

Leslie Moncada, Consejera Latina

Tuesday Prevention: Peer Education

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 22, 2011 at 5:42 am

One of the strategies in violence prevention efforts is utilizing ‘Peer Educators.’ Peer education groups are an effective method of violence prevention because of their ability to reach places that many advocates cannot.  These groups know their audience because they ARE the audience.

You ever push a snowball down a hill? (sure you have).

This is essentially the way that peer education groups work, or are intended to. They begin with a small group of people, most often these groups are students at universities or high schools, who receive training in health topics. Then they teach their peers. Then their peers teach their peers, and so on. Like a snowball rolling down a hill. It keeps getting bigger and bigger.

The biggest issue for peer education groups is the transient nature of them. Students make up these groups and thus at some point must graduate and leave. This presents a problem when senior members graduate and leave the organization in large numbers. Recruiting volunteers in our field is difficult. Retaining them is even harder. Burnout is common and even the most dedicated advocate needs a break sometimes (and given the nature of the work, probably should take one).

So, how do keep these groups active and minimize the (inevitable) crushing mass exodus?

1. Recruit young.

  • For high schools and universities, this means Freshmen. Find a way to present your organization in mandatory freshmen orientation programming. Get into 101 classes. Talk about the fun things your organization does. How it is a great way to meet people. How good it looks on a resume and grad school applications.

2. Start early

  • The best way to get members active is to get them active early in the year/semester. Begin with activities that are fun and simple and approachable. Start with an event/activity that is less about your organizations message and more about meeting people and having fun. When it becomes a part of their day/week planning, they’ll come to meetings and volunteer.

3. Get to know your volunteers

  • The better your volunteers/members know you, the more likely it is that you’ll see them on a regular basis (meaning they’ll actually show up to events). This can be done by having fun events, and example could be ‘family’ game/movie nights. When you have events, have senior members/officers participate in the events with the volunteers. Getting to know them makes them feel appreciated and excited about the group.

4. Listen!

  • Even though this is a peer education group, it’s likely that your volunteers/members will know some things you don’t. So listen to them. Ask them how the group can be better. Volunteers are the most important part of peer education groups, without them, you’re just a small group doing small events that won’t likely get much of a crowd. Also, let them know that they are appreciated. It feels good to know that you matter, and they you’re being helpful. This also applies to less senior officers/ members.

5. Have fun!

  • Have fun! The more that we neglect to laugh and smile together, the smaller our groups will be and the more likely it will be that there will be ‘rebuilding’ years. Activism is supposed to be fun, serious too, and the more fun the group has the more likely that people will be willing to join and retain.

It is inevitable that groups will need to rebuild sometimes, but when you have a good, positive, happy core volunteer/member base, the less likely it is that it will be devastating to the group and the shorter that ‘rebuilding’ year is. So have fun!


Métodos Anticonceptivos

In Awareness Campaigns, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on February 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

Artículo extraido y modificado de:


para propósitos de prevención, educación y concientización a la comunidad.

Por cualquier más información o consulta puede llamar en español al: (540) 371-5502 Concilio Rappahannock Contra el Asalto Sexual – Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, RCASA (Fredericksburg, Virginia)

Métodos anticonceptivos

Precoital y coital


RCASA Sunday with Case Management: March begins Social Work Month

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 20, 2011 at 7:35 am

Thought after a very trying week, I would keep it light this Sunday.  Hope you all enjoy. 

I made a decision to return to school and get my graduate degree in Social Work in 2007.  I was blessed to receive my Masters Degree in Social Work in 2009.  It was a challenge….raising a family, driving north to DC and back throughout the week, reading, papers and more reading!   But it paid off.  I am a firm believer that Social Work is a profession.  It isn’t something everyone can do!  It takes foundation, passion, committment and dedication.  Many people do social work but that is different the profession of Social Work.  So I to prepare you all for the month of  Social Work by sharing some information with you.

The Social Work Month 2011 theme promotes the role of social worker as positive change agent.  There are 640,000 professional social workers in the United States who have dedicated their careers to either helping people transform their lives, or improving environments that make such progress possible.

  • Social Workers champion access, equality and fairness.
  • Social Workers improve the fabric of society by being advocates for people who need help addressing serious life challenges and exploring their options.
  • The Social Work profession was established more than 100 years ago to provide as many people as possible with the tools and support they need to overcome adversity (poverty, illness, addiction, abuse, discrimination, etc.) and reach their full potential.  
  • The Social Work profession also works to change systems and customs that limit the ability of vulnerable individuals and groups to lead fulfilling and productive lives.
  • The nation’s Schools of Social Work promote social work education as a way for socially conscious people to make a significant difference in the world through service and leadership.
  • Every day, Social Workers witness the best and worst of human nature.  A Social Worker’s success is often defined by the opportunities people enjoy thanks to their intervention.
  • Social Workers believe they have a responsibility to effect positive change for the future.  http://www.socialworkers.org/pressroom/swMonth/2011/default.asp

Social Workers change the very fabric of their environment.  We are trained to view the entire person.  It is critical to understand the person and how their social environment impacts them, in order to empower them.  Many people think that Social Workers only function is to manage Medicaid, Food Stamps and to take kids away.  While many Social Workers choose to work in that capacity, not all do.  Social Workers are in hospitals, non-profits, law offices, military installations, schools, police departments, Capitol Hill, CIA, FBI, Universities and many more places. 

So don’t forget to celebrate Social Work starting March 1, 2011!!!!  Have a great day!

Sexual Violence in Prison Populations

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

We’ve all heard the stories. We all know the jokes (Don’t drop the soap!). Sexual violence in prison is a known problem. However, what to do about it is the question at hand. Some believe that it is a just occurrence and that inmates are deserving of it. I mean, they are criminals, they’re just getting whats coming to them, right?


Nobody deserves to be violated. Period.

There exist many myths about sexual violence, and many more to sexual violence in prison. Some believe that sexual violence in prison is a crime deterrent. That the fear of being raped in prison is so powerful that it will prevent crime, and that individuals will avoid breaking the law in order to prevent being raped. This is false. Clearly, looking at our overcrowded prisons, this theory of crime prevention isn’t working. The interesting thing about this myth is that rape in itself is a crime, a serious one at that too. Accepting sexual violence as a crime deterrent also contributes to the maintenance of our culture of sexual violence. This myth also has homophobic undertones as well. Which brings us to our next myth…

Perpetrators of sexual violence in prisons identify as gay, bisexual, or lesbian. What we need to remember is that it is a myth that rape and sexual violence are about sex. Sexual violence is about power and control, not sex. The truth is that most perpetrators of sexual violence in prison do not identify as gay, in fact non-heterosexually identified inmates are more often targeted because of their orientation and/or gender identity. Other vulnerabilities to abuse are being a first-time offender, a non-violent offender, and a juvenile offender.

Sexual violence in prison, like sexual violence outside prison, is very underreported. In fact, it may be even MORE underreported. A 1996 report on sexual violence in federal prisons revealed that only 29 percent of inmates who were sexually assaulted/raped, reported their attack (Struckman-Johnson, “Sexual Coercion,” p. 75; see also Peter L. Nacci and Thomas R. Kane, “The Incidence of Sex and Sexual Aggression in Federal Prisons,” Federal Probation, vol. 47, no. 4 (1983), p. 3). A 2007 Bureau of Justice study revealed that 6, 528 prisoners reported being raped in 2006. In that same 12 month period, more than 60,000 stated that they had experience upwards of 160,000 incidents of sexual abuse. A 2008 study of county jails revealed that more than 3% experience abuse within a 6 month period, and that women were more likely to be victims, at 5.1%, compared to 3% for men. This study also revealed that perpetrators were equally as likely to be staff as inmates.

False reporting is an issue in prisons. Outside of prison, false allegation rates very between 2-8%. There are difficulties in estimating the percentage of false allegations because sexual violence is inherently a “he-said, she-said” issue, and evidence is not always clear (this does NOT necessarily mean that an assault did not occur) and so many cases are deemed “unfounded.” Many victims decide to drop charges because of fear, self-blame, or they are “persuaded” to by law enforcement officials or prosecutors. In prisons, this is made even more complicated as inmates may seek to cause harm to fellow inmates or guards and choose to make false allegations. So, victims of sexual violence in prisons deal with the same issues victims in the community deal with (self-blame, fear, depression, [possible] suicidal thoughts) but because of the environment of prisons, these issues are compounded. Imagine you’ve been assaulted and you have nowhere to go, you’re stuck (and may be stuck for years, possibly the rest of your life), the perpetrator spends ALL of his time where you live, the perpetrator can control where you’ll be and when and knows if you’re going to be alone (staff-on-inmate), you may need the perpetrator for protection. There may be more false allegations in prison populations, but reporting sexual violence in prisons needs to be taken seriously. Should inmates repeatedly make allegations then a note can be made in their record documenting this so that investigators are aware when new allegations are made. Just because someone may have made a false allegation before, doesn’t mean all of their allegations are false. Take it seriously. Every time.

There are clear complications surrounding the issue of consent in prisons. Consent is an ongoing, enthusiastic, wanted, informed, mutual, honest, well-communicated agreement between all parties and of course the absence of a ‘no’ does not mean ‘yes.’ It is of course against the law in all 50 states for staff to engage in sexual relationships with inmates because of the clear power differential. And thus, inmates cannot consent to sex with staff. Sexual relationships between inmates are complicated as well. There is an inherent possibility of coercion and intimidation regarding sex between inmates because of prison gangs, ‘protective pairing,’ and so ‘consent’ is at best, murky.

In 1994 the Supreme Court saw it’s first case involving sexual violence in prisons in Farmer v. Brennan. Dee Farmer a trans-identified Male-to-Female inmate was housed with men. She was repeatedly beaten and raped and contracted HIV as a result of the attacks. Farmer argued that prison administration should have known she would be vulnerable to attacks and should have done more to protect her. The Court agreed, arguing that Farmer’s Eighth Amendment rights, specifically the ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ clause, were violated. Justice Blackmun in his concurring opinion stated that “Where a legislature refuses to fund a prison adequately, the resulting barbaric conditions should not be immune from constitutional scrutiny simply because no prison official acted culpably. […] The responsibility for subminimal conditions in any prison inevitably is diffuse, and often borne at least in part, by the legislature. Yet, regardless of what state actor or institution caused the harm and with what intent, the experience of the inmate is the same. A punishment is simply no less cruel or unusual because its harm is unintended. In view of this obvious fact, there is no reason to believe that, in adopting the Eighth Amendment, the Framers intended to prohibit cruel and unusual punishments only when they were inflicted intentionally.” Farmer v. Brennan was one of the primary examples in the justification for the Prison Rape Elimination Act’s consideration and passing.

In 2003 the Prison Rape Elimination Act [PREA] was signed into law. This marked the first time that sexual violence in prisons was addressed by the federal government. Human Rights Watch released a report two years prior to PREA’s passing entitled ‘No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons’ that lead to PREA’s consideration and ultimate passing. Twenty million dollars was allocated to implementing PREA in the country’s prisons in 2004, and twenty-five million in 2006. PREA was designed to research the prevalence of sexual violence in prisons, discover well-performing and under-performing prisons, and what can/should/could’ve/was done to prevent/intervene through national standards.

National standards for prisons were to be developed and eventually implemented as well. These national standards were to be ratified in June of this year, they were, however, not ratified. Among these standards related to prevention and response planning were:

  • All prisons must adopt zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual violence.
  • Prisons are to develop relationships with outside agencies related to sexual violence.
  • Supervision of inmates.
    • “The upper management officials responsible for reviewing critical incidents must examine areas in the facility where sexual abuse has occurred to assess whether physical barriers may have enabled the abuse, the adequacy of staffing levels in those areas during different shifts, and the need for monitoring technology to supplement security staff supervision.”
  • Limits to cross-gender searches.
  • Accommodations for special needs inmates.
    • “The agency ensures that inmates who are limited English proficient (LEP), deaf, or disabled are able to report sexual abuse to staff directly, through interpretive technology, or through non-inmate interpreters. Accommodations are made to convey all written information about sexual abuse policies, including how to report sexual abuse, verbally to inmates who have limited reading skills or who are visually impaired.”
  • Hiring protections (ie, no sex offending guards).
  • Maintenance and implementation of better monitoring technologies.
  • Inmate access to forensic examinations.
  • Memoranda of Understanding [MOU] with outside agencies.
    • “The agency maintains or attempts to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) or other agreements with an outside public entity or office that is able to receive and immediately forward inmate reports of sexual abuse to facility heads. The agency also maintains or attempts to enter into MOUs or other agreements with community service providers that are able to: (1) provide inmates with confidential emotional support services related to sexual abuse and (2) help victims of sexual abuse during their transition from incarceration to the community.”

Standards of prevention in prisons consist of:

  • Employee, Volunteer, Contractor training.
    • “The agency trains all employees to be able to fulfill their responsibilities under agency sexual abuse prevention, detection, and response policies and procedures; the PREA standards; and relevant Federal, State, and local law.”
  • Inmate Training.
    • “During the intake process, staff informs inmates of the agency’s zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual abuse and how to report incidents or suspicions of sexual abuse. Within a reasonably brief period of time following the intake process, the agency provides comprehensive education to inmates regarding their right to be free from sexual abuse and to be free from retaliation for reporting abuse, the dynamics of sexual abuse in confinement, the common reactions of sexual abuse victims, and agency sexual abuse response policies and procedures. Current inmates are educated as soon as possible following the agency’s adoption of the PREA standards, and the agency provides periodic refresher information to all inmates to ensure that they know the agency’s most current sexual abuse policies and procedures.”
  • Investigation training.
  • Medical and mental health training.
  • Risk assessment for inmates.
    • “All inmates are screened during intake, during the initial classification process, and at all subsequent classification reviews to assess their risk of being sexually abused by other inmates or sexually abusive toward other inmates. Employees must conduct this screening using a written screening instrument tailored to the gender of the population being screened.”
  • Use of screening information.
    • “Employees use information from the risk screening (SC-1) to inform housing, bed, work, education, and program assignments with the goal of keeping separate those inmates at high risk of being sexually victimized from those at high risk of being sexually abusive. The facility makes individualized determinations about how to ensure the safety of each inmate. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or other gender-nonconforming inmates are not placed in particular facilities, units, or wings solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, genital status, or gender identity. Inmates at high risk for sexual victimization may be placed in segregated housing only as a last resort and then only until an alternative means of separation from likely abusers can be arranged. To the extent possible, risk of sexual victimization should not limit access to programs, education, and work opportunities.”

Related to reporting are the following standards:

  • Inmate reporting.
    • “Multiple internal ways for inmates to report easily, privately, and securely sexual abuse, retaliation by other inmates or staff for reporting sexual abuse, and staff neglect or violation of responsibilities that may have contributed to an incident of sexual abuse.”
  • Third-party reporting.
    • Victims or witnesses can report to third-parties who can then report for them.
  • Exhaustive administrative remedies.
  • Staff and facility reporting duties.
  • First responder duties.
  • Coordinated responses.
    • “All actions taken in response to an incident of sexual abuse are coordinated among staff first responders, medical and mental health practitioners, investigators, and facility leadership. The facility’s coordinated response ensures that victims receive all necessary immediate and ongoing medical, mental health, and support services.”
  • Agency protection from retaliation.
  • Duty to investigate.
  • Evidence standards.
  • Sanctions for staff, inmates.
  • Mental health screening, including prior victimization.
  • Access to emergency services.
  • Ongoing care for victims.

These and more standards can be located in detail at the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission

While these standards are certainly effective, when exploring their similar use outside of prisons, they pose significant issues when applied to prisons. One issue is money. Twenty-five million a year is simply not enough for prisons to implement these standards. Our prisons are overcrowded and underfunded, making any changes in policy difficult, let alone the drastic changes these standards require.

Last week Myrtha Veldhuis, RCASA’s ‘Education and Prevention Services Coordinator,’ and David Shafer, our ‘Prevention Specialist,’ spoke to members of various law enforcement agencies in the region at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy. During this training one of the issues that kept coming up is how can law enforcement implement these changes? The money isn’t there, the number of personnel isn’t sufficient, the personnel is educated in these issues, and the culture of prison’s isn’t conducive to violence prevention.

These standards are great…in theory and they would be effective, if they were possible. At this point they are not. However, change can occur and PREA can be effective if change occurs within prisons and outside of prisons. Sexual violence needs to be addressed inside and outside of prison’s. This requires educational campaigns that parallel disease control. Sexual and intimate partner violence is so profound an issue that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] dedicates time and funds to its prevention. Sexual violence is a far-reaching, intricate problem, requiring a multi-pronged approach inclusive of all individuals at all levels of society.

Some red flags that signify that abuse may have occurred/is occurring:

  • Staff-on-Inmate – inmate spending time with particular staff member, staff requesting job changes, inmate using staff member’s first name, familiar touching of a staff member, staff being on grounds during off-hours, staff requests assignments when particular inmate is alone, staff comes in early/stays late.
  • Inmate-on-Inmate – Decrease in showering or taking sink baths, suicide threats/attempts, acting out/risk-taking behavior, requesting protective custody, increase in medical/mental health call-outs, inmate always wants a two-person cell, one inmate never rotates out of cell/constantly getting new cellmates, showing special interest in particular inmate.

More information and resources can be found at:

Just Detention International

Human Rights Watch


Thursday: New groups coming to RCASA

In Sexual Assault Awareness on February 17, 2011 at 8:46 am

We are excited to announce new groups beginning soon at RCASA to continue to assess the different populations impacted by sexual violence.  The first is a support group for parents of childhood victims; the second being a workshop series for male survivors.

The new parent support group will begin February 21 and will continue on Mondays from 4-5pm.  This group will combine educational information with support and therapy to address the specific needs and concerns of parents.  This will also be a forum for parents to process their own secondary trauma and network with others who have had similar expriences.  And though some of the information provided will aim to help parents of young children who have been victimized, the group is open to any parents whose son or daughter is a survivor.

The second group will be a workshop series for male survivors of sexual violence.  These workshops will occur monthly and begin on April 4, from 5:30-6:30.  This group will address the effects of sexual violence in general, but also the effects of this trauma that can be specific to male survivors.  This group is open all males survivors over the age of 18.

If you have never been served by RCASA before please call ahead to arrange an intake session, 540-371-6771.  All groups are free of charge and are confidential.

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