Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Men’s Responsibility in Ending Violence Against Women: Part One

In Sexual Assault Awareness on April 30, 2011 at 7:46 am

Men dominate. They dominate the political and the social landscape, and they have done so for as long as history has been recorded (The Gendered Society, 2000). Men have overwhelmingly held positions of power throughout history and have actively kept women from those positions (Ibid., 2000). Men’s violence against women has served as a tool for men to keep themselves in positions of power (Ibid., 2000). Women have always questioned this male supremacy, but have always been shut down and had their voices silenced. Women, however, slowly but surely began to make headway in their demands for equal rights. They began with advocating for women’s suffrage, and achieved their goal in the US with the nineteenth amendment. It was this success that began a wellspring of thought and activism, coupled with women’s mass integration into the workforce during World War II, inspired by the civil rights movement women’s activism made enormous strides during the 1960’s and 70’s . But where were the men in all of this? Surprisingly, men have always supported women’s equality, however, those men were very few. When women began, in mass numbers, to question the violence perpetrated against them, many men joined them is challenging men’s violence. Men formed anti-sexist organizations across the US and began to challenge their own attitudes and behaviors. Unfortunately, those organizations failed but once again men are beginning to reject the sexism and misogyny and violence against women in our society, and at the same time are rejecting the hurtful notions of masculinity. Change is slow, and the sheer enormity and intricacy of patriarchy makes that change even more difficult. The question of how exactly to get men to change is still being answered, at the same time the ideas that this change is predicated on are still being explored by both men and women. Change, however, is happening across the world, men are finding their voice, with the help and guidance of women, to challenge oppression in all its forms and the movement to end men’s violence is getting a strong foothold.

We see and hear about violence against women all of the time. We see it in movies, on tv, and in the music we listen to. We know its a problem, but just how big of a problem is it? For the past thirty years the issues of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence have been studied and its prevalence measured. It has been shown that as many as 1 in 6 women has experienced rape or attempted rape within their lifetime (Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N., 1997). It is estimated that every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in the US (U.S. Department of Justice. 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2007). Overwhelmingly these crimes are committed by someone that the victim knows, defying the stereotype of the man in the dark alley. It is known that one third of female murder victims, are killed by an intimate partner, and the rate of female homicides perpetrated by an intimate partner is increasing. (U.S. Department of Justice. 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2004). These statistics create an environment for women which is defined by some as “sexual terrorism” (Sheffield, 2007). Women’s daily lives are affected by the threat of violence, they apparently cannot even go five minutes without being assaulted. The problem with these statistics is that they are not accurate, this is not an issue of poor research methods, but rather because this kind of violence is the most underreported. It is estimated that 60% of sexual assault goes unreported (U.S. Department of Justice.2005 National Crime Victimization Study. 2005). Thus, the problem is even greater than we can even see. And who exactly is committing these crimes? It is overwhelmingly men.

RCASA’s Friday Facts:Sexual Assault Statistics

In Advocacy, Friday Facts, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on April 29, 2011 at 8:00 am

How Often Does Rape Happen to Women?

  • One in Four college women report surviving rape (15 percent) or attempted rape (12 percent) since their fourteenth birthday. (1)
  • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered “yes” to the question “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?” Thus, one in five college women has been raped at some point in her lifetime. (2)
  • In a typical academic year, 3% of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when many more rapes occur. (3)
  • In the year 2000, 246,000 women survived rape and sexual assault. This computes to 28 women every hour. (4)
  • A survey of high school students found that one in five had experienced forced sex (rape). Half of these girls told no one about the incident. (5)
  • Rape is common worldwide, with relatively similar rates of incidence across countries, with 19%-28% of college women reporting rape or attempted rape in several countries. In many countries, survivors are treated far worse than in the U.S. (6)

Are Men Raped?

  • 3% of college men report surviving rape or attempted rape as a child or adult. (3)
  • In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 4% of men answered “yes” to the question “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?” (2)

Who are the Perpatrators?

  • 99% of people who rape are men, 60% are Caucasian. (7)
  • Between 62% (4) and 84% (1) of survivors knew their attacker.
  • 8% of men admit committing acts that meet the legal definition of rape or attempted rape. Of these men who committed rape, 84% said that what they did was definitely not rape. (1)
  • More than one in five men report “becoming so sexually aroused that they could not stop themselves from having sex, even though the woman did not consent.” (8)
  • 35% of men report at least some degree of likelihood of raping if they could be assured they wouldn’t be caught or punished. (9)
  • One out of every 500 college students is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. (10)
  • First-year students in college tend to believe more rape myths than seniors. (11)
  • Sexual assault offenders were substantially more likely than any other category of violent criminal to report experiencing physical or sexual abuse as children. (7)
  • In one study, 98% of men who raped boys reported that they were heterosexual. (12)

Who are the Survivors?

  • 41% of college women who are raped were virgins at the time. (1)
  • 42% of rape survivors told no one about the rape. (1)
  • False reports of rape are rare, according to the FBI, occurring only 8% of the time. (13)

Circumstances of Rape

  • 57% of rapes happen on dates. (1)
  • 75% of the men and 55% of the women involved in acquaintance rapes were drinking or taking drugs just before the attack. (1)
  • About 70% of sexual assault survivors reported that they took some form of self-protective action during the crime. The most common technique was to resist by struggling or chase and try to hold the attacker. Of those survivors who took protective action, over half believed it helped the situation, about 1/5 believed that it made the situation worse or simultaneously worse and better. (7)
  • 84% of rape survivors tried unsuccessfully to reason with the man who raped her. (1)
  • 55% of gang rapes on college campuses are committed by fraternities, 40% by sports teams, and 5% by others. (15)
  • Approximately 40% of sexual assaults take place in the survivor’s home. About 20% occur in the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative. 10% occur outside, away from home. About 8% take place in parking garages. (7)
  • More than half of all rape and sexual assault incidents occurred within one mile of the survivor’s home or in her home. (7)

What Happens After the Rape?

  • In a study done in the 1980s, 5% of rape survivors went to the police. (1)
  • Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police. (4)
  • Of those rapes reported to the police (which is 1/3 or less to begin with), only 16% result in prison sentences. Therefore, approximately 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison, 95% of the time he does not. (4)
  • 42% of rape survivors had sex again with the rapist. (1)
  • 30% of rape survivors contemplate suicide after the rape. (1)
  • 82% of rape survivors say the rape permanently changed them. (1)
  • The adult pregnancy rate associated with rape is estimated to be 4.7%. (17)


  1. Warsaw, R. I Never Called it Rape. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1994.
  2. Douglas, K. A. et al. “Results From the 1995 National College Health Risk Behavior Survey.” Journal of American College Health 46 (1997): 55-66.
  3. Tjaden, P., and N. Thoennes. “Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey,” 2-5, Research in Brief, Washington, D.C.: National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice, 1998.
  4. Rennison, C. M. “National Crime Victimization Survey, Criminal Victimization 2001: Changes from 2000-2001 with Trends 1993-2001,” Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 187007, 2002.
  5. Davis, T. C, G. Q. Peck, and J. M. Storment. “Acquantaince Rape and the High School Student.” Journal of Adolescent Health 14 (1993): 220-24.
  6. Koss, M. P., L. Hiese, and N. F. Russo. “The Global Health Burden of Rape.” Psychology of Women Quarterly 18 (1994): 509-37.
  7. Greenfeld, L. A. Sex Offenses and Offenders: An Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault, Washington, D. C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1997.
  8. Peterson, S. A., and B. Franzese. “Correlates of College Men’s Sexual Abuse of Women.” Journal of College Student Personnel 28 (1987): 223-28.
  9. Malamuth, N. M. “Rape Proclivity Among Males.” Journal of Social Issues 37 (1981): 138-57.
  10. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Rape Fact Sheet. Atlanta: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  11. Gray, N. B., G. J. Palileo, G. D. Johnson. “Explaining Rape Victim Blame: A Test of Attribution Theory.” Sociological Spectrum 13 (1993): 337-92.
  12. “Sexual Abuse of Boys,” Journal of the American Medical Association, December 2, 1998.
  13. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Uniform Crime Reports. Washington, D.C.: United States Department of Justice, 1995.
  14. Koss, M. “Rape on Campus: Facts and Measures.” Planning for Higher Education 20 (1992): 21-28.
  15. O’Sullivan, C. “Acquaintance Gang Rape on Campus.” In A. Parrot and L. Bechhofer (eds.) Acquantaince Rape: The Hidden Crime. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1991.
  16. Kilpatrick, D. G., C. N. Edmunds, and A. K. Seymour. Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. National Victim Center, 1992.
  17. Homes, M. M., H. S. Resnick, D. G. Kilpartrick, and C. L. Best. “Rape-related Pregnancy: Estimates and Descriptive Chracteristics From a National Sample of Women.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 175 (1996): 320-24.

The Jeans For Justice! Are you wearing your Jeans Today?

In Awareness Campaigns on April 27, 2011 at 9:56 am

 The history of Jeans for Justice – In 1999, a judge in Italy overturned a 1998 rape conviction of a 45 year-old driving instructor who had been convicted of raping his 18-year-old student. A lower court had sentenced the defendant to 2 years and eight months in prison but the appeals court sent the case back for retrial and a higher court over turned the ruling on the basis of what the victim was wearing. The higher court ruled that it is impossible to take off tight pants such as jeans “without the cooperation of the person wearing them”, and said it was impossible if the victim is struggling. The court also doubted the testimony of the victim because she waited several hours to tell her parents she had been attacked.

Following the ruling, a group of female Italian lawmakers wore jeans to parliament. This action prompted women all over Italy to join in a “skirt strike” and wear jeans. Female TV personalities known for chic dress began to don only denim. A housewives’ federation offered a prize to any designer who could come up with “easy off jeans” and planned a jean march to the justice ministry.

Union Official Stefania Sidoli said, “We thank the court for having enriched women’s wardrobes with a new garment. To the business suit and the little black dress, we can now add the anti-rape outfit: a comfortable and resistant pair of jeans.”

Protests have now gone global and are currently taking place today in the form of “Jeans for Justice”.  Last year GEICO hosted a “Jeans for Justice” day to support RCASA and every year, RCASA joins with the Pinwheel Partnership for Prevention to have “dress down” days to show support.

Tuesday’s with Prevention: Bystander Intervention

In Sexual Assault Awareness on April 26, 2011 at 8:10 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

Familias Inmigrantes – Velando por el bienestar físico y emocional de nuestros hijos

In Awareness Campaigns, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness, Trauma on April 25, 2011 at 8:00 am

Un llamado a padres y a madres inmigrantes para velar por el bienestar de nuestros menores hijos e hijas

En este mes de Abril se celebra el mes de la Concientización del Asalto Sexual y el mes de la prevención del abuso del niño.

Terminando con la serie dedicada a estos dos temas escritas los Lunes a través del todo el mes, hago este llamado.

Trabajando en en el área de servicios humanos desde hace mucho tiempo ya, y ahora en el campo de la violencia sexual y también cómo intérprete de la comunidad tratando de ayudar de un modo ú otro a la comunidad Latina, me permite aportar un granito de arena interviniendo en las vidas de estas personas educándolas, haciéndolas concientes de la importancia de ser buenos padres, amorosos, comunicativos, dedicándoles tiempo a sus hijos para promover un ambiente de relaciones interpersonales saludable en el hogar.

Algo que constante veo es el trauma que causan las separaciones familiares en los niños, ya sea por que los padres emigraron hacia Estados Unidos dejando a sus hijos bajo el cuidado de algún familiar por la gran necesidad económica que se sufre en nuestros países de orígen, o porque all llegar aquí cometieron algún delito, por el cúal estan enfrentando una deportación, o porque cayeron víctimas de violencia doméstica o sexual y el sistema jurídico y social en el afán de ayudar y de hacer un buen trabajo, falla en reconocer al culpable y condena y re-victimiza a la persona inocente, juzgándola, escudriñándola y separándola de sus hijos.  O porque la misma situación de vivir indocumentado y bajo una situación económica paupérrima en la que viven muchas familias aquí en este país, la falta de conocimiento de saber navegar en el sistema  los obliga a enviar a los hijos de regreso.

Estos niños definitivamente sufren, porque simplemente no entienden que fue una necesidad.  Crecen relegados, pensando que sus padres no los aman, que no son importantes para ellos.  Aquí es donde desde muy temprana edad comienzan a sufrir por “la falta de amor, de cariño y comprensión” de los padres.  Aunque los padres desde muy lejos esten tratando de sacrificarse por ellos, trabajando duro para sacarlos adelante, llamándolos constantemente por teléfono para hablar con ellos, estos niños no lo comprenden porque ellos prefieren que el padre o la madre esten allí, dándoles un abrazo, una caricia, diciéndoles un “Te quiero”, compartiendo con ellos los pequeños y grandes logros y acontecimientos de su vida.

Como trabajadora de la comunidad, si lo prefieren trato diariamente con mucha gente y escucho muchas historias confidenciales que no puedo mencionar.  Pero sin entrar en muchos detalles y cambiando un poquito los hechos, voy a mencionar la de una persona que no fue mi cliente que me llamó, no en búsqueda de una traducción, pero en busca de un “consejo legal”; al no ser abogado no se lo pude dar, pero pude compartir mi experiencia y conocimiento del sistema con ella.  Esta señora al parecer estaba indocumentada en este país, trabajando bajo un nombre ficticio, tenía a su cargo más de una menor de edad, a las cúales había dejado en su país bajo el cuidado de un familiar.  Ella estaba involucrada románticamente con alguien aquí (también indocumentado), con la que estaba conviviendo.  Su deseo más grande era traer a estas niñas adolescentes aquí para darles una mejor educación y una mejor vida.

Esto es como pudimos reflexionar acerca de la condición y seguridad de las menores de edad: Ambas tanto la señora, como las niñas tenían la necesidad de estar juntas, pero la señora que en el sistema Estado Unidense estaba vista como la persona responsible por el bienestar de estas menores, estaba indocumentada en este país, ganando un salario mínimo y no estaba casada con alguna persona que pueda hacerle una petición familiar en frente del Servicio de Inmigración Estado Unidense.  Para empeorar las cosas, ella estaba ahorrando dinero para dárselo a un amigo, quién tenía sus documentos legales y le había prometido viajar y traerlas a las niñas, pero en caso de ser deportada esta señora no tenía un plan verdadero en cuanto a la situación de estas niñas.  La pareja de ella y el amigo que de pasar algo así, ellos las cuidarían.  En el peor de los casos, ellos se encargarían de enviarlas a las niñas de regreso con su mamá.

O la agencia de protección al niño podría inicialmente intervenir al ver la situación de la mamá deportada y estas niñas sin ningún familiar cercano o lejano quiénes se puedan hacer cargo de ellas.

Esta es una situación real, esa fue la única vez que hable con ella, no le pude dar el “consejo legal” que me pedía, pero por lo menos espero haberla hecho reflexionar y pensar en la mejor opción para esas niñas.

Así como este caso, tenemos a millones de Latinos en este país viviendo una encrucijada similar.

Como trabajadora de la comunidad, si lo prefieren, solo les pido tener mucho cuidado, piensen mucho en el bienestar de nuestros niños, no los expongamos.  Sé que la necesidad económica es grande, pero mientras menos hagamos sufrir a nuestros hijos es mejor.

No olvidemos que tanto estas adolescentes menores de edad, como nuestros hijos al sentirse solos pueden vulnerablemente caer en manos de personas sin escrúpulos que pueden abusar sexualmente de ellos, o en peores casos hacerlos víctimas de explotación comercial sexual ilícita.

Cuidemósles, amemósles, busquemos las mejores opciones para su mejor bienestar físico, social y emocional.

Cortesía del Concilio Rappahannock Contra el Asalto Sexual, Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, RCASA

Línea de Intervención: (540) 371-5502

Línea de ayuda inmediata: (540) 371-1666




RCASA Sunday with Case Management: Address Confidentiality Program Part 2

In Advocacy, Case Management, Legal Advocacy, Sexual Assault Awareness, Systems Advocacy on April 24, 2011 at 7:00 am

So as a recap:  The goal of this law is to assist victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking, the ability to relocate and keep their new location unknown to the abuser.

How does one apply for ACP participation:  According to the Commonwealth of Virginia, “The ACP is intended to help victims of domestic violence who have confidentiality relocated to a location unknown to their abusers.  Effective July 1, 2011, the ACP will be available to victims statewide.  Participation in the program is not transferable if a participant moves to another state.  Both adults and children can participate in this program.

Victims complete application for participation in the ACP through their local domestic violence programs.  Each participant must fully complete the Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) application packet.  The package contains the application, an authorization card with instructions, a checklist which must be read, initialed and notarized  by each participant.  A photocopy of a valid government issued identification card must also be submitted with the application packet for processing.  The applicant must also include  a copy of a billing statement (utility, telephone, gas, etc.), or an executed lease or other documents showing te name and actual address of the applicant. (The applicant can remove or redact other confidential information from the bill or executed lease.) The entire application packet (application, checklist, authorization card, copy of valid government issued identification card, executed lease or billing statement) should be mailed to ACP, P.O. Box 1133 Richmond, Virginia 231218-1133 for processing and certification.

Each certified participant is assigned an authorization code number and issued an ACP authorization card.  Once participants receive their ACP authorization card they can apply for state and local services using the ACP substitute address.

Limitations on Participation:  Participation in the ACP is not permitted if the applicant is a sex offender for which registration is required pursuant to the Sex Offender and Crimes Against Minors Registry program as statutorily provided through Chapter 9, of Title 9.1 of the Code of Virginia, or if the applicant is currently on parole and/or probation.

Applicants who are residents of temporary housing for thirty (30) days or less are not eligible to enroll in the ACP until a permanent residential address is obtained.

For ACP questions, please contact:

Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) P.O. Box 1133 Richmond, Virginia 231218-1133


Hyper-Masculininty’s Violent Response in NA/Indigenous Populations

In Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on April 23, 2011 at 8:17 am

One in six women will experience rape or attempted rape within their lifetime (Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N., 1997). Every two minutes a woman is sexually assaulted in the US (U.S. Department of Justice. 2007 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2007).  One third of female murder victims, are killed by an intimate partner, and the rate of female homicides that are committed by an intimate partner is increasing (U.S. Department of Justice. 2004 National Crime Victimization Survey. 2004). These statistics provide tangible evidence of the environment of women. An environment that can be defined as “sexual terrorism” (Sheffield, 2007). Women’s daily lives are affected by violence and the implicit threat of violence. Violence against Native American women is even higher than any other racial group in the country, the National Violence Against Women Survey [NVAWS] found that “almost 65% of American Indian women…reported experiencing rape or physical violence is compared to 55% of the total NVAWS sample” (Wahab & Olson, 2004).  According to the NVAWS, “the lifetime rate of physical assault [for Native American Women] was 64.1% compared 51.8% for the total population” (Wahab & Olson, 2004). Native American women are twice as likely to be assaulted compared to those in other racial categories (Bureau of Justice).  Men commit the vast majority of violent crime in the country, and while the majority of men’s violence is committed against other men, women pay the heaviest price. Patriarchy, the supremacy of men in all respects of life, the social, economic, and political spheres, is the system of oppression that excuses, legitimizes, and even encourages this type of violence. Fortunately, not all men are violent. But, what makes those violent men violent? And, why are Native American men violent, despite a history of equitable and mostly (gender) violence free existence?

The idea of performativity was introduced by Judith Butler in her seminal work Gender Trouble. Butler’s contention is that our identities are the result of performance constructed from “acts, gestures, [and] enactments” (Gender Trouble, 1999). Butler argues that society and culture are socially constructed, that our reality is fabricated (Ibid., 1999). These “acts [and] gestures[…]create the illusion of an interior and organizing gender core” (Ibid., 1999). That is to say that the reality that we construct, through these behaviors, is held so deeply and are thus viewed as being natural, that we accept them as biological and they go unquestioned.

Butler argues that to maintain, and ensure to others present, one’s gender identity, individuals adopt strategies during “duress” (Ibid., 1999). These behaviors are continuously performed , “the repetition is at once a reenactment and reexperiencing of a set of meanings already socially established; and it is the mundane and ritualized form of their legitimation” (Ibid., 1999). Butler argues that gender has a fluidity, that is to say that it is constantly changing and acting and reacting to social stimuli, this is a “stylized repetition of acts” (Ibid., 1999).

When it comes to masculinity, performance takes on even greater urgency and necessity. Men must meet our culture’s standard of manhood, or they are thought to not be men, or gay. Michael Kimmel, sociologist and masculinity studies scholar, argues that men are constantly on alert to prove their manhood, and that this is the true homophobia (Masculinity as Homophobia, 1995). Men are not necessarily afraid of homosexuality but rather other men, and that those men will perceive them as being less than a man (Ibid., 1995). One of the ways that men may be seen, or at least they feel they my be perceived, is through their behavior when it comes to gender and interaction with others.

Robert Brannon devised a model of four characteristics that define true manhood, “No Sissy Stuff,” “Be A Big Wheel,” “Be A Sturdy Oak,” and “Give ‘em Hell” (The Male Sex Role, 1976). What these four boil down to is essentially, don’t show weakness; attain as much power as possible (and keep it), the more power one has the more masculine they are; show no emotion, “Boys don’t cry;” and be aggressive and competitive (Brannon, 1976). This is, of course, not realistic and is unattainable (and unhealthy) for any man, certainly all the time. Raewyn Connell developed the idea of ‘Hegemonic Masculinity’ to describe the culture standard of manhood. Using Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, or rather “the cultural dynamic by which a group claims and sustains a leading position in social life” (Masculinities, 1995). Jeff Hearn adds to Gramsci’s theory by stating “hegemony involves both the consent of men, and, in a very different way, the consent of some women to maintain patriarchal relations of power. As least some powerful men are dominant in the construction of women’s consent and the reproduction of men’s consent” (From Hegemonic Masculinity to the Hegemony of Men, 2004). Connell defines hegemonic masculinity as “the configuration of gender practice which embodies the currently accepted answer to the problem of the legitimacy of patriarchy, which guarantees the dominant position of men and the subordination of women” (Ibid., 1995). What every man should embody in order to call himself a real man. This idea is impossible for men to meet, so they sometimes respond with violence.

Everyone is aware of the incredible violence, what many would call genocide, systematically carried out against Native Americans (The Familiar Face of Genocide, 2003). The impact of this, not just in terms of the decimation of the population, on the culture of these peoples is often ignored (Patriarchal Colonialism, 2003). Prior to the arrival of Europeans, indigenous culture was largely based on ideas of communalism, were matrilineal (Ibid., 2003). The roles of women differed drastically from those we think of today, often “communal models of indigenous governance granted women respect and authority; exemplary of the gender egalitarianism practiced by many Native societies is their use of both matrifocal and patrifocal councils to negotiate consensus and make decisions in times of peace and war” (Ibid., 2003). In fact, very much to the contrary of our ideas of masculinity, Warren Goulding argues that part of women’s role was to “protect the family and act as breadwinners” (Goulding). European men very obviously held different beliefs, as we still do today, about women’s role in society. M.A. Jaimes Guerrero, argues that “the impact of U.S. colonialism on Native American peoples, especially on women, has been to accomplish a further erosion of their indigenous rights as the earliest groups in the Americas. For Native American women, this has meant a double burden because they must deal with both racist and sexist attitudes, and with the discrimination that results from such prejudices” (Patriarchal Colonialism, 2003). The influx of new people’s will no doubt always have a big impact on the people native to these immigrants new land, but the way in which European’s decimated Native American people’s and disregarded their cultures has had a lasting impact, and has altered the gender role ideologies of the Native Amercan population.

Using Butler’s concept of performativity and combining it with Connell’s concept of hegemonic masculinity, we have a situation in which men are defining their gender by how well they meet societies ideas of what men should be. If they do not meet these standards, their gender identity is in question, to themselves internally and perhaps to others, men in particular. Today men often report feeling as if they are powerless. This is in part due to women’s empowerment and push for equality. This is what many feminist scholars would call a crisis of masculinity. This crisis has had an impact on the ideas of manhood, and has caused, according to Susan Faludi, a backlash against feminism and women’s rights as men attempt to reclaim their masculinity from the women who they feel has stolen it (Backlash, 1992).

Native American men have the impact of colonialism on their identity as a people as a result of the genocide carried out against their ancestors, the emasculation based on the cultural ideas of the European invaders’ ideas of androcentric culture that treated women as property as well as the rest of nature (Patriarchal Colonialism, 2003). Today they still must live in a culture that the rest of us occupy that still, to an extent, holds these beliefs. Lisa M. Poupart argues that “through western formal education, conversion to Christianity, and assimilation into Euro-American culture and the capitalist economy, tribal people learned to speak the language and to interpret and reproduce the meanings of [their] oppressors; [their] own meanings, languages, and cultures were simultaneously devastated” (The Familiar Face of Genocide, 2003). Native American people have internalized the racism and hatred the European colonizers had for them and their way of life (Ibid., 2003). Poupart argues that “virtually non-existent in traditional communities prior to European invasion, contemporary American Indian communities struggle with devastating social ills including alcoholism, family violence, incest, sexual assault…homicide, and suicide at startling rates similar and sometimes exceeding those of white society” (The Familiar Face of Genocide, 2003). She continues arguing that “American Indians sometimes express pain, grief and rage internally toward [themselves] and externally within [their] own families and communities” (Ibid., 2003). The “internalized oppression” felt by Native American as a continued result of the genocide against their ancestors has contributed to some of the biggest problems facing the Native American Community, including the gender violence. Poupart argues that “domestic and sexual violence against women and children is linked to other forms of domination within society, including racism and classism” (The Familiar Face of Genocide, 2003). Poupart, using the theory of intersectionality argues that “American Indian women and children are among the most economically, socially, and politically disenfranchised groups in the United States. Since contact, American Indian women and children have become victimized by Euro-American imperialist governments, religions, economies, and educational systems” (Violence Against Women, 2005; The Familiar Face of Genocide, 2003). Poupart continues adding

Within these Western patriarchal-family structures, many American Indians recreate the power structures of the dominant culture. That is, Indian men often have privilege and authority over Indian women, and Indian fathers and mothers have privilege and authority over children, whereby each may exert violence as a socially acceptable operation of Western patriarchal power. Like other politically, economically, and socially disempowered individuals in the dominant culture, then, American Indian men may assert male authority violently in their homes and communities against women and children, and Indian women may assert parental authority violently against children (Ibid., 2003).

What this means, according to Richard A. Rogers, is that the performances of these Native American men, “deployed in the maintenance of an unstable, elastic, and historically mobile hegemonic masculinity, nevertheless leave the underlying tensions unresolved” (From Hunting Magic to Shamanism, 2007).

Despite all efforts to ensure their masculinity, they still cannot meet the cultural standard for what a man should be. This is the crisis of masculinity in Native American men. They can’t ever meet that standard because of the continued emasculation of Native American cultural manhood through historical narratives, because the hegemonic masculine standard is white, and because they are the most underprivileged male group in our culture. This is where Butler’s concept of performativity comes in handy. These men cannot possibly meet these standards, thus negating their gender identity, something Kimmel shows us is imperative, and so they resort to violence to prove their manhood. They feel the need to dominate, so they take their frustration out on women by attempting to enact hegemonic masculinity. This behavior is reinforced by the larger culture that they live in and so the violence seems ordinary and appropriate.

Butler, Judith (1999). Gender Trouble. New York: Routledge.

Connell, R.W. (2005). Masculinities. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Rogers, Richard A. (2007).From Hunting Magic to Shamanism: Interpretations of Native American Rock Art and the Contemporary Crisis of Masculinity. Women’s Studies in Communication. 30, 79-110.

Anderson, K, & Umberson, D (2001). Gendering Violence: Masculinity and Power in Men’s Accounts of Domestic Violence. Gender and Society. 15, 358-380.

Wahab, S, & Olson, L (2004). Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Assault in Native American Communities. Trauma, Violence & Abuse. 5, 353-366.

Guerrero, M.A. Jaimes (2003).”Patriarchal Capitalism” and Indigenism: Implications for Native Feminist Spirituality and Native Womanism. Hypatia. 18, 58-69.

Hamby, Sherry (2008).The Path of Helpseeking: Perceptions of Law Enforcement Among American Indian Victims of Sexual Assault. Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community. 36, 89-104.

Tjaden, P. & Thoennes, N., (1997). The Prevalence and consequences of partner violence: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. Center for Policy Research, Denver, CO.

Sheffield, Carol J. “Sexual Terrorism.” Gender Violence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Ed. O’Toole, Laura L.et al;.  New York, NY: New York University Press, 2007.

Kimmel, M. “Masculinity as Homophobia.” Kimmel, M (Ed.). (2003). Privilege: A Reader. Westview Press.

Hearn, J. (2004).From hegemonic Masculinity to the Hegemony of Men. Feminist Theory. 5, 49-72.

Brannon, R, & David, D (1976). The Forty-Nine Percent Majority: The Male Sex Role. Random House.

Crenshaw, K. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Bergen, R, Edleson, J, & Renzetti, C (Eds.). (2004). Violence Against Women: Classic Papers .Allyn & Beacon.

Poupart, Lisa M. (2003).The Familiar Face of Genocide: Internalized Oppression among American Indians. Hypatia. 18, 86-100.

Fairchild, D.G., & Fairchild, M.W. (1998). Prevalence of adult domestic violence among women seeking routine care in a Native American health care facility. American Journal of Public Health, 88, 1515-1518.

RCASA’s Friday Facts: For Many Women, Addiction Associated with Sexual Assault

In Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on April 22, 2011 at 8:00 am

Attempting to pinpoint one single cause of drug addiction and alcoholism would truly be an exercise in futility — but identifying common experiences among individuals who have struggled with addiction or chemical dependence has allowed treatment professionals to make significant improvements in the ways that these disorders are addressed.

For example, the knowledge that many cases of drug addiction or alcoholism are accompanied by co-occurring depression, chronic pain, bipolar disorder, or other conditions has prepared addiction treatment professionals to screen for and treat these challenges instead of merely focusing on the biology of addiction. This holistic approach to drug addiction recovery offers myriad benefits to clients, as it gives them the opportunity to identify and address all aspects of their lives that have either led to or been made more difficult because of their addictive behaviors.

For many women, alcoholism and drug addiction treatment is likely to address body image, self-esteem, and, unfortunately, a history of trauma. As several studies have revealed, the majority of women who seek treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism have been the victims of abuse – usually sexual abuse, and most often during childhood.

 A Prevalent Problem

 A document prepared by the Mental Health Association in New York State Inc. indicates the degree to which the connection between sexual abuse and later-life drug addiction or alcoholism has been observed in a number of research efforts:

  • Seventy-five percent of women in treatment programs for drug and alcohol abuse report having been sexually abused. (American Journal on Addictions, June 1997) 

Nearly 90 percent of women who have become dependent upon alcohol suffered “severe violence at the hands of a parent” or were sexually abused during childhood. (Journal of Traumatic Stress, December 1999)

  • A study of 100 adult patients with polytoxic drug abuse revealed that 70 percent of the female subjects had been sexually abused prior to the age of 16. (Schizophrenia Research, December 2002)

These findings are supported by an April 2002 “NIDA Notes” document that is posted on the website of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In that article, writer Patrick Zickler reports that being sexually abused as a child increases the risk that a woman will develop a drug dependence later in life:

 Using data gathered from interviews of 1,411 adult twins, Dr. Kenneth Kendler and his colleagues [at the Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond] assessed the association between three levels of childhood sex abuse (nongenital, genital, and intercourse) and six adult disorders – major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, bulimia nervosa, alcohol dependence, and drug dependence.

Women who experienced any type of sexual abuse in childhood were roughly three times more likely than non-abused girls to report drug dependence as adults.

“Overall, childhood sexual abuse was more strongly associated with drug or alcohol dependence than with any of the psychiatric disorders,” Dr. Kendler says. “Only drug and alcohol dependence were significantly associated with all levels of abuse.”

Assault & Addiction

 In an October 2005 “Letter from the Editor,” Janet Anderson, the advocacy education director of the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP) noted that the confluence of drug use and sexual trauma can create myriad difficulties for women who are attempting to get their lives back on track:

 This issue is complicated because the use of substances may have preceded the  assault, occurred during the assault, or developed as a coping strategy in response to the trauma the victim experienced; all yielding potentially different responses and reactions for the victim and by society at large.

Regardless of when the substances were consumed, this topic is further complicated by the fact that substance abuse and victimization both carry a great deal of social stigma in and of themselves, and when a survivor holds both, the stigma can be especially difficult to overcome. 

The stigma that is associated with sexual assault and addiction can be a significant obstacle to treatment, Anderson noted, citing statistics about rape victims to indicate the prevalence with which sexual assault is associated with drug abuse:

  • Rape victims are 5.3 times more likely than non-victims to have used prescription drugs nonmedically. 
  • Rape victims are 3.4 times more likely to have used marijuana than non-victims. 
  • Victims of rape are six times more likely to have used cocaine than are women who were not raped. 
  • Compared to women who had not been raped, rape victims were 10.1 times more likely to have used “hard drugs” other than cocaine. 

These factors, Anderson, noted, are of particular importance because many treatment programs fail to address the unique sociological and biological aspects of drug abuse, addiction, and women.

“This issue becomes more complex due to early addictions research which was based on a male-dominated framework and did not address issues of victimization or understand that women may have different treatment and recovery needs,” Anderson wrote. “Consequently, many traditional treatment models simply do not work for female substance abusing victims of sexual assault.”

RCASA’s Therapy Thursday: Como hablar con la comunidad Infantil sobre Abril que es el Mes de la Conciencia del Asalto Sexual y el Abuso Infantil

In Hispanic/Latino, Therapy on April 21, 2011 at 8:00 am

Como hablar con  la comunidad Infantil sobre  Abril que es el Mes de la Conciencia del Asalto Sexual y el Abuso Infantil

El idioma español se deriva del latín y Abril se deriva del latín “aprilis”, palabra derivada de “aprire” (abrir), porque en esa época, en Roma comenzaba la primavera y a desarrollarse la vegetación.  Asimismo, es Abril en el mes que se abren e inician las campañas de orientación, sensibilización, educación e información tratando de abrir las mentes ante un tema que para la población latina, no es nada fácil porque ha sido tema “tabú”.

Hablar sobre como educar de forma segura a las niñas y niños,  siendo una población que cada día está más al día con la tecnología, con padres ausentes porque trabajan todo el día, viviendo en hogares donde no hay armonía, se van convirtiendo poco a poco en victimas olvidadas, lo que les lleva a ser presa fácil y vulnerable ante el abuso. En las familias se pregona que la seguridad de nuestros seres queridos es lo más importante en la vida y cuando se tiene niños/niñas con más razón, pues ellos en lo particular, resultan un blanco fácil para personas que se aprovechan de su inocencia para abusar de ellos o hacerles daño. El problema es, que el peligro puede estar más cerca de lo que imaginamos.

Como regla general la mayoría de madres y padres dicen a sus hijos e hijas que no hablen y que desconfíen de los extraños.  Y aunque es una recomendación sana, la realidad de las cifras nos señala que la mayoría de los ataques y abusos que sufren los menores de edad son en manos de una persona conocida del menor. Sabía usted que ocho de cada 10 denuncias de abuso sexual ocurren por una persona cercana al niño, generalmente un familiar.

Debemos de estar conscientes que el problema del abuso sexual es un problema que generalmente proviene de la familia, normalmente es alguien cercano a nosotros, alguien encantador por quien meteríamos las manos al fuego. Los abusadores de los niños son amigos, familiares, tíos, primos, por lo que tener que enfrentar esta realidad es algo que muchas veces no es fácil aceptar.

Hay conductas que los niños y a las niñas deben a prender a identificar y que no deben de aceptar,  que son: golpear, insultar, obligar y enseñar o tocar genitales.

Ahora bien aquí viene el problema para la gente adulta ¿Cómo hablamos de un tema tan delicado con nuestros propios hijos e hijas?  En este tema  que se convierte una situación que para algunas personas adultas les causa vergüenza, pues entonces la primero que es necesario y recomendable  hacer es  olvidarse de esa mente adulta, porque cuando Ud.,  le vas a hablar de genitales al niño/ la niña,  no lo razonará con malicia o con morbo, para la mente infantil  es otra parte de su cuerpo como su nariz, su pelo o un pie. Algo muy importante, es que no de información de innecesaria, es decir, no llene su mente  con exceso de información. La niñez tiene el hermoso privilegio de tener una mente que no se complica y con explicaciones sencillas aprende rápido. Conteste lo que le pregunte y no de tantos rodeos, las explicaciones se dan de acuerdo a la edad.

Una última reflexión. Los niños y niñas aprenden de sus padres y de la gente adulta que está a su alrededor.  Si las niñas y niños viven con violencia aprenderán a ser victimas y victimarios;  si viven con desamor,  sin que nadie los escuche, serán seres sin amor y no podrán discernir entre lo que es el amor y el abuso, su autoestima se dañará, y serán fácilmente presas frágiles y vulnerables. Por eso es importante que proveamos un hogar, una familia de seguridad, respeto, confianza, amor. Si tenemos relaciones saludables y amorosas,  así será su forma de relacionarse y así lo harán. Si somos claros en lo que está o no está permitido, ellos también seguirán nuestros pasos. Si les hacemos sentirse en confianza, cualquier problema que tengan nos lo contarán y podremos evitar que abusen de ellos. Bríndeles calidad de tiempo. Recuerde estamos en Abril, abra su mentalidad a tener información y a darse la oportunidad de compartir con mente inocente de niña o niño.

Leslie R. Moncada S.                                                                                                               

Consejera Latina/RCASA

Wednesday Outreach: Parent of the Year

In Sexual Assault Awareness on April 20, 2011 at 8:53 am

Every year RACCAP sponsors a contest in which area children write an essay as to why their parent deserves to be parent of the year. This year the Parent of the Year awards will be Tuesday April 26th at Salem Fields Church (11120 Gordon Road, Fredericksburg, VA 22407) at 7pm .

This is a great opportunity to hear these really moving essays. So much of what we do is addressing the negatives of our lives, it is a great thing to hear the positives.

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