Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

RCASA’s Friday Facts: Facts about Stalking

In Advocacy, Education, Friday Facts, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on September 30, 2011 at 6:00 am

The Facts about Stalking

Violence Against Women Online Resources

Copyright © 2010 Violence Against Women Online Resources

Stalking Defined

Stalking has been defined in a variety of ways. Most commonly, and conservatively, stalking is defined as “the willful, malicious, and repeated following and harassing”(Kilmartin & Allison, 2007) of an individual in a course of conduct “that would cause a reasonable person fear”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Additionally, stalking involves persistent harassment over time and often more than one type of activity(Sheridan, Davies, & Boon, 2001). Examples of stalking behaviors include but are not limited to:

Non-consensual Communication

  • Unwanted phone calls
  • Postal mail
  • Electronic mail (e-mails)
  • Text messaging
  • Instant messaging (IM)
  • Contact through social networking sites
  • Sending or leaving gifts or other items

Physical Acts of Stalking

  • Following
  • Tracking with GPS devices
  • Trespassing
  • Spying, Peeping
  • Appearing at one’s home, business, or favored social location
  • Leaving written messages or objects
  • Vandalizing property
  • Surveillance
  • Harming a pet

What We Know About Stalking

Stalking is unlike many other crimes because it involves a series or a pattern of behaviors. Individual events may appear benign, but in the context of the whole are troubling.

The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that “8 percent of women and 2 percent of men in the United States have been stalked at some time in their life”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). This amounts to 1 in 12 women and 1 in 45 men in their lifetime who will experience stalking( Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

Stalkers themselves are predominantly male. The NVAWS found “94 percent of the stalkers identified by female victims and 60 percent of the stalkers identified by male victims were male”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998 (pg. 5)), resulting in 87% of stalkers being male.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), “nearly 3 in 4 of all victims knew their offender in some capacity”(Baum, Catalano, & Rand, 2009 ). The NVAWS found that 59% of female victims, compared with 30% of male victims, were stalked by some type of intimate partner”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Additionally, “[81%] of the women who were stalked by a current or former husband or cohabitating partner were also physically assaulted by the same partner”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

It is important to note that while both men and women are victims of stalking, they experience stalking in different ways. Women are more likely than men to report being stalked by an intimate partner, whereas men are more likely to report being stalked by a stranger or acquaintance(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998). Women are also “13 times as likely as men to report being very afraid of the stalker”(Davis, Coker, & Sanderson, 2002). Those who were “very afraid” of their stalker were significantly more likely to report poor current health status, to develop a chronic disease, and to become injured( Davis, Coker, & Sanderson, 2002 (pg. 434)). Thus, female victims are at higher risk for emotional and physical harm resulting from stalking than are male victims.

There is a positive correlation between stalking and other forms of intimate partner violence. Research shows that those who stalk their partners are four times more likely to physically assault their partners than non-stalkers and six times more likely to sexually assault their partners(St. George, 2001 ).

Adverse Effects of Stalking

Thirty percent of female victims and 20% percent of male victims have sought psychological counseling as a result of their victimization( St. George, 2001). Twenty-six percent of victims said their stalking victimization caused them to lose time from work. Of these, 7% were unable to return to work.(St. George, 2001).

Additionally, “women who were stalked by their partner experienced psychological abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse and injury at significantly higher rates compared with women who were not stalked by their partners”(Logan, Shannon, & Cole, 2007 ).

Stalking Statistics

Members of certain groups have unique vulnerabilities when experiencing stalking. Members of specific populations may be harmed by behaviors that non-members would not be. It is important to note that specific population members are subject to all forms of stalking as experienced by general populations.

  • Individuals who were divorced or separated experienced “a higher rate of victimization than persons of other marital status[es]”(Baum, Catalano, & Rand, 2009).
  • Stalking starts young: “[52%] of stalking victims were 18-29 years old when the stalking started”( Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).
  • The “highest rates of stalking victimization”(Baum, Catalano, & Rand, 2009) occur in persons ages 18 to 19 and 20 to 24.
  • Studies also examine the effects of stalking on rural women: 53% of rural women, compared to 17% of urban women, noted their work patterns were disrupted. This includes forcing a partner to leave work early, drive to or from work in a monitored amount of time, or altogether quit one’s job( Logan, Cole, Shannon, & Walker, 2006 ).
  • “Seventeen percent of Native American women have been stalked”(St. George, 2001 ) in their lifetime.
  • According to a recent study of college students, those who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender “were twice as likely to experience cyberstalking or e-mail harassment from a stranger as were students who identified themselves as heterosexual”( Finn, 2004).
  • 26.7% of victims considered their victimization a personal matter, and did not report it to police. Additionally, only “7% of victims contacted victim services, a shelter, or a helpline”(Baum, Catalano, & Rand, 2009).

It is important to note that not all demographic groups are represented in these statistics. This is not to suggest that other demographic groups do not experience stalking in unique ways due to their race, ethnicity, religion, or age. For many, the data are scarce or simply not available.

Stalking with Technology

Stalking with technology involves the use of a wide array of technologies to stalk victims.

Cyber-stalking, defined as “threatening behavior or unwanted advances directed at another using the internet and other forms of online and computer communications”(Kilmartin & Allison, 2007), and “the repeated use of the internet, e-mail, or related digital electronic communication devices to annoy, alarm, or threaten a specific individual or group of individuals”(Kilmartin & Allison, 2007 (pg. 29) ), is the most commonly researched form of stalking with technology. Cyber-stalking also includes the use of spyware to monitor a victim’s computer use. Online databases prove precarious for victims because many public records, such as housing location and tax information, can allow a stalker access to a victim’s personal information. In many states, the removal of this information is allowed only for the personal records of peace officers and other public officials(Southworth, Finn, Dawson, Fraser, & Tucker, 2007). A 2009 BJS survey also found that of its participants, “[m]ore than 1 in 4 stalking victims reported some form of cyberstalking was used”(Baum, Catalano, & Rand, 2009 ).

Small camera technologies enable a stalker to survey a victim’s activities and guests, to ascertain a victim’s current location, and to enable more sophisticated acts of peeping, among other uses. Footage may also be used to gather information to insult, intimidate, and harass victims.

Global positioning systems (GPS) are used by stalkers to monitor victim movement by the placement of a device in cars, purses, or other personal belongings. This enables stalkers to surprise victims by showing up without announcement(Southworth, Finn, Dawson, Fraser, & Tucker, 2007 ). GPS technology comprises “about a tenth of the electronic monitoring”(Baum, Catalano, & Rand, 2009 ) of victims. Additionally, many cell phones are now equipped with GPS, enabling the same actions from a stalker without having to place a separate device.

Faxes, when sent, are often imprinted with identifiable or traceable information about where the fax originated. Faxes can provide stalkers information to locate their victims in safe housing, lawyers’ offices, or on a new job.

Telephones equipped with caller-ID have provided stalkers with information about victim’s work or home location. Cordless (land based) phones are easily intercepted by baby monitors, walkie-talkies, and other cordless phones(Southworth, Finn, Dawson, Fraser, & Tucker, 2007 ), compromising personal discussions and safety planning. Cellular telephones, like cordless phones, can also be intercepted when in analog service areas. Additionally, printed and online cell phone billing records show one’s entire call log, making that information available to a stalker(Southworth, Finn, Dawson, Fraser, & Tucker, 2007). Cell phones also allow a stalker to send unwanted text and picture messages to a victim.

While technologies can offer protection for victims (for example, the ability to call 911 from anywhere with a cellular phone), it is important to note the potential danger of these technologies when employed by a stalker.

Legal Protections and Stalking

By 1993, all 50 states had adopted anti-stalking laws. In 1996, Congress made it a federal felony to stalk across state lines, including in Indian tribal lands. It is challenging to pursue stalking under the law because many state statutes require a “credible threat,” which is recognized as a direct, verbal threat or previous act(s) of violence.

Additionally, not all acts of stalking are necessarily criminal behaviors, when evaluated as independent acts. For example, while trespassing and peeping are illegal, following one down a public street may not be considered as such. It can also be difficult for a victim to prove a series of acts are stalking, particularly when the acts occur across city and county lines. Reports to law enforcement in a particular jurisdiction are not always immediately available to other jurisdictions. This creates a situation in which it may be difficult to tie these seemingly separate events together as acts of stalking.

Civil protective or restraining orders can be obtained by victims of stalking in some circumstances. Unfortunately, they are often violated, can be difficult to enforce, or may not be properly enforced. “Of those who obtained restraining orders, 69[%] of the women and 81 [%] of the men said their stalker violated the order”(Tjaden & Thoennes, 1998).

The Office on Violence Against Women’s Role

The Office on Violence Against Women was created in 1995 to implement the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and to lead the national effort to stop domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The Office on Violence Against Women administers 19 grant programs to help states, tribes, and local communities transform the way in which criminal justice systems respond to violent crimes against women, hold offenders accountable for their violence, and strengthen services to victim-survivors.


Kilmartin, C., & Allison, J. (2007). Men’s violence against women: Theory, research, and activism. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. (Quote from p.28)

Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (1998) Stalking in America: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey. (NCJ 169592). Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Retrieved October 18, 2008, from Available online (Quote from p.2)

Stalking: Perceptions and prevalence. 16(2), 151-167. Sheridan, L., Davies, G. M., & Boon, J.C.W. Journal of Interpersonal Violence (2001).

Baum, K., Catalano, S., & Rand, M. (2009). Stalking victimization in the United States. (NCJ 224527) Washington, DC: U.S Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from Available online (Quote from p.4)

Physical and mental health effects of being stalked for men and women . 17(4), 429-443. (Quote from p.434) Davis, K., Coker, A. L., & Sanderson, M. Violence and Victims, (2002).

Ibid, 434.

Stalking victimization in the context of intimate partner violence. 22(6), 669-683. (Quote from p.679) Logan, T.K., Shannon, L., & Cole, J. Violence and Victims, (2007).

Logan, T.K., Cole, J., Shannon, L., & Walker, R. (2006). Partner stalking: How women respond, cope, and survive. New York: Springer Publishing Company.

St. George, R. (2001, February). Addressing stalking in Indian Country. Mending the Scared Hoop STOP Violence Against Indian Women Technical Assistance Project. Retrieved October 18, 2008, from Available online

Ibid, 29.

A survey of online harassment at a university campus. 19(4), 468-483. (Quote from p.480) Finn, J. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, (2004).

Intimate partner violence, technology, and stalking. 13(8), 842-856. Southworth, C., Finn. J., Dawson, S., Fraser, C., & Tucker, S.Violence Against Women, (2007).


In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 29, 2011 at 11:11 am


Cuando se habla de estrés postraumático en general se enfoca desde las situaciones que tienen que ver con los fenómenos naturales, como terremotos, huracanes, etc., con situaciones de la guerra, actos terroristas, accidentes automovilísticos, muerte o enfermedades de un ser querido, delitos violentos como un robo o un tiroteo, pero no se menciona la violencia hacia las mujeres en donde se enmarca la Violencia Doméstica y el Asalto Sexual.

Este tema quiero enfocarme en abrir una ventana al tema del Asalto Sexual, en las mujeres Latinas Inmigrantes, por ser personas con un nivel de vulnerabilidad más alto debido a su estatus migratorio, que  atraviesa desde la barrera del idioma y cultura hasta lo que tiene que ver con ser documentada o no documentada, y el abanico de historias que implica esto en aumentar su trauma de Estrés Postraumático.

Muchas mujeres Latinas inmigrantes, vienen con historias de vidas que les implica ser sobrevivientes de muchas situaciones que les han producido diferentes niveles de angustia, pánico, porque por su condición de género las mujeres son las que se encargan del cuidado de la familia, sus derechos sexuales y reproductivos, son prácticamente desconocidos para ellas;  así que esto las lleva a que ellas sean más propensas a enfrentar duras realidades sobre cómo funciona su cuerpo-mente-espíritu.

El trauma de estrés postraumático, en las mujeres Latinas inmigrantes se debe ver desde el punto de vista multidimensional, porque muchas mujeres ya tienen una condición crónica y aún no se han dado cuenta de ello. Esto implica que muchas mujeres vienen de hogares que han vivido Violencia Doméstica, y ellas como niñas fueron testigos de ello; algunas de ellas además de vivir en hogares disfuncionales, han sido víctimas de abuso sexual en la infancia o en la adolescencia. Sumando a esto la pobreza,- que es una de las razones por lo que la mayoría de las mujeres migra-, la guerra, cuando cruzan la frontera y enfrentan las inclemencias del clima, estar expuestas a la persecución de la policía migratoria, y todo la situación de delitos como el asalto sexual, del que muchas son víctimas,  al cruzar la frontera.

Toda esta situación las mujeres por su condición de género, de no denunciar, de no hablar, de ser las últimas en cuidarse,  hace que ellas tengan bloqueado recuerdos y sentimientos. Y entran en un estado de aislamientos social, depresión, hipervigilancia., que son parte de los  síntomas del trauma del estrés postraumático. Sobre todo cuando tienen temor de ser deportadas, no se creen con derecho a protección porque no son ciudadanas del país.

Otra situación es que culturalmente para las mujeres Latinas inmigrantes la Cultura de la denuncia no existe, porque una mujer que ha sido asaltada sexualmente no confía en nadie, así que ir a la Policía es enfrentarse de nuevo con el evento que ella experimento en la frontera con la Policía de Migración, y si viene de uno de los países en que se han enfrentado situaciones de guerra, esos solo serán estímulos simbólicos que le aumentaran la ansiedad, el pánico,  le traerá conductas de Evitación y huida, por lo tanto su Trauma de Estrés Postraumático revivirá. A continuación una breve reseña de los síntomas:


Podríamos agrupar la sintomatología asociada más común en tres grandes bloques:


  • Flashbacks. Sentimientos y sensaciones asociadas por el sujeto a la situación traumática
  • Pesadillas .El evento u otras imágenes asociadas al mismo recurren frecuentemente en sueños.
  • Reacciones físicas y emocionales desproporcionadas ante acontecimientos asociados a la situación traumática


  • Dificultades conciliar el sueño
  • Hipervigilancia
  • Problemas de concentración
  • Irritabilidad / impulsividad / agresividad


  • Intensa evitación/huida/rechazo del sujeto a situaciones, lugares, pensamientos, sensaciones o conversaciones relacionadas con el evento traumático.
  • Pérdida de interés
  • Bloqueo emocional
  • Aislamiento social

Es importante recordar que trabajar con las mujeres Latinas inmigrantes, se deben tomar en cuenta muchos factores, entre ellos que hay que tomar en cuenta que la condición de género que es parte de ser socializada con  diferencias y desigualdades entre hombres y mujeres por razones sociales y culturales. Estas diferencias se manifiestan por los roles (reproductivo, productivo y de gestión comunitaria), que cada uno desempeña en la sociedad, las responsabilidades, conocimiento local, necesidades, prioridades relacionadas con el acceso, manejo, uso y control de los recursos.  Implica que las personas servidoras a este tipo de clientas deberán tener una visión de género, apropiación cultural,  para que esto sea parte de ejercer las buenas prácticas de atención a mujeres que enfrentan este tipo de trauma.


Upcoming Events…

In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 28, 2011 at 6:05 am

I can’t believe how quickly September has gone by. There are still two more day, and those are packed full of things we are doing.

September 29, 2011- Virginia Workforce Community Resource Fair between 1-4 PM.

September 29, 2011– Join us at Salad Creations in Eagle Village for a night of healthy eating. Salad Creations will be contributing 15% of their sales between 4-8 PM to RCASA. Help make a difference to your community and eat healthy! Hope to see you there.

October 6,2011– RCASA will be attending the Learn and Serve Fair for Stafford High School.

Volunteer training will be ending this evening so CONGRATULATIONS to all of our Volunteer Trainees. You all are awesome and your dedication to the training has been noted!

Our next volunteer training will be taking place in January so check your calendars! We always need a few great volunteers. Check out our website for a volunteer application, and more informations!


New Prevention Efforts at RCASA!

In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 27, 2011 at 5:00 am

Hello from the Prevention Desk!

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new Prevention Coordinator at RCASA. Originally from Massachusetts, I lived in Indiana for 5 years where I received my B.A. in Human Development and Social Relations from Earlham College. While living in Indiana I worked for Child Protective Services as a Spanish interpreter, as well as for the court system as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).  Additionally, I taught in the Public School system and at college prep. program for high school students.

I am very excited to be working with RCASA as the Prevention Coordinator and we have several projects in the community already underway. The prevention program at RCASA seeks to provide primary prevention (before an assault has occurred) programs to children and disabled adults in the community. Here is what you can expect to see in the near future:

Spotsylvania Middle Schools: We have met with the counselors of Spotsylvania Middle Schools to discuss a program called “Choose Respect.” Choose Respect seeks to empower young people’s communication skills, build self-esteem and teach boundaries, recognize healthy and unhealthy relationship patterns (all relationships including peer, parental, academic etc. ), and avoid situations where victimization is more likely to occur. We will provide large group presentations for every 7th grade P.E. class, as well as provide the option to join a coed Peer-Leadership Corps which will meet weekly during study halls (thanks to a grant funded by Women and Girls).

Kenmore Club: We are offering a class called “ASSERT” (Awareness, Safety, Self-Esteem, Relationship Training) which is an introduction to boundaries, assertiveness, self-esteem building and recognition of healthy vs. unhealthy or coercive behaviors. The program is tailored to fit all developmental levels of students.

Community Prevention Efforts: We will be offering classes for children and adults in several local housing communities. Prevention classes will be geared toward children 1-7th grade, as well as for adults and parents.

Planning District 16 School Outreach:  We have started an initiative to reach out to local PTAs, school boards and counseling departments in order to provide prevention education in the schools. If you are interested in having a prevention presentation, or long-term program in your local school (elementary-high school), I would love to hear from you!

We are always looking to expand our programs to community centers, schools, youth groups, residential facilities, detention centers/ correction facilities, faith-based organizations, housing communities, businesses, and other community organizations! If you would like more information please do not hesitate contact us at prevention@rcasa.org or Rosie at 540-371-6771.

Segunda Feria Legal de SINOVA

In Awareness Campaigns, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Legal Advocacy, Systems Advocacy on September 26, 2011 at 9:00 am


La Segunda Feria Legal de la agencia Latina sin fines de lucro Spanish Information Network of Virginia, SINOVA nuevamente fue un éxito total, gracias a Indira Murillo, la fundadora y a todo el personal de la junta directiva, a todos los voluntaries y a todas las agencias participantes con quienes conjuntamente pudimos educar y concientizar sobre servicios accesibles en nuestra comunidad.

Asistió un gran número de personas a este evento y nuevamente los Latinos hicimos presencia a tráves de esta segunda feria legal.

Les damos la gracias a las embajadas mobiles de México y Honduras por haber estado aquí ayudando a los residentes de sus países a tramitar documentación, sin la necesidad de perder un día laboral entre la semana y sin la necesidad de tener que viajar a Washington DC para hacerlo.

Agencias como la nuestra (Concilio Rappahannock contra el Asalto Sexual, Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault, RCASA), estuvimos presentes.  Otras de las agencias que también estuvieron allí fueron:  Concilio del Area del Rappahannock para niños y padres – Rappahannock Area Council for Childrens and Parent – RACCA,  La Unidad de Odontología Pediátrica de Virginia Commonwealth University VCU, Departamento de Trabajo de Estados Unidos (United States Department of Labor) – Administración de Normas de Empleo – División de Horas y Salarios, Servicios a Familias Víctimas de Abuso, Inc. (SAFE – Services to Abused Families) del condado de Culpeper, Wells Fargo, Victor’s Auto Service, Departamento de Servicios Sociales de Stafford, La Firma de Abogados de Inmigración Dustin Dyer, YMCA, Mercado de Verduras y Frutas (Farmer’s Market de King George), Madre Tierra, La Clínica del Pueblo, Concilio Rappahannock en Violencia Doméstica, Rappahannock Council on Domestic Violence, RCDV.

Fue algo especial poder haber compartido información de esta índole con nuestra comunidad Latina, los niños disfrutaron mucho de colorear nuestras páginas para concientizar a los padres sobre el asalto sexual que es real y muchas veces es cometido por gente quienes tienen acceso fácil a nuestros hogares.

Para ver las fotografías presione aquí: Segunda Feria Legal de SINOVA

La segunda feria legal de SINOVA fue maravillosa.

RCASA Volunteer Corner

In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 25, 2011 at 4:18 am

10 Facts About Volunteering


  • 1.     In 2008, 61.8 million Americans (26.4% of the population) contributed 8 billion hours of volunteer service worth an estimated 162 billion dollars.
  • 2.     The estimated dollar value of volunteer time is $20.25.
  • 3.     Despite the challenges of a tough economic situation, the volunteering rate held steady between 2007 and 2008, while the number of volunteers slightly increased by about one million.
  • 4.     Over 441,000 more young adults (age 16-24) volunteered in 2008 than 2007, representing an increase from about 7.8 million to more than 8.2 million.
  • 5.     Neighborhood engagement levels have risen sharply since 2007, with a 31% increase in the number of people who worked with their neighbors to fix a community problem and a 17 % increase in the number of people who attended community meetings.
  • 6.     Between September 2008 and March 2009, more than a third (37%) of nonprofit organizations report increasing the number of volunteers they use, and almost half (48%) foresee increasing their usage of volunteers in the coming years.
  • 8.      Non-volunteers say that they are more likely to serve if a trusted friend asks them to serve.
  • 9.      About 8.24 million young people ages 16-24 volunteered in 2008, over 441,000 more than in 2007.This increase in young adult volunteers makes up almost half of the overall increase in the number of volunteers nationally.
  • 10.   Adults who began volunteering as youth are twice as likely to volunteer as those who did not volunteer when they were younger.

RCASA Saturday with Case Management: 2011 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act

In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 24, 2011 at 6:00 am

Legislation update:

Can you be a part of ensuring a crucial piece of federal legislation that safeguards the rights of trafficking survivors is renewed before it expires at the end of the month?

The 2011 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) was only recently introduced in the House (H.R. 2830) — so it’s important now more than ever to keep pressure on our representatives to pass this vital legislation! The TVPRA is one of the cornerstones of the United States’ anti-trafficking efforts. Initially signed into law in 2000, the law must be reauthorized every few years. The current TVPRA expires on September 30, and it is critical that the reauthorization be signed before this date to ensure the country maintains a consistent and comprehensive approach to combating human trafficking. The Senate version (S.1301) was introduced this past June.

You can sign the Polaris Project’s Change.org petition urging Congress to reauthorize TVPRA here: http://chn.ge/pyQ921 Once you’ve signed the online petition, go one step further to spread the word! Tweet about the petition on Twitter. Here’s a sample tweet: I just signed this petition on @Change asking Congress to reauthorize the #2011TVPRA #trafficking http://ht.ly/6rX92 via @Polaris_Project. Spread the word on Facebook! Here’s a sample post:
 Sign the petition on Change.org today to ask Congress to reauthorize the 2011 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act! Your signature can make a difference in the lives of human trafficking victims. [http://ht.ly/6rX92]

Updates per DC Stop Modern Slavery Newsletter

RCASA’s Friday Facts: Cyber Safety and Teens

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on September 23, 2011 at 6:00 am

Cyber Safety and Teens: How Online Behavior Can Be Dangerous for Kids

Teens often lack the maturity and social judgment necessary to act responsibly in the unsupervised, anonymous free for all of the internet. Help them protect themselves.

 What are some of the inherent problems that exist with this new technology, and how do the developmental issues kids are grappling with impact and exacerbate these issues?

Lack of feedback. Interactions don’t occur in a vacuum, but on the internet, they often feel as if they do. Written exchanges lack verbal and social cues such as tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Emoticons are a poor substitute for the usual signals that accompany verbal communication. The result: accurately assessing the intention and meaning behind the words becomes difficult. Misunderstandings are common. Assumptions are made and acted upon without verification, and situations can quickly escalate into hostility.

Disinhibition. You can’t see me, and I can’t see you. This dynamic prevents users from receiving crucial feedback about how their words and actions impact others. This is especially problematic for kids, whose ability to see another person’s perspective is still developing. The ability to post material without fear of identification, along with the diluted sense of responsibility that comes with going along with the crowd in harassing or hateful activities, allows kids to avoid the natural consequences of their behavior. Over time, this behavior becomes normalized on the internet, and eventually spills over into real life interactions.

Aura of safety and anonymity. Kids disclose huge amount of personal information, oblivious to who might see it and how quickly it can be disseminated to large numbers of people. Because of immature thinking processes and a sense of immortality, they underestimate how dangerous this is. On the contrary, in our tell-all society, the sharing of private, even sexual information and images has become the norm.

Vulnerability. Kids without positive personal relationships may be at increased risk. They may be looking online for what is missing in their own lives, and not have the judgment necessary to avoid unhealthy internet relationships. Teens who use internet postings as a journal to share their pain with the world may attract like-minded individuals who encourage extreme or dangerous behavior, or online predators who use a teen’s vulnerability to their advantage.

Three Hundred Friends. Teens are in the process of forming their identities, exploring social relationships, and trying out different roles in society. “Popularity” is often determined by the number of “links” or “friends” a teen has. In an effort to increase this number quickly, kids often post questionable content, highlighting provocative, unhealthy, or illegal behavior, in an effort to gain attention and status.

What Can You Do? Knowledge is power. Talk with kids about the above dangers, and explain to them why you have concerns about their internet behavior. Provide a sounding board for kids dealing with difficult situations, so they won’t feel the need to turn to the internet for attention and support.

Thursday: Notification of new groups at RCASA

In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 22, 2011 at 1:41 am

There are many great groups that survivors can be a part of at RCASA.  A couple of those are starting fresh this week and next week. A women’s stabilization group will be held Tuesday evenings from 4-5pm. As mentioned last week, a men’s survivor group will be starting this Thursday, September 22, from 6-7pm. Also, a young women’s group serving women ages 18-22 will be starting next Thursday, September 29, from 4-5 pm. These groups can help survivors learn coping skills, connect with those sharing their difficulties, and move towards healing. The groups are offered at no cost; however intake paperwork and registration is required of each participant.
Please join us in these groups and take the first step towards change. To schedule an intake please call 540-371-5502.

Coming Up Next…

In Sexual Assault Awareness on September 21, 2011 at 6:00 am

I can’t believe that volunteer training is almost over. It has been quite an experience and I am so excited about the level of enthusiasm of each volunteer trainee. They totally Rock!

September is UMW’s Safety month. RCASA has been fortunate enough to have Blackstone Coffee sponsor a fundraiser for us during the last two weeks of this month. We have flyers and if you take these flyers to Blackstone they will give 10% of their sales for the last two weeks to RCASA. They must have the flyer though! To get a bunch of flyers, call me at 540-371-6771. (ask for Robin) Together we can make a difference, one sip at a time!

Next Event: Join us September 29th between 1-4 pm for Virginia Workforce’s Community Resource Fair. Virginia Workforce Center, 10304 Spotsylvania Avenue, Fredericksburg VA 22408.

Remember that this is campaign donation season. If you donate through work, think of RCASA. Here are the  numbers to use: CVC-6417   CFC-78223. We need your help!

October is fast approaching and with it new events are coming! I will be posting October events very soon on the website. Check it out and join us!

Things to keep in mind: October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

%d bloggers like this: