Archive for the ‘Advocacy’ Category

Crisis Response: LGBTQ Victims Being Hit Twice…Emotionally, That Is

In Advocacy on June 30, 2012 at 5:00 am

We all know that a crime against any person will usually leave that individual feeling a vast array of emotions.  Sadness, anger, detachment, numbness, embarrassment, shame, and guilt are just a few amongst a long list of feelings that a victim will experience.  Crimes of a sexual nature can be especially tough emotionally on a victim.  Every other emotion can instantly be combined with the most intense cases of vulnerability and exposure that a person can imagine going through.  This is where a crisis response team that knows how to cater to the sensitivity of each victim proves to be invaluable.  They need to be able to assess the situation, and the right approach necessary, as to not add more distress to a victim who has already experienced a very traumatic event.

Now, imagine that this victim is also a member of the LGBTQ community.  Of course they would experience the same array of emotions and vulnerability as any other straight person who was sexually assaulted, but there is a second issue that they may find themselves dealing with.  In some cases, LGBTQ individuals are victimized in a sexual manner strictly because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.  As someone who has been in crisis response for many years, it is not a surprise when a LGBTQ sexual assault victim tells me that their assailant yelled offensive slurs or derogatory comments regarding their sexual orientation before or during the assault.  This can add to the feelings of guilt, shame, embarrassment, anger, etc, that these victims feel, as some victims will start to blame themselves for being attacked.  They can feel that they are wrong for the life that they live, and once again someone is making it clear that they think something is wrong with them.  As a punishment for being who they are, they may start to believe they deserved what happened to them.  Instead of blaming the other person’s ignorance or hatred, many victims turn the blame inward.  In reality, not only have they been assaulted physically, but mentally as well.  They have been hit twice.  Through experience, most crisis responders become aware of this aspect of the sexual assault of an individual in the LGBTQ community.  This makes it all the more important for the crisis response team to be aware of all of the differing emotions that the victim will be going through and be able to provide them with the type of quality service they deserve.

Crisis Response: RCASA as a Safe Place for the LGBTQ Community

In Advocacy on June 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

On average 11-17% of all women report being sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime, while 2-3% of men will report a sexual assault in their lifetime.  These numbers are significantly lower for individuals in the LGBTQ community.  When they are assaulted they have many issues to consider that straight men and women do not have to worry about.  Will they receive the same level of medical service that a straight person would receive?  Will they receive the same level of sensitivity and caring that a straight person would receive?  Will the police put forth the same efforts to seek justice for a crime that happened to them?  As a group that has been highly discriminated against in the United States, including having less rights, they legitimately worry about seeking immediate help during this time of crisis (Chedekel, 2011).

This is why it is so important for RCASA to continue to make ourselves known to the LGBTQ community.  All of our crisis responders and volunteers are trained to be sensitive to and respectful to people in all walks of life.  Our organization is the safe haven for people who have been sexually assaulted no matter what their sexual orientation or gender identity may be.  This is also especially important because there is a growing need for crisis responders who are sensitive to the issues that the LGBTQ community faces.  According to this article, http://www.bu.edu/today/2011/lesbians-gays-bisexuals-at-increased-risk-for-sexual-assault/ , by Lisa Chedekel, women in the LGBTQ community are up to 3 times more likely to be sexually assaulted in some way in their lifetime, whereas LGBTQ men are up to 15 times more likely to be sexually assaulted.  This happens for a variety of reasons, but hate crimes are the main reason I have observed over the course of several years.  Sexual assault is a crime against another human being and it should not be tolerated, period.  This is no less true for individuals who identify themselves as part of the LGBTQ community.  RCASA takes the stance that sex crimes against the LGBTQ community are never okay and we are immediately available when needed during a crisis.


Chedekel, Lisa.  “Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals at Increased Risk for Sexual Assault.”  BU Today.  Boston University, 13 Apr. 2011.  Web.  22 Jun. 2012.

If Someone Discloses to You

In Advocacy, Case Management on June 16, 2012 at 3:22 pm

If a child, friend or associate tells you that they have been molested, raped or assaulted you need to let them know first that you believe them.  That is one of the most important things you will ever be able to do for them.

Next remind them, or tell them for the first time that they are NOT at fault.

After a rape, survivors may be openly upset, even hysterical, or they may be numb and seemingly calm. You can help victims by meeting immediate needs:

  • Obtaining medical assistance
  • Feeling safe. Rape is a traumatic violation of a person. Especially in the beginning, it is often difficult for victims to be alone.
  • Being believed. With date rape especially, victims need to be believed that what occurred was, in fact, a rape.
  • Knowing it was not their fault. Most rape victims feel guilty and feel that the attack was somehow their fault.
  • Taking control of their life. When a person is raped, they may feel completely out of control of what is happening to them. A significant step on the road to recovery is to regain a sense of control in little, as well as big things.

You can help by:

  • Listening, not judging. It is not your place to play prosecutor and make a victim prove their story. Accept their version of the facts and be supportive.
  • Offering shelter. If it is at all possible, stay with them at their place or let them at least spend one night at your place. This is not the time for them to be alone.
  • Being available. Victims may need to talk at strange hours, or could use your help to run errands or screen calls.
  • Giving comfort.
  • Letting them know that they are not to blame.
  • Being patient and understanding.
  • Encouraging action. For example, suggest they call a hotline, go to a hospital or health center, and/or call the police. Respect their decision if they decide not to file charges.
  • Not being overly protective. Encourage them to make their own decisions. A victim needs to feel in control of their life and this will not be possible if you do everything for them.
  • Accept their choice of solution to the rape – even if you disagree with what they are doing. It is more important that a victim make decisions and have them respected than it is for you to impose what you think is the “right” decision.
  • Put aside your feelings, and deal with them somewhere else. Although it is supportive for a rape survivor to know that others are equally upset with what happened, it does them no good if on top of their own feelings, they also have to deal with your feelings of rage and anger.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual violence, please contact RCASA at (540) 371-1666.  RCASA will be able to help them figure out the next best step.  Information is kept confidential.

RCASA Saturday Advocacy: New Rules Target Sexual Assault Epidemic Facing LGBT Inmates

In Advocacy, Sexual Assault Awareness, Systems Advocacy on June 9, 2012 at 5:00 am

The following is a reprint from the article written by Andrew Harmon on May 17, 2012 and appearing on The Advocate.com

New Rules Target Sexual Assault Epidemic Facing LGBT Inmates

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s Department of Justice has released new rules to combat the epidemic of sexual assault in the nation’s prison system, a crisis that disproportionately affects LGBT inmates, as the agency specifically addressed Thursday.

The new rules coincide with a presidential memorandum mandating that the Prison Rape Elimination Act, a law passed by Congress with overwhelming bipartisan support nearly a decade ago, applies to all U.S. correctional and detention facilities (the Justice Department has been finalizing rules pertaining to the law over the past several years).

“Sexual violence, against any victim, is an assault on human dignity and an affront to American values,” President Obama wrote. “To advance the goals of PREA, we must ensure that all agencies that operate confinement facilities adopt high standards to prevent, detect, and respond to sexual abuse.”

While LGBT advocates have hailed the Justice Department rules as a significant step forward in protecting vulnerable gay and transgender inmates, questions remain about why DOJ’s PREA regulations, which it has spent years and millions of dollars developing, do not directly apply to the nation’s immigration detention facilities that hold approximately 32,000 people every day. (For more on this issue, read The Advocate’s Eight Months in Solitary report.)

Rather, as detailed by the Justice Department, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees those immigration facilities, will be tasked with creating its own standards compliant to the law. The presidential memo instructs all agencies with confinement facilities to report their own rules on sexual assault to the attorney general.

Allowing DHS to issue its own standards has been a point of contention for dozens of immigrant and LGBT advocacy groups, which have stressed, in part, that the process creates two separate sets of standards for facilities housing both inmates and immigrant detainees.

On a conference call with reporters, senior administration officials asserted that standards for detention facilities would be best formulated by Homeland Security officials, who will be issuing new proposed regulations within 120 days, followed by a public comment period. It’s unclear when those standards would be finalized, though such rules would require independent audits to ensure they comply with PREA.

“DHS will move swiftly to promulgate these regulations and will work with the attorney general and others to ensure that the regulations satisfy the requirements of the statute,” DHS spokesman Peter Boogaard said in a statement.

For the nation’s prisons and jails, the rules released Thursday detail specific, crucial reforms around LGBT and intersex inmates, from pat-down search protocol to the use of segregated facilities.

“There has been a lot of discrimination and violence against LGBT inmates in correctional facilities,” a senior Justice Department official said Thursday, “and DOJ has devoted a lot of attention in this rule to LGBTI issues because of these unique vulnerabilities.”

Among the final rules pertaining to gay, transgender, and intersex inmates, per DOJ:

-Agencies must train security staff in conducting professional and respectful cross-gender pat-down searches and searches of transgender and intersex inmates.

-Transgender and intersex inmates must be given the opportunity to shower separately from other inmates.

-In deciding whether to assign a transgender or intersex inmate to a facility for male or female inmates, and in making other housing and programming assignments, an agency may not simply assign the inmate to a facility based on genital status.

-LGBT and intersex inmates cannot be placed in dedicated facilities solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Timed with the final rules, the Bureau of Justice Statistics released sobering figures Thursday on the incidence of prison rape among gay and bisexual inmates. According to a survey of former state prisoners conducted in 2008, 39% of gay male inmates reported that they had been assaulted by a fellow inmate, compared to 3.5% of heterosexual male inmates.

About one third of bisexual male inmates also reported that they had been sexually assaulted, while lesbian inmates reported incidents of sexual violence perpetrated by staff at twice the rate of female heterosexual inmates. The survey did not include transgender individuals, who by all accounts are among the most vulnerable to sexual assault in prison.

“This is absolutely lifesaving work,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said of the Justice Department’s rules. “Transgender people are 13 times more likely to be assaulted in prison. … This is about how we protect vulnerable people, how we protect against HIV transmission, and how we end the misery and horror of sexual assault in prison.”

Chris Daley, deputy executive director of Just Detention International, also praised the Justice Department’s rules, saying that “if effectively implemented, the PREA standards will require LGBT cultural competency training for staff, better recognition of transgender prisoners’ gender identity, and safer housing assignments.”

But, Daley added, “It is incredibly disappointing that these DOJ policies aren’t also applicable to immigration detention facilities as Congress intended.”

Earlier this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of Homeland Security that oversees detention facilities, released new standards on detainee treatment. The rules, which officials claim will be implemented in all publicly and privately run facilities by year’s end, include improvements for LGBT detainees, such as better access to hormone therapy for transgender individuals, as well as greater scrutiny in the use of segregating LGBT detainees, who are often placed in isolation for all but a few hours in the day.

But some immigration attorneys who work with LGBT detainees have been skeptical of ICE’s own ability to enforce such reforms. “The standards seem like pie in the sky at this point,” Rosalba Davis, a former staff attorney for Immigration Equality who is now in private practice, told The Advocate earlier this month. “Each detention center operates like its own fiefdom and doesn’t feel bound by the national standards. I hope this changes, though. I hope the detention centers start realizing that treating detainees humanely and with dignity is not difficult.”

In April a broad coalition of immigration, labor, religious, and LGBT groups wrote to White House Domestic Policy Council director Cecilia Muñoz, urging that standards promulgated by the Justice Department apply to immigration facilities.

“Requiring DHS to create its own PREA-compliant standards is … not a viable alternative,”wrote the coalition, which included the National Council of La Raza, the United Methodist Church, and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “It has taken ICE 5 years to develop [its own standards] and during this time it was fully aware of the concurrent development of the PREA regulations. … To wait for ICE to undergo a separate process of developing its own PREA-compliant standards would be highly duplicative and inefficient.”

Of immigration detention facilities, Keisling of the National Center for Transgender Equality said Thursday following release of the rules, “We’re going to keep working to make sure that DHS does the right thing to stop assault.”

Full text of the Justice Department’s executive summary as it pertains to LGBT and intersex inmates is below:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) and Gender Nonconforming Inmates. The standards account in various ways for the particular vulnerabilities of inmates who are LGBTI or whose appearance or manner does not conform to traditional gender expectations. The standards require training in effective and professional communication with LGBTI and gender nonconforming inmates and require the screening process to consider whether the inmate is, or is perceived to be, LGBTI or gender nonconforming. The standards also require that post- incident reviews consider whether the incident was motivated by LGBTI identification, status, or perceived status.

In addition, in a change from the proposed rule, the final standards do not allow placement of LGBTI inmates in dedicated facilities, units, or wings in adult prisons, jails, or community confinement facilities solely on the basis of such identification or status, unless such placement is in a dedicated facility, unit, or wing established in connection with a consent decree, legal settlement, or legal judgment for the purpose of protecting such inmates. As in the proposed standards, such placement is not allowed at all in juvenile facilities.

The standards impose a complete ban on searching or physically examining a transgender or intersex inmate for the sole purpose of determining the inmate’s genital status. Agencies must train security staff in conducting professional and respectful cross-gender pat-down searches and searches of transgender and intersex inmates.

In deciding whether to assign a transgender or intersex inmate to a facility for male or female inmates, and in making other housing and programming assignments, an agency may not simply assign the inmate to a facility based on genital status. Rather, the agency must consider on a case-by-case basis whether a placement would ensure the inmate’s health and safety, and whether the placement would present management or security problems, giving serious consideration to the inmate’s own views regarding his or her own safety. In addition, transgender and intersex inmates must be given the opportunity to shower separately from other inmates.

RCASA Saturday Advocacy: Defining Violence in the LGBTQ Community and Resource List For Advocacy

In Advocacy, Systems Advocacy on June 2, 2012 at 5:00 am

KCAVP (Kansas City Anti-Violence Project) defines sexual assault as any sexual contact made without a person’s consent or permission, either by someone that person knows or by a stranger. These are criminal acts of power and control expressed through sexual aggression.  Sexual assault also occurs in same-gender relationships. In fact, sexual assault happens in every part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Neither sexual orientation nor the offender’s gender changes the fact that rape and sexual assault are violent crimes

According to The Kansas City Anti-Violence Project “KCAVP defines domestic violence as a pattern of behaviors used by one person to exercise power and control over another person.  Some people are often surprised to learn that domestic violence occurs in LGBT relationships to the same frequency and severity as it does among heterosexuals.

 A bias crime (also known as a hate crime) is a criminal offense committed against a person or property out of hatred for who they are or who people think they are. These acts are motivated in whole or in part by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, ethnic/national origin group, or sexual orientation group. Almost every lesbian, gay man, transgender person, or bisexual person has experienced some form of bias crime or knows someone who has.  Many LGBT individuals have become so used to violence being perpetrated against them that they tend to “expect” certain harassment for being LGBT. But the truth is, it’s never ok to be harassed or hurt because of who you are or who you’re perceived to be.”….Click here to Learn More about KCAVP.

The following is a list of advocacy resources for LGBTQ community members and friends and families. If you are in crisis please call RCASA’s hotline at 24/7 (540) 371-1666.

 Virginia Resources:

Northern Virginia/D.C. Metro Area 

Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance
A non-partisan organization that strives to improve the quality of life and meet the needs of the gay and lesbian community throughout Arlington.
Address: P.O. Box 324
Arlington, VA 22210
Email: info@agla.org

Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry (NOVAM)
Youth education, prevention, awareness, testing and treatment services for residents of Northern Virginia.
Address: 03 W. Broad Street,
Falls Church, VA  22046
Phone (703) 533-5505
Fax (703) 533-5506
Email: info@novam.org

The TransGender Education Association of Greater Washington, DC (TGEA)
Non-profit aimed at providing support and education to the community on transgender topics. Meetings each month for members of the transgender community to socialize and receive information.
Address: P.O. Box 16036
Arlington, VA 22215

Fredericksburg HIV/AIDS Support Services

is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to help empower persons infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, by acting as their advocate and providing emotional, educational and emergency financial assistance. It is through compassion and service that we educate and reach out to our communities.

Address: 415 Elm Street
Fredericksburg, Virginia 22401
phone (540) 371-7532
toll-free (800) 215-8121
fax (540) 371-8446

Fredericksburg Pride
Non-profit serving the LGBT community of Fredericksburg, with an emphasis on active involvement in the eliminating of stereotypes and the betterment of other underserved groups in society.
Email: fredprideinc@yahoo.com

Central Virginia

Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth (ROSMY)
Offering support groups, youth center with drop-in hours, youth support line, leadership opportunities, and volunteer training for sexual minority youth. Also connected with ROSMY Blue Ridge, based in Charlottesville.
Address: 2311 Westwood Ave
Richmond, VA 23230
Email: youthprograms@rosmy.org
Youth Support Line: 888-644-4390

Gay Community Center of Richmond
“We develop and help sustain organizations, programs and services that contribute to a vibrant Central Virginia community that shares our values of diversity, inclusion, individual dignity, equality and civic engagement.”
Address: 1407 Sherwood Avenue
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 622-4646, ext. 21.

AIDS/HIV Services Group (ASGVA)
Prevention, education and testing.
Address: 953 2nd Street SE
Charlottesville, VA 22902

FOCUS Women’s Resource Center
Established Shelter for Help in Emergency (SHE) and Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA), TEENSIGHT to address the issue of teen pregnancy and parenting. Offers legal assistance, financial assistance, life skills coaching.
Address: 953 Second Street, S.E.
Charlottesville, VA 22902

Dominion Youth Services
Home to Horizon House, residential program for youth diagnosed with a DSM-IV disorder. Also offers day treatment, including in-house care and mental health support, and outpatient services including therapy for individual youth and families.
Southern Virginia
Address: P.O. Box 28526
Richmond, VA 23228
(804) 285-9838

L.G.B.T. Youth Support Group for Young People Up to 20 year of Age or younger. Providing Support, Education, and Social Activities for L.G.B.T. Youth of Roanoke and Southwestern Virginia.
Email: outrightroanoke@yahoo.com
(540) 966-7165

Mental Health Association of the New River Valley, Inc.
Free mental health services, peer support and family alliances for community members. Specializes in coping with grief and trauma, crisis intervention, parenting through separation and divorce.
Address: 303 Church St.
Blacksburg, VA 24060
Email: mhainfo@mhanrv.org

Roanoke Pride
Organizers and supporters of LGBT pride events in the Roanoke area, including Pride In The Park.
Website: http://www.roanokepride.org
Meetings: MCC of the Blue Ridge
Address: 806 Jamison Ave. SE.
Roanoke VA.

Tidewater Region

Hampton Roads Pride
Non-profit dedicating to instilling pride and celebrating unity of the LGBT community in the Hampton Roads area.
Address: P.O. Box 1064
Chesapeake, VA 23327

Virginia Conflict Resolution Center
Center for conflict resolution, offering youth training in conflict resolution, mediation, anti-bullying, disruptive behavior, judiciary education.
Address: 586 Virginian Drive
Norfolk, VA 23505

Tidewater AIDS Crisis Taskforce
Testing, awareness and resources for HIV/AIDS patients and communities in the Tidewater region.
Address: 9229 Granby St. 2nd Floor
Norfolk, VA 23503
757-583-1317 or 757-626-0127
Website: http://www.tact-online.com/

Campus Resources

LGBT Resource Center at the University of Virginia
Support for students, faculty, staff, alumni and community. Speakers, groups, free HIV testing.
Address: Newcomb Hall Room 435
434) 982-2843
P.O. Box 400701
Email: lgbtrc@virginia.edu

George Mason University Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Resources
Provides and supports curricular and co-curricular experiences that enhance the health and wellbeing, academic success, and personal development of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and ally students, faculty, staff, alumni and their families and friends.
Address: SUB I, Room 2200
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
(703) 993-2702
Email: rchollar@gmu.edu

Gay-Straight Student Union (GSSU) at Christopher Newport University
Sponsors social, educational, and awareness-oriented functions for the community, as well as providing a confidential environment for LGBTQ students to discuss personal issues.
Address: One University Place
Newport News, VA
Email: gssu@cnu.edu

TABOO at Bridgewater College
Awareness-building outreach organization aimed at promoting education on issues such as eating disorders, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, sexually transmitted diseases, suicide prevention.
Website: http://www.bridgewater.edu/orgs/taboo/index.html

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Alliance at Virginia Tech
Student organization offering programming and support to members of the LGBTQ community at Virginia Tech. Includes the LGBT Resource Center, the largest collection of LGBT print and video media in the New River Valley.
Address: 304 Squires Student Center
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-7975
Email: lgbtaofvt@vt.edu

Unity Alliance at Longwood College
Student organization seeking to raise awareness and understanding among LGBT as well as straight students, including the surrounding Farmville community.
Website: http://lancerweb.longwood.edu/org/ua/

PRISM (People for the Rights of Individuals of Sexual Minorities) at Mary Washington College
Organization seeking to bridge the gap between the LGBT and straight communities on campus, through support and programming.
Address: 1301 College Avenue
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Radford University Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Student Union
Students seeking to promote positive change in the societal perception of sexual minorities in the Radford area.
Address: P.O. Box 6975
Radford, VA 24142
Email: glbsu@radford.edu
Website: http://www.runet.edu/~glbsu/

Virginia Commonwealth University Sexual Minority Student Association
Email: smsa@vcu.edu
Website: http://www.studentorg.vcu.edu/smsa/

Washington and Lee Gay-Straight Alliance
Website: http://gsa.wlu.edu/


Equality Virginia
Education, outreach, and advocacy organization seeking equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Virginians. Research, education, legislative/public policy issues, campaigns to elect openly LGBT candidates to state and local office.
Email: info@equalityvirginia.org
Address: 403 N. Robinson St, Richmond, VA 23220

ACLU of Virginia
Defending and preserving the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Known for litigation, educating the public and lobbying for rights-based issues.
Email: acluva@aclu.org
Address: 530 East Main Street
Suite 310
Richmond, VA 23219

LGBT Democrats of Virginia
Political action committee geared towards endorsing and fundraising for LGBT-friendly candidates for public office.
Website: http://lgbtvadem.org/

National Alliance on Mental Health Virginia (NAMI Virginia)
Support and advocacy for people with mental illness and their families.
Address: P.O. Box 8260
Richmond, VA 23226-0260
(804) 285-8264
Email: namiva@comcast.net

RCASA Advocacy Blog: Forms of Sexual Assault

In Advocacy, Systems Advocacy on May 26, 2012 at 5:00 am

Sexual assault is defined by law as sexualized contact (sometimes referred to as carnal knowledge) with another person without consent and by force (compulsion). Victims (both men and women) of sexual assault can be compelled or forced to participate through fear, physical force, deception, other forms of coercion, or the use of intoxicants such as alcohol and drugs. Some forms of sexual assault do not require the use of force but are still considered criminal. Sexual assault has taken place if sexual contact has happened that has not been consented to in a conscious and voluntary way.

Sexual assault can take many forms.

Forms of sexual assault with force

       Sexual assault can include any adult sexual activity.

  • Contact or penetration of the vagina with the penis (intercourse, rape)
  • Anal contact or penetration (sodomy)
  • Oral contact of the male on the genitalia of the female (cunnilingus)
  • Oral contact of the female on the genitalia of the male (fellatio)
  • Hand to genitalia contact (masturbation, fondling, or penetration)


       Contact between any body parts and the private parts of another can be construed as lewd and lascivious conduct or sexual battery (a legal term for any other ill-defined behavior that is intended to arouse sexual pleasure for the assailant). Lewd and lascivious conduct and sexual battery are very broad categories of sexual assault used by law enforcement when exactly what happened is not clear.


       Forced nudity, photography, and video of people in sexual poses against their wishes are also forms of sexual assault.

Forms of sexual assault without force: In other sexualized behaviors, including groping in crowds, secret photographing, or peeping, force or fear of harm may be absent due to the nature of the activity. These behaviors are still regarded as sexual assault. When the acts are ill defined, the lack of consent and the intent to arouse sexual gratification will be used as a test to determine if the behavior is a sexual assault.

Date rape: Date rape is a sexual assault that occurs when you already have a relationship with the person who assaulted you and you have agreed to be with that person in some form or another (such as to be on a date). A date, however, does not imply any consent for sexual contact, and a sexual assault that takes place during a date is still a sexual assault and will be treated as such by law enforcement.

Spousal rape: In spousal rape, a husband can be accused of sexual assault on his own wife. Although uncommon, a dysfunctional marital relationship can lead to both physical assault and sexual assault against a spouse. This is a form of domestic violence. These assaults are handled the same as any other sexual assault allegation by law enforcement.

Statutory rape: Statutory rape is sex with a minor. A minor is a person younger than 18 years. Quite a bit of confusion exists about this law. Some states allow intercourse with minors who are emancipated (freed of control from their parents), and other states allow minors to marry. Many minors engage in sexual intercourse with other minors and are not prosecuted. Adult engagement in sex with minors is generally not tolerated, and adults should not engage in intercourse with younger people unless the adult is sure the youth is emancipated or older than 18 years. This crime is legally known as a strict liability crime. This means that if a person has sex with a minor, no excuse is acceptable to a court, including being duped, mistaken, or ignorant of the law. If a person has sex with a minor, he or she can be charged with statutory rape, to which no defense exists. To avoid this crime, extra caution is needed when engaging in sex with someone at or near the age of 18 years.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and need(s) help, please call us on our hotline: (540) 371-1666. There are many resources available for victims and their families. All information is kept confidential.

RCASA Advocacy Saturday – What Is Sexual Assault?

In Advocacy on May 19, 2012 at 5:00 am

Sexual assault and abuse is any type of sexual activity that you do not agree to, including:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Vaginal, anal, or oral penetration
  • Sexual intercourse that you say no to
  •  Rape
  • Attempted rape
  •  Child molestation

Sexual assault can be verbal, visual, or anything that forces a person to join in unwanted sexual contact or attention. Examples of this are voyeurism (when someone watches private sexual acts), exhibitionism (when someone exposes him/herself in public), incest (sexual contact between family members), and sexual harassment. It can happen in different situations: in the home by someone you know, on a date, or by a stranger in an isolated place.

Rape is a common form of sexual assault. It is committed in many situations — on a date, by a friend or an acquaintance, or when you think you are alone. Educate yourself on “date rape” drugs. They can be slipped into a drink when a victim is not looking. Never leave your drink unattended — no matter where you are. Attackers use date rape drugs to make a person unable to resist assault. These drugs can also cause memory loss so the victim doesn’t know what happened.

Rape and sexual assault are never the victim’s fault — no matter where or how it happens.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault and need (s) help, please contact our Hotline: 540- 371- 1666. Information is kept confidential.

RCASA Advocacy Saturday – Understanding P.E.R.K. Exams and Your Options After a Sexual Assault

In Advocacy, Medical Accompaniment on May 12, 2012 at 5:00 am

Your safety and health are most important. Please consider seeing a health care provider even if you don’t want to make a report to the police right now. The health care provider can check you for injuries and talk to you about possible pregnancy concerns and/or sexually transmitted infections. If you think you might want to report the assault, the health care provider can also collect evidence of the assault from your body. This is called a P.E.R.K. exam.

What is a PERK exam?

P.E.R.K. stands for Physical Evidence Recovery Kit. A P.E.R.K. is a special medical exam given to people who have been sexually assaulted to collect evidence that may be helpful in the investigation and prosecution of the sexual assault. If you think you might want to report the assault to the police, the sooner you have the evidence collected, the better.

How soon should a P.E.R.K. exam be done?

A P.E.R.K. exam should be done within 72 hours or three days since the assault.

Do I have to have a P.E.R.K. exam ?

No. If you have decided that you do not want to make a report to law enforcement now or in the future, then having evidence collected by having a P.E.R.K. exam might not be the right choice for you. Advocates from the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) can help you think through the choice to have or decline a P.E.R.K. exam.

If I don’t have a P.E.R.K. exam, will the police be called?

By law, health care providers DO NOT have to report sexual assaults to the police unless were certain weapons used during the assault (Virginia Code: 54.1-2967) Note: health care providers may have to report the sexual assault if you are under 18 or an adult who depends on another adult for care.

Who will pay for the P.E.R.K. examination?

The Commonwealth of Virginia will pay for the cost of the P.E.R.K.  exam. You do not have to participate in an investigation to have the P.E.R.K. paid for. Your insurance will be billed first if you have Medicaid, CHAMPUS, Tri-care or another type of federal insurance. If you do not want the insurance information to be sent to your home, please tell the health care provider.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault please contact the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) at 540-371-1666. Information will be kept confidential.

RCASA Advocacy Saturday: Myths And Facts Surrounding Sexual Assault

In Advocacy, Sexual Assault Awareness on May 5, 2012 at 5:00 am

Welcome to RCASA’s newest blog, Saturday’s Advocacy blog. Today we start with some myths and facts surrounding sexual assault.

  • One in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.
  • One in three girls and one in five boys will be sexually assaulted by age 18. Nearly 85% will be abused by someone known to them.
  • It is estimated that only 20% of all sexual exploitation cases involving the handicapped are reported to any agency.
  • Every minute 1.3 reported rapes occur in the United States.
  • In 50% of the families where physical violence occurs, the children are also abused.
  • On the average, rapists sexually assault 50 times before they are caught.


MYTH: Women ask to be raped.

FACT: Rape is a violent and humiliating experience. Rapists use intimidation and/or threats to gain power and control over the intended victims. No one asks to experience the fear and trauma of rape.

MYTH: “Young attractive Girls” get raped.

FACT: Rapists do not choose victims on the basis of appearance or age. Any woman can be raped. The reported age range of victims is from 2 days old to 103 years of age.

MYTH: Rapists are strangers.

FACT: Studies show that 60 to 80% of rapists are known to their victims. Acquaintance rape and Date rape are a real danger, especially for the vulnerable populations of teens and young adults.

MYTH: Rape is an impulsive act, done for sexual gratification.

FACT: The majority of rapes are planned in advance, either by the rapist stalking the victim or waiting for a safe opportunity and then finding a victim. Sexual gratification is not the motive for rape. It is an act of anger and aggression in which sex is used as a weapon.

If you or someone you know has been victim of any type of sexual violence, contact us for more information. There is help available for you and your loved ones. Please call RCASA’s hotline for help or information: (540) 371- 1666.

RCASA Therapy Thursday: Experiencing Sexual Violence Can Severely Damage Long-Term Mental Health.

In Advocacy, Case Management, Sexual Assault Awareness on May 3, 2012 at 5:00 am

Undeniably, there is a link between sexual abuse and mental health.  A great number of victims served either come into services with an already diagnosed mental health issue or will be diagnosed during the course of their treatment.  While it is true that many adult survivors come into counseling and overcome the effects of their abuse, extensive lifetime services may be needed to help them learn to reintegrate emotionally and mentally.

An article on care2’s website states, “ a new study of Australian women from the Journal of American Medicine reveals what, to women’s rights activists, should be obvious: experiencing sexual violence can severely damage long-term mental health.”

A shocking 27% of the 4,451 women who were surveyed in 2007 said that they had been the victim of at least one instance of gender-based violence.  Over half the women who had experienced some kind of abuse reported a history of depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, substance abuse or anxiety, compared to 28% of women who had not been subjected to violence.

Although the connection between mental health problems and sexual violence may seem obvious, experts say it’s crucial to understand just how closely linked they appear to be.  “The extent and strength of the association we found was surprising and very concerning,” said Dr. Susan Ress, the study’s lead author.

According to Rees, there is “ample evidence” to support the theory that interpersonal violence causes mental health disorders.  She added that because the rate of sexual violence in the United States is similar to that of Australia, a study conducted in the U.S. would probably have similar results.”

Read more: http://www.care2.com/causes/sexual-assault-can-damage-long-term-mental-health.html#ixzz1sgA62hVi

Furthermore, Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape cites statistics on their website, that support this link:

  • The chances that a woman will develop Post-traumatic Stress Disorder after being raped are between 50 and 95 percent. Population Reports: Ending Violence Against Women, 2000.
  • Childhood sexual abuse was significantly associated with dissociation. Both sexual abuse and dissociation were independently associated with several indicators of mental health disturbance, including risk-taking behavior (suicidality, self-mutilation, and sexual aggression). Kisiel, Cassandra and Lyons, John. Dissociation as a Mediator of Psychopathology Among Sexually Abused Children and Adolescents. American Journal of Psychiatry. 158: 1034-1039. 2001
  • Girls who are raped are about three times more likely to suffer from psychological disorders and over four times more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol abuse in adulthood. Medical College of Virginia Commonwealth University, 2000
  • Sexual assault is also closely associated with depression and anxiety disorders. “Population Reports: Ending Violence Against Women”, December 1999, Series L, Number 11. Population Information Program, Center for Communication Programs. The Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland.


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