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Archive for the ‘Prevention’ Category

RCASA’s Friday Facts: College Campus Sexual Assault

In Education, Friday Facts, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on August 3, 2012 at 5:00 am

It is estimated that 20-25% of college women will be victims of an attempted or completed rape during their college careers. In 90% of college cases, the offender is known to the victim, usually a classmate, friend, or acquaintance. According to a report funded by the Department of Justice, roughly one in five women who attend college will become the victim of a rape or an attempted rape by the time she graduates.

Type of Victimization Percentage of Sample Rate per 1,000 students
Completed Rape 1.7% 16.6
Attempted Rape 1.1% 11.0
Threat of Rape 0.3% 3.0
Completed Sexual Coercion 1.7% 16.6
Attempted Sexual Coercion 1.3% 13.5
Completed Sexual Contact 3.7% 31
Attempted Sexual Contact 5.0% 49.9

Additionally,

  • Of the women who had experienced events that fit the legal definition of rape, 46.5% described their victimization as rape.
  • For both completed and attempted rapes, about 9 in 10 offenders were known to the victim, usually a classmate, friend or acquaintance.
  • Fewer than 5% of completed and attempted rapes were reported to law enforcement officials, though the victim did tell another person about the incident in about two-thirds of cases.

As the data suggest, sexual assault and other forms of coercive sexual behavior are part of college life for a substantial number of young women.  The presence of sexual violence is a source of concern for the entire community, and has a grave impact on the affected person’s psychosocial development, intellectual maturation, and identity formation.

Prevention Tuesday – Tony Porter’s “A Call to Men”

In Education, Prevention on July 3, 2012 at 5:00 am

When I think of powerful men within the movement to end sexual violence against women, Tony Porter often comes to mind. Within the world of violence prevention work he is well known as the inspiration co-founder of the nonprofit A Call to Men: The National Association of Men and Women Committed to Ending Violence Against Women. This nonprofit works tirelessly through education and public awareness campaigns to change the social norms that define masculinity. By promoting the concept of healthy masculinity, Tony Porter and his colleagues at A Call to Men believe that men can play a key role in ending violence against women and within our society as a whole. Below you will find his inspirational speech about breaking out of the “man box” and promoting healthy masculinity in young men.

To learn more about the work of Tony Porter and A Call to Men please visit their website.

Myths and Facts about the LGBTQ Community and Sexual Assault

In Education, Prevention on June 26, 2012 at 5:00 am

Part of the battle of preventing sexual assault in our community is making sure everyone understands the facts.  As we’ve already discussed in previous blogs, sexual abuse and assault happens just as frequently in the LGBTQ community as it does in the straight community.  However, there are a lot of myths and stereotypes out there that may prevent friends, families, and service providers from fully understanding sexual assault in same-sex relationships.  So here are a few myths about sexual assault in the LGBTQ community that are adapted from the University of Michigan Student Affairs:

Myth:  A woman can’t rape another woman.

Reality:  While the majority of perpetrators of sexual assault are male, the idea that woman-on-woman sexual assault does not occur is only a product of gender role stereotypes that encourage the idea that women are never violent. This stereotype can make it less likely that women who were sexually assaulted by another woman will be believed by those around her. It can also make a survivor who has believed that women are nonviolent feel disillusioned that she has  experienced violence from a woman.

 

Myth:  Gay men are sexually promiscuous and are always ready for sex.

Reality:  Men who identify as gay, like all people, have the right to say no to sex at any time and have that respected. Because of the stereotypes that many people have about gay men’s sexual availability, however, it may be more difficult for a gay man to convince others that he was  assaulted.

 

Myth:  Bisexuals are kinky anyway, and sexual assault for them is just rough sex that got out of hand.

Reality:  Bisexuality reflects a sexual orientation, not sexual practices. Bisexuals, like heterosexuals, practice a wide range of sexual behaviors, and, for bisexuals, like for heterosexuals, rough sex and a sexual assault are two very different things. Because of stereotypes about bisexuals, they, too, may have difficulty being believed about a sexual assault.

 

Myth:  When a woman claims domestic abuse by another women, it is just a catfight. Similarly, when a man claims domestic abuse by another man, it is just two men fighting.

Reality: The idea that women entice men to rape them or that they really want it is also not true. No person deserves to be raped, and no person asks to be raped or wants it. This myth again shows the extent to which sexual assault is sexualized in our society. Women may experience a sexual assault, no matter what they are wearing, and what the victim was wearing in no way makes her⁄him responsible for the assault.

As you can see, most of our misunderstandings about the LGBTQ community come from preconceived notions about gender roles, or, how we think women and men are supposed to act.  Misconceptions about people who do not fit neatly into gender roles arise when we try to apply preconceived notions to nonconformity.  You can read more about gender norms and sexual assault here.

Resources for LGBTQ Youth

In Education, Prevention on June 19, 2012 at 5:00 am

There are a lot of excellent resources on the web for teens these days promoting healthy relationships. However, not all of these resources are LGBTQ inclusive. It’s important to find inclusive resources because LGBTQ youth need healthy models for relationships too, and they may have less places to turn when they have questions or need help.  Here is a short list of websites and resources that are inclusive of LGBTQ individuals:

Love is Respect

Great site about healthy/unhealthy relationships, with specific sections for LGBTQ youth, including a section that addresses possible barriers to getting help.

That’s Not Cool

Doesn’t have any LGBTQ specific content necessarily, but the intro video on the front page features two female characters (they’re phones) who are in a relationship.

YouthResource

There is A LOT of information on this website, it is a little bit overwhelming. There are some sections that deal specifically with relationship/sexual violence on the page titled “Queer Living.” I decided to include it on here because it does have a lot of good information for LGBTQ youth in general and there are a group of peer advocates that are available for individuals to contact with questions.

The Red Flag Campaign

College campaign that has posters that are inclusive of LGBTQ relationships.

Know Your Power

Another bystander intervention poster campaign, intended for college campuses. Also includes posters that feature LGBTQ individuals.

Unfortunately this list is short because there are just not that many resources out there.  I think it’s also important to acknowledge that while all of these websites say LGBT that (with the exception of YouthResource, which still does not address the relationship aspect)  none of them are representative of transgender individuals. While there are no specific resources for trans* youth that I have come across, FORGE has a good fact sheet about abusive behaviors specifically used against transgender victims (and also a list of abusive behaviors if a transgender person is the abuser).

If you have any good resources to share with us, please let us know in the comments!

Prevention Tuesday – Looking for a LGBTQ Friendly Anti-Violence Curriculum?

In Education, Prevention on June 12, 2012 at 5:00 am

This week I wanted to take the opportunity to showcase a curriculum that the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault sometimes utilizes in our youth anti-violence education. We have a variety of different programs that we utilize when developing programs and lesson plans, however, not all of them address LGBTQ specific bullying. Unfortunately this is a subset of sexual violence that is often neglected by anti-violence education.

Second Step‘s middle school curriculum is a lot like other programs. It deals with issues like peer pressure, bullying (both face-to-face and cyber) and substance abuse. It also works to help students develop healthy anger management and coping skills. However, this curriculum is unique in that it has a specific concentration on peer-to-peer bullying that relates to LGBTQ students or that uses anti-LGBTQ sentiment as foundation. To learn more about curriculum you can view this video. You can also visit this website to learn about other LGBTQ youth curricula.

If you are interested in learning more about RCASA’s Second Step curriculum or about our agency’s prevention work in general please call Kristin Harding at 540-371-6771 or e-mail prevention@rcasa.org.

Prevention Tuesday – Preventing Sexual Assault in LGBTQ Relationships: First Steps

In Education, Prevention on June 5, 2012 at 5:00 am

Everyone knows that abuse happens in heterosexual relationships.  Teen violence in dating relationships has been a focus of many groups like RCASA in recent years.  However, few people are aware that LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) people in relationships experience sexual and physical abuse at high rates as well.  According to the Sexual Assault Crisis Consultant Team, 52% of people same-sex couples experienced at least one incident of sexual coercion by their partners.  In addition, about 30% of self-identified lesbians reported being sexually assaulted or raped by a female, while 15% of men in same-sex relationships reported experiencing sexual assault or rape by a male.  Clearly, sexual assault is not a heterosexual phenomenon.

So why aren’t we doing more to tackle this issue?  One of the biggest obstacles is the fact that LGBTQ people who have been sexually assaulted simply don’t feel safe reporting the abuse.  Many members of the LGBTQ community fear that police or service providers may display prejudice against them.  Others may fear being outted and possibly abandoned by friends and family.  Still others may not report abuse because they are afraid of betraying the LGBTQ community.  There is already such a negative stigma attached to the LGBTQ community that many members of the community are reluctant to do anything that might further damage the image of the group as a whole.

So what can we do to prevent sexual abuse of LGBTQ people in our community? First of all, we can acknowledge that they exist.  Most resources and programs assume that all victims of sexual assault are heterosexual.  Our language as service providers and friends/family should be more inclusive.  Don’t simply assume that a young girl has a boyfriend or that a young boy has a girlfriend.  Inclusive language like “significant other” or “partner” can go a long way in making a member of the LGBTQ community feel safe.  Second, we need to acknowledge that sexual assault happens in the LGBTQ community.  Ignoring the problem only perpetuates it.  By acknowledging that sexual assault happens in the LGBTQ community, we take the power out of the silence forced upon that community.

These may only seem like small steps, but small steps are necessary for any sort of change to happen.  No matter what your religious or personal beliefs are on the issue, I think we can all agree that no one should have to endure sexual assault.

RCASA Prevention Tuesday: Treating Sexual Violence as a Public Health Issue

In Education, Prevention on May 29, 2012 at 5:04 am

In prevention, we work to address sexual violence where it begins: in our attitudes towards and beliefs about relationships, gender roles and societal norms. Unfortunately, while prevention services are absolutely critical in impacting change in the prevalence of sexual violence, they are not always seen as necessary or important . In spite of this, there are some really great organizations from all over the world that focus on treating sexual violence  as a widespread epidemic that deserves to be treated not only as a priority, but as an issue of public health and safety. An example of one of these organizations is Together for Girls, a non-profit organization started in 2007. From their website:

Together for Girls works in several countries in Africa, East Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean. They have several different focuses, including conducting national surveys and collecting data on the prevalence and effect of sexual violence on girls, helping to form national action plans, and creating public awareness campaigns.

Spreading awareness about the mental and physical effects that sexual violence causes in order to spur action at a national level is at the forefront of what Together for Girls aims to accomplish. Featured on their website is a list of facts about how sexual violence changes the lives of girls, including increased likelihood of unintended pregnancy, contraction of HIV/AIDS and STIs, depression and substance abuse, and also a decreased likelihood of attending school. They follow up with this statement:

Societies pay a deep price because healthy, educated women are vital to the health and prosperity of countries. One study has shown that a 1 percent increase in girls attending secondary school adds 0.3 percent in economic growth in developing countries.”

National level initiatives like Together for Girls are invaluable and essential to helping to end sexual violence. If you’d like to learn more about the organization, you can visit their website at http://www.togetherforgirls.org/

 

 

 

 

 

Prevention Tuesday – How Does Sexual Violence Affect Individuals with Disabilities?

In Education, Prevention on May 22, 2012 at 8:06 am

 

Prevention Tuesday – ASSERT, RCASA’s Prevention Program for Individuals with Mental Health Issues

In Education, Prevention on May 15, 2012 at 5:00 am

Women with disabilities are raped and abused at a rate of at least twice the general population of women. This means that a significant number of individuals with disabilities who live within our community are the survivors of sexual violence. The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault’s Prevention Team feels that it is important to outreach to and educate all of the populations in the greater Fredericksburg area who might be at risk of victimization, which includes individuals living with mental health issues. This is exceptionally important considering the heightened risk of victimization for these individuals.

That is why with the support of the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board Kenmore Club, RCASA’s Prevention Team is proud to offer ASSERT, a prevention and education program for individuals affected by mental health disorders. ASSERT classes focus on topics such as building self-esteem, establishing personal boundaries and cultivating healthy interpersonal relationships. Through the use of interactive presentations and art projects individuals involved in the program are encouraged to develop personal characteristics that will reduce their risk of future victimization.

If you are interested in learning more about the ASSERT program please contact Kristin Harding at prevention@rcasa.org or by phone at 540-371-6771.

For more information on how sexual violence affects individuals with disabilities you can begin reading here.

RCASA Volunteer Corner

In Education, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness, Volunteer on May 13, 2012 at 5:08 am

The following five safety tips from RAINN focus on practical things parents can do to protect children from sexual abuse.

1. Talk.
Talk often with your child and set a tone of openness. Talking openly and directly will let your child know that it’s okay to talk to you when they have questions. If your child comes to you with concerns or questions, make time to listen and talk to them.

2. Teach.
Teach your child key safety principles. For instance:

  • Teach children the names of their body parts so that they have the language to ask questions and express concerns about those body parts.
  • If your child is uncomfortable or if someone is touching them, s/he should
    tell a trusted adult immediately.
  • Let your children know that if someone is touching them or talking to
    them in ways that make them uncomfortable that it shouldn’t stay a secret.

3. Empower.
Your child should know that s/he has the right* *to* *speak up if they are uncomfortable, or if someone is touching them. It’s okay to say “no” even to adults they know and family members.

4. Implement.
Implement Internet safety protocols, and parental controls through platforms such as the Google Family Safety Center. Work with older children to set guidelines for who they can talk to online, and what information can be shared. For instance, be cautious when leaving status or away messages online and when using the “check-in” feature on Facebook or Foursquare.

5. Educate.
Educate yourself about the warning signs of childhood sexual abuse. Know what to look for, and the best way to respond.

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If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual abuse, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through RCASA.

for free crisis intervention, counseling, support and medical accompaniment.

1-540-371-1666

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This is directly from the RAINN website

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