Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

Prevention Tuesday: What to do if you or a friend is in an abusive relationship

In Outreach, Prevention on March 6, 2012 at 5:00 am

Are you involved in a dating relationship that is abusive or potentially abusive? Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions you are potentially in an unhealthy relationship:

  • Is your partner jealous or possessive?
  • Does your partner dislike your friends?
  • Does your partner not let you have friends?
  • Does your partner have a “quick temper”?
  • Does your partner have a rigid idea of gender roles?
  • Does your partner try to control you or make all the decisions?
  • Do you worry about how your partner will react to things you do or say?
  • Do you get a lot of negative verbal teasing from your partner?
  • Are you comfortable with your partner’s “playful” slaps and shoves?
  • Does your partner’s behavior change if he/she drinks or uses drugs?
  • Does your partner pressure you to use alcohol or drugs?
  • Do you feel it is your responsibility to make the relationship work?
  • Are you afraid of what your partner might do if he/she becomes angry?
  • Are you afraid to end the relationship?
  • Do you believe your partner will not accept breaking up?
  • Does your partner blame you when he/she mistreats you?
  • Does your partner threaten to hurt your pets?

You should think ahead about ways to be safe if you are in a dangerous or potentially dangerous relationship. Here are some things to consider in designing your own safety plan.

  • What adults can you tell about the violence and abuse?
  • What people at school can you tell in order to be safe–teachers, principal, counselors, security?
  • Consider changing your school locker or lock.
  • Consider changing your route to/from school.
  • Use a buddy system for going to school, classes and after school activities.
  • What friends can you tell to help you remain safe?
  • If stranded, who could you call for a ride home?
  • Keep a journal describing the abuse.
  • Get rid of or change the number to any beepers, pagers or cell phones.
  • Keep spare change, calling cards, number of the local shelter, number of someone who could help you and restraining orders with you at all times. 
  • Where could you go quickly to get away from an abusive person?
  •  What other things can you do?

How to Help a Friend Who is in an Abusive Relationship?

  • Talk to your friend and be nonjudgmental when discussing the abuse.
  • Listen to your friend and believe him/her.
  • Let your friend know that violence under any circumstance is unacceptable.
  • Express your understanding, care, concern and support.
  • Point out your friend’s strengths. He or she may not see his or her own abilities and gifts due to the effects of the abuse.
  • Encourage your friend to confide in a trusted adult. Offer to go with him or her for help.
  • Talk to a trusted adult if you believe your friend’s situation is getting worse.
  • Call the police if you witness an assault.
  • Keep educating yourself about dating violence

Things Not to Say or Do

  • Don’t be critical of your friend or his/her partner.
  • Don’t ask blaming questions such as: What did you do to provoke him/her? Why don’t you just break up with him/her?
  • Don’t assume that your friend wants to break up with their partner, or act like you know what is best for them.
  • Don’t pressure your friend to make quick decisions. They need to figure things out at their own pace.
  • Never put yourself in a dangerous situation by being a mediator.

Cross-Over Report for Bills in Virginia

In Advocacy on February 22, 2012 at 8:16 am

This week was cross over, which means we are officially moving into the 2nd half of the General Assembly Session.  For the most part, it’s been a good session with respect to our priorities.   We are pleased that anti-strangulation is moving forward as a stand-alone crime, that a bill to keep guns out of the hands of persons convicted of domestic violence is still alive, legislation to promote inter-agency collaboration and coordination in the investigation and prosecution of campus sexual assault expected to pass, and that legislation to clarify issues regarding protective orders processes and procedures are also moving forward without resistance.  

Unfortunately, several good bills were also defeated, including legislation to enhance penalties for stalking and a bill to clarify a minor’s rights with respect to petitioning for protective orders.   We are disappointed that the anti-immigration legislation is also still alive, but will continue our work with allies to defeat these bills in the Senate.  

These are just a few of the highlights.   Summarized below is a more detailed 2012 Cross-Over Report.  Kristine created a hyperlink for all bills that are still alive so that if you are interested in reading the actual language on any bill, you can “click” on the bill # and be directed to the actual bill language. 


2012 Cross Over Report








Governor McDonnell maintained level funding in his proposed budget.   Neither the House nor the Senate has proposed any additional reductions in funding for sexual and domestic violence services.  However, the current budget uses one-time fund balances to replace $1.2 million in TANF funding for domestic violence services. These one-time funds will not be available in 2014 or beyond.  Thus, $1.2 million in funding for the core services that provide safety for victims of domestic violence and their children remains at risk. 






SB 225 (Senator Herring) & HB 182 (Delegate O’Bannon) –SB 225 passed the Senate unanimously & HB 182 was continued to 2013 in the House.


Supported by the Action Alliance.  These bills authorize the issuance of revenue-sharing special license plates bearing the legend PEACE BEGINS AT HOME to support the programs of the Domestic Violence Action Alliance for the prevention of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia.  HB 182 was not continued in the House because we had not collected 450 pre-paid applications.   SB 225 will now be considered by the House and will only pass if we collect 450 pre-paid applications.   






SB 459 (Senator Herring) & HB 752 (Delegate Cline)— SB 459 passed the Senate unanimously & HB 752 passed the House unanimously.  


Supported by the Action Alliance.  Both of these bills were amended to provide that any person who impedes the blood circulation or respiration of another person by applying pressure to the person’s neck and resulting in wounding or bodily injury is guilty of strangulation, a Class 6 felony.


There are minor differences between these bills.  SB 459 uses the language “willfully, knowingly, intentionally” applying pressure to the person’s neck.  HB 752 uses the language “knowingly, intentionally and unlawfully” applying pressure to the neck of such person.  The Action Alliance staff will work with the Senator Herring & Delegate Cline to align these two bills. 








SB 302 (Senator Howell) & HB 965 (Delegate Rob Bell)— SB 302 passed the Senate unanimously & HB 965 passed the House unanimously.  


Supported by the Action Alliance.   These bills require campus police to enter into mutual aid agreements with a local law-enforcement agency or the State Police for cooperation in providing assistance with the investigation of deaths and alleged rapes occurring on college campuses.




SB 301 (Senator Howell) & HB 969 (Delegate Rob Bell)—SB 301 passed the Senate unanimously & HB 969 passed the House unanimously. 


Supported by the Action Alliance.  These bills require each attorney for the Commonwealth to invite any chiefs of campus police located within the jurisdiction to the annual SART meeting.








SB 224 (Senator Herring).  Passed the Senate unanimously.


Supported by the Action Alliance.  This bill provides for a Class 1 misdemeanor for a battery through the application of physical force against a member of a family or household member. This change in law is needed to apply federal firearm prohibitions appropriately to persons convicted of assault and battery of a family or household member.  This bill will now be considered by the House.








HB 84 (Delegate Albo)— HB 84 passed the House unanimously.


Supported by the Action Alliance, as amended.  The bill was amended and no longer creates a presumption for joint custody.  Instead, it requires judge’s to communicate the basis for their decision regarding custody or visitation and to communicate the relevant statutory factors used to determine the best interests of the child when making the decision.  This bill will now be considered by the Senate.




HB 606 (Delegate LeMunyon)— HB 606 was defeated.   


Opposed by the Action Alliance.  Establishes a presumption in child custody cases that an award of joint legal custody, with physical custody, to the extent feasible, shared equally between the parties, is in the best interests of the child.








SB 445 (Senator Vogel) & HB 1033 (Delegate McClellan)— SB 445 passed the Senate unanimously & HB 1033 passed the House unanimously.  


Supported by the Action Alliance.  These bills allow Circuit Court to hear petitions to modify, dissolve, or extend a permanent protective order when the Circuit Court issued the order. The bill also requires the Court to enter and transfer identifying information to the Virginia Criminal Information Network (VCIN) system when a protective order is issued. Circuit court clerks who are not currently using the Statewide Case Management System shall provide protective orders directly to the Virginia Criminal Information Network in an electronic format approved by the Department of State Police. This bill seeks to align the process and procedures for protective orders issued in Circuit Court with those currently  in place for the Juvenile & Domestic Relations and General District Court.




SB 300 (Senator Howell)— SB 300 passed the Senate unanimously.


Supported by the Action Alliance.  This bill makes various changes to the provisions governing protective orders issued by a Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, including (i) clarifying that only violations related to trespass, criminal offenses, acts of abuse, or prohibited contacts are Class 1 misdemeanors; (ii) clarifying that Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts have jurisdiction over all protective orders that involve juveniles who are petitioners or respondents; and (iii) allowing judges to prohibit contact between the respondent and the petitioner’s family.  This bill will now be considered by the House.




HB 674 (Delegate Surovell)—HB 674 was defeated in House Courts.  


Supported by the Action Alliance.  This bill would have addressed several issues regarding protective orders and minors, including (i) providing that a minor may petition for an emergency protective order on his own behalf without a parent, legal guardian, or another adult acting as a next friend; and ii) providing that any adult may petition in the name of a minor as the minor’s next friend for a preliminary and/or permanent protective order.   These provisions would have codified existing case law and are consistent with the Attorney General’s Opinion (10-116) issued in January 2011.








HB 958 (Delegate Rob Bell)—Passed the House  


Opposed by the Action Alliance.   This bill Supplements the existing law that requires sheriffs to make a query into legal presence when a person is “taken into custody” at a jail. This bill expands such inquiries by requiring inquiries of everyone arrested, and requires that an arresting officer inquire of every arrestee whether he (i) was born in a country other than the United States and (ii) is a citizen of a country other than the United States. This bill incorporates HB 89 and HB 320. This bill will now be considered by the Senate.




HB 1060 (Delegate Anderson)—Passed the House   


Opposed by the Action Alliance.  This bill Supplements the existing law that requires sheriffs to make a query into legal presence when a person is “taken into custody” at a jail. This bill expands such inquiries by requiring that an arresting officer inquire of every arrestee whether he is in the country legally. The bill further provides that when a law-enforcement officer believes that the person is not legally present in the United States, he shall communicate to the judicial officer the facts and circumstances underlying his belief. This bill will now be considered by the Senate.




HB 1001 (Delegate Ramadan)—Passed the House   


Opposed by the Action Alliance. This bill provides that the Superintendent of State Police shall seek to enter into a memorandum of agreement with United States Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as authorized under 8 U.S.C. § 1357(g), to permit the State Police to perform federal immigration law-enforcement functions in the Commonwealth after arrest of an alien. This bill will now be considered by the Senate.




SB 460 (Senator Black)—Defeated in Senate Courts. 


Opposed by the Action Alliance.  This bill would have provided that when a law-enforcement officer lawfully detains a person following a lawful stop, detention, or arrest of such person for a suspected criminal offense or traffic infraction or upon reasonable suspicion of criminal activity and, during the detention, based upon certain prescribed inquiries of the detainee and ICE, the officer forms a reasonable suspicion that the person is unlawfully present in the United States, the officer shall make a reasonable effort during the detention, when practicable, to determine whether the person is lawfully present, unless the determination would hinder or obstruct an investigation. The bill would have also sets out procedures to be followed by a judicial officer who would make a bail determination for such an arrestee.








HB 361 (Delegate McClellan)—Defeated in House Appropriations.


Supported by the Action Alliance.  This bill would have provided that a second or subsequent offense of stalking is a Class 6 felony.  Currently, the enhanced penalty applies for a third or subsequent offense.  The bill also provides that stalking when a protective order is in effect is a Class 6 felony.




HB 807 (Delegate May)—Passed the House


Supported by the Action Alliance.  Provides that any person who uses an electronic tracking device through intentionally deceptive means and without consent to track the location of another person is guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor. The bill includes exceptions for law-enforcement officers, the parent or legal guardian of a minor or any person authorized by the parent or legal guardian as a caretaker of the minor at any time when the minor is under the person’s sole care; a legally authorized representative of an incapacitated adult, private investigators in certain circumstances, bail bondsmen, and the owners of fleet vehicles.  This bill will now be considered by the Senate.








HB 963 (Delegate Rob Bell)—Passed the House unanimously. 


Supported by the Action Alliance.  This bill provides that any person who commands, entreats, or otherwise attempts to persuade another person to send, submit, transfer, or provide to him any child pornography in order to gain entry into a group, association, or assembly of persons engaged in trading or sharing child pornography shall be punished by not less than five years nor more than 20 years in a state correctional facility, with a five-year mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for a second or subsequent violation. This bill will now be considered by the Senate.




HB 964 (Delegate Rob Bell)—Passed the House unanimously.


Supported by the Action Alliance.  The bill provides that any person who displays child pornography or a grooming video or materials to a minor is guilty of a Class 6 felony. The bill defines grooming video or materials as (i) a cartoon, animation, image, or series of images depicting a child engaged in a sex act when the minor to whom the material is displayed is less than 13 years of age. This bill will now be considered by the Senate.




SB 205 (Senator Barker)—Passed the Senate unanimously. 


Supported by the Action Alliance.  This bill allows the collection of forensic evidence in cases of suspected sexual assault where the alleged victim may not be legally capable of giving consent.


This bill will now be considered by the House.





Gena M. Boyle, MPA


Domestic Violence Advocacy Coordinator

Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance

804.377.0335 x2109


We need your help today to protect immigrant victims of sexual and domestic violence

In Legal Advocacy on February 8, 2012 at 8:03 am

We need your help today to protect immigrant victims of sexual and domestic violence. 

 Please call the members of the House Courts Criminal Law Subcommittee today and ask them to defeat the following legislation that threatens access to safety for victims of sexual and domestic violence: House Bill 89, House Bill 108, House Bill 320, House Bill 472, House Bill 958, House Bill 1060 and House Bill 1001.

 This Wednesday, February 8, the House Courts of Justice Criminal Law Subcommittee will consider the above bills that would threaten access to safety for immigrant victims of sexual and domestic violence.  The bills, all of which deal with the ability of local and state law enforcement to enforce civil immigration laws, will impede the ability of immigrant victims to access law enforcement and undercut community policing and efforts to enhance victim/witness cooperation in criminal investigations and prosecutions.  

Members of the House Courts Criminal Subcommittee:

 Delegate Rob Bell: 804-698-1058 or delrbell@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Dave Albo: 804-698-1042 or deldalbo@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Ben Cline:804-698-1024 or delbcline@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Todd Gilbert: 804-698-1015 or deltgilbert@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Jackson Miller: 804-698-1050 or deljmiller@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Ron Villanueva: 804-698-1021 or delrvillanueva@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Rick Morris: 804-698-1064 or delrmorris@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Vivian Watts: 804-698-1039 or delvwatts@house.virginia.gov

Delegate Charniele Herring: 804-698-1046 delcherring@house.virginia.gov

 Suggested talking points: 

  • If approved, these bills would threaten access to safety for victims of sexual and domestic violence and will discourage victims and witnesses from reporting acts of sexual and domestic violence.
  • Victims of domestic violence and sexual assault already face tremendous barriers to reporting.
  • When victims perceive that law enforcement is to be feared rather than trusted, it undercuts community policing and efforts to enhance victim/witness cooperation in criminal investigations and prosecutions. 
  • Please protect access to safety for sexual and domestic violence victims by rejecting these bills.

 For questions or more information, please contact Kristine Hall or Gena Boyle at 804-377-0335 or khall@vsdvalliance.org and gboyle@vsdvalliance.org.

Special thanks to Delegate Herring and Senator Herring

In Advocacy on January 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Delegate Charniele Herring:

I want to thank you for the great speech you gave at the General Assembly about the prevalence of sexual and domestic violence in Virginia.  As both the leader of a local center serving central Virginia and a Governing Body member of the Action Alliance, I appreciate the recognition you gave our work and your knowledge of the extent of what we really do.   The staff, boards, volunteers, interns, and members here at RCASA and at the Action Alliance appreciate all that you do as an individual and a delegate to support our work to help support survivors of violence. 

Senator Mark Herring:

I want to thank you for your support of the issues important to those serving survivors of sexual and domestic violence and stalking.  We appreciate your support of the Action Alliance license plate bill that will provide another funding source for our local centers.  Your support of the bills dealing with strangulation and firearms prohibitions related to domestic violence criminal convictions and equal protections for sexual and domestic violence victims is also an important effort for us and the safety of our community. 

RCASA’s Tuesdays with Prevention: Street Harassment

In Sexual Assault Awareness on May 24, 2011 at 7:37 am

We all know the stereotypes, a woman walks past a construction site and is the target of catcalls. This is called street harassment. Recently this form of harassment has gained attention in the media as women all across the country are standing up and confronting their attackers. This harassment is not new, and exceptionally common, the first study dedicated to street harassment found that 100% of women surveyed reported being harassed—yes, one-hundred-percent, ALL of them (Gardner, 1995). With the addition of cameras on cell phones, women are getting pictures and videos of their harassers and posting them online. Hollaback, a website dedicated to taking back the streets, posts these stories, pictures, and videos in an effort to not only get the names and faces of their attackers out but also to raise awareness of this issue, and the vile and often violent nature of these attacks.

Some assert that women should just ignore these attacks, turn the other cheek, or worse—be flattered. What silence and acceptance of these attacks does is create and maintain a culture in which gender-based violence is acceptable. It minimizes the experiences of these women. More sinister is that these instances of harassment can be forms of rape-testing, that is seeing how far one can go as a means of judging their fitness as a potential rape victim.

RCASA cannot advocate that everyone challenge harassers, the risk of violence is just too great. But what we can advocate is standing up for oneself, and standing up for others when you see this kind of behavior. If a harasser is confronted by not just their victim, but everyone else around them, they’ll be out numbered and adequately shamed for their abhorrent behavior.

This harassment is not limited to just women, LGBTQ individuals(whether they are or are just perceived as such) also deal with this harassment on a daily basis. It too is abhorrent and worthy of ‘hollerin back.’

Hollaback groups are being started across the globe, including one in Richmond. This movement against harassment is gaining strength and people are taking notice.

Carol Brooks Gardner, Passing By: Gender and Public Harassment (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1995), 89-90

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

In Sexual Assault Awareness on May 21, 2011 at 9:50 am

Intersectionality is the idea that everyone’s various statuses, class, race, sexuality and gender, all intersect and define their social status in society (Violence Against Women, 2005). Liz Crenshaw, divides intersectionality as it relates to battering into two categories; political and structural. Political is the idea that the identities that one has, can sometimes have conflicting political agendas, and Structural being those structures set in place that do not meet the needs of some because of their intersecting statuses. As this relates to masculinity, men of color have to deal with racism, and potentially classism, and possibly homophobia. This creates an environment for these men in which they feel powerless. bell hooks, in her book We Real Cool, argues that black men react to these feelings of powerlessness, by using violence against women to assert their dominance (hooks, 2003). Most men would say that they feel powerless, and in the case of men of color because of the intersection of their race, and potentially class, and possibly their orientation. Also because of racist stereotypes, men of color and particularly black men, are viewed as naturally violent and uncontrollable with an insatiable thirst for sex, with white women. hooks argues that black men can sometimes embody some of this racist imagery and use it as a tool to strike fear in women as well as other men, particularly white men, as another means to feel powerful (We Real Cool, 2003). Adopting seemingly any means to feel powerful and assert that power on others, violence and the threat of violence becomes the choice of men fearful of their masculinity being challenged.

Judith Lorber argues that the process of socialization (discussing both women and men’s socialization), what she refers to a gendering “are legitimated by religion, law, science and the society’s entire set of values” (Paradoxes of Gender, 1994). These sets of values are not just reinforced by our peers but social and political structures as well.  Our actions and behaviors define who are as, gendered, beings. It is so pervasive and broad reaching that everything we do, we do according to what society deems acceptable for our own gender, therefore “gender is thus both ascribed and achieved” (Ibid., 1994). Lorber expands on the changing nature of gender  when she argues that

the bodies, which have been mapped inside and out for hundreds of years, have not          changed. What has changed, are the justifications for gender inequality. When the social                      position of all human beings was believed to be set by natural law or was considered God-given, biology was irrelevant; women and men of different classes all had their     assigned places. When scientists began to question the divine basis of social order and             replaced faith with empirical knowledge, what they saw was that women were very          different from men in that they had wombs and menstruated. Such anatomical differences       destined them for an entirely different social life from men (“Believing is Seeing,” 1993). Gender, has generally only been defined as been female. This, male-normativity, is clear when we examine history (“Lived Body versus Gender,” 2005). Examining history we are really looking at the history of men, but defining it as general history (Against the Tide, 1992). Lorber goes on to state that “the pervasiveness of gender as a way of structuring social life demands that gender statuses be clearly differentiated” (Paradoxes of Gender, 1994). We divide the world in large part in terms of a black and white, it is an either/or thing. When individuals’ gender statuses depart from our two-gender system, there is conflict.


This conflict arises out of a profound level of homophobia in our society. This homophobia, as described by Kimmel, is not a fear of homosexuality but rather a fear of other men, and appearing as less than a man in the eyes of other men (Masculinity as Homophobia, 2003). Homophobia is a serious issue, adding to it biphobia, and transphobia. Michael Kaufman argues that homophobia is “a phobia that is essential for the imposition and maintenance of masculinity. A key expression is the obsessive denial of homosexual attraction; this denial is expressed as violence against other men” (The Construction of Masculinity and the Triad of Men’s Violence, 2007). Homophobia is a large contribution to violence, because it is so hated and feared in society, and masculinity is so important to men that violence is the most powerful tool men use to assert their non-homosexuality. Men use homophobia to keep other men in line. Men use jokes and insults and threats of violence, and sometimes actual violence, to prove their dominance over other men. This also factors in when men are in relationships with women. Michael Messner in his article Sexuality and Sexual Identity states that “the male peer group tends to police its own members in terms of intimacy with females” (Messner, 1992). Men in relationships with women are often taunted as being “pussywhipped” when they choose to spend time with her, as opposed to them (Ibid., 1992). The irony here is that men must engage in homosocial activities instead of spending time with their female partners. What makes men less of a man is spending time with his girlfriend, whom he may be having sex with, but what makes him more of a man is spending time with his male friends, whom he is definitely not sleeping with.

Tuesday’s with Prevention: LGBTQ Population

In Sexual Assault Awareness on May 17, 2011 at 8:21 am

Violence affects us all. We all do not, however, experience violence the same way. Race, Class, Gender, Ability, Sexuality all intersect with each and compound how one experiences violence. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex population faces social and legal barriers to services as well as difficulties rising from a movement individually and collectively finding it’s identity and doing it from scratch.

From the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault fact sheet Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered (LGBT) Populations and Sexual Assault

  • In a study of 162 gay men and 111 lesbians, 52% reported at least one incident of sexual coercion by same sex partners. Gay men experienced 1.6 incidents per person; while lesbians experienced 1.2 incidents per person.
  • Studies over the past two decades on lesbian sexual violence show a range from a low of 5% to a high of 57% of respondents claiming they had experienced attempted or completed sexual assault or rape by another woman, with most studies finding rates of over 30%.
  • Men living with male intimate partners experience more intimate partner violence than do men living with female intimate partners. 15% of men who lived with a man as a couple reported being raped/assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant.

Sexual Violence Against LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, and Transgender) Individuals

  • In a sample of 412 university students, 16.9% of the subjects reported that they were lesbian, gay, or bisexual; the remainder identified themselves as heterosexual. Of the lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual subjects 42.4% (30.6% female and 11.8% male) and 21.4% of the heterosexuals (17.8% female and 3.6% male) indicated they had been forced to have sex against their will.

A 1991 study of university students reported that of their sample of gay/bi-sexual students (including both gay men and lesbians) approximately 18% had been victims of rape, approximately 12% had been victims of attempted rape, and approximately 37% had been victims of sexual coercion.

  • There were 2,552 reported anti-gay incidents in 1998, of these, 88 were sexual assaults/rapes.

Violence prevention efforts directed at the LGBTQ population have their work cut out for them. Our society must address the rampant homophobia that pervades nearly every image we see. This is a result of homophobia being so closely related to sexism. So, in other words, sexism must be dismantled before homophobia can be eradicated…and vice versa.

Because of nature of LGBTQ challenges to the status quo, prevention efforts must be prepared and inclusive of the micro-level management of the experience of LGBTQ individuals.

One of the inherent difficulties in prevention work in the LGBTQ population is that it is still finding itself. The LGBTQ movement is filled with older generations of activists and individuals who clearly remember what life was like before Stonewall. It is also made up of a younger generation who just asked ‘What’s Stonewall?’ Because of how deeply interwoven gender is, and how tied to it is heterosexism, the LGBTQ movement must start from scratch in finding their individual and collective identity. All this comes while living in a clearly heterosexist and hetero-normative society. They get the exact same messages that we all get; that being gay is ‘gross’ (unless the audience is male and they’re talking about lesbians and they’re HOT! And even then they can be lesbians in name only), that is against the will of God, that they are oversexed, perverts, confused, have ‘mommy’ and ‘daddy’ issues, and that gay men are pedophiles.

These kinds of messages are a part of the socialization process that we all go through. What this means is that prevention efforts must address internalized homophobia, maintaining homophobic beliefs of larger culture, in addition to external homophobia.

Part of the TQ (Transgender and Queer) movement is the adoption of alternative pronouns. Rather than using the he/she dichotomy, Trans and Queer individuals sometimes use ‘ze’ or ‘hir’ as gender neutral pronouns that work outside the gender binary. Prevention efforts must be familiar with these alternatives and respect their usage.

Transgender individuals face tremendous discrimination and violence. To be Trans-identified means that you have challenged what so many of us hold as perhaps the most concrete personal aspect of our society, that the sex you are born into is concrete. Prevention efforts as a whole need to address gender in order to be effective, but they also must address sex. Many people confuse sex and gender, and/or use them interchangeably. This is incorrect. Sex refers to ones biology and gender refers to ones identity. When prevention efforts fail to address the confusion surrounding sex and gender, it is not only detrimental to Trans and Queer communities, it also hurts LGB and heterosexual individuals. We ALL face gender stereotypes that are hurtful, but when you transcend what so many of us take as holy writ, you face an anger and confusion that is rarely ( if ever) matched.

Prevention must be inclusive of LGTBQ issues and populations. Without addressing everyone, you aren’t helping anyone.

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

In Sexual Assault Awareness on May 7, 2011 at 7:34 am

The fact that most violence is committed by men is so normalized that we often do not even report the gender of the perpetrator when reporting violent crime, it is just assumed that it is a male. It is true that over 95% of sexual assaults are committed by men, it is also true that most men are not violent (Julian, T.W., & McKenry, P.C., 1993). Continuing, about 90% of those who commit physical assault are men and  men perpetrate 95% of all serious domestic violence (U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics). Seeing these statistics, the question begging to be asked is, what is wrong with men? Feminists have been trying to answer this question for decades. Allan Johnson in his article The Gender Knot: What Drives Patriarchy? argues that

the answer that first occurs to many people is that patriarchy is rooted in the natural order          of things. As such, its reflects and ‘essential’ differences between women and men based          on biology or genetics…Men tend to be physically stronger than women, for example,    which might explain their dominance (Johnson, 1990).

If men are naturally violent than rape and sexual assault and domestic violence are all just natural occurrences. But if most men aren’t violent, than why do we still believe that men are naturally violent? It is not men who are the issue, but rather masculinity that is the problem, and men’s steadfast adherence to its rules.

A system exists that keeps men in power, and legitimizes that power so that it goes unquestioned, that system is patriarchy. Heidi Hartmann defines patriarchy as “a set of social relations which has a material base and in which there are hierarchical relations between men, and solidarity among them, which enable them to control women” (Capitalism, Patriarchy, and Job Segregation by Sex, 1976). Patriarchy is the over-arching system of oppression that puts men in positions of power, and women in a subordinate status.  It is “simultaneously the process, structure, and ideology of women’s subordination. While different aspects of women’s subordination are teased out and dissected, the connection among the parts are left to ‘patriarchy’” (Paradoxes of Gender, 1994). Patriarchy is woven into all structures, those tangible such as politics and labor, but also in the social realm, evidenced by men’s assumed superiority to women.

May 1-7 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

In Advocacy, Awareness Campaigns, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness, Therapy, Trauma on May 4, 2011 at 8:00 am

National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week – May 1 – 7, 2011

This week is dedicated to increasing public awareness about the triumphs and challenges in children’s mental health and emphasizing the importance of family and youth involvement in the children’s mental health movement!

The theme for the 2011 National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week Poster Contest this year was The Diversity and Resilience of our Families.

The National Federation( http://www.ffcmh.org) invites all our chapters and statewide organizations to use the week of May 1-7, 2011 to promote positive mental health, well-being and social development for all children and youth.  Join the National Federation in sending out the following messages:

  • Mental health is essential to overall health and well being.
  • Serious emotional and mental health disorders in children and youth are real and treatable.
  • Children and youth with mental health challenges and their families deserve access to   services and supports that are family driven, youth guided and culturally appropriate.
  • Values of acceptance, dignity and social inclusion should be promoted throughout all   communities for children, youth and families.
  • Family and youth voice is a valued asset in determining appropriate services and interventions.

Here at RCASA we are committed to helping children who are survivors of sexual violence heal.  We offer comprehensive services for children and utilize therapy techniques that are age appropriate to help process through their trauma.  For more information please contact our counseling department at 540-371-5502, or visit our website at www.rcasa.org.

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

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

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

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

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