Posts Tagged ‘Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault’

Outreach Wednesday- In the News: Why VAWA Must Include LGBT Survivors

In Current Events, Outreach on June 6, 2012 at 5:00 am

The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center works every day with some of the most vulnerable lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) survivors of domestic and sexual violence, including many immigrants — survivors who will be put at risk by the changes made by the House of Representatives to the Senate bill reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These changes not only omit landmark Senate provisions barring discrimination against and increasing protections for LGBT survivors, but they make it less likely that our clients will report domestic violence.

It is bad enough that the House legislation omits all the LGBT protections that were passed in the bipartisan Senate bill (S. 1925) and ignores the reality that currently only one in five LGBT survivors receives victim assistance. But the House bill goes further: It actually contains dangerous provisions that roll back years of progress aimed at protecting the safety of victims who are immigrants, Native American, and members of other marginalized communities.

Incredibly, the House bill rolls away many of the protections under current law that allow our immigrant clients to speak out, seek help, and assist law enforcement in stopping abusers from harming other victims. By decreasing the ability of immigrant survivors to come forward, the House bill would ultimately cost lives.

At the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center we have assisted thousands of LGBT survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and know too well that the barriers to services that currently exist often result in increased violence, costly hospital services, and, for too many, death. And the barriers to service that discourage immigrant LGBT survivors are often the most significant.

Although we work with many victims at the Center, the stories of those we serve are unforgettable:

  • The transgender woman from Mexico who was targeted for sexual assault, dragged from a car (attached by a seatbelt) for a quarter mile, and then left for dead. The perpetrators were never caught.
  • The transgender woman from Central America who was repeatedly stabbed by her ex-boyfriend. The perpetrator was never found.
  • The gay man whose batterer threatened to have him killed in his home country while threatening to have him deported because of his immigration status.
  • The lesbian immigrant who called the police on four separate occasions to report four separate incidents. When the police finally took a report against her abuser, it was for vandalism. In fact, the victim had been strangled.

These are but a few of the countless victims who likely would not have sought help had the House version been the law.

One of the most transformative aspects of VAWA, a truly historic legacy, is that it gave a voice to literally millions of woman who had suffered abuse at the hands of their husbands; this was later expanded to their boyfriends and is now understood much more broadly.

And as a feminist, I commend all the work that has been done to help victims, but it is not enough. For VAWA truly to be the law it is meant to be — a law that gives voice to all survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and dating violence — it must recognize the survivors who often fall in the fringes: communities of color, immigrants, Native victims, and, LGBT survivors, and the survivors who exist across all of these categories.

Recognizing the diverse needs of communities is not singling out a community for special protection; it is merely acknowledging that access to services is not equal and that specific pathways are often necessary.

What may be the greatest benefit of this laborious process of VAWA reauthorization is that the conversation has raised awareness about the reality of domestic and sexual violence in the LGBT community so that the gay man in Arkansas and the lesbian in South Carolina and the trans woman in Los Angeles know that they are not alone, and also know that advocates of all sexual orientations and gender identities are doing their best to ensure that they will have access to services.

We call upon advocates from across the country to decry the House’s actions and to encourage their legislators to do the right thing as the House and Senate meet in conference to reconcile the two bills. This country can no longer afford to play politics with lives.

The preceding article is taken from here.

The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault serves clients of all genders and sexual orientations. If you or someone you know is in need of our services or if you just have questions please call our hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year at 540-371-6771 or visit our website at www.rcasa.org.

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 Therapy Thursday – The Danger of Avoidance

In Therapy, Trauma on May 17, 2012 at 6:36 am

Nallor, Bunting, and Vazdarjanova (2011) suggest that traumatic experiences can lead individuals to develop phobias and PTSD, but that generally only about a fourth of the population goes on to develop diagnosable anxiety disorders. This is not to say that individuals do not experience symptoms after a trauma. Many trauma survivors will experience symptoms such as hyperarousal, nightmares, changes in self-esteem, changes in sleep, etc. Sherin and Nemeroff (2011) explain that the amygdala, which processes our emotions, becomes hyper alert after a trauma contributing to many of the symptoms noted earlier. However, survivors who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder experience these symptoms for a prolonged period of time and the symptoms begin to interfere with their functioning in different areas of their life including occupationally and socially. So, what is the difference between individuals who go on to develop PTSD or another anxiety disorder and those who are more resilient?


Research is still being completed in this area. Littleton, Axsom, and Grills-Taquechel (2011) completed a study following the Virginia Tech Shooting on the relationship between distress and how individuals coped with trauma. The researchers found that psychological distress was directly related to attempting to avoid thoughts and feelings surrounding the trauma. Interestingly, the researchers noted that the distress was greater at a year than it had been at the six month follow-up. Avoidance strategies may initially appear beneficial to the person but over time appear to produce more distress. Pineles, Mostoufi, Ready, Street, Griffin, and Resick (2011) also suggest that avoiding the trauma can interfere with the natural healing process for a person who reacts strongly to trauma reminders by inhibiting the processing of the memories. Why did I share all of this information with you? I want to invite you to learn more about RCASA’s counseling services either for yourself if needed or to tell others about it who may be in need. Counseling can assist individuals in processing the trauma of sexual assault in a safe environment, hopefully before a diagnosis of social phobia or PTSD. Avoidance of the trauma may feel better in the beginning but studies have shown that avoidance leads to danger in the future by delaying the healing process and increasing distress. Please do not avoid the trauma, but have the courage to give us a call as we are always here to support you when you are ready.


Works Cited


Nallor, Rebecca, Bunting, Kristopher, and Vazdarjanova, Almira. (2011). Predicting Impaired Extinction of Traumatic Memory and Elevated Startle Response. Plos One, 6(5) Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3097191/?tool=pubmed  


Pineles, Suzanne L., Mostoufi, Sheeva M., Ready, C.B., Street, Amy E., Griffin, Michael G., and Resick, Patricia A. (2011). Trauma Reactivity, Avoidant Coping, and PTSD Symptoms: A Moderating Relationship? National Institute of Health 120(1) Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336155/?tool=pubmed


Sherin, Jonathan E. and Nemeroff, Charles B. (2011). Post-traumatic stress disorder: impact of psychological trauma. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 13(3) Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3182008/?tool=pubmed

Wednesday Outreach – RCASA’s New Home

In Outreach on May 16, 2012 at 5:00 am

With the growing number of services that our agency provides and the growing number of clients that we serve, we found that we needed a bit more space to grow so our office recently relocated  to a new office building on Rt. 2, located next to the Rappahannock United Way. Our new physical and mailing address is:

3331 Shannon Airport Circle

Fredericksburg, VA  22408

While our goal was to make this transition is as smooth as possible for our clients and community partners there are always certain complications that arise when change occurs. Unfortunately, during the move to our new location we have temporarily lost access to our e-mail and office lines. However, serving our clients is still our priority. Case management staff will continue to be available by phone. Our hotline will also remain available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (540-371-1666). Please do not hesitate to call if you have questions, concerns or would just like to talk to someone.

We are sorry for any inconvenience that this might cause our clients or our community partners. We are working towards reestablishing internet and phone connection as soon as possible. Thank you so much for your patience during this transition period.

Outreach Wednesday – Volunteer to End Sexual Violence in Our Community

In Outreach, Volunteer on May 9, 2012 at 5:00 am

It is once again that exciting time of the year when we welcome new volunteers to RCASA’s team! Our volunteers undergo a comprehensive 40 hour training that orients them to agency services and equips them with the skills needed to serve survivors of sexual assault.

There are three levels of volunteers at our agency:

Level 1 Volunteers provide general administrative and clerical support.

Level 2 Volunteers assist agency prevention and outreach efforts. This includes providing support for public awareness campaigns and outreach events.

Level 3 Volunteers act as crisis responders, staffing our 24 hour, 7 day a week hotline and serve as hospital advocates for victims of sexual assault.

All potential volunteers must submit to a criminal background check, a drug test and an interview with a staff member before they are allowed to volunteer. If you are interested in learning more about volunteer opportunities at our agency please visit our Facebook page and send us a message with your contact information or show up to the first night of our volunteer training THIS MONDAY at 5:30 PM.

Below you will find our volunteer training schedule. We hope you will join us in our fight to end sexual violence in our community, after all our volunteers are the heartbeat of our agency!

Our agency is located at 3331 Shannon Airport Circle Fredericksburg, VA 22408.  We are located on Rt. 2 next to the Rappahannock United Way.

Wednesday Outreach – Featured Sexual Assault Awareness Month Events

In Awareness Campaigns, Education, Events, Outreach on April 11, 2012 at 5:00 am

In honor of Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention Month the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault has several upcoming community events that need your support. Each of these events is an opportunity for our agency to facilitate the difficult conversations surrounding sexual assault and child sexual abuse in our community and to make survivors aware of our services. We invite you to join us in helping us make a difference in the lives of survivors and in our community.

April 11thTake Back the Night at the University of Mary Washington. Begins at 7:30 PM at the Anderson Center.  Participants are invited to join  in a short march, a candlelight vigil, as well as to  enjoy community speakers and musical performances. Kristin Harding, RCASA’s Prevention and Education Coordinator, will be the opening speaker and RCASA will be hosting a booth at the event, as well. Stop by and see us!

April 14th RCASA’s First Annual Teal Ribbon 5K Walk to End Sexual Violence.  This event will be held at Caroline High School. On-site registration and sign in for the event begins at 7:30 AM and the walk beings at 8:00 AM. Register online at   https://www.raceit.com/register/?event=9720, by phone or in person at the event. The cost is $25/per person for individual entries and $15/per person for team entries.  If registering at the event, please be sure to bring cash or check for the entry fee.    If you have questions or are interested in registering, pleased email events@rcasa.org or call at 540-371-6771.

April 20th  and April 21stRCASA’s First Annual Teal Ribbon Conference on Violence, Abuse, and Trauma in collaboration with the Child Advocacy Taskforce.  On Friday there will be a keynote speaker, Ruby White-Starr, followed by simultaneous intervention and prevention- based trainings. On Saturday there will be a trauma informed art therapy workshop provided by Cathy Malchiodi, Ph.D, ATR-BC (certification provided).

The flyer with more information is available here: RCASA’s First Annual Conference on Violence, Abuse and Trauma in collaboration with the Child Advocacy Taskforce

Please register at: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Q5GFBZL

*Receive a $25 discount when you register for both days.


RCASA’s Therapy Thursday: An Intern’s Perspective

In Art therapy on February 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

I walked into the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault in my patent leather heels- more nervous about tripping over my own feet than actually not knowing what to expect on my first day at my new internship. While I walked into RCASA in shoes that were my own, I came out walking the steps of so many brave and empowered survivors. To say that RCASA changed my life would be selling every therapist, advocate, volunteer and survivor short. The women and men that I came into contact with opened my eyes and taught me more in the two and a half months that I worked for RCASA than any book, lecture, or video could have ever taught me.

As a pre-art therapy major at Lynchburg College, I knew that I wanted to work with patients suffering from PTSD. What I didn’t know was that RCASA would decide my life path and define me as a student. Every person that I came into contact with while employed at RCASA redefined what I knew to be passion and commitment. I was welcomed into an environment that truly cares for the victims and families that step through their doors; RCASA is willing to do whatever it takes to help.

I had an opportunity to work with an art therapy support group, as well as with incoming patients. They will never know the profound impact they had on me. I learned what strength truly is, and I realized how much I wanted to help victims of sexual assault. RCASA has so many wonderful and unique opportunities for every type of person and circumstance. The valuable lessons that I learned and the people, who I hope were but half as impacted by RCASA as I was by them, represent the basic foundation of what RCASA stands for.

Today I am finishing my senior year of college and am currently employed by a local domestic violence shelter. The stories and experiences that I had with RCASA made me unbelievably prepared for not only my current job, but also for future graduate school. I want to thank all of you who stepped into RCASA and into my life, leaving a permanent mark on me. I hope that RCASA will forever be able to impact men, women, and children in the same way it has done for me.

— Shaina

Qué es lo que debo hacer despúes de un asalto sexual?

In Advocacy, Awareness Campaigns, Case Management, Education, Hispanic/Latino, Legal Advocacy, Medical Accompaniment, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness, Systems Advocacy, Therapy on October 25, 2010 at 8:00 am

Qué es lo que debo hacer despúes de un asalto sexual?

RCASA Therapy Thursday: Sexual Assault On Campus

In Education, Sexual Assault Awareness, Therapy on September 9, 2010 at 8:00 am

Starting college delivers a sense of independence for most students. However, amidst the many exciting changes and freedoms, students many times forget that colleges/universities are not always a safe haven. In fact, college-aged women are at a much greater risk for rape and other forms of sexual assault. College-aged women are 4 times more likely to be sexual assault victims than the general population. Unfortunately, when a woman is sexually assaulted on a college campus, her most common reaction is to keep it quiet. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, less than 5 percent of completed and attempted rapes of college students are brought to the attention of campus authorities and/or law enforcement. Perhaps this is because in the majority of these crimes, the victim and assailant are acquainted. This counters the widespread stranger-rape myth. The student victims themselves may not even label their experience as a rape or a crime for a number of reasons – self-blame, embarrassment, not understanding the definition of rape, or not wanting to identify someone they know who victimized them as a rapist. Failure to recognize and report the crime may not only result in underestimating the extent of the problem, but also may affect whether victims seek medical care and other professional help. Seeking help is important since victims of sexual assault are:

3 times more likely to suffer from depression

6 times more likely to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder

13 times more likely to abuse alcohol

26 times more likely to abuse drugs

4 times more likely to contemplate suicide


This reinforces the importance of many organizations’ efforts to improve education and knowledge about sexual assault and its impact on survivors. The Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) is collaborating with a local school, the University of Mary Washington (UMW) in promoting awareness and providing support by starting a women’s support group for sexual assault survivors. This group,“Healing from Sexual Assault” will be held Tuesday’s on the UMW campus from 2:30-4pm, starting September 28th. It will provide education on sexual assault and the emotional reactions to trauma, and focus on healing with topics such as: self care and coping after the trauma; boundaries, relationships and trust; emotions such as guilt, anger and blame; and grief and loss.

For more information or to join the group, please contact:

Dr. Tev Zukor, Ph.D

UMW Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)

Phone: 540-654-1053


Stephanie Lane, MA

Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA)


RCASA’s Tuesday Affirmation: Letting the Good Stuff Happen

In Education on September 7, 2010 at 8:00 am

We want the second half of our life to be as good as the first half was hard. Sometimes we’re afraid it won’t be. Sometimes we’re afraid it might be.

The good stuff can scare us. Change, even good change, can be frightening. In some ways, good changes can be more frightening than the hard times.

The past may have become comfortably familiar. We knew what to expect in our relationships. They were predictable. They were repeats of the same pattern- the same behaviors, the same pain, over and over again. They may not have been what we wanted, but we knew what was going to happen.

This is not so when we begin to grow and change our patterns.

We may have been fairly good at predicting events in most areas of our life. Relationships would be painful. We’d be deprived.

Each year would be almost a repeat of the last. Sometimes it got a little worse, sometimes a little better, but the change wasn’t drastic. Not until the moment when we began recovery.

Then things changed. And the further we progress in this growth, the more we and our circumstances change. We begin to explore uncharted territory.

Things get good. They do get better all the time. We begin to become successful in love, in work, in life. One day at a time, the good stuff begins to happen and the misery dissipates.

We no longer want to be a victim of life. We’ve learned to avoid unnecessary crisis and trauma.

Life gets good.

“How do I handle the good stuff?” asked one woman. It’s harder and more foreign than the pain and tragedy.

“The same way we handled the difficult and painful experiences,” I replied. “One day at a time.”

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