Two blog posts in 24 hours- an impressive feat, I know. If you read my first post today then you already know I went to Highland Hospital this evening as part of my training with the Tri-Valley Haven (TVH). This training session was by far the most interesting and informative of all the training classes we have had and I wanted to share some of what I learned in hopes of spreading some sort of awareness and also just to keep you guys informed.
Posted by Carolyn at TVH on May 6, 2013
The pictures of the rape of a young girl in Steubenville, Ohio are tragic. A young, unconscious girl dragged around a “party” and then raped by her classmates. Meanwhile, girls at the party laughed and took pictures of the victim which they posted to social media with tags like “so raped”. No one intervened to help the victim or called the police. We cannot mislead ourselves, what happened in Steubenville is happening in the Tri-Valley and in every city, suburb, and small town. Usually these rapes are never reported and they never receive the kind of national media attention that the Steubenville case did.
The United States Center for Disease Control tells us that 1 in 4 women in her lifetime will be a victim of sexual assault, 1 in 4! Another fact, 1 in 9 men will be a victim of sexual abuse in his lifetime! Rape and sexual assault are extremely underreported crimes. Males are even less likely to report than females. There are many reasons why victims do not report. After this Steubenville rape case was prosecuted, many in the media focused on the perpetrators, popular football players in the small town, and how this case may affect them. The victim didn’t receive much support at all after enduring this invasive, traumatizing and dehumanizing crime.
What can be done to decrease teenage sexual assaults?
Education. Bystander Education, also called Upstander Education, is now being taught with success by many rape crisis centers including Tri-Valley Haven. Upstander Education teaches teens, and adults, to stand up safely if they witness sexual assault or violence (for example, call 911 anonymously). We need to teach all of our young people in middle and high school about sexual violence, consent, and expose the truth about sexual assault. For instance, the most at risk age group for sexual assaults are teenagers, specifically 16 – 19 year olds. Most rapes occur by someone the person knows, not by a stranger. No-one deserves to be raped. Women often even put the fault on the victim because it makes them feel safer. We all want to believe the world is fundamentally safe. People blame victims by saying things like, “it was her fault because she should have been more careful” or “she shouldn’t have been drinking” or “she shouldn’t have worn that”. They reason that they won’t do those specific things in that specific way, so they won’t be raped. Anyone can be a victim of sexual assault. If teenagers understood this, they may show more empathy and stand together against sexual violence. If a girl wears a short skirt, she is not asking to be raped. If a teenager drinks beer she does not deserve to be raped.
We also need to hold perpetrators criminally accountable. We need to send a strong message that sexual assault will not be tolerated in our society. Rape is about power and control, not uncontrollable sexual desires. Perpetrators think they have the “right” to take someone’s most intimate choice about their body away from them. Our culture needs to make it clear; No one has the right to sexual assault and we will prosecute you to the fullest extent.
Tri-Valley Haven offers rape prevention education, including Upstander Education, and healthy relationship classes for free to Tri-Valley middle and high school classes. We currently have funding for only one person to do this work part-time. Sexual assault prevention needs to be a top local and national funding priority. We owe it to our kids, and to their kids.
Posted by christined55 on April 10, 2013
Posted by Carolyn at TVH on March 13, 2013
Last week, I talked a little bit about early women’s rights, Sojourner Truth, and some of the beginning threads that led to the tapestry of the anti-rape movement. This week, I wanted to cross-post an excellent and short overview article on the history (or herstory, if you will!) of the Rape Crisis Movement. The article is written by Gillian Greensite, Director of Rape Prevention Education at the University of California, Santa Cruz. While I toyed with totally trying to write it all up in my own voice, I realized that really the best thing to do would be to post it in her words, with citation, rather than try to reinvent a perfectly good wheel.
Next week, I hope to talk a bit about the founding of my own “mother” organization, the Tri-Valley Haven, and some of the events and people that shaped it. Women making history! It can be on scales both large and small!
The article follows below:
The earliest efforts to systematically confront and organize against rape began in the 1870s when African-American women, most notably Ida B. Wells, took leadership roles in organizing anti-lynching
campaigns. The courage of these women in the face of hatred and violence is profoundly inspiring. Their efforts led to the formation of the Black Women’s Club movement in the late 1890s and laid the groundwork for the later establishment of a number of national organizations, such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Although women continued individual acts of resistance throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the next wave of anti-rape activities began in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the heels of the civil rights and student movements.
The involvement of other women of color accelerated in the mid-1970s. Organizing efforts brought national attention to the imprisonment for murder of a number of women of color who defended themselves against the men who raped and assaulted them. The plight of Inez Garcia in 1974, Joanne Little in 1975, Yvonne Wanrow in 1976, and Dessie Woods in 1976, all victims of rape or assault who fought back, killed their assailants, and were imprisoned, brought the issue of rape into political organizations that had not historically focused on rape. Dessie Woods was eventually freed in 1981, after a long and difficult organizing effort.
The earliest rape crisis centers were established around 1972 in major cities and politically active towns such as Berkeley, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. As more and more women began sharing their experiences of rape in consciousness-raising groups, breaking the silence that had kept women from avenues of support as well as from seeing the broader political nature of rape, a grassroots movement began to take shape. The establishment of rape crisis centers by rape survivors brought large numbers of middle-class white women into political activism. Although women of color were still involved, their visibility and efforts were made largely invisible in the absence of critical attention to racism within the movement and by white women’s taking the center stage. Gradually the rape crisis movement became to be and to be seen as a white women’s movement.
During the latter half of the 1970s, due to increasing frustration regarding the exclusion of women of color, a number of radical women of color and white women within the movement began arguing for and organizing for an anti-racist perspective and practice. Tensions increased and the dialogue was frequently bitter, but the groundwork was laid for confronting racism within the movement. These efforts are ongoing and need constant attention. The number of women of color in the movement grew visibly between 1976 and 1980. Women of color are now major figures and leaders within the movement, but the dominance of white women within the power structures of most rape crisis centers is still a reality.
The character of the early rape crisis centers was significantly different from that of their counterparts today. The early centers tended to be grassroots collectives of women, predominantly survivors of rape, which may or may not have had an actual building or center, with no outside funding, making decisions by consensus with no hierarchy or board of directors. Many saw their anti-rape work as political work, organizing for broader social change. They increasingly made connections between the issues of sexism, racism, classism, and homophobia. Many articulated a radical political perspective, which often unwittingly excluded all but younger white women who were neither mothers nor fulltime workers.
The tactics used to address rape were often creative. Confrontations, in which a woman supported by her friends would confront and hold a man accountable in a public setting, were a feature of the more radical collectives. Description lists of men who raped were published, and there was general suspicion toward the police—which was well-deserved in many cases. Self-defense classes began to be offered and “Take Back the Night” marches were organized.The first march was organized in San Francisco in 1978, bringing together 5,000 women from thirty states. A huge march followed in 1979 in New York. This heralded the beginning of an event that has spread across the country. Today, “Take Back the Night” marches are organized in many communities and at most major universities in the United States as well as in other countries.
The 1980s saw the beginnings of anti-rape education spreading into universities and an increase in feminist academic research around the issue of rape. Myths about rape were seriously critiqued and the facts supported by a growing body of research. A clearer picture of the extent and seriousness of rape began to emerge. Heated debates centered on a need for sensitivity in language and awareness of the politics of language, as illustrated by the successful effort to replace the word victim with survivor. The hard work of so many dedicated feminists, most of them survivors, began to bear fruit. An understanding of the reality of acquaintance rape grew. The extent and seriousness of child sexual abuse began to be uncovered. New laws were passed that attempted to better serve survivors; police departments were educated to improve their training and protocols; a few hospitals began to provide special examining rooms and trained nurse examiners.
Not everything was positive in the 1980s. The decade also saw a backlash against the reality of rape being exposed by the anti-rape movement. The media elevated to prominence those writers who challenged the research and statistics about acquaintance rape.(3) Funding for rape crisis centers became scarce. Meanwhile, many of the politically active radical feminists had graduated, disbanded, or been forced to find paid work. The movement became more fragmented. Many centers moved politically to the center to secure support and funding from established sources.
A look at the anti-rape movement of the 1990s and a comparison of writings from the late seventies to the late nineties reveal some significant changes. The dominance of a shared political analysis of rape and a strategy for social change has eroded. It still exists, but in fewer and fewer places. In some ways it has been absorbed. For example, many aware students and other women and men assume that rape is an act of power without it having to be spelled out for them. The changes in the anti-rape movement also reflect a decline in the radical politics of all social activism.
The establishment of rape crisis centers across the nation is a testament to the hard work of countless women. The resources available to survivors from such centers is without question one of the most significant and tangible results of the anti-rape movement. As is common within all movements, the daily challenge of providing a critical service with limited resources makes maintaining a conscious political analysis very difficult. The existence of a national organization, the National Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCASA), and a statewide coalition, the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA), from the early days has helped to keep a political edge and has provided critical resources and connections to often-struggling local programs and centers.
However, many within the movement feel there needs to be more discussion and debate at the local, state, and national levels around important political issues affecting the future direction of anti-rape work. Some examples of these issues that need careful analysis are the effects of the increasing state and federal legislation concerning rape; the redefinition of the issue of rape away from a political model toward a health model; the strategy for building a bigger movement toward the elimination of rape and the role of rape crisis centers within this effort; the impact of the growing number of males within the movement.
Posted by Carolyn at TVH on March 13, 2013
The history of the Rape Crisis Movement in the United States is – among other things – an excellent reminder that in order to fight one kind of oppression, one has to stand in solidarity with those fighting other kinds of oppression. The denigration of one group of people is often inextricably linked with other kinds of tyranny. In the case of the Rape Crisis Movement, the oppression of women in general and the oppression of African-American women in particular are closely bound together, and the first stirrings of what would become the Rape Crisis Movement came from within that group.
The following paragraphs come from Gillian Greensite’s History of the Rape Crisis Movement.
During slavery, the rape of enslaved women by white men was common and legal. After slavery ended, sexual and physical violence, including murder, were used to terrorize and keep the Black population from gaining political or civil rights. The period of Reconstruction from 1865 to 1877, directly following the Civil War, when freed slaves were granted the right to vote and own property, was particularly violent. White mobs raped Black women and burned churches and homes. The Ku Klux Klan, founded in 1866 in Tennessee, was more organized. The Klan raped Black women, lynched Black men, and terrorized Black communities. Propaganda was spread that all Black men were potential rapists, and all white women potential victims. The results and legacy of such hatred were vicious. Thousands of Black men were lynched between Emancipation and World War II, with the false charge of rape a common accusation. Rape laws made rape a capital offense only for a Black man found guilty of raping a white woman. The rape of a Black woman was not even considered a crime, even when it became officially illegal.
Perhaps the first women in the United States to break the silence around rape were those African-American women who testified before Congress following the Memphis Riot of May 1866, during which a number of Black women were gang-raped by a white mob. Their brave testimony has been well recorded.
Sojourner Truth was the first woman to connect issues of Black oppression with women’s oppression in her legendary declaration, “Ain’t I a Woman” in her speech at the Women’s Rights Conference in Silver Lake, Indiana, challenging the lack of concern with Black issues by the white women present at the conference.
The earliest efforts to systematically confront and organize against rape began in the 1870s when African-American women, most notably Ida B. Wells, took leadership roles in organizing anti-lynching campaigns. The courage of these women in the face of hatred and violence is profoundly inspiring. Their efforts led to the formation of the Black Women’s Club movement in the late 1890s and laid the groundwork for the later establishment of a number of national organizations, such as the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Although women continued individual acts of resistance throughout the first half of the twentieth century, the next wave of anti-rape activities began in the late 1960s and early 1970s on the heels of the civil rights and student movements.
During the month of March, I will add more blog entries, talking about the history of the Rape Crisis and Domestic Violence movement in the United States. In a month that is dedicated to National Women’s History, it seems only appropriate to touch on the events and people that gave birth to the Rape Crisis Centers, the Domestic Violence Shelters, and the other support services that exist today, and otherwise might never have come to pass. Many women and children, and the adults the children became, owe their lives to the women who came before us.
In closing for this blog entry, I will leave you with the words of Sojourner Truth, for whom we at Tri-Valley Haven named our own homeless shelter ten years ago. She was born a slave around 1797 in New York and escaped to freedom in 1826. Her “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech was given in 1851 at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio. I repeat them here:
whar dar is so much racket
dar must be somethin’ out o’ kilter.
I tink dat ‘twixt de nigger of de Souf
and de womin at de Norf,
all talkin’ ’bout rights,
de white men will be in a fix pretty soon.
But what’s all dis here talkin’ ’bout?
Dat man ober dar say
dat womin needs to be helped into carriages,
and lifted ober ditches,
and to hab de best place everywhar.
Nobody eber halps me into carriages,
or ober mudpuddles,
or gibs me any best place!
And ar’n't I a woman?
Look at me!
Look at my arm!
I have ploughed,
and gathered into barns,
and no man could head me!
And ar’n't I a woman?
I could work as much
and eat as much as a man —
when I could get it —
and bear de lash as well!
And ar’n't’ I a woman?
I have borne thirteen chilern,
and seen ‘em mos’ all sold off to slavery,
and when I cried out with my mother’s grief,
none but Jesus heard me!
And ar’n't I a woman?
Den dey talks ’bout dis ting in de head;
what dis dey call it?
(whispered someone near).
Dat’s it, honey.
What’s dat got to do wid womin’s rights
or nigger’s rights?
If my cup won’t hold but a pint,
and yourn holds a quart,
wouldn’t ye be mean
not to let me have my little half-measure full?
Den dat little man in black dar,
he say women can’t have as much rights as men,
’cause Christ wan’t a woman!
Whar did your Christ come from?
Whar did your Christ come from?
From God and a woman!
Man had nothin’ to do wid Him.
If de fust woman God ever made
was strong enough to turn de world upside down
dese women togedder ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!
And now dey is asking to do it,
de men better let ‘em.
Bleeged to ye for hearin’ on me,
and now ole Sojourner
han’t got nothin’ more to say.’
* An interesting thing to note is that Sojourner’s words have been reported in dialect and NOT in dialect. She was, in fact, born and raised in New York and it is unlikely she spoke with this heavy Southern accent. In fact, the first account of her speaking does not have portray the dialect, and later ones do. Yet again, we see intersections of oppression and stereotype. For more information on this aspect of the speech, this Wiki article has some good information.
Posted by Carolyn at TVH on March 5, 2013
It just happened again. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that a young woman’s report of having been raped on the UC Santa Cruz campus in broad daylight earlier this month was determined to be a false report, and within three hours, almost 100 people had weighed in on the “comments” section to express their opinions as to why women falsely report sexual assault, and what the punishment for false reports should be.
Disturbingly, several readers opined that the woman should be sentenced to “work with real rape victims” in order to gain an understanding of how serious a charge rape is. Do these commenters seriously feel that it would be therapeutic for a person who has been traumatized by sexual assault to spend time with someone who is being punished for filing a false rape report? Why does “teaching a lesson” to the bogus victim take precedence over providing specialized services to survivors of sexual assault to assist them in recovering emotionally from their trauma, and providing support and advocacy as they negotiate the systems of law enforcement, the courts, health care and social services? And why is working with rape survivors perceived to be a punishment rather than a respected calling that requires enormous dedication, empathy and knowledge?
The volunteers at Tri-Valley Haven’s Rape Crisis Center have all completed a 65-hour state-approved training to prepare them to provide crisis counseling, advocacy, case management or professional psychotherapy to survivors. It is a comprehensive and emotionally difficult training, and not everyone who begins the training completes it. Sometimes trainees discover that their own emotions are so triggered by the content of the training that they are afraid they will break down in tears themselves when they should be providing support and reassurance. Sometimes our staff observes that a trainee persists in holding victims responsible for their rapes by questioning why they allowed themselves to get into a dangerous situation, or in dictating what a survivor “must” do rather than empowering a survivor to determine what she or he feels is the best course of action.
When we see that a trainee is struggling to contain their own emotions, or that they propose interventions that are detrimental to survivors, staff meets with that person to express our concerns and ask for feedback from the trainee. Depending on the response, the person may need additional training and role-playing with staff before being certified to work with survivors, they may be re-directed to other volunteer opportunities at the Haven that do not involve providing client services or, if they have a serious conflict with our agency values, they may be asked to leave the training and not volunteer in any capacity.
Our first responsibility is to provide the highest quality of services to the survivors who turn to us for support in the aftermath of trauma. These services can only be provided by volunteers and staff who have a passion for the work and are motivated to support and empower survivors. It is not a job for court-ordered convicts who may be struggling with mental health issues of their own.
Tri-Valley Haven provides community education about the realities of sexual assault, the services the Haven provides, sexual assault prevention and self-defense for women and girls. To schedule a presentation for your school, workplace, club or place of worship, please call our community building at (925) 449-5845. Together we build a world without violence.
Director of Domestic Violence Services
Posted by vlt001 on February 28, 2013
Look at all that purple!
In the, “There is Hope For The World” department of blog reporting:
Today at Dublin High School, teenagers from Tri-Valley Haven’s Be Strong Group held a Violence Prevention Event in the school’s courtyard. Male and female teens signed hearts pledging to do their part to end teen dating violence. Students also took Healthy Relationship Quizzes, and discussed ways to remain safe in dating relationships.
“Be Strong is a teen violence prevention program aimed at helping female youth define respect, healthy relationships, and support one another as they put these concepts into place,” says Linda Law, Tri-Valley Haven’s Prevention Instructor. “The Be Strong teen leaders ran today’s event and encouraged fellow students to join in!”
Sometimes hearing about healthy relationships from adults when you’re a teen isn’t exactly the most helpful or effective way to get the message. But when you hear about it from your own friends and classmates and peers, that’s when the magic happens.
A little magic happened today.
Posted by Carolyn at TVH on February 28, 2013
So, there have been a number of posts here on Prevention, Power & Peace about the importance of the Violence Against Women act and the shenanigans that have endangered it and hung it up in partisan politics for 500 days of bickering and stalling. I’m glad to report that this morning, it passed through the House and is finally reauthorized with a vote of 286 to 138. Even better, the alternate Republican version of the act, which struck out protections for LGBT, for immigrant women, and for Native American women, got consigned to the circular file of history.
Just for a bit of perspective, one reason that the Native American women portion is so important is this (taken from a Washington Post article):
Before the end of the last Congress, negotiations stalled over the Native American provision. That is, giving tribal courts limited authority to prosecute non-Native Americans accused of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes against Native American women on Indian reservations. As I wrote last December, under the old VAWA, a non-Native American man who beats up, sexually assaults or even kills a Native American woman on tribal land would basically get away with it because tribal courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute non-Indian defendants. In addition, federal and state law enforcement have limited resources to pursue cases and might be hours away from a reservation.
The reauthorized and expanded VAWA also extends protections to other groups that are among the most vulnerable such as human trafficking victims. It will help reduce violence on college campuses, and help rape victims by making sure that their rape kits are processed–there is currently a tremendous backlog on processing, leaving many victims of sexual assault in a limbo where evidence that could be used to bring their attacker to justice languishes without being analyzed. Every year since VAWA began in 1994, it has passed without fuss and with expanded protections… until this latest time.
In America, we have long stood by the principle that the protections of the law are not meant just for some. The law should be there to keep all people safe. That is why VAWA’s expansions to protect vulnerable populations such as Native American victims, LGBT victims, and immigrant victims are so terribly, integrally important.
Today is a good day–a day of hope for those victimized by sexual assault and domestic violence. Today is a day that America finally FINALLY said, “We support you. We hear you. We believe you. You have worth in our eyes. Your pain is real. You deserve justice.”
Posted by Carolyn at TVH on February 28, 2013
The following letter, To My Fellow Survivors, was written by an amazing survivor who recently participated in a support group at Tri-Valley Haven. We are so grateful she has given us permission to publish this:
My rape happened over ten years ago and for ten years, I thought I was fine. I told myself to suck it up, that it was not as bad as some other stories that I had heard, that I was being selfish and to not let it affect me, that I deserved it because I was not good enough. These thoughts replayed in my mind over and over again. They became deep-rooted in my soul. I went through these ten years making bad choice after bad choice—from an eating disorder to self-injury, promiscuity, stealing, lying, anger, and depression, you name it. I thought there was something wrong with me as to why I could just not be happy. Why was I making these unhealthy choices? I knew that I had all this anger built up inside me, but I thought that I had dealt with this part of my past, so when my therapist mentioned that she wanted me to go to a support group, I was very hesitant to say the least. I was willing to try anything, though, because I was at my breaking point. I made the call. I thought, even if I do not like it, I can get out of work early on Fridays.
I was really nervous my first class. I did not want to talk to these people that I had never met about something so personal; plus, I do not trust anyone. The more you let people in, the more they can use that against you. I had learned this too many times. I went week after week, did my homework and opened up as much as I could. We then received an assignment to create a collage of how we felt at the time of the rape, and how we wanted to feel as a survivor. I was not a fan of this. I felt it was stupid, childish, and a waste of my time, but I was going to do it and prove myself right.
I clipped out a pile of sayings in magazines that jumped out at me, not knowing which side I would put them on. Once I completed that task, I just started to glue them on. I felt nothing, no emotion, like this was just a school project for a grade. After I was done, I looked at my board and was astonished. My “bad side” truly represented that horrible night—the pain, the horror, the sadness and the depression—everything I felt then and at that moment ten years later. It hit me. Somehow, looking at those words that were lost within me made it actually real. I finally felt something other than anger. I felt sadness for the girl I was, the girl that I would never be again, the girl that lost a piece of herself that night.
I then turned the board over and looked at my “survivor side.” I started crying. Is this really what I am supposed to feel like as a woman, as a survivor? Proud, Strong, Courageous. Even if I could not be or feel all of the things I had glued on that board, the possibility of being a little free from this pain and darkness is what I wanted. This was probably one of my first, “AH HA” moments. I think after this project is when I started to open up a little more to the other women in the group.
Then the teacher told us that the next assignment was going to be writing our story. “Um, WHAT? Not going to happen.” What could possibly come out of doing this? I was very skeptical. I know what happened to me. Why do I need to write it out?
Needless to say, I sucked it up and started writing. As I wrote, I again felt nothing. It was like I was writing someone else’s story. This is stupid, I told myself. I had gone through years, telling the same version of my story—the bare minimum with friends and family who were concerned. Wasn’t that enough? It wasn’t until I actually started writing details of what he did to me that I started to feel sadness and anger. I finally sat there and realized fully what had happened, what he did, what he said, what he made me do. I remembered things that I had forgotten about, things that I think my mind made me forget until I was ready to process them. I did not think it would be ten years later, but I know now that I wasn’t ready then.
I then had to find a safe person to read this to. That was the scariest part. I had never confided in anyone about the gory details. I kept those parts locked away inside me for so long. No one knew the shame I felt, the guilt I placed on myself for not fighting back, for freezing, for letting someone do this to me, but writing my story and reading it to my counselor proved something to me that day. It proved that I said, “No” numerous times; it proved that I did what I had to do to Survive. As hard as this was to swallow, it did give me a little bit of peace. I was able to forgive myself. It made me open up to the women in the group, to care about them. It was amazing to actually be somewhere I could just be myself and know that I would not be judged, to actually be surrounded with people that knew the pain I felt. I had felt alone for so long.
As this course is coming to an end, I am confused with how I feel. I am happy that I was allowed this time to really look inside me and face some of my demons, but I am saddened to part ways with these women that I feel truly understand me. I still have a lot of work ahead of me. Am I fully healed? I do not think I will ever be, but understanding who I am makes it a little easier.
As you read this, I want you to know that this will be hard. I will not sugar-coat this process. Will you want to quit? Probably, but some of the hardest things in life have the greatest reward, and growing as a person is one of those rewards. Just remember, you are strong, you are courageous, you are worthy, you are loved, and YOU ARE A SURVIVOR!!!
Posted by christined55 on February 25, 2013