Monthly Archives: December 2012

Tweets & Hugs

A “tweet” from my personal Twitter account:

“Yesterday, I got hugs & thank you’s for just doing my job. It was so heartwarming ♥ #advocacy”

I usually keep this blog in a “we” format, but today, I’m going to post one that is a little more personal.  I posted that tweet the other day after an interaction with a client.  It was a whole new level of advocacy for me, and I have been doing this work for years.  Before parting ways, I received hugs and thank you’s, and in that moment, I felt like I had truly made a difference.  And that is a feeling that I will cherish forever.

I am writing this for two reasons.  1) If you are a survivor of sexual violence, please contact your local rape crisis center for help and support.  We really do want to be there for you.  2) If you have ever thought about volunteering at a rape crisis center before, please do!

For help and/or volunteer opportunities:  If you are in the local area (Maine), you can call 1-800-871-7741 to speak with an advocate, and/or visit our website for volunteering information.  If you live outside of Maine, you can call 1-800-656-HELP to speak with an advocate, and/or visit to find a rape crisis center near you, for volunteering information.


Victim Blaming. Here we go again…

This is disturbing: “if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body ‘will not permit that to happen’.”  Well, that is not true.  When will the victim blaming ever end?

MYTH:  A victim who really resists the offender cannot be sexually assaulted; therefore, a victim should always fight back as hard as possible.  If a victim did not fight back, they must have wanted to have sex.

FACT:  There are many reasons a survivor may not fight back.  1) The offender is known to them.  2) They are threatened with or without a weapon.  3) They are unable to fight the offender due to either physical or mental limitations, dissociation, freezing, or trauma reactions.  Refraining from fighting or resisting is not a form of consent.

(Myth & Fact via “Help in Healing,” a training manual from the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault)


From Yahoo! News:

Calif. judge says victims’ body can prevent rape

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California judge is being publicly admonished for saying a rape victim “didn’t put up a fight” during her assault and that if someone doesn’t want sexual intercourse, the body “will not permit that to happen.”

The California Commission on Judicial Performance voted 10-0 to impose a public admonishment Thursday, saying Superior Court Judge Derek Johnson’s comments were inappropriate and a breach of judicial ethics.

“In the commission’s view, the judge’s remarks reflected outdated, biased and insensitive views about sexual assault victims who do not ‘put up a fight.’ Such comments cannot help but diminish public confidence and trust in the impartiality of the judiciary,” wrote Lawrence J. Simi, the commission’s chairman.

Johnson made the comments in the case of a man who threatened to mutilate the face and genitals of his ex-girlfriend with a heated screwdriver, beat her with a metal baton and made other violent threats before committing rape, forced oral copulation, and other crimes.

Though the woman reported the criminal threats the next day, the woman did not report the rape until 17 days later.

Johnson, a former prosecutor in the Orange County district attorney’s sex crimes unit, said during the man’s 2008 sentencing that he had seen violent cases on that unit in which women’s vagina’s were “shredded” by rape.

“I’m not a gynecologist, but I can tell you something: If someone doesn’t want to have sexual intercourse, the body shuts down. The body will not permit that to happen unless a lot of damage is inflicted, and we heard nothing about that in this case,” Johnson said.

The commission found that Johnson’s view that a victim must resist to be a real victim of sexual assault was his opinion, not the law. Since 1980, California law doesn’t require rape victims to prove they resisted or were prevented from resisting because of threats.

In an apology to the commission, Johnson said his comments were inappropriate. He said his comments were the result of his frustration during an argument with a prosecutor over the defendant’s sentence.

Johnson said he believed the prosecutor’s request of a 16-year sentence was not authorized by law. Johnson sentenced the rapist to six years instead, saying that’s what the case was “worth.”


The Inaugural Dinner of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services

We would like to say thank you to everyone who attended our Inaugural Dinner and Silent Auction last night:  board members, advocates, staff, friends, family, and community members – thank you!  We would also like to thank the culinary students of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School, for the delicious food, and the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s Executive Director, Elizabeth Ward Saxl, for her wonderful keynote speech “Stronger Together.”

And we can’t forget our remarkable Make A Difference Awardees!

Peter Osborne (Franklin County): Peter works at the University of Maine at Farmington as the Assistant Director of Residence Life.  In this role, Peter developed and implemented training for his Community Assistants around the issue of sexual violence on campus.  His presentation includes statistics, helpful statements, a definition of sexual assault, how it happens, what survivors need and most importantly that it is never ever the victims fault.  There is no doubt that UMF, Farmington, Franklin County and the world beyond has a very committed, passionate ally in the movement to end sexual violence.

Torrie Figueroa (Oxford County):  Torrie has been involved with REACH for the past three years.  Torrie has been a positive influence in many of their fundraisers, has participated in grant writing, and has been very successful in recruiting young women into their Tuesday’s support group.  With her compassion, caring and understanding of others, Torrie has played a huge role in the support of other young women.

Lindamarie McDonald (Androscoggin County):  Lindamarie is a student at USM in Lewiston. In that role she has joined forces with Clara Porter to bring the Safe Campus Program to the Lewiston campus.  Lindamarie serves as the local organizer and supporter of that program, and provides assistance to Clara in developing a range of programs on the Lewiston campus.  Lindamarie also works on the collaboration between Safe Campus, Safe Voices, and Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services.

Clara Porter (Androscoggin County):  Clara is the Coordinator of the Campus Safety Program at USM.  She began this program at the campus in Portland, and created collaboration there between the campus, the local domestic violence services and the local sexual assault service provider.  Her work there influenced campus response to sexual assault, and increase awareness of the issue among faculty and students.  This year, Clara brought that program to USM in Lewiston, replicating the program where appropriate, and developing it anew where needed for this community.

Tom Gould (awarded from the Androscoggin Children’s Advocacy Center):  Lt. Tom Gould of the Livermore Falls Police Department has brought many cases to the Androscoggin Children’s Advocacy Center.  His investigations are child focused and professional, and help the cases to move forward while maintaining respect for the child and the caretaker.

Transgender = Not A Mental Disorder

Such wonderful news!


From Thinkprogress LGBT:

APA Revises Manual:  Being Transgender Is No Longer A Mental Disorder

This Saturday, the American Psychiatric Association board of trustees approved the latest proposed revisions to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, what will now be known as the DSM-5. This marks a historic milestone for people who are transgender and gender non-conforming, as their identities are no longer classified as a mental disorder. Homosexuality was similarly declassified as a mental disorder in 1973.

Until now, the term “gender identity disorder” has been used to diagnose people who are transgender. For conservatives, this has provided rhetorical carte blanche to describe the entire trans committee as disordered, delusional, and mentally ill. In some cases, this diagnosis has even been used to discriminate against trans people, with claims that they are unfit parents or employees, as examples. On the other hand, insurance companies have been more willing to cover the expenses associated with transition under this language, because treatment for a disorder is considered medically necessary, rather than cosmetic.

The new manual will diagnose transgender people with “Gender Dysphoria,” which communicates the emotional distress that can result from “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.” This will allow for affirmative treatment and transition care without the stigma of disorder. Earlier this year, the APA also released new health guidelines for transgender patients, as well as a position statement affirming transgender care and civil rights. Both documents align with a new standard for respecting trans people in the medical community.

It was only after homosexuality was declassified as a mental disorder that ex-gay ministries formed, protesting the medical community’s decision to affirm non-heterosexual orientations. Some dangerous ex-trans ministries exist already and are championed by Focus on the Family,NARTHPFOX, and other anti-LGBT organizations. It’s possible that these efforts may similarly increase in the wake of this DSM revision.