Monthly Archives: January 2013

Stalking, Human Trafficking & The Superbowl

Today, January 31st, marks the end of Stalking Awareness Month & Human Trafficking Awareness Month.  However, just because the month is ending, that does not mean that we are stopping.  We will continue to educate, raise awareness, and work towards ending these violent crimes all year ’round.

Quick facts about stalking:
* 6.6 million people are stalked annually in the United States
* Nearly 75% of victims know their stalker in some capacity
* 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week
* 11% of victims have been stalked for 5 years or more
* 2% of stalking victims in 2008 experienced sexual violence by the stalker (this number rises to 31% when the stalker is a current or former intimate partner)
(Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008)

Quick facts about human trafficking:
* Nearly 300,000 American children are at risk for trafficking into the sex industry each year  (Estes & Weiner, 2001)
* Between 600,000 and 800,000 men, women and children are trafficked across international borders each year  (USDOS, 2009)

Also, something to think about this weekend while you’re watching the Superbowl… 

The Super Bowl is commonly known as one of the largest human trafficking incidences in the U.S.

 

 

Survivor’s Words

Aftermath of a Flashback
By Anonymous  

It came with no warning, all the pain, sorrow, anguish, and horror.  The memory of rape is just as ugly as the rape itself.  Now that I remember, the hurt is hard to bear.  I must go on.  I have a son to feed, car payments to make, bills to pay, work to do, and school to attend.  The sorrow is like a dark, stormy cloud that is ready to explode its storm all over the place.  I’m tired of going on.  I must take responsibility for the running of my life.  I must use every ounce of energy I have just to get out of my safe bed.  I know I must live in today and trudge through this.  This is a part of the “healing” journey called recovery from rape.  Does my rapist go through this?  Probably not. He is happy in life.  I am not!  I’m angry that I have to do this while he sits back as if nothing has happened.  I wish I could too, but that is not a reality for me.  No matter how good I feel or successful I am, I will never be able to forget.  From time to time memories, flashbacks, and nightmares will happen.  yes I’ll go on with life, I’ll do my part to make this world better for survivors like me.  I may even have to arrange my life around all this stuff so that I can pick up the pieces of the rape and then move on.  Today, the weather fits me.  It is dark, damp, and ready to burst forth with tears, but holding them back until “the time is right.”  There is a chill that surrounds me.  There is also warmth in the air, it is a sign of hope that I’ll get better and survive.

 

(If you would like to submit a poem or story, for our blog, newsletter, and/or other social media sites, please e-mail SAVESoutreach@sapars.org.  Thank you!)

Information About Sex Offenders

The term sex offender is used to describe the diverse group of people who commit acts of sexual violence to gain or maintain power and control.

Statistics:

  • Approximately 96% of sex offenders are male (Robinson, 2009).
  • Female offenders account for approximately 10 % of sex crimes reported to police (FBI, 2005).
  • According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, females know their offender in approximately 79% of rapes or sexual assaults; males know their offenders in approximately 26% of rapes or sexual assaults (Truman & Rand, 2009).

Myths & Facts:

  • Myth:  Sex offenders commit sexual crimes because they are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.  Fact:  Drinking alcohol and/or taking drugs does not cause someone to commit sexual violence.
  • Myth:  The majority of sexual offenders are caught, convicted, and in prison.  Fact:  Only a small fraction of those who commit sexual violence are apprehended and convicted for their crimes.
  • Myth:  Children who are sexually assaulted will sexually assault others when they grow up.  Fact:  Most sex offenders were not sexually assaulted as children, and most children who are sexually assaulted do not sexually assault others.

Grooming behaviors:

Grooming involves the process of attempting to set up or stage individuals for sexual abuse by using a variety of methods to promote trust.  Examples…

  • Displaying appropriate affection that leads into inappropriate affection
  • Using a pet/animal to draw a person in
  • Acting as an authority figure
  • Bribing through gifts or presents
  • Misrepresenting themselves as a scout or agent, and attracting a person with the lure of fame.
  • Manipulating through threats and/or weapons
  • Using sexualized physical contact including games such as wrestling or tickling, that leads into inappropriate touching
  • “Accidentally” exposing self

(This information was adapted from Help In Healing: A Training Guide for Advocates, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 2011).

Note:  If you live in Maine, you can access the sex offender registry at www.maine.gov/sor.  If you live outside of Maine, you can access the national sex offender registry at www.familywatchdog.us.

Active Listening

“The challenge is to listen with an open heart and mind, and to ask good questions, rather than to rush in to soothe, fix, advise, criticize, instruct, admonish, get defensive and do whatever else we do naturally that shuts down the lines of communication.

At its purest moments, listening reflects the art of being fully emotionally present without judgment or distraction.  Whenever we are fully present, we are not thinking about our work, or anything else.  We’re not judgmental.  Similarly, while listening, we are not formulating our response or considering how we might best present our case.  Our thoughts are not stuck in the past or wandering to the future.  We are fully open and receptive to what the person is saying without having to change, fix, correct or advise.  We are there with the person – and nowhere else.

We won’t listen well when our mind is already made up or when we have our own agenda.  In the latter case, we’re likely to be in a “talk-wait-talk” conversational mode (meaning we’re just waiting for the other person to finish talking so we can make our point) rather than a “talk- listen – talk” conversational mode.  As in all things, some folks have more natural talent at listening than others, but we can all get better at it.” 

– Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.

Active listening is important for all of our relationships (co-workers, family, friends, etc.), and it takes practice.  Sometimes, we miss vital information or feelings, because of the urge to jump in with our own stories.  If you find yourself talking with a survivor of sexual assault, please listen actively.  Do not shame, judge, or give advice.  It is often difficult for a survivor to open up, so when they do, be present, patient, and understanding.

What is consent?

con.sent
verb (used without object)
1.  to permit; approve; or agree.

Consent is freely given approval; an agreement made between people who are sober, which is open to discussion throughout any interaction, and can be revoked at any point by either individual.  Any sexual activity with a person who is unable to give consent it considered sexual violence.

MYTH:  If a woman is drunk she deserves to be sexually assaulted.

FACT:  Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs will impair a person’s perceptions and judgement.  Getting drunk is not an invitation for non-consensual sexual activity and is never a reason for sexual violence.  Both men and women have a right to drink if they choose.  Without the threat of sexual assault as a punishment.  Offenders are responsible for their choices; no one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted.

MYTH:  If a woman agrees to a certain level of sexual interaction, she has agreed to have intercourse.  Therefore, it is acceptable to force sex on a woman who is saying no because she actually means yes and is just afraid to say it.

FACT:  People are capable of deciding what should happen to their own bodies.  No one else has the right to assume that “no” means anything other than “no.”  You have the right to change your mind at any time.

No means no.
Yes means yes.
ALWAYS get consent.

(Information adapted from Help In Healing: A Training Guide For Advocates, 2011 edition, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault)

How many are falsely accused of rape?

Not many…

MYTH:  ”Women are always ‘crying rape;’ claiming they were raped when they were not.”

FACT:  Only “2-8% of all of the accusations of sexual assault reported to law enforcement are false reports, the same rate as other type of violent crime (Lonsway, Archambault, & Lisak, 2009).”

MYTH:  ”If there are so many people being sexually assaulted, why don’t I know any victims?”

FACT:  ”Survivors of sexual assault often suffer in silence because they experience shame, embarrassment and fear that no one will believe them.  Offenders will often threaten to harm survivors or their families to guarantee their silence.  Sexual assault is one of the least reported crimes in the United States (Rand & Truman, 2009).  Everyone probably knows a survivor of sexual violence.  However, many survivors are very selective about whom they tell and may not disclose their experiences.  Sexual assault remains largely unreported and undisclosed because it is one of the only types of crimes for which survivors carry an undue burden of shame and guilt.”

[Adapted from – Help In Healing:  A Training Guide For Advocates, Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault, 2011]

An end to VAWA

This is a sad and disappointing day.

“Today is a sad day for the women and men who face domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. If we take a second to look at the economic impact alone of violence in the United States, it is costly. We spend more than $4.5 billion each year on medical costs for operations, hospital care, rehabilitation, and other forms of therapy and long term care. Most of that cost (85%) is for uninsured care, meaning that in the end taxpayers pay the bill. The economic impact in terms of lost wages and earning potential for those who are either killed, or temporarily or permanently disabled, is more than $20 billion per year. Since most victims of violence are in their teens or twenties, nearly 40 years worth of wages are lost. The social and emotional cost to families who lose loved ones, and to those temporarily or permanently disabled, are enormous. I can’t express how concerned I am. Please, Congress do something!” – Nick Citriglia, SAVES Coordinator.

 

From The Huffington Post:

House GOP Lets Violence Against Women Act, Passed By Senate, Die Without A Vote

WASHINGTON — Despite a late-stage intervention by Vice President Joe Biden, House Republican leaders failed to advance the Senate’s 2012 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an embattled bill that would have extended domestic violence protections to 30 million LGBT individuals, undocumented immigrants and Native American women.

“The House leadership would not bring it up, just like they wouldn’t bring up funding for Sandy [hurricane damage] last night,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), a key backer of the Senate version of the bill, in an interview with HuffPost. “I think they are still so kowtowing to the extreme on the right that they’re not even listening to the moderates, and particularly the women, in their caucus who are saying they support this.”

In April, the Senate with bipartisan support passed a version of VAWA that extended protections to three groups of domestic violence victims who had not been covered by the original law, but House Republicans refused to support the legislation with those provisions, saying the measures were politically driven. Instead, they passed their own VAWA bill without the additional protections. In recent weeks, however, even some House Republicans who voted for the pared-down House bill have said they would now support the broader Senate bill — and predicted it would pass if Republican leaders let it come to the floor for a vote.

“I absolutely would support the Senate bill,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told HuffPost in late December, speculating that other House Republicans, namely GOP congresswomen, “are very supportive of that.”

Asked if he thought the Senate bill would pass in the House if it came up for a vote, Cole replied, “My judgment is yes.”

Last spring, only two of the 25 House Republican women — Reps. Judy Biggert (Ill.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.). — opposed the House VAWA reauthorization, on the grounds that it didn’t go far enough. But in the last couple of weeks, some others signaled they would now support the broader Senate bill.

“I think that we should be very open-minded about the Senate provisions,” said Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.).

“I would be in that category of being open-minded to that,” said Rep. Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had been guiding House negotiations on the matter, huddling with Republican congresswomen last month and even working directly with Biden to try to get a deal. House-Senate talks appeared to have broken down over House Republicans’ refusal to accept a key protection for Native American women that was included in the Senate bill.

“Majority Leader Cantor worked hard seeking to move the bill forward so we can protect victims and prosecute offenders,” said Cantor spokesman Doug Heye.

Murray said she is “absolutely” planning to reintroduce the bill in 2013. If the Republican Party is concerned about its relationship with women, she added, it should “put that concern to action.”

“They have the opportunity to do it now,” Murray said. “They have the opportunity to take up this bill and show women and men that they understand that women’s rights are important.”

(Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/violence-against-women-act-_n_2398553.html)

January is Stalking Awareness Month

Stalking is not romantic, and it is not funny.  Stalking is real, and it is a crime…it does not only happen to celebrities.  “Stalking is a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.”

* 6.6 million people are stalked annually in the United States
* Nearly 75% of victims know their stalker in some capacity
* 46% of stalking victims experience at least one unwanted contact per week
* 11% of victims have been stalked for 5 years or more
* 2% of stalking victims in 2008 experienced sexual violence by the stalker (this number rises to 31% when the stalker is a current or former intimate partner)

[Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008]

If you or someone you know is being stalked, please call us at 1-800-871-7741 (Maine only).  If you live outside of Maine, you can call the national sexual assault helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE. You do not have to go through this alone.