Monthly Archives: June 2015

Final Yard Sale Fundraiser!

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Mark your calendars for July 10th and 11th, 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM for our last annual yard sale in Oxford County!

The yard sale has been a successful fundraiser for the past several years. However, this summer will be our FINAL one, because we will be changing the space around to add a Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in the South Paris office!

We are accepting items for this yard sale. If you wish to donate items, please bring them to 1 East Main St., South Paris. We accept household items, books, games, knick knacks, clothing in good condition, etc., but please no electronics or appliances.

For more information, call (207) 743-9777.

Your child should never be forced to hug anyone (yes, including a relative) – here are 7 reasons why, via Everyday Feminism:

(Content Warnings: incest, rape, and sexual violence)

Two of my good friends had their first baby late this past year.

From the get-go, Baby was a cuddly little girl. (Or, as her two moms say, “We assume she’s a girl, but we won’t know for sure until she tells us herself.”) She was all about being held and being rocked – and crying her head off the moment anybody dared to put her down. She wanted contact with all the people ever.

But in the past couple of months, it seems she’s had a serious change of heart.

When some of us were over for a visit, Baby suddenly wanted none of it. Passed from one person to the next, she wailed like a banshee until finally given back to one of her moms, where she instantly quieted.

“Don’t take it personally,” Mama said to everyone, bouncing Baby. “She’s just entering that stage where she’s developing some healthy stranger danger.”

And so the new process emerged: One of us would attempt to hold Baby every once in a while. And if she cried for more than 20 seconds, we’d hand her back to one of her moms.

If Baby didn’t want to be held by certain people, Baby didn’t have to be held by certain people.

It was as simple as that – and something her moms are determined to keep in place as Baby gets older.

Seeing them regard their child like that was admittedly an eye-opening experience for me. I’d grown up in a world where you hugged relatives or family friends no matter what. To deny them was considered a huge sign of disrespect, and nothing was worse than disrespecting someone older than you.

It was icky, as my six-year-old self would say.

To be fair, I recognize the reasons why some parents or guardians would want to—shall we say—enthusiastically encourage their children to hug relatives and family friends. Hugs are positive, right? They instill trust, good will, and healthy connections to the people closest to you, right?

Of course they do – when they’re given consensually. And even four-year-olds have bodily autonomy, and therefore, the right to consent (or not).

Dear parents et al, I understand where you’re coming from, and your intentions are innocent and well-meaning.

But here are a few reasons why forcing your child to hug another person can be a bad idea.

1. It Teaches Your Child That They Don’t Have Control Over Their Own Bodies

This is particularly relevant for female-presenting people.

In our patriarchal world of the male gaze and body policing and sexual assault, it’s hugely important to teach girls (as well as everyone else) that it’s never okay to be made to touch another person when you don’t want to.

The message doesn’t even have to be in a sexual context.

A person’s body is their own body.

They can do what they want with it.

They can pierce it and tattoo it and color its hairs and fill it with organic vegan cheese and drown it in bourbon and jump it out of an airplane with a parachute and turn its penis into a vulva and run it 14 miles every morning and have it sleep until noon and draw little smiley faces on its fingers for impromptu puppets.

Seriously. Whatever you want. People shouldn’t care, and you shouldn’t care about them caring. Yay everyone!

But when something such as being forced to hug (or be hugged by) people at a young age, we’re instilling the message that our bodies are never our own.

Instead, we’re saying that a person is everyone else’s physical and political property.

And that’s not cool.

2. It Implies That You (Or Adults in General) Have the Right to Touch Your Child How They Want, When They Want

Chilling, no? But it’s pretty simple logic:

  1. Child is told to hug So-And-So.
  2. Child expresses some manner of decline, hesitation, or rejection at the idea of hugging So-And-So.
  3. Child is guilted, shamed, belittled, manipulated, or otherwise made to feel forced to hugSo-And-So.
  4. Child hugs So-And-So.
  5. Child feels like shit for being reprimanded over not wanting to hug So-And-So and still ended up having to hug So-And-So.
  6. Child says to self, “It would behoove me in the ongoing future to stop resisting said hugging, seeing as how it doesn’t work and only makes matters worse. Resisting touch equals reprimand. I daresay this is an epiphany of biblical proportions.”

Or something like that. You get the idea.

Adults are the authority figures in a child’s life. This is a necessary, natural state of being because honestly, who else is going to show them the ropes?

But make sure you’re showing them the right ropes.

Having legal possession over a child doesn’t mean they’re your property. It means they’re your responsibility.

By forcing a child to hug, you’re telling them “Yes, I’m in charge here, which means you have to do everything I say.”

Sorry, but no.

You’re in charge here, which means it’s your job to make sure that the kid grows up to be the most functioning adult they’re capable of being.

See the difference?

3. It Tells Them That Relatives Can’t Be Abusers

I know this to be true because it 100% happened to me. My grandfather was a most unfortunate creature, and his sexual violence toward me started when I was ridiculously young. It continued on for several years, undetected the entire time, in part because of this whole hugging issue.

You see, it was cyclical for me.

Not only was I forced to hug my rapist in front of people on a regular basis – which I’m damn sure he got an additional sick sense of pleasure from – but one of the reasons I never told anybody about the sexual violence was because I assumed behaviors such as the forced hugging meant that the violence was also acceptable for him to do.

He was a relative, and relatives couldn’t be abusers.

Why else would forced contact be so widespread amongst families? He even manipulated the entire issue in his favor with such simple phrases as “It’s just like hugging.”

Made sense to me.

For the record, I’m not saying that it means a child has been abused by a given person when they refuse to hug that person. There are all sorts of reasons they may not want to hug someone, plenty of them benign.

A child not wanting to hug someone because that person hurt them is – I hope – still a less-than-likely occurrence. But the fact remains that situations like mine do happen.

And while I’ve never believed the hugging issue in itself somehow caused the assaults – abuse is always, always the fault of the abuser themselves – it would’ve at least been nice to not have been forced to fake innocent, childlike affection for him in public, confusing the hell out of my sense of right and wrong the whole while.

4. It Disregards Your Child’s Comfort Zone

I implied this in above points, but I’ll say it outright now: Your child is not your Mini Me. They’re their own person, however developing and in-training they may be emotionally, mentally, or physically.

Which for this article means that their comfort zone may vary from yours.

Hugs may not mean the same to them as they do to you. Please respect that.

5. It Risks Dismantling Their Natural, Healthy Sense of Stranger Danger

I’m actually not a fan of the term “stranger danger” since it can accidentally imply that all strangers are bad and all non-strangers are good, but I’m going with it since it’s a term I’m confident most people are familiar with.

But as a refresher, “stranger danger” is pretty much when your brain goes, “Uhh… I don’t want that person near me.” And then you often respond to your brain’s message by doing what you can to politely avoid said person.

It’s meant to be a survival tactic.

Growing up, your senses are meant to develop in a way that subconsciously tells you when you might be in danger.

Of course, this can go sour in all sorts of ways, a great example being white people feeling stranger danger when they cross a black man on the sidewalk at night. Many white people automatically want to cut to the other side of the street not because they’ve ever been hurt by a black man before, but because they were raised in a racist society or otherwise have instilled many of the negative, sensationalized messages portrayed by the media.

These survival misfires can also happen with children and hugging.

In the instance of a child being forced to hug an adult even when they don’t want to, they learn to not always trust their gut instincts when it comes to their safety, their surroundings, and the people they don’t know very well or are meeting for the first time.

Essentially, it’s a child’s brain saying, “Ack! Something that’s making us uncomfortable! Hold for safety confirmation before engaging in said hug!” And the adults are saying, “Screw confirmation. Just hug Second Cousin Gertrude, for chrissake.”

You may know that Gertrude is fine and dandy, but your child needs to learn that for themselves. They need to make that decision on their own.

6. It Ignores Any Important, Subtle Cues Your Child Is Trying to Tell You

As I said before, a child not wanting to hug an adult could be a purely innocent thing, the child doing nothing more than learning about the world through trial and error.

However, not wanting to hug could possibly mean that something more is going on. The relative or family friend could have hurt the child in the past intentionally (assault) or accidentally (stepped on their hand while crossing the room).

Or done something to frighten them, like telling them a scary story or not realizing dressing like a vampire for Halloween made the child think they really were a vampire. (And let’s be fair: They could be. Have you witnessed any sparkling?)

Or the child has somehow made a connection between the person and something they don’t like, such as the person smelling like Brussel sprouts.

There are all sorts of scenarios.

And while the child responding to something like assault is certainly up there with the most alarming possibilities, there are also such no-hug cues as the early signs of autism or Asperger’s syndrome, which can involve an aversion to touch.

When a child rejects a hug either from one adult or several, feel free to sit them down and gently ask if there’s any reason they didn’t want to hug them.

It could very well be nothing, but in the event that it isn’t, it’s better for your child’s health if you find out sooner rather than later.

7. It Sends the Message That Hugging (Or Physical Contact in General) Is the Only Way to Show Affection or Appreciation for Another Person

We as a culture simply need to stop drilling into our own heads that there are only a select few ways to show love for another human being.

Families don’t need hugs in order to count as families, friendships don’t need high fives to pledge loyalty, and romantic relationships don’t need sex to be considered serious.

Are these things nice to give and receive? Sure. But only if both parties actually want them.

Such things only hold so much affection weight because we’ve given them that weight ourselves.

To someone who doesn’t want it, an affectionate action is rendered meaningless at best and damaging at worst.

Forcing hugging on a child tells them that 1) they’re expected to show affection toward this person, and 2) that this is exactly how they must show that affection.

Instead of being a hug tyrant, allow your child to be creative in how they show affection. Let them draw a picture or share a piece of their favorite food or read to you from their library book.

Those gestures count just as much as a hug. And your child needs to be validated in that fact.

***

To sum, could Grandma’s feelings be hurt because Little Susie wouldn’t hug her? Possibly.

But her hurt feelings don’t outweigh the risky lessons Little Susie may internalize if she’s made to touch someone she doesn’t want to touch.

I don’t care how wise and worldly and awesome Grandma is. Her wants are not more important than Little Susie’s.

Children are people with developing brains and emotions and behaviors. They’re not stuffed animals.

Adults, on the other hand, are full-grown, experienced people who should be able to rationally understand and accept the nature of a child that isn’t interested in a hug.

So when your child comes in contact with such a situation, let them know that it’s okay if they don’t want to hug someone.

Repeat it to the person your child didn’t want to hug, especially if their feelings seem hurt over the matter.

And to anybody who in turn has had their feelings hurt by a kid rejecting them, I can only echo the wisdom of my two friends.

“Don’t take it personally.”

James St. James is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. He isn’t particularly fond of his name, but he has to admit it makes him easier to remember. When he’s not busy scaring cis gender people with his trans gender agenda, he likes to play SEGA and eat candy. Follow him on Twitter @JamesStJamesVI.

Maine elders are victims of abuse, too. Here are 5 ways you can help, via Bangor Daily News – Maine Focus:

It’s hard to miss headlines about Maine’s aging population and what it means for the future of our state. What we don’t hear about as often is the domestic and sexual violence that many of Maine’s older residents experience.

The research is difficult to come by because, whereas elder abuse is already significantly underreported, domestic and sexual violence experienced by older adults is even more so. We do, however, know that about 90 percent of elder abuse is perpetrated by a family member of the victim — with adult children and spouses being the most frequent offenders.

We also know that different types of abuse often overlap with one another. For instance, when someone is experiencing financial exploitation, they may also be suffering from the perpetration of other abuse. Older adults who suffer from abuse are three times more likely to die within the next decade than adults of the same age who are not being mistreated.

This outcome isn’t inevitable. When we raise awareness of issues like elder abuse, it can be difficult to figure out what to do next. But Mainers are known for helping one another when help is needed, and there are steps we can all take to prevent elder abuse in our communities.

  • Check on your neighbors. It can be easy to say to yourself, “That seems funny, but it’s none of my business.” But when it comes to suspected abuse, it is on all of us to respond. Many victims want help, but they may not know how to get it or what might be available to them. Many are just waiting to be asked. Find a time that is private and safe, and ask questions like, “How have you been lately?” or “Are you doing okay?” Listen for coded disclosures and look for red flags because like many other victims of abuse, older adults may not come out and say they are being abused.
  • Have patience. Many victims of domestic and sexual violence are reluctant to disclose their experience of abuse, even when they are asked. For elders this may be even more true. It can be very difficult to admit that one’s child, spouse or caregiver is causing one harm. Older victims of violence may have been experiencing the abuse for many years, or even decades. Even if that person isn’t ready to disclose what is happening, it is important for them to know that someone cares about their welfare and is there to support them.
  • Question your assumptions. We often don’t associate the image of an older adult with domestic or sexual violence. We may think that these types of crimes only happen to younger people, or we have a hard time picturing a long-time marriage as anything but picturesque and happy. It is important that we acknowledge that domestic and sexual violence occurs across the lifespan and that older adults can indeed experience — and perpetrate — these crimes.
  • Pick up the phone. With several different 1-800 numbers floating around, it can be hard to figure out the right organization or agency to call when help is needed. Members of the Maine Council for Elder Abuse Prevention have agreed that the important thing is to reach out; if you dial one of these organizations and they’re not the right folks to call, you will be referred to the people who can help. Maine’s domestic violence resource centers and sexual assault support centers are available 24/7 for people with questions about domestic and sexual violence — whether you yourself need help or you are worried for someone you care about. You can call the domestic violence helpline at 1-866-834-4357 and/or the sexual assault crisis and support line at 1-800-871-7741. Even if you’re not sure what you’re seeing or experiencing is abuse, it never hurts to pick up the phone and talk with someone.
  • Know the resources. There are many organizations working together in Maine to end elder abuse. Become familiar with what they do and how they might be able to help. Maine’s domestic violence resource centers and sexual assault support centers have an array of services beyond their hotlines that can be helpful, and they can connect callers with other community resources as well.

Maine’s aging population is an important part of our state’s future, and their needs demand significant attention. Like all Mainers, elders deserve to live safe lives, free from abuse, violence and coercion.  Together we can make sure that some of our most vulnerable citizens get the care and protection they deserve, but it will take a community to get there.

Duggar scandal renews focus on child sexual abuse, via The Kennebec Journal:

The issue of child sexual abuse rose to the surface abruptly last month when “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar admitted to repeatedly sexually abusing his sisters when he was a teenager. The results have included suspension of the reality TV show from the lineup of the TLC cable network and increased attention to child sexual abuse.

Among the issues that have been raised include sexual behavior problems by young people, and how parents and caregivers can respond appropriately.

Many of the most heart-wrenching cases at the Children’s Advocacy Centers involve families in which sibling abuse has occurred. Parents are distraught about the victimization of one child, while worried about the legal consequences to another child. The parents struggle to provide emotional support and effective intervention to both the child victim and the child who committed the offense.

Staff at Children’s Advocacy Centers and their multidisciplinary teams can help families navigate this difficult time by serving as a gateway to services that can help victims heal.

Young people who have sexual behavior problems are more common than most people realize. In fact, 18 percent of the more than 315,000 sexual abuse cases seen by Children’s Advocacy Centers last year involved an offender younger than 18 — most often a sibling, cousin or friend from the neighborhood or school.

Among the many reasons children and teens may develop a sexual behavior problem are lack of privacy and boundaries, exposure to sexualized materials or environment, curiosity that gets out of hand and a sexual abuse history of their own.

Whatever the reason, however, it is critical to ensure these young people receive evidence-supported treatment to interrupt this cycle of behavior, so that all children in the home can be safe. If we can identify these issues and interrupt this behavior early and treat it appropriately, we as a society ultimately may prevent future child sexual abuse from occurring.

One excellent resource for parents and professionals is the National Center for the Sexual Behavior of Youth, which provides public awareness, training in evidence-based treatments and technical assistance, all tied to managing and responding to youth with problematic sexual behavior. Helpful information for parents and links to treatment providers also can be found through the National Child Traumatic Stress Network, a network of mental health experts in child trauma intervention.

Finally, and most importantly, at the heart of every child sexual abuse case is the child victim. We should not minimize the trauma child victims suffer as a result of abuse by other young people. Whether the offender is a sibling, friend or extended family member, the victims suffer a betrayal of trust and a loss of personal safety that is deeply wounding. Similar to other forms of child sexual abuse where the offender is within the family, these child victims struggle with both their fear of continued abuse and their love for the family member who has harmed them.

As a society, we have failed to protect these victims, and we owe them the treatment they need to heal, as well as our support as they go through the challenging healing process. Critical to that healing process is the privacy and space to heal outside of the media glare.

When the abuse is made public, as it was in the case of the Duggar family, the exposure can be as traumatic to the victims as the original abusive incident. Victims routinely report media attention as stressful, and many are ill-prepared for the consequences of such media scrutiny. The loss of privacy and control over this most intimate part of their life can mirror the loss of control felt at the time of the abuse.

Some adult survivors find speaking out about their experiences empowering. The common thread in this experience, however, is one of choice. The victim chooses to tell her or his story, exerted some control over the timing and narrative and is psychologically ready for such a public disclosure.

We all can help victims become survivors by sending a clear message to media that the names of victims should not be used without their permission, nor should they be hounded to tell “their side” of the story.

As executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center and the Children’s Advocacy Center of Kennebec and Somerset counties, I have witnessed the effects of countless cases of child sexual abuse over the years, I hope this most recent instance will draw additional attention to the issue of child sexual abuse and how we all are responsible for protecting our nation’s children.

I also encourage parents and caregivers to visit the National Center for the Sexual Behavior of Youth, and to learn more about the services offered by local Children’s Advocacy Centers. With more than 800 Children’s Advocacy Centers across the country and now including Maine, intervention and prevention services are readily available so those in similar situations to the Duggar family may seek the help and treatment they need and deserve.

(A 24-hour confidential sexual assault crisis and support line: 800-841-7741.)

Donna Strickler is executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis & Support Center in Winthrop.

We need to stop rapists, not change who gets raped, by Jessica Valenti, via The Guardian:

What if rape reduction programs are actually just redirecting assault? A new study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that an anti-sexual assault program directed at first year female students in three Canadian colleges lowered women’s risk of being raped by half. For the women who took this course, that kind of reduction is amazing. But what about those who didn’t?

Jaclyn Friedman, former Impact self defense instructor and author of What You Really, Really Want, noted that the chances of permanently deterring a rapist is very low.

“Rapes are perpetrated by a tiny percentage of men who know what they’re doing and who rape again and again – they’re just going to find another target” she told me.

Friedman, who also co-edited an anthology on ending rape with me in 2008, said: “So just because these girls [who took the training] are less likely to be picked, it doesn’t mean there’s less rape on campus … This isn’t rape prevention, it’s rape protection.”

Certainly, the more women who receive trainings that have been proven to reduce their rape risk, the better – so it’s great to give money to programs like these and implement them where we can. But as Friedman noted: “unless the vast majority of women are getting this training, I don’t see how it makes a dent.”

The training program for freshman women not only included elements of self defense and risk-assessment, but a session on relationships, setting sexual boundaries and ways to “overcome emotional barriers to resisting the unwanted sexual behaviors of men who were known to them.” The students were contacted a year after their completed the program, and researchers found that their risk of rape was 5%; women who simply given brochures and a less comprehensive education had a rate of 10%.

This impressive reduction is reason to celebrate. But there is no easy answer to ending rape, and there’s a real danger in believing the solution to sexual assault is on the shoulders of women who might be attacked.

As Kathleen Basile from the Centers for Disease Control said in an editorial accompanying the study in the New England Journal of Medicine, as a sole solution this program “places the onus for prevention on potential victims, possibly obscuring the responsibility of perpetrators and others”. And in a world where rape victims are routinely blamed for the violence perpetrated against them, sending the message that stopping rape is women’s work is a slippery slope.

There are multiple ways to stop sexual assault among young people – and other programs that focus more on community responsibility have had just as much success. The Green Dot project, for example – which focuses on bystander intervention – showed a 50% reduction of sexual assault in 26 Kentucky high schools that participated in the program. Programs like this also have the added benefit of making ending rape all of our responsibility, not just women’s.

Those who participate learn what sexual assault looks like, the actions a potential perpetrator might take, and how to stop them. It means that a school full of people trained to know what a rapist acts like is much more likely to be able to remove rapists’ social license to operate, and take away their ability to rape within a community.

We need more than just one study and more than just one training to stop rape, not just on college campuses, but everywhere. Small, short-term solutions that work for some women are terrific and I hope we fund a lot of them. But what we need more are lasting solutions for all of us – solutions that don’t just change statistics, but the culture.

• This article was amended on 15 June 2015. An earlier version attributed a quote to Charlene Senn, the lead author of the study into the efficacy of an anti-sexual assault program in three Canadian colleges. In fact the quote was from Kathleen Basile of the Centers for Disease Control, who was writing in an editorial accompanying the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

After Josh Duggar revelations, 19 facts about child sexual abuse, via Bangor Daily News – Maine Focus:

News reports, blog posts, TV interviews, social media posts and more have covered recent reports of Josh Duggar, oldest of the Duggars to appear in their reality TV show “19 Kids and Counting,” admitting that as a juvenile he repeatedly sexually abused his sisters.

When high profile cases like these surface and more people become aware of child sexual abuse, it’s important to be clear about the facts surrounding the issue.

Here are 19 facts about child sexual abuse to keep in mind as media coverage continues.

  1. Over 50 percent of calls to Maine’s sexual assault crisis and support line relate to incidents of child sexual abuse. These calls range from concerned parents or caregivers to adult survivors of abuse.
  2. The majority of offenders are known to the child.
  3. Many child sexual abuse victims never tell, or delay telling, about the abuse. Many children do not tell because offenders successfully convince them that they will get in trouble or no one will believe them. The closer the relationship between the victim and the offender, the more difficult it is for the victim to come forward.
  4. Because child sexual abuse is so underreported, it can be difficult to understand the actual scope of the problem. Best available research suggests that one in four girls and one in six boys are victims of sexual abuse before they turn 18.
  5. There is no profile for someone who offends against children. Portrayals of sex offenders in popular culture may make us think that we could easily identify a sex offender. However, offenders are oftenrespected community members with access to children.
  6. Being sexually abused as a child does not cause people to become sex offenders.
  7. Juvenile sex offenders who access effective treatment generally do not go on to reoffend. Reoffending rates over several years of study show that about 10 percent of juveniles go on to reoffend.
  8. Child maltreatment (which includes physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect) cost the United States approximately $124 billion in 2008.
  9. The signs of child sexual abuse vary, and it’s important to recognize that the absence of signs and symptoms. For a list of signs and symptoms, visit the Maine Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers.
  10. Prevention is possible. We know that there are many risk and protective factors associated with child sexual abuse, and protective factors include a supportive family environment and social networks.
  11. Setting and respecting boundaries within a family, such as privacy in dressing, bathing, sleeping and other personal activities can help prevent abuse. This helps children understand the boundaries of others and helps them set their own.
  12. Using the proper names of body parts can help your child understand their body, open the door for them to ask questions, and provide a space for them to tell you about any behavior that could lead to sexual abuse.
  13. Demonstrating boundaries is a great way to show children how to say “no.” Teach children that their “no” will be respected, whether it’s in playing, tickling, hugging or kissing.
  14. There is such thing as age-appropriate sexual behavior. Being aware of these behaviors will help parents and concerned adults understand what is appropriate and what is not.
  15. It’s not up to the children in our lives to protect themselves from abuse. The evidence is clear that programming for children does not prevent child sexual abuse, but it is important because such programs provide children tools to respond if they are abused.Maine’s sexual assault support centers provide prevention programming to thousands of children each year.
  16. Adults can prevent child sexual abuse. If you are worried about another adult’s behavior, there are steps you can take, including learning about child sexual abuse and warning signs, learning to have conversations about the issue, and speaking up to create safety plans and make a report.
  17. There is support available to you, whether you experienced child sexual abuse yourself, you are worried about someone in your life who has, or you are concerned about a child in your life. Maine’s sexual assault support centers are available to answer questions and provide support and advocacy to you.
  18. In addition to sexual assault support centers, Maine has an increasing number of children’s advocacy centers, which are designed to bring law enforcement, child protection, prosecution, mental health, medical and victim advocacy, and child advocacy together to conduct interviews and make team decisions about investigation, treatment, management and prosecution of child sexual abuse cases. Children’s advocacy centers help increase prosecution rates and reduce the cost of child sexual abuse investigations.
  19. The most effective kind of prevention happens before there is a victim to heal or an offender to punish.

The Duggar cases aren’t going to be the last high-profile child sexual abuse cases in the media. The first step toward prevention is knowing the facts – and working toward turning the tide of child victimization. We can pretend it’s the Duggar’s religion and culture, but let’s be real. It’s our culture, too.

Lady Gaga joins campaign to tackle sexual assaults on US campuses, via The Guardian:

Lady Gaga has penned an open letter alongside the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, to support a new law to protect university students from the “epidemic of sexual violence” on campuses.

“Every fall, young men and women head off to colleges across the country, dreaming of bright futures and the experience of a lifetime,” the piece, published on Billboard reads. “They’ve worked hard for the chance to become a part of their new campuses, and they set out full of hope and excitement.”

Unfortunately, for thousands of these students, that dream turns into a nightmare because of the unacceptable epidemic of sexual violence that is currently plaguing colleges and universities. It is a shocking reality that many in academia, government, and society in general still refuse to acknowledge.

On 17 June, New York lawmakers will decide whether to pass Cuomo’s Enough is Enough policy, which aims to combat sexual assault at all universities and private institutions in the state.

Lady Gaga, who told Howard Stern in 2014 that she had been sexually assaulted when she was 19 by a producer 20 years her senior, has backed the legislation. In the run up to the decision, Cuomo has been screening the documentary Hunting Ground, about sexual assault on college campuses. It features a new Lady Gaga song, Till It Happens to You.

The extract concludes:

“Thankfully, New York has an opportunity to stand up for its students, and take the critical steps toward facing this crisis head on. The bill currently beforeNew York state legislature will address the issue of sexual violence on college campuses, giving the state the nation’s strongest laws to target campus sexual assault. This is a campaign that will protect students, and it’s exactly what we need.

“By passing legislation such as the bill currently before the New York state legislature, we can turn the tide on this issue so that students can realise their dreams on campuses that are safe spaces. That’s why we are joining together to take a stand against sexual assault on college campuses. Quite simply, enough is enough.”

Relay for Relief!

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We want to thank Sarah Brouwer and Alana Chipman for organizing and holding the Relay for Relief event at Hebron Academy (Oxford County, Maine) this spring. They raised almost $1000 for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services! Relay for Relief was a 12 hour walk-a thon, inspired by the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. The students involved created teams of 5-8 members and took the challenge of walking the track all night, with members of each teams taking turns. In the gym, students played basketball, volleyball, lacrosse, and Frisbee while other team members were on the track. There was plenty of dancing and video games during the evening as well. It is wonderful to see students taking action to make change for a better tomorrow in their community!

Meet our new Rural Educator/Advocate, Jackie!

JackieJackie Kandler joined the SAPARS staff in Franklin County as the Rural Educator/Advocate on June 1, 2015. She will be providing school-based education and advocacy services in the rural parts of Franklin County.
Jackie recently graduated from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) with a Bachelor’s of Science in Community Health Education, and minors in Nutrition Education and Child and Adolescent Health. She completed her Internship at Western Maine Community Action, as the first Wellness Coach Intern where she focused on worksite wellness.

Originally from Massachusetts, Jackie just permanently moved to Maine. “I am very excited to be a part of the SAPARS team in Franklin County, and it gives me the chance to get to know the area even more!”

Welcome, Jackie!