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18th annual March for Violence-Free Communities

Thank you to everyone who participated in our 18th annual March for Violence-Free Communities and Speak Out!

20160425_173719“FARMINGTON – About 30 people, some carrying signs  against violence, marched south on Main Street in the 18th annual March for Violence-Free Communities.

The annual event is organized by the local Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services is to raise awareness of sexual assault, sexual abuse and other forms of violence.

The march was followed by a speak-out at the Old South Church, which offered a chance for those participating to talk about their thoughts on issues of violence.

University of Maine at Farmington students, local residents and law enforcement officers joined in on the march.”

(Source: The Daily Bulldog)

We’re hiring!

Are you looking for a rewarding job in Franklin County, Maine? Well, look no further!

The Franklin County Rural Educator/Advocate will provide advocacy services and the school-based education programs of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services in the more outlying areas of Franklin County. Responsibilities include identifying and developing partnerships with community resources in rural Franklin County in order to locate services in those areas, providing school-based prevention education programming in the schools of rural Franklin County, and providing direct services and support to people affected by sexual assault, childhood sexual abuse, sexual harassment, stalking or sex trafficking. This is a new position and will also involve some program development and outreach activities.

Full time – annual salary

Go to the JobsInME.com link for more details!

I don’t own my child’s body, by Katia Hetter, via CNN:

My daughter occasionally goes on a hugging and kissing strike.

She’s 7, and she’s been holding these wildcat strikes since she was 3 or 4. Her parents can get a hug or a kiss, but many people who know her cannot, at least not all the time. And I won’t make her.

“I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it,” I first told her three years ago.

“I don’t have to?” she asked, cuddling up to me at bedtime, confirming the facts to be sure.

No, she doesn’t have to. And just to be clear, there is no passive-aggressive, conditional, manipulative nonsense behind my statement. I mean what I say. She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.

I figure her body is actually hers, not mine.

It doesn’t belong to her parents, uncles and aunts, school teachers or soccer coach. While she must treat people with respect, she doesn’t have to offer physical affection to please them. And the earlier she learns ownership of herself and responsibility for her body, the better for her.

I shudder at recent stories of Josh Duggar’s “inappropriate touching” of his sisters, accusations that Bill Cosby sexually assaulted women after drugging them and Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach convicted of sexually abusing young boys. And they strengthen my resolve to teach my kid that it’s OK to say no to an adult who lays a hand on her — even a seemingly friendly hand.

“When we force children to submit to unwanted affection in order not to offend a relative or hurt a friend’s feelings, we teach them that their bodies do not really belong to them because they have to push aside their own feelings about what feels right to them,” said Irene van der Zande, co-founder and executive director of Kidpower Teenpower Fullpower International, a nonprofit specializing in teaching personal safety and violence prevention.

“This leads to children getting sexually abused, teen girls submitting to sexual behavior so ‘he’ll like me’ and kids enduring bullying because everyone is ‘having fun.’ “

Protection against predators

Forcing children to touch people when they don’t want to leaves them vulnerable to sexual abusers, most of whom are people known to the children they abuse, according to Ursula Wagner, a mental health clinician with the FamilyWorks program at Heartland Alliance in Chicago. None of the child victims of sexual abuse or assault she’s counseled was attacked by strangers, she said.

No hugs for grandma? Readers react strongly

Sometimes a child picks up on something odd about your brother-in-law that no one knows. Maybe he isn’t a sexual predator. Maybe he has no sense of boundaries. Maybe he tickles too much, which can be torture for a person who doesn’t like it. Or he may be a predator.

“It sends a message that there are certain situations (when) it’s not up to them what they do with their bodies,” Wagner said. “If they are obligated to be affectionate even if they don’t want to, it makes them vulnerable to sexual abuse later on.”

Why wait until there’s trouble? Parenting coach Sharon Silver worked hard to cultivate her children’s detector. Silver says her sons easily pick up on subtle clues that suggest something isn’t quite right about particular people or situations.

In your child’s case, it may be that something’s off about Aunt Linda or the music teacher down the street.

“It’s something inside of you that tells you when something is wrong,” Silver said. Training your child to pay attention to those instincts may protect him or her in the future.

Having sex to please someone else

Would you want your daughter to have sex with her boyfriend simply to make him happy? Parents who justify ordering their children to kiss grandma may say, “It’s different.”

No, it’s not, according to author Jennifer Lehr, who blogs about her parenting style. Ordering children to kiss or hug an adult they don’t want to touch teaches them to use their body to please you or someone else in authority or, really, anyone.

“The message a child gets is that not only is another person’s emotional state their responsibility but that they must also sacrifice their own bodies to buoy another’s ego or satisfy their desire for love or affection,” Lehr said.

“Certainly no parent would wish for their teenager or adult child to feel pressure to reciprocate unwanted sexual advances, yet many teach their children at a young age that it’s their job to use their bodies to make others happy.”

We can’t be rude

You might think my daughter’s shiftless parents are not teaching her manners, but that’s not true. She has to say “please” and “thank you,” set the table, clear her dishes and thank everyone and everything that makes her meals possible.

She has be polite when greeting people, whether she knows them or not. When family and friends say hello, I give her the option of “a hug or a high-five.” Since she’s been watching adults greet each other with a handshake, she sometimes offers that option. We talk about high-fives so often she’s started using them to meet anyone, which can make the start of any social occasion look like a touchdown celebration.

“When kids are really little and shy, parents can start to offer them choices for treating people with respect and care,” van der Zande said. “By age 6 or 7, even shy kids can shake somebody’s hand or wave or do something to communicate respect and care. Manners — treating people with respect and care — is different than demanding physical displays of affection.”

It creates more work

Refusing to order her to hand out hugs or kisses on demand means there’s more work to keep the relationships going and keep feelings from being hurt. Most of our extended family live far away, so it’s my job to teach my kiddo about people she doesn’t see on a daily basis.

We make sure to keep in contact with calls and Skype and presents. In advance of loved ones’ visits, which often means an all-day plane ride, I talk a lot about our guests, what they mean to me and what we’re going to do when they arrive. I give them plenty of opportunity to interact with her so she can learn to trust them.

I explain to relatives who want to know why we’re letting her decide who she touches. There will be no obligation or a direct order from Mom.

And while I hope I’m teaching my child how to take care of herself in the future, there are benefits to allowing her to express affection in her own way and on her own timeline. When my child cuddles up to my mother on the sofa, happily talking to her about her favorite books and Girl Scouts and other things, my mother’s face lights up. She knows my daughter’s love is real.

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.

Get Consent This Valentine’s Day

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, and that means that love, lust, romance, and sex are in the air. However, while one person may be hoping the evening ends in sex…the other person may not. So, let’s talk briefly about consent.

What is consent? According to the dictionary, it is “permission, approval, or agreement.” In regards to sexual activity, consent is an active, enthusiastic, ongoing “YES.”

The absence of a “no” is not consent; silence is not consent, the way a person dresses is not consent, and intoxication is not consent. Basically, we need to hear the word “yes” (willingly, not forced). Why? Because “yes” means “yes” (way to go, California, for passing that law!)

There will be a lot of dates this Valentine’s Day, and unfortunately, a lot of harmful myths about sex still linger. For example: “I bought you an expensive dinner, therefore, you owe me sex.” Nope, not true. Nobody owes another person sex for ANY reason. Whether you’re going on a first date, or you’re going on a date with somebody you’ve been with for a while, always remember to get consent before attempting to engage in any sexual activity. (Don’t worry, it won’t ruin the mood if both people are into it.)

PS: If you are single this Valentine’s Day, don’t forget to love yourself!

saparsvday

Happy New Year’s Eve!

Are you looking for a way to end 2013 on a positive note? Please consider making a donation to Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services! Your gift makes a difference. A donation to our agency will help and support survivors of sexual violence, and help us reach more people through outreach and education efforts.

We rely on community support, so that we can serve our communities. Donations to Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services are tax deductible.

Thank you so much!

“For it is in giving that we receive.”