Tag Archives: maine

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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.

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.

Help stop human trafficking in Maine

Maine is responding to human trafficking – and you can help using this new tool, via The Bangor Daily News – Maine Focus:

In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to deliver training on human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation to nearly 700 direct service providers and law enforcement officers from every county in the state. In that time, two things in particular struck me: the number of times I’ve been approached by Mainers who believe they are currently working with or have worked with trafficked individuals, and the outpouring of interest to effectively respond to this issue.

In light of the first concern, the second issue is a good problem to have. But until recently, there hasn’t always been an effective way to help connect the interest with appropriate outlets for those efforts.

Due to the significant gaps in the state’s infrastructure with regard to responding to this issue, we can certainly use all the commitment from individuals we can get. However, there are virtually no trafficking-specific organizations in Maine, and interested citizens don’t always know how to be helpful locally.

For that reason, MECASA teamed up with the Maine Women’s Fund to create the first statewide trafficking-specific volunteer databank, as part of MECASA’s program called the Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network.

Anti-trafficking work can take many forms. It can look like prevention: mentoring at-risk youth, such as foster care and homeless youth, to build the resilience that prevents trafficking in the first place.

It can look like support for our social safety net: shelters, sexual and domestic violence response agencies, mental health providers and substance abuse providers are engaging with victims of trafficking and those at risk for trafficking daily, and they can desperately use donations of time, goods and financial support.

It may mean advocating for policies that support those vulnerable to trafficking. For instance, most victims of exploitation are childless adults, and as such are ineligible for Medicaid due to Maine’s decision to opt out of the health-care expansion.

Some of these services require extensive skill and training. Others might be as easy as a Saturday morning bake sale to benefit a local agency. Hopefully, with time all of these opportunities will be available through the databank.

The new statewide trafficking volunteer databank will be an opportunity to finally connect the needs of the community with those individuals who are seeking to bring their time and talent to this issue. Maine has the tools and resources that it needs to better understand trafficking and exploitation, and to develop a powerful response.

We hope that the volunteer databank is just one step toward connecting those resources with the places where they can do the most good. If you would like to volunteer for an organization responding to human trafficking, or if you would like to host a volunteer, visit the Maine Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Network’s volunteer databank to get connected.

Destie Hohman Sprague is the program director at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She may be reached at destie@mecasa.org

Meet our new Site Coordinator in Franklin County!

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services (SAPARS) announces the appointment of Kayce Hunton as the Site Coordinator for their Franklin County office.

KayceHpicPrior to joining the SAPARS team in January, 2015, Kayce was the Client Services Manager and later the Director of Client Services at Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine (SASSMM). In that capacity, she managed multiple programs, led school-based education presentations, conducted community and professional trainings and facilitated support groups. Kayce worked at SASSMM for over 14 years.

Kayce was a core committee member in writing, Help In Healing, A Training Guide for Advocates, which is used by sexual assault support centers across Maine. Since 2013, she has been a member of the Maine/New Hampshire Victim Assistance Academy & Tri-State Advanced Victim Assistance Academy Advisory Committee.

Kayce received her BS in Rehabilitation Services from the University of Maine at Farmington (UMF) and her MS in Organizational Leadership from Southern New Hampshire University. While a student at UMF, she worked at the LEAP Corporation and upon graduation accepted a position at Tri-County Mental Health Services (TCMHS) as a Case Manager. Kayce spent a couple of years at TCMHS before accepting a position at SASSMM and moving to the Midcoast area. In 2007, Kayce moved back to the Farmington area and commuted to her job at SASSMM.

“I am happy and excited to be working in Franklin County again. I feel honored to have been selected to join the team at Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services. This opportunity allows me to continue to be engaged in the important work of sexual violence prevention and response and also allows me to work much closer to where I live,” says Kayce.

In her role as the Site Coordinator, Kayce will oversee SAPARS’ programming in Franklin County. In addition, she will represent the agency in Franklin County collaborations, and will provide support and supervision for the staff.

Kayce replaces Nicholas Citriglia, who served as the Site Coordinator from 2012 to 2014.

SAPARS (historically known as SAVES in Franklin County) helps people recover from the trauma of sexual violence. Through school and community based programs, we work to raise awareness, educate, and prevent sexual violence. Please visit our website at www.sapars.org.  The statewide, toll free, 24-hour Helpline is 1-800-871-7741.

Human Trafficking in Maine

Every Sunday throughout April, Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services will have a guest column in the SunJournal. Each column will discuss a different aspect of sexual violence, as well as prevention and education efforts.

The first article is about Human Trafficking, which was written by Destie Hohman Sprague, Program Director at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault:

Human trafficking is getting a lot of press in Maine right now — much of it discussing whether enough is being done.

But for those of us who have been working closely on this issue for the past few years, we know that the landscape today is radically different than it was just four years ago. Trafficking is an extremely complex issue, and developing meaningful, Maine-based solutions takes hard work and patience.

Let’s take a moment to celebrate a few of the successes that Maine has achieved using one simple formula: teamwork.

In the past four years, thanks to local, state and national partners, more than a thousand law enforcement officers and direct service providers have had training based on nationally-recognized best practices for response. In addition to this, public awareness events such as the Not Here conference have connected students and citizens with the issue.

Local efforts, such as the Androscoggin County Human Trafficking Task Force, the Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking and Exploitation, and the Penobscot-Piscataquis Sex Trafficking Response Team are bringing multidisciplinary teams to the table, and developing a home-grown human trafficking response. Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services, the sexual assault services provider in Androscoggin, Oxford and Franklin counties, is a key participant in the local task force.

Maine is now the recipient of its first line of federal funding dedicated to trafficking victims; a two-year grant of $400,000 from the federal Office of Victims of Crime will support collaborative services and protocol development in southern Maine.

A new central resource about sex trafficking exists for the state, with information about state and federal law, model policies and protocols, and links to best practices. The website is www.mainesten.org, and we have the support of the Maine Women’s Fund and many other partners to thank.

As of last fall, the crime of aggravated sex trafficking is on the books, increasing penalties for offenders, expanding the definition of a human trafficking offense, and opening up civil penalties and restitution for survivors.

That bill was the result of careful work for many months with the Office of the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Work Group, the Criminal Law Advisory Commission, and dedicated prosecutors and providers across the state. It was supported through the session with the leadership of the House and Senate chairs of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

Earlier this week, the Legislature passed Rep. Amy Volk’s, R-Scarborough, proposal, in LD 1730, that will offer an affirmative defense for victims of trafficking, as well as increased access to victims’ compensation (and enhanced fines for offenders).

Still, there is so much work to be done.

While awareness of the issue is growing, the needs are growing as well.

Victims of trafficking and commercial sex exploitation experience an almost total loss of financial, educational, physical and emotional autonomy. Individuals engaged in trafficking are treated as a commodity or property, and are often reliant on a pimp, an employer, or an intimate partner to meet their basic needs. They may have limited or no access to the money that they earn; as a result, their ability to forge an independent, safe and self-reliant life is severely undermined.

Maine currently has limited specialized resources to meet these needs.

For that reason, the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA), with help from many partners, is launching the Maine Sex Trafficking Victims Support Fund this month. The fund aims to be a flexible, accessible and timely source of funds to support the immediate needs of victims of trafficking as they seek to increase their safety and start a new life.

Even with the progress we have made in recent years, there are many more steps Maine must take before we have the infrastructure to address the needs effectively.

Human trafficking is a complex issue, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. There is only a multi-disciplinary approach. True progress happens when the process makes room for all of the players at the table to hash out the best solution for Maine: for the nuances of the Maine criminal code, for the realities faced by law enforcement and prosecutors, and for the true needs of victims of this crime.

We at MECASA are excited to be on that team, and we are energized to know that so many people and organizations, and in all parts of the state, have already contributed to this important work, and will continue to partner with us into the future.

Destie Hohman Sprague is the program director at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She may be reached at: destie@mecasa.org.

We’re hiring!

Rural Outreach Advocate

Job Description:
Northern Oxford County Advocate will identify, assess and appropriately respond to victims of sexual assault, in rural areas or rural communities. Provide victims/survivors information about community resources and strategies for enhancing safety. Staff school drop in services and respond to advocacy and support needs of students. Provide educational/support groups for survivors of sexual assault. Support survivors with obtaining protection from abuse orders when needed. Connect with school personnel, law enforcement, and other community resources to facilitate referrals for services. Staff helpline, and provide direct client service when necessary.

Job Requirements:
Knowledge of sexual violence and its impacts, excellent verbal and written communication skills, ability to work independently and as part of a team, reliable transportation a must.

Education Requirements: 
Bachelor’s degree in related field, or equivalent life or work experience.

Benefits:
paid vacation and sick time, health and dental insurance, 403b plan, professional development opportunities.

Full time, annual salary $30,000.00

If you are interested, please submit your resume, cover letter, and references via e-mail, mail, or fax by January 21, 2014 to:

Stephanie LeBlond, Oxford Site Coordinator
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services
P.O. Box 300
South Paris, Maine 04281

Phone: (207) 743-9777
Fax: (207) 743-2677
Email: steph.leblond@sapars.org

Fighting child pornography in Maine

This woman is raising $100K to help Maine State Police investigate child pornography, via Bangor Daily News:

With child pornography crimes the fastest-growing crime in America, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, Mainers often feel like there’s nothing they can do to stop it. But a former educator from Rockport is stepping up and hoping to lead the way for others to help change that.

Mary Orear, who founded a nonprofit organization 17 years ago aimed at empowering girls, is not the kind of person to wring her hands and look away from something she finds troubling. Instead, the executive director of Mainely Girls is now working to raise $100,000 to purchase a mobile forensic lab for the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit.

“I believe people are very frustrated by reading for the last few years about child sexual abuse — by coaches, by teachers, by doctors, by the clergy. And now all of this child pornography — we in the general public feel helpless to do anything,” she said Friday. “By making a donation to help purchase this vital piece of equipment, people feel as if they are doing something to help.”

That aid is sorely needed, she and others say. Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. said in 2011 that the country has seen “ historic rise in the distribution of child pornography, in the number of images being shared online, and in the level of violence associated with child exploitation and sexual abuse crimes. Tragically, the only place we’ve seen a decrease is in the age of victims.”

The growing backlog of cases at the Vassalboro-based unit could be reduced if investigators had better equipment than the two retrofitted GMC cargo vans currently used. Lt. Glenn Lang said last week that the vans just don’t have the space or power to preview computers outside the homes of people suspected to have downloaded, shared or even created child pornography.

“It’s not a great set up. We’ve been trying to band-aid it together for awhile now,” Lang said. “One of the things we’re hoping with the new vehicle is that we’ll have sufficient power to run desktop units. That will allow us to run previews much more efficiently.”

He said that he sends teams into the field between one and four times a week to investigate suspected cases of child pornography. They arrest between 70 and 80 Mainers a year, generally on charges related to possession of child pornography. But Lang said that investigators now know that the bulk of child pornography is produced in the United States, with some even made in Maine. Better equipment might mean that authorities can help rescue children who are victimized, like in the cases of two Maine men investigated on suspicion of possessing and distributing child pornography.

Wade Robert Hoover of Augusta pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in February for production of child pornography and was sentenced in July to 40 years in federal prison. He awaits trial dates in Kennebec and Somerset counties for multiple charges of gross sexual assault against two children. Patrik Ian Arsenault of Norridgewock was arrested in August on charges of sexually assaulting two children and distributing photographs of the assaults over the Internet. The former special education teacher has pleaded not guilty of the crimes.

With a new mobile forensic lab, Lang said, the state’s ability to help children will grow.

“This is a community problem. When you see someone in a community step up like this and say ‘I want to make a difference,’ it means everything to us,” he said of Orear’s efforts.

So far, after receiving special permission from the Maine attorney general’s office to fundraise for a state agency, Orear has raised a quarter of the goal. People have given donations of $5 to $2,000, and Orear hopes that local businesses, especially those that deal with technology, also will step up to help.

She said her decision to learn more about the problem and help solve it hasn’t always been easy.

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s a victimless crime.’ It’s not a victimless crime in any way,” she said. “A lot of what Mainely Girls has done — it’s about empowerment. But in this case, these children and adolescents are victims, and somebody else has to help rescue them. They can’t rescue themselves.”

To help, visit www.mainelygirls.org or email mainelygirls2@gmail.com

We’re hiring!

Rural Outreach Advocate

Job Description:
Northern Oxford County Advocate will identify, assess and appropriately respond to victims of sexual assault, in rural areas or rural communities. Provide victims/survivors information about community resources and strategies for enhancing safety. Staff school drop in services and respond to advocacy and support needs of students. Provide educational/support groups for survivors of sexual assault. Support survivors with obtaining protection from abuse orders when needed. Connect with school personnel, law enforcement, and other community resources to facilitate referrals for services. Staff helpline, and provide direct client service when necessary.

Job Requirements:
Knowledge of sexual violence and its impacts, excellent verbal and written communication skills, ability to work independently and as part of a team, reliable transportation a must.

Education Requirements: 
Bachelor’s degree in related field, or equivalent life or work experience.

Benefits:
paid vacation and sick time, health and dental insurance, 403b plan, professional development opportunities.

Full time, annual salary $30,000.00

If you are interested, please submit your resume, cover letter, and references via e-mail, mail, or fax by December 2nd to:

Stephanie LeBlond, Oxford Site Coordinator
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services
P.O. Box 300
South Paris, Maine 04281

Phone: (207) 743-9777
Fax: (207) 743-2677
Email: steph.leblond@sapars.org

Human trafficking in Maine

Community solutions to help trafficking victims, via Bangor Daily News:

Human trafficking is making Maine and national headlines more and more frequently.

Some of the news is about how much work there is left to do. But more recently, it’s about exciting successes in the field, such as the $400,000 federal grant that Maine just received to develop victim services for human trafficking victims in southern Maine. One thing that these successes often have in common is that they are built on a foundation of teamwork and collaboration: that grant was made possible by two years of effort by the Greater Portland Coalition Against Sex Trafficking and Exploitation, a multi-disciplinary sex trafficking response team.

Another exciting development – one which hasn’t received a lot of news – shares that history of team work and community energy. As of October 9, Maine has a crime of “Aggravated Sex Trafficking”, (17-A section 852) on the books. Aggravated sex trafficking is a class B felony, and occurs when a person promotes the prostitution of a minor, or compels an adult to enter into or engage in prostitution through a number of means – primarily different kinds of force, fraud, or coercion.  The bill, LD 1159, also included a number of other elements, including expanding the definition of a human trafficking offense in Maine’s civil rights code, which makes civil remedies and restitution available for victims, and makes being a consumer of sex trafficking – in other words, being a john – a “jail-able” offense after three strikes.

The bill was developed with a coalition, including the Attorney General’s Human Trafficking Work Group (in existence since 2006, with members from social services and law enforcement), and went to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee with the full support of the Criminal Law Advisory Commission. Supportive testimony was given by local law enforcement officers, prosecutors, service providers, and former victims of human trafficking who are currently working to meet the real and pressing needs of trafficking victims in Maine.

It remains to be seen how Maine law enforcement and prosecutors will use this new tool. Still, we know that LD 1159 and the protections and accountability that it creates is a real success story for Maine. It’s a story of partnership, of coalition-building, and of creating Maine-based solutions to meet the real needs of vulnerable Mainers. LD 1159 is the perfect example of a community-driven solution.

We can’t wait to see how this comprehensive new law changes the landscape for public safety, for social services, and most importantly, for victims of human trafficking. And we are confident that it will.

This post was written by Destie Hohman Sprague, program coordinator at the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She may be reached at destie@mecasa.org.