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Today we hit the road… Day 1 of our Fall 2012 University Break The Silence Tour.
Super excited to raise awareness, spark prevention, engage conversation and bring hope to thousands of college students on the issue of sexual abuse, trafficking and everything related!
Pray for this mission. It changes lives.
Here is a small video snippet captured during last year’s travels to Letourneau University, and a brief explanation of why we do what we do:
August 6th - (Washington, D.C.) – For the millions of students heading back to school this fall, increasing violence on campus is a harsh reality. In fact college-aged students are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted — often by someone they know. Being aware of these risks, looking out for friends and using a bit of common sense are often the first steps in staying safe. Today, RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, released helpful safety tips for college students going back to school.
“While heading back to school is an exciting time for students, it can foster a false sense of security,” said Katherine Hull, spokesperson for RAINN. “The risk doesn’t just come from strangers lurking in the bushes, but from their peers on campus. These simple tips can help students stay safe while enjoying college life.”
1. Go with your gut. If you feel unsafe, or even uncomfortable, in any situation, trust your instincts and leave. Don’t worry about what others may think.
2. Make people earn your trust. A college campus can foster a false sense of security. Just because a person goes to your school, knows your friends, or spends time at your favorite hangouts doesn’t mean they’ll look out for your best interests. Get to know people first and then decide whether to trust them.
3. Be true to yourself. If someone is pressuring you, it’s better to lie and make up an excuse to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse. Your safety comes before someone else’s feelings or what they may think of you.
4. Be a good friend. Watch out for each other and stick together as much as possible. If, for whatever reason, you have to separate from your friends, let them know where you are going and who you are with. If a friend is acting out of character or is way too intoxicated, get him or her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911.
5. Keep your phone on you. Make sure it’s fully charged before you leave home in case you find yourself in an uncomfortable or dangerous situation. Make a backup plan for the night so you know where and when to meet up with friends even if your phone dies.
6. Be mysterious online. Posting social media updates about your whereabouts, even your class schedule, could allow someone to track your every move. If you wouldn’t give that information to a stranger, then don’t put it online.
7. If you see something, say something. If a situation seems questionable, intervene. By taking action you can prevent a crime from being committed. It can be difficult to know what to do, especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Sometimes its helps to stop and take a deep breath. Remember, you can always contact your resident assistant, campus police or call 911.
8. Party Smart. Guard your drink at parties. Don’t accept them from people you don’t trust or know well. Stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself. If you happen to walk away from it, get a new one. Keep track of what you’ve consumed so that you can stay in control. If you feel like you’re getting sick or are too intoxicated, find a friend that you trust to help you get home. Save the number for a reliable cab company and carry enough cash on you to get home.
9. Be aware. If possible, try to walk home with a friend. Whether walking to the library or leaving a party, use a well-lit route back and stay aware of your surroundings.
Ultimately, there is no surefire way to prevent a perpetrator from committing an act of sexual violence. If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800.656.HOPE and online at rainn.org.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE andonline.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. The hotlines have helped more than 1.7 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.
Many survivors of sexual abuse wish they could be normal when it comes to vacations and family gatherings… but what we survived wasnt normal.
I find that many abuse survivors expect time and again that we will be able to join in the excitement leading up to a getaway… whether it is a time of reuniting with family and friends for fun, or a quiet, relaxing resort away from regular life. But it can be a letdown when you find that your true window of time to be present and engaged with those around you is minimal and the anxiety level is steep.
Some of us prefer to paint on the smile and tough it out, just as we always did, even during abuse.
Don’t speak. Don’t rock the boat. For the sake of everyone else, keep it together, enjoy as much as you can, but just get through it.
Others don’t even try. They just stay home.
Why is it so tough? I’ll be honest; I am still navigating this one. Still trying to understand my idiosyncrasies. (And my idiot-sin-and-crazies…healing is a lifelong journey, right?!) Yes. But I can tell you this as we relate to vacation:
We struggle when our boundaries are stretched or breached. We struggle with the feeling of a loss of control. We struggle sleeping in new places. We struggle relating to new people in our living quarters…or when we are temporarily living in theirs. We struggle when we don’t get space and solitude. We struggle when we feel caged. We struggle when those around us seem moody, sensitive or controlling. We struggle when we feel like we have to walk on eggshells, when when we feel we are to be the peacemakers and keep everyone happy, or when we feel we aren’t living up to expectation. We struggle with our beach bodies. We struggle because our normal routines that help us feel safe are still back at home. We struggle because our daily support system is not operating in its normal way and, worse, sometimes technology isn’t accessible to keep us connected. We struggle when we are dissociated. We struggle when we are apart from those who help us survive on a daily basis. And we struggle because the reality is: many of us were abused, molested and/or raped while on vacation. And we struggle because we remember.
Vacation triggers us.
And as hard as we try to not allow it to, oftentimes we just can’t stop it from happening.
So a note to those who relate… you are not alone. Care for yourself. Even if it means going against the grain. Find your VOICE. Share your struggle with someone you trust and allow them to help protect you while you are with them away from your home… and share your struggle with someone you trust who will help support you from a distance while you are away.
And a note to those who don’t relate… try to understand. It’s not about you. Don’t make it about you. Just love the survivor in your life. Listen, support and allow healing to take place along the journey; it is for the better of all of us.
God bless you all! Hope you are enjoying your summer!
Keep it cool,
What struggle do you relate to? What can you add to the discussion?
My friends at RAINN shared this article this week:
Only three out of every 100 rapists will ever spend even a single day in prison, according to a new analysis by RAINN of Justice Department data. The other 97 will walk free, facing no consequences for the violent felony they have committed. Because rapists tend to be serial criminals, this leaves communities across the nation at risk of predators.
While the percentage of rapes reported to police has risen in recent years, a majority — 54% — still are not reported, according to the Justice Department. But increasing reporting alone won’t solve the problem: only about one out of four reported rapes leads to an arrest, and only about one out of four arrests leads to a felony conviction and incarceration.
RAINN’s new analysis is based on the most recent available Justice Department data, using an average of the five most recent years when available. Based on older data, RAINN had previously estimated that about 6% of rapists ultimately go to prison for their crime.
“This staggering statistic sends a clear message to offenders that they can commit this horrible crime and get away with it. The single most important thing we can do to prevent rape is to put more rapists in prison,” notes Scott Berkowitz, RAINN’s president and founder. “That’s why we have made it a priority to pass the SAFER Act and eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence from open rape cases.”
(Article from RAINN)
People talk. Doors close. Children are being abused. Word travels. But no one calls the cops. WTHeckkkk?!
Recent news of the allegations against Penn State University’s coaching staff and administration has swept media outlets and social networks. If it is true that Jerry Sandusky, former Penn State Defensive Coordinator, was abusing and raping children, some mentally and physically disabled, for more than a decade—and if it is true that an entire line-up of administrators turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to it—it is obvious we as an organization and movement have a lot more work ahead of us.
Based on what I know so far of the allegations against those at PSU, I must say it sounds all too familiar to the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal—simply redrafted and placed within a high profile university campus.
These situations must evoke outrage, must sicken us and must provoke us to pull our heads out of the sand and realize we all hold the power to protect kids and bring perps to justice. To KNOW of abuse, to SUSPECT it, or (as stated in some of the allegations) to even have been a direct WITNESS of the raping of a little boy and not SAY SOMETHING, not FILE A REPORT, that, in my mind, is criminal behavior in itself.
When protecting an establishment, institution, program, money or fame becomes more important than stopping a rapist and protecting children from further molestation, we should sound the alarms and call it a national emergency.
What kind of world have we created that has leaders going great lengths to protect pedophiles at the expense of protecting our children? It seems a little messed up that we expect kids to find the courage to report bullying in school, when some of our most respected adults won’t make a report!
Passing the buck will never protect children. Simply “following the handbook” is not good enough. Sometimes our handbooks are out of date or flat out incorrect… so I plead to all who read, for the sake of humanity, see your report all the way through! We each have a moral responsibility to protect our little ones.
Joe Harting is a good friend of mine and my husband’s. Joe played football under Coach Joe Paterno during the time when Coach Jerry Sandusky was the defensive coordinator. I asked our friend to share his initial thoughts, having been closely familiar with the people and place facing these allegations:
My reaction is absolute shock. It is very difficult to reconcile the Jerry I knew with the Jerry described in the affidavit. I hear people calling him a “monster” and a “predator,” and I know where they are coming from with that. But he is a real person who I saw do so many good things. I just can’t believe he had this whole other persona. It is incredible to me that he could maintain the appearance of what I saw when he is alleged to have also been doing the things he’s charged with. I guess it reminds me that the child molester nevers looks like a monster but is more apt to look like your next-door neighbor. Even knowing that though, it is very difficult to see a picture of Coach Sandusky now and think that he was capable of doing what he’s being charged with.
What’s as disappointing is that Mike and Joe, nor President Spanier, nor Tim Curley went to the authorities with what Mike saw in 2002. It is surreal for me to read that part of the affidavit describing the rape taking place in the shower room. I can see that shower room in my mind’s eye. I can see the sauna. I can see the locker room. I can’t explain why no one would have have alerted the authorities. Joe is the real deal, the genuine article. He is not a phony. He is everything he holds himself out to be. I have to believe that he didn’t know all the details. But I guess we’ll find out.
The whole thing has really shaken me, more than I would have thought it would have. The massive evil that we can inflict upon each other is mind-boggling. Equally amazing apparently is our ability to not be our brother’s keeper, to not be involved when another human being is in danger. I don’t know any of the victims. It feels empty to say that “my heart goes out to them” or that “they are in my prayers.” I just hope justice is done for them.
I appreciate Joe’s words and willingness to share them. I think it’s important for us all to remember that this isn’t about the legacy of a coach…this is about doing the right thing, protecting children and bringing justice to those who commit such evil and atrocious acts…along with those who choose to sweep it under the rug.
A found the recent reaction of two male survivors of child sexual abuse committed by priests to be interesting, as well: “Paterno and Spanier might have gone through proper channels, but they failed to do all they could to ensure children were protected.” The men went on to refer to PSU as “the Archdiocese of Penn State” and said, “everyone has a chance in life to do the right thing. When they have information and don’t do the right thing, they need to be held accountable.”
Mike Wise from The Washington Post said, ”You want to grab hold of and shake those who reported the crime only to their superiors, washed their hands of responsibility and then let it go, treating a kid’s life as if it were a football that slipped through their hands.”
And, Jennifer Storm of the Dauphin County Victim/Witness Assistance Program made this statement regarding the first child who was found being sexually abused: “No one stepped up to protect this kid. They were more interested in protecting Penn State football. As a result, there are so many more victims.”
The PA State Police Commissioner maintained that the alleged sexual abuse of children continued for at least a decade because of “a culture that did nothing to stop it.”
We must be a part of culture change! That is our mission at OneVOICE. And we are doing it…but we cannot lose footing when these stories hit the airwaves. This isn’t the only story like this out there. A child abuse report is made every 10 seconds. We must let ourselves be reminded that there is always more work to do, more education needed, more voices necessary. We must listen to our instincts, always err on the side of protecting kids, reporting suspicions and letting children know they have the right to be safe and they have a VOICE. As we continue on, we will make a difference.
We do not grieve as those who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
College aged women are at the highest risk for being sexually assaulted; the majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Being aware of this risk and looking out for your friends are among of the first steps in staying safe.
My friends at RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, released some helpful safety tips for college students going back to school. Here they are:
-Trust your instincts and be yourself. If you feel unsafe, or even uncomfortable, in any situation, go with your gut. Don’t worry about what others think; your own safety comes first.
-Use your cell phone as a tool. Make sure it’s fully charged before you leave home and if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, shoot a quick text for a “friend-assist.” Make a plan before you go out just in case your phone dies, so you can meet up with your friends at a specific location at a certain time.
-Be careful when leaving status or away messages online and when using the “check-in” feature on Facebook or Foursquare. Leaving information about your whereabouts reveals details that are accessible to everyone. Use common sense so that someone can’t track your every move. If you wouldn’t give the information to a stranger, then don’t put it on your online profile.
-Wait to let your guard down until people earn your trust. A college campus can foster a false sense of security. Don’t assume people you’ve just met will look out for your best interests; remember that they are essentially strangers.
-Don’t be afraid to hurt someone’s feelings. If you find yourself in an unsafe situation it’s OK to lie. Make up an excuse as to why you have to go. It’s better to make up a reason to leave than to stay in a possibly dangerous situation. Your safety comes before someone else’s feelings.
-If you see something, say something! Intervene if a situation seems questionable or if someone’s safety is at risk. By taking action you can prevent a crime from being committed. Remember you can also contact your resident assistant or campus police.
-Stick with your friends and watch out for each other. Arrive together, check in with one another throughout the night, and leave together. Think twice about going off alone and if, for whatever reason, you have to separate from your friends, let them know where you are going and who you are with.
-Drink responsibly and know your limits. Don’t accept drinks from people who you don’t know or trust and never leave your drink unattended. If you have left your drink alone, get a new one. Always watch your drink being prepared. At parties, stick to drinks you got or prepared yourself instead of common open containers like punch bowls.
-Watch out for your friends. If a friend seems out of it, is way too intoxicated for the amount of alcohol they’ve had, or is acting out of character, get him or her to a safe place. If you suspect that you or a friend has been drugged, call 911. Be explicit with doctors so they can administer the correct tests.
-Be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re walking home from the library or at a party be mindful of potential risks. Get to know your campus and learn a well-lit route back to your dorm or place of residence. Think of a safe exit strategy. Are there people around who might be able to help you? Is there an emergency phone nearby?
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Talk to someone who understands what you’re going through. Help is just a call or click away via RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotlines: 1-800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org.
(Source: RAINN’s Back to school safety tips)