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WCASA Blog Discontinued…

We have discontinued our blog. For up to date information, please see the WCASA Voice newsletter.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Guest Opinion (The Oregonian): Rape victims should not be afraid to report crimes

This Guest Opinion is re-posted with permission from Danielle Tudor, author of this article. The original can be found at http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/03/rape_victims_should_not_be_afr.html.

I learned recently that Richard Troy Gillmore requested that his ninth parole hearing, which was scheduled for April 9, be postponed for another two years.  To me, this is a victory in my ongoing battle to keep a dangerous pedophile-serial rapist behind bars, and I thank the people of my home city of Portland and my home state of Oregon for standing with me.

When I was barely 17 years old, Richard Troy Gillmore sexually assaulted and beat me in my childhood home.  Today, 35 years after he raped me, I can speak openly about Gillmore’s attack.  But, for a very long time, I said nothing publicly.  I had placed an impassable gulf between the rape and my life.  I was very, very ashamed of being known as a “rape victim,” and I called my assault anything but that.  “Rape” sounded so awful and ugly. I have understood all too well the embarrassment, panic, fear and guilt a rape victim lives with on the inside.  I was maimed, broken and wounded, even if you could not see the scars.

Perhaps you don’t believe that adult survivors of sexual assault live among you.
Well, we do, and there are many more of us than you think.  I am the person who sits next to you in church, the clerk who helps you at the checkout counter, the woman who’s pumping your gas. I make your morning coffee. I am your house cleaner, your co-worker at the next desk over at the office. Last year, there were 89,000 reported rapes of women in the U.S. Over 20 or 30 years, that means perhaps two million survivors of rape are living among us. We should never be afraid to confront our attackers — at the police station, in court or at a parole hearing.
Statistics tell us of a great many men, women and children who have never told anyone about their abuse.  More than four out of five victims never go to the police.

These victims have placed that same impassable gulf that I used between sexual assault and daily life. They fear that no one will believe them.  Perhaps they were so afraid that they thought, “If I don’t tell, maybe I won’t be abused again.”  Chances are they were, anyway.  Perhaps they were children whom someone should have protected — but that someone looked the other way.  Perhaps these silent victims thought, “If I don’t talk about it, maybe I’ll forget.”  But I assure you that any victim remembers having been raped as if it were yesterday.

Another reason victims do not report sexual assault is their fear of facing the perpetrator in court.  Along with eight other very young women, I reported Gillmore’s attack to the police.  Later, all nine of us had to describe in court what Gillmore had done to us, as he looked on. Then his defense lawyer cross-examined us, insinuating that we could not be sure we were sitting across from the man who had raped us – even though he had already confessed to raping all of us!

When I left court, Gillmore’s own attorney admitted that any chance of parole for his client would be remote.  But every two years, he has the opportunity for parole.  As each hearing comes, and goes, I wonder how many more times I will be able to share the details of my rape in public before I cannot speak anymore.  Each parole hearing is harder, not easier, than the one before.   After each hearing, I hate the fear that I have to learn to overcome all over again, day after day.  You’re not likely to understand what I mean unless you, too, have been sexually assaulted.

After Gillmore’s eighth parole hearing, in June 2012, I was not sure I would be able to continue.  Then I began to realize that this was precisely what my rapist was waiting for:  He was counting on my faltering.  I became determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other, to keep on moving forward.  I hate the everyday fears that I have had to learn to manage all over again as a result of these hearings.  Anyone who has been sexually assaulted knows what I mean.

Why do I continue to fight? It’s not from vindictiveness; it’s because Gillmore is not getting better.  Psychologists who have examined him have called his potential for recidivism extreme.  Remember, he victimized a huge number of vulnerable young women. Because of his crimes, too many lives and families have been changed forever.  One victim committed suicide.  Giving Gillmore another chance is jeopardizing another future victim.

Since 2008, public opinion has determined whether or not Gillmore is paroled.  Your voices count – just as much as mine.  So I humbly thank you for the fact that Gillmore has postponed his next parole hearing and I have two more years to marshal my resources. I count you, the citizens of Portland and of Oregon, as among the best of those resources.

Danielle Tudor lives in Oregon

Posted in Commentary, Community.


Re-Posting: The Importance of Bystander Intervention and the White House Task Report (We End Violence)

We are re-posting this blog posting by We End Violence, entitled “The Importance of Bystander Intervention and the White House Task Report” by Jeff Bucholtz, Director.

The original posting can be found here: http://www.weendviolence.com/blog/2014/05/02/the-importance-of-bystander-intervention-and-the-white-house-task-report/

First and foremost we are thrilled that the President has made sexual assault education and prevention a priority. It means something to have the highest office in the land be advocating for a higher quality of prevention and response to sexual assault. To put the spotlight on a topic that has been taboo for so long shows that our collective, ongoing work has had an impact on how our society is changing its views and responses to sexual violence.

We agree that campus climate surveys are necessary and LONG overdue. We commend the Task Force’s decision to support such data collection as it will help us to better identify the scope of the problem. It will also help universities to encourage survivors to report incidents as campuses will no longer have to fear that people will equate increased reports with increases in violence. This is an important step in removing the stigma from honest self-reporting and will aid us in creating more effective programs for campus communities.

The new focus on survivor support and perpetrator accountability is also welcome. The suggestions the report makes on providing a wide variety of resources to survivors and educating them about the availability of said resources, including confidential non-mandated reporters, is critical to helping survivors and creating a culture of holding rapists responsible for their crimes.

We are also thrilled to see the introduction of trauma-informed training for campus officials. This will fundamentally alter officials’ understanding of victim dynamics in a way that is bound to be far more survivor supportive. We End Violence is currently creating a program to train university officials and employees on this very topic. We believe it is extremely important that all individuals who work with students are better able to create a safe, supportive climate for survivors.

The suggestions for building collaborative relationships are a good shift towards creating a systematic support system for survivors and activists. Our country’s rape crisis centers provide some of the most important and impactful services in the country. We do hope that as these memorandums of understanding and partnerships are entered into, that recommendations are made to ensure that the burden of work and funding does not fall on community advocacy programs. We have seen universities with large budgets and resource pools request and obtain assistance from advocacy programs only to not reciprocate with support for their new community partners who often are already spread thin. We hope to see this be a collaborative effort both in terms of labor, funding, and support.

The importance of prevention efforts being included in the recommendations, especially bystander intervention efforts and engaging men in the prevention process, cannot be overestimated. We were gratified to hear that the White House Task Force agrees that primary prevention is an essential part in the cultural challenge against sexual violence. In particular, we were happy to hear the emphasis on continuous and comprehensive education efforts, as well as our program’s, Agent of Change, inclusion in the list of the White House’s Not Alone website’s recommended resources. This is exactly what WEV advocates and provides to colleges, military, and communities.

However, WEV believes that prevention efforts need an even stronger prioritization in the report and in our activism. Many survivors will tell no one about their assault, and when they do, often university staff and students have no training on how to respond. We can change this by better educating these communities on the importance of supporting survivors and creating safe spaces. For example, the language used on college campuses to describe sexually active women facilitates perpetrators’ belief in the acceptability of their actions and, at the same time, silences survivors. We would like to see prevention efforts expanded to identify the roots of this culturally facilitated problem.

Bystander intervention must mean more than identifying “abusive behavior” when it is happening. True prevention efforts need to focus more heavily on bystanders stepping up to be agents of change long before someone chooses to violate another person. This is one of the primary foci of WEV’s work and our online program, Agent of Change. By introducing sexual assault prevention education earlier and having it more often, students will have a better understanding of what sexual violence is and a stronger commitment to making a change for the better.

While the focus of the committee and report are on sexual assault, we believe that other forms of power-based violation must also be discussed. Relationship abuse and stalking are driven by many of the same cultural norms, including strict gender roles, confused ideas about relationships/sex, and victim blaming. Our hope is that as this Task Force moves forward it will extend prevention efforts, in particular, to cover more power-based violations.

We think that the Task Force report is an excellent first step for the government in the ongoing global movement to prevent sexual violence. We wish to continue to see strides made towards removing the stigma for survivors and a cultural shift against the casual acceptance of sexual violence. We look forward to the day when we can look back on this report and see how far we’ve come.

 


Jeff Bucholtz, Director
We End Violence

 

 

Posted in Commentary, Community, General, Intervention.


Faith Community Advocacy to Prevent/End Sexual Assault Violence Especially Its Impact on the LGBTQ Community

[This bulletin is being reposted with permission from Rainbow Community Cares (RCCares) - © 2013]. For more information, see www.rccares.org

Faith Community Advocacy to Prevent/End Sexual Assault Violence Especially Its Impact on the LGBTQ Community

 

What is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? April has been set aside as the month when, for the past 13 years, public attention is drawn to raise awareness about sexual assault. This form of violence occurs in all communities. People’s health and well being are threatened by this violence in all groups of people. Community caring and loving support needs to be offered to all survivors of sexual assault. Mainstream providers are prepared to support and encourage the recovery process for heterosexual survivors. However, LGBTQ survivors face significant barriers in their work to heal. The harm done to the lives of survivors can be much harder to address in marginalized communities.

What is Sexual Assault? Sexual assault is an act of violence in which one person engages in a sexual act that includes another person without their consent. Sexual assault can be committed by intimate partners, family members, acquaintances and strangers. The power and control one person exerts over another may be through verbal intimidation, manipulation or physical force, and can occur with other forms of violence.

Why Should Communities of Faith Care? Faith communities exist to nurture spiritual connection and relationships of loving kindness in respect for the human dignity of all people. But due to negative messages spread by some faith leaders and their community members, LGBTQ people face stigmatization and denial of equal access to human services. The impact of that stigma too often severely limits support from friends and families, and connection with other community programs causing isolation. Faith communities can help bring people closer together. Self esteem and feelings of self worth are diminished by negative messages, especially when they are met with silence by allied faith communities. Negative messages can be overcome by positive images supported by faith communities, affirming recognition of LGBTQ people, embracing LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault. All mutually loving relationships are to be honored and nurtured by faith communities.

What can you do? If you hear or see something, say something. Listen to the concerns that are shared by your family, friends, and faith community members. Get involved. Silence can be misconstrued as agreement. Speak and act in support of the human dignity and respect.

Learn more about the concerns, issues and advocacy for LGBTQ survivors of sexual assault in the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs 2012 report on hate violence.  Create and post a list of resources available in your local community that provides services to LGBTQ survivors.

Join advocacy efforts for positive change in laws and policies. Lack of employment protections for some makes it legal to fire a LGBTQ person. Law enforcement response has a history of lack of support, and LGBTQ survivors may face further harassment and criminalization. Local law enforcement and ICE collaboration has further endangered LGBTQ undocumented immigrants.

Progress is being made, some community organizations are willing to work in support of LGBTQ survivors. Chose to be a part of the progress to advocate for acceptance and affirmation of all people’s gender identity and sexual orientation. Choose loving kindness.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Brenda Coley Accepts ‘Empowering Women Award’

Brenda Coley, a member of WCASA’s LGBTQ Committee and ALL* Workgroup, received the 2013 Women’s Empowerment Award from the Southeastern Wisconsin YWCA.

Brenda ColeyHere are the remarks she gave when she accepted the Empowering Women Award at An Evening to Promote Racial Justice in Milwaukee on December 3, 2013 :

I’ve been an activist all my life, or as long as I can remember. At eleven years old I organized a demonstration of my class mates to have my grade school teach Black History.  After the demonstration they told us money was an issue, a couple of weeks later I organized a fashion show to raise money for Books about Black people. As a result of those efforts and others of course, the first African American teacher was hired, and we had a class on Black History.

As a young girl I had the example experiences and inspiration of the civil rights movement in this country and in this city. My parents came to Milwaukee in the sixties from Gary Indiana seeking a better life, because the steel mills were closing. My family had to sleep outside of the city gates in our U-Haul truck because of the curfew imposed on the city due to the unrest. I remember days later lying in my bed in my grandparent’s attic, hearing and actually feeling the footsteps of people marching for housing equality in Milwaukee

My work and community activism has focused on issues of social justice including race, HIV, and  labor , fair housing  issues , and   anti LGTB discrimination, but it took a  while in my activism to really focus on  issues affecting  women  primarily .  I was taught as a young woman within those movements I mentioned for social change, that woman’s issues, women’s liberation was secondary.   I believe that sexism and male dominance is really the oldest oppression in the world and the one oppression that we as a society and community and the world are the most comfortable with.

Having the opportunity at this point in my career to focus on Women’s Leadership and Development and in particular Lesbian and bisexual has enhanced my own development.  I have come to realize that the city of Milwaukee is in need of the leadership that lesbian and bisexual women can provide.  Lesbian and Bisexual women are leading all over this city, but our leadership is invisible to the larger community, to ourselves, as well as within the LGBT Community.

Along with our leadership our personal health practices have to be more explicit and robust and visible. Taking care of ourselves is often the missing link in our leadership. Putting ourselves not first, that always seems selfish to me and not last because that does not seem affirming, but instead to put ourselves in the center of life. This is where we belong.

I want to thank my partner of 27 years, Dr. Sandra Jones, my colleagues at Diverse and Resilient, The YWCA for giving me this honor, Melissa Lemke for nominating me, my sisters in the Reproductive Justice Collective, and finally GROW Great Women a project that has given me a place to lead from, a space that I sit comfortably with all my identities.     

I stand here as a human being  who is 100% African- American, 100% female , and  100% Bisexual , and tell you that this city needs the  thinking and  actions of all  women  in our full authentic voice, not leaving any parts of our identities behind.  

Congrats Brenda!

Brenda pictured with featured guest Harry Belafonte and others

Brenda pictured with featured guest Harry Belafonte and others

Posted in Uncategorized.


Community Event Highlights: “This is What Justice Looks Like” Collage Workshop, Hope House

On February 1282_small1th, as part of the One Billion Rising campaign, Hope House sponsored a “This is What Justice Looks Like” Collage Workshop in Sauk Prairie, repeated that night in Prairie du Sac.

Materials were provided by SoulCollage®, a group that facilitates the creation of collage cards designed to intuitively answer life’s questions and participate in self-discovery. SoulCollage® facilitator Genevieve Kirchman explained how the collages are about listening to your heart and thinking what justice could look like as it relates to violence against women and girls. Participants took about an hour to look through magazine clippings and put together their collages, and with approval were then scanned into a slideshow to be played at another One Billion Rising event at UW-Baraboo two days later. Jess Kaehny of Hope House said: “I think it helped women to feel connected to other women, to their community, to something larger than themselves.”

Kaehny recommends visiting the One Billion Rising website, www.onebillionrising.org, for great ideas and resources. At the Media Downloads page, you can view the Break the Chain music video, choreography for learning the Break the Chain dance, the Man Prayer, as well as last year’s campaign.

Thank you to Jess Kaehny at Hope House for the information on this event. For more information on Hope House’s events, visit www.HopeHouseSCW.org.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Looking at the Jameis Winston Case

We are reposting an article written by Amanda Schumacher, entitled “Looking at the Jameis Winston Case”, published with permission from Family Support Center’s December newsletter.

This week, it was reported that state attorney Willie Meggs, of the Second Judicial Circuit in Florida, had arrived at the decision not to charge star Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston with sexual assault, after a 19-year-old woman reported that Winston had raped her in December of 2012. Early pieces on Meggs’ decision, from mainstream media sources, have demonstrated a lack of understanding when it comes to the dynamics of sexual violence. It is important, then, that we learn to critically view mainstream media reports on sexual assault cases, keeping the following points in mind:

(1) Just because a state’s attorney has decided not to move forward with charges does not mean that the victim was “lying” about sexual assault, or that the incident she recounted did not have a traumatic impact. According to FBI statistics, sexual assault is a vastly under-reported crime; and, of those assaults that are reported, the percentage that are prosecuted and result in a conviction is small as well. Regardless of whether a survivor made a formal report to law enforcement, he or she still deserves supportive services, like those provided by the Family Support Center, to begin their individual, healing journey.

(2) Many of the reports on the Winston case have cited the victim’s “fuzzy memory” as a reason to discredit her. To those who have not experienced sexual assault, it may be tempting to think, “If something this awful really happened, she would definitely remember every last detail!” In reality, that isn’t how the brain processes traumatic experiences. The acute stage of Rape Trauma Syndrome (a condition that overlaps with complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder [PTSD]) is marked by a number of common symptoms, including “dulled sensory, affective, and memory functions” and “disorganized thought content.”

(3) There has also been speculation, among those following the Winston case, that the victim should not be believed because she “probably just had too much to drink, and regretted what she did while intoxicated.” We need to remember, however, that being intoxicated — even if a person willingly consumed the alcohol — prevents someone from legally consenting to sexual activity. Unfortunately, survivors who were using alcohol or drugs prior to their assault often blame themselves for somehow “causing” or being “responsible for” the assault; and this attitude is frequently reinforced by friends, family members, and the media, leading to even more intense feelings of guilt, shame, and self-doubt.

When supporting survivors, we must always be clear that they are not at fault for their experiences. The perpetrator had the responsibility to ensure affirmative consent to sexual activity from someone who was capable of giving that consent — and failed to do so.

And looking thru a broader lens, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV)’s posting, entitled “A National Perspective on Recent High-Profile Sexual Assault Cases” on 12/9/13…

Steubenville. Chapel Hill. Maryville. Tallahassee. Billings. Nashville. Storrs. Across our nation incidents in cities, towns and universities have put sexual assault in the headlines along sports teams and fraternities. As national leaders in the efforts to respond to sexual violence and support survivors, it is deeply disturbing to us that as a nation we’ve made seemingly little progress in addressing this issue. Why haven’t things changed? Why are we still blaming victims?

Read on here: http://endsexualviolence.org/news/a-national-perspective-on-recent-highprofile-sexual-assault-cases

 

 

 

Posted in Commentary, News, Teen Issues, Uncategorized.


Community Event Highlights: Rape Crisis Center 40th Anniversary Art Exhibit

Rape Crisis Center 40th Anniversary Art Exhibit
Surviving, Healing, Thriving: Celebrating Resilience

CelebratinThe Childg 40 years of Hope, Help, and Healing, the Rape Crisis Center (RCC) and local artists present an exhibit honoring the strength survivors demonstrate as they recover and thrive – and the community that supports that healing. If you haven’t already had time, RCC hopes you will make it out to Playhouse Gallery at the Overture Center for the Arts. The exhibit ends December 30th.

Kelly Anderson, RCC’s Director, says: “This is an empowering, celebratory new experience for RCC, a way to reach the community & increase awareness with a positive message.  Some of the art is from survivors; some is from artists who want to support RCC’s work. Some of the pieces are for sale and part of the proceeds helps to support RCC’s work, so it’s a great time for holiday gift buying!”

For more information, visit www.DaneCountyRCC.org or https://www.facebook.com/events/403740876419402/.

Posted in Uncategorized.


Community Event Highlights: Safe Haven Domestic Abuse Center’s Candlelight Vigil

Safe Haven Candlelight Vigil

Safe Haven Candlelight Vigil

10/30/13

On October 10th, Safe Haven Domestic Abuse Center in Shawano gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Is the vigil an event, Safe Haven has hosted before?

Safe Haven hosts the vigil every year. This was our 11th year hosting the event at our facility.

Why a vigil?

A vigil allows us the opportunity to honor the victims that we may have lost but also give strength, encouragement and empowerment to those that speak out at the vigil to share their story. This a time for the community to unite to end violence in our community, while giving power (and control) to survivors.

How do you believe it helped sexual assault survivors?

It brings awareness (of our services and programming) to the community members that come to the event and allows survivors the opportunity to share their powerful stories and to have their voices heard and to be believed.

What did participants learn as a result of this event?

That are not alone and having a guest speaker share their story has a much larger impact to attendees. That impact results in an unbreakable bond of other survivors.

What did you learn as organizer (or one of the organizers)?

Having the survivors’ stories is important and brings a new level of awareness that is impossible to reach without their voice.

What are similar upcoming events readers might be interested in?

An event we’d like to highlight is our Take back the Night, which is held in April on the Shawano County courthouse front lawn. Survivor stories are a big part of that event.

Any resources you would like to point readers to?

The Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women and Men Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Laura Davis & Healing the Trauma of Abuse: A Women’s Workbook by Mary Ellen Copeland MS MA & Maxine Harris PhD

Two every powerful resources for survivors on their healing journey.

If you’d like to read more, an article was posted about this event in the Shawano Leader: http://www.shawanoleader.com/articles/2013/10/11/vigil-held-victims-domestic-violence

Thanks Safe Haven!

Posted in Uncategorized.


Community Event Highlights: Stewards of Children Training, Westfield

Stewards of Children Training - August 20, 2013
Westfield, WI

Hope House of South Central Wisconsin hosted a free Stewards of Children training on August 20 from 9am-noon at the Westfield Community Center.  Created by Darkness to Light, Stewards of Children teaches adults how to prevent, recognize, and react responsibly to child sexual abuse (CSA). Stewards of Children is a three-hour training involving a video, workbook and group discussion. WCASA interviewed Jess Kaehny, Community Education Coordinator of Hope House to get a little more about the event.

How was Hope House involved?

I was trained to be a Stewards of Children facilitator in 2009 and have been facilitating workshops ever since.

How do you believe it helped sexual assault survivors?

I think the training is affirming and empowering for survivors to hear from other adult survivors of child sexual abuse in the video about how they were impacted, how they are in a better place, and how they can help prevent CSA from happening to others.

What did participants learn as a result of this event?

Participants learned the 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children, which are – 1.) learn the facts and understand the risks; 2.) minimize opportunity for CSA by reducing one-adult/one-child situations; 3.) talk to children about their bodies, sex, and sexual abuse; 4.) stay alert to signs of CSA; 5.) make a plan of where to go, whom to call, and how to react to CSA; 6.) act on suspicions; and 7.) get involved in the movement to end CSA.

What did you learn as organizer (or one of the organizers)?

I was excited by the variety of agencies that the participants were representing.  There was staff from a day care center, Big Brothers Big Sisters, human services, the public library, a child advocacy center, a community-based organization, and a substance abuse treatment center.  There was excellent discussion, including tips they had as parents for talking to their children about their bodies and sexual abuse.

What are similar upcoming events readers might be interested in?

I’m happy to facilitate the Stewards of Children workshop wherever there is interest within our service area of Sauk, Columbia, Juneau, Marquette, and Adams Counties.  For instance, I’m scheduled to facilitate it for a particular day care center in Baraboo next month.  Outside of our service area, there are other facilitators, which you can find on the Darkness to Light website: http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6291613/k.3CDF/Wisconsin__Facilitator_Near_You.htm.

An upcoming community event we have planned is in partnership with a committee of local clergy, parish nurses, and lay leaders called Faith Leaders for Healthy Relationships.  On September 19 in Portage and on September 24 in Wisconsin Dells, we’re hosting “Be Educated & Be Safe: Responding to Sex Offenders in Our Community” from 11:30am-1pm.  Valerie Santana from the Department of Corrections will be talking about sex offenders and the registry list.  Following her presentation, the faith leaders will facilitate a discussion specific to churches on what they can do when a sex offender is interested in attending their church.  More information is at www.HopeHouseSCW.org.

Any resources you would like to point readers to?

If you haven’t read the book, “There is No Sex Fairy: Featuring the Ten Commandments of Raising Sexually Respectful Children” by Jan Hindman, I’d recommend it.  If you’re looking for a video on CSA, Darkness to Light has a 20-minute video called “Childhood Stories Documentary” available for free on their website: http://www.d2l.org/site/c.4dICIJOkGcISE/b.6300229/k.43F8/Childhood_Stories_Documentary.htm.

Anything else you’d like to share not mentioned above?

Last week Darkness to Light released a Stewards of Children 2.0 version with more diversity and updated statistics.  You can learn more, including how to become a facilitator, by visiting www.d2l.org.  Awareness to Action is currently offering the materials for Stewards of Children to Wisconsin facilitators for free.

 

Thank you Jess for your contribution! If you are interested in highlighting your event, please contact Peter Fiala at peterf@wcasa.org.

Posted in Community, Events, General.

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