Time to Act: Prevent Sexual Assaults

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Image Source: Flickr

When we hear the term sexual assault, most of us think of rape by a stranger. The reality is that about 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim. Sexual assault isn’t just limited to rape, either—it includes child abuse, sexual harassment, teen relationship violence, date rape and domestic violence. Every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and this year, the campaign focuses on preventing sexual violence on campus.

Some starling statistics

Recent news stories of the alleged fraternity gang rape at the University of Virginia (Rolling Stone reporting snafu aside) and the Stanford University athlete caught mid rape have certainly fueled the conversation about sexual assault on college campuses.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

The campus sexual assault study revealed:

  • 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted while in college
  • 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted while in college

The majority of these college victims never report the assault. In the big picture, sexual assault is one of the most under reported crimes: 68% of assaults in the last five years were not reported to the police. And only about 2% of rapists will ever serve a day in prison.

What can we do about it?

Educating our children about this is imperative. While it’s a tough and awkward topic to tackle, we need to talk about it. That’s one of the best ways to truly protect them.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network, suggests ways to get the conversations started: teaching your child to say no, and to come to you with questions and concerns.

The King County Sexual Assault Resource Center booklet, He Told Me Not To Tell, is another good parent’s guide. It includes specific ideas about storytelling and playing the What If game.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s What is Healthy Sexuality and Consent fact sheet contains great information for teenagers.

What else?

Help charities who are addressing the issue of sexual assault do more outreach, create educational materials, and provide the services for victims that make a difference. Give today so they can speak with a louder voice and help prevent sexual assaults.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center is the organization behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and offers a wealth ofbutton_give_now_small information for preventing sexual violence. It is operated by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape.

Rape Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization and operatesbutton_give_now_small the National Sexual Assault Hotline in partnership with 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country.

Love is Respect is a great resource to for engaging, educating and empowering young adults about how to prevent and endbutton_give_now_small abusive relationships. Brought to you by Break the Cycle.

– Candy Culver

Marketing Consultant

Not Just a “Family Matter” – Domestic Violence in the U.S.

Image Source: Flickr

Domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and battering are all different names for the same alarmingly widespread social problem. It affects more people than you think—one in every four people experience abuse—and what we see in the media isn’t the whole picture.

Recently we’ve seen domestic violence news about high-profile celebrities, framed in a typical manner: a male abuser and a female victim. Although every 9 seconds, a woman in the United States is assaulted or beaten, domestic violence isn’t just a problem between women and their male abusers. It affects us all.

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Image Source: Flickr

Domestic violence affects entire families, endangering the safety and mental development of young children. And elderly adults and disabled family members are often the most vulnerable to domestic violence, due to dependence on caretakers and lack of mobility. Family pets are often treated cruelly too. A study from 11 U.S. cities revealed that a history of animal abuse is one of the four largest indicators for potential domestic abusers.

Domestic violence doesn’t only affect women.  More than 830,000 men fall victim to domestic violence every year in the U.S. (National Violence Against Women Survey). Men, women, same-sex couples, and gender variant folks are all victims. Recently, the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) survey showed that one in five trans people experienced domestic violence for their non-conforming gender identities.

Intimate partner violence doesn’t begin in adulthood. One in five high school girls has been physically or sexually assaulted by a dating partner. Sadly, eight U.S. states don’t consider a violent dating relationship domestic abuse, leaving teens unable to obtain a restraining order for protection from their abuser.

Domestic violence is closely related to gun violence. While it can, and often does, extend beyond physically abusive behavior to include sexual violence, financial exploitation, stalking, harassment and emotional abuse; tragically, it commonly ends in gun violence. According to an analysis of mass shootings since January 2009 released by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns (a coalition from around the country), “There was a noteworthy connection between mass-shooting incidents and domestic or family violence.” A majority of the mass shootings in the four-year period studied were domestic-violence related.

The epidemic of domestic violence affects every one of us. We need to stop it together. Here are a few resources that help victims, and actions we each can take to make change happen.

Image Source: Flickr

Image Source: Flickr

Resources

The Hotline provides crisis intervention, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. Their toll-free number is available nationwide—helping victims find the courage to act and a local shelter.

The National Domestic Violence Pro Bono Directory lists resources for free legal help for survivors of domestic abuse.

SafeLink is a government-provided safe phone service for survivors.

What you can do to help

Give to organizations that provide resources to survivors and work to end violence:

Image Source: Flickr

For more charities working to end domestic and gendered violence, take a look at this list.

-Alex Mechanic

Service Team Manager

A fond adieu to Kelly after 7 years at JustGive

We have a great crew here at JustGive and many of our team members have been working here for over 5 years.

Today, we said a bittersweet farewell to Kelly, who has worked at JustGive for 7 years. In those 7 years, Kelly has worked or helped out in pretty much every area of the company whether it be marketing, customer service or tech. And she’s always done it with a smile and as we know here in the office, a snazzy ‘do.

Like many JustGive team members, Kelly has a charity registry on our website to help support the organizations that matter most to her.

“I care deeply about bringing awareness to the issue of violence against women —particularly providing services and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence. Check out the inspiring video below and then help me raise money to provide services and advocate for survivors. ”

Kelly, we’ll not only miss your great style, but also your laugh, your big heart, your willingness to help out with anything, your penchant for purple, your inclusion in “dance breaks” and most of all, your dedication to JustGive and what we do.

We will miss you and wish you all the best in your endeavors.

The JustGive team

Domestic Violence: It’s everyone’s business

Domestic Violence: It's Everyone's Business

I once met a woman whose husband emotionally and physically abused her for nearly ten years. When he eventually tried to kill her, her 5-year-old son saved her life.

People who haven’t experienced domestic violence may shake their heads in disbelief at this story. How did it get that far? Why didn’t she leave?

If he tried to kill her on their first date, he wouldn’t have gotten a second. But abuse doesn’t work that way. It starts out slowly, building in intensity. It may begin with attempts at isolation, under the guise of love: Your friends are rude; you shouldn’t hang out with them. They don’t love you like I do.

It can also start with the slow erosion of self-esteem: I love you so much, and you treat me so badly. If you would only. . . . The suggestions are so subtle; they’re easy to excuse. But before long, the victim is emotionally (and often financially) dependent on his or her partner. Once that happens, it becomes very difficult to leave.

People who are dependent on their partners learn to endure abuse, and often believe that the abusive partner will change his or her behavior. They may also be scared to leave, unsure what their partner will do and afraid to find out.

For these and other reasons, victims of domestic violence often need help leaving their partners. Those without close family or friends (which, because of an abuser’s longtime efforts at isolating their victim, is a common situation) must rely on concerned citizens and community resources.

How you can help

Call the Police. If you hear your neighbors fighting, and you’re even slightly concerned for someone’s safety, call the police. A victim of abuse may not call the police for a number of reasons, including fear of their abuser or embarrassment. Your call could be the wakeup call a victim needs—and might even save a life. Don’t just “mind your own business.” Violence—verbal or otherwise—is everyone’s business.

Educate Your Children. The age group most at risk for violent relationships is 16-24. Talk with your sons and daughters about safe relationships, and the warning signs of abuse. For more information about what to say or how to approach the conversation, check out our previous blog about Preventing Sexual Assault, or visit Love is Respect, which has great tips for both teens and parents.

Support Local Hotlines and Shelters. Since 1964, more than 1,800 shelters or refuges for battered women have been established in the United States. Initially designed to provide simply a safe place for victims and their children, shelters now provide a wide range of programs, including legal assistance and counseling.

The Hotline provides crisis intervention, information and referrals for victims of domestic violence, perpetrators, friends and families. Their toll-free number is available nationwide, and is often the first step for many victims—helping them find the courage to act and a local shelter to help.
Donate Now

Donate to Local Domestic Violence Shelters. Leaving an abusive relationship is very hard, and local shelters provide a road map. They give victims a place to stay, time to find a job, and help caring for children. To find and donate to a local shelter in your area, simply click the button below, enter your zip code, and hit “Enter.”
Act Locally

When you help a victim of domestic violence, you’re also helping their children. Children exposed to domestic violence can suffer serious long-term consequences, including difficulty in school, post-traumatic disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and criminal behavior. Studies have shown that even babies, who most people consider to be “too young to understand,” feel the effects.

By its very nature, domestic violence creates victims who need others to care enough to get involved. Donate now to help victims begin a new—and safe—life.

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager

Talk early, talk often: Teach your children to avoid sexual assault

As a woman, it’s hard to grow up without exposure to sexual violence of some kind. While I was lucky to get out of my early childhood unscathed, I experienced sexual harassment from several peers beginning in middle school, and was involved in a verbally abusive relationship in high school, which led to choosing a verbally abusive marriage.

Even as I was making poor decisions in partners, my inner voice wondered, “Why am I doing this?” Pushing aside our inner voice is, I believe, one of the key reasons why I and so many other women find ourselves in the less-than-ideal situations that lead to sexual assault.

Sexual Assault is an umbrella term, which includes child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, unwanted sexual contact (touching or grabbing), unwelcome exposure of another’s body (exhibitionism), domestic violence, and rape. This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The ultimate goal: raise our children with the core values that help them avoid sexual assault.

Encourage healthy sexuality at a young age

An awareness of what is wrong starts with an understanding about what’s right. And this, parents, is up to you. Sexuality needs to be discussed many, many times: think of it more as a series of moments where you can educate your kids, not one Big Talk. If you’re wondering how to educate your kids about sexuality, check out this great healthy sexuality PDF from National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC).

It’s important to keep these conversations age appropriate, addressing different topics at each age. NSVRC offers another helpful PDF with an excellent chart to help parents understand what’s “normal” for sexual development at various ages, and which conversations to have.

A few months ago, we talked about how to protect our children from sexual abuse. You may want to revisit that post for tips about prevention.

Talking to your kids about sexuality is only part of the issue, though. My father was an OB/GYN and my mother a nurse, so I grew up knowing “the birds and the bees.” Yet, I still didn’t make good decisions.

Teach your children that they own their own bodies

At my daughter’s second birthday party, a friend tried to force her daughter to hug mine. My little girl is very shy, didn’t know this girl very well, and didn’t want to. My response? “You don’t have to hug anyone you don’t want to.” It is very important to me that my daughter knows that she owns her body and makes all decisions concerning it. This means she doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone she doesn’t want to, even if I’m worried the other person might be offended.

While well-intentioned parents have a tendency to force their kids to hug or kiss their friends or grandparents, this practice can send an unintended, detrimental message to kids: Push aside your own feelings to make someone else happy. 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.’

If your children are huggers, teach them to ask others for permission to hug (“May I hug you?”). If you would like for them to hug Grandma, you can say: “I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it.” Teach them to respond with a hug, or a “no, thank you.” And mean what you say—don’t let any child feel disappointment or resentment from you. Explain your reasoning to family members, and remind them it’s not personal. Every child goes through stages where they don’t want to offer affection.

This is hardest for me as a parent, actually—I constantly want to kiss my daughter’s adorable little face, and at two, she often responds with a firm, “NO MOMMY!” Not wanting to squelch her currently strong inner voice, I usually respond with, “that’s okay, honey, it’s your body.”

Read more on this topic at CNN: I Don’t Own My Child’s Body

Understand and talk to your kids about teen relationship violence

After years of bullying during middle school, I was desperate for acceptance. When my family and I moved to another state during my junior year in high school, I became involved with a verbally abusive boyfriend. Though the relationship lasted only four months, the damage lasted much longer—and led me to a verbally abusive marriage. While it is embarrassing for me to admit I didn’t value myself, I know that I’m not alone. By talking about it, I hope to help more young girls understand the long-term repercussions of their choices.

Talking with your children about healthy relationships is extremely important—second only to modeling good relationships. If you are not in a healthy relationship, your children are more likely to choose unhealthy relationships for themselves.

So how do you teach your kids about healthy relationships? Point out loving interactions, examples of good communication, and healthy boundaries when you see them, both in the media and in life. And point out examples of unhealthy interactions when you see them, as well.

Sit down and talk to your kids, long before they start dating. Not sure what to say? Love is Respect’s guide to Healthy Relationships is a good place to start the conversation.

If you suspect that your child is already in an unhealthy relationship, check out Love is Respect’s “Help Your Child.” This can be a very tricky situation to navigate, so if you need help, definitely get it — from a hotline, a counselor, or a domestic violence counselor.

Domestic violence and teen relationship violence can be difficult to understand if you haven’t been through it yourself. I encourage you to look at the warning signs of abuse, and the Power and Control Wheel.

Donate Now

Concerned and involved parents are key: what we teach our children truly can prevent sexual assaults. In addition, the wonderful charities mentioned in this post provide a wealth of information. Please donate now to help spread the word, fund research, and provide resources to parents, kids, and affected adults.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center is the voice behind Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and offers a wealth of information for preventing sexual violence. Brought to you by Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR).
Donate Now

 

KidPower teaches positive, practical personal safety skills to protect people of all ages and abilities from bullying, molestation, abduction, and other violence.
Donate Now

 

Love is Respect is a great resource to for engaging, educating and empowering young adults about how to prevent and end abusive relationships. Brought to you by Break the Cycle.
Donate Now

—Sara Olsher, Marketing Manager