One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

HAVEN and One Act Trainings: Spring 2012 February 7, 2012

Filed under: Allies,bystander intervention — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:37 pm
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Counseling and Wellness Services at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill just released its training opportunities for Spring 2012.  CWS offers HAVEN and One Act trainings, which are available to all students, faculty, and staff at UNC.

HAVEN is a collaboration between the Office of the Dean of Students, Counseling and Wellness Services, and the Carolina Women’s Center.  The program helps trained individuals respond to sexual and relationship violence in the campus community and become informed allies for survivors of interpersonal violence.  By becoming a HAVEN ally, you help create safe spaces on campus for students to obtain information, engage in discussion, and receive referrals.

Training information, schedules and registration information are available at http://safe.unc.edu/get-involved/haven-training/

One Act is a bystander intervention training program that teaches students, staff, and faculty members how to recognize the early warning signs of interpersonal violence.  The training provides you with concrete skills and gives you the confidence to act to prevent violence when you see warning signs.

For information on One Act, please see http://campushealth.unc.edu/ipv/oneact/one-act-training-dates.html.  To register for a training or arrange for a group or club to be trained, please contact oneact@unc.edu.

Signing up for HAVEN and One Act trainings are great ways to become allies for survivors of interpersonal violence and also to take an active part in preventing these violent acts from occurring.  We strongly encourage all students, staff, and faculty members at UNC to become HAVEN and One Act trained!

Seats fill up quickly, so make sure to sign up soon!

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The Morality of Acting November 17, 2011

Filed under: bystander intervention,childhood sexual abuse,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 10:51 am
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Penn State has been garnering a lot of attention recently, but none of it wanted.  On November 5, former Defensive Coordinator Jerry Sandusky, was arrested for inappropriate behaviors with as many as eight young boys in the last fifteen years. During his tenor at Penn State Sandusky founded The Second Mile,  an organization for at-risk children.  He retired from his position in 1999, but was given emeritus status which entitled him access to the football team and its facilities.   Prosecution is now arguing that this charitable organization provided a cover for Sandusky to access children for sexual recreation. Sandusky was arraigned then released on $100,000 bail after being charged with 40 counts connected to sexual abuse of young boys. He denies all charges.

Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz are both implicated in the case, for reportedly knowing about the abuse and failing to report it. Both have resigned from their posts. University President Graham Spanier as well as Penn State head coach and football legend, Joe Paterno, have been fired for supposedly being aware of the abuse and not acting.

At the crux of the scandal is Assistant Coach Mike McQueary who, in 2002, (when still a graduate assistant) walked in on Sandusky with a young boy in the shower. McQueary claims to have reported what he saw to Coach Paterno and then met with Curley and Schultz to discuss the matter. In a recent report released just yesterday, McQueary apparently told a friend via email that he stopped the alleged rape and talked to police.  McQueary was placed on administrative leave last Friday.

Each person involved gives a slightly different story, but what seems to be true of all accounts,  is that everyone knew that something wasn’t right but settled for inaction. There were some discussions, but no action. Note: None at least until yesterday’s email surfaced (interestingly after days worth of condemnation for inaction by all parties). And, until the public backlash, everyone seemed content with that. They did “something” (reporting to the police, telling a supervisor) and that was enough.

There  are problematic power dynamics involved in this particular situation namely, that of Sandusky and the children he spent time with (“children identified as needing extra support” and “children who live in the most difficult circumstances, having experienced the greatest trauma”) as well as the power hierarchy between a graduate assistant and Penn State officials and perhaps even Penn State and the town of State College, PA itself. The question that arises from looking at power dynamics is the responsibility of a person, when the higher authority in which they reported to fails to act. When this happens, what is there to do?  Meaning, ultimately, is the issue over?  Likely the trauma, stress, anxiety, pain, etc. isn’t over for the victim even if the “incident” is over.

Doing “your part” must be more than a one-time act to alleviate inner feelings of guilt or privilege.  It should become a mindset instead of an obligation. We must all speak up and act for those that are least advantaged. While it can be a complicated situation when those higher than yourself fail to act, if the situation continues to feel wrong to you, pursue the issue. Asking questions might not be popular but not asking it could lead to a number of problems later on, as we have seen in the time since Sandusky’s arrest, with five university staff either resigning or being fired from their positions.

The allegations in this case, while still under investigation, are very disturbing. But, let’s use this unfolding tragedy as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to being active bystanders.  An active bystander is someone who makes an conscious decision to make a bad situation better. This can involve simple acts such as asking if a person is okay, getting an authority figure involved, or if it feels safe, personally intervening especially if the person being harmed is unable to defend themselves or disadvantaged in another way.

Some suggestions for being an active bystander include:

Speak up! If something is not quite right, than you are probably not the only one who notices. Say something and you might be joined by others.  But even if not, your voice is important.

Listen to your gut instinct. If you think something is wrong, investigate it. Think about what you can do to improve the situation and then determine how to act without compromising your personal safety.

Don’t be content to pass the buck. If you think something is suspicious, don’t just tell one person and leave it alone. Check back in. See what happened and if anything was done. If the issue was dropped, pick it back up and find someone else to discuss the issue with.

Active bystanders don’t just let things drop and hope for the best. They do everything they can to help improve things for others, knowing that someday that might need help too.

If you are a student or faculty member on UNC’s campus and have not been One Act trained do it! One Act is a bystander intervention one time training session that empowers individuals to be active bystanders.

Another great way to be an active bystander is by signing up for volunteer training at FVPC. Our volunteers are trained to know how to help and what to do in tough situations.

Or find your own path. But whatever it is, DO something. Don’t wait for someone else to do it.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.” – Ghandi

 

Three Empowering Things You Can Do TODAY to Prevent Interpersonal Violence September 7, 2011

Regardless of my dedication to the cause, some days violence prevention advocacy feels like the weight of the world on my shoulders. For the past few years, ever since I began learning about violence prevention efforts in a class I took at Carolina, even just watching the news or listening to the radio has, at times, made me feel powerless. The fabulous folks I work with on IPV prevention efforts at UNC have often shared that they feel the same way. Knowing that I’m not alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the sheer scale of our goal, completely eliminating interpersonal violence, encourages me to continue to work to prevent it however I can, no matter how small the effort.

One Act is a peer education program at UNC-Chapel Hill that encourages bystanders to identify and safely intervene in possibly risky situations to prevent IPV. But One Act is also about integrating an empowered, proactive attitude into your everyday life.

Here are some examples of some small things you can do today to empower yourself to contribute to the effort against IPV – this blog post is mine! Which approach is best for you?

  1. Have conversations – One of the easiest things you can do to help prevent interpersonal violence is to speak up when you recognize an injustice or problematic statement. Openly challenging rape-supportive or violent language and jokes causes people to think twice about their role in prevention efforts and encourages them to be more considerate of survivors in daily conversation. Tactful discussions about the issues you care about can make a huge difference, especially to those who already love and respect you and your opinions.
  2. Learn to be an effective ally – Read up on warning signs for sexual assault, abusive relationships and stalking and learn how to support loved ones who come to you for help. Also, be sure you’re aware of the different resources available for IPV survivors in your community so you’re prepared to give effective advice. You can take this effort a step further by becoming a HAVEN ally through UNC-Chapel Hill. Fall registration is open now – the one-time, four-hour training is a small commitment with a big impact.
  3. Think of others (and yourself!) – My work with One Act has taught me to always be aware of the other people around me, especially when I’m out on the town or when friends come to me for advice. Taking a simple pledge to watch out for others and take them seriously when they ask for help, regardless of whether I know them personally, was a huge shift in my mindset. It isn’t a huge commitment, but keeping an eye out helps make your overall community safer. Don’t forget to recognize when to take care of yourself, too. Last week, FVPC volunteer Charlotte Crone talked about the break she took from volunteering, which was time to recharge and relax. Taking time to relax, even just for a few hours, is important so that you’re energized when it’s time to act.

If you want more detailed information about bystander intervention, visit SAFE@UNC, email oneact@unc.edu or register for a training here. Surfing the site or sending a quick question is a One Act in itself! Share your own simple ideas for action below.

 

IPV Resources: Back to School Edition August 26, 2011

With students back at the Hill and starting fall semester classes this week, our sleepy summer town is now buzzing with activity. Unfortunately, the beginning of the school year can mean an influx of incidences of interpersonal violence. College students are particularly affected by violence – the National Institute of Justice found that rape or attempted rape could affect as many as 25% of college women by the time they graduate. And around 13% of college women have been affected by stalking, although only 17% of these have reported it to the police.

There are many resources available on campus for survivors of abusive relationships, sexual assault and stalking. Some of these are described below, but for more details about UNC and community resources, check out the brand-new SAFE@UNC website, which combines all of the available information in one place. All resources listed below are available to all survivors, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation, but if you are concerned about seeking help because of your identity, contact UNC’s LGBTQ Center for guidance.

If you are involved in an abusive relationship:

  • If you have been physically assaulted, consider seeking medical attention at UNC Campus Health or UNC Hospitals, which houses Beacon, a program specifically for relationship violence survivors.
  • Consider reporting any assault to the University through the Dean of Students office or to law enforcement. There are several types of reports available, depending on your comfort level and whether you want to press charges through Honor Court and/or the criminal justice system.
  • If you have questions about your rights under the law, give us a call: 929-7122.  FVPC offers court accompaniment and advocacy for folks in an abusive relationship who are trying to negotiate the legal system or obtain a 50B– a Domestic Violence Protective Order.
  • Seek counseling at UNC Counseling and Wellness Services. CWS accepts walk-ins Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1 p.m.-4 p.m.

If you have been sexually assaulted:

  • If you have been sexually assaulted, consider seeking medical attention at UNC Campus Health or UNC Hospitals, which has a care program specifically for sexual assault survivors. You will be given the opportunity to undergo forensic testing for evidence, as well as STI testing and a course of preventive medication, the costs of which are covered for UNC students through the Victims’ Assistance Fund.
  • Consider reporting any assault to the University through the Dean of Students office or to law enforcement. There are several types of reports available, depending on your comfort level and whether you want to press charges through Honor Court and/or the criminal justice system. If you have questions about the legal process, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE.
  • Seek trauma counseling at UNC Counseling and Wellness Services. Also available is an open support group, Courage to Heal, for survivors to share their experiences on the journey to recovery.

If you are experiencing stalking:

  • If you feel unsafe in your living environment, safe rooms are available for short-term stay through the Residential Housing and Education office. Talk to your RA or community director, or call the Dean of Students office at 919-966-4042 during business hours for more information.
  • File a no-contact order through the University via the Dean of Students office.
  • Seek counseling at UNC Counseling and Wellness Services.

If you are struggling with academics because of any of the previous circumstances, discuss your options with the Dean of Students office.

If you’re interested in becoming a more effective supporter for loved ones who are survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, become a UNC HAVEN ally this fall! New training dates have just been announced, and you can register online. And becoming trained by the One Act program will empower you to prevent interpersonal violence in the first place.

Thanks for your efforts to help make the campus community a safer place for students, faculty and staff!

 

It Takes A Village… August 2, 2011

The concept of domestic violence as a “personal matter” and not a community concern hardly qualifies as novel. With 175 million registered users on Twitter alone and 4 million Tweets every hour, social media has become the way of connecting with others. But as it extends beyond our personal lives, further-reaching opportunities surface in tandem to speak out about injustices that we see and are frustrated by. In doing so, domestic violence is one of those injustices that has moved from the private into the very public consciousness of a larger world.  More of us are using social media to do good. An example of that is the recent case of Rumana Monzur.

Monzur, a Bangladeshi woman who had traveled as a Fulbright scholar to the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. She returned home in May missing her daughter and husband, to write her dissertation. After showing her husband pictures of her with a fellow male student, he attacked her, accusing her of having an extramarital affair.  He gouged out her eyes, leaving her blind and severely traumatized her daughter who stood by.

Domestic violence victims sometimes experience shame around their attacks and often believe if they had acted differently, perhaps their partners wouldn’t hurt them.  This shame  is not unique and pervades many discussions around interpersonal violence, regardless of geographic locations. Victims often worry that if they speak out against their abusers, their character and actions will be questioned.  This can be especially challenging when the abuser has become a part of the family.  No one wants to believe that the person that they have come to accept as a son or daughter in law is actually an abuser.

While Monzur might have suffered from these fears, her family and friends encouraged her to speak out about the attack.   A Facebook page detailing her attack as well as an online donation page for her recovery fueled by her family and friends were created so that her side of the story would be known. She also interviewed with a local Bangladeshi news station and posted the interview on Youtube.

The community of people who rallied around Monzur serves as a terrific example of how using social media can help all of us understand intimate partner violence as a public issue that collectively we have a social responsibility to eliminate.   Across the world activists in every imaginable area use social media to challenge that culture of shame and offer instead, a culture of support for victims.  These kind of public responses also put culpability back on the abuser where it belongs, rather than on the victim.   One woman’s example also encourages other victims of abuse to feel comfortable sharing their testimonies, “I lost my eyes,” says Monzur. “I don’t want anyone to suffer like I am suffering. It is horrible.”

Using social media to build awareness about interpersonal violence in one step that we can take to be active bystanders for survivors.  Social media also affords us the advantage of quiet activism, where we don’t need to be out in front at a rally or defending someone in a bar but behind our computer or smart phone.  We can quietly type away words of support on our Twitter feed,  a blog post (like this one!) or on our Facebook wall to our own network who influence us as we do them.  Any small step can be a great step.

What are some ways that you use social media to help raise awareness around issues that are important to you?  Leave us a comment.

 

Who is a “Good” Victim? July 20, 2011

Filed under: Allies,bystander intervention,dating violence,rape,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:05 am
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With the recent scandal regarding the credibility of Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim, a housekeeper who immigrated from Guinea, interesting questions have been raised about what it means to be a “good” victim (of assault).

While some skeptics questioned the validity of the testimony of Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victim from the beginning, journalists seemed sympathetic to her case, for the most part. Perhaps because early reports described the woman as a humble immigrant escaping sexual assault and persecution in her own country, and as a devoutly religious , people felt much more comfortable believing her accusations about Strauss-Kahn.  Once it was discovered that she lied in her asylum application regarding the sexual assault in her home country and that she had been untruthful regarding her financial records, she was suddenly seen as less credible.  Shortly afterward,  the credibility of her story became even more suspect with the possible involvement of a drug dealer boyfriend.

Sadly, these disclosures appeared to considerably weaken her case.  Headlines shouted DSK case was “on verge of collapse” and that the lies of the accuser “jeopardize” the case.  2 days later Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest. Not even 2 weeks later, freedom restored DSK heads to the Berkshires to take in a concert at Tanglewood (Shed seats, not the lawn).  How did this case go from airtight to up in the air?  Perhaps the public’s perception of who a victim is and how she should be has something to do with it.

Victims who dress promiscuously, have any kind of sexual history, were under the influence of alcohol and drugs, worked in “sex themed” occupations (like stripping or prostitution), or struggle with mental illness are usually viewed as less credible.  Women who are non-white, work in a service industry and perhaps poor or disadvantaged in some way are easier to imagine as victims.  They don’t look like us and are pretty removed from our world, or so we assure ourselves.  These stereotypes of victims can be extremely damaging, however, and not just for the victim.

tereotypes can be even more harmful for sexual assault victims.   Many people have very definite ideas about what happens before, during, and after a “real” rape.  “Real” rape victims are those who are attacked by a stranger while not under the influence of alcohol or drugs with a past devoid of any sexual history.  This  myth ignores the very real knowledge that 77% of sexual assaults are committed by non-strangers. ]

When we stereotype someone as a “good” or a “bad” victim, we do an injustice to everyone else who has experienced a similar crime and is trying to heal. As a result, those folks tend to feel less “normal” and even more marginalized than they might.  It can also be harder for them to ask for help.  This gets further complicated for male or LGBTQ identified victims, doesn’t it?  All victims deserve to be believed and supported.  As Kenneth Thompson, the attorney for DSK’s alleged victim said, a victim’s past should have no bearing on their status as a current victim of IPV/sexual assault, “The victim here made some mistakes, but that does not mean she is not a rape victim,” he said.

If you want to know more about how to help victims of interpersonal violence, consider volunteering with us.  Contact Elizabeth at 919-929-3872, ext 118 or at elizabeth(at)fvpcoc(dot)org.

 

The Power of Being an Active Bystander June 17, 2011

In 2008 a 16-year-old high school cheerleader, identified as H.S., was sexually assaulted by three men at her school, one of whom, Rakheem Bolton, was a basketball player. Although Bolton received a year long prison sentence as well as a fine and two years of probation, throughout these past few years there was much debate about what type of punishment he should receive. At one point he was even allowed back into Silsbee high school and and allowed to take up his old position on the basket ball team.

H.S. refused to cheer for Bolton during his free throws. According to Ms. Magazine, the chant that she was expected to yell was, “two, four, six, eight, ten come on Rakheem put it in!” Instead of supporting or understanding H.S’s decision, the school kicked her off of the cheer leading squad effectively condoning Bolton’s actions and placing blame on the victim. When her parents filed a law suit against the school, not only did they lose the case, but the school is making them cover the trial costs which add up to $35,000.

When Artist Jason Ho heard about this injustice, he decided to do something about it. Ho is an illustrator and art director at Bongo Comics who has a blog called “Oh Snap! The Friggin Amazing J. Ho Sketch Blog…” He posted the story on his blog and sent out the word that he would hand draw sketches for people in trade for a $20 donation. The donation would go to H.S’s family to aid with the legal expenses.

The response was overwhelming. He planned on taking 20 requests, but within a matter of days had over 140! Ho epitomizes supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. He has never met this family before, and he is not rushing out to Texas to rally protesters; he is simply doing what is within his reach to help a family in need.

People like Jason Ho are a dose of encouragement and optimism for anyone who has ever felt strongly about a cause but did not know what to do. He shows us that anyone can make a difference, and that one person’s idea can help change lives. Ho in partnership with the Help a Cheerleader  site have managed to change H.S.’s life as well as her families, not just with the financial support, but also with psychological support. This family has the comfort of knowing that people all around the country believe that they were wronged by the justice system, and are willing to help them through their struggle.

If you want more information about how you can be an active bystander or how to support victims of interpersonal violence please contact the Family Violence Prevention Center  at (919) 929-7122.   We can all be active bystanders in our own unique ways and one persons’ actions can play a huge part in supporting and advocating for survivors and in ending interpersonal violence.