April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). In order to bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault, Project Dinah, a student organization at UNC Chapel Hill that is devoted to safety and empowerment, is sponsoring a film showing of Killing Us Softly 4. Killing Us Softly 4 is a film about advertising’s image of women and explores the connection between advertising and public health issues, including violence against women, eating disorders, and addiction. The screening is taking place on March 28th at 7:00 p.m. in Bingham 317 on UNC’s campus. We hope you can attend!
NC Pre-K and the cost of child care March 21, 2012
As I think this blog does a good job of showing, interpersonal violence (IPV) is not fought against on only one front. There are an array of factors which must be overcome before an end to IPV can be fully achieved. On this blog we have discussed issues such as gender roles, being an active bystander, and challenging IPV stereotypes. One of the most prevalent questions concerning IPV is why does s/he stay? Well, one reason a person might stay in an abusive relationship is because of her/his children.
Economic abuse is often connected to other, more readily “visible” abuses such as physical or emotional. Perhaps the abusive partner will not allow the other to work, or the abuser controls/monitors the family banking accounts, or everything (lease, car, utilities, bank account, credit cards) is legally under the abuser’s name. When any of these apply, financial considerations are not minor when deciding whether or not to leave an abusive situation. If there are children involved, financial considerations are compounded because it is not only the individual’s well being which must be provided for but also her/his children. Most people leaving an abusive situation would rely on their current job or becoming employed and keeping that job; their livelihood and their childrens (if present) will rely upon it. If the IPV survivor has children than there is an added challenge: childcare. If the children are school age than that care might not be as big of an obstacle, but if the child(ren) is below the age of five, childcare can be a huge challenge.
Right now, the cost of childcare for a four year old in NC is on average more expensive than one year’s tuition and fees at a NC public university. Current legislation is seeking among other thing, to cut the state tuition assistance eligibility for NC Pre-K by over 50%. Currently, a family of four earning about $50,000/yr would be eligible for assistance. With the new proposal, a family of four would have to make $22,000/yr for a child of four to be eligible. The 2012 poverty guideline designates a family of four to live in poverty when they have an income of less than $23,050/yr. So, in NC a family would have to live $1,050 under the poverty line in order to gain tuition assistance for their four year old. After a public outcry against the legislation it has been drastically revised. But the issue of tuition assistance and at what income the cap is going to be is still undecided.
I want to highlight two things from this:
1) Childcare is not only an issue for parents or caregivers to worry about. Like IPV, childcare is a community and public health issue. It’s just good practice for a society to take care of its children, to care for the most vulnerable who are unable to care for themselves. In addition, the legislative proposals for NC Pre-K would drastically cut funding for families in need and that – besides being an issue for society at large – could be a huge factor in an IPV survivor’s decision about leaving or staying with her/his abuser. Affordable childcare could be one more tool in helping an IPV survivor leave their abuser for good.
2) Look at what can happen when people speak up! I found out about the NC Pre-K proposal a few days before it was supposed to be voted upon. The organization MomsRising was encouraging people to write to their legislators to voice their opinion about the new proposal. Thanks in part to that organization as well as other efforts on the part of educators, school officials, parents, and concerned citizens the legislation has become a list of recommendations AND one issue, the privatization of NC Pre-K, was completely taken off of the proposal.
There are SO many things that individuals can do. Like this – be politically aware. Read a newspaper. Make a point to know about the policy changes and proposals being made on local, state, and national levels. We, as advocates, are SO powerful! Our voices are strong and when we use them great things can happen. We need to remember that. And use it to our advantage. How do you call attention to something that you feel is wrong? Leave us a comment and let us know.
Challenge Your Notions of Poverty: Play SPENT! March 16, 2012
On February 8, 2010, the Urban Ministries of Durham, with the assistance of McKinney, launched SPENT, an online program that challenges participants to attempt to survive poverty. Play the game here. The Urban Ministries of Durham provides food, shelter, clothing, and supportive services to those in need throughout the Durham community.
SPENT, which had over one million plays in almost two hundred countries as of August 2011 , is an interactive computer game that provides users with $1,000 at the beginning of a month and brings up real-life scenarios that require spending, such as health insurance, children’s field trips, rent, and food. Players must make choices, test their skills, and attempt to survive.
Urban Ministries of Durham Executive Director Patrice Nelson states, “As players struggle to stay afloat, we hope they appreciate more clearly the realities facing the many individuals and families UMD serves.” The goal is to challenge the way people think about poverty and homelessness and educate users about the struggles that so many men, women, and children are facing in our country today.
Challenge yourself and your ideas surrounding the difficulty or ease it might take to survive poverty. Play SPENT!
Volunteer Spotlight: Diana Green March 1, 2012
Each month, we choose one volunteer to recognize in our “Volunteer Spotlight”. FVPC could not provide all of its services and reach out to as many people in the community as it does without the dedication and hard work of every single one of our volunteers. This month we are highlighting Diana Green and the great work that she does for us.
I started volunteering last Fall, September 2011, initially as the LUNAFEST coordinator/intern. Currently I’m doing Start Strong and a variety of smaller tasks.
How did you learn about FVPC?
I learned about the FVPC through the Public Service Scholars’ listserv; there was a request for volunteers.
Why do you volunteer?
I think that the mission of the FVPC is a critical one for any community. As a Sociology major, I’ve been able to study a lot about the inequalities present in our society, but the one that’s always resonated with me the most is that of gender inequality/sexism and the power differences inherent between men and women as groups. To help victims of DV, who are largely women, is to help all women gain an equal hold in our society which in turn will help our daughters and granddaughters experience better lives.
What have you learned (about yourself or others) by volunteering here?
I feel like I’ve learned so much from volunteering at the FVPC – I’ve certainly learned more about DV and some of the networks and institutions that are in place to help victims of DV; I’ve learned a lot about community education through the Start Strong program and also about more technical stuff like fundraising and event organizing. I’ve also learned that work like that which is done at the FVPC is something I’d love to do as a career.
What happens next for you after graduation?
I plan to graduate in December 2012 with a degree in Sociology, then start a MSW program the next fall. So I’ll be working/interning somewhere for the majority of next year before graduate school starts.
What would you tell prospective volunteers?
I would tell prospective volunteers that not only is volunteering at the FVPC very rewarding, but there’s a lot of options to fit your interests. From hotline advocacy to Start Strong, FVPC does a lot of wonderful work in the community, and by volunteering here you’re really making a difference!
Thank you for all that you do, Diana!
Supporting the Campaign for Sexual Assault Victims at ASU February 27, 2012
Our volunteers do amazing things to impact many different communities outside of the great work they do here at FVPC. Meredith Nisbet, one of our Hotline Advocates and a student at UNC, was spurred to action following the re-enrollment of two football players at Appalachian State University after they were convicted of raping two female students. Two additional football players and another student were convicted of lesser crimes associated with the rapes and were reinstated immediately. Meredith, along with another UNC student, Rosemary Johnson, and two students at ASU, Kaylynn Prough and Annie Hegar, created an online petition through Change.org and began the campaign to support the survivors on their quest for justice and force Appalachian State’s administration to address this issue.
The details of the incidents can be found on the petition’s webpage. During the Spring 2011 semester, four Appalachian State football players and an additional friend raped a young woman in succession. Two of the students were charged with rape. During the Fall 2011 semester, two of those five men forcibly raped yet another female student. When the two survivors came forward to report the crimes, they were “treated as heretics”. Following cases in the student court, two players were found guilty of rape and sentenced to eight semesters suspension. However, despite this sanction, they were reinstated in time for next year’s football season. The other three students were found guilty of lesser charges and received no serious consequences. The two survivors were not notified that their perpetrators were re-enrolled in school and back on campus, leaving them unguarded.
Meredith believes that “there seems to be a lot of victim-blaming occurring, perpetuating a rape culture in which people tend to question the victims rather than the perpetrators – rape and sexual assault are…crimes in which the victim becomes the accused, and it’s simply not fair.”
The petition states that “Reinstating a student found guilty of rape to the football team, failing to notify the victims of their perpetrators’ presence on campus, and failing to notify the student body of these occurrences only perpetuates rape culture and creates an environment that is unsafe for students. How many other ‘unspecified university issue(s)’ have we allowed to pass with no semblance of justice to be seen? How many more will we allow?”
The petition currently has 839 signatures, but more are needed in order to send a message to ASU’s administration and campus community. If you would like to support this campaign, the Change.org petition can be found here. After you sign the petition, there is an option to share the link on Facebook. You can also e-mail the link to friends and family members. If you support this campaign, please consider signing the petition and spreading the word so that the members of the Appalachian State University community can become aware of the details of these cases and the administration can address their decisions regarding the handling of the cases and the punishments. It is important that ASU and other college campuses learn of these cases and the issues surrounding them so that a message can be sent that the mistreatment of sexual assault cases is not fair and will not be tolerated.