Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County

News & Events

Wellspring partners with the Prevention Council to encourage parents of college bound students to discuss alcohol, sex, and consent.

From the time a teen arrives for their first days of college, until Thanksgiving Break is the period with the highest risk of sexual victimization, often referred to as the Red Zone. The new freedoms that come with being away from home, including having increased access to alcohol, can be a volatile mix. In fact, 90% of college sexual assaults involve alcohol use by either the perpetrator of the victim. With many families getting ready to send a child off to college for the first time, the Prevention Council, and Wellspring have produced a new video dealing with the issues of alcohol, sex, and consent. The video is part of the Prevention Council’s programming for parents dealing with a range of issues.

Wellspring executive director Maggie Fronk said, “Parents want to keep their kids safe. It is hard to know what to talk about, and how to talk about it. This video helps parents talk to their boys and girls about alcohol, about sex, and about consent to help them make healthy decisions when they head off to college.”

She added, “Consent is an important topic for all children because of the role of affirmative consent in preventing sexual assault; it is the responsibility of a person initiating a sexual act to obtain consent, regardless of gender, as well as the effects of drugs and alcohol on consent.”

Consent is permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. When sex is consensual, it means everyone involved has agreed to what they are doing and has given their permission. Non-consensual sex, or sex without someone’s agreement or permission, is sexual assault.

The video is part of the continuing work of Wellspring to prevent crises before they arise by educating the community about relationship and sexual abuse. The organization offers a wide range of prevention and education programs at no cost to schools and community organizations in our county. In 2015, Wellspring prevention educators spoke to more than 6,500 Saratoga County youth and adolescents. The program staff focus on helping young people use the information about issues such as: consent, creating social change, how to intervene, and the connection between alcohol and sexual victimization, to enhance their critical thinking skills and increase their personal safety.

Some important things to know about consent:

• Drugs and alcohol blur consent. Drugs and alcohol impact decision making. When drugs and alcohol are involved, clear consent cannot be obtained. In many states, an intoxicated person cannot legally give consent.
• Consent needs to be clear. Consent is more than not hearing the word “no.” A partner saying nothing is not the same as a partner saying “yes.” Don’t rely on body language, past sexual interactions or any other non-verbal cues. Never assume you have consent. Always be sure you have consent.
• Consent can be fun. Consent does not have to be something that “ruins the mood.” In fact, clear and enthusiastic consent can actually enhance sexual interactions. Not only does it allow one to know that their partner is comfortable with the interaction, it lets both partners clearly express what they want.
• Consent is specific. Just because someone consents to one set of actions and activities does not mean consent has been given to any other sexual act. Similarly, if a partner has given consent in the past to sexual activity this does not apply to current or future interactions. Consent can be initially given and later withdrawn.

ABOUT WELLSPRING: At Wellspring, our mission is to support survivors and engage our community to end relationship and sexual abuse. Each year, our crisis intervention and survivor services support more than 1,000 clients—providing safe housing to adults and children either fleeing or homeless because of domestic violence, as well as comprehensive support in the form of counseling, legal advocacy, and case management. While helping victims in need is a major focus of the Agency’s mission, we know that by increasing awareness we can end intimate partner violence. Wellspring staff provides prevention and education programs to school-aged youth, as well as training and education programs for parents, faith based congregations, and professional organizations.

ABOUT THE PREVNTION COUNCIL: The Alcohol and Substance Abuse Prevention Council of Saratoga County, Inc, is a nonprofit, community-based organization. Our mission is to provide education, information and referral services on the subjects of alcohol, tobacco, other drug and violence prevention to individuals and local communities, thereby enhancing the quality of life for all citizens by diminishing the adverse effects of substance abuse and violence.

6th Annual Pooch Parade to Support the Safe Pet Partnership

Calling all pooches!!

Join us for the 6th Annual Pooch Parade
Saturday, September 24 in Congress Park, Saratoga Springs9d27eb95-7130-40c5-97bf-09668b8b2508
(We Will Gather by the War Memorial)
10:00 registration opens and activities start
11:00 blessing and walk start
$5/pooch (people are free)Events will include a blessing, photographer, agility course,
‘pawdicures’ (nail clippings), a dog behaviorist, and more!

Help us raise awareness of the connection between pet and family violence and support Wellspring’s Safe Pet Partnership Program.

The Safe Pet Partnership Program assists victims of relationship violence who remain in their abusive environments because they don’t want to leave their pets behind. We do this by providing a resource network of kennels, rescue groups, farmers, and pet “foster homes” for safe, temporary placement.

Proceeds of the Pooch Parade support the Safe Pet Partnership – providing safe and loving homes for pets of those who need time to heal.

Register online coming soon.

 For more information, or to learn about how you can participate in Safe Pet Partnership, please contact our office by phone (583-0280) or email: info@wellspringcares.org

Wellspring to Host Girls’ Night Out Fundraiser

Join Wellspring for Girlfriends Helping Girlfriends, A Girls’ Night Out

Thursday, October 27, 2016 at 6:00 PM at Longfellow’s Hotel, Restaurantand Conference Center

dreamstime_11247812 [Converted]Join us for a girls’ night out complete with couture, pampering, great food and drink, and shopping.   The evening will include a fashion show featuring local vendors.  The proceeds will support the work of Wellspring with the survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Ticket Prices

Honorary Committee Member: $100

Prior to the Event: $50
At the Door: $75

Buy Your Tickets Online HERE, or call the office at 518-583-0280.

3rd Annual Charity Golf Outing to Support Victims of Domestic Violence

The 3rd Annual Charity Golf Tournament

in support of survivors of domestic violence in Saratoga County will be held

Friday August 26, 2016 at the Fairways of Halfmoon

The tournament format will be a best ball scramble, and will feature prizes, raffles, a 50/50, hamburgers and hot dogs at the turn, beer, soda, and water, and dinner.

Entry is $100/person and $400 per foursome.

Click here to register online.

For more information about tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please contact Howard Connors at connors_howard@yahoo.com or at 518-265-2850

or call Wellspring at 518-583-0280.

Out of Site

Reading the news locally and nationally, we've got some troubling community safety issues we're trying to address. In Saratoga Springs the front page stories lately revolve around the concerns about homelessness, vagrancy and the need for housing and support services to assist people out of homelessness and into safe housing, services and stability. Nationally, the tragedy in Orlando has spiked concerns about the rise in gun violence. These are big issues that may seem very unrelated to my work in domestic violence or sexual assault, but it's interesting that lately I've seen people drawing links to Wellspring's mission.

About a week ago I attended the Saratoga Springs Downtown Business Association meeting. Saratoga Spring's Police Chief, Greg Veitch was talking about his department's work to preserve community safety, quickly and effectively respond to any crimes that are reported, and whenever possible to link people living on the street with support services such as those offered by Shelters of Saratoga. As always, the audience appreciated his openness and professional response to their questions and concerns. The Chief responded to community inquiries about safety, explained the SSPD's efforts and limitations in having a continual presence in the downtown business district (it's a relatively small police force which sees exponential increase in demand during the tourist season). He also discussed factors that underlie/contribute to homelessness.

When citizens and business owners described their experience with feeling unsafe, he offered suggestions and discussed how the SSPD can assist. At one point he mentioned data about arrests for assault  and observed that statistically there's greater potential for harm from someone you know than from strangers. I noted it's interesting that we perceive the streets to be potentially dangerous, while our sense of home is a place where we're safe from harm-- not always so. The number of assaults in Saratoga Springs over the past 3 years, by a homeless person against a random person on the street was negligible if not null; by comparison the SSPD  has ~400-500 arrests each year for domestic violence. It's no surprise to me that we fail to notice one of the most serious safety concerns in our county- domestic violence. Why? Because we don't see it. Grabbing our morning coffee at Uncommon Grounds, lunch at the Hungry Spot, and shopping at any of the wonderful shops on Broadway, we may pass by the same homeless person sitting on a corner several times each day... and each time our mind registers one more incidence of homelessness- even though it's the same person sitting on a corner. Conversely, it's so rare to actually see a domestic violence incident, that domestic violence seems nonexistent. In Saratoga County, domestic violence is the #2 violent crime (and also the primary cause of family homelessness) ... but I rarely hear community groups convening to discuss what we can do about this safety issue*.

Later in the week another seemingly unrelated headline evidenced a horrific crime with connections to domestic violence lurking  just under the surface. In the aftermath of the Orlando tragedy, it was quickly revealed that the shooter had a history of domestic violence. To anyone who works in the domestic violence field, this revelation didn't come as a surprise. All too often when reading about a mass shooting, we note there was a history of domestic  violence... or  the tragic incident involved an abused partner or was preceded by an act of abuse at home.  In her article On guns, stop talking about terrorism. Start talking about domestic violence,Vox reporter, Emily Crockett states,
"...most "mass shootings" aren't how we imagine them — they’re not school shootings or dance floor massacres. They’re relatively private acts of horror, preceded by red flag after red flag of abusive and violent behavior...
We can’t predict who will become a mass shooter, nor can we save every potential victim of domestic violence. But it would be an unforced error not to do all we can to keep guns out of the hands of people who are known to be violent — and it’s a lot easier to predict violent behavior in general than the specific decision to commit a mass shooting."


I don't have the answers these big social issues affecting community safety, but I do think it's interesting to note that we shouldn't discount red flags that are a little less obvious because they're happening at home. Let's not look away from violence in the home. That flash of red you see waving in the backyard may be more than just some laundry hanging on the line...it could be an indicator of something dangerous looming larger in the future.

*Wellspring staff is available for presentations at no charge  to business or organizations if they'd like to learn more about domestic violence or sexual assault or what they can do to help.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse,
contact our 24 hour hotline for assistance

In Their Shoes

Wellspring presents ‘In Their Shoes,’ a program for teenagers (and their parents and loved ones) about dating violence and relationship abuse.

On Monday June 13 form 6-8 PM. Wellspring will be hosting ‘In Their Shoes,’ an interactive, experiential program for teens to learn about the warning signs of dating violence and highlights ways to stay safe.

Teens, parents, and loved ones are all invited to attend.

Over a two-hour period, participants become one of six teen characters based on the experiences of real teens including sexting, pregnancy, homophobia, and stalking. They make choices about their relationships and move through the scenario by reading about interactions with their dating partner, family, friends, counselors, police, and others.  This is an engaging way to talk about dating violence and healthy relationships.  Wellspring advocates will also be sharing information on how to help friends who may be in abusive relationships.

Snacks will be provided.

Space for this program is limited.  If you’d like to participate, please email our Prevention Coordinator, Jamie Gandron or call the Wellspring office at 518-583-0280.

Got Books?

There's nothing that says summer better than lying on the beach or in a hammock on a warm afternoon leisurely reading a book.  It a wonderful indulgence, but takes just a bit of planning. You've got to have a good book on hand for when the moment presents itself. Make sure you're ready... this weekend Northshire Bookstore is donating 20% of all sales to Soroptimist International of Saratoga County... just say you're "shopping for Soroptimist". While you're lying in the hammock reading that mystery novel, your donation will be hard at work supporting programs that help women and girls-- maybe across the globe building a birthing center in in Uganda or providing mobile medical services in Ecuador... or maybe right here in Saratoga County supporting Wellspring's financial literacy program, Project Hope and Power.

Image taken by Brian Hoffman (c) 2016

Northshire Bookstore
Soroptimist In-Store Book Fair

June 4th 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
June 5th 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Come out and support Soroptimist this coming weekend in downtown Saratoga Springs. It's easy!

Tell the bookseller that you are "Shopping for Soroptimists” and 20% of your purchases will be devoted to supporting the Secret Gardens Tour, scheduled for July 10, 2016. Come and enjoy yourself in Saratoga's exceptional bookstore.

And yes, you can purchase gift certificates in any amount.

The Secret Gardens Tour draws more than 700 visitors from the Capital Region who spend the day enjoying exceptional gardens in and around Saratoga Springs. Tickets to the general public go on sale soon for $20 in advance and $25 on the day of the tour. Download the brochure and buy your tickets by mail.

Football is moving out of the Wild West

Sports Illustrated's Joan Niesen  calls it "a broken system... a crisis". What's she referring to? The prevalence of violence against women by collegiate and professional football players... and  a system that is aware of their actions and actively  shields the player from consequences in order to protect their investment in the athlete. SI's recent article, "Latest sexual violence allegations highlight broken system at Baylor" references the recently released report by Pepper Hamilton investigating how Baylor University handled numerous allegations of sexual violence by Baylor's athletes.  The report cites numerous problems with the college's response: inadequately trained administrators, lack of response to alleviate a hostile environment, and a different disciplinary process for athletes than other students.

Baylor has announced leadership changes and corrective actions based on the findings of the investigation they commissioned by Pepper Hamilton. Baylor's response is late and lackluster, coming only after intense public scrutiny of how the university mishandled numerous reports of sexual misconduct. Niesen states, "It’s the Wild West, an absence of justice, and Baylor has had no incentive to fix the landscape it created—until now."

This is where there's hope. In the past couple of years we've heard so many stories where star athletes commit acts of gender-based violence-- domestic violence or sexual assault. And we've heard over and over, how their celebrity status protected them from consequence. But, while for years, these acts remained private, victims are now speaking out, the public is noticing, organizations are being held accountable for  the actions of their players... and teammates an coaches are speaking out against violence. Concern, justice, and accountability are civilizing  the Wild West

"Wait, Worry and Wonder"

Yesterday John Gray's Fade to Gray column, Social Nightmare, covered an important issue affecting teens, the devastating violation of personal privacy that occurs when an intimate  image is privately shared on-line with one person, but then becomes public. Sometimes  images are posted publicly after a break-up -- so called 'revenge porn', other times, it's sextortion, i.e.,  predators actively groom vulnerable teens they've met on-line,  building a 'friendship' and with the express intent to solicit the teen to send them explicit images that they will post publicly.

We hear about these things, but tend to think they happen elsewhere, in some other county or to someone else's kids. Gray's story is about a local teen... and the concern was that what happened to him could affect at least a dozen of his friends. Technology has changed so quickly, it's hard for parents to keep up with it let alone to be ahead of the game in helping their children remain safe. We didn't grow up in a time when in an impulsive and emotionally-charged moment it was possible to take a quick intimate picture and press send... possibly having it viewed worldwide by strangers. It's the kind of situation a parent doesn't even imagine until it happens. Gray states
"He made a 10 second mistake that will now haunt him forever.
Like a grenade with the pin pulled all he can do is
wait, worry and wonder when it’s going to go off."
What teen hasn't made a10 second mistake a some point? It's chilling that todays' technology allows those mistakes to become viral. Here's a graphic and haunting video depicting a typical teenage girl...and how her whole life can be controlled due to sextortion.