Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County

News & Events

Parents’ Homework- Do You Know How to Keep Your Kids Safe Online?

It's never been easy keeping up with kids...and it's even harder keeping ahead of what they are learning.   When I was a kid,  the 'New Math' had parents mystified. My kids were learning to read with the 'Whole Language' method... which meant I wasn't supposed to correct them if they spelled cat,  "ket" , or I might extinguish their love of reading. Today's parents feel like they're always one step behind their kids with computers.  Just when they got Facebook figured out it's passé.

While I don't think new math or misspellings ever had dire consequences, predators do lurk on social media, so it's important that parents have the knowledge to monitor their kids' computer activities. The Saratoga Center for the Family is hosting a workshop, How predators use today's social media to lure teens into risky behavior. John Kelly, community educator for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and former Saratoga Springs police officer, will offer parents tips for keeping their children safe on line.

Perfect Weather for Golfing

Summer is winding down, but here's a chance to enjoy one more day golfing with friends. The weather predictions are for a beautiful summer day, low 80's, a mix of sun and fluffy white clouds. Don't miss the opportunity. If you need more incentive, 100% of the proceeds benefit Wellspring's work to end relationship and sexual abuse.

Google Responds to Revenge Porn

Revenge porn...it's used to control a partner,  to expose them and most of all to humiliate. With a simple mouse click, an embarrassing image can become public not just to a select group, but can be viewed by dozens, hundreds, thousands or more.  And worse, that image lingers in the public domain. A simple search of someone 's name and anyone can view the image. Victims of on-line posting of unauthorized sexually explicit photos and videos feel intensely violated not only at the initial incident... but indefinitely, affecting relationships, employment, and an individuals entire on-line presence.

Google just announced a response to the problem- individuals can request that Google remove unauthorized pornographic images from search results. While the images remain on the Web and can be accessed  through the direct page link, they will not show up through Google search engines.  

Click here to ask Google to remove your sensitive personal information, like your bank account number, or an image of your handwritten signature, or a nude or sexually explicit image or video of you that’s been shared without your consent, from Google search results.  

‘Applauding’ John Gray’s Insights

I've been following the wit and wisdom of local pundit, John Gray for so many decades it feels as if, even without ever having met each other,  we've grown wiser together, changing some of our viewpoints as life's lessons shaped our opinion and insights. Reading his Applause column today, I noted how in just a few sentences he takes a timely news story and thinks about how people are affected by it. In this case he's discussing (and for the most part supporting) Governor Cuomo's 'Enough is Enough' response to campus sexual assault. Gray's big worry was that in the heat of the moment (and may be with a bit of alcohol as a disinhibitor) young people wouldn't realize the importance of affirmative consent... and the consequences that can result by just assuming consent.

It's a good point. It's important that we have these conversations with our young people. Campuses are taking this responsibility very seriously; Skidmore and Wellspring are working very collaboratively and proactively to have increased prevention and awareness programs and on-campus access to a Wellspring  advocate. But the responsibility doesn't reside solely with colleges.
 Parents need to talk with their sons and daughters about sexual assault and about consent. Wondering how to start that conversation. Maybe we can help; here's two ways Wellspring can help you start the conversation:
  • Wellspring has a an interactive awareness program Rape or Regret. It's a video of a trial for a common date rape scenario (a party with underage drinking). Our staff present the video and facilitate a discussion session. We've had parents and teens watch it together. A mother commented months after attending a viewing that she'd always wondered how to start that difficult conversation with her daughters. After they attended  the program "the conversation just started... It  opened the  lines of communication, and now my daughters' friends also talk comfortably with me about these issues." We can bring this presentation to your  community group. It's free, enlightening, and interactive.
  • Need a quick and easy conversation starter? Here's a two minute video Wellspring developed about consent.
So Mr. Gray. You are so right; it's important we educate our youth about consent. And in response to your observation, "I think we are a short drive from a time when students will sign contracts before getting undressed. I’m sure there’s already an app for that."  There is indeed an app for that; it's called Are We Good 2 Go?


Shifting from Blaming to ‘Generosity and Connectedness’

For too many decades domestic violence and rape crisis agencies' impact has been constrained because our focus (often determined by funding) has been limited to only one piece of the solution to these problems- crisis and support services for survivors. These services are critical, but they
  • address the issue far too late-- after the victimization has happened, and
  • place the responsibility for solving the problem on the very person who is the victim of the actions.
In no way am I diminishing the importance of this work. Every day at Wellspring we help victims of abuse to break free, heal, find a measure of justice, and emerge as survivors. But there are two other pieces to this puzzle that need to be addressed before we can solve it.
    We need to focus on the actions of the person committing the abusive behavior, not on the victim. In the past year, we've seen a  shift in holding offenders accountable. The year's news stories have been peppered with incidents where public figures (athletes, celebrities) committed acts of relationship or sexual violence. While the 'sensational tweet of the moment' social media coverage of these incidents spans the gamut from voracious public shaming to prurient nosiness into the private lives of celebrities, the sheer volume of coverage about high-profile abuse has resulted in more thoughtful conversations about character-- with important career consequences. Where I hope we get to with these discussions is not the sensational, career-ending consequences after actions suddenly become public, but instead instilling character and ethical leadership as equally important attributes for excellence in one's field. Often talent, and its sidekick fame, buy privilege--that carte blanche that we offer to excuse, cover up, or ignore habitual abusive actions. Hopefully, we'll invest more resources in changing attitudes so that success depends not just on athletic, artistic or intellectual skills, but on character also... and this value will be taught early and often, to all. 
      Holding people accountable for their individual actions is important, but that's addressing the issue on relationship at a time. So change will only happen as quickly as we can 'fix' each relationship. True change comes from realizing that  we all need to be part of the solution. Ending relationship and sexual abuse, is about changing social norms. When Wellspring staff work with kids in prevention programs, we teach then about bystander intervention-- the skills they need to know so that they can take action in a situation.  The title of a recent news article Here's How You Can Stop A Sexual Assault Before It Happens caught my eye. It's a discussion about the role of bystanders. And it's got a very potent message about how traumatized bystanders are when they've witnessed an assault, but through shock, confusion, or not knowing what to do, they didn't do anything to intervene. That feeling of helplessness can haunt them forever. Programs that expose youth (or adults) to the ethic of intervention and provide strategies they can use in situations prepare them. I especially like that the focus changes from a victim/perpetrator solution to a broader focus. The concluding words of the article sum up that difference quite eloquently:
      It’s not saying, 'You are the problem,'” explained Miller,
      who has published research on bystander education.
      “It taps into a sense of generosity and sense of connectedness.”

        Hot Yoga Saratoga Offering Benefit Yoga Class

        Note: If you read yesterday's blog post,  the information about this fundraiser was incorrect. Please not change of location. Many thanks to Hot Yoga Saratoga!

        Code Blue- Thinking about the coldest days of winter as I sit in the warm sunshine

        Come to The Blue Party sponsored by Fingerpaint then stay the night. The Sleep Out Challenge encourages local individuals to raise $500 or more to participate in an outdoor sleep out for solidarity as a symbolic showing of support to those who must sleep outside all year long. This will take place overnight on June 26 in Fingerpaint’s parking lot. You bring your own sleeping bag, pillow and whatever non-alcoholic beverages and snacks you’d like. We’ll provide you with dinner and breakfast and some treats in between. Plus you’ll enjoy all the perks of the party and plenty of shout outs for your awesomeness! Email bgoliber@fingerpaintmarketing.com to sign up.

        The Blue Party will be held on on June 26, 2015, in Fingerpaint’s parking lot and will include food, non-alcoholic beverages, live music, entertainment and an outdoor movie under the stars. Your $100 donation will be directly contributed into the Blue Needs You fund in our effort to raise $150,000. There will not be alcoholic beverages served at the event, but you’ll be given a bracelet to show you’ve made your donation so you’re granted re-entry.

        Special thanks to the following vendors: 
        LongfellowsPJ's BAR-B-QSA,Primal Your Local ButcherPrime at Saratoga NationalEsperanto of Saratoga SpringsFunFlicks Outdoor Movies Upstate New YorkBowtie Cinemas Saratoga, and more!

        Dinner will be served from 7-8:15. Snacks and popcorn will accompany the movie, The Soloist, which will start between 8:45 and 9.

        Live music by Mike Perkins and Friends, a dunking booth and children's activities from 
        The Children's Museum at Saratoga are all part of the fun!


        Who is Standing Behind that Number?

        44%                                   30%
        25%                                  20%
                     40%       22% 
        So what do these numbers mean?
        Average monthly income for a homeless individual- $348

        Percent of homeless that did paid work during the past month 44%

        Percent of homeless that have been homeless for more than two (2) years 30%

        Number of Americans who now live in hunger or on the edge of hunger    31,000,000
        Percent of homeless persons who are employed 25%

        Percent of people in a soup kitchen line who are children  20%
        Percent of homeless population that are Veterans / Vets   40%
        Percent of homeless women who claim domestic abuse as the reason for their homelessness 22% 

        I may be  writing statistics....  but as I write each number I'm thinking of the people behind that number.

        So I Stayed in the Van…

        In a quick but poignant Ted Talk, Becky Blanton describes how a  choice to live in a van on 'one long camping trip' for a year spiraled unexpectedly into homelessness, depression and profound insights on how we value others and ourselves, "I don't know when or how it happened, but the speed at which I went from being a talented writer and journalist to being a homeless woman living in a van took my breath away." 

        With the same limited resources as other people she saw at the homeless health clinic ("I just wasn't drunk or high") she felt like she was living their struggles...but they quickly noted that she didn't belong with them, "You have a job,. You have hope. The real homeless don't have hope." 

        Like about 25-40% of homeless persons-- she represented the invisible homeless population of people who are working but just can't make ends meet. Increasingly here in Saratoga County, at our soup kitchens and food pantries, in our emergency shelters and at Code Blue, we assist people who are employed but find themselves without food and a regular place to sleep at night. Often they too were surprised at how quickly their lives spiraled into homelessness... and more often than you'd imagine they leave  work and spend the night  in a shelter, or a tent, or like Becky, they stlept in their car in the heat of summer and the cold of winter .

        Tomorrow's blog post- some surprising statistics about homelessness