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The Video Replay That Changed Everything

Probably the most talked about opening season play didn't happen on the gridiron.
 
My family has been buzzing about the Giant's game tonight, but across the country football fans aren't taking about an opening kick off, but about an ending-- namely the Ravens terminating Ray Rice after video of his brutal attack of his then fiancée became public. Sports commentators (who aren't generally a fragile or easily rattled types) saw the video today and are using words like: brutal, horrendous, disturbing and gruesome. Kyle Flood, football coach at Rice's alma mater, Rutgers University, said, ""There is nothing that can justify what I saw on that video."


 
While the NFL was late to the game in taking this incident seriously, they're stepping up. They're also accurately sighting down the field to the true cause of the attack as well as  the solution.:
  •  The cause? It's not about couples counseling, or mediation, or consideration of whatever actions by Rice's fiancée may have preceded the attack; it's about Rice's conscious decision, the choice he made,  to hammer his fist into her face. 
  • The solution? Firm policies connecting off field behaviors to the Code of Conduct and the League's image and credibility. And clear consequences for violating the ethical code.
I'm still left with questions:
  • Before making the original 2 game suspension video, the NFL said it had seen footage from inside the elevator, but today said this was new video. It's a big jump from a 'one time incident' to a 'brutal attack'. I know the NFL has met with advocates and seriously listened and learned about relationship and sexual abuse. But could they have viewed a brutal assault just weeks ago and had such a different reaction... or was this new video footage so different from what they'd watched before?
  • Players and coaches are stepping up as role models- talking about character on and off the field. How can we utilize their words and examples to  inspire and create change?  Let's make this a priority.
  • I wonder how many domestic violence victims are watching as a  complicated relationship plays out in the public? How many think about Janay, about how her life and her love have become  water cooler conversation across the country. How many are wondering what it's like  for her tonight as Rice's career and success, probably something he's dreamed about since he was a kid, have changed irreversibly. How many don't want to watch that video, because they know too well the feelings of fear, anger, confusion as the fist of someone you love barrels toward your face. How many keep their own suffering private, don't tell anyone, and would do anything to avoid the exposure Janay is enduring now. I've chosen not to view the video.  I truly believe that the NFL's decision (albeit belated) to take a serious stance against relationship and sexual violence will have a ripple effect that will be a catalyst for change, not just in sports,  but cutting across all aspects of our society. Yet as a victim advocate, I'm also acutely aware, that we've had to peer into one woman's darkest hour, without her permission, to find this catalyst.


 

The Video Replay That Changed Everything

Probably the most talked about opening season play didn't happen on the gridiron.
 
My family has been buzzing about the Giant's game tonight, but across the country football fans aren't taking about an opening kick off, but about an ending-- namely the Ravens terminating Ray Rice after video of his brutal attack of his then fiancée became public. Sports commentators (who aren't generally a fragile or easily rattled types) saw the video today and are using words like: brutal, horrendous, disturbing and gruesome. Kyle Flood, football coach at Rice's alma mater, Rutgers University, said, ""There is nothing that can justify what I saw on that video."


 
While the NFL was late to the game in taking this incident seriously, they're stepping up. They're also accurately sighting down the field to the true cause of the attack as well as  the solution.:
  •  The cause? It's not about couples counseling, or mediation, or consideration of whatever actions by Rice's fiancée may have preceded the attack; it's about Rice's conscious decision, the choice he made,  to hammer his fist into her face. 
  • The solution? Firm policies connecting off field behaviors to the Code of Conduct and the League's image and credibility. And clear consequences for violating the ethical code.
I'm still left with questions:
  • Before making the original 2 game suspension video, the NFL said it had seen footage from inside the elevator, but today said this was new video. It's a big jump from a 'one time incident' to a 'brutal attack'. I know the NFL has met with advocates and seriously listened and learned about relationship and sexual abuse. But could they have viewed a brutal assault just weeks ago and had such a different reaction... or was this new video footage so different from what they'd watched before?
  • Players and coaches are stepping up as role models- talking about character on and off the field. How can we utilize their words and examples to  inspire and create change?  Let's make this a priority.
  • I wonder how many domestic violence victims are watching as a  complicated relationship plays out in the public? How many think about Janay, about how her life and her love have become  water cooler conversation across the country. How many are wondering what it's like  for her tonight as Rice's career and success, probably something he's dreamed about since he was a kid, have changed irreversibly. How many don't want to watch that video, because they know too well the feelings of fear, anger, confusion as the fist of someone you love barrels toward your face. How many keep their own suffering private, don't tell anyone, and would do anything to avoid the exposure Janay is enduring now. I've chosen not to view the video.  I truly believe that the NFL's decision (albeit belated) to take a serious stance against relationship and sexual violence will have a ripple effect that will be a catalyst for change, not just in sports,  but cutting across all aspects of our society. Yet as a victim advocate, I'm also acutely aware, that we've had to peer into one woman's darkest hour, without her permission, to find this catalyst.


 

"Rape is a crime without consequence — except for the victim,”




Six out of 10 rape victims don't report rape. 
The vast majority of rapists never sped a single night in jail.


Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) spoke before the  Senate Judiciary Committee about how to fix a system that stigmatizes and re-traumatizes victims, yet rarely holds offenders accountable. Without consequences sexual predators are  commit more assaults. 





More and more, from college campuses, to courtrooms to  military judicial proceedings, we're wrestling with the biases, misconceptions, and inadequacies of our society's ability to effectively prosecute sexual violence. At least the public is increasingly aware of how much we're falling short in providing even a measure of justice for victims, but we've got a long way to go to fix our justice system.

Berkowitz pointed to just how ineffective our court system is at responding to rape, "In America today, rape is a crime without consequences--except for the victim."

Today I read a news article that highlighted a baffling example of unexpected consequences for a statutory rape victim. Almost a decade after the sexual violation, the rape has insinuated itself into his life again... and drained his bank account.

"Rape is a crime without consequence — except for the victim,”




Six out of 10 rape victims don't report rape. 
The vast majority of rapists never sped a single night in jail.


Scott Berkowitz, president of RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network) spoke before the  Senate Judiciary Committee about how to fix a system that stigmatizes and re-traumatizes victims, yet rarely holds offenders accountable. Without consequences sexual predators are  commit more assaults. 





More and more, from college campuses, to courtrooms to  military judicial proceedings, we're wrestling with the biases, misconceptions, and inadequacies of our society's ability to effectively prosecute sexual violence. At least the public is increasingly aware of how much we're falling short in providing even a measure of justice for victims, but we've got a long way to go to fix our justice system.

Berkowitz pointed to just how ineffective our court system is at responding to rape, "In America today, rape is a crime without consequences--except for the victim."

Today I read a news article that highlighted a baffling example of unexpected consequences for a statutory rape victim. Almost a decade after the sexual violation, the rape has insinuated itself into his life again... and drained his bank account.

Why is that Girl Carrying a Mattress?

Emma Sulkowicz carrying her mattress around campusOn her first day of her sophomore year Emma was raped...in her dorm ... in her own bed.  She didn't report it, but later found that the same person had also raped two other women. The victims tell us they feel the university discourages them from reporting. One study of college campuses indicates that men on campus who are perpetrators are most often repeat offenders, averaging  6 sexual assaults.


But back to Emma- She tells us that when she goes to sleep in her bed at night, she doesn't sleep peacefully because she's lying in the same place she was raped. When she gets up and goes to classes she doesn't feel safe either because he assailant is still on campus. He'll be sitting in the bleacher's with her when she graduates.The campus judicial board (like many) wasn't trained in investigating sexual assault, the person taking notes on Emma's report missed facts, and the judiciary committee did not have information about the other women who reported that he had also raped them. That rape changed Emma's whole college experience:


"Every day I'm afraid of leaving my room."
"As long as he's on campus with me he can continue to harass me."

Emma carries what happened to her that night with her everywhere, everyday on campus...For her senior thesis she's developed a project to show everyone what it's like to carry this with her.

We have to do more to prevent campus rape, to support victims, and to hold offenders accountable.

"As many as 1 in 4 women
are sexually assaulted in college.
Most people think
 zero sexual assaults reported
 on campus is a good thing...
actually that should be a red flag." 
Julie Zelinger

Why is that Girl Carrying a Mattress?

Emma Sulkowicz carrying her mattress around campusOn her first day of her sophomore year Emma was raped...in her dorm ... in her own bed.  She didn't report it, but later found that the same person had also raped two other women. The victims tell us they feel the university discourages them from reporting. One study of college campuses indicates that men on campus who are perpetrators are most often repeat offenders, averaging  6 sexual assaults.


But back to Emma- She tells us that when she goes to sleep in her bed at night, she doesn't sleep peacefully because she's lying in the same place she was raped. When she gets up and goes to classes she doesn't feel safe either because he assailant is still on campus. He'll be sitting in the bleacher's with her when she graduates.The campus judicial board (like many) wasn't trained in investigating sexual assault, the person taking notes on Emma's report missed facts, and the judiciary committee did not have information about the other women who reported that he had also raped them. That rape changed Emma's whole college experience:


"Every day I'm afraid of leaving my room."
"As long as he's on campus with me he can continue to harass me."

Emma carries what happened to her that night with her everywhere, everyday on campus...For her senior thesis she's developed a project to show everyone what it's like to carry this with her.

We have to do more to prevent campus rape, to support victims, and to hold offenders accountable.

"As many as 1 in 4 women
are sexually assaulted in college.
Most people think
 zero sexual assaults reported
 on campus is a good thing...
actually that should be a red flag." 
Julie Zelinger

Better Solutions than Nail Polish

Tuesday is Good News Day


In response to my August 26th post about date rape drug detecting nail polish, a reader sent me an article  she's read recently that offered   11 Ways to Solve Rape Better than Nail Polish. It's well worth the read. Elizabeth Plank hits the nail on the head with all her suggestions, and love it we're going beyond these news articles to have serious, deep conversations about these important issues.. I agree that by focusing our efforts on conversations with women about how to be safe we've been talking the wrong approach in rape prevention; to prevent rape let's educate boys and men about consent, let's hold offenders accountable, and reduce victim blaming. If a pretty manicure gives women helps women feel safer as we're working on the bigger issues, that's OK too.


So probably at this point you're thinking , "Where's the good news in all this?"


I predict we're approaching a tipping point where in social change. The NFL recently sent a strong statement about  relationship and sexual abuse. Every day I read articles questioning how assault victims are treated on  campuses and in courts. From the local papers, to the NY Times, to ESPN, there's serious coverage about domestic violence and sexual assault... and the focus is on the actions of the perpetrators. After 35+ years of advocates assisting (and often defending) victims, our society now seems ready tackle the social norms that 'excuse' sexual violence and redefining the problem. Instead of asking 'How to we prevent victims?' let's ask but 'How do we prevent assaults?'  As John Dewey said, "A problem well put is half solved."


Taking a critical step toward a solution... that's good news.








Related posts: http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2014/08/we-need-more-red-pens.html

Better Solutions than Nail Polish

Tuesday is Good News Day


In response to my August 26th post about date rape drug detecting nail polish, a reader sent me an article  she's read recently that offered   11 Ways to Solve Rape Better than Nail Polish. It's well worth the read. Elizabeth Plank hits the nail on the head with all her suggestions, and love it we're going beyond these news articles to have serious, deep conversations about these important issues.. I agree that by focusing our efforts on conversations with women about how to be safe we've been talking the wrong approach in rape prevention; to prevent rape let's educate boys and men about consent, let's hold offenders accountable, and reduce victim blaming. If a pretty manicure gives women helps women feel safer as we're working on the bigger issues, that's OK too.


So probably at this point you're thinking , "Where's the good news in all this?"


I predict we're approaching a tipping point where in social change. The NFL recently sent a strong statement about  relationship and sexual abuse. Every day I read articles questioning how assault victims are treated on  campuses and in courts. From the local papers, to the NY Times, to ESPN, there's serious coverage about domestic violence and sexual assault... and the focus is on the actions of the perpetrators. After 35+ years of advocates assisting (and often defending) victims, our society now seems ready tackle the social norms that 'excuse' sexual violence and redefining the problem. Instead of asking 'How to we prevent victims?' let's ask but 'How do we prevent assaults?'  As John Dewey said, "A problem well put is half solved."


Taking a critical step toward a solution... that's good news.








Related posts: http://maggiefronk.blogspot.com/2014/08/we-need-more-red-pens.html

Owning My Own Double Standard

I've been blogging a lot about sexual assault during the past month. It's a topic I think about often this time of year, as I know that college is starting and the risk of sexual assault is at its highest during the first 6 weeks of school, especially for freshmen and sophomore women. 

My previous post explored our social norms that contribute to victim blaming. We all contribute to these social norms. I remember many years ago, two events that happened the same night that really opened my eyes about my own biases; a tragic stranger rape and my husband's car breaking down. Here are the stories, that have since been intertwined in my memory.

I had to work late so my hubby was given the task of attending the school open house and also dropping my boys off for Scouts and picking them up. The parent open house went fine, right on schedule, which gave him about 2 minutes to dash over and pick the boys up from Scouts (and being on time for pick up was emphasized regularly to parents). Looked like a Dad win for making things happen... until he put the key in the ignition and the instead of the motor vrooming, there was a fatalistic 'click' and then silence. A couple more tries and it was clear that dashing wasn't an option. He left a message on my cell to pick them all up at the church, then plodded off on foot to Scouts. Did I mention it was dark and raining and about a 10 minute walk an, by now,  he was already late? A couple of minutes into his soggy journey, a nice man pulled over and asked if he needed a lift He explained the situation and this Good Samaritan got him there relatively dry and not too late. When he told me about it in my car on the ride home  I commented on how lucky he was that this nice man came along.

The following morning my staff read in the paper about a stranger rape; the woman's car had broken down on the road and a man offered her a ride into town. He had other plans though. He pulled off the road, raped her then dumped her into a ditch in the rain. We were horrified reading the article. Then one of us said, "This is so awful, why would she get into a car with a man she didn't know?" We all nodded. We weren't blaming her, but in our collective unconscious I think we all heard echoes of our mothers' voices warning us of the dangers that all women subconsciously factor into our daily decisions. 

Why was my response to my husband accepting a ride from a stranger on a dark, rainy road different than that of the woman making the same choice? I never would have thought I subscribed to a double standard, but the juxtaposition of two very similar incidents made me keenly aware of my own biases...and since then I've tried to consider 
how these social norms color (or cloud) our views about sexual assault. 


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