Wellspring - Ending relationship and sexual abuse in Saratoga County


News & Events

Campus Responses to Sexual Assaults

By now the NY Times coverage of Hobart College's blundering treatment of a sexual assault is widespread. The assault occurred just two weeks after Anna, an eighteen year old freshman, stepped foot on campus. The article describes how friends became concerned when Anna, who had been drinking, went missing.  When they found her, she was bent over a pool table as a football player appeared to be having sex with her as numerous others watched, laughed and took videos-- later she couldn't recall that incident, but did recall being raped earlier that night in a residence. A sexual assault nurse 's records indicated “intercourse with either multiple partners, multiple times or that the intercourse was very forceful.”

The national that media coverage of this case has given us an unprecedented glimpse into campus judicial responses to sexual assaults, and raises serious questions about how campuses handle sexual violence...and what more can be done to prevent assaults.

In a landmark report, The Sexual Victimization of College Women, funded by the US Department of Justice, University of Cincinnati, Professors Bonnie Fisher and Francis Cullen researched campus policies to shed  light on how effectively campuses respond to sexual violence. The report, published in 2002, (admittedly when today's incoming freshmen were just  learning how to read and add) noted significant findings that can guide policy and prevention:

  • Remember that first responders aren't the only responders. "Only 3.2 percent of rape victims and 2.3 percent of attempted rape victims reported to campus authorities...Although women were reluctant to report their victimization to police and campus officials, they were likely to disclose their experience to non-officials, especially friends...this insight could affect sexual assault prevention and education programs on college campuses by revealing the importance of guiding students on what to do if a friend discloses a sexual victimization to them." 
  • Stalking was surprisingly common affecting 13% of the female college students sampled ans lasting on average 60 days, yet there's little awareness or even discussion on campuses about stalking. Given that stalking causes psychological distress and can escalate to other forms of violence, it may warrant more attention.
  • And perhaps most notable-- most sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim and happen at night in residence, often with alcohol as a factor.Getting this message out to student right away on campus is essential.


We Need More Red Pens

Yes there's a strong correlation between drinking and sexual victimization. However, the consequence of overindulgence should be a wicked hangover the next day... not rape. Why do we  blame or shame victims of sexual violence instead of focusing on the aggressor's actions? An important edit with a red pen really put this into perspective.

"Words and ideas can change the world" Robin Williams

Tuesday is Good News Day

Today I was  having a hard time writing about good news related to the work of DVRC. With every mouse click I found stories about college sexual assaults, football players and MMA fighters battering their wives, and...  Robin Williams died. Cruising the top  stories at 5 am on my laptop screen,  it seemed like a hard day to be optimistic. But with a few more minutes reflection,  I was struck by one commonality- along with the bad news, the Internet provides links to support services, calls for increased awareness, and a collective voice to not allow tragedies to go unheeded.

Technology sometimes brings us information overload and compassion overload, but it's also a lifeline for people who feel alone, hopeless, and confused. And many reporters who are covering stories of tragedies are keenly aware that there are readers out there who are suffering too; through their writing they help us to understand the suffering, inspire us to reach out when we see someone in need, and challenge us to look past the bad news for solutions.

So if the bad news has you down, here's some of the positive takeaways from recent news stories:
  • While we're teaching our young athletes how to sprint, tackle and block, let's also teach them that strength doesn't equate with violence. There are programs to develop character and instill leadership values that on and off the field. Contact DVRC to find out how  to get a program for your team.
  • The issue of sexual assault on college campuses is a hot topic now (and with good reason as students are preparing to head to school-- did you know the first 4 semesters on campus present the highest risk of rape for college women?)   Despite valiant efforts to promote awareness that "no" means no, sexual assault continues. California lawmakers are proposing new legislation  requiring colleges to adopt policies that require consent, whether verbal or through clear nonverbal indicators.  So  the focus of determining consent isn't on a demonstrating clear refusal (which can place the burden of proof on a sexual assault victim), but rather for both partners to clearly communicate and receive the OK to proceed.
  • Robin Williams death has evoked grieving across the country and across generations.  He made us laugh, made us think, made us look deeper into ourselves, made us envision a better world... and  did I mention made us laugh uproariously for decades! For the millions who have enjoyed his talents but never met him, his loss is still profound and personal because he struck a chord within us. And the voice that resonated enough to wake up Vietnam is now bringing attention to the seriousness of depression. (If  you need help contact the Saratoga County Samaritans Suicide Prevention Center - 518- 689-4673 or  Saratoga County Crisis Line - 518- 584-9030)
Our  ever connected world exposes us  to the trivial and the tragic, but I through it we can also be  inspired to take responsibility for creating change and finding solutions.

No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.
Robin Williams

... and  if all else fails the Internet is full of cute animal videos like these 2 red pandas wrestling.




What Choices Would You Make?

On Monday July 28 DVRC hosted another of our powerful ‘In Her Shoes’ program. Almost a dozen participants, including judges, lawyers, and local community leaders, spent several hours at the DVRC Office, facing the difficult decisions someone experiencing an abusive relationship must make, as well as the ramifications of those decisions.  The program gave the participants a glimpse into the struggles of someone experiencing an abusive relationship, and the role of a community in addressing this issue.

The scenarios in In Her Shoes are based on true stories―the real-life experiences of women with abusive partners. At DVRC we are aware that these same experiences also happen to men although they are not featured in the program.  In Her Shoes is a simulation to help participants understand, in a very compressed period of time, the ups and downs that victims of domestic violence experience over the course of many years.

The goals of the program are to increase awareness of the struggles that victims with abusive partners face; to illustrate that domestic violence is a community tragedy, not a private problem; to show that we all have a role in the movement to end domestic violence. Many social workers, politicians, and police are already familiar with their role. In Her Shoes illustrates that there’s a role, as well, for office workers, hairdressers, church-goers, and relatives, in understanding and solving this issue. We hope the program will encourage participants to think creatively about the ways we can work to end domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence constantly try to keep safe, but many institutions, systems and people make it difficult. By the end of the program we hope that everyone who attends will have a better understanding of the struggle that victims face daily and will join us in our mission to end domestic violence in Saratoga County.

 

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Study This Before Heading to College

College begins in just a few week. While it's not time to hit the books yet, here's a few facts to study before school starts:
Students experience some of the highest rates of sexual assault
  • Between 20% and 25% of women will experience a completed and/or attempted rape during their college career. US Dep't  of Justice
  • College freshmen and sophomore are at greater risk of  sexual assault. 84% of the women who reported sexually coercive experiences  the incident occurred during their first four semesters on campus (An Examination of Sexual Violence Against College Women)
  • 90% of women know the person who sexually assaulted or raped them. US Dep't  of Justice 2000
  • 90% of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol (National Collegiate Date and Acquaintance Rape Statistics)
  • The majority of rapes occur in residences.

The key things to remember:
  • Sexual assault is very prevalent in college.
  • The victim usually knows the assailant.
  • Alcohol is often a key factor.
  • If someone is too intoxicated to give consent... it's rape.
  • If you have been sexually assaulted, you are not alone and you are not to blame. There is help both on campus and through your local rape crisis agency.
If you or someone you know is raped:
  • The decisions are yours to make:
    • You do not have to report to law enforcement to get help.
    • You can have a sexual assault forensic exam (SAFE exam) to collect the evidence now, but don't have to make  any decisions about reporting. The evidence will be kept safe while you think about your decision.
    • To preserve the evidence, avoid showering, urinating, brushing you teeth, eating or drinking.
You are not to blame for the assault.
A rape crisis advocate can help you to understand your options and begin the healing process.


In Saratoga County call
DVRC's 24 hour hotline at
518-584-8188.



    I’m Glad They Made the Connection

    The Princeton Review listed Syracuse University as the nation's #1 party school this year. Every year these decidedly unscientific rankings cause a buzz of attention, some welcome, and some cringe-worthy. These rankings can be a momentary PR nightmare, but can also be the impetus for  taking a serious look at  college  life beyond academics.


    An editorial in response to Syracuse's ignominious recognition, notes Chancellor Syverud's admonition to faculty and staff to take seriously activities that derail student success, with high risk alcohol and drug use being the priority concern. Even more importantly, the editorial draws the link between alcohol us and sexual victimization,
    "It would be easier to laugh off the party school ranking
    if not for another troubling crosscurrent on U.S. campuses -
    the issue of how colleges and universities handle reports of sexual assault.
    A White House task force recently said
    one in five women are sexually abused while at college,
    and that the abuse often occurs while women were incapacitated due to alcohol or drug use.
    While excessive drinking is never an excuse
    for perpetrator to commit rape
    or a reason to blame a victim of rape
    - no always means no --
     its role in sexual assault cannot be ignored."

    I'm glad they're taking this conversation to a higher plateau than whether the school is a party school to making the connection of a culture of alcohol excess and it link to sexual victimization. It's an issue that's increasingly of concern on college campuses. The summer vacation is winding to an end and many families are preparing to pack the car and take their son or daughter to college (some for the first time away from home), so this week's blog posts will focus on issues relating to college, safety and campus sexual assault. With all the new experiences college affords, sexual assault shouldn't be one. Before you pack up the car packing up the car, set aside time to have an open and honest talk about how to stay safe.

    I’m Glad They Made the Connection

    The Princeton Review listed Syracuse University as the nation's #1 party school this year. Every year these decidedly unscientific rankings cause a buzz of attention, some welcome, and some cringe-worthy. These rankings can be a momentary PR nightmare, but can also be the impetus for  taking a serious look at  college  life beyond academics.


    An editorial in response to Syracuse's ignominious recognition, notes Chancellor Syverud's admonition to faculty and staff to take seriously activities that derail student success, with high risk alcohol and drug use being the priority concern. Even more importantly, the editorial draws the link between alcohol us and sexual victimization,
    "It would be easier to laugh off the party school ranking
    if not for another troubling crosscurrent on U.S. campuses -
    the issue of how colleges and universities handle reports of sexual assault.
    A White House task force recently said
    one in five women are sexually abused while at college,
    and that the abuse often occurs while women were incapacitated due to alcohol or drug use.
    While excessive drinking is never an excuse
    for perpetrator to commit rape
    or a reason to blame a victim of rape
    - no always means no --
     its role in sexual assault cannot be ignored."

    I'm glad they're taking this conversation to a higher plateau than whether the school is a party school to making the connection of a culture of alcohol excess and it link to sexual victimization. It's an issue that's increasingly of concern on college campuses. The summer vacation is winding to an end and many families are preparing to pack the car and take their son or daughter to college (some for the first time away from home), so this week's blog posts will focus on issues relating to college, safety and campus sexual assault. With all the new experiences college affords, sexual assault shouldn't be one. Before you pack up the car packing up the car, set aside time to have an open and honest talk about how to stay safe.

    Their Courage Helps Us Understand

    Tuesday is Good News Day


    Think quickly. Who do you know who  has experienced domestic violence or dating violence?

    You may think of a friend or relative. Perhaps you yourself have been (or are in) and abusive relationship. But many people will say, "I don't know anyone who has been a victim of  domestic violence.". For most, if not all of these folks, I think they do, and just don't know it.

    Many survivors of domestic violence, don't talk about it when they're in it... or when it's over.  So if they aren't telling us, how do we recognize them?   Might I suggest we look for :
    • someone who is a confident, intelligent college-educated beauty pageant winner, or perhaps
    • a young woman who is a talented professional singer, or
    • a charismatic, articulate CNN news anchor?
    I'd like to recognize the courage of three women who have told  their stories of being abused by a partner. I know how hard it is to tell anyone, even in hushed privacy, what it's like to be victimized by someone you  love. Yet these women have told their stories publicly so that we all can understand domestic violence... so that other women will recognize abuse and seek help... so that they can put a face on the social issue of domestic violence.

    So I'd like to applaud:

    Kira Kazantsev, 2014 Miss New York State who has tirelessly spoken out to raise awareness of domestic violence during her participation in the Miss America pageant, speaking out about the isolation, confusion and self-blame when she realized she was in an abusive relationship,
     " In college, I started dating a person who seemed great.  
    He made me feel special. 
    But six months later, when I looked around, I was isolated
    from my friends and family and he had become my whole world."


    Jasmine Villegas whose music video 'Didn't Mean It' reenacts  the violent physical and psychological abuse she  experienced in a dating relationship,
    "Fortunately for me, I was able to get out relatively early,
     and now I want to let other women know that
    you don’t have to feel ashamed or embarrassed
     about getting help"



    Carol Costello, who in speaking about  the Ray Rice incident, told about a college boyfriend who in "a jealous rage threw me against the wall knocking me out.
     I always thought I was a physically strong woman,
    but I could not defend myself against a man who outweighed me by 70 pounds."


    It's difficult to overcome the stigma, self-blame and humiliation of being abused by a romantic partner, but these three women have had the courage to speak out. Domestic violence is a crime that happens behind closed doors; with their courage we are bringing the issue out of the shadows.
    

    Singing It with Courage and Confidence

    The song title is Didn't Mean It but singer Jasmine Villega means every word she sings.

    You might think it's an odd choice for an entertainer to make a music video in which she's slapped, beaten and dragged, pleading for mercy. And you'd be even more surprised when she tells you this is her story. Now that's courage!

    Jasmine Villegas's message at the start of her music video offers hope to other young women who are experiencing dating violence, "Never feel embarrassed or ashamed of any trials you have endured. Grow from it and never look back. You are not alone."

    And those last words are so true. In fact, one in three teens is a victim of dating violence, but only about 1/3 of those teens ever report it. And, without support to overcome the abuse,  that experience can affect their future. According to the Center for Disease Control, "About 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 7 men who ever experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age."

    Learn how to recognize an abusive relationship at loveisrespect.org. They've got some great tools  like  a quick discussion on how to tell if those frequent text messages are about Checking In or Checking Up? and a quick quiz to see if you've been a good partner or perhaps have shown some abusive behaviors... and if so, what to do about it



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