Monday, June 16, 2014

Seeing is Understanding

This year Leadership Saratoga did a great service for DVRC. They gave us a tool so we can help teens and young adults understand sexual assault, not as an abstract social issue, but as it affects their lives. It's important they understand...so they aren't a victim of sexual assault...and so they don't  inadvertently cross a line where they're accused of sexual assault.

It's a bigger problem than we think:
  • 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually assaulted before they turn 18.
  • Teens account for about 50% of all sexual assault, most occurring in a home.
So why don't we know aware of the extent of this problem? Because fewer than 1/3 of teen sexual assaults are ever reported. Why? fear, shame, stigma, self-blame, uncertainty if they'll be believed, concern they'll be judged for drinking or using drugs before the assault occurred...disbelief that "this could happen to me."

Two years ago DVRC and the Ballston Area Community Allies created Rape or Regret. a movie of a mock rape trial, that we use to educate local youth about sexual assault. It follows a couple Ryan and Tonya at a party with underage drinking; they meet, flirt, kiss, and the night ends with a sexual encounter. She feels the sex was nonconsensual; he states she was drunk but interested and consenting. One night at a party and months later they're in court;  the audience plays the role of the jury deciding if this was rape.  When they see the movie unfolding, teens get the message about sexual assault. My goal is for every teen in our county and every parent of a teen to participate in Rape or Regret. Our challenge, we don't have enough staff to bring this movie to every teen in our county,. And that's where Leadership Saratoga stepped in. They created  a facilitator guide so DVRC could train volunteers to bring this movie to schools, youth groups, parent groups... they didn't just write a guide, they field tested it and saw the impact of Rape or Regret.  We're not teaching teens; we're not talking at them... we're letting them see the issue and talk about it themselves. It's powerful.

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