Monday, March 23, 2015

Men's Issue? Women's Issues? Who is Going to Solve it?

The closing line of an article in USA Today ends with a quote  from a former NFL athlete,
"Money cannot buy the women we love
everyday security, which men take for granted. So, it's going to take strong, accountable men to educate young boys
and influence other men
to deal with women respectfully, honorably and fairly at all times."

Unfortunately these inspirational words ring discordantly when contrasted with Darren Sharper's behavior. He accepted a plea bargain in connection with 9 rape charges against him in four states. We need to do more than pay lip service to respect and fairness.

Domestic violence and sexual assault have too long been seen as women's issues. In an engaging and  thought-provoking Ted Talk longtime advocate Jackson Katz challenges us to look at these  as men's issues and leadership issues.  Listen to the video --  what's your role in solving this? 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Here's the map... and a someone to guide you too

I was just reading  Michael James' blog post Essential Survival Guide for Victims of Domestic Violence. This quick read is a comprehensive checklist for how to increase safety while in the abusive relationship, when leaving and afterwards--basically a roadmap to help you get from wherever you're starting to where you want to be safely.

What really struck me was the sheer number of factors a domestic violence survivor has to think about... and how each of  these steps can emotionally charged, and temporarily upend normal daily life. Michael ended with the assurance "never think you are alone" and gave resources to help a survivor. I'd say read the guide, and call your local domestic violence agency right away. The advocates there can help you think through your choices, your safety plan, and your feelings. Even with the map in front of you, it's comforting to have an experienced guide on your journey.

In Saratoga County, if  you or someone you know
is experiencing relationship or sexual abuse
call us M-F at (518)583-0280, or
our 24-hour hotline at (518)584-8188.

We can help.
All services are free and confidential. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Saratoga Reads... Fiction that's Real and Relevant Today

This year's Saratoga Reads book is The Round House. If you haven't read it yet, rush to the nearest  bookstore and buy a copy. It's a riveting, coming-of-age story that gives a glimpse into Native American life. I'm reminded of the book this week as this week tribes will be able to claim jurisdiction when non-native persons commit violence against women on tribal lands. Why is this so important?

Relationship and  sexual assault are serious problems on reservations.  Three out of five Native women have been assaulted in their lifetimes, and 34 percent will be raped, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

While any time is a great time to curl up with Louise Erdrich's suspenseful and profound exploration of manhood, honor, violation and recovery, the book is so relevant today as it gives  insights into why the new provisions in the Violence Against Women Act are so important to for Native American women.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Don't Make Tea for an Unnconscious Person

The issue of consent can be so confounding, tricky, frustrating, problematic. When explaining consent people say, “but what if?” or “but that’s not realistic in the moment.” When there’s an allegation of sexual misconduct...it’s often a ‘he said-she said’ situation. Both parties feel that they are being treated unfairly.

Why is this so hard?

Today a friend sent me an article that first  made me laugh, then made me think. It’s as good a way to explain consent as any I’ve heard. And the most important message is- it's OK to change your mind and decide you don't want a cup of tea after all.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Good and Horrible Should Only Exist in Nursery Rhymes

When I was a child my mom taught me a nursery rhyme about a little girl with a little curl on her forehead, "...and when she was good she was very very good. And when she was bad she was horrible." As I read Marissa Alexander's account of the abusive relationship that resulted in her being sentenced to 20 years' in prison for defending herself against an assault, I hear the haunting echoes of that nursery rhyme.  As she describes the constant bound and rebound of emotions, thoughts, and actions, I also hear echoes of the stories the advocates at Wellspring hear from survivors every day. It's so simple to see the red flags and the steady escalation of abuse when you're reading someone else's story, but when someone you love is treating you this way, it's too easy to get caught in between these extremes.Perhaps her words can help someone else identify the patterns in their own relationship...before horrible  gets worse.

Rico and I had a lot of chemistry. 
When our relationship was good, it was excellent. When it was bad, it was really bad. 
In the beginning, there was behavior I used to interpret as affection, like, He wants to know where I’m going and be with me all the time because he loves me
Suddenly, he turned into the kind of person who would clock me when I would just be going to the grocery store. 
Later that year, Rico beat me so badly I ended up getting a restraining order against him. But then we started seeing each other again. [Editor’s Note: A criminal charge stemming from this incident was subsequently dropped after Alexander decided not to proceed with the case.]
 It’s embarrassing. I’m strong and determined and I had never experienced a relationship like this. 
So every time something bad happened, I would rationalize it 
and give Rico the benefit of the doubt. 
Or we would break up and he’d come back looking like a puppy dog, all lovey-dovey.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What do Governor Cuomo and Whoopi Goldberg Have in Common?

Recently Governor Andrew Cuomo launched the Enough is Enough campaign to reduce sexual violence on college campuses in New York State. He's calling for standards to provide support and justice to victims and is championing efforts to  address the root causes of sexual violence on campuses. While the impetus for the campaign is the shocking reality that New York State has more colleges being investigated for their handling of these cases than any other state in the US, he's looking to create new  policies that place NYS colleges as models  of innovation and excellence in their response to sexual violence.

He's not alone in saying that this is the time and place to demonstrate a better response. It's  time to say, "Enough." today Whoopi Goldberg joined him in speaking out against campus sexual assault.  You might be surprised by some of the statistics...like  about the numbers 5,000, 5% and 80-90%; click here to find out more.