Carrying The Weight Together

 

Many of you heard about Emma Sulkowicz, and her art project / protest in regards to how her sexual assault charges were handled at Columbia University.  She walked around campus carrying an XL mattress because her attacker was never removed from the campus, and soon others joined her to help carry the mattress (the burden of being sexual assaulted). If you have not  heard about it, check it out here. It is really amazing what we as people can do when we stand together, and support one another. 

This is why Carrying the Weight Together is so amazing! On Oct. 29th,  those who are apart of college community are encouraged to grab a mattress and stand together in an effort to show support for those who have experienced sexual assault and domestic violence.

Round Table Tuesday – 10/7

We had another great round table this  Tuesday, where we had Sexual Assault Services  (SAS) come and talk with us about the Red Flag Campaign, and the services that are provided throughout the college.

People had some great questions about consent, and raised some great points about how culturally there is a great impact on how we interact with one another sexually. There was a lot of focus on how “no” is not usually the stopping point, but the beginning of a negotiation, and how problematic that becomes, especially when people get worn down, and feel as though there is no other option.

All of these questions and topics were answered and further clarified by the wonderful people who came to visit from SAS. They did a great job of hosting our round table, and I know I walked away with more knowledge under my belt.

SAS  Information Table
SAS Information Table

One of the biggest things I took away from this round table, is how fortunate we all are to have the support network  created by SAS.  Most institutions do not go to the lengths that these folks do in order to ensure that people get the help they need.

So here are some of  things  these amazing people do:

  • Provide support whether you are in a situation yourself, or trying to be there for family or friends who are in abusive relationships, sexual assaults, stalking
  • Anonymous reporting
  • All services are confidential
  • Always on call ( cell #, so you can text as well)
  • College -Wide
  • They can meet off-campus
  • They will go to appointments, court, exams, etc.

They provide support when people need it the most, and are helping to ensure that survivors are aware of all of their options.  We are quite fortunate to have this level of involvement, and people who invest so much time to make sure that survivors get help, and know that they are not alone.

SAS is under the NOVA Cares services here at  NOVA.  Here is there email: nova.sas@nvcc.edu and phone: 703-338-0834

Keep your calendars open for October 21 to join SAS for the  Clothesline Project

#RedFlagCampaign

Visit theRedFlagCampaign.org

For the entire month of October we will be celebrating the Red Flag Campaign, which brings attention to dating violence and works to prevent it from happening on college campuses.

Please join us tomorrow, 10/7 from 2-3 when Negar Ehsani, MSW,  our NOVA Sexual Assault and Trauma Specialist, comes by to chat with us. 

Hope to see you all there!

 

 

Yes Means Yes

The internet is buzzing about California passing the Affirmative Consent Law.   There are high emotions on either side, some feeling as though this is long overdue, while others feel as though the government is overstepping.

In California, the Senator Kevin de Leon introduced the Affirmative Consent Law that was recently passed by Governor Jerry Brown. This law is applicable to any higher education institution that receives state funding.  The law tries to better outline what  kind of protocols that should be in place,  as well as what programs and support need to be in place for survivors of sexual violence.

I am curious to see the effectiveness of this bill, and what, if anything happens to institutions who do not comply with this law.  There is a need for more resources available for survivors, and it is important to have a support network,  hopefully this law provides the push needed to get campuses into action and providing these much needed spaces.

It will be interesting to see how other states react to this, especially states with institutions that have higher rates of sexual violence.

There is a lot of back and forth going on about what the law is and isn’t, here is a link Affirmative Consent , where you  can take a look at the points, and what the campuses will have to do in order to comply.

One thing I have noticed in looking through comments, is that people are complaining that this places too much responsibility on the alleged attacker. In most cases the responsibility is on the victim of an attack, where there is the need to justify what they were doing, how much they were drinking, their sexual history, did they do anything to maybe give the faintest whiff of interest, etc.  I think it is alright if there is more responsibility placed on the person being accused, instead of someone trying justify why it was horrible for them to be attacked.

9/21 Round Table

This week we had a very powerful Round Table Discussion with Professor  Abebe Fekade, who talked about intimate partner violence.  Lately we have  heard a lot on this topic because it has been in the forefront of the news, but Professor Fekade wondered what can be done to implement a lasting change.  

During these highly publicized incidents there is often national commentary on the events that take place, and a frequent comment that is repeated, is “why did she not just leave?” or other comments that focus on what the victim could have done to avoid the situation, instead of addressing the larger issue of abuse, and how it is brushed aside in our society.

The past few weeks are a perfect example of how we as society are horrified by the actions of others, and basque in that horror for the days or week that it is in the news,  and go on with our lives until the next horror becomes the breaking news story.  There is a failure to sit down and question what is going on in our society, and why these things are happening, and what can be done to circumvent them.

Within the last few weeks we have had the video where Janay Palmer is punched by her fiance, the police officer who sexually assaulted 8 black women,   Hannah Graham the  missing UVA student, and just now, a news alert popped up that a man in Oklahoma beheaded a woman at work, and tried to kill another woman. Most of these stories will fade into news oblivion, but for these victims and their families that horror will stay with them.

It can be claimed that these incidents have nothing to do with one another, and that these separate acts of violence are committed by those that are deranged, and a not a reflection of a heavier burden that is weighing down on society. Our discussion, touched on how this burden is seen when there are cultural norms that suggest that abuse is something kept between partners (that is just how they are), or  that violence is a way of expressing love  and protection. This just normalizes this behavior, and places a large amount of responsibility on victims.  It is also trivializes genders, and places them into rigid roles, that provide an oversimplified explanation as to why violence occurs.

Our discussion did not end with all the answers as to what we can do to stop this, but we did talk about having a weekly discussion group that focuses on  intimate partner violence, a place where we discuss some of these issues, and maybe come up with a way to make some headway. One of the things we did all agree on was respect;  it may seem so simple, but it is often overlooked .  Respecting people as they are, and not placing rigid gender roles, or archetypal roles, could help us learn about others, as well as ourselves, and appreciate both the similarities and differences.

 

9/16 Round Table: Massage Therapy

Yesterday we had a great round table with Professor Nichole Danraj  about massage therapy, and some of the benefits that go along with it.  There are many people out there that are all about massages because they feel great. It is relaxing, and a nice way to pamper yourself or a loved one. 

Our own Professor Nichole Danraj coming in and talking about the benefits of massage therapy!
Our own Professor Nichole Danraj coming in and talking about the benefits of massage therapy!

Professor Danraj was able to give us an insider perspective on the 600 hrs of work that must be done in order to get certified, which when you think on it, is great. You don’t want someone working on your body that does not know what they’re doing, that can lead to more harm than good.  She directed us to a registry that provides a list of certified massage therapists, as well as useful  resources for those interested in joining the field.  Those can be found here:  American Massage Therapy Association

One of the topics she touched on, was how massage therapy has been shown to be beneficial for anxiety, depression,  PTSD ,wounded warriors, as well as being helpful for patients going through cancer treatments.   These are all areas where finding treatment can be difficult, and often cause more stress on top of the underlying  condition.  Having massage therapy as a way to reduce that stress, and help people being either more comfortable or healthier is amazing.

We had a great time, and I think we all left wanting to book a massage.  If you are looking to relieve some stress, head to the cafeteria tomorrow,  9/18 from  10- 2 for a chair massage. There will be sign-ups, so hurry quick so you don’t miss out!

 

Good News!

There has been a  lot of debate across the country about women’s bodies, and what everyone else thinks women should or should not be doing with them. In some cases this has resulted in states implementing laws that have limited the access to clinics that provide abortions. This is particularly a struggle for women with low-income, who have not been cut off from affordable female health care.

This is why it is good to see that one clinic is up in running again. According to an article on usnews.com , a Texas judge ruled against a piece of a  legislature that would make access to abortion clinics nearly impossible for women in southern Texas.

I realize there is a lot of focus on the fact that this a clinic that does abortion procedures, which is a hot button issue, but I think what people are missing at the heart of this, is that women have more access to  female healthcare.  Yes, women get abortions, but women also get pelvic exams, pap smears, birth control, and various other things on a more frequent basis. These things are rather important, and can be crucial in preventing serious problems later down the road.  It is also an important way that women can be aware of their bodies, and how different things function.

Ultimately, women should have the right to make the choice to do what they will with their bodies, but with laws like these popping up, that is becoming even more of an issue, and it is threatening basic women’s health as a result.  This is a step in the right direction, hopefully these women continue to have access to this clinic.