Category Archives: Domestic Violence

Food for Thought

Each week there is at the very least one story that highlights a person that has been sexually violated in some way. Whether it is in another country, or in our own backyard. This week we had the story of two ex football players from Vanderbilt, who were actually tried and convicted. Let’s hope they get a deserving sentence! For more on that check out the story here.

This story and similar ones that I stumble upon each week were echoed on Tumblr (also known as a black hole for me.)

SchoolSexual Assault

It seems like Vanderbilt was fairly proactive, which is great, but that is more of a gem in a sea of crap. The way schools handle sexual assaults has been a big point of contention for me, but seeing this photo just drove it home. If someone cheats on exam or paper, there is usually little leniency for the perpetrator, but if someone is sexually assaulted, the administrations conjure up excuses, move heaven and earth, hell too? in order to justify the actions that took place. Just let this sink in for a bit.

This little gem popped up on my feed too:

Source

There is so much truth here.

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

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.

 

We Can Do Better

Violence Against Women

This video has been out for a bit, but I still think it is something that is important to discuss, and will continue to be important to discuss for quite sometime.   Jackson Katz brings up a point that I think a lot of people who are close to domestic, sexual, and relationship violence, have muddled with over and over again: Why is this solely on me? Why is the perpetrator not even mentioned? Why are my actions/history being questioned? Notice where all the focus is not being directed?

He helps present some clarity to why this happens, but also addresses steps to fixing it, which seems to be a rarity as of late. He openly states how pervasive victim blaming is in our society.  I know there are so many critics who hate that term, but I would like to ask, what else would you like to call it when someone is attacked, and then they are asked a plethora of questions to figure out what they were doing to attract this negative (violent)  attention.

Katz made my day by using sentence structure to demonstrate how men are often erased from the discussion, and thus placing the responsibility on the victim.   He writes out five sentences:

“John beat Mary”

“Mary was beaten by John”

“Mary was beaten”

“Mary was battered”

“Mary is a battered woman”

This reminds me of a poetry workshop, where a professor said, when you try to convey your message, make sure you are using the words effectively. If you can make a situation active, do so, by making it passive you take away some of the importance or shift the meaning behind what was intended.  What Katz is writing is not poetry, but the same could be said here.  With both our language, and the way we discuss things, we have changed John into an obsolete figure. By the time we get down to the end of the examples, we could ask, “John who?”

He also discusses the role institutions play in the overarching societal issue of sexual violence. I took a class on this, and the anecdotes were chilling and horrifying, especially when you read about the people who knew what was going on, and the pains that were taken to cover up these awful happenings.  Wouldn’t it be easier and better for society as a whole if we held people accountable and changed the way we talk, examine, and deal with these tragedies?

Katz called the role institutions play, a “leadership problem”, which is quite genius.  I am inclined to agree with him. There is a lack of leadership, of strong people in positions of power saying, “This is wrong.” Instead, we often they see them taking care of one another and trying to hide these horrible things that happen. It is apparent that they KNOW something is wrong, otherwise they would not go to the lengths they do in order to cover it up.

I like that he encourages us to work together to bring about change, and how he points out how our actions do indeed play an important role in the youths that witness these actions.

Overall, I think this was a wonderful piece, and hopefully it will inspire some people to lead.

 

Sexual Assault/ Domestic Violence / Stalking Awareness Training

Tomorrow one of our amazing police officers will be leading a training session with a member of SAVE to  help bring awareness and provide safety tips to situations surrounding Sexual Assault, domestic violence, and stalking.  A few weeks ago we had a great round table discussion about this, and this is being extended through this training and awareness program. Everyone is encouraged to attend, and become informed.

Here are some of the topics that will be discussed:

How to avoid sexual assaults, domestic, violence, and stalking

What to do if you are a victim

What to do if someone you know is a victim

Police guidance on relevant topics (i.e. emergency protective orders, police reporting, options, and more)

Resources in your community

I encourage you to come on out to the event it will be held on the Tyler Building in room 112.

Tuesday Round Table 10/8

We had a great discussion in  the Round Table, where we talked about stalking and domestic violence, and who the proper people are to go to on campus.

Both NOVA Cares and NOVA Sexual Assault Services came to speak with us;  these are the people to go see when you are in these kinds of situations or know someone else who is caught up in this kind of situation.  The ladies who are working with these programs are quite dedicated and will do everything in their power to help.

First I want to highlight NOVA Cares; I realize that their title is rather self explanatory, but it is still helpful to go over exactly what it is that they provide.

NOVA Cares is essentially a service that allows for the reporting of behavior that causes you concern. They listen to your concerns and do their best to identify the proper course of action. This service does its best to protect your identity, and there are ways to report anonymously.

NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) is another amazing service that is offered. The lady who works for this program is  pretty awesome. I have run into her work with other Sexual Assault Programs, and the level of dedication is outstanding.  Their pamphlet states their mission as:

“SAS”s mission is to provide educational outreach and free confidential support and services to any member of the NOVA family. We assist students as well as faculty, staff, and immediate family members, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.”

They too help connect you with other resources that might prove to be more helpful, depending on your situation.

The important thing to take from this is that these people are here to help, and while it may be scary, and definitely difficult know that these resources are available.

I would also like to thank the people who stopped by and joined us for the round table; your commentary and questions always add to the conversation, and in some ways helped clarify the fine lines that can often pop up.

Their Sites:

NOVA Cares:  http://www.nvcc.edu/current-students/novacares/index.html

SAS: http://www.nvcc.edu/current-students/police/college-safety/sexual-assault/