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Breaking down Stigma: Commonly Held Misconceptions about Human Sexual Trafficking

January is human trafficking awareness month, a month dedicated to shedding lig4178c5d51465df87b04e8ca305288ec6.pnght on issues that victims and survivors face in order for our society to better advocate for and understand individuals affected by human trafficking.

Over the past few years, Tri-Valley Haven has been working to better support survivors of human sexual trafficking. This has involved collaborative meetings, trainings, webinars, presentations, and discussions with law enforcement, partnering agencies, district attorneys, advocates, volunteers, community members and more. Through our experiences in doing so, we have identified a few commonly held beliefs that can be very stigmatizing to individuals affected by trafficking. Below, you will find some of these beliefs and the truth behind them.
BELIEF: “Trafficking only happens to [insert a specific gender, ethnicity, or social class].”
TRUTH: This is a vast generalization. When looking at trafficking statistics, this misconception may appear to true. Victims of sexual trafficking are most often females. Victims are most often individuals of color. Exploiters (pimps) are most often individuals of color too. Victims and exploiters are most often from the lower socioeconomic stratas. However, further examination of this reveals the truth.

There are many males are victims of trafficking that are included in the statistical data. A reason women report more often than men may very well be because women are more affected, but, it may also be due to the stigma that surrounds being sexually exploited and being a male. Males are often harmed by the societal expectation and gender role that tells them they have to be tough, not show emotions, be strong, and be dominant, etc. It is believed that men report experiencing abuse report at a lower rate than women due to these stereotypes.

When comparing that to census data, one might see that there are large percentages of Caucasian individuals and wonder, why aren’t they as affected by trafficking? This is because of opportunity. Exploiters often choose their victims based on the accessible opportunities they face. Communities are often characterized by the racial groups that inhabit them. For example, if a person of Latino descent is living in a predominately Latino neighborhood, it is likely that their victims will be Latino (simply because Latinos are more accessible to them). Traffickers (the individual or party that obtains and puts a victim in contact with an exploiter) and purchasers (Johns, individuals receiving sexual services from a victim) have high rates of being individuals of Caucasian descent. This is believed to be influenced by finances, as Caucasian individuals often are of a higher socio-economic class. Every racial or ethnic group plays a role in sex trafficking, the role and level of involvement is what may vary among ethnicities. 

This also partly addresses the matter of social class. Individuals of higher social classes are more likely to be traffickers and purchasers, rather than exploiters. Being of a certain gender, social class, or ethnicity may increase your risk of being trafficked but sexual trafficking affects all ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds, and genders.

BELIEF: “I would never let that happen to me.”
TRUTH: Statements like these can make a survivor feel inferior or ashamed for not being able to escape from sex trafficking sooner. No one can be sure of how they will react in a situation until it happens. Our flight or fight instincts also often lead individuals to freeze, which can prevent performing actions one might have planned in a moment of panic.  Victims of sex trafficking are often extensively groomed and conditioned in a manner that supports them being in the trafficking industry.  Many individuals do not feel in a strong state of mind to end the abuse due to this grooming. Grooming often involves exploiting an individual’s deepest insecurities and vulnerabilities to lower their self-esteem, self-worth, sense of self, confidence, and rational thinking. It can cause one to view the world in a distorted manner. Victims are also often told that they or their loved ones will be hurt or killed if they leave. One might be repeatedly told and start to believe that they deserve the life they have been forced into or that there is no one in the world that can or wants to help them. Having preexisting or developing mental health issues that impair judgment can also become a factor that makes a victim more vulnerable. Changing the phrase to “I would hope that would never happen to me” reduces the stigma conveyed.

BELIEF: “There is no difference between sex trafficking and prostitution.”
TRUTH: The simplest explanation is that sex trafficking is involuntary. The victim was once forced or coerced. Prostitution is voluntary. A prostitute ideally does not work by force.

A sex trafficking victim’s circumstances most often involve working for an exploiter (a pimp). The exploiter will collect most or all of the money made by the victim. The individual is being forced, coerced, or defrauded into a sex act. It may appear to be prostitution but there is the often hidden component of force. Due to the age of consent being 18, any acts resembling prostitution by an individual under 18 is legally considered trafficking.

On the contrary, a prostitute may or may not work for an exploiter. Given the riskiness of working as a prostitute, often times a prostitute will join with other prostitutes and form an alliance for security. In these situations, money is distributed and schedules are shared, but the individuals involved are still in control of their decisions. In other situations a prostitute will have an exploiter for security reasons and protection from physical harm.  There is no force, coercion or defrauding in these situations.

BELIEF: “There are so many resources available to victims, why don’t they use them?”
TRUTH: While there are many resources for victims, the availability of resources and distribution of them is not always a process that is easy to navigate. Every program has some sort of limit to how many clients they can have at an agency or a shelter; funding often influences this.

Aside from issues of availability, victims often are not aware of the resources available. Unfortunately, not everyone possesses a lot of knowledge about community resources. People often do not know what resources are available until after they have suffered a lot. Grooming often involves making victims think no one can be trusted and that they will be ostracized or arrested for seeking help. The victim may also not be aware that what they are experiencing is trafficking, is illegal, or that they can get help. If one is being trafficked, they may also not have access to individuals or technology that they can receive information regarding resources from. Language barriers and mental health impairments often pose additional obstacles to acquiring information about support services.

This information is not meant to make anyone feel bad for having held these beliefs. It is stop-the-stigma-logounderstandable why one might think these things- it can be due to lack of exposure to trafficking survivors, lack of knowledge about the industry, repetition of a belief heard by a respected person, misinterpretation, unknown biases, etc. Not everyone works as an advocate or therapist or will even ever encounter a survivor firsthand. This type of information does not tend to be common knowledge. The purpose of this post is simply to bring awareness to the power our words can hold. The stigma that surrounds human trafficking prevents education from being spread. The stigma prevents individuals from creating a better life for themselves. Words or beliefs that perpetuate stigma can prevent individuals in need from seeking or gaining support.

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Adriana is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate and Human Trafficking Specialist at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about how you can support our life-saving services for survivors and families, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

Helping Others Heal in the New Year with Tri-Valley Haven

January marks the start of a new calendar year. For many people, it’s also symbolic of a new start. It represents a new year and a new chance to make changes to make the coming year better than the last. People are turning the page to a new chapter in their lives — and many of them need support in doing so.

Volunteering and donating at the Haven takes many shapes, but every form makes a critical contribution to our mission of creating homes safe from abuse, and building a world without violence. We help people in need to heal and re-grow; is there a more important calling? Tri-Valley Haven is here to guide you contributing to helping others heal in the new year, because it is together that we build a world without violence.    

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If your resolution is to help others heal Tri-Valley Haven offers a wide variety of services aimed at enabling individuals to do more than merely heal from physical and mental abuse that rely on the generosity of our allies. The services are designed to help individuals on their journey of growing healthy again and moving forward positively, in both body and soul. 

TVH opportunities to contribute include:

 

  • Advocacy Positions: Each position requires that the applicant be at least 21 years old and undergo a rigorous, 65-hour training course. Additionally, applicants should be good listeners, empathetic, and able to commit to volunteering over the course of at least one year.
    • Crisis Line: Our Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Counselors staff the Haven’s 24-hour Crisis Line. Both day and night shifts are available. Volunteers usually take one or two shifts a month.
    • Rape Crisis Advocates: Tri-Valley Haven Rape Crisis Center Advocates respond to sexual assault crisis line calls, as well as to domestic violence calls. They also provide in-person emotional support for victims by accompanying clients to the hospital, police department, court, and other appointments as necessary. Volunteers usually take one or two shifts a month.
    • Legal Clinic Advocates: Legal Clinic volunteers assist clients with various paperwork requirements associated with the Haven’s free Temporary Restraining Order service. Volunteers need to be computer literate, and usually work at one or two clinics a month.

  • Volunteer Opportunities: Volunteering at the Haven takes many shapes, but every job makes a critical contribution to our mission of creating homes safe from abuse, and building a world without violence. No level of skill is insufficient. We help people in need to heal and re-grow; is there a more important calling? People interested in volunteering at TVH should contact Lynne, Volunteer Coordinator at (925) 449-5845, ext. 2711, or via email at lynne@trivalleyhaven.org.
    *Multilingual and multicultural individuals encouraged to contact us for translating/interpreting opportunities to provide culturally competent care for our diverse clients. 

    • Childcare: Childcare volunteers interact with the children at our shelters while their mothers are in group meetings. Volunteers must be at least 21 years old, be dedicated and responsible, complete a condensed, 2-1/2 hour training course, be fingerprinted, and be willing to sign up for at least one shift per month.
    • Thrift Store: Thrift Store Volunteers receive, sort, and stock donated merchandise. Volunteers may also launder and/or mend donated merchandise as needed. Other responsibilities could include customer service and cashier work. Volunteers need to be 16 years or older, friendly, and with good attention to detail
    • Food Pantry: Volunteers at our food pantry help make and distribute food bags, stock shelves, and rotate food, as well as do filing and data entry. Individuals attend a two- to four-hour training session.
    • Special Events: At various times throughout the year, the Haven sponsors or participates in special community events such as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Pace for Peace and Family Fair, Thanksgiving Basket Distribution, Holiday Warehouse Project, and others. We always need and welcome helping hands at these functions.
    • Group Volunteers: There are always jobs around the Community Building or at other locations that can benefit from the broad shoulders and great spirit of dedicated volunteers, and The Haven gratefully welcomes organizations that plan special days for doing charitable work. Jobs include painting, renovation, yardwork and maintenance, and help at special events, such as food distribution at the holidays.
    • For Teens: Teenagers 13 years of age and older are welcomed with open arms at the Haven. Even though they don’t work directly with our clients, there are many opportunities for them to contribute, from helping in the office, or at the food pantry, or by volunteering for special events, such as fundraisers, car washes, and supply drives. Some jobs, such as helping with childcare, require the supervision of an adult.

  • Donating: Help us to create homes safe from abuse, to contribute to a more peaceful society.
    • Direct Financial Donations: Those wishing to make a one-time donation can simply click on the link below. The process is clear, simple, and quick. If you work for an employer that has a relationship with United Way, you can also direct a portion of your monthly check to go to Tri-Valley Haven. Some employers match their employee’s charitable contributions; please inquire if your company can help you increase your donation. https://donatenow.networkforgood.org/trivalleyhaven?code=TVHTrack
    • CSECC and United Way Contributions: Does your workplace participate in the CA State Employees Charitable Contributions (CSECC) or United Way campaign? Are you interested in helping Tri-Valley Haven? If YES, please write in the following donation on your annual campaign form:

      Tri-Valley Haven
      3663 Pacific Ave
      Livermore, CA 94550
      Tax ID: #94-2462357

    • Become a Member of Tri-Valley Haven: Becoming a member of our organization — at a financial level that’s comfortable for you — has several advantages. First, your contribution, coming as it does on a monthly basis, represents a steady income stream that helps us in our planning. Additionally, and as importantly, you strengthen our organization by your very involvement. We need your help!
    • Tri-Valley Haven Thrift Store: Shop or Donate! A true treasure hunter’s delight awaits you at the new and improved Tri-Valley Haven Thrift Store. Tri-Valley Haven’s sparkling thrift store sells items at great prices and all proceeds go to Tri-Valley Haven programs! With beautiful recent upgrades like new flooring, lighting, racks and more, the Haven Thrift Store is clean, bright, stuffed full of amazing bargains, and ready to serve the community. You can benefit our services either by shopping here, or donating here. It’s a win-win proposition.
      • The Haven Thrift Store is located at 116 North L Street in Livermore California, 94550. Open 7 days a week, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Donations ONLY accepted between 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM.

        To contact the store by phone, please call (925) 449-1177.
    • Non-financial Donations, Our Wish List: The Haven solicits and appreciates the donation of new items that may be distributed to our residents and clients. These include personal hygiene products, cleaning products, as well as other items that may be suitable as gifts during the holidays. Gently used household items and furniture are accepted on an as-needed basis.

      For a complete list of acceptable items, please contact us at 925-449-5845.
    • BART Riders: Drop Your Tiny Tickets Off at Tri-Valley Haven’s Community Building – 3663 Pacific Avenue in Livermore! Or mail them to P.O. Box 2190, Livermore, 94551! Tiny tickets are those hoards of BART tickets, often discarded or left in pockets or drawers, that have tiny bits of value left on them, a nickel, a dime, and more in some cases, that could be turned into cash. Although currently the residual value of tickets may be consolidated, refunded or exchanged by BART, the majority of such tickets are left unused. The Tiny Tickets Program allows these resources to provide needed support to local community-based organizations.
    • Search and Shopping Portals: Tri-Valley Haven is registered with GoodSearch.com. This is a website like Google or Yahoo! that allows a portion of the revenues generated from any search you make using the site to be directed to the charity of your choice. All you do is identify Tri-Valley Haven as your charity, and then search as you normally would. It’s free, easy, and completely automatic! You can even put a GoodSearch toolbox in your browser. Try Goodsearch now!

      Other ways to help Tri-Valley Haven during your everyday activities is to do your online shopping via portals such as igive.com, or — during the course of your daily errands — to use our new SHARES food cards, which may be used at several of your favorite grocery stores. In each case, a portion of your eligible purchases come to the Haven — automatically! Call us at 925-449-5845 to sign up for your free SHARES card.
    • Facebook Tri-Valley Haven has a “Cause” page on this popular social networking site, allowing you to make online donations directly from that page. https://www.facebook.com/trivalleyhaven/

Tri-Valley Haven hopes to help you contribute to others on their journey toward hope and healing this new year. 

CONTACT US

If you are seeking crisis counseling or are seeking shelter, please call our crisis line at 925.449.5842 or 800.884.8119.

You can reach our counseling and administrative offices at 925.449.5845

Our Food Pantry‘s phone number is 925.449.1664

Our Community Building is located at:  3663 Pacific Avenue      Livermore, CA 94550

Our Pleasanton Office is by appointment only.

Our Thrift Store116 N. L Street, Livermore CA, 94550 Open 7 days a week, 10 AM- 6 PM

Donations ONLY accepted between 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM Phone: (925) 449-1177
_________________________________________________________________
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Adriana is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate and Human Trafficking Specialist at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about how you can support our life-saving services for survivors and families, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

Personal Hope and Healing in the New Year with Tri-Valley Haven

January marks the start of a new calendar year. For many people, it’s also symbolic of a new start. It represents a new year and a new chance to make changes to make the coming year better than the last. People are turning the page to a new chapter in their lives — a chapter they hope will be better than the last!

Many New Year’s resolutions focus on personal lifestyle changes that people hope will make their futures brighter and better. Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions involve physical health, but emotional and mental health is just as important! Improving your mental or emotional health can affect your stress levels and the quality of your relationships with others and yourself. Tri-Valley Haven is here to help you in your resolution of hope and healing this new year.  

healing-is-not-an-overnight-process-it-is-a-daily-cleansing-of-pain-it-is-a-daily-healing-of-your-life-leon-brown


If your resolution is to heal
Tri-Valley Haven offers a wide variety of services aimed at
enabling individuals to do more than merely heal from physical and mental abuse. The services are designed to help individuals on their journey of growing healthy again and moving forward positively, in both body and soul.

TVH Services include:

 

  • Rape Crisis Center: TVH addresses the emotional and practical needs of sexual assault victims, helping survivors through the emotional, medical, and legal processes following an assault. In assisting with crisis intervention, in-person/follow-up counseling, and advocacy and referral services, the Center’s advocates keep survivor information completely confidential. The term “advocate” is appropriate: we are there for the survivor.
  • Domestic Violence Services: With 30 beds, TVH’s Shiloh Domestic Violence Shelter houses and supports women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. Situated in a safe and confidential location, the house provides in-house groups and counseling, case management, emergency food, clothing, and personal items.
    If you are seeking shelter, please call our crisis line at 925.449.5842 or 800.884.8119.

  • Restraining Order Clinic: Assistance is provided to clients in preparing the paperwork to apply for a temporary restraining order. The client is given information about how how to file the order with the court and have the restrained person served after approval. They provide information about the court process and can accompany clients to court to provide support, however they are not lawyers. All services are free of charge. Drop-in, no appointment necessary.
    • Tuesday, 5:30 PM, Tri-Valley Haven Pleasanton Satellite Offices
    • Thursday, 2:00 PM — 4:00 PM, Tri-Valley Haven Community Building

      For more information on the Restraining Order Clinic, call our Legal Services Advocates at (925) 449-5847 x206.

 

  • Homeless Services: The Haven’s 16-bed Sojourner House provides temporary shelter for homeless families in a safe, supportive environment. With separate bedrooms for family units, a stocked kitchen, three full baths, and laundry facilities, Sojourner House is the only homeless shelter in the Tri-Valley Area that accepts two-parent families, single fathers with children, and families with teenage boys.
  • Counseling Services and Support Groups: Tri-Valley Haven offers a variety of counseling and support group services in the belief that while healing is the necessary first step in re-building broken lives, more help must be made available to empower people to regain their sense of self, their sense of pride, and their sense of accomplishment.

 

      1. Individual Counseling: We offer one-on-one therapy sessions for both adults and children, to address all domestic violence or sexual assault-related issues. Counseling sessions are initially free, and then available on a sliding scale.
      2. Domestic Violence Support Group: Tri-Valley Haven offers a Domestic Violence Support Group for survivors of domestic violence. This is a 8-week closed group, meaning participants must sign up in advance.
      3. Sexual Assault Support Group: Tri-Valley Haven offers a Sexual Assault Support Group for survivors of domestic violence. This is a 8-week closed group, meaning participants must sign up in advance.

        To schedule your first appointment, please call (925) 449-5845.

 

  • Food pantry: Each month, the Tri-Valley Haven Food Pantry distributes free groceries to more than 4,000 low-income Tri-Valley residents. The Haven’s permanent Food Pantry — located at the Mar Thoma Church, at 418 Junction Avenue in Livermore — serves as a gateway to our suite of homeless services.

    • Food Pantry Hours are Monday – Wednesday 1PM – 5PM, Thursdays from 1 PM – 7 PM, and Fridays from 12 PM – 4 PM.

      Call the Haven’s Food Pantry for more information at (925) 449-1664.

 

  • Parenting Support: Parents Creating Change (PCC) allows parents with children under five to discuss parenting issues and obtain information and/or referrals as needed in one-on-one sessions, offered through the Every Child Counts grant (funded by First 5 Alameda County).

    For more information, contact our Community Building at (925) 449-5845.

Tri-Valley Haven hopes to be a part of your journey toward hope and healing this new year. 

 

CONTACT US

If you are seeking crisis counseling or are seeking shelter, please call our crisis line at 925.449.5842 or 800.884.8119.

You can reach our counseling and administrative offices at 925.449.5845

Our Food Pantry‘s phone number is 925.449.1664

Our Community Building is located at:  3663 Pacific Avenue      Livermore, CA 94550

Our Pleasanton Office is by appointment only.

Our Thrift Store116 N. L Street, Livermore CA, 94550 Open 7 days a week, 10 AM- 6 PM

Donations ONLY accepted between 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM Phone: (925) 449-1177

_________________________________________________________________
screen-shot-2016-09-10-at-4-47-42-pm

Adriana is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate and Human Trafficking Specialist at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about how you can support our life-saving services for survivors and families, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

The Tri-Valley’s Holiday Season

holy-cross-donation-1Every year, Tri-Valley Haven helps local families in economic need through our Holiday Program. Families from Livermore, Pleasanton, Dublin, and Sunol “shop” for gifts for their loved ones. The program is festive and inviting. Volunteers help parents select free gifts. Families receive food and a gift card for a turkey, ham, or tofu. Tri-Valley Haven’s Program encourages families to develop their own holiday traditions. Our annual holiday program fosters independence and empowers families who have been affected by poverty, domestic violence or sexual assault.
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This year Tri-Valley Haven provided food and gifts to over 3,200 individuals in the Tri-Valley region! This could not have happened without the generous support from community members, churches, and local businesses.

Tri-Valley Haven appreciates: Asbury Methodist Church; the Fremont Bank Foundation; the Safeway Foundation; the Livermore Pleasanton Fire Department (Toys for Tots Program); DeSilva Gates Construction; Saint Joan of Arc; the Bay Area News Group (Share the Spirit); Lawrence Livermore Lab Employees; National Charity League; Blackhawk Network; Livermore Downtown Association; First Presbyterian Church in Livermore; Congregation Beth Emek; All State Insurance; Clorox; Tri-Valley NonProfit Alliance, Livermore Valley Performing Arts Center; Pleasanton Newcomers; Saint Charles Church; Foothill High School; Stanford ValleyCare; Comcast; Livermore Mom’s Club; and the many, amazing individuals who made the holiday’s brighter for someone else by donating!

We are grateful to our Tri-Valley community. Together, we can create communities free from abuse and poverty.

Happy New Year! Thank you for your support!

 


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Christine is the Director of Sexual Assault Services & Counseling at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about how you can support our life-saving services for survivors and families, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

A Smart Gift – by Sara (Tri-Valley Haven Grant-Writer)

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Not too long ago, the Haven received a small card from a former client. She was writing us to let us know she was okay, and to thank us for all the support she received from our agency. With her card, she’d enclosed a small gift to support Tri-Valley Haven.

I work in fundraising. I write grants and appeals, which means I am sometimes buried in paperwork. But every once in a while, I take out this card and read it again to remind myself what I’m working for—this success: Someone who has overcome crisis, healed, and gone on to thrive to the point that she feels able to give a little back. It doesn’t matter the size of the gift; it’s her act of giving that speaks volumes.

So I’m writing here to ask you to make a similar act and sign up to become a monthly donor to Tri-Valley Haven. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount; even a small gift made regularly can add up to a meaningful success.

Giving monthly is smart. Steady donations allow the Haven to plan ahead so we can use your support most effectively.  It’s also efficient. Once you sign up we’ll remove you from our appeals list, saving more time and money. We’ll only contact you to tell you what’s happening at the Haven.  And it’s easy! You can sign up on our site and your donation will be deducted automatically each month on the date you choose. You can modify the date your gift will be deducted at any time.

When people like you join together, the impact of your giving is magnified. We hope you will join us in reaching our goal of $4,000 in monthly donations by the time Tri-Valley Haven turns 40 in June of 2017.

Thanks to the mmail-thank-you-card-235x300any donors who’ve already stepped up, we’re half-way there!  Please help us reach this important goal! Make this smart gift remembering the times people helped you, or when you helped someone else, or wanted to but couldn’t. Or think of this little card of thanks that we received in the mail. With your gift, you can help create more success stories like hers.

DonateNow

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

40th-anniversary-tvh-logoTri-Valley Haven works all year long to raise awareness about domestic violence, but each October we make a special effort to get the community involved in our efforts because that is national Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

For nineteen years, we have kicked off the month on the first Saturday in October with our Pace for Peace, a 5K/10K walk-run in Livermore. The Pace began as a modest effort that would draw about thirty staff members and volunteers who collected pledges to raise funds as well as awareness. We were thrilled when the first Pace raised over $1,000. Over the years the event has grown to attract serious runners and families with their children and pets, who learn about our agency and support our mission with their registration fees as well as our own family of staff, volunteers and individual and corporate supporters who continue to collect pledges. This year was our most successful Pace for Peace ever, with more than 280 registered participants, and pledges and registration fees that netted over $15,000 to support our programs.carolyn-iphone-photo-dump-october-2012-1054

Please join us as we close out the month’s activities on Friday, October 21, when we gather in Pleasanton for our annual Candlelight March. We will meet at 7:00 p.m. at Civic Park at Main Street and Bernal in Pleasanton. Candles and glow sticks will be provided to participants. We will march to the old Pleasanton Hotel and back with our Tri-Valley Haven banner and handouts with our contact information for interested onlookers. When we return to Civic Park, there will be refreshments for all and recognition for the graduates of our recent 65-hour training class for volunteers.

Your support in breaking the silence is critical to ending the cycle of domestic violence. Together we build a world without violence.

 

Vicki Thompson

Director of Domestic Violence Services

World Suicide Prevention Day: The Connection Between Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Homelessness, and Suicide

 On September 10, 2016 we observe World Suicide Prevention Day to reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect individuals with suicidal ideation to treatment services. If you are wondering what domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness have to do with suicide, the statistics below might surprise you.

Domestic Violence and Suicide

  • Domestic violence is a factor in up to one-quarter of female suicide attempts (1).
  • Fifty percent of survivors of intimate partner violence who attempt suicide undertake subsequent attempts (1).
  • Survivors are twice as likely to attempt suicide multiple times (2).
  • Survivors are 12 times more likely that the general population to die by suicide (3).
  • More survivors of domestic violence die by suicide than by their abuser (3).
  • Children exposed to domestic violence are two to five times more likely to engage in suicidal behaviors (3).

Sexual Violence and Suicide

  • The likelihood that a person suffers suicidal or depressive thoughts increases after sexual violence (5).
  • About thirty-three percent of rape survivors have suicidal thought (5).
  • About thirteen percent of rape survivors will attempt suicide (5).
  • Suicide attempts may occur years after the rape (5).

Homelessness and Suicide

In a study conducted to determine the prevalence of suicidality among the homeless:

  • Sixty-one percent of the study sample reported suicidal ideation (6).
  • Thirty-four percent had attempted suicide (6).
  • Fifty-six percent of the men reported prior suicidal ideation (6).
  • Seventy-eight percent of the women reported prior suicidal ideation (6).
  • Twenty-eight percent of the men had attempted suicide (6). 

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Suicide Prevention

A person dies by suicide about every 15 minutes in the United States (7).  Many of those individuals are affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness. While the statistics presented may surprise you, they are believed to be much higher than reported. Many of these figures may be greatly underreported, as many that share these difficult experiences do not ever disclose it to parties that collect data.

The stigma that surrounds domestic violence, sexual assault, homelessness, and suicide prevents many from seeking or receiving the support they need. Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.  At Tri-Valley Haven we seek to support individuals affected by domestic violence, sexual assault, and homelessness to empower them to improve their well-being and personal safety while breaking the cycle that contributes to suicidal thoughts. We also believe in aiding in the prevention of these experiences through education and advocacy. It is important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to address suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts trained crisis intervention counselors are available to receive crisis calls and give supportive counseling 24 hours a day, every day at the Alameda County 24-Hour Crisis Line 1-800-309-2131. Translation is available in more than 140 languages. Teletype (TDD) services for deaf and hearing-impaired individuals is also available. You do not have to be in Alameda County to use this crisis line. 

References

  1. Female Suicide and Domestic Violence – Criminal Justice – IresearchNet. (2015). Retrieved from http://criminal-justice.iresearchnet.com/crime/domestic-violence/female-suicide/
  1. Clay, R. A. (2014). Suicide and intimate partner violence. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/2014/11/suicide-violence.aspx
  1. Dube, S. R., Anda, R. F., Felitti, V. J., Chapman, D. P., Williamson, D. F., & Giles, W. H. (2001). Childhood abuse, household dysfunction, and the risk of attempted suicide throughout the life span: findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. Jama, 286(24), 3089-3096.
  1. (2016). Domestic Violence Survivors at Higher Risk for Suicide. Retrieved from https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/domestic-violence-survivors-at-higher-risk-for-suicide#.V9SPCJMrI1i
  1. Kilpatrick, D., Edumuds, C.,  Seymour, A. (1992) Rape in America: A Report to the Nation. Arlington, VA: National Victim Center and Medical University of South Carolina.
  1. Eynan, R., Langley, J., Tolomiczenko, G., Rhodes, A. E., Links, P., Wasylenki, D., & Goering, P. (2002). The association between homelessness and suicidal ideation and behaviors: Results of a cross‐sectional survey. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 32(4), 418-427.
  2. Suicide Statistics – Domestic Violence and Abuse Awareness project. (2012). Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/dvaaproject/statistics/ss

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Adriana is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about upcoming events or services, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

Tri-Valley Haven Raises Awareness During SAAM!

617-MThis April marks the 15th Anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)! Tri Valley Haven has many opportunities to get involved and help prevent violence this month and all throughout the year!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is about raising awareness about sexual violence in communities across the world, while providing tools and resources on how to prevent sexual violence. With nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States experiencing rape or attempted rape, now is the time to use our voices to stop the violence (1).

 Sexual assault is a public health issue that affects women, men, children, families, and communities.  Many survivors of sexual assault experience various effects as a result of their assault. Short term effects may include guilt, shame, fear, shock, and feelings of isolation. Long term effects may include long-term health risks such as PTSD, depression, eating disorders, possible STIs and pregnancy (2). However healing is possible when survivors have support!

At the Haven, we work hard to support survivors in every way possible. While we work to prevent sexual assault and create awareness in our community, we also provide counseling services, support groups, advocacy during hospital visits or police interviews, and a 24/7 crisis line (1-800-884-8119) for support at any hour of the day.12670680_1302620933099545_5394337262680266702_n

Together we can end sexual assault. If you are interested in getting involved and being a part of the solution, here is a list of SAAM events offered or collaborated on by Tri-Valley Haven.

We hope you’ll join us in striving to create safe, respectful, thoughtful, violence-free communities!

Tri-Valley Haven SAAM Community Events:

For more information, please call (925) 449-5845 or visit our website: www.trivalleyhaven.org


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Amanda is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate at Tri-Valley Haven.  For more information about upcoming events or services, please call our office at (925) 449-5845 or visit http://www.trivalleyhaven.org

 

Statistics:
1. Black, M. C., Basile, K. C., Breiding,M. J., Smith, S. G., Walters, M. L., Merrick, M. T., Stevens,  M. R. (2011). National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 summary  report. Retrieved from the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:    http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf]
2. NSVRC, 2016. Sexual Assault Awareness Month. National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Retrieved  from http://www.nsvrc.org/sites/default/files/saam_one-pager.pdf

Changing the Culture: How Do We Prevent Dating Violence and Sexual Assault?

HLogo 302x270ow do we prevent dating violence and sexual assault?

While there is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this question, Tri-Valley Haven offers a dedicated Prevention Education Program for teens. We hope that by educating local youth about dating violence prevention, we can prevent domestic violence in future generations.

As the lead Preventionist, I visit local schools with a dedicated team of volunteers to educate teens about healthy relationships, dating abuse and bullying prevention, and bystander intervention  year-round. We offer classroom presentations, lunchtime school events,  parent workshops and staff training through the program.

In our classroom presentations, we help students focus on healthy relationships, personal boundaries, assertive communication and safe and effective bystander intervention strategies. We approach all of these topics in age-appropriate way and tailor each presentation to fit the school because know each school community is unique.

How can you support our prevention efforts?

  • Request a presentation. If you work with a group of teens, consider scheduling a presentation for your club, after-school program, religious youth group or community group! Contact our Preventionists at (925) 667-2727 or visit www.trivalleyhaven.org
  • Donate to our Prevention Education Program. We currently provide presentations to local Tri-Valley area high schools and Livermore middle schools. Next year we hope to expand our program to include all Tri-Valley area middle schools. You can make this possible by donating to our prevention efforts.
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Tri-Valley Haven’s heart pledges at Dublin High School last year.


3a92488In addition to providing advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, Jessie is the lead Preventionist for our Prevention Education Program at Tri-Valley Haven. Learn more about our teen presentations our Teen page on our website.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

partners1-00614Adriana is a Bilingual Sexual Assault Advocate (English/Spanish) at Tri-Valley Haven. Along with providing services to Spanish-speaking survivors of sexual assault, she is working to increase and improve Tri-Valley Haven’s services for survivors of human trafficking.


This year, Tri-Valley Haven is increasing efforts to provide support and advocacy services to victims of human sex trafficking. I was hired as a sexual assault advocate that will lead outreach and services for victims of human sex trafficking.

Preparation for our advocacy for victims began last year, through the joining of the H.E.A.T. (Human Exploitation and Trafficking) Watch Task Force meetings where  local service providers, law enforcement officials, and district attorneys collaborate to strategize the manner in which the human trafficking rates in Alameda County can be reduced. I have also begun bringing more awareness to the issue through discussions with individuals with whom I interact with daily at work, school, and among friends. These interactions have shed light on a major problem with the manner in which human sex trafficking is perceived: There is a lot of unfamiliarity regarding its prevalence and who victims are.

H.E.A.T. Watch defines human sex trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act, in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion.”

According to UNICEF, every 2 minutes, a child is being groomed for sexual exploitation. Polaris reports that every year, at least 100,000 children are prostituted in the US. Globally, it is estimated that there are 4.5 million individuals in forced sexual exploitation, according to statistics from the International Labor Organization in 2012. A study conducted by the Urban Institute in 2007 demonstrated that there are cities in the United States, such as Denver, that have an underground sex economy worth an estimated $290 million. These statistics are believed to be greatly underreported, as not all victims come forward to report the crime they have been subjected to and there are underground sex traffickers that were not a part of the study.

Super_Bowl_50_logoAlameda County is a thriving center for the sexual trafficking market, at is the center point to a triangle between San Francisco and Contra Costa Counties. In 2015, 80% of all reported human trafficking cases in California came from the Bay Area.  Alameda County will also be hosting one of the largest events for human trafficking, the Super Bowl. The Super Bowl is a prime event for sex trafficking, as victims can be run in and out of the event with little notice, due to the large amount of individuals focusing on the game. Individuals are not only forced to work in the sex industry at this game, this is also a place where many are abducted and forced into the industry.

Trafficking victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers look for individuals they perceive as vulnerable- maybe they are illegal residents, economically unstable, non-English speakers, mentally unstable, or too young to fight back (among an endless list of reasons). These individuals are abducted or coerced into the industry. They are made to believe that they deserve to be in these circumstances, that the police are out to get them and they should not cooperate with them because they will be the ones arrested or jailed, that they have no other resources, or that they will never have a quality of life better than what they are experiencing.

Tri-Valley Haven and the  H.E.A.T. Watch Task Force aim to reduce accounts of trafficking at the Super Bowl and overall in Alameda County. Tri-Valley Haven’s crisis line (1-800-884-8119) can be contacted for resources to aid a victim of sex trafficking, our shelters have housed victims previously and can continue to if there are available spaces, our legal advocates can help in the process of acquiring a visas available to non-resident victims of crimes, and our counselors are ready to provide psychological support as well. We can also provide services in languages other than English.

You do not have to be a part of a task force or agency to help victims of sex trafficking. But how can you help without putting yourself at risk? Know the signs, report locations and individuals you believe to be involved with sex trafficking, and spread accurate knowledge of the issue as to educate others to do the same. You can help save lives.

To learn the signs of human trafficking, follow this link: https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/blue-campaign/bc-inf-ht101-blue-campaign-human-trafficking-101.pdf

If you suspect somone is being trafficked or an individual is a trafficker, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline  at 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP to: BeFree (233733).


P4PArtwork2014 WinnerFor more information about our services for survivors of human sex trafficking, please call 925.449.5845 or visit www.trivalleyhaven.org

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