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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

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

Thank You For Always Supporting Us

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.” – Goran Persson

Thanks to your support, look at what Tri-Valley Haven achieved in a year!

  • Over 4,000 calls received through our 24-hour crisis line
  • 344 Clients received safe shelter through our Domestic Violence and Homeless shelters
  • 181 Children received safe shelter through our Domestic Violence and Homeless shelters
  • 4,455 Local Residents in Economic Need assisted at our Food Pantry
  • 227 Survivors of Sexual Assault served through our Rape Crisis Center
  • 3,979 Tri-Valley Students & Community Members received prevention education classes to prevent dating abuse, sexual assault, bullying and more!
  • 4,094 Local Residents in Economic Need signed up for food and gifts through our Holiday Program for Thanksgiving and December Holidays

Clothesline Project at Tri-Valley Haven

But New Year’s Day is more than just a time of looking backward on the previous year.  It’s also about taking the lessons learned from that year and applying them to the year that is coming toward us as fast and surely as the sunrise itself.  It’s about revisiting our core values and saying, “This is who we are. This is who we want to be. And this is what we commit to in the days and weeks and months to come.”

We serve more than the numbers in our emails or blog posts.  Each number is a man, a woman, a child.  Each number is a person who is struggling forward, emerging from pain, dealing with their past, looking toward a brighter future.  Our work here at Tri-Valley Haven is simply this: to be there to support, encourage and provide aid so that each person who comes to us is better able to heal; better able to hope; better able to move forward into their new year in safety and strength.

Thanks to your generosity, Tri-Valley Haven can help women, children and families build a new life, free from violence!" A New Life" was created at the therapeutic art group in our domestic violence shelter!

We could not have fulfilled our work at the Haven last year without your help.  We could not have fulfilled it all these years stretching into our past without the help of people like you.  And we cannot do this work in the year to come without you standing by our side.

Thank you.  Every single one of you.  We hope you had a safe, loving, hopeful and prosperous New Year.

Welcome, 2016!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month – Tri-Valley Haven’s Events Calendar

In 2001, April was officially designated as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM) in the U.S. This month, Tri-Valley Haven is hosting a number of events to raise awareness and support survivors – and you can also get involved!


Pace for Peace – Hope Run
Saturday, April 18 at 8 am (registration starts at 7 am)

Want to support local survivors in our community and Tri-Valley Haven services? Please join us on Saturday, April 18, for a fun Pace for Peace – Hope Run (5K/10K walk/run) through Livermore’s beautiful wine country! This event directly benefits Tri-Valley Haven’s services for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, homelessness and hunger. Start/Finish is at Tri-Valley Haven, 3663 Pacific Avenue in Livermore.

You can register to run now at our Active.com site! Or you can directly download a printable version of our sign-up sheet here at this link.

Remember to share why you will #PaceForPeace on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Las Positas/ Tri-Valley Haven SAAM Event
Thursday, April 23 at 11 am

The Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 2015 campaign focuses on campus sexual violence prevention. Help Tri-Valley Haven and Las Positas College create communities that prevent violence and build campuses that respond well. Everyone can play a role in creating safer campuses and take action to prevent sexual violence.

Tri-Valley Haven’s Las Positas Event will take place at the Quad at Las Positas College, 3000 Campus Hill Drive, Livermore starting at 11 am on April 23rd. It will feature resources for survivors of sexual violence, information about campus sexual assault, prevention, healthy sexuality, and consent.

Candlelight March
Commemorating Sexual Assault Awareness Month
Friday, April 24 at 7pm

Stand against sexual assault and show your solidarity with survivors in our local community! Join us for a Candlelight March Commemorating Sexual Assault Awareness Month on Friday, April 24th at 7 pm in Downtown Livermore. The march will take place along First Street, in Livermore. Meet at Lizzy Fountain Park, on the corner of First St and Livermore Avenue in Downtown Livermore.

Parking is available in the lot behind the stores. For more information, please call (925) 449-5845.

Denim Day
Wednesday, April 29

Denim Day was originally a protest against a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the judges felt that the victim could not have been raped since she was wearing tight jeans. The following day, women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Unfortunately, similar stories occur every day in the Unites States. Denim Day has became an international campaign against victim-blaming.

Every year, Tri-Valley Haven staff and volunteers participate in Denim Day. We will be wearing blue jeans, as well as Denim Day buttons and stickers, encouraging people to ask us about Denim Day. Get involved by sharing why you’re wearing jeans on April 29. Post pictures of your jeans to social media and remember to tag @Tri-ValleyHaven and #DenimDay!

The Clothesline Project at Tri-Valley Haven
Monday-Thursday, 9 am – 5 pm

The Clothesline Project was started by a group of women in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1990 to spread awareness about violence against women. Survivors were invited to decorate a t-shirt, expressing their story through words and art. These t-shirts were hung on a clothesline display to honor survivors and spread awareness. Now rape crisis centers, domestic violence centers and college campuses in U.S display their own individual Clothesline Projects every year.

Come see Tri-Valley Haven’s Clotheslines Project display at our Community Building, 3663 Pacific Avenue, Livermore. T-shirts from local survivors and their loved ones will be displayed throughout the month during our business hours.

 

Teen Dating Violence Awareness at Dublin High School

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, so Tri-Valley Haven headed out to Dublin High School to spread awareness last week. Together the Haven joined Mrs. Slavec and the Be Strong Girls Group to educate teens about dating violence. Students pledged to engage in healthy relationships and received information about dating abuse and the Be Strong Girls Group.

Be Strong is an empowerment group for girls in high school. Tri-Valley Haven facilitates monthly group meetings and provide a open, safe space for the girls to discuss different topics related to gender, self-esteem and leadership. For our Teen Dating Violence Awareness event, each girl was responsible for organizing a part of the event. They also played a vital role in spreading the word about the event ahead of time and encouraging their classmates to participate.

When we hear discussions about dating violence, they often focus on adults who have been in abusive relationship. However 1 in 3 teens in the U.S. has experienced physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse by a dating partner.

Dublin HS BeStrong Teen Dating Awareness Month Event 111This is why Tri-Valley Haven is dedicated to educating teens about healthy relationships and the warning signs of abuse. We provide a safe space for teens to discuss what they see happening at their school and how they can keep themselves safe – emotionally and physically.

Thanks to Mrs. Slavec and our Be Strong Girls Group, our Tri-Valley Haven Teen Dating Violence Awareness Event was a success! It was inspiring to witness the Be Strong girls educating their classmates about this issue. After the event, we displayed the pledges on the doors and windows of the school library as part of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month.

Talking to Teens about Dating Violence and Bullying in Pleasanton High Schools

“10/10! Would do it again!”

“It was very helpful, especially since this is becoming more common.”

“We haven’t learned much about this yet, so it was great to learn about it!”

“I liked how the presenters were open and not scared to talk about anything.”

“I really thought this inspired me to take action because I noticed some random person online for being called a “b—–” for so-called bullying that they didn’t even do. I feel like standing up that person [who is being cyberbullied] now, as it wasn’t their fault.”

“I felt that Tri-Valley Haven is there for me.”

These are some of the comments we received from ninth-graders after our Healthy Relationships and Bullying Prevention presentations at Foothill High School and Amador High School in Pleasanton this semester.

During the school year, I visit local middle schools and high schools to talk to teens about healthy relationships, teen dating violence and bullying in an age-appropriate way. At the end of each presentation, I hand out surveys to see how effective our presentations are and get anonymous feedback from the students.

Recently we lost all federal and state funding for our youth education programs due to a cut in California funding. As a result, we’ve had to trim many of our presentations down from 2-day classes to 1-day condensed classes in Livermore and Dublin schools. Fortunately, the Pleasanton Youth Commission has continued to fund our Prevention Education program. Thanks to their generosity, we are able to continue providing 2-day presentations to health classes at Pleasanton schools.

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During our full 2-day presentations, we have the opportunity to do more activities with the students to talk about these topics. One of our most popular activities is called “What Would You Do?” During this activity, we read out different scenarios about dating violence or bullying. Then we ask students move to different corners of the room depending on whether they would do nothing (no intervention), step in on their own (primary intervention) or get help (secondary intervention). After each scenario, students get a chance to share what they might do.

Wow, does this activity get teens talking!

Whether we’re talking about dating violence or bullying, each student brings their own unique perspective into the conversation. Sometimes students disagree with their classmates’ suggestions for intervention; other times the entire class ends up standing in the same corner of the room. Many of the classes I visited at Foothill High and Amador High had a lot to say during this activity.

In one class, I asked students what they might do if they witnessed a guy violently shove a girl to the ground on their way to class. Many of the guys in the class said they would step in and confront the guy. In contrast, several of the girls said they would feel more comfortable getting help from a trusted adult or friend. A few of these girls mentioned that they would be afraid of getting hurt if they tried to confront a male student.

Then I told students to imagine the same scenario with one detail changed: “What would you do if you saw a girl shove a guy to the ground?”

Almost every girl said they would feel comfortable talking to the abusive student (in this scenario, another girl) by themselves. However nearly all of the guys said they would be hesitant to intervene. When I asked why, many of them said they wouldn’t know what to say or do in this situation. One student even admitted, “I’ve never heard of this happening to guys.”

This sparked a discussion between the students about assumptions or expectations we might have about who can or cannot be a victim of violence. Many of the students have been encouraged to take a stand against bullying in the past. But often our presentations are the first time students have had the chance to discuss what intervening might actually entail. As presenters, we encourage students to think of intervening indirectly, such as asking for help from a teacher or friend, as well as being assertive.

One of the handouts students fill out before we start our presentations. (via Instagram)

During the conversation, one of the guys mentioned that he would be worried about embarrassing the victim (another guy) if he told the abusive student to stop. So we discussed other ways he might intervene, such as getting help from a teacher so he didn’t have to directly intervene or checking in with the male student in private after the incident.

One of the girls who felt comfortable intervening even suggested, “You could ask one of us for help.”

Isn’t it amazing how one scenario can prompt so many different opinions? Many of the other classes had similar discussions about this particular scenario. As I tell the students, there is no “right” answer when we do this activity. There are many ways students can safely intervene when they see dating violence or bullying happen at their school.

It’s just a matter of getting students to consider their options.


3a92488 In addition to providing advocacy for survivors of sexual assault, Jessie is the newest presenter for our Prevention Education Program at Tri-Valley Haven. Learn more about our teen presentations our Teen page on our website.

Tri-Valley Haven’s Highlights of 2014

Without your generosity, we could not continue to provide vital shelter and support services to women, children and families in need throughout the Tri-Valley area. Every successful program and event at Tri-Valley Haven is made possible thanks to our local community. We are so very grateful for your support.

Before we jump into the New Year, let’s look at some highlights of 2014!

  • 2,600+ calls received on Tri-Valley Haven’s crisis line! That’s almost 10 calls every day, from women, children and families in need.
  • 267 clients served at our Domestic Violence Shelter! With 30 beds, Tri-Valley Haven’s Shiloh Domestic Violence Shelter houses and supports women and their children who are survivors of domestic violence.
  • 245 clients served through our Rape Crisis Center! Survivors of sexual assault receive advocacy and crisis counseling from state-certified advocates through our Rape Crisis Center.
  • 96 clients served at our Homeless Shelter! 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.
  • 249 clients received counseling at Tri-Valley Haven! Tri-Valley Haven offers counseling and support group services to empower and support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
  • Almost 30,000 visits to our Food Pantry! Each month, the Tri-Valley Haven Food Pantry distributes free groceries to more than 4,000 low-income Tri-Valley residents.
  • 70+ volunteers trained during this year! No only did we train over 30 new volunteers as crisis line and sexual assault advocates, we also trained volunteers for our food pantry, thrift store and childcare services.
  • 40+ incarcerated survivors served by our Rape Crisis Center! Now incarcerated survivors at Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin are able to contact our 24-hour toll-free crisis line and request advocacy services through our agency.
  • 150+ walkers/runners participated in our annual Pace for Pace event! In the past, Pace for Peace has been a smaller event (averaging about 30 participants a year), so we were floored when over 150 participants signed up to show their support for Tri-Valley Haven.
  • $2,000 raised for Tri-Valley Haven during #GivingTuesday! On December 2nd, our Tri-Valley community joined the new tradition of generosity after Thanksgiving and Black Friday. This was TVH’s first year participating and we received $2,000 in donations!
  • 4,036 individual family members signed up for our annual Holiday Program! With your support, we were able to provide food and gifts to over 900 local families in need this holiday season. Our Tri-Valley community went above and beyond this holiday season.
  • 1 incredibly moving experience at a middle school!  After one of our presentations on healthy relationships and bullying prevention at a local middle school in Livermore, a 12-year-old told our staff that no one had ever talked to them about ways to stay safe and prevent bullying. To thank TVH, the student gave the Preventionist .30¢ as a “a tip.”

With your help, we’ll raise funds to bring hope, healing and safety for women, children and families recovering from domestic violence, sexual assault and homelessness in 2015.

Make your 2014 tax-deductible donation by midnight to help Tri-Valley Haven to meet our fundraising goals this year, to enable our services to continue forward next year.

Together we can build a world without violence!

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