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    Jessie - Sexual Assault Advocate
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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.

Geographical Isolation and Serving Diverse Populations – Taking on the Challenge

cropped-map-2Tri-Valley Haven is located in Eastern Alameda County, one of the wealthiest and least diverse areas of the county. Geographically isolated from the rest of the county by the Dublin Grade, our shelter population is vastly more diverse than the area in which we are located. Because of this isolation, shelter residents often tell us they feel especially safe from their abusers in the Tri-Valley.

It is an ongoing struggle for us to attract and retain a diverse shelter staff at a nonprofit salary rate that does not support someone who is living alone or a single parent in our immediate service area. Most of our new staff members live out of the area, either “over the hill” in less expensive parts of Alameda County, in the Brentwood/Antioch area or in Stockton. Staff turnover is more frequent than we would like, most often because these staff members find employment closer to home.

obj40-1Despite these challenges, we are pleased that we have been able to increase the diversity of our staff to try to better reflect the population we serve. When we have a job opening, we advertise widely, and share the job listing with statewide coalitions such as CPEDV and CalCASA in order to reach all of our sister organizations.

We have also greatly benefitted from participation in learning collaboratives such as the Fostering Cultural Competency project, funded by Blue Shield. Through this project, we made connections with other organizations outside of our service area that have expertise in working with specific Asian populations who shared information with us and remain a source of support that we can access when working with a client from a culture we are unfamiliar with. We also had the opportunity to learn about more resources in our own community when each agency in the project convened a panel discussion of representatives from local Asian communities to discuss how domestic violence is viewed and addressed within these communities.1

We look forward to participating in the Next Generation project in which we will share  our experiences with other agencies, and further develop our support system .

Vicki Thompson

Director of Domestic Violence Services

Tri-Valley Haven

A Greater Community – The National Sexual Assault Conference from One Advocate’s Perspective

All over the United States, there are people hard at work to end sexual assault and rape. We work full-time or part-time. Sometimes we volunteer. We go to hospitals to be with survivors at midnight after an assault. We are there beside victims as they talk to the police. We are the counselors and group leaders who support trauma survivors as they recall grueling memories. We are the educators who work with teens and the schools to stop rape and harassment on campus. We advocate to local, state, and federal government officials to make our society more just. We visit jails and prisons when someone is victimized while incarcerated. We hear heartbreak. We see tears, courage, and strength.

We listen. We believe. We are there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

All over the United States, there are people working to end sexual violence. And once a year the people who support sexual assault victims get the chance to come together in one place. We learn and exchange wisdom and ideas; we support each other. We challenge one another to reach further, create change sooner, and spread sexual assault awareness wider.

NSAC GroupThis once-a-year event is at the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC).

This year, it was hosted by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) in Los Angeles, California. I and a couple coworkers from Tri-Valley Haven’s Rape Crisis Center were fortunate enough to be able to attend the event. The theme was “Inspired by Progress, United by Purpose.”

We were definitely both.

I am sure that anyone who attended the conference would have many stories to tell about what they learned. I am only one person, so I will just talk about what I experienced. And what I experienced was… WOW!

I met the most amazing people at the conference…and amazing barely covers it. Participants included survivors who have become teachers and healers in the NSAC Plenarymovement; people who have been fighting the anti-sexual violence fight for their entire professional lives, and people who have just begun; people who work with survivors individually and people who carry on the anti-rape movement to the White House itself. There were young people, lighting the sky on fire with their passion and their vision, and older people who have contributed to decades of change and know there are still mountains to overcome.

The most wonderful part, for me, of going to the conference was that it embodies the same affirmation that means so much to survivors of violence themselves: You are not alone. For those of us working in the Rape Crisis Movement across the country, our world can seem very small sometimes. We work in cities or suburbs or rural communities. We know everybody in the field near us and rely on them for connection and support. To step into a greater fellowship of human beings all working together to make the world a better, safer, and more just place is just plain moving; humbling.

We had a number of topics this year: building safer college and campus communities, fighting back against rape culture, educating our young men and women to bring change now that will echo for years to come.

Another spotlight was put on ending sexual violence in the military. A recent study shows that sexual violence in the military is far higher than previously reported (new data released by the U.S. Defense Department). Collaborations between rape crisis experts and the military to address sexual violence are so very important. Our soldiers in active service and our veterans both deserve better.

NSAC Forge BoothOther topics included serving survivors of sexual assault in detention, working with male survivors and LGBTQ survivors, preventing child sexual abuse, and much more.

At the conference, I concentrated on the Prison Rape Elimination Act “PREA track”. This training dealt with stopping rape and sexual assault in detention – for example, jail or prison, juvenile detention or an immigration facility.

I have spent the past two years working as a Tri-Valley Haven Sexual Assault Advocate and Crisis Counselor, responding to our local county jail when an inmate calls and requests support after an assault. I am glad to say that the jail staff has been universally welcoming to me, good partners with the Haven, and committed to making their jail safer. Even so, responding to the jail carries with it an emotional weight. I felt that I had already heard some arduous stories. With that being said, the stories I heard from survivors at NSAC stayed with me at night.

Sometimes, society seems to think that anything that happens to a person who is behind the walls of a jail or prison is deserved – they broke the law; they’re getting what is coming to them. Here is a truth: Rape is never part of the sentence. Allowing rape to happen to the people we put in detention, turning a blind eye to it, condoning it in society through jokes…does not make our country safer, quite the opposite. It adds trauma on top of trauma, and ultimately makes us all lesser.

PREA SLIDE 2Roxane Gay summarizes what many people feel about victims of sexual assault in her piece, Bad Victims. “People who have been sexually assaulted know there are good victims and bad victims. Good victims, of course, do not exist but they are an elaborate ideal. They are assaulted in a dark alley by an unknown criminal who has a knife or a gun. They are modestly dressed. They report their assault immediately to law enforcement and submit, willingly, to a rape exam. They answer all questions about their assault lucidly and completely as many times as is necessary. They are adequately prepared for trial. They don’t pester the prosecutor as he or she prepares for trial. When they testify, they are modestly dressed. They are the girl next door. They deserve justice because they are so righteous in their victimhood.”

“Good victims” are never prostitutes. They are never men. They are never gay or transgender. They are never drug addicts. They are never mentally ill. Those are allNSAC PREA slide “bad victims.” The worst victim of them all? Someone who is already in detention.

But when it comes right down to it, we are all human beings with flaws and mistakes and dark sides. None of us is perfect. None of us is a “perfect victim.” And nobody, NOBODY, deserves to be raped or sexually assaulted. Not even someone in prison.

It was good to meet other people who believe that.

It was inspiring to be at the conference with many people who are passionate about this intersection between the world of detention and the world of advocacy. It was also inspiring to see how many of us were at different levels of this journey, from the pioneers, to those who have gotten their toes wet for a few years but are still just beginning, to the people who wish to help and to learn how to do so… and whose journey is about to unfold.

The takeaway for me was that there is no such thing as a perfect survivor of rape. All human beings deserve to live in a world where there is zero tolerance for sexual assault – out on the street, or in a jail or a prison or in an I.C.E. (immigration holding facility). What we do as advocates is to connect with the strength and humanity of every survivor. We remind them of their own assets. We validate that they did not deserve what has been done to them. This is a fact, regardless if we spoke to a victim at our office, in our shelter, at a hospital… or from behind bars.

CALCASA’s National Sexual Assault Conference reminded me that there is a greater community of people working to end sexual assault; my work going into the jail to support survivors reminds me that there is an even greater community than that…the community of humanity itself.

Together, we build a world without violence.

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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Art for Healing – All This Month at the Livermore Public Library

My Two Roads

My Two Roads – Acrylic on Cold Press Watercolor Paper

There are times in all our lives, where we reach a turning point. 

These turning points can come in moment of great joy, but often they come at darker times – times of stress, confusion, pain or grief.  The women who come to our domestic violence shelter are all facing uncertainties and fears, and the memories of past trauma.  During these times, talking about experiences, hopes and dreams can be healing.  But sometimes, speaking the words can be stressful in and of itself.

What do you do, when words are not enough?  Or too much?AWBW quotations

Tri-Valley Haven has an Art for Healing program at our domestic violence shelter.  Every Wednesday evening, the women in residence gather together for an hour of art, music, and healing.  The projects we do can vary from classical art techniques like watercolor, to mixed media like collage, and to the more light-hearted like using Shrinky Dinks (did you do those as a child?), beads, clay and other creative outlets.

During the whole month of December, over 80 pieces of artwork created in this program are on display at the Livermore Public Library, at 1188 South Livermore Avenue, just off the cafe.  If you are in the area, we urge you to take the time to drop by and see these in person (and I can assure you that the coffee at the cafe is really good – we had some while we were setting up!).  In addition to the artwork, there is more information about our programs and about the art projects themselves.  I think you will be moved by what you see.

If you live farther away, I want to share with you a few pieces of work from the exhibit, and also to share with you some quotes by women who participated in our program.

If you would like to help support this program, donations of new art supplies are greatly appreciated and very useful.  Please call (925) 449-5845 if you’d be interested in helping to keep the program going.  You would be changing lives for the better.

A Source of Strength and Courage - Collage and mixed media.

A Source of Strength and Courage – Collage and mixed media.

A New Life - Body Paint

A New Life – Body Paint

A Candle Against the Dark - Oil Pastel on Cold Press Paper

A Candle Against the Dark – Oil Pastel on Cold Press Paper

The Tree of my Grandchildren - Watercolor on Cold Press

The Tree of my Grandchildren – Watercolor on Cold Press

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. - Inside/Outside mask, mixed media

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul. – Inside/Outside mask, mixed media

Tri-Valley Haven Takes A Stand Against Sexual Assault in Detention

Every year, at least 216,600 people are sexually abused in jails, prisons and other detention facilities in the U.S. To put that number in perspective, that’s about a quarter of the population of San Francisco. No one ever deserves to be sexually assaulted and sexual abuse is never an appropriate punishment, no matter what the crime.

JustDetention-thumb-640xauto-4770

Tri-Valley Haven staff provides support services to incarcerated survivors in Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin.

Thanks to the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), correctional facilities are now required to offer survivors the opportunity to meet with rape crisis counselors who are able to provide crisis intervention and emotional support after an assault. PREA also provides strong protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender inmates, bans routine pat-down searches of female adult inmates by male staff and places strict limitations on the housing of youth in adult facilities. This landmark law aims to stop prison rape and protect disadvantaged populations, such as LGBTQ people and minors, who are often more vulnerable to abuse in correctional facilities than other inmates.

Tri-Valley Haven is dedicated to supporting all survivors, whether they are in our local community or they are in detention. For over a year, Tri-Valley Haven has been providing crisis counseling and advocacy services to incarcerated survivors of sexual assault at Santa Rita Jail and the Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin. Together, these institutions hold close to 5,000 inmates at any given time.

Our professional staff has collaborated with these facilities to ensure inmates have access to our toll-free crisis line and sexual assault survivors in detention are able to see rape crisis counselors. Though we have seen both an increase in call volume on our crisis line and an increase in requests for advocates since we started offering services for incarcerated survivors, we receive no additional funding to provide these services.

Does advocacy for survivors in detention look different than advocacy for other survivors we see?

While there are differences in the resources available to incarcerated survivors and in the reporting process within correctional facilities, our role as crisis rape counselors and advocates remains the same. We are there to believe survivors when they disclose, provide information about their options, and support them through their healing process. We are never there to investigate the sexual assault or judge the survivor. Instead we are there to support the survivor – whoever they are, whatever their story – and provide them with resources.

aids_website

“How About Now?” is a visual campaign from Just Detention International, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting incarcerated survivors with advocacy resources.

If survivors in Santa Rita Jail or FCI-Dublin want to report a sexual assault, our rape crisis counselors can help them navigate the reporting process. If survivors do not want to report, we continue to support them through their healing process in other ways. Often survivors in detention do not think anyone will care about what’s happened to them. Having access to our crisis line and the opportunity to speak with a compassionate advocate who believes them makes a world of difference for a survivor in detention.

When survivors are believed, they are more likely to reach out for additional support services and begin their healing process. For incarcerated survivors, this means reaching out to further support resources once they leave detention. Since we have begun providing services in Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin, we have seen formerly incarcerated survivors call and come to Tri-Valley Haven for assistance after they’ve been release.

How can you take a stand against sexual assault in detention?

Along with correctional officers at Santa Rita Jail and Federal Correctional Institution in Dublin, Tri-Valley Haven is taking a stand to end prisoner rape. But how can you take a stand?

  • Believe all survivors. No one, including survivors in detention, deserves to be sexually assaulted. Rape is never an appropriate punishment, no matter what the crime. If an inmate or former inmate discloses that they were sexually assaulted in detention, believe them and let them know there are resources available for them.
  • Support Tri-Valley Haven. We have experienced a large increase in calls since we started providing services to inmates at Santa Rita Jail and FCI-Dublin. Tri-Valley Haven receives no additional funding for providing crisis counseling services to incarcerated survivors of sexual assault. Donations by our supporters are urgently needed and always gratefully accepted.

 


3a92488 Jessie is a Sexual Assault Advocate on staff at Tri-Valley Haven. She provides advocacy services to survivors in our local community, as well as survivors in detention. She hopes that you will also take a stand against prisoner rape.

Speaking with Survivors of Domestic Violence: “Have You Experienced Any Kind Of Sexual Assault?”

Stephanie for blog

A guest post by Stephanie, our Legal Services Advocate at Tri-Valley Haven

Stephanie is our Legal Services Advocate at Tri-Valley Haven. Twice a week, she runs our drop-in Restraining Order Clinic. Below Stephanie shares her experience with asking survivors of domestic violence if they’ve ever experienced sexual assault.


“Have you experienced any kind of sexual assault?”

It is one of many standard questions that we ask during the intake process at our Domestic Violence Restraining Order Clinic. I never know what the answer will be. Some women answer very clearly “no.” A few will answer clearly “yes.” Others may hesitate a bit before denying that sexual assault has anything to do with the domestic abuse that brought them into the clinic seeking protection. And yet as I talk to them and find out more about their story, it sometimes becomes clear that they have indeed been sexually assaulted at the hands of their intimate partner or spouse.

Rene* came in our clinic to seek a restraining order from her abusive husband. They had been married for many years but she was tired of the abuse and ready to end the marriage. Though she had initially answered “no” when I asked her if she had experienced sexual assault, it became clear as she told her story that indeed sexual assault had been a regular occurrence.

Marital or intimate partner rape is any unwanted intercourse or penetration obtained by force, threat of force, or when the spouse/partner is unable to consent. Rene, like many people, did not associate sexual assault with marriage, which is no surprise since historically sexual assault in marriage was not considered a crime. But today marital rape is a crime in all 50 states.

Still it can be hard for survivors in intimate relationships with an abuser to recognize when they have been victims of sexual assault. Rene is a perfect example.

Rene’s husband would often make sexual advances that she felt powerless to refuse because she knew that if she did, he would become violent as he had done many times in the past.  Thus she had sex with her husband even though she did not want to because she faced the threat of violent physical abuse if she didn’t. This kind of choice is no choice at all. Rene’s husband raped her, plain and simple.

Other examples of intimate partner rape include (but are not limited to):

  • Forcing sex with a spouse or partner who is asleep, intoxicated, drugged or unconscious
  • Sex when the spouse or partner feels or has been threatened with violence or harm if they refuse
  • Forcing sex by emotional manipulation, such as verbal abuse, threatening divorce, to harm or take the children, or to “get it from some else”
  • Any time the spouse or partner feels they have no other choice but to submit to sex. The absence of choice is quite simply the absence of consent.

Some may think that this type of sexual violence is not “as bad” as being raped by a stranger. But in fact, the trauma can be worse for victims because the abuse is likely to happen repeatedly. Many times survivors of domestic violence feel trapped in the relationship and face pressure from their community to persevere. Further aggravating the trauma that survivors feel is the profound sense of betrayal from someone they should be able to trust with their safety and well-being. Children from the relationship are also adversely affected by witnessing the abuse and its impact on their parent.

If you or someone you know is experiencing this kind of intimate partner violence, there is help available! Call our hotline at 1-800-884-8119 for crisis counseling, information and referrals. For more information about our bi-weekly Restraining Order Clinic, call (925) 449-5847 x 206.

*Names have been changed.

Moments that Matter – a small story from our shelter

This story was featured on the newsletter of A Window Between Worlds as part of their “Impact Spotlight.”  A Window Between Worlds is the non-profit that provides training to domestic violence shelter staff to use artwork with survivors of domestic violence to help in the healing process.  We have been using their “Women’s Windows” program for the past year.

I thought I’d pass the story along to our own blog so you can share it as well.  This happened some time in the last year with one of the residents at our shelter.  Her name has been changed to protect her identity.

Box Image EnhancedRemember the Important Things

“I did a Self-Care Box workshop, in which I had the residents of my group write self-care ideas on slips of colored paper (things like taking a walk, deep slow breathing, etc.). Then they decorated small hexagonal boxes with paint and collage in which to keep the suggestions, to draw out when they felt stressed.

“A week later, Jennifer shared this story with me:

She told me that she felt a little bad because the week before she had been kind of ‘flip’ about the group (although I hadn’t noticed she had been!). She also said that during the week, she’d had a really bad morning. She was feeling stressed, her kids were out of control, and she was having a really hard time keeping perspective and controlling her temper.

“When one of her kids swooped by her, she grabbed for him, but instead knocked the little Self-Care Box onto the floor. She said, ‘It was like slow motion. The lid came off and those little orange slips came out and all landed FACE UP, so I could read them. And they were saying, “Remember the important things” and “breathe” and all the things I had written to myself. It was powerful. And it was on the day before my 50th birthday.’

“She then gave me a huge hug and said, ‘I will never forget this.’

“It gave me goosebumps, and so I wanted to share this story with you!

 

 

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