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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.

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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.

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“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.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month – Here’s what the Tri-Valley Haven is doing to Help!

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

We are mid-way through the month of April already!  It’s amazing how time flies! Halfway through April also means halfway through Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  While in some ways, it might seem nice to be halfway through a month of an emotionally difficult topic, SAAM is such a valuable means of raising awareness about sexual assault – how often it happens, who it happens to, the effects it can have on survivors and the family and friends of those survivors, and what we can do to help.  You know someone who has been affected by sexual assault – as sadly common as it is, the odds make that a guarantee.  That person could be someone you only know in passing, or a coworker, a neighbor, a friend, a best friend, a relative, a parent, a child… or you.  Whoever that person is, he or she deserves support, someone to listen to their story, someone to remind them that sexual assault is never the fault of the victim, and access to resources for healing.  Read on for more information about SAAM.

Tri-Valley Haven’s SAAM Activities Still to Come

April 23rd – Denim Day. 

Join us and Rape Crisis Centers Nationwide.  Wear denim on April 23rd and tell people why!  For great ideas on how to spread the practice and teachings of Denim Day, go to the Denim Day Official Resources Page!  You can also connect with the #denimday online movement to end sexual violence.

April 24
Tri-Valley Haven and Los Positas Health Center Team Up for SAAM 

Tri-Valley Haven, in collaboration with the Las Positas Health & Wellness Center, will be hosting a Las Positas SAAM event at the college on Thursday, April 24th from 11 AM to 1 PM. There will be a Tri-Valley Haven table full of resources and information outside in the Quad near the student cafeteria.  Not only that, we will have a traveling display of our Clothesline Project with us as well!

April 25th – Candlelight March in Livermore
 

 Every year in April, supporters, volunteers and staff of Tri-Valley Haven converge on downtown Livermore to honor survivors  , celebrate our newest volunteer advocates as they graduate from our three-month, intensive training, give out information on services and resources, take strength from our united presence, and raise awareness of our mission to build a world without violence.  Previous guest speakers at Tri-Valley Haven marches have been Senator Ellen Corbett, Senate Majority Leader and great supporter of women’s issues, and other local luminaries. 

This year’s march will start at 7:00 PM on Friday, April 25th.  Meet us at Lizzy Fountain Park in downtown Livermore, at the corner of First Street and North Livermore Avenue.  This is a family-friendly event and everyone is welcome!  Come see the display of t-shirts from the Clothesline Project, get your candles, and join us in our short march along First Street.  The weather is always beautiful and we would love to have you join us. 

April 25th – The Clothesline Project


The Clothesline Project (CLP) is a program started on Cape Cod, MA, in 1990 to address the issue of  violence against women. It is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women. With the support of many, it has since spread world-wide.

Last year, the Clothesline Project took off at Tri-Valley Haven.  Haven supporters, staff and volunteers all made shirts in support.  Most importantly, however, residents at our shelter and members of our support groups created t-shirts detailing their experiences and their hopes for the future.  These powerful works of art were displayed at our Candlelight March, at Las Positas College, and in front of the Tri-Valley Haven Community Building during the month.

This year, we invite you to make shirts and bring them to the Candlelight March to add to our display (see below).  New shirts from the shelters and other supporters and survivors will join the traveling exhibit at Las Positas College on April 24th and in downtown Livermore on April 25th.  All the rest of the month, the shirts will be on display every day outside our Community Building on Pacific Avenue.  We urge you to participate by making a shirt, or coming to see and be moved by the shirts made by others.

Tri-Valley Haven’s Newest Advocacy Efforts – Santa Rita Jail and the Prison Rape Elimination Act

Prisoner rape is a national human rights crisis, but it’s a crisis we can end. Every year, at least 216,600 people – more than a quarter of the population of San Francisco – are sexually abused in U.S. detention facilities. That’s the number of people who are abused, not the number of incidents; each victim is assaulted on average three to five times a year
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Sexual abuse is never an appropriate punishment and never part of the sentence, no matter what the crime. This type of abuse is also not inevitable. Over the last decade, a growing number of people – including many corrections officials – have begun to agree with what advocates have been saying all along: We

can stop prisoner rape.Now, thanks to a landmark law, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), we have the tools to do just that.  Within the past six months, Tri-Valley Haven has begun to collaborate with the staff of Santa Rita Jail to provide sexual assault advocacy services for incarcerated survivors of sexual assault.  This collaboration part of the PREA standards passed last year which have given the law (which has been around since 2003), some real practical ability to address the problem of sexual abuse of persons in the custody of U.S. correctional agencies.

  Among its unprecedented provisions, the standards mandate strong protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender inmates; a ban on routine pat-down searches of female adult inmates by male staff; strict limitations on the housing of youth in adult facilities; and a requirement that all facilities undergo independent audits every three years.The standards also require that facilities offer survivors access to rape crisis counselors – trained experts who provide crisis intervention and emotional support in the aftermath of an assault. In other words, in the case of Santa Rita jail… Tri-Valley Haven advocates.

Within the six months since Tri-Valley Haven has begun responding to reports at Santa Rita, we have been able to provide outreach, crisis intervention, and resources for multiple inmates. We are glad to have the opportunity to reach these individuals, who are – by the nature of the system – vulnerable to assault, and who also – by the nature of the system – may not have many opportunities to get support after an attack.

How Big of a Problem is Sexual Assault Against Inmates?
  • 1 in 10 former State inmates reports having been sexually assaulted while incarcerated.
  • About half of these assaults are perpetrated by other inmates, the other half by staff.
  • Perpetrators tend to target people living with a disability or illness, those with a previous history of trauma or sexual assault, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gender non-conforming inmates.
  • Prisoner rape, either by other inmates or by staff, is regarded as torture under international law.  
How You Can Help
Tri-Valley Haven receives no additional funding for this outreach into the detention system to help survivors of sexual assault behind bars.  Donations by our supporters are always gratefully accepted.
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