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Solutions to Violence

 

Our Solutions to Violence programs provide empowerment-based services to strengthen and support survivors of intimate partner abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking crimes. We also provide prevention and education services for groups, schools, and the community about child abuse prevention and teen assault awareness. 

 

 

Prevention Corner


June 2014

  There is a common misconception in our society that sexual assault is a woman’s issue; it affects only the female gender.   News reports of male sexual assaults are often received with disbelief and skepticism.  Yet, statistics state that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. That translates to nearly 19 million men in the United States, 2.2 million of those in California alone.  Even these numbers are considered a gross underrepresentation of the actual number of men affected by sexual assault.  The truth is that sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

  In order to spread this truth, it is important for boys to have an idea about what healthy masculinity looks like.  Fathers, or other male role models, can demonstrate positive behaviors.  This can include displays of non-violent conflict resolution or constructive uses of personal power and equality.  Parents can talk to their children and debunk common myths on male sexual assault. 

  Since most male sexual assaults occur before the age of 12, it is critical to begin conversations about good/bad secrets and good/bad touches early.  Ask questions like: “what is a good secret?  What is a bad secret?”  Listen to the answers.  Reinforce that a good secret is one that doesn’t hurt anyone; if a secret makes them feel uncomfortable they can talk to a trusted adult.  The discussion about good and bad touches can follow a similar path.  Let children know that no one should touch their private areas without their consent.  Plan what they should do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, tries to touch or touches them.  This can range from telling the child to leave the room to utilizing a loud yell.  By educating and empowering our youth, we can begin to challenge these misconceptions and change our communities.


May 2014

We all use stereotypes to define the world around us.  Stereotypes may be used to talk about different groups, like gender or ethnicity.  However, since stereotypes are a generalization, they can incorrectly portray that group.  For example, the sweeping statement that all feminists are bra burners and hate men ignores the realistic array of individuality that makes up our world. 

There are even certain untrue stereotypes about sexual assault and domestic violence.  Someone might say only women can be sexually assaulted when in fact 1 in 6 men under the age of 18 also face this abuse.  Also, someone might think that since an individual chooses to stay in an abusive relationship, they deserve the abuse.  This statement incorrectly addresses the issue of intimate partner violence.  There are an infinite number of reasons why an individual may choose to remain in an abusive relationship; however, no one ever deserves to be abused.

Fighting negative stereotypes begins at home.  Even though society has made giant strides towards eliminating stereotypes, they still survive.  Parents can first act as positive role models by being mindful of their words and actions around their children.  Address the issue if the child brings it up.  Ask the child why they think that, and listen to their answer.  Then address how that statement does not correctly reflect that person or group of people.  It’ll be a learning experience for both parent and child.  By teaching the younger generations the importance of acceptance and diversity, we can tear down negativity and prejudice. 


April 2014

April was first nationally recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in April 2001.  Advocates nationwide had recognized the need for a national effort to raise awareness about sexual violence issues.  Considering that today, sexual assault will affect 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys before the age of 18, there continues to be an urgent need to raise awareness around this critical issue. 

Sexual assault is defined as any sexual activity, touching or non-touching, that occurs without consent.  Touching forms of sexual assault include rape, forced intercourse, or fondling; non-touching forms can be stalking, “flashing”, or sexual harassment.  An important part of the definition of sexual assault is the word consent.  Consent means permission.  An individual is able to legally consent to a sexual activity if they are over the age of 18 and not under the influence of any substance.  However, every person has the right to say no to any sexual act.  If one person says no, it is the responsibility of the partner to stop.  If it does not stop, that is sexual assault.

Community and national efforts are important to raising awareness.  Many communities hold events like Take Back the Night walks, or Walk-a-Mile-in-Her-Shoes events that directly speak to the community partnering together against sexual and intimate partner violence.  These events are important to show community solidarity and combating victim blaming statements. Victim blaming statements are a devaluing act where a victim of a crime is held wholly or partially responsible for what happened to them.  It can appear as negative social reactions or statements made by the media, family members or the community.  These statements can be very damaging to the healing process of survivors.

Community members can act all year round by holding their peers and community leaders accountable for their statements about sexual violence.  Men can empower themselves and others by being positive role models that show how strength and masculinity can be used positively.  Everyone can challenge victim blaming statements.  We can create a community of zero tolerance against victim blaming, and hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.


March 2014

It is appalling to know that child sexual abuse persists in this modern age. Statistics state that about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused as children.  Child sexual abuse is defined as any touching or non-touching sexual activity between a child and an adult, adolescent, or older child.  This can include inappropriate touching of genitalia or private areas, rape, forced exposure to pornography, and/or child pornography.  The effects of this abuse can be devastating.  If the abuse is not addressed, the effects can appear as substance abuse, eating disorders and suicide attempts; as well as putting the individual at an increased risk for other harmful behaviors.

Parents and guardians can be significant allies in the prevention of child sexual abuse.  It is never too early to begin having conversations with children.  First, talk about the difference between good and bad secrets.  Ask them to define what they think a secret is.  Use real examples like: “If I told you that we’re going to have a cake for your friend, but to keep it a secret, is that a good or bad secret?”  A good secret is one that doesn’t hurt anyone.  However, remind children that if a secret makes them feel uncomfortable they can talk to a trusted adult.  If that adult does not believe them, ensure they know to never stop telling until someone believes them.

Another conversation to have with children is about good and bad touches.  For young children, this can be as simple as identifying their private areas.  Let children know that no one should touch their private areas without their consent.  Plan what they should do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, tries to touch or touches them.  This can range from telling the child to leave the room to utilizing a loud yell.  Actions like hugs or kisses are also important to talk about.  Children may not always feel comfortable bestowing such affection.  By ensuring that the child knows they have the right to choose when to give hugs or kisses gives her/him a feeling of empowerment that can follow them throughout their life.

Murphy, G. (2002). Toward a movement to prevent child sexual abuse. Ms. foundation for women.Retrieved from http://forwomen.org/files/documents/csa%20documents/Toward%20a%20Movement%20to%20Prevent%20Child%20Sexual%20Abuse.pdf.


February 2014

Teen dating violence affects youth in every community across the United States.  In 2006, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in a single year 1.5 million high school students nationwide experienced physical abuse from a dating partner.  A different statistic states that nearly one in three teenagers have been purposely hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.  However, teen dating violence does not only encompass physical abuse.  It is a recurring pattern of controlling, abusive and aggressive behaviors in a romantic relationship.  This includes physical abuse, but can also consist of put-downs, threats, stalking, and/or isolation from friends and family. 

There are many things that can be done to help someone in an abusive relationship.  First, be available to listen objectively and non-judgmentally if someone asks for help.  It can be difficult and frightening for survivors of dating violence to share their experiences.  Let the survivor know that you believe them, and that violence under any circumstance is unacceptable.  Encourage them to contact a local domestic violence agency. 

Every individual has the right to a safe and healthy intimate relationship regardless of who they are or who they choose to love.  Teenagers need to understand their rights and have healthy expectations prior to entering dating relationships.  Parents can facilitate this conversation by sitting down with their teen one-on-one and asking questions like: “What do you think a dating relationship is like?”  “What are your friends’ dating relationships like?”  “Have you ever seen any kind of abusive behavior occur between two people who are going out?”  “What do you think a healthy relationship looks like?”  By listening respectfully and validating the teen’s point-of-view, a parent can empower their teen to think critically about and understand their right to be safe in a dating relationship.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Physical Dating Violence Among High School Students—United States, 2003,” Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, May 19, 2006, Vol. 55, No. 19.


January 2014

Human trafficking is a global epidemic.  It is a modern form of slavery.  Each year, 2-4 million individuals are trafficked worldwide and exploited for labor or sexual purposes.  While anyone can be a victim of human trafficking, certain populations are at a higher risk: undocumented immigrants; runaway and homeless youth; victims of trauma and abuse; refugees and individuals fleeing conflict; and oppressed, marginalized, and/or impoverished groups and individuals. 

There are many things that the average citizen can do to fight human trafficking.  First, know the possible indicators of human trafficking.  Is the individual unable to go or leave her/his place of work or residence as she/he wishes?  Does she/he work long or unusual hours?  A comprehensive list of red flags can be found online through the Polaris Project website.  If you suspect someone might be a victim or human trafficking, contact the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline at 888-3737-888.  This is a 24/7 crisis line that can connect victims to both the local law enforcement agencies and service providers.  Since most victims of human trafficking do not identify as victims or do not know that help is available, it is crucial to spread public awareness around this issue.  By talking to family, friends, and colleagues about human trafficking, important steps are taken to fight this global epidemic.


December 2013

Modern-day Slavery (Human Trafficking) is the fastest growing form of international crime and the second largest source of income for organized crime.  It is estimated that 27 million men, women, and children are being held as slaves.  Although the name suggests it, human trafficking doesn’t necessarily involve the transportation of victims.  People can be enslaved on the same street they grew up on.

This crime is driven by coercion and exploitation and while physical force and violence often are part of the crime, sometimes the oppression comes through psychological or emotional manipulation, insurmountable debt, immigration or other legal threats, or blackmail.

Victims can be found in the labor forces of agriculture, food processing construction, garments and textiles, catering and restaurants, domestic work, entertainment and the sex industry.

What can you do?  As consumers, look for fair trade labels or other certifications (like Rainforest Alliance) that help make sure slaves haven’t been involved in making a product.  Free2Work is also a great resource.  It grades companies on their compliance with slave-free standards. (Plus, they have an app for on-the-go ethical shopping.)

Consumers have the power to encourage businesses to eradicate human trafficking.  Neil Kearney, former President of the International Garment and Leather Workers Federation, states it this way:  “If a business cannot afford to be ethical, then they cannot afford to be in business.” We, as consumers, can help make this a reality.


October 2013 

Intimate Partner Abuse

Unfortunately, intimate partner abuse (also known as domestic violence) continues to be a serious problem for countless women around the world. One in three women will be abused by their partner at some point in their life. Every nine seconds a woman is being abused by her partner. In the United States, more than five million women are abused by an intimate partner each year. Intimate Partner Abuse is the number one cause of injury to women in the United States. It is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans.

Intimate Partner Abuse is a reoccurring pattern of controlling, coercive, abusive and/or violent behavior in a romantic relationship. Abusers use different tactics to first exert control over their partner and then maintain it. These tactics include physical, emotional, psychological and financial abuse, as well as isolation and threats.  This type of abuse can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy. Intimate Partner Abuse can happen at any age.

  As a community we are all responsible for ending this horrific crime affecting our families. One of the most important things you can do to help stop Intimate Partner Abuse is calling the police if you witness a physical assault. Also, we must ensure we are holding perpetrators accountable for their actions. The question should never be why a victim stays; the question should always be why a perpetrator abuses.

  Begin having conversations with your children about healthy relationships and modeling healthy relationships for them. .  If you have a friend or loved one you suspect is being abused, talk to your friend and be nonjudgmental when discussing the abuse. Don’t be critical of your friend or his/her partner. Make sure you listen to your friend and believe him/her. Let your friend know that abuse and violence under any circumstance are unacceptable. Express your understanding, care, concern, and support. Lastly, focus on their strengths.


September 2013 

Domestic Violence in the Workplace:  The Importance of Creating a Safe Place to Seek Help

Domestic violence in the workplace affects does not only affect the victim. It can affect coworkers, managers, and the productivity of your business. A poll conducted by US National Telephone Survey found that 21% of full time employed persons identified themselves as a victim of domestic violence;  64% of which stated their work was significantly impacted. The Maine Department of Labor found that 78% of perpetrators surveyed used workplace resources to threaten their victims.

  To help make a difference, you can practice the four “Rs” at your business. Recognize the issue of domestic violence, Respond appropriately for each circumstance, Refer your employee to domestic violence service providers in the community, and Reach out. Make sure you recognize critical warning signs and red flags; and don’t miss the opportunity to intervene because of uncertainty.

There are also things your business can do to be a safe workplace:

  • Develop protocols and policies that protect domestic violence victims and hinder usage of workplace resources to torment domestic violence victims.
  • Provide training to your management and human resources departments on identification and referrals for your staff. 
  • Provide resources and educational materials for all new employees.
  • Create a violence free workplace for all of your staff to report and intervene.

Your intervention and acknowledgement will go a long way to help victims of domestic violence, increase your overall productivity, and ensure your company is responsible. 


August 2013

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.  The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.  Kids who either are bullied or who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. 

Bullying behaviors are usually aggressive in nature and usually include aspects of the following. 

  First, there is an imbalance of power.  Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.  Next, bullying behaviors generally happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.  Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically, verbally, or though digital technologies, and/or excluding someone from a group on purpose.

  It is important to talk to school aged children about bullying.  9 out of 10 students say there is bullying in their schools, and also report that 4 out of 5 bullying incidents occur at school.  Parents, school staff, and other adults in the community can help kids prevent bullying by talking about it, building a safe school environment, and creating a community-wide bullying prevention strategy.  Community-wide strategies can help identify and support children who are bullied, redirect the behavior of children who bully, and change the attitudes of adults and youth who tolerate bullying behaviors in peer groups, schools, and communities.

 

There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:


July 2013

In the U.S. alone, more than half a million reports of abuse against elderly Americans reach authorities every year, and millions of more cases go unreported.  As elders become more physically frail, they’re less able to stand up to bullying and or fight back.  They may not see, hear, or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them.  Mental or physical ailments may make them more trying companions for the people who live with them.

At first, it may not be easy to recognize or take seriously signs of elder abuse.  They may appear as symptoms of dementia or signs of the elderly person’s frailty – or caregivers may explain them in that way.  In fact, many of the signs and symptoms of elder abuse do overlap with symptoms of mental deterioration, but that doesn’t mean they should be dismissed. 

  Some general signs of abuse are: frequent arguments or tension between the caregiver and the elderly person, and/or changes in personality or behavior in the elder. Bruises, pressure marks on the skin, broken bones, scrapes or abrasions, and burn marks.  Look for bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss.  Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of financial exploitation, or the elder may be a victim of a senior scam.   As difficult as reporting elder abuse can be, it’s important for caregivers to stand up for an older adult in need. 

Learn how to communicate effectively in different situations and put a stop to elder abuse and neglect.  Every state in the U.S. has at least one toll-free elder abuse hotline for reporting elder abuse. In Santa Clara County you can report Elder Abuse to 1-888-436-3600. Each of us can help reduce the incidence of elder abuse by listening to seniors and their caregivers, intervening when you suspect elder abuse, and educating others about how to recognize and report elder abuse.


June 2013

There is a common misconception in our society that sexual assault is a woman’s issue; it affects only the female gender.  News reports of male sexual assaults are often received with disbelief and skepticism.  Yet, statistics state that 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. That translates to nearly 19 million men in the United States, 2.2 million of those in California alone.  Even these numbers are considered a gross underrepresentation of the actual number of men affected by sexual assault.  The truth is that sexual assault can happen to anyone, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status.

In order to spread this truth, it is important for boys to have an idea about what healthy masculinity looks like.  Fathers, or other male role models, can demonstrate positive behaviors.  This can include displays of non-violent conflict resolution or constructive uses of personal power and equality.  Parents can talk to their children and debunk common myths on male sexual assault. 

Since most male sexual assaults occur before the age of 12, it is critical to begin conversations about good/bad secrets and good/bad touches early.  Ask questions like: “what is a good secret?  What is a bad secret?”  Listen to the answers.  Reinforce that a good secret is one that doesn’t hurt anyone; if a secret makes them feel uncomfortable they can talk to a trusted adult. 

The discussion about good and bad touches can follow a similar path.  Let children know that no one should touch their private areas without their consent.  Plan what they should do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable, tries to touch or touches them.  This can range from telling the child to leave the room to utilizing a loud yell.  By educating and empowering our youth, we can begin to challenge these misconceptions and change our communities.


May 2013 

We all use stereotypes to define the world around us.  Stereotypes may be used to talk about different groups, like gender or ethnicity.  However, since stereotypes are a generalization, they can incorrectly portray that group.  For example, the sweeping statement that all feminists are bra burners and hate men ignores the realistic array of individuality that makes up our world. 

There are even certain untrue stereotypes about sexual assault and domestic violence.  Someone might say only women can be sexually assaulted when in fact 1 in 6 men under the age of 18 also face this abuse.  Also, someone might think that since an individual chooses to stay in an abusive relationship, they deserve the abuse.  This statement incorrectly addresses the issue of intimate partner violence.  There are an infinite number of reasons why an individual may choose to remain in an abusive relationship; however, no one ever deserves to be abused.

Fighting negative stereotypes begins at home.  Even though society has made giant strides towards eliminating stereotypes, they still survive.  Parents can first act as positive role models by being mindful of their words and actions around their children.  Address the issue if the child brings it up.  Ask the child why they think that, and listen to their answer.  Then address how that statement does not correctly reflect that person or group of people.  It’ll be a learning experience for both parent and child.  By teaching the younger generations the importance of acceptance and diversity, we can tear down negativity and prejudice.