It is with heavy hearts that we correspond with you all today. This past weekend in Charlottesville, VA, our entire country was impacted by the violence. As a supporter of freedom of speech, I think it is important to distinguish when one person’s rights violates another person’s or group of people’s rights. What happened this weekend is a culmination of violence and privilege which continues to perpetuate a culture of racism and rape. In order to end a culture of rape we must also address all forms of oppression.
I hope as leaders in this movement, we will continue to hold our country in our hearts and lovingly hold ourselves accountable. There is much work to be done, and as consumers of media we too are triggered, and all of our bodies hold trauma. In the midst of all that is happening in our country, I want to continue to work alongside of each of you, so please take care of yourselves. We must take care of ourselves in order to continue to fight for the rights of ALL.
The Center maintains a commitment to providing excellent and culturally competent services to survivors of all genders, including support for survivors with complex trauma histories that include racialized violence.
Myth: If a woman is raped, she probably asked for it in some way.
Fact: Only the perpetrator is responsible for the decision to violate someone.
This myth restricts women’s behavior and places blame on survivors rather than perpetrators. Women and those who identify as female are often expected to dress or behave in certain ways and to follow strict but contradictory rules to protect themselves from harm. This myth perpetuates the double standard that reinforces an expectation of male aggressiveness and the perceived responsibility of women to avoid any behavior that could be seen as provocative.
This myth also helps distance non-survivors from survivors. By insisting that a survivor played some role, others can alleviate their own fear of assault by assuming that certain behaviors will protect them from a similar circumstance. For example, if you believe women are partially responsible for being assaulted if they were drinking, then you can take comfort in the idea that you are not at risk if you don’t drink too much. Or if you believe women are partially responsible for being assaulted if they were dressed provocatively, then you can take comfort in the idea that you are not at risk if you dress more modestly.
But offenders select their victims not based on the way they dress, but rather on their perceived vulnerability. Rapists target people who seem vulnerable to assault and who seem less likely to report them.
Asking potential victims to be responsible for protecting themselves from victimization is a form of oppression. Only perpetrators are responsible for their behavior, and they should be held accountable. Even if you believe that women should adhere to certain behavioral standards – how they dress, how much they drink, who they spend time with, etc. – the consequences of not meeting these standards should never be rape. No one “asks” to be raped, and no one deserves to be raped. There is never an excuse, an invitation, or a justification for sexual violence. Bottom line.
Over the last thirty years, our Safe Touch program for children and our Start Strong program for teens have helped prevent child sexual abuse by teaching children and adolescents to identify inappropriate behavior, to develop an understanding of consent and healthy relationships, and to stand against sexual violence in their schools and communities. These programs are designed for continuous learning, which means that students in every public school in Orange County will receive Safe Touch (preK through 5th grade) or Start Strong (7th and 9th grade) programming year after year, so the skills and knowledge they gain are consistently reinforced and built upon. Conversations that start with learning your own bodily autonomy and boundaries eventually shift to how these ideas apply to treating and respecting others. Continue reading “Purple Ribbon of Excellence”
Ella Baker, an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement, once said, “The older I get the better I know that the secret of my going on is when the reins are in the hands of the young, who dare to run against the storm.” As a sexual violence prevention educator and youth co-conspirator, I feel the wisdom in these words every time I have the opportunity to witness young people working toward justice and asking for what they need. In fact, youth have been at the forefront of most of the major social movements of the past century.
In the summer of 2015, Anaja McClinton and Erin Thompson approached the Center for support around creating a sexual violence prevention workshop for her friends and peers at school. Anaja knew young folks who had been directly impacted and she felt like the issue sexual violence was not being addressed at school. When we met with Anaja and Erin, it was clear that they were fired up and ready. They wanted to see change for the benefit of their friends, fellow students, and future students. And they were ready to work for it. Without any hesitation, they approached their parents and caregivers, asking them to support their efforts, and they directly communicated their desires and needs with the principal at their school.
By the end of the fall semester, Anaja and Erin had the full support of their principal. Moreover, they requested that the district consider sexual violence prevention programming at both of the high schools in Orange County Schools. Continue reading “2016 Teal Ribbon Award Winners”
Sexual violence affects all communities, even ours. Recent events and conversations about sexual assault at East Chapel Hill High School remind us of this.
The increased attention on campus sexual assault in the past few years has been a crucial conversation for a university town like ours. Yet the story that has largely been missed is the enormous risk faced by high school teens.
Girls ages 16-19 face four times more risk of being sexually assaulted than the general population (RAINN.org). Boys, too, face an increased risk of sexual assault in childhood and adolescence.
When allegations of sexual assault involving teens surface in the news, it leaves parents, students and teachers scrambling for answers. How do we make sense of this? How can we respond? And what can be done to prevent this? Our community deserves an opportunity to come together for healing and learning. Continue reading “Sexual Assault and Teenagers”
The Center has presented Safe Touch to kids in our community for over 30 years. These violence prevention education programs use evidence-based best practices in age-appropriate lessons to promote safety and reduce child sexual abuse. The curriculum is continually reviewed and updated with teacher and parent input.
Child sexual abuse (CSA) is unfortunately much more common than many people realize. Darkness to Light (D2L), a national organization to end child abuse, estimates that about 1 in 10 children experience sexual abuse before their 18th birthday. Even more children experience non-contact sexual abuse. Only about a third of kids tell someone when they experience abuse. CSA occurs across all demographic groups and can have long-lasting negative impacts such as physical and mental health problems, emotional and behavioral issues, and poor academic performance.
Though the problem of CSA looms large, the Center has a successful prevention program on multiple counts. First, by sheer numbers, we are very successful in getting these crucial public safety messages out to the county. We present SafeTouch programs in every classroom of every elementary school in both local school districts. Overall, we reached 14,805 youth and adults in 865 education programs during the 2013-2014 school year.
When we ask kids about good touches, they talk about hugs, holding hands, and high fives. They often draw pictures showing how happy a good touch can make them.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of our education program to prevent child abuse in Orange County! Through Safe Touch, we have taught countless children how to stay safe and healthy. Research shows that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will suffer sexual abuse before turning eighteen. We’re working hard to combat this grim statistic, reaching 10,000 young people and adults every year through our education programs.
In honor of our 30th anniversary, please join our #30for30 Campaign! For $30 a month – just a dollar a day – you can support our life-changing education program. You can make sure the children in our community don’t have to keep secrets that hurt them. Help us inspire more drawings like this one, full of smiles and Safe Touches.
It’s simple! On our donation page, click “I would like to make a recurring gift,” and enter the amount of your monthly gift in the box underneath. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.
We’d like to share a special thank you to Ronald McDonald House Charities and Wells Fargo, who have recently made gifts to the Center to support our Community Education and Latino Services programs.
Ronald McDonald House Charities of North Carolina supports our Community Education program. The Center offers educational programs for both raising awareness about sexual violence and teaching prevention skills in an age-appropriate manner. Trained educators teach children basic safety lessons such as what to do if they experience violence, how to recognize warning signs in order to prevent it, how to avoid bullying and cyber-bullying others, and how to safely intervene as active bystanders. Core lessons include the Personal Safety Saying (“Say No, Get Away, and Tell Someone”), the difference between good and bad touches, when not to keep a secret, and identifying trusted adults to talk to in the case of violence. The Center reaches over 10,000 youth and adults each year with this crucial safety education. Some of those 10,000 youth and adults are local Spanish-speakers, whom we reach out to through our Latino Services program.
Wells Fargo recently awarded the Center a grant to support our outreach and services for the Latino community. In addition to bilingual education programs as listed above, all our crisis services are also bilingual. Anyone needing support can call our 24-Hour Help Line and request to speak to someone in Spanish. Our bilingual Companions and our Spanish-Speaking Advocates (those who speak only Spanish) respond to crisis calls, offering support, information, and referrals. They can also accompany survivors to the hospital, the police, or court. In addition to help line services, the Center also offers support groups for Spanish speakers.
Our Community Education and our Latino Services programs are vital to preventing violence and supporting survivors. We very much appreciate the support that Ronald McDonald House Charities and Wells Fargo provide to ensure these programs are successful.
When people ask me what it’s like volunteering at the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, my first response is to say, “It’s so much fun!” People are usually surprised to hear that, of course, but it’s the truth. I am a Community Educator with the OCRCC, and it is a blast.
We CEs go into Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Orange County schools to present violence prevention programs to elementary and middle school students. With very young children, we talk about good touches and bad touches and what to do if somebody makes you feel uncomfortable. With older children, we teach bystander education (teaching them to stand up for what’s right). With these middle school students, we even start to deconstruct rape culture and get at the underlying cultural assumptions that lead to sexual harassment. And over and over, I am amazed at the enthusiasm, maturity, and grace that students of all ages show.
Training to volunteer at the OCRCC is intense. There are days when you come home very depressed and discouraged. Your heart aches as you witness the damage done to a community by sexual violence. But when you start doing programs, it changes. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, by any means, but you realize that the vast majority of kids out there really do want to do what’s right. They don’t want to hurt people. They don’t even want to be complicit in a culture that hurts people. Even when they’re too young to understand the details, they hope for a world without violence, without harassment, without abuse. And you get to be the person who shows them what that world looks like.
Alice Drozdiak supports the Center in multiple capacities, including as a Community Educator. Alice has presented Safe Touch programs to elementary school students and Rape Prevention Education programs to middle school students for over a year.
Find out more about being a Community Educator at ocrcc.org/ce. Fall training starts in September 2012. Apply online by August 31.
Office Address: 1506 East Franklin St. Suite 200 Chapel Hill, NC 27514
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 4722 Chapel Hill, NC 27515