The Year After

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A couple months ago, Chapel Hill native Ashley Warner, author of The Year After: A Memoir, spoke on WCHL about her book and held a reading at local bookstore Flyleaf Books, which was also a benefit night for the Center. Warner’s book is a beacon for those who are adrift, for those who feel like they are alone. And she is garnering recognition for her compelling testimony. As a winner of the 2014 Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Memoir and a finalist in the 2014 International Book Awards for Best Non-Fiction Narrative, Warner is gaining a powerful voice in the literary world and offers an inside look into the recovery process, the details of which are often unknown to those who have not directly experienced interpersonal violence.

In the book, Warner talks about her assault, which took place over 20 years ago. It was a book that Warner wished she had had at the time of the attack, because it seems more manageable when you know you’re not alone. “It’s really comforting to know how other people have handled it,” she said. She wanted to truly communicate the ups and downs that she experienced, and that’s why it took so long to write. For those who have experienced interpersonal violence or know someone who has, it is all too true that recovery does not happen overnight, nor is there some magic step-by-step plan to make everything ‘better.’

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Survivor, Not Victim

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survivor not victimIf you have never stopped and pondered the importance of language in our society and how it ultimately reflects, shapes, and reinforces cultural perceptions, take a look at Sherryl Kleinman’s “Why Sexist Language Matters.” It is a fairly quick and accessible read that argues the somewhat obvious but not always stated notion that language affects how we think about any number of subjects.

So when it comes to attaching a label and identifying a group of people like those who have been sexually assaulted or raped, it goes unstated that we have to be careful and deliberate. The term affects how we possibly view the people impacted by violence, our relationship to them, and our potential actions and the resulting consequences.

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New Year, New Chance to Pass VAWA

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At the start of 2013, staff at the Center fielded many questions about potential repercussions when the 112th Congress did not reauthorize VAWA. Just one month later, we find the 113th Congress committed to action. Last week, Senate Bill 47 passed to reauthorize the landmark Violence Against Women Act sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Michael Crapo (R-ID). And now, this bill is once again in the hands of the House of Representatives.

Why We Need VAWA

The Senate-approved bill is very similar to the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Leahy and Crapo last Congress and would improve VAWA programs and strengthen protections for all victims of violence. It includes many important improvements, such as addressing the criminal justice response to sexual assault, domestic violence homicides, housing needs, and campus victimization, all of which were included in legislation last year.

The current Senate bill also includes enhanced protections for tribal, LGBT, and immigrant victims. These extra provisions were identified as critical priorities by advocates across the country and received bipartisan support both last year and this year in the Senate.

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