Sexual Assault Awareness Month

You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

                                                                                           William Wilberforce 

 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  While it is the mission of the Sexual Assault Crisis Center to promote awareness all year long, during the month of April we make a concerted effort to reach out and bring awareness to the issue of sexual assault.  British abolitionist William Wilberforce once said, “you may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” As a pioneer in the crusade to end slavery, Wilberforce sought to abolish slavery through awareness and activism.  He fiercely believed that once we are made aware to the sufferings of others, we can no longer feign ignorance – only inaction.  Become aware of this: every 107 seconds, another American is sexually assaulted and 98% of all rapists will never spend a day in jail.  However, research shows that sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years (U.S. Department of Justice. National Crime Victimization Survey. 1993-2013). This is due in part from increased public awareness and prevention, social activism, and stricter punishments for those convicted of sexual assault. While we should be happy with the progress made in the last 10 years, we also have a long way to go to end sexual violence in our communities.  This April, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center invites you to join in making our community a safer place to live. In addition to spreading awareness, here are four things you can do this April: 

1. Reach Out to a Loved One. It’s never too late to let a survivor in your life know that you care.
2. Make Your Voice Heard. Congress needs to hear from you about your support for legislation to improve the criminal justice system, support survivors, and bring sexual predators to justice. Visit the RAINN Action Center at https://rainn.org/public-policy/rainn-action-center and contact your Member of Congress about legislation that is important to survivors, like renewing the Debbie Smith Act.
3. Volunteer. Looking to donate your time? The Sexual Assault Crisis Center needs your help to accomplish our mission to end sexual violence.  Call us at (920)733-8119 for more information on how you can get involved.
4. Get Social. With a “share” or “RT” you can educate your networks about sexual violence prevention and recovery. Like us on Facebook and Twitter and tag your posts with #SAAM to follow the conversation.
For more information on events during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Center at (920)733-8119.

New Year’s Resolution

With each new year, come New Year’s resolutions. Usually these focus on improving one’s appearance, health, financial situation, or personal relationships. This year, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center challenges YOU to resolve to make your community a safer place for children in 2015!

It is highly likely that you know a child who has been or is being abused. This year, make the choice to stand up and protect children from sexual abuse. The statistics are staggering. 10% of children are sexually abused before their 18th birthday, and 35% of child victims are 11 years old or younger. It is OUR responsibility, as adults and community members, to protect children.

So, what can you do?

1. Talk with your child about sexual boundaries. Start these conversations at a young age because talking about personal safety creates a protective bond between parent and child. Let children know that you are a safe person for them to talk to about anything going on in their lives.

2. Redirect an adult who is crossing a child’s boundaries or acting inappropriately in front of children. It can be difficult and even scary to take risks to protect children, but if we don’t say anything, then who are we really protecting? The abuser? Ourselves? Definitely not the child.

3. Trust your gut. If you feel like something inappropriate is going on, it probably is. And tell your children to trust their gut feelings also. Our bodies have built-in warning signals that we can’t afford to ignore. It is not healthy to expect the worst in people, but we need to pay attention to behaviors that are dangerous or “iffy,” even by people who we know personally.

4. Make a report of suspected child abuse to the police or child protective services. The law doesn’t require that you have evidence of abuse when you report, it only requires that you have reasonable suspicion. And you’re not making an accusation when you make a report. You’re just requesting a professional service be done, and the law does protect you when it comes to making a good faith report.

90% of children who are victims of sexual abuse know their abuser, which makes disclosing the abuse that much harder for them. However, if a child discloses abuse to you, it can be a traumatic experience for the child and for you, but try not to overreact. Listen calmly and openly when the child talks to you, even about sensitive or uncomfortable topics. Reassure the child that you believe him or her and that what happened to them is not their fault.

So, when you are making your New Year’s resolutions, resolve to make 2015 the year of protecting children! Please contact the Sexual Assault Crisis Center to learn more about keeping our children and our community safe, or to schedule an adult training about how to protect children from sexual abuse at no cost to you.

Reference: Darkness to Light’s Stewards of Children. Charleston, SC. www.D2L.org.

Season of Giving

Your year-end gift has an impact on your community.  Many donors consider year-end giving for two reasons:  First, it’s the season of giving and you’re compelled to give from your heart.  For others, there’s the tax-deduction incentive that’s helpful for you in your long-term financial goals.  For whichever reason you give, we’re very thankful for support.

Your gift does make a difference in your community.  Its impact can be felt twofold:

First, it allows us to continue to provide quality counseling, medical and legal advocacy, support groups and resources to the victims seeking our services.  Secondly, it allows us to go into the community and provide prevention education to students to help keep them safe by teaching age-appropriate protective behaviors.  WE also educate adults on how to recognize and react to sexual violence.  Intervention and Prevention; both are needed if we’re to end sexual violence in the Fox Cities.

When you donate to Sexual Assault Crisis Center, your donation helps us with the increased needs for our services:

Intervention:

  •  A 20% increase in hotline calls
  • Over 300 victims receiving personal advocacy
  • A 15% increase in victims receiving medical advocacy at either the Children’s Advocacy Center of at the area hospitals for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examination
  • A continued collaboration with our referring partners
  •  An increase in our on campus support groups at Lawrence University and University of Wisconsin – Fox Valley.

Prevention:

  • Over 700 Prevention Education efforts (36% increase)
  • Educating over 11,000 students in Calumet and Outagamie Counties on the importance of Protective Behaviors.
  • Educating over 10,000 adults in programs such as; Commercial Exploitation of Children and Stewards of Children

Your on-going support is vital to assisting victims in becoming survivors.  Thank You!

Together we can end sexual violence in the Fox Cities.

Giving Thanks for Our Generous Community

On Saturday, October 18, 2014, the Sexual Assault Crisis Center held its signature fundraiser Shall We Dance at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel. This uplifting and entertaining event is meant to increase awareness about sexual assault while helping raise the important funds we need to uphold our mission. We would like to share the letter we received from Ms. Melinda Tempelis, Deputy District Attorney for Outagamie County who was in attendance that night.

My dear friends….

 I spent this morning catching up on my sexual assault referrals including a Child Advocacy Center video of a 3 year old sexual assault victim and can’t help but be overwhelmed by the impact of  the Sexual Assault Crisis Center’s  Shall We Dance fundraising event. 

Unfortunately, few people understand or appreciate the impact of sexual violence in our community or on its victims.  Day in and day out, we see the faces, hear the stories and work together and independently to do whatever we can to make a difference.  Some days, the work seems insurmountable and heartbreaking and other days we experience sweet justice.  Over the almost 12 years I have been here, I have always been amazed and impressed with the collaborative efforts our county has on so many issues – domestic violence, sexual violence, child maltreatment and others.

 The Shall We Dance event is incredible for so many reasons….but one of the most important is the community involvement and awareness.  People are talking about the issue of sexual violence, and the more people talk the more “comfortable” the topic becomes.  So hopefully, when a child comes forward, or a friend confides in another friend, or a co-worker learns her friend was a victim in a pending case, or a victim decides to make that scary, brave call to law enforcement or go to their medical provider, people will not just BELIEVE victims, but they will know the Sexual Assault Crisis Center is there to help.  From my standpoint, it also helps educate our jury pool.  Eventually, these people could be in our jury box making the decisions on our cases.  Whatever we can do to educate potential jurors helps us hold offenders accountable. 

 And then there is that heart stopping, Oh My God, you have to be kidding moment when you realize all your hard work and dedication raised $300,000 plus for the Center and our team to continue doing the work we do best!  UNREAL.  There are a million reasons why I love the SWD event, but I have to get to court and have another referral sitting on my desk.  But as I get back to it, my heart is a little lighter because I can see the faces of people we have helped this last year and know that as names come across my desk, you’ll be there to support the healing process.

 From my heart, a very big thank you for the countless, exhausting hours you put into this event!!  I am inspired and awed to work alongside such driven, compassionate friends and colleagues!  I couldn’t do my work without all of you! 

With admiration and thanks,
Mindy Tempelis
Deputy District Attorney
Outagamie County

 

Oh, Back to School!

Back to school, back to school. To prove to dad that I’m not a fool. Got my lunch packed up, my shoes tied tight. I hope I don’t get in a fight. Oh, back to school.

Ahh, the wisdom of Billy Madison. We can learn so much from his experiences when he returned to school as an adult. One of the most difficult adjustments for Billy going back to school was using appropriate language. As a former high school teacher myself, I can tell you that this is a very real challenge for students returning from summer break. In fact, our school administrators would often refer to their profane, crude, filter-less words as “summer language.”

When Prevention Educators from SACC present to middle and high school students, we always discuss sexual harassment. At first I was shocked to learn that some students really don’t know what is appropriate to say and what is actually “harassment.” Most students think that harassment is just bullying or name-calling. While those are definitely examples of harassment, there is much more to it! As Prevention Educators, we point out that sexual harassment also includes making comments about people’s physical appearance, bodies, or clothes; telling dirty jokes; making offensive hand or body gestures (booo Miley Cyrus); and even spreading rumors about someone.

As adults we need to work with youngsters to help them realize that their words and actions have real-life consequences. Schools will no longer tolerate sexual harassment. In fact, Title IX states that a school has a responsibility to respond promptly and effectively to harassment. If a school knows or reasonably should know about sexual harassment or sexual violence that creates a hostile environment, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the sexual harassment or sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.

Summer (especially after a long Wisconsin winter) is a great time for families and friends to enjoy time outdoors and let loose a little bit, but we always need to be conscientious of the language we use and the behaviors we model for our children. It is our responsibility as a community to send children back to school ready to learn and behave respectfully.