Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The goal of SAAM is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center released the following statistics:

  • Every 98 seconds someone in the United States is sexually assaulted
  • 1 in 5 women have been raped
  • 1 in 33 men have been raped

What is it about the world we live in that allows for sexual violence to exist and at an epidemic level?  Answer: Rape culture.

Rape culture is embedded in our society, and lives in our communities. Its pervasiveness reaches the shows and movies we watch, the music we listen to, where we socialize, on the streets, at school and where we work.

More often than not, it’s situations in which sexual assault, rape and general violence are ignored, trivialized, normalized or made into jokes. So how do we as a society perpetuate rape culture?  When 994 out of 1,000 perpetrators walk free, when someone is assaulted every 98 seconds, when entertainers and individuals joke about rape, when men feel entitled to verbally and physically assault women, when men who are victims are ridiculed and dismissed, when we don’t believe or support victims…. That is rape culture!!  

To truly commit to the eradication of sexual violence from our communities, we must address the root cause, and why it happens.  Community members can work to prevent sexual violence by establishing healthy and positive relationships that are based on respect, safety, and equality.  You can be a part of the solution by:

  • Being a role model for respectful behavior to those around you
  • Talking with your children about healthy sexual development and personal boundaries
  • Intervene and speak up when you see inappropriate behavior
  • Report suspected child abuse. Know what to do if you or someone you know suspects a child may be being abused
  • Educate yourself

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY on April 30th at 5:00 p.m. at Bay College – Fornetti Hall for a Candlelight Vigil and Appreciation Ceremony hosted by Caring House.

Together with us, you can demonstrate your support for those impacted by sexual violence as well as acknowledging those who strive to pursue justice for victims.

We will be showing our appreciation for our area’s law enforcement departments and special tributes will be paid to the following for their outstanding dedication:

  • Dickinson County Prosecuting Attorney Lisa Richards
  • Dickinson County Chief Assistance Prosecutor Kristin Kass
  • Kingsford Public Safety Officer Richard Wright
  • Kingsford Public Safety Officer Ryan Pericolosi, and
  • Niagara Police Officer Angie Moreau

Guest speakers will be the Honorable Judge Christopher Ninomiya and the Honorable Judge Thomas Slagle, with special music performed by local youth and a Healing Art Display.  Refreshments will be served.

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Domestic Violence Education at Bay De Noc College West Campus

A group of nursing students from Bay De Noc West has been doing a class project about domestic violence.  They are collecting donations for Caring House, they have given a presentation at the college along with advocate Marti Swisher, and they put together a short video about domestic violence.   This wonderful group of students has done a great job and we are very excited to have partnered with them.

If you would like to view the video it has been published on the Caring House Facebook page.

Human Trafficking

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We in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, live in small communities which we think of as fairly safe.  Most of us in no way think there is human trafficking going on in our communities.  We are wrong.  This is not a tragedy that’s happening in another country or state.  According to a 2015 quote by U.S. Senator Gary Peters, Human trafficking is “a growing problem in every county and community in Michigan”.  Michigan as a whole is one of the top five states in the country where trafficking is exploding.  Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world.

The first ever reported case of human trafficking in Michigan was in a tiny town in the Upper Peninsula, director of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force Jane White said.  This past year saw a case of human trafficking prosecuted in Dickinson County.  Human traffickers are drawn to rural areas and small towns.  There is often a smaller police presence and isolated areas, and these criminals feel they have much less chance of getting caught.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain. The most common form in the United States is commercial sex.

Indicators of Human Trafficking

Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Here are some common indicators to help recognize human trafficking:

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Is the person accompanied by someone who insists on telling a story all the time…they are a student, they are a tourist, they are here on a visa and there are a lot of inconsistencies.
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack access to personal identification documents?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live? Are there unreasonable security measures?

Not all indicators listed above are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking.  For your safety and the safety of possible victims, do not confront someone you suspect may be a human trafficker or a victim, report the information you have to the police.

Traffickers look for vulnerable people.  People who are emotionally or psychologically at risk, people who are economically at risk, and people who are isolated.  Trafficking victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Trafficking victims can be men or women, young or old, American or from abroad, with or without legal status. Sometimes these criminals have specific victim requests by their clients…example, blond haired, blue eyed boy around 12 years old.  They use threats, force and false promises to lure their victims in.

Human trafficking is usually a hidden crime.  The victims don’t come forward because they are afraid of their traffickers or even law enforcement.  The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.

 

STOP THE SILENCE —10/14/2014

Have you taken a ride past the First Covenant Church on H Street in Iron Mountain, MI?  Each cross you see displayed out in front represents one person from the Upper Peninsula who was killed in a Domestic Violence situation.  Who will the next cross represent?  Will it be your sister or brother?  Your neighbor?  A favorite teacher at the school?  Your doctor’s wife?  It could be anyone!  You can’t tell if someone is a victim by looking at them.  They look like me or you.  Wounds aren’t always visible.  Victims are very, very good at pretending everything is ok.

Are you aware of the Domestic Violence in this world?  Do you care?  Every football fan in the United States should know…watch the video of Ray Rice hitting his wife.  Listen to sports personnel talk about how hundreds of cases of Domestic Violence have been covered up.  We all think that good old guy we know couldn’t do such a thing,  why he’s a great guy and fun to be around  (unless he comes home to you each night).  Each and every one of us should be more aware.  Abusers get away with it because they can.  Nobody wants to get involved.  If you see something or hear something that you think may be abuse call the police, that’s the only way this will end.  Don’t keep SILENT!!!  We need everyone to make abusers accountable for their actions.

One way you can help is to come out to our annual  “Break the Silence, Stop the Violence” procession, if you are able.  We will meet at The Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department between noon & 12:15 on Tuesday October 14th.  This year we will be joined by the MI Bikers Helping Veterans Motorcycle group, followed by area law enforcement with sirens blaring, followed by cars honking their horns.  If you can drive or ride in a car and honk a horn you can join us.  The procession will proceed to Caring House where refreshments will be served.  We need YOU!!

Let’s make some changes and shake up this county, so we can shake up this state, so we can shake up our country and shake up the world.  Let’s make this world a safer place.

2013 Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Domestic violence thrives when we are silent; but if we take a stand and work together, we can end it. Throughout the month of October, Caring House will be hosting awareness activities and encourages your participation.

  • Cross Display-First Covenant Church on “H” Street in Iron Mountain.  Dedication of the crosses will be at 8:00 AM on September 30th.
  • Break the Silence-October 8th at 12:00 Noon-Meet at the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department-Procession from the Sheriff’s Department to Caring House-Open House at Caring House 12:30 PM to 4:00 PM.
  • Celebrity Waiter’s Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction-October 24th, First Presbyterian Church 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM.

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  • Paint the City Purple-Local businesses will be displaying purple ribbons
  • Purple Ribbon Campaign-wear a purple ribbon to demonstrate your support towards ending the violence.  Ribbons can be picked up at Caring House.

Some interesting facts about domestic violence:

  • One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
  • An estimated 1.3 million are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
  • Most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.

Candlelight Ceremony & Open House

On April 30, 2013 Caring House held a Candlelight Ceremony in honor of the survivors of sexual assault.

Caring House also used that opportunity to invite the community to an open house.

We would like to share some of the images from these events with you:

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Murder and Domestic Violence

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On April 28, 2013, Patricia Waschbisch was murdered in her home.  In light of the shock, horror and confusion about how someone who worked in the domestic violence field could herself allegedly be a victim of domestic violence murder, we are posting a statement from Rainbow House Domestic Violence Services to our blog.  We know that at times we get a picture in our heads about what a victim should be.  A victim can look like anyone.

With the release of more information about the murder of our leader,
Trish Waschbisch, many are asking how a domestic violence victim
advocate could herself be a victim of domestic violence. To those questions, Rainbow House provides this response.

Part of the tragedy of domestic violence homicide is that it leaves so
many questions unanswered. As much as we would like to hear from
Trish, to know what she was going through, to better understand this
horrible act, we never will.

Therefore, to honor Trish’s memory and legacy, we should focus our
attention and the conversation about her death on what we do know.

First, domestic violence never happens because of something the victim
did or didn’t do. To imply anything to the contrary is unjust to the
victim and minimizes the responsibility of the offender.

Second, domestic violence can happen to anyone. We should never think
someone is immune. Although it is understandable, we should not be
shocked that domestic violence is perpetrated against an advocate or a
police officer or a community leader. We should not be shocked because
domestic violence is not something the victim controls.

Third, we should not be shocked that an advocate was a victim because
domestic violence is solely the choice and responsibility of the offender. What should be truly shocking is that Brent Kaempf allegedly took Trish’s life. We should never become so desensitized to the perpetration of domestic violence that we lose sight of the perpetrator’s role and sole responsibility. We should be shocked that a man who attended domestic violence victim fundraisers, who knew what domestic violence was all about because of his partner’s work, would allegedly himself commit a domestic violence homicide.  It is shocking and despicable.

We believe Trish would want us to create greater awareness about
domestic violence, to break down the misconception that domestic
violence can’t happen to certain people and to refocus the conversation from what we think the victim should have done to the what the perpetrator actually did do. We ask everyone to join us in this effort.