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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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.

 

WHY DOESN’T SHE/HE JUST LEAVE?

Now isn’t that a tricky question? I mean, what sane person would continue to be with someone who abuses them?
If you have never been in an abusive relationship, this seems like the simple answer. But then again, shouldn’t the question be, “Why does the other person have the right to abuse?”
There are many reasons a person stays. They are as varied and complex as the people involved. Here are some of the reasons:
1. Love: The abuser is still the person the victim loves. The abuser has times when he/she is VERY charming. One victim stated “I kept thinking that this time when things were good, surely he would like our life together in this good time so much that he would not want to bring on the bad times again. He promised me he would change.” Maybe the abuser will change…at least that’s the victim’s hope.
2. Society/Religion : The victim feels she/he made a committment before God to this relationship. Or the abusive person appears so different to the outside world that the victim feels no one would believe the monster the abuser can be.
3. Isolation: Gradually, the abuser takes steps to keep the victim from other people. Maybe the victim can’t have anything to do with family or friends, isn’t allowed to work or attend activities, or can’t have telephone conversations. There have even been instances of victims being imprisoned in their own homes.
4. Fear: Fear of retaliation if he/she leaves. Threats may have been made against the victim, children, or the victim’s family and friends. Victims have a 75% greater risk of being murdered by their partner during or after they leave the relationship.
5. Financial Limitations: The victim may have limited financial resources…no job, low-paying work, fear of homelessness, etc.
6. Fear of Losing Children: The victim may have been led to believe she/he won’t be able to keep their children.
7. Pets: The victim may not be able to take a pet they love. She/he doesn’t want to leave the pet alone with the abuser, in fear of the pet then being abused.
8. Lack of Self Esteem People with self-esteem issues may feel they don’t have what it takes to make it on their own. They may feel they deserve what happens to them. They may have been told by the abuser that no one else would ever want them.

As you can see, the reasons are varied. It’s difficult for many people to leave the perceived safety of what they know for the unknown. Victims don’t need to be re-victimized by those who think they should just leave. We need to build each other up, not tear each other down.

CARING HOUSE 10TH ANNUAL MYSTERY THEATER DINNER

Hey everybody-It’s that time of year!!!!  Amazing event!!!  Hilarious fun!! Mysterious mayhem!!!

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“Polter-Heist”

Pine Grove Country Club

Friday March 7th & Saturday March 8th 2014

Dinner choices are salmon or beef tenderloin

$40 per ticket-no tickets at the door

Buy your tickets now because ticket sales end February 31, 2014

WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES 2013

On May 18th, 2013 Caring House held the second annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event in Norway, MI to raise awareness and funding for the victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Just as it’s uncomfortable for these brave men to be walking in women’s shoes, it’s also uncomfortable, at the very least, to live in a situation where you are afraid or have been assaulted.  We are so grateful to the men who were willing to make a difference.

Here are some pictures of this event:

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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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IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT IT

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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  Chances are you  or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault.  (Some facts regarding sexual violence are presented in the April 2012 post.)  Each of us has an obligation to be aware and do what we are able to do to stop sexual violence.

WHAT IS SEXUAL VIOLENCE?

Sexual violence is a broad term and includes rape, incest, child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, sexual harassment, exposure, and voyeurism.

Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or manipulated into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence, including children, teens, adults, and elders.

These crimes are widespread and occur daily in our communities, schools, and workplaces, but sexual violence can be prevented. Community members can work to prevent sexual violence by establishing healthy and positive relationships that are based on respect, safety, and equality.

While some forms of sexual violence may not be illegal, such as sexist jokes, catcalling or vulgar gestures, this does not make them any less threatening or harmful to the person victimized. All these behaviors contribute to a culture that accepts sexual violence. Bystanders can speak up when they witness these actions to foster healthy sexuality and safer communities. Many opportunities exist in daily life where society can prevent behaviors that promote sexual violence.

WHAT IS AN ENGAGED BYSTANDER?

An engaged bystander is someone who intervenes before, during, or after a situation when they see or hear behaviors that promote sexual violence. It is common for people to witness situations where someone makes an inappropriate sexual comment or innuendo, tells a rape joke, or touches someone in a sexual manner. Bystanders might also witness other forms of sexual violence. Bystanders who witness the behavior or hear the comment can intervene in a way that will help create a safer environment. Research has shown that bystander programs can produce positive results by increasing participants’ knowledge of sexual violence, decreasing participants’ acceptance of rape myths, and increasing the likelihood that they will intervene (Banyard, Moynihan, & Plante, 2007). Engaged bystanders help create healthy communities and help others build safe and respectful environments by discouraging victim blaming, changing social norms that accept sexual violence, and shifting the responsibility to prevent sexual violence to all community members (Tabachnick, 2009).

WHEN AND HOW TO INTERVENE

Every situation is different and there is no universal response when intervening to prevent sexual violence. Safety is key in deciding when and how to respond to sexual violence. Every person must decide for themselves the safest and most meaningful way to become an engaged bystander. The following are ideas on how one can maintain safety while being an engaged bystander:

  • If you witness sexual violence, get support from people around you. You do not have to act alone.
  • Practice with family and friends about what you would say and how you would say it.

  • When intervening, be respectful, direct, and honest.
  • Contact your local sexual assault center to see if they offer resources or training on bystander intervention. Visit http://www.nsvrc.org/organizations/state-andterritory-coalitions for coalition contact information.
  • If you hear or see something and do not feel safe, contact the police.  (never put yourself in danger)

Portions of this message come from a publication from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

CARING HOUSE EVENTS:

  • April 24th, 2013–Denim Day

Please show your support of efforts all over the world to join in this nationwide campaign to bring awareness to the issue of sexual violence.  Wear your denim this day.

  • April 30th, 2013–Noon–Open House

Join us at the Caring House to socialize and support Sexual Awareness Month.  There will be a small art display created by people who have been impacted by sexual assault.

  • April 30th, 2013–5 PM–Candlelight Vigil

A short candlelight vigil will be held to honor victims of sexual violence.  Please come to support the many victims in our community.