This week was the National YWCA Week Without Violence that recognized the committment of our programs to end violence and educate the public about different types of community violence. I participated as a speaker and panel discussion with my colleagues. This week was also the Missouri Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence Annual conference wher I also presented a workshop on "What Sexual Trauma Survivors Wish You Knew." Between the two events I hadthe privilege of meeting many survivors and committed professionals who are working to end sexual a use and revuse the traumatic impact on survivors. I am honored to be among so many unsung heroes as they work for social change.
This August I will be presenting in San Diego at the Institute of Violence, Abuse, and Trauma International Summit as well as attending the National Partnership for Ending Interpersonal Violence annual Think Tank.
I will be presenting on Empowerment Tools with Sexual Trauma Survivors : Challenging Guilt and Self-blame and another presentation with our Disability Sex Educator, Jessica Naslund on " Invisible Victims: Sexual Trauma Prevention and Treatment with the Disabled Community..
For more info or to register go to www.ivat.org
At the YWCA Women’s Resource Center we offer several different types of free group therapy options:
Teens who are survivors of child sexual abuse or rape- Wednesdays 3:30-5:30 pm.
Coping Skills Group, 4 week, open drop-in group, Call to register, no screening/intake required. New groups every month
Child Sexual Abuse Survivor Group, 13 weeks, closed group – Recruiting now
We also offer an 8 week Sexual Assault Support Group in Collaboration with a Woman’s Place, being held at A Woman’s Place in St. Louis City on Morganford, Tuesdays 10am -12 pm Starting February 24th
Rape & Sexual Assault Survivors Group, 12 weeks, closed group- Mondays 6-8 pm, Starting January 26th
Healthy Sexuality group, 8 weeks, closed group- To be announced
Sexual Health education groups for the disabled (SHADE program)- Contact Christina if your live in the County or Jessica if you live in the City
If you have watched the news, followed twitter or facebook in the past month you may have noticed a couple important discussions of drug facilitated sexual assault AKA: date rape drugging
Musical artist Cee Lo Green recently plead No Contest to spiking a woman's drink with ecstasy, she later woke up naked next to him with missing memories. Subsequent to his plea, he to took to twitter to make some damning statements about his lack of understanding about consent that resulted in a swift public backlash.
In addition, a debate was recently sparked about college students working to develop nail polish that would detect the presence of date rape drugs by using your finger to stir your drink. The debate is over whether it is appropriate to put the onus on women to prevent sexual assault, which could risk a greater victim blaming culture (why didn't she use the nail polish to test her drink?) rather than putting the blame on perpetrators.
If you have been following the headlines this year, college rape and Title 9 has taken center stage. Politicians, college groups, lawyers, and social service workers are coming together to address the problem and to bring more awareness to the issue and how colleges have systematically swept rape under the rug, leaving victims to carry the burden.
Wendy Murphy, an attorney has put together a terrific resource for parents and survivors about what to do if a sexual assault happens to your child at college, which it does to about 1/4. Please read and share.
How do you get rapists to admit to rape? Basically, don't use the word rape. Some interesting studies have been published with this data. Similarly, if you want to find out how many people have been sexually assaulted, you don't use the word either rape either. Often, labels scare people from admitting to their conscious self what really happened. Check out this link for info on these study results. http://www.upworthy.com/whoa-4-questions-that-got-120-rapists-to-admit-they-were-rapists-5?g=2&c=ufb1
Senator Gillibrand's proposal to improve justice for military sexual trauma survivors by removing the authority to investigate and meat out punishment from the chain of command and place it into the hands of a neutral 3rd party is moving the the Senate floor. After the premier of the documentary of "The Invisible War," which highlighted the problem and the astonishingly low rate of sexual assault reporting and military prosecution, questions began to surface and changes in the military were made. Last year the Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing on Military Sexual Assaults scrutinized the panel of almost all males who indicated that they felt it was best to not change the way the military currently handles sexual assaults and keep investigations within the chain of command. Many pieces of legislation were proposed and changes have been made, but no changes regarding the chain of command. Senator Gillibrand has worked on trying to change this. In a recent posting she stated this , "I wanted to alert you to the need for urgent action to help pass the Military Justice Improvement Act. We are expecting a vote on the Senate floor perhaps as soon as tomorrow. We need you all to join with survivors of sexual assault and make your voices heard today to help build support for this important reform.
We have a strong majority of the Senate -- 55 Senators and counting -- who are publicly supporting this bill, just a few shy of the 60 we'll need to overcome a filibuster. Can you add your voice to help us win those few extra votes and get us over the finish line?
Please call, write or tweet your Senators right now, urge them not to filibuster justice for sexual assault survivors and to allow an up or down vote on the Military Justice Improvement Act.
Thanks for all you're doing to help us pass this important legislation so we can create an impartial system of justice within our military that is worthy of the sacrifices our brave men and women make for us every day."
Currently, over 127,000 have signed the petition in support. You can contribute through the link below.
Project Unbreakable was launched as a blog on tumblr and has now accumulated many photos from male and female survivors displaying captivating artistic images of their sexual trauma experiences. Go to http://projectunbreakable.tumblr.com/
A bill has been proposed by Senator Gillibrand to remove rape reporting from the chain of command and put military prosecutors in charge of deciding what should happen to the accused (rather than the officer that stands to gain or lose something); A process, which results in less than .o1% of military sexual assault cases going to trial. This is the equivalent of having to tell your boss or your boss' boss (who may have hired your boss and is friends with your boss) only if you've been sexually assaulted by your boss, but not having any legal recourse in the justice system. This bill is being blocked by prominent male and female senators.
Megan Garza, MA, LMFT is a certified Specialist in Treating Trauma at a Supervisory level and is Licensed as a Marriage and Family Therapist. She specializes in work with sexual abuse survivors.