Check out our newsletter for April.—
Check out our newsletter for April.—
The Sexual Assault Center of East Tennessee is hosting the Stand Up and Speak Out Against Sexual Violence Open House and Fundraiser on January 24th at 7pm. The event will be a celebration of their move into the Shakti in the Mountains building on Unaka Avenue in Johnson City, and will also raise funds to aid in their mission of providing therapy, advocacy and education services to sexual violence survivors in the Tri-Cities area.
Entertainment for the night will include storytellers Della McGuire and Cathy Jo Janssen, as well as vocalist and radio personality Susan Lachmann and musicians Charis Hickson and Allison Mullins. McGuire came here from Florida for the Storytelling Program at ETSU and to continue her work as an activist. She now uses this skill at the Crisis Center, presenting to college and high school students about sexual assault risk reduction. Janssen thrills both children and adults with her folktales and original stories. Cathy Jo’s quirky humor and flurry of appendages are a delight. Susan Lachmann lends her voice to sound off with song, drum and spoken word in support of community effort. Susan is known for her comedic interpretations of life while believing improvisation improves prospects and perspective. Hickson is a recent graduate from ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Department. Her original banjo songs perpetuate the true Old Time feel. Allison Mullins shares her bluesy, jazzy, a capella vocals and woman-positive prose and poetry.
Door prizes have been provided for the event by local businesses including Mr. K’s, Another Touch Bakery, and Main Street Cafe and Catering. Refreshments have been provided by Earth Fare.
Contact us for more info!
Each year April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month, however sexual violence does not begin or end in April. It is an issue we as a community must face every day. Our attitudes toward sexual assault as a community are measured not by the compassionate or irate words of single individuals. They are measured by the respect we as a community extend and the services we provide to victims, potential victims, and their loved ones.
Our respect is measured by our understanding that no individuals, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, regardless of manner of dress, past actions, marital status, level of intoxication, sexual experience or any other factor, deserves or encourages sexual assault. Our understanding that all individuals can be victims. Victims created not by the circumstances of their own actions, but the criminal acts of individuals seeking power and control by inflicting violence and pain upon others.
This understanding is what allows us to rise above our society’s attitude of victim blame, and beyond long years of silent and ashamed survivors who believed that theirs was a burden to be carried alone. As a community we must lift these individuals out of the darkness and support them as they step into the light of healing and hope for a brighter future.
As a community we must pledge to create a world free of sexual violence and removed from the social norms that support aggression and the abuse and oppression of victims. A world that teaches better, safer, more loving interactions between individuals. A world that encourages and expects its young people to treat one another with kindness, tolerance, and respect.
Imagine a world without rape. Imagine a world without sexual assault or abuse. What kind of world would that be? A world where no one is afraid to walk through parking lots alone, of being drugged when they go to a bar. Where no one is ever forced to do something against their will because they consented to a date, or drink, or were in a relationship with their abuser. A world where rape is never a weapon, or a punch line, or something that is ever ‘asked for.’
Imagine a world where heterosexual women, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals aren’t made targets by simply existing. Where male victims do not live in fear of reporting their assaults for fear of being judged or of perceived implications about their masculinity.
Imaging a world where being a ‘man’ doesn’t have to mean violent, tough, powerful and in ‘control.’ Where emotions are respected and aggression is not. A world where people are seen not as victims or potential victims, but as whole autonomous individuals with control over their own bodies and the power to give or withdraw consent. Consent which is not only listened to but respected and granted.
This is a world that we can help to create. It will not happen overnight but will come at the end of a long and exhausting journey. It will come with coordinated and cooperative response by medical professionals, law enforcement, prosecutors, victims’ advocates, activists and community members. It will come with a community wide outcry that we must support victims and hold offenders responsible. That we must find consistent and effective ways to teach our children about violence, how to prevent it, how to choose different behaviors, and have positive and loving relationships. An outcry that we must become responsible for our own treatment or others. That we must stop forcing others into molds of masculine and feminine, aggressive and submissive, violent and timid, but be a society of self assured, unique individuals, who contribute to a peaceful world.
If you say yes because:
- There’s no point in saying no
- They won’t listen to no
- They haven’t listened to no in the past
- You’re afraid of what they will say or do if you say no
- You’re afraid of what someone else will say or do if you say no
- You don’t believe you have the right to say no
- You don’t think you matter enough to say no
- You don’t think a person “like you” gets to say no
- You think that you “owe” them a yes
- You or they think that because you’ve done something else to hurt them, you have to say yes to this
- You or they think that because they’ve been nice to you, they “deserve” a yes
- You think they’ll no longer love you if you say no
- You think they’ll hate/hurt themselves if you say no
- You think they’ll hurt someone else if you say no
- You said yes before and don’t think you can revoke it
- You have said yes to other people and think that means now you have to say yes to whoever wants you
- You are being threatened
- You believe it is your duty to say yes
- You are being offered a reward if you say yes
- You have been told you “have to” do a particular act to be a “real” ______
- You think it’s “too late” to say no
- You didn’t understand what they wanted to
- Any reason at all other than you actually want to engage in that specific act at that specific time with that specific person with full knowledge of what it is, freedom to say no without fear of consequence, and the full belief in your own agency to make your own decisions about your body
It’s not a real yes. It’s not real consent. And what happened to you was still a real violation and your feelings about that are also very, very real and very okay.
ETA: To the partners - you are responsible for getting a yes. If you get a yes, you’re responsible for having not in any way coerced it, including through any of the methods listed here, and for being reasonably certain that your partner was in a sound frame of mind and body as well as old enough and of a reasonably similar-enough power situation to offer that consent. If you do not obtain uncoerced consent from your capable-of-consenting partner, you have committed sexual assault/rape. That simple.
If you obtain consent with reasonable belief that they could give it and without coercion but one of these other issues exists in your partner’s head (such as the belief that they can’t say no because they said yes to someone else, etc) and you didn’t know that, their trauma is still genuine, their consent is still invalid, their pain is still genuine, but you are innocent of having committed a wrong. The two are not mutually exclusive, and if you devalue or deny their pain because you didn’t know about their situation, you are still a douche.
MCASA Launches new prevention Campaign—The Power of One‘s message is that one person can make a difference in preventing sexual assault. Intervening in a situation that seems disrepectful or potentially violating can make all the difference in someone’s life and it will show everyone around that speaking up is OK.
(TW: Rape, discussions of non-consent)
Scotland really seems to be getting good at the whole ‘blame the perpetrator not the victim’ part of campaigning against rape (I’m reminded of this campaign which takes a similar tact). Which is far more than I can say for the English police force.What can you do to help stop rape?1. Take responsibility … »Find out about the law regarding rape and understand that no matter what the circumstances are, sex without consent is rape.If there is any doubt about whether the person you’re with is consenting, don’t have sex.2. Respect your sexual partner … »Listen to the other person and treat them with respect – effective communication is key to healthy sexual relationships. It’s important to talk to your partner and listen to their wishes.
Any kind of sexual act must be consensual – both partners should agree to it and be happy with it.3. Question your own attitudes … »Consider the messages you hear about how men should act and think about your own actions, attitudes and behaviours.
Understand that behaviour, such as pub chat about a woman ‘asking for it’ because of what she is wearing, can perpetuate harmful attitudes towards sexism and sexual violence.Work towards positively changing attitudes. Choose what kind of guy you want to be.4. Stand up for your beliefs … »It’s easy to look the other way or keep quiet about your opinions. Don’t. Challenge attitudes that disturb you. For example, if a friend makes a joke about rape, tell them it’s not funny. More often than not you’ll find others share your opinion.5. Be proactive … »If you’re with friends and become aware of a situation developing, don’t stay silent. For example where one or both parties are too drunk to have consensual sex, go and have a quiet word with your friend. It might feel awkward and difficult to intervene, but you are looking out for them in what could potentially be a risky situation.
Also, if you see a similar situation arising outwith your group of friends, tell someone in authority, for example a bartender or door steward.6. Be supportive … »If you know or suspect someone close to you has been abused or sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help, offer them your support and encourage them to contact the police. There are also a range of support organisations which can help.7. Speak up … »If you know someone is abusing their partner, don’t ignore it. If you feel able to do so, talk to them and urge them to seek help. There are many support organisations that can offer advice.
You can report abuse by contacting your local police office or anonymously via Crimestoppers. In an emergency always dial 999.8. Get involved … »Support the campaign.
Display ‘we can stop it’ posters in your college, university or workplace – contact us for email@example.com(This address is not for crime reporting - in an emergency always dial 999)Tell us why you support the campaign – we are always looking for fresh firstname.lastname@example.org(This address is not for crime reporting - in an emergency always dial 999) Rape is a difficult subject to talk about but it’s only through raising awareness that attitudes will change.Sex without consent is rape. We can stop it.Look at that. Not a ‘don’t drink too much’ or ‘be careful when you’re walking alone’ in sight.
More campaigns like this please.