Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘sexual assault’

I Used To Cry

Mulatto: Daughter of America by Florencia LaChance.
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

61I3yFhCTTLOur oldest daughter moved in to our foster home when she was fourteen, and like Florencia, became emancipated at sixteen. She survived a similar childhood as Ms. LaChance, with her biological family. Working through years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, is not easy for anyone, at anytime. In Mulatto: Daughter of Americathe author describes one terrible instant after another. With self-determination, and the help of others, she makes it to college, motherhood, and a successful career.

Florencia’s worst, ongoing perpetrator, was her step-father Jim. He beat her, sexually assaulted her, and demeaned her in every way possible. To top it off, she was growing up in Maine, where people of color are rare and far in-between. “So many kids against me. I used to cry. Run and cry. It was too much – the abuse at home and then coming to cruelty at school. I was always, in Maine, the ONLY black person in any school or town I ever went to. In the whole school!” Shame and not belonging became deeply ingrained in her psych.

Along her journey, Florencia gets support and care from her older brother, Joey, and from different friends and mentors, including: Aunt Beatrice and Uncle Royal, Danielle Hardigan, Melody, and the Goodmans. She becomes a ward of the state, and is cycled through various foster homes for two and a half years. When she finally gets to Boston College, against all odds, she is confronted with how to make a living, raise her son Joshua, and simultaneously go to school – exhausting in and of itself.

Mulatto: Daughter of America is sadly a story that still takes place throughout our country. Abuse (in all forms) is pervasive. Though we think we’ve come a long way, by talking about it and confronting it publicly, it continues to fester in homes everywhere. Like our daughter, who went to University of California, Berkeley, and now has two children, Florencia LaChance is an accomplished technical grant writer and project manager, with insight into her childhood, and the ability to write about it for others.

When You’ve Had Enough

When You’ve Had Enough: How to Leave a Violent Home Behind
Excellent and vital guest post by Nora Hood.

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One in four women and one in seven men will be a victim of domestic violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to HuffPost. Many others will be sexually or physically abused by a family member, such as a parent, sibling, or aunt or uncle. Regardless of the abuser, everyone has the right to leave and go somewhere they feel safe. However, fear and the very real possibility of being “punished” by the abuser for trying to escape leaves far too many people in dangerous situations. If you or someone you love is ready to break the cycle of abuse, keep reading for tips on how to do so safely.

Acknowledge That the Abuse Exists

It’s not uncommon for abuse victims to downplay the situation. Psych Central explains that there are many forms of abuse, including emotional and psychological. Just because you haven’t landed in the hospital doesn’t mean you aren’t being abused.

Ask for Help

As the victim of domestic violence, physical abuse, or sexual assault, you have rights, and even if you’ve been forced to ostracize your friends and family, there is a network of people who are willing, ready, and able to help you make your exit. Pewitt Law, a Washington-based legal firm that specializes in domestic violence, notes that most law enforcement agencies provide civil standby. This is a process by which one or more officers arrive to deter violence and keep the peace. These officers can be there to protect you as you leave the home.

Other forms of assistance include crime victim compensation. Some states provide financial advisory services as well as benefits to help pay for medical expenses, food and shelter, and counseling for domestic abuse survivors.

Don’t Instigate

While you are not to blame for your situation, there are certain actions you should avoid when you’re planning to leave, as they could trigger a violent reaction from your abuser. Try to act as normal as possible while you make your exit strategy. Do not tell your abuser that you plan to leave. When researching your assistance options, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, take steps to ensure your internet history remains private. You can do this by opening up an “incognito” or “private” tab through your browser. Popular Science cautions, however, that even in private browsing mode, you may leave digital clues behind, which a tech-savvy (and paranoid) abuser may be able to trace. A better option is to use a prepaid smart device, paid with cash, which can be turned off and hidden. These “burner phones” can be picked up anywhere, from Walmart to your local gas station.

Safety at Your New Home

When you finally have plans and make preparations to leave, keep yourself safe by maintaining a comfortable distance from your abuser. You should be able to utilize a civil standby when you collect your personal belongings. Other ways to keep yourself safe during and after your relocation include:

  • Hire a moving company to enter and exit your abuser’s home with you; request a rental truck, if possible, and that your movers do not wear clothing that would identify the service you are using.
  • Do not list your new address or telephone number on social media.
  • Outfit your new home with an alarm system, deadbolts on the front and back doors, and peepholes where you can see who is knocking before you unlock the door (HomeAdvisor offers more home security tips).
  • Change your work hours.

Don’t leave your safety to chance. Get help, get out, and get your life back on track. You are better than your abuse and don’t deserve to suffer.

A Dangerous Deafness

Gabriel —

This month, a shocking Department of Defense report estimated that 26,000 sexual assaults took place in the military last year. This is disgraceful: one sexual assault is too many.

But still thousands of rapes in the military are never reported, let alone brought to trial. There is a dangerous deafness to sexual assault in the military and many survivors suffer in silence.

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Stand with Victims of Military Sexual Assault: Add your name to join the fight to fix the military’s response to sexual assaults.

Democrats in Congress are taking a stand to better protect our service men and women — but they need our support to ensure that independent prosecutors are deciding whether to prosecute sexual assault cases.

Will you step up and add your name in support of the Military Justice Improvement Act?

http://dccc.org/Stand-With-The-Victims

Thank you for being a part of this.

Kelly

Kelly Ward
DCCC

Because I Was Raped

Gabriel –

The first time the U.S. military betrayed me was when I was raped — twice — by my commanding officer in the Navy.

The second betrayal was when the Veterans Administration (VA) denied me disability benefits for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — which I have because I was raped in the military.

When applying for benefits from the VA, I had to “prove” that my rapes happened, through testimony from eyewitnesses, my ex-husband and others. This is a higher burden of proof than for other veterans applying for the same benefits — and only veterans applying for benefits because of sexual assault have to meet it. Even more, even after I had given it what it wanted, the VA failed to believe that the rapes had occurred or approve my benefits.

Today, I’m fighting back. I recently testified in front of Congress to show elected officials how the VA is failing countless veterans like me. I also started a petition on Change.org to build a nationwide outcry against the VA’s double standard preventing veterans who have been raped and sexually assaulted within the military from getting the benefits they deserve.

Click here to sign my petition now.

As a result of my rapes, I have endured decades of debilitating PTSD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, migraines, a sexually transmitted disease, nine miscarriages, suicide attempts, homelessness and an end to my marriage. It took 23 years, in the end, for the VA to give me any benefits at all.

And I’m not alone. By DOD’s own estimates, over 19,000 service members are assaulted in the military each year. For countless veterans like me, a denied VA claim is the second betrayal, and can mean the difference between life and death. And yet only 1 in 3 applicants receives PTSD benefits for military sexual trauma. In comparison, more than half of veterans applying for PTSD benefits linked to other kinds of trauma are approved.

A few weeks ago, I watched another military rape survivor, Lance Corporal Nicole McCoy, start her own petition on Change.org. More than 300,000 people signed it, inspiring me to start my own petition to create change within the VA.

And I know public pressure to change the VA’s broken system can work: it has happened before, when the VA changed the requirements for combat veterans applying for benefits. The same can happen for veterans who are survivors of military sexual assault — but only if thousands of people join me by signing my petition.

My belief is that the VA wants me to fade away as quickly as possible, but I’m not going to let it off the hook. It’s really that simple. I will continue to serve my country and defend the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. My campaign today is a part of that.

Please click here to sign my petition now, and call on the VA to eliminate double standards and extra hurdles for veterans suffering from military sexual trauma and seeking the benefits they’re entitled to.

Thank you.

Ruth Moore

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