Categorized as: sexual assault

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Ah, February! As we eagerly anticipate the day of love, Valentine’s Day; let us not forget how many brokenhearted and abused girls there are in young relationships. This month, in addition to finding love, we encourage those to face new relationships with the ‘Love Me Pain Free’ mentality.

Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month is a national effort to raise awareness about dating violence, promote programs that support young people, and encourage communities to prevent this form of abuse with the goal of decreasing the prevalence of dating violence among young people.

Here are a few facts about Teen Dating Violence:

  • 33% of adolescents in America are victim to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse.
  • Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior.
  • In the U.S., 25% of high school girls have been abused physically or sexually. Teen girls who are abused this way are 6 times more likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD).
  • 50% of young people who experience rape or physical or sexual abuse will attempt to commit suicide.
  • Roughly 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the U.S. admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed in the last year by someone they are romantically involved with.
  • 1 in 5 teens in a dating relationship report being hit, slapped, or pushed by their partner.

Divas In Defense provides teens with a college preparatory, self-defense workshop. The program is called On Her Own. The course includes the twelve elements of personal safety critical for this age group, including date rape drugs, jogging safety, safe parking lot strategies, social media net-iquette, on-campus violence, cyber stalkers and more. Young women enjoy and are empowered by our ten instinctive street fighting tools we teach.

Dating Violence Resources for Young People & Parents

Break the Cycle: Empowering Youth to End Domestic Violence
Striving to engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free from domestic violence.

Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships
The Centers for Disease Control’s Dating Matters Initiative promotes healthy teen relationships in economically disadvantaged urban communities. The initiative includes an online training for youth workers and teachers.

Love Is Respect: National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
Providing resources for teens, parents, friends and family, Peer Advocates, government officials, law enforcement officials and the general public.

A Thin Line
Empowering youth to stop the spread of digital abuse.

Technology Safety Planning with Survivors
Help young survivors of teen dating violence make safer decisions online with safety planning tips sheets from the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean Vietnamese, Somali and Russian.

(Resource information courtesy of Family & Youth Services Bureau)

Trick Or Treat, Safely!

As the leaves fall and the weather gets cool one of the most festive, crazy and creative holidays is quickly approaching. It is loved by the young and old, the at home- costume doers along with the over the top house decorators. If it isn’t for the bags full of candy or the mystery of “who is behind the mask” you cannot help but enjoy some part of Halloween.

This post will be packed of little Tricks and Treats to keep you and you family safe next weekend.  With every one running around getting that last eye ball to glue on  or finding the ‘just right shade of white face paint’ we at Divas In Defense do not want you to forget that safety is key to a successful evening.

Before you or a group of your Lil’ Ladybug or Fireman friends head out; make sure you have completed your check list:

  1. Have route already planned out.
  2. Make sure designated watchers are assigned.
  3. Costumes are properly fitted with reflector tape or some type of light that can be seen by drivers and walkers.
  4. You can even make your own waterproof informational tattoo. All you need is a sharpie and clear nail polish!

Costumes – Beware! Of people in mask or face covering costumes. They are not only cool to scare but they are an easy way to disguise a person real intention.

Candy – Check your kid’s candy and ‘When in doubt, Throw it out!!! For adults this rule applies as well, check those party favors and punch bowls.

Pets- You will want to keep your cats indoors especially the unofficial mascot of Halloween the Black Cat. Some may take this opportunity to really bring harm to your for legged friend.

Fierce & Fabulous Divas 21+ – With so many goblins and ghouls roaming the streets on All Hallows’ Eve, things can get a little scary. Here are some Uber tips so you have a safe night with treats and no tricks.

  1. Make sure driver ID, type of car and plate matches.
  2. Pre dial 911 – so you can hit send ASAP
  3. Call someone beforehand, while in the car and once you have reached your destination.
  4. Place a business care or matchbook in your purse to ensure you return to your correct hotel.

Halloween can be a fun time of year for both children and adults alike. Whether you plan to get decked out in an elaborate costume and attend a haunted bash, take the kids trick-or-treating, or stay home and hand out goodies to all the ghosts and goblins who appear on your doorstep, the usage of these little tricks and treats will ensure everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Back to School Safety & Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST)

As much as parents are COMPLETELY ecstatic of children returning to school, safety is a primary concern. Recently in Vinings, Georgia, a smart middle school girl thwarted an attempted abduction. The story reported by @11alive as follows:

11 Alive (http://www.11alive.com) reported “A Campbell Middle School girl was walking home Tuesday afternoon when she said a black SUV approached her. The white male driver allegedly tried to lure her into his vehicle.

“She became suspicious when he wasn’t able to answer her questions. Instead, she ran to a nearby home for help.”

Her quick, intuitive thinking helped her return home safely. In this case, her life was at stake!

Did you know:

In December 2013, the FBI expressed they had more than 7,000 pending investigations involving child exploitation, including sex trafficking of minors and child pornography.

According to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities in the United States for domestic minor sex trafficking. And some 300 girls across Atlanta are lured into trafficking every month.

Facts show this was a possibility of Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST), especially here in the Atlanta area. I’ve had training from StreetGrace (www.streetgrace.org) whom I HIGHLY recommend for their diverse knowledge on the topic.

View the USDOJ’s Infographic on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Sex Trafficking of Minors in the U.S.

Learn more about Divas In Defense programs here. In addition, read about our On Her Own: Teen Self-Defense Workshop which covers preventive and informative material on bullying, social media net-iquette, cyber safety, identity theft, domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST), dating violence, sexual assault and harassment.

Here are a few tips to share with your children to be safe:

  • Bus riders are the safest children.
  • Develop a “safe” word for your children, as well as a “not safe” word.
  • Establish a “check-in” system for latch-key children.
  • Encourage your children to travel in groups.
  • Teach your children the importance of not texting while walking.
  • Practice awareness techniques with your children daily.
  • Register your children for self-defense classes.

Here is the National Human Trafficking Hotline Number: (888) 373-7888.

The Great “8” Spring Break Safety Tips

The Spring Break season is steadily approaching. This is the time where teens and family do lots of travelling. It is important for Spring Breakers to use caution and discretion when visiting different cities. Below are a list of tips provided to assist travelers to their vacation and back in the safest way possible.

  1.  Never leave valuables in plain view in your car. Lock items in your trunk before reaching your destination.
  2. Before leaving your hotel, take a card from the front desk with the name of the hotel, phone number, and address, just in case you need help getting back. Also, put this information in your phone to be extra sure you have it.
  3. All genuine taxis will have some sort of ID or badge. Check for this before accepting a ride.
  4. If you ever feel unsafe, it is completely within your rights to abandon a taxi or any other ride service at a safe stop. Leave money behind on the seat and get out of there if you don’t feel safe.
  5. Try to go the ATM in groups, but avoid getting overly complacent about safety just because you’re traveling in numbers.
  6. When entering in your pin number, use your other hand or your body to cover the keypad. Just because you don’t see someone watching you doesn’t mean there couldn’t still be a camera capturing what you type.
  7. When you check in at the front desk, use discretion in saying your room number out loud for anyone in the lobby to hear. No one outside of your group of friends needs to know your exact location.
  8. Always keep an eye on your drink. If you go the bathroom, take your drink with you! Date rape drugs can be put into any drink, including non-alcoholic drinks. It is also important to remember that while drugs being slipped into drinks is something you should be aware of and guard against, alcohol itself is the most common date rape drug. In a 2007 study by the National Institute of Health, it was reported that 89% of female undergrad sexual assault survivors reported drinking before their assault. No survivor is to blame for their assault, but the links between alcohol and victimization are staggering and cannot be ignored.

January- Human Sex Trafficking Month

Generally viewed as a problem only in Third World countries, sex trafficking is destroying the lives of men, women, and children all across the United States. It is happening in OUR backyard. Let’s be clear, Human Trafficking is not the same as prostitution and not only girls are affected; boys are in high demand also.

 

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED:

 
– Vulnerable people are trafficked in the commercial sex trade and labor industry every day in America.
– In 2014, the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline received multiple reports of human trafficking cases in each of the 50 states and D.C
– More than 18,000 total cases of human trafficking have been reported to the NHTRC hotline in the last eight years. The hotline receives an average of 100 calls per day.
– The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. 5.5 million of those are children. 14.2 million of those are victims of labor exploitation.
– In 2014, the International Labor Organization estimated that forced labor generates $150 billion in profits a year worldwide.
– In 2013, an estimated 1 out of 7 endangered runaways reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Childrenwere likely child sex trafficking victims. Of those, 67 percent were in the care of social services or foster care when they ran.

 

According to federal law, any minor under the age of 18 engaging in commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking, regardless of the presence of force, fraud, or coercion.

 

The FBI reports that the average age that a girl is first recruited into prostitution or sex trafficking in the U.S. is 11-14 years-old. Her life span at that point becomes 7 years, due to the risk of overdose, STDs, suicide, and homicide. The FBI has also indicated that Atlanta is among the worst cities in the country for sex trafficking. According to FBI statistics, Atlanta ranks among the top 14 cities in the United States for domestic minor sex trafficking (DMST). Over 300 girls across Atlanta are lured into trafficking every month.

 

But there is hope! Atlanta is also regarded as one of the cities having the most coordinated response to trafficking. If you want to get involved as an advocate to stop these heinous CRIMES, contact Street Grace at http://www.streetgrace.org.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) toll-free hotline, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-888-373-7888 to speak with a specially trained NHTRC Call Specialist. Support is provided in more than 200 languages. We are here to listen and connect you with the help you need to stay safe.

You can also email at nhtrc@polarisproject.org.

To report a potential human trafficking situation, call the hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

All communication with the hotline is strictly confidential.

 

Additional Resources
Domestic Violence: National Domestic Violence Hotline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Sexual Abuse: Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Suicide: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Dating Violence: National Dating Abuse Helpline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

Runaway and Homeless Youth: National Runaway Safeline, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-RUNAWAY (786-2929)

Missing Children and Child Pornography: National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 24 hour Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678)

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Like many of our Divas and especially our Atlanta Divas; who attended our Kicks & Flicks for this movie, I could not stop hearing about ‘No Good Deed’ and its plot.
As I sat with my mom in the theatre the question – Can this really happen? Popped up scene after scene.
We’ve all done it: answered the door, when we know we are not expecting anyone. Thank goodness for most of us, it is usually your friend, neighbor or postman. But what if they are not
In the first 10 minutes I saw a billion steps the main character played by Taraji P. Henson did absolutely wrong:

Here is a brief list just incase you missed the signs:
Open door for someone she wasn’t expecting.
Continue conversation with stranger then informed stranger that she was home alone
Left door unattended.
Invited stranger into the home.
Alarm pad not in use!!

The Divas In Defense team has put together a few hints so we can all avoid being caught on the wrong side of home invasions.

Know Thy Neighbor
The reason behind this is three-fold. Firstly, if you know the people who live around you, then you can tell much more easily if someone there is out of place. Also, in the event of an emergency, it’s a good idea to have at least one of your neighbor’s phone numbers (if not more) to reach out for help.

Stay Secure
There are many levels of prevention. There are the simpler measures (get a dog, which make for great deterrents; make sure doors have peep holes, and use them; make sure all locks are functional and that any outside fences are in good condition) to the larger ones (get an alarm that actually alerts a security service; install security cameras–even ones that are visible to any possible perps) to the really big guns (panic room, anyone?). Which of these you should employ ultimately depends on your personal circumstances, but all (or nearly all) of them are worth investigating.

When Precautions Fail

There are further measures you can take in the event someone does breach your home.

Have a pre-meditated escape plan: Know how you will quickly and safely evacuate you and your family from the house. Make a Meet Up Place!

Learn self-defense: This is not only from a physical stand point from the self confidence you gain from becoming Empowered over your own body. Attackers play on a victim’s vulnerability.

Let them take your stuff: They’re only there for your girl’s jewelry and expensive electronics…let them have at it! All of that stuff—ALL of it—is replaceable. You and your loved ones are not.

Don’t let them take you: As bleak as it sounds, whatever may happen to you wherever they take you will be far worse than what happens in the house. Be it by negotiation or by force, do not let home invaders take you or your loved ones.

Was this movie extreme, ehhhh I say yes but it was done correctly. It gained attention of everyone. The roles played by all characters can easily be reverse. Man home alone with his kids then a stranger knocks…

My Words Should Be Enough!

My Words should be Enough!

Today many of us rode to work hearing the breaking news of video footage that showed NFL player Ray Rice involved in a domestic dispute with his wife. We all remember the initial story a few months ago, but now seeing actually footage has brought this abuse back into our timelines. Though Rice admitted his mistake, many onlookers voiced their discern of how his punishment lacked severity. The NFL suspended him two games after an “investigation”. NFL will now suspend players six games for their first domestic violence offense, at least a year for any subsequent instances. For many, this felt like an important step, even if it came after insufficient punishment.

Still, this does not explain why seeing the violent video caused the uproar to grow exponentially. The fact is there was doubt where that shouldn’t have been. People have reacted with great vigor and called for more punishment only after seeing this video. We have to remember the countless victims who have watched the constant coverage of the initial incident and have recanted their stories or have kept silent this whole time. Is the tremendous support for Janay Rice helping other survivors to speak out. The way we as everyday people treat victims is far more concerning than seeing actually images. It is already hard enough for a victim to seek help or refuge, the last thing they need is for someone of authority or even their own to doubt them.

We knew a man beat a woman, but a choice was made to not fully believe the victim, to not fully stand behind the woman…to disgustingly applaud the predator as he returned to work. Of course, people can say that they believed her claim the entire time and they supported a lengthy suspension. Yet, it doesn’t explain why seeing the violent video caused the uproar to grow exponentially. The fact is there was doubt where that shouldn’t have been. The league thought two games was a fair punishment. The video becoming available does not change the logic of that decision. They had doubt where there should have been none. A man beating a woman needed vivid, violent imagery to warrant a suspension labeled “indefinite” instead of “two”?

Janay Rice apologized for her role in the incident, though no action by her could ever warrant Ray Rice’s response. She didn’t press charges. She sat by Ray Rice and used the word “regret”.
What’s actually regrettable is, in this instance, in too many neighborhoods, on too many college campuses, women feel pressured to not speak out. Those who are verbally abused, beaten, sexually assaulted, raped stay silent because they are unsure of justice. They have doubt because they know they will be doubted…until some vivid, violent imagery emerges. If thE imagery doesn’t emerge, no matter their pain, there will be people who doubt their claims. There will be people who blame the victim. So, to avoid that potential stigma, they don’t open up. Because the uncertain pursuit of justice leaves them again open to victimization. Whereas arguable doubt leaves the predator shielded from absolute judgment.
A woman who seeks to speak out shouldn’t have to be “strong”. She should just be a woman who feels confident and protected in her pursuit of justice. Yet, women need the doubt, the degradation, to be dissolved before this can be a reality.

For more resources:
http://divasindefense.com/wp/company-info/victim-resources/

You Can’t Do What You Want, It’s My Body

Let me tell you a story of a bi-sexual woman who exudes sexuality; and two men: one accused of possession of child pornography and molestation of under aged girls; and the other sexual exploitation and coercion of young women. Seems like the brewing of a report on eyewitness news.

Well, this is what happened when you get Lady Gaga, R. Kelly and Terry Richardson to do an Advertisement for Rape “collaborative project” called, “Do What You Want With My Body.”

According to the reports, Gaga asked Kelly, “Will I ever be able to walk again?” and he replied, “Yes, if you let me do whatever I want with your body. I’m putting you under, and when you wake up, you’re going to be pregnant.” The video clip of the pulled music video posted by TMZ (see video clip here) depicts a young unconscious woman as a playground for sexual exploitation.

Unfortunately, date rape drugs such as rohypnol, GHB and Ketamine makes this video depiction a real-life situation for too many young ladies. As an Atlanta resident, I am embarrassed that we are ranked No. 1 for Sex Trafficking and at the bottom of the spectrum for high school dropouts.

Here are a few ways to protect yourself from being a victim:

– Keep your drinks with you at all times.

– Don’t accept drinks unless they’re delivered by bar staff.

– Pay attention to the way you feel.

– Use methods of detecting the presence of date rape drugs, like DrinkSavvy, a company which designed a cup to detect date rape drugs.

Justice For All

The month of May quietly, but swiftly, sneaked up on us. April brought us Sexual Assault Awareness Month as well as several interesting stories hovering through the news. In the last few days of April, 55 colleges throughout the U.S were named by the Department of Education as being under investigation for sexual assaults under Title IX. According to Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Many of the colleges listed are some of the most prestigious schools in the country such as Vanderbilt University, Princeton University, Harvard College, and University of Southern California, to name a few. This is a huge step in the right direction seeing as one out of every four college females claims they survived an attempted or completed sexual assault during their time at a campus. It’s wonderful to see the most influential leaders of our country stepping up for women all across the country.  Even some celebrities are raising their voices on the issue:

Another recent development is the abduction of more than 250 school girls from a school in Nigeria. The world waits, holding its breath, to find out if these poor girls are safe. An Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, claimed responsibility for the kidnappings. What can you do to help? Get on Twitter and use the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to raise awareness on the subject and to give some comfort to the victim’s families that you support them and hope for their daughter’s/sister’s/friend’s safe return. It may not seem like a lot, but the families of these girls, who might even be your age, need your support and love.

Know Your Limits, Be Prepared

It’s crazy that the month of April is already here, huh? The bees are buzzing, flowers are blooming, and the trees seem to look less and less naked each day.  While April is one of my favorite months of the year because of its natural beauty, I also realized that it is Sexual Assault Awareness month.  According to https://www.rainn.org/statistics, “80% of sexual assault victims are under age 30.” That’s FOUR out of every FIVE people who have been through an attempted or completed assault by age 30.  When I think about all the things I want to accomplish by that time, I can’t imagine a sexual assault getting in the way.  Even if you have never been through something so traumatic, someone you know has.  Here are some tips to prevent and lessen your chances of sexual assault:

  • Avoid drinking/doing drugs at parties.  You don’t want your common sense to be hindered.

  • Be aware that many sexual assaults occur even when the victim knows the perpetrator.

  • Never leave cups of alcohol unattended at parties, as perpetrators may see this as an opportunity to slip a drug called Rohipnol, or roofies, into the drink unsuspectingly.

Remember that if you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted you can talk to a friend, parent, counselor, or police about the incident.  If you’d rather keep it private or need advice on how to take the next step, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-4673.

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