Category Archives: Media

Praying

Kesha just changed the story for sexual assault survivors like me

Four years after she released her last single, three years after she accused her producer of rape and just over a year after her claims of abuse were dismissed in court, singer Kesha has returned – and it’s clear that she’s not content to leave the events of the past behind.

Although she doesn’t name and shame in her new single Praying, which she released last week, it’s clear that Kesha is singing about her tumultuous legal battle with her former producer, Lukasz ‘Dr. Luke’ Gottwald, who in 2014 she accused of sexual assault and battery, sexual harassment and two counts of rape (he countersued and she eventually dropped the charges after a lengthy and complicated series of events).

Kesha’s comeback could have been a feud-inflaming rant of a song – or even a vacuous pop ditty; either would have gone viral. Instead, she has released something more nuanced and, in turn, has opened a new chapter in the public discussion surrounding sexual violence. In one song, she has turned the narrative about rape on its head.

 Nestled among lyrics like ‘Cause you brought the flames and you put me through hell/I had to learn how to fight for myself’, she also belts out ‘I hope you find your peace’ and ‘Sometimes I pray for you at night/Someday – maybe – you’ll see the light’.

 As someone who was sexually assaulted as a teenager, I know why Kesha has focused on compassion and not anger. Simply: she isn’t angry. She isn’t crumbling, or trying to convince us that she was telling the truth. We can choose to believe her, we can choose not to. She doesn’t care; but she does care about finding a way to move on – and that involves waving goodbye to her bitterness. This narrative is one that’s previously been missing in the myriad of think-pieces, interviews and debates on rape. Fury has been the emotion fuelling the fire – and that’s no bad thing. We do need anger. It’s what drove women to campaign for the first statutory definition of rape in 1976; it’s what pushed women to lobby for the marital rape exemption to be abolished in 1991. And that anger is still propelling us: in recent years, horror at the creeping prevalence of online pornography and the messages it subtly teaches boys about girls, has led to consent being discussed in classrooms around the country. Righteous fury at the men who force themselves onto and into women’s bodies simply because they want to – and simply because they can – is good for us. It was good for me. Becoming angry at the man who assaulted me was an essential part of getting better. If I hadn’t done that I’d still be blaming myself.

But it was also bad for me. Following my assault at university, I battled depression and post-traumatic stress disorder for years before eventually dropping out. It was my life that was  plunged into uncertainty, not his. Celebrating resilience – and showing women that it’s possible to rebuild their lives is essential

So often, this is how sexual violence plays out: the assailant gets to walk away unscathed, while the victim struggles with flashbacks, anxiety and depression. Eventually I realized that if I didn’t want my mental health to be the death of me, I’d have to change how I was looking at what happened. I’m not talking about forgiveness, nor am I talking about making apologies for my attacker. I’m talking about understanding that my assailant clearly didn’t grasp the concept of consent – and hoping that he does now. That small seed helped me shift a little of that bitterness and start working towards getting better. I wouldn’t wish what I went through as a teenager on anybody. But I came out the other side a stronger person and, as Kesha sings in her song, I am proud of that. Celebrating resilience – and showing women that it’s possible to rebuild their lives – is essential. Recovery is just as important to talk about as inadequate sentencing, consent and a culture that to often still prioritizes assailants over victims. Kesha has reframed that conversation and, from one survivor to another, I’m grateful to her for that.
— article courtesy of The Telegraph UK
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Palm Beach Post

In April, following the Ceremony in the Garden event for Victim Rights Week, the Palm Beach Post featured this article:

Crime victims recall pain, celebrate healing at remembrance

By Mike Stucka – Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Ceremony 4

Posted: 1:44 p.m. Thursday, April 06, 2017


After a childhood of abuse was followed by a rape that battered most of her body, Bridgit Stoffer has accepted she’ll never be the person she was. But she still has hope, the Palm Beach State College art professor said at a Thursday ceremony for crime victims.

“Some days I feel completely broken and wonder if I’m worth fixing. I’m haunted by memories no one should have to think about, much less relive,” she said at the seventh Ceremony in the Garden. But she offered a thought: “If we believe tomorrow will be better, we can bear today.”

Later, she told a reporter, “I will always be changed. I don’t know that it will get better, but I can be better.” And from volunteer work, becoming an art professor and drafting her memoirs, Stoffer, 34, of Delray Beach is finding ways to better herself and rebuild her life.

Thursday’s annual event, part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, melded falling blossoms from trees at Mounts Botanical Garden just west of the city with the comfort of therapy dogs and guided relaxation lessons. Boxes of tissues were scattered among the audience of about 60.

A survivor of domestic violence who asked to be identified only as Christine from of southern Palm Beach County said, “My ex-husband was very very sick, and was dangerous,” when she sought help at a police station for herself and a child. People around her didn’t believe her story because her husband concealed his alcoholism.

“True strength is keeping it all together when everyone around you would understand if it all fell apart,” she said. She said she learned to take life day by day when she had to. Sometimes, it became hour by hour and even minute by minute.

Angela Johnson, whose son was gunned down in South Bay one morning as he walked his dog two years ago, realized she only talked about Harry Johnson, 35, if she was talking about his murder. She’d never thought of herself as a victim until someone referred her to Palm Beach County’s victim services department, which helped her.

“When I need to cry, I cry. But I choose to live,” said Johnson, whose voice broke as she described finding her son’s body at the crime scene. “… You are stronger than you think. You are stronger than you know.”

“Those messages can help other victims,” said Nicole Bishop, director of the county’s victim services department, which helps about 3,600 people a year.

“Some hope can come from sharing those stories,” she said.

The organization offers advocacy, therapy, support groups, help with restraining orders, and other services. People needing help can call a 24-hour hotline at (561) 833-7273.

Other local events in National Crime Victims’ Rights Week include a Walk For Victims’ Rights, with registration beginning at 8 a.m. Saturday at Currie Park, 2400 N. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach. People can learn more at www.sa15.org online.

Sexual Assault Victims Deserve Justice

Sexual Assault Victims Deserve Justice

Courtesy+of+Santa+Clara+County+Sheriff+

Courtesy of Santa Clara County Sheriff

Kayla Restivo, Staff Writer

Currently convicted rapist Brock Turner is being released from jail after only serving half of his six month sentence. When he was first sentenced to the 6 months for raping an unconscious woman, it started a lot of protests that called for rapist and sexually abusers to get harsher punishment. Brock Turner was given this light slap on the hand because “he was a good kid and never got in trouble.” Stanford University has one of the highest amounts of on-campus rape cases in the country.

For ruining a young girl’s life, he got 3 months. That’s it. Many other sexual abusers get minimum sentences or none at all and it makes no sense. The victims have to live with this for the rest of their lives and they barley get the closure they need to move on with their lives. The Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network says that 97 out of 100 rapists do not serve a single day in prison. California has passed a bill that will give rapists mandatory prison sentences if the victim is unconscious or under the influence and can’t give consent.

Being a fellow sexual assault survivor, I know how the victim in the Brock Turners case feels. When I finally told someone after 2 years of repeated sexual abuse, my abuser got no jail time, no punishment, nothing. He was supposed to be a registered sex offender but he didn’t even get that. By not giving any punishment or jail time, it gives the abuser the idea he got away with it and he can get away with anything. Justice is not being served in my case and many other sexual abuse and assault cases and this needs to change. When I was trying to get over all the abuse, I had lived in fear that he would come after me. I’ve spoken at victim’s rights conferences and that was a great way to get my voice out there for change.

There needs to be a call for stricter sentences and punishments for sexual abusers and assaulters. Rape culture needs to end. Do not use rape and molestation and other forms of sexual assault as jokes, it’s not funny. It’s disgusting and rude to those around you who have been through the same thing. Many of us are still trying to cope with what happened to us and we don’t want to hear jokes about something that ruined parts of our lives.

If you or someone you know needs help dealing with or just wants to tell someone what happened or is currently happening, I’m here for you. I’ve been through it and I will listen. There’s also Palm Beach County Victim Services at the courthouse where you can talk to a therapist and/or a victims advocate for free. Their phone number is 561-355-2418. Remember, change only happens when people start saying things and protesting. We can fix this criminal justice system one case at a time.”

 

article courtesy of “The Tribe” the Santaluces Community High School newspaper (full article in link)

Human Trafficking

Flight attendant rescues teenage girl from human trafficker

Adam Boult
The TelegraphFebruary 6, 2017
Sheila Fedrick
Sheila Fedrick

A flight attendant working for Alaska Airlines has been praised after describing how her quick thinking allowed a young passenger to escape the clutches of a human trafficker.

Shelia Fedrick, 49, was working on a  flight from Seattle to San Francisco in 2011 when she noticed a teenage girl, aged around 14, travelling with a well-dressed older man.

The girl had greasy blonde hair and, according to Fedrick, “looked like she had been through pure hell”.

Speaking to WTSP, Fedrick said she tried to speak to the pair – but the girl remained silent and the man responded defensively.

Alaksa Airlines - Credit: Alaksa Airlines
Alaksa Airlines – Credit: Alaksa Airlines

Speaking under her breath, Fedrick instructed the girl to visit one of the plane’s toilets, where she left a note for her on the mirror. The girl left a message in the same place confirming that she needed help.

Fedrick informed the pilot, who alerted police. Officers were waiting at the terminal when the plane arrived in San Francisco and it was subsequently discovered that the girl was the victim of human trafficking.

Fedrick said: “I’ve been a flight attendant for 10 years and it’s like I am going all the way back to when I was in training.

“And I was like, I could have seen these young girls and young boys and didn’t even know. If you see something, say something.”

Fedrick is still in touch with the girl, who is now attending college: “I put my phone number on the note that I left for her and I guess she memorised it, so a few weeks later, she called me,” she said.

In 2016, 2,000 people were arrested for human trafficking by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with 400 victims freed.”

— article courtesy of Yahoo.com (full article available here)

Good Morning America

abc good morning america

ABC’s Good Morning America featured a story highlighting the disclosure of DJ Zeke Thomas. In the article (listed below) he spoke about his own sexual assaults and the feelings associated:

good morning america

“DJ and producer Zeke Thomas is revealing publicly for the first time that he was raped twice.

“Being gay, being African-American, it’s definitely something that I never imagined would happen to me,” Thomas told ABC News’ Robin Roberts in an interview that aired today on “Good Morning America.”

Prince William speaks with Lady Gaga in Facebook video about tackling mental health issues

Thomas, 28, the son of NBA legend Isiah Thomas, said he was raped for the first time at just 12 years old and then raped again in a separate incident last year.

“At first I didn’t realize what had happened, what had transpired. I knew that it was wrong, I knew that I did not want it. I did not seek it out,” he said of the incident at age 12. “I hadn’t let my family know until much later that this had happened.”

He added, “It was definitely hard for them to hear, and even more hard for them to hear that it happened again.”

Thomas described himself as “terrified” when he was raped again last year, saying, “I really felt that my manhood had been taken from me.”

He did not press charges in either instance of rape, explaining that he “just wasn’t ready” and did not want to be labeled a “victim.”

“If I could go back, there’s 100 percent I would press charges,” Thomas said. “If we could find…the assailant today, I would 100 percent press charges.”

Thomas is going public now about his past sexual abuse to help others. He appears in a new PSA released today by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Thomas is also an ambassador for the NSVRC, an organization dedicated to “preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research,” according to its website.

“I want to give the voiceless a voice,” Thomas said. “The healing really begins with the voice. The healing begins with, this happened to me. I can get through it.”

In the U.S., over 19.5 million men are the victims of contact sexual violence, including rape, over the course of their lives, according to new data released from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“I’m encouraging more victims to come forward,” Thomas said of his newly public role, which also includes him undergoing training to speak to kids about sexual abuse.

It was Thomas’ own family and his focus on music that he credits with giving him strength and helping him on what he calls his “journey” toward recovery.

“They let me know they’re here for me and [said], ‘We’re gonna do everything in our power to help your through this journey,’” Thomas said of his family, whom he relied on along with seeking the help of therapists and doctors.

Thomas, a Detroit native, has collaborated with the likes of Lady Gaga, Jay Z, Pitbull and Diana Ross but it was his own music and lyrics that helped him in his recovery.

“Music has been very therapeutic to me, and writing the songs, and coming out with music to express the way I feel,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ latest single is titled “I’m Dealing With It” and includes the lyrics, “I’m not beggin’ for forgiveness — but tonight I’ve come undone … let my spirit leave this palace, I can’t find the strength to run.”

Thomas said the lyrics signify his road to empowerment.

“It was really through the process of, you know, I’m blaming myself, and I’m coming undone, and I’m trying to take my power back,” he said.

Click HERE for more from the NSVRC on what you can do to prevent sexual violence.

information courtesy of abc news — click here for the original article

 

Palm Beach County Green Dot

Pet and Women Safety Act (PAWS)

This Bill to Protect Domestic-Violence Victim’s Pets Could Save Women’s Lives

By 

puppies

“Domestic abusers often extend their behavior to their victims’ pets, threatening and harming them as a means of control over their owner. That, coupled with the fact that only 3 percent of domestic-violence shelters accommodate pets, makes it difficult for women to leave an abusive situation for fear of what will happen to their pets. Some women delay leaving, some return to abusive situations, while others have reported resorting to living out of their cars so that they can keep both themselves and their pets safe.

The Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act, reintroduced in Congress earlier this week, aims “to protect victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence from emotional and psychological trauma caused by acts of violence or threats of violence against their pets.”

Katherine Clark, a Democratic congresswoman from Massachusetts who, along with nearly 180 representatives across the aisle, is sponsoring the bill released a statement saying, “Pets often become a member of the family, and the idea of leaving a beloved pet behind in a dangerous situation is unthinkable. By ensuring that people experiencing domestic abuse don’t have to make the decision between finding safety for themselves or staying behind to protect their pet, we can empower survivors to seek help.”

Under H.R. 909, federal domestic-violence protections would also include threats and violence against pets. In addition to that, the bill would extend grant funding to the domestic-violence shelters that do provide pet housing, and include any veterinary costs in restitution payments.

If passed, the PAWS Act could be a life-saver for women attempting to leave an abusive situation but in a bind because of their pets. A New York Timesarticle about the Urban Resource Institute, which provides pet-friendly housing for domestic-violence victims New York City, included the story of one Queens woman who was killed by her abusive boyfriend in 2014. She had returned home that night because she was terrified for her dog’s safety.”

— information courtesy of NYMag.com (full article in link)

Palm Beach Post Article

Palm-Beach-Post-Logo

PBC Victim Services names Boynton detective ‘officer of year’

A Boynton Beach police detective was honored Monday by Palm Beach County Victim Services.

Det. Brent Joseph was named Officer of the Year. Joseph is part of Boynton Police’s special victims unit.

“Described by his supervisor as confident and a pit bull, Det. Joseph believes he has a purpose in life to right the wrongs that cross his path. He works tirelessly on behalf of victims and puts everything he has into his investigations. We are so very proud of him, and we thank him for his dedication and commitment,” Police Spokeswoman Stephanie Slater wrote in a Facebook post.

Click this picture to read what Victim Services wrote about him:

“I was definitely not expecting this. I love this award. It’s heavier than it looks. Team effort. Thank you very much,” Joseph said Monday.

Staff writer Mike Stucka contributed to this story.

article courtesy of the Palm Beach Post (please see the link for the full article)

SAAM CBS 12

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

by Lynda Figueredo
Sunday, April 2nd 2017

cbs 12

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Sharon Daugherty, the Sexual Assault Outreach Coordinator for Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center joined CBS 12 News This Morning to explain how you can help give survivors a voice.

Tuesday marks the 2017 Day of Action during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Survivors, family, friends, & professionals are invited to write/then read (optional) their expressions on a flag which is then placed in the ground during the Field of Hope Event April 4th.

The flag display will be filled with white written word flags plus the number of teal flags which represent all victims served in 2016.

One large flag will represent the 85% of those victims who did not reach out for services.

 There will be food, a mask making table, other stations and music to support this unique survivor speak out. The event will be held April 4th, outside the SART Office located at 4120 North Australian Avenue in West Palm Beach from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

____________________________________________

Palm Beach County Victim Services Certified Rape Crisis Center 24/7 Helpline: 1-866-891-7273

TOLL FREE: (866) 891-7273

TTY: (561) 355-1772

Free confidential support services are available:

  • Information about Victims’ rights
  • 24 hour crisis response
  • Free forensic/rape exam
  • Guidance & support through the Criminal Justice system
  • Assistance with filing
  • State Crime Victim Compensation
  • Injunctions for protection
  • Trauma informed Individual therapy and support groups
  • Follow up, information and referral to community resources

You can also visit the Palm Beach County Victim Services website, Facebook, Twitter, and blog.

 

information courtesy of cbs12.com (click here for the article in it’s entirety)

wpec-header-logo

 

#NotOkay

WPTV News Channel 5 featured a piece on the #NotOkay movement on Twitter. Palm Beach County Victim Service’s Outreach Coordinator, Sharon Daugherty, shared information about the movement and where victim’s can go for support.

not-okay

(Click the photo for the full video and article)

Palm Beach County Victim Services (PBCDVS) can be found on Twitter:

twitter

 WPTV_2008