Tag Archives: survivor

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Take Back the Night 2017

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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

Sago Palm Re-Entry Center Tour

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As the Certified Rape Crisis Center for Palm Beach County, Victim Services is responsible for assisting inmates at the Sao Palm Re-Entry Center. To cooperate with the Prison Rape Elimination Act, (PREA – the first United States federal law passed dealing with the sexual assault of prisoners), crisis responders took a tour of the prison and met with the warden.

What is Sago Palm Re-Entry Center?

Sago Palm Re-Entry Center is classified at the lowest custody level for a facility. Minimum security prisons or prison camps are comprised of non-secure dormitories which are routinely patrolled by correctional officers, it has it’s own group toilet and shower area adjacent to the sleeping quarters that contain double bunks and lockers. The prison has a single perimeter fence which is inspected on a regular basis, but has no armed watch towers or roving patrol. There is less supervision and control over inmates in the dormitories and less supervision of inmate movement within the prison than at any other custody level. Inmates assigned to minimum security prisons generally pose the least risk to public safety. The camp is considered the best situation to be in if you have to be incarcerated. Inmates must have less than 10 years on their sentence, be non-violent with a clear disciplinary history to qualify for camp designation. Long term inmates at higher security institutions within the system are incentivized to “work their way down” in the custody levels to be eligible for transfer to the camp.

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

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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.

Good Morning America

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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:

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“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

 

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Ceremony in the Garden 2017

Ceremony in the Garden

Event Photos:

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Field Of Hope 2017

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Event Photos:

 

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Out of the Shadows

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Palm Beach County Victim Services & Certified Rape Crisis Center joined Rescue Upstream and the Palm Beach State College Human Trafficking Committee on their Lake Worth campus to raise awareness.

The “Out of the Shadows” daytime event included presentations about human trafficking with an emphasis on the direct link of pornography with trafficking. Camera Hall, Survivor Action Team member and founder of Stolen People, gave a powerful spoken word performance of , “You are not forgotten”, depicting the invisibility of trafficking victims hidden in plain sight.

The evening segment provided a Human Trafficking documentary followed by discussion with the audience.

There was specific outreach to male survivors  by providing a speaker panel with Randy LaPierre,  Brent Berman, Psychotherapist, also Survivor Action Team members and Amy Schafer, PBCVS therapist.

Healing Through the Arts

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This event is open to the public and we invite you to attend.

If you would like to contribute art, writings, or a performance, please contact Monica Gonzalez for the application.

Survivor Gifts

Julie Weil and the Not Just Me Foundation donated some beautiful journals that have been handmade with butterflies on the outside and handwritten message on the inside (You are Brave, You are Strong, You are Not Alone).

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Each message was written by a sexual assault survivor – these journals will be given to sexual assault victims by their advocate after their initial meeting at the Butterfly House. Julie shared that someone gave her a journal after her assault. It helped her organize her thoughts and keep track of her memories. She has also donated some beautiful pendants to be distributed; the pendants remind the survivors to Be Strong.  We are so thankful and blessed to have a beautiful person such as Julie who cares and does so much the sexual assault victims in our County – she is truly an amazing one of a kind person!! 

not just me