PAVE Moms Shattering The Silence

Talk, Share, Shatter the Silence…donate to PAVE and receive Moms Shattering The Silence, a multi-media tool kit for Moms to talk to kids about sexual abuse.

Tweet About It! #pavemoms

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!




The rate of sexual abuse is extremely high – 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys before the age of 18 will be sexually assaulted. But it is SO silent and so hard for parents to talk to their kids about it!!
PAVE has developed a multi-media package for moms launching on MOTHERS DAY 2012 called “PAVE Moms Shattering The Silence”

Donate $25 to PAVE and receive this valuable multi-media kit for you and for the moms you honor, cherish and care about!

Talk, Share, Shatter the Silence…donate  below to PAVE and receive Moms Shattering The Silence, a multi-media tool kit for Moms to talk to kids about sexual abuse.

PAVE Moms Shattering the Silence

WE NEED YOU!

Please Help Us Get Out the Word…Tweet about it #pavemoms

MARY AMONS – Bravo’s Real Housewives of DC

DR. CHERYL ARUTT - Psychologist & Trauma Expert SEEN ON CNN, HLN, truTV AND FOX NEWS

DR. JENN BERMAN – Host of VH1′s Couples Therapy and The Love and Sex Show with Dr. Jenn on Sirius XM & Mother of Twins

DR. THEMA BRYANT-DAVIS – Licensed Psychologist, Poet, Dancer & Minister Seen on BET, PBS, Dr. Phil, ESSENCE Magazine

JENNER EVANS - Actress/model/comedian who has appeared on shows on E! and Lifetime

KIM GOLDMAN – Internationally Best-Selling Author, Speaker, Radio Host, Activist Seen on Oprah

DR. MICHELLE GOLLAND – National Relationship Expert and Psychologist Seen on CNN, Fox and Dr. Drew on CNN HLN

ANDREA METCALF – Best-selling Author Seen on NBC’s TODAY SHOW, Good Morning America and Oprah.com

ANGELICA PAGE - American Award Winning actress, Director, Producer and Screenwriter

MELISSA JUN ROWLEY – Award-Winning Journalist, On-Air Host, and Content Strategist

ROBIN SAX – Author & Legal Analyst seen on CNN, Fox, and The Today Show

LIZ SECCURO – Author, Speaker, Advocate seen on Dateline NBC, The Today Show, MSNBC

PAVE MEDIA MOMS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW


A Wonderful Resource for LGBTQ Survivors from WCSAP

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual violence in the LGBTQ community. The  fact is, the LGBTQ population faces the same forms of sexual violence that the rest of the population does. What’s more, sexual violence is often used as a hate crimes tactic to target the LGBTQ population. These communities also have a harder time reporting sexual violence due to increased barriers like homophobia and the fear of being outed. This is especially true of female identified same sex partners, who are often times not believed when reporting due to the common myth that women cannot be perpetrators of sexual violence.

Here are some helpful stats about sexual violence in the LGBTQ population. I found these statistics on RAINN’s Website (www.RAINN.org)  and from the wonderful publication that I describe below:

Stats:

  • Six percent of all anti-LGBT hate crimes are incidents of sexual assault or forcible rape.
  • More than half of gay men and lesbians report at least one incident of sexual coercion by a same-sex partner.
  • It is often thought that the larger, “butcher” partner will be the assailant in a same-sex assault; however, size or gender identity does not determine who the abusive partner is.
  • Bisexual, transgendered, lesbian, and gay people experience violence within their intimate relationships at about the same rates as heterosexuals (Waldner-Haugrud, 1997; AVP, 1992)
    • 30% of lesbians report having experienced sexual assault or rape by another woman (not necessarily an intimate partner) (Renzetti, 1992)
    • 15% of men living with a male intimate partner report being raped, assaulted or stalked by a male cohabitant (CDC, 1999)
  • LGBT individuals may experience abuse during their childhood. They may be abused by parents or others who are intolerant of homosexuality. They may be targeted for sexual abuse by adults that recognize their “difference.”
  • Over 11% of gay and lesbian youth report being physical attacked by family members (Hetrick-Martin Institute, 1988)
  • 42% of homeless youth, many of whom have run away from home to escape violence, self-­identify as gay/lesbian. (Victim Services, 1991) LGBT persons face additional challenges in healing from childhood sexual assault, due to myths that childhood sexual assault may have “caused” them to be gay.
  • A study of gay, lesbian and bisexual adults showed that 41% reported being a victim of a hate crime after the age of 16. (Herek, 1999) Sexual violence is more common among LGBT hate crimes, assailants may use rape to “punish” victims for what they view as their sexual transgressions.

Because of the particular barriers that the LGBTQ community faces when reporting or talking about their assault, the transition to survivorhood can be even more difficult. It is important that as a community we recognize this difficulty and provide education and resources for LGBTQ survivors and allies to help the healing process. While conducting research for some PAVE educational materials I stumbled upon this wonderful resource, Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ survivors. that was published by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs that does just that! I encourage you as an individual, advocate, counselor, friend, survivor, social service agency, etc to read through this wonderful publication.

You can download a PDF of the WCSAP’s Setting The Stage: Strategies for Supporting LGBTIQ Survivors by clicking here. Please use this resources to support hte LGBTQ survivors in your life!

My Stories: Marnie and IMPACT Personal Safety

“As a survivor of stranger rape, I never had an interest in taking a self-defense class.  I teach people that being aware of your surroundings is critical. We live in a world where women must be on high alert. We teach women to avoid certain places at specific times, buddy up, and be safe rather than sorry.  However we don’t have the physical tools to fight back.  While I wanted to have every tool available to protect myself, the possibility of learning something that could have changed the trajectory of my history made self defense feel like a place I did not belong -to learn what could have been seemed tragic.  It was for those who haven’t been attacked.

Having a strong sense that self-defense would be cathartic for me, my husband convinced me to attend his Arnis class. As I surveyed the room – six guys, an instructor and a red duffle bag filled with knives – I fled through the front door. I was terrified. This was not for me. I did not have one survivor friend who went to self defense as part of their healing. His instructor recommended IMPACT Personal Safety, a program for women that he had been involved with. I watched their videos online. I was impressed with the intensity and focus of the course. Good for them, I thought, but not good for me.

Then I read IMPACT’s mission: men and women dedicated to ending the cycle of violence, a goal of many anti-sexual assault organizations I work with.  More specifically the goals of IMPACT are ones that this activist should know. The mission of IMPACT Personal Safety is to end the cycle of violence in society by empowering women, children, and men with the self-esteem and the tools necessary to take control of their lives through self-defense, boundary setting and the understanding that your life is worth fighting for.

I reluctantly signed up for the eight weeks basics course.  At the first class, I met 13 other strong, smart women who had been attacked or feared it, along with four instructors – one instructor, two assists, and our male instructor – the mugger.  Three and a half hours later, I wished every woman knew what I had just learned.  I left feeling exhausted but forever changed. We were taught surprisingly simple but highly effective physical moves to protect ourselves in real life situations that we chose and fought out with our fully padded and protected male instructor. I watched my classmates elbow, strike, and kick their way out of every scenario. IMPACT is not just about learning how to fight but arming yourself with verbal skills to deescalate a situation – and if all else fails – we were prepared to fight.  These boundary setting skills crossover to the every day – from a difficult boss to a needy friend, IMPACT taught us to assess situations and apply the right tools.

Every week I felt a little wiser, a little stronger, a little safer.  This class was about protecting myself in the present, and adding these skills to my activist toolbox. I went from vehemently arguing why the class was not for me to encouraging every woman to take the basics class. If anything the class reinforced that I skillfully survived the attack.  For survivors, this is an empowering moment: taking the power back. You don’t need to practice it- it’s muscle memory. Instead of freezing, your body has been taught to fight back.

The class ends with graduation – a mighty send off with an opportunity to show friends and family what you’ve learned. My husband, friends, and even a client attended.  I watched thirteen strong women I met just eight weeks earlier confidently and instinctively handle every scenario they were confronted with.  We were also applauding each other’s transformations and successes, from walking fearlessly through a parking lot at night, to changing jobs, to feeling a whole lot safer.  How many things can you learn in eight classes will change you forever?  Self defense is not a mandatory class all children learn in school; we learn what we are taught by family or friends, and then when one becomes a victim of a crime, we blame. We blame ourselves, and criminals know this. So then, how could you not take this class?  You want to find the survivor in you? Want to kick that fear through a brick wall?  Invest in you and find peace, happiness and some serious strength with IMPACT Personal Safety.”

- Marnie Goodfriend

If you are interested in learning more about IMPACT Personal Safety’s programs and how you might use then as a part of your healing process, you can learn more on their website. I’m linking you straight to their chapter locator page so you can click the one in your area, as each location offers different services. Click here.

 

 

 

 

PAVE Founder Angela Rose, Sexual Assault Survivor, on A&E’s Bio Channel “I Survived” & Other National Media

Angela on I Survived

Angela Rose, PAVE Founder is a survivor…and thriver. At the age of 17, Angela was abducted at knife point outside a suburban Chicago shopping mall. She was assaulted by a repeat sex-offender on parole for murder-and was eventually released by her attacker. Angela shares her story through her nonprofit PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment), across college campuses and on national media including Oprah Winfrey Network, CNN, A&E Bio Channel’s television show I Survived.

FOLLOW ANGELA ON TWITTER: AngelaRosePAVE

Important note: Although Angela’s story was a stranger assault, overwhelmingly sexual assault is committed by someone we know and trust. PAVE works to shatter the silence and prevent ALL sexual violence.


In a stripped-down, simple interview style, I Survived… allows survivors to explain, in their own words, how they overcame unbelievable circumstances-offering insight into what got them through the experience that changed their lives forever.

 

Tune in for an personal account of her experiences and how she is now helping other victims get their voice back. CLICK HERE

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on THE LEAD on CNN HLN – Aug 2013

Sexual assault survivor Angela Rose says any time you can shatter the silence about what happened, you reclaim power.

CLICK HERE to see Dr. Drew on CNN Headline News

CLICK HERE to Listen to PAVE Founder Angela Rose on the Geraldo Rivera Radio Show talking about the Castro case – August 2013

CLICK HERE to see “BREAKTHROUGH WOMEN” segment about Angela Rose

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on ABC 7 news Chicago.

CLICK HERE to watch the RACE FOR CHANGE on ABC news. April 2013

CLICK HERE to watch PAVE Founder Angela Rose on FOX’s Mike Huckabee Show with celebrity co-host Bethenny Frankel.

CLICK HERE for more info on Angela Rose on Good Day LA.

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on Sacramento & Co Morning Show.

CLICK HERE to see Angela Rose on a news broadcast in the Bahamas.

FOLLOW ANGELA ON TWITTER: AngelaRosePAVE

FREE resources for Sexual Assault Awareness month:

http://www.pavingtheway.net/wordpress/saam

 

The Binding Project at Pace University!

PACE Binding Project 1A wonderful report on the Binding Project from PACE University Students:

Pace University- Binding Project, 2/22 & 2/29
Kessel Student Center

“Students [at PACE University] took action by participating in the binding project to spread awareness about violence perpetrated against men and women.

The binding project is a project that’s a part of Angela Rose’s non-profit organization, PAVE. We use this project as a platform to share her story about how she turned her experience as a survivor of sexual violence, into activism. Angela speaks out about sexual violence and the way in which it affects victims worldwide. Students wrote words that they felt like empowered them, on a zip tie. They wore the ties for two days in unity, for the same amount of time that Angela was tied using the material, when she was kidnapped at age 17.”

Check out these great pics from the event!

PACE Binding Project 3PACE Binding Project 5

Interested in doing the binding project on your campus or in your community? If so, read more about the binding project here, or click here to purchase now.

OWH Call to Action: Addressing Sexual Violence on Campus: April 10 – Washington D.C.

CALL TO ACTION

PAVE invites you to join is in participating in the Office Of Women’s Health, Violence Against Women Steering Committee & The Office on Violence Against Women’s Call to Action: Addressing Sexual Violence on Campus

Tuesday, April 10th; Hubert H. Humphrey Building – Great Hall 200 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C.

Click Here to Register

Penn State University screening of Boys & Men Healing April 3rd & 4th

PAVE Affiliate, Big Voice Pictures, creators of the award winning video Boys & Men’s Healing, will be hosting their first ever screening and discussion at Penn State University Tuesday April 3rd and Wednesday April 4th for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Please Join PAVE Executive Director & Founder, Angela Rose at this Incredible Event!

Boys & Men's Healing Video Cover

PRESS RELEASE:

Boys and Men Healing Film Screenings at Penn State

One of Over Hundreds of Screenings Across the Nation: A National Awareness Raising
Campaign and MALESURVIVOR.ORG ‘DARE TO DREAM EVENT 2′
JOIN THE HEALING JOURNEY!

Penn State –Penn State will host two screenings of Boys and Men Healing, a
leading documentary produced by Big Voice Pictures about the affects of male child sexual
abuse and the importance of healing, speaking out, and advocating for ending the cycle of
the sexual abuse of boys. This event is hosted by Penn State University.

The film screenings and Q&A following will be held at Altoona Campus at 7:00 p.m. on
April 3, 2012 at the Misciagna Theater on the Penn State Altoona campus. A reception will
be held @ 6 p.m. that evening in the Titleman Lounge of the theater to welcome the
speakers. The panel of speakers include: Simon Weinberg, Co-Producer of Boys and Men
Healing, Mark Crawford, survivor and MaleSurvivor Advisory Board member also featured
in the film, Founding Board Members of MaleSurvivor and current Advisory Board
members, Jim Struve LCSW and Howard Fradkin, Ph.D,, and Chris Anderson, survivor
and Vice President of MaleSurvivor. MaleSurvivor is a leading organization providing
useful information to promote health, discussion and connections for male survivors of
sexual abuse and those who support them.

The second screening will be held at Penn State – University Park on Wed April 4th from 7-
8:30 pm in the HUB Auditorium. The panel of speakers will be available for a Q & A after
the screening.

Boys and Men Healing is a film from director and producer Kathy Barbini, and co-producer
Simon Weinberg of Big Voice Pictures. Boys and Men Healing digs deep into the impact of
male child sexual abuse on both the individual and society, and highlights the importance of
male survivors healing and speaking out for the well being of our families, and
communities. Featuring non-offending men, this film shows the profound effects of
boyhood sexual abuse — shame, intimacy problems, sexual identity confusion, post-
traumatic stress, substance abuse or and unresolved rage that led to violence. Despite such
devastating effects, each man ultimately chose the arduous task of healing. Through
counseling, support groups and prevention advocacy, each man is a testimony of hope and
the ability for survivors to thrive.

Events are free to the public and open to the media, though seating is limited.
Free parking in lots.

Who: Penn State is hosting. Free and open to the public.
What: Boys and Men Healing documentary screening and panel discussion
When: Tuesday, April 3 6:30 pm Reception and 7:00pm Film Screening ; Wednesday April 4. 7:00pm Film Screening
Where: April 3: Misciagn Theater on Altoona campus; April 4, at the Hub Auditorium at the Penn State University Park.

This film screening is sponsored by Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and
Penn State Student Affairs

What the Experts are Saying about Boys and Men Healing:

“Absolutely superb…Emotionally Powerful”
Matthew Mendel, Ph.D., Psychologist
Author of The Male Survivor: Impact of Sexual Abuse

“Kathy Barbini’s film has the potential to transform those stories and voices into healing –
not only for individuals but also for families, communities, and even societies.”
Jim Hopper, Founding Board Member, 1in6.org

“An excellent film for teaching about children’s experiences of sexual abuse and the
multiple influences that support their healing and recovery…a marvelous gift to us all.”
Ernesto Mujica, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist and Psychoanalysis , NYSPA Division of
Psychoanalysis and Advisory Board Member of MaleSurvivor and Co-chair of the 2012
MaleSurvivor Conference

“Will have a profound effect.”
Eileen King, Regional Director, Justice for Children

“An excellent breakthough…Extraordinarily touching and brave”
Alex Bottinelli, Resource Coordinator
Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

“Very beautifully filmed…know how deeply it is appreciated by countless people…”
Chrys Ballerano, Building Connections, Project Co-Director/Community Educator &
Resource Library Coordinator, NYS Coalition Against Sexual Assault

“Boys and Men Healing is a powerful evocation of a complex, deeply felt issue that affects
not just sexually abused boys and men, but each and every one of us living in a society that
has come so late to recognize this prevalent problem, and is still struggling about whether
and how to prevent it and heal its victims.
Richard Gartner, Ph.D., Psychotherapist and MaleSurvivor Advisory Board Member
Author: Beyond Betrayal: Taking Charge of Your Life After Boyhood Sexual Abuse
and Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men

“While it is clear this film will help survivors heal and providers treat, I see an even greater
purpose. Use this film to educate lawmakers!Senator Joe Vitale, New Jersey State Senate

Free Wednesday Lunch & Learn Webinar Series for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

saam_logoDon’t miss out on PAVE’s FREE Wednesday Lunch & Learn Webinar Series for Sexual Assault Awareness Month!

Every Wednesday from 12pm – 1pm CST*** for the month of April, PAVE will be hosting a FREE Webinar about different aspects of Sexual Violence Prevention (See topics and times below). No registration required. Click the links below 10 minutes prior to the webinar time to join. Password is 123. OR, visit http://pavesaamwebinar.eventbrite.com to register.

————————————————————————————————————————-

Wednesday April 4th: 12pm – 1pm CST
Title: PAVE Sexual Assault Awareness Month Wednesday Lunch & Learn Series: History of SAAM & Sexual Violence 101

Wednesday April 11th: 12pm – 1pm CST
Title: PAVE Sexual Assault Awareness Month Wednesday Lunch & Learn Series: Supporting a Survivor & Bystander Intervention

Wednesday April 18th: 12pm – 1pm CST
Title: PAVE Sexual Assault Awareness Month Wednesday Lunch & Learn Series: Sexual Violence in the Media & Gender Identity

Wednesday April 25th: 12pm – 1pm CST
Title: PAVE Sexual Assault Awareness Month Wednesday Lunch & Learn Series: Healthy Relationships, Reporting, & Shattering The Silence 101

—————————————————————-

***To join the online meeting***
——————————————————-
1. Go to https://cisco.webex.com/ciscosales/j.php?ED=190640872&UID=0&PW=NZjA2NDY5NmYz&RT=MiM3

(Login in at least 10 minutes prior to the event so you can
2. Enter your name and email address.
3. Enter the meeting password: 123
4. Click “Join Now”.

To view in other time zones or languages, please click the link:
https://cisco.webex.com/ciscosales/j.php?ED=190640872&UID=0&PW=NZjA2NDY5NmYz&ORT=MiM3

ACTION ALERT: Moroccan Child Forced to Marry Rapist Commits Suicide: Sign The Petition from Avaaz

Please read this ACTION ALERT from Avaaz!

Avaaz petition pictureDear friends,

16 year-old Amina Filali — raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist — killed herself because Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to marry his underage victim. Let’s end the outrage and push the government to make good on the promise to enact legislation that reforms the law and stops violence against women. Sign the petition and forward to everyone:

Days ago, 16 year-old Amina Filali, raped, beaten and forced to wed her rapist, killed herself — the only way she saw to escape the trap set for her by her rapist and the law. If we act now, we can stop this unspeakable tragedy from happening to anyone else.

Article 475 in Morocco’s penal code allows a rapist to avoid prosecution and a long prison sentence by marrying his victim if she is a minor. Since 2006, the government has promised to strike this down and pass legislation prohibiting violence against women, but it hasn’t happened.

Hundreds of Moroccan protestors are in the streets demanding real reform, turning up the heat on the Prime Minister and heads of other ministries, who write and sponsor bills and the international media has picked up the story. If we ramp up pressure, we can see real progress now. Sign the petition for a comprehensive law to stop violence against women, including the repeal of Article 475. When we reach 250,000 signatures, we’ll work with local women’s groups to deliver our call to decision-makers:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/forced_to_marry_her_rapist_b/?vl

When Amina was brutally raped, her family reported it to officials in their town of Larache. Instead of prosecuting the rapist, the court allowed him the option of marrying his victim– and Amina’s family agreed to the proposal.

Now, in response to global outrage, the government has issued a statement arguing that the relationship was consensual, but that story isn’t verified. Our Moroccan partners on the ground say that this is a typical government attempt to blame the victim and whitewash the issue — meanwhile the law is still on the books and now, more than ever, we need to reject Article 475. Women’s groups in Morocco have long fought this, and it’s time for the legislature to renounce this wretched tradition and pass real protections for women.

Outraged Moroccans are flooding social networking sites and the streets in protest. Hundreds of women staged a sit-ins in front of the Larache court and Parliament this week. Let’s join in the demand that laws should protect, not trample on women’s rights:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/forced_to_marry_her_rapist_b/?vl

Time and again, Avaaz members use our collective power to join with people around the globe to fight for a better world — today, let’s stand together for Amina Filali and the legacy of hope that her story must leave.

With that hope,

Dalia, Carol, Emma, Rewan, Ricken, Luis, Antonia and the rest of the Avaaz team

More information:

Morocco protest against rape-marriage law (BBC)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17416426

Morocco mulls tougher line against rape-marriages (Al Jazeera)
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2012/03/20123171132404140.html

Protesters in Morocco demand reform of rape laws after teen girl’s suicide (CNN)
http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/17/world/africa/morocco-child-rape/index.html

Morocco: Amina’s parents contradict official account, insist their daughter was raped
http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/03/17/201337.html

Global Rights report on violence against women in Morocco
http://www.globalrights.org/site/DocServer/2011-10-14_Final_Shadow_Report_to_CAT.pdf?docID=12983

Facebook Group Page
https://www.facebook.com/groups/188082354639954/

Raped or “Seduced”? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence

Please enjoy this AMAZING article by Claudia Bayliff from SAFVIC:

Raped or “Seduced”? How Language Helps Shape Our Response to Sexual Violence

By Claudia J. Bayliff

From The Sexual Assault Family Violence Investigator Course

The language we use to describe sexual violence helps shape our response to this terrible crime. Law enforcement officers play a crucial role in the criminal justice system’s response to sexual violence. They are often the gatekeepers—the first person victims inter-act with after they have been raped. How law enforcement officers talk about sexual violence has a profound impact on how victims, other criminal justice system professionals, media and society at large think about and respond to the crime. This is not about being “politically correct”; it is about writing reports and discussing cases in a way that makes law enforce-ment more effective and successful.
There are three main problems with the way we all talk about sexual violence:

  • We use the language of consensual sex to describe assaultive acts;
  • We describe victims in terms that objectify them or blame them for the violence;
  • and We talk about sexual violence in ways that create an “invisible perpetrator.”

Unfortunately, when we use this type of language, we help to reinforce the stereotypes and myths about sexual violence. We also create an image of this crime that focuses solely on its victims—what they did or did not do to “cause” their victimization–and allows perpetrators to remain invisible and unaccountable. Obviously, there are lots of factors at work that make it harder for us to hold rapists accountable, but the language we use is one key element.

Using the Language of Consensual Sex to De-scribe Assaultive Acts:

When we describe sexual assaults in terms usually used for pleasurable and affectionate acts, we minimize and hide the violence in-volved and we make it harder to visualize the acts as unwanted violations.1 We also help create an image of an intimate and non-threatening scene. For example, think about the different image that is created when we say, “He had sex with her” versus “He forcefully penetrated her vagina with his penis.” Other examples include: “He fondled her breasts,” “He kissed, hugged, caressed or had sex with her.” These phrases also create an image of a mutual act, rather than a physical assault forced on one person by another. Consider how often we talk about child victims “performing oral sex” on their adult perpetrators, rather than describing how adults forcibly penetrate a child. All of us need to be very careful not to use the language of consensual sex when we are describing a sexual assault.

Victim-Blaming Language:

Another trap we often fall into is to talk about sexual violence in ways that blame or objectify victims. This quote from a New York Times article is a great example: “Residents of the neighborhood…said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s. She would hang out with teenage boys at the playground, some said.”2 The person de-scribed by this author is an 11-year-old child who, according to police, was gang-raped by 18 men and teenaged boys on multiple occasions. The neighbors quoted in the article went on to describe how “these boys will have to live with this the rest of their lives,” never stopping to consider the impact on the 11-year-old child.
The term “the accuser” has been nearly universally adopted to describe victims of sexual violence, even when referring to young children. Yet when we use this term, rather than victim or alleged victim, we shift the blame and responsibility from the perpetrator to the victim. Jackson Katz, the author and filmmaker, has the best explanation on why we should not use the term “accuser” to describe sexual assault victims. He explains how the term shifts the victim/perpetrator dynamics of a sexual assault: “She is now the perpetrator of an accusation against him. At the same time, he is transformed from the alleged perpetrator of sexual assault to the actual victim of her accusation. The public is thus positioned to identify sympathetically with him—to feel sorry for him—as the true victim.”3 We need to think carefully how we talk about sexual assault victims and make sure that we are not blaming them or holding them responsible for their own victimization.
The “Invisible Perpetrator”: Consider the difference between these two sentences: “Jessica was raped” versus “Matthew raped Jessica.” In the first sentence, the perpetrator is completely invisible. The second sentence uses accountable language that focus-es our attention on the person committing the crime: Matthew. We often talk about how rapes “occur” as though they were random acts that just happened, as opposed to deliberate, intentional, criminal assaults committed by one person against another. In addition, we describe victims as objects of acts that have no specified agents, describing them as “abused women” or “battered women.” We talk about “violent relationships” when it is the batterer, not the relationship, who is violent.

How Law Enforcement Officers Can Help:

It will take a concerted effort by all of us who work within the criminal justice system, the media, and society as a whole, to change how we talk about and respond to sexual violence. Law enforcement officers can play an important role here. Here are some recommendations for how you can help:

  • Avoid using the language of consensual sex to describe assaultive acts. Instead, use language that describes body parts and what the victim was forced to do. Obviously, if you are quoting witnesses’ statements or the language of the statute, you need to use their exact language.
  • Use language that reflects the unilateral nature of the sexual violence; avoid language that suggests the acts were mutual.
  • Use accountable language that places responsibility on the person committing the criminal acts; avoid the “invisible perpetrator.”
  • Help educate others about the importance of using accountable, accurate language when talking about sexual violence.

Resources:
1Janet Bavelas & Linda Coates, Is it Sex or Assault? Erotic Versus Violent Language in Sexual Assault Trial Judgments, 10 J. Soc. Distress & Homeless 29 (2001).
2James C. McKinley, Vicious Assault Shakes Texas Town, N.Y. Times, Mar. 8, 2011, at A13.
3Jackson Katz, DSK’s Alleged Victim Should Not Be Called His “Accuser,” Huffington Post (Aug. 20, 2011), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackson-katz/dsks-alleged-victim-shoul_b_930996.html.