Apr 012012
 

Every year, I right about this. Most of my thoughts from it are summed up in my piece about National Sexual Assault Awareness Month from last year. However, some things to always keep in mind.

*Sexual assault does not always involve penetration

*Sexual assault is not limited to females or women identified people

*Sexual assault is not limited to straight people

*Sexual assault does not discriminate by age, ability, race, sex, gender, socio-economic status, size, education, etc.

*Someone YOU know has been sexually assaulted. It’s never funny to joke about it, to tell someone they are lying or deserved it, or anything like that. It is immature, small and rude. And it kind of makes you an asshat.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted, there are many resources. College campuses tend to have hotlines and/or sexual assault response coordinators. You can contact RAINN (the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network). If you need LGBTQ resources, here are some to get you started. Many states have anti violence programs (in Colorado, it is CAVP). Many doctors and social workers have awesome resources as well. If you cannot find any near you/the person you’re helping, please contact me and I will help you.

Together, we can work together to both support survivors, and to change our culture to make it a safer place for EVERYONE.

Apr 122011
 

This month is a lot of months and one of those happens to be Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

You know a sexual assault survivor, even if you don’t think you don’t. You probably know many. I am a sexual assault survivor.

Here are some facts that you may or may not know:

*Most (although not sexual assaults) happen by people known to the survivor. Stranger assault and acquaintance assault are BOTH sexual assault. Neither is better/worse than the other; let’s not create a hierarchy of non-consent.

*EVERYONE can be a victim/survivor of sexual assault. This includes people under 18, people over 30, people between 18 and 30 men, women, gender queer folk, trans folk, straight folk, queer folk, single people, people in relationships, kinky people, vanilla people, poly people, monogamous people, sex workers, college graduates, doctors, high school drop outs, attorneys, judges, police, servers, sex educators, etc. NO one is protected from sexual assault because of their identity.

*The majority of sexual assaults go unreported.

*15 out of 16 perps will never see a single day of jail or prison.

*Some identify as survivors, others as victims. Both are 100% valid.

*Not everyone wants to talk about their stories.

*Some absolutely do and need a listening ear.

*Sexual Assault can affect the survivors for the rest of their lives.

*Sexual Assault survivors can absolutely have happy, healthy relationships.

*Therapy can be incredibly important and helpful for survivors.

*No means no. Lack of no does not mean yes. Yes means yes — active consent is important!

*When there is a power play (like parent/child, professor/current student), that takes away the ability for most to consent. This is often called sexual coercion (and incest in the first case).

*When people react angrily to hearing of a friend/partner/loved one’s sexual assault, it can often trigger the survivor. Listen, ask them what THEY would like to do/would like YOU to do, don’t be angry and don’t tell them what they “have” to do. Give them back the power.

*People in relationships can be sexually assaulted by their current/former partners.

*People can be sexually assault by people they have had sex with before.

If you or someone you know has been assaulted, there are many resources. College campuses tend to have hotlines and/or sexual assault response coordinators. You can contact RAINN (the Rape, Assault and Incest National Network). If you need LGBTQ resources, here are some to get you started. Many states have anti violence programs (in Colorado, it is CAVP). Many doctors and social workers have awesome resources as well. If you cannot find any near you/the person you’re helping, please contact me and I will help you.

Together, we can work together to both support survivors, and to change our culture to make it a safer place for EVERYONE.

Shanna

Aug 252010
 

Special thanks to Holly over at Menstrual Poetry for passing on this call. As a fellow survivor of sexual harassment, assault and violence, I think this is a wonderful idea, and an amazing way for us to get our voices heard, and to stand up against a society that still condones such behavior. While this particular anthology is geared towards women and trans identified authors, I also want to make it clear that men can be (and have been) victims and survivors of sexual violence as well. People of all genders can commit sexual violence against people of all genders, reminding us that this is not a women’s issue, it’s not a feminist issues, it’s a PEOPLE’S issue.

If you feel so inclined, please considered submitting to this. If not, please think about writing on your blog about your experiences, or at the very least, passing it on. If you’re not a writer, perhaps you can donate time or money to one of the many local non-profits who work on sexual violence prevention and helping survivors. Still not into it? Support RAINN, the Rape and Incest National Network.

Only together can we create change.

-Shanna

Call For Submission

Dear Sister, edited by Lisa Factora-Borchers, is an anthology of letters and other works created for survivors of sexual violence from other survivors and allies. It is a collection of hope and strength through words and art.

The pathway for a survivor of rape and sexual violence is an unlit road of pain, isolation and doubt. In the weeks, months and oftentimes, years following, the healing process can be difficult to navigate without a community surrounding her. Imagine a compilation of literary arms bound together to offer words of understanding, solidarity and love. Dear Sister is an accessible and inclusive offering of hope, voice and courage; seeking writers and artists who wish to light a piece of that road and lift up other women in her healing.

It is an impossible task to write a letter to every survivor of rape, to every woman who lives with an invisible scar. Instead of thinking of the face of the person you are writing to, reflect on the image of an unlit path, a road with no clear footing. Your offering will be one light, among many, to make visible what was previously unseen, to illuminate what was hidden. You are providing a few more steps for someone to walk steadily toward their own recovery. Your words can be an anchor, a meditation, a prayer, a strong embrace or a gentle touch. The purpose of this anthology is not to retell stories of assault, but to help others regain a sense of balance and wholeness.

Mindfully move beyond what is commonly said and reflect upon radical companionship. Write what you wish for her to know and never forget. And if you lose focus, look deep into a mirror and reflect: What would you want to be told if you were in the darkness?

Information

Dear Sister primarily seeks letters but will accept poems, prose, essay and drawn art that can either be scanned for entry. Maximum word count is 1,000. Deadline for submission is November 1, 2010.

Women and transpeople of any race, creed, background, citizenship or non-citizen, ability and identity are encouraged to submit their words and work to uplift others in the healing stages of post trauma and violence. Both English and Spanish are accepted. All questions can be directed to dearsisteranthology@gmail.com.

Submissions can be emailed as an attachment with “Dear Sister Entry” in the subject to dearsisteranthology@gmail.com.

Hand written letters can be address and mailed to:
Dear Sister Anthology
P.O. Box 202468
Cleveland, OH 44120

Note from the Editor

Rape and sexual violence thrive in the silence of our homes and communities. Outreach must be wide and intentional if we seek to hear from those who are silenced. Please forward this to as many individuals, groups, organizations, listserves, websites and agencies that come to mind