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.


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.


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?


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

Apr 052010

Reposted from my other blog. I thought it was important enough to share in multiple places.


Hey you.

Yes, YOU.

You know a sexual assault survivor…in fact, you probably know a whole bunch.

It doesn’t matter what gender you are, what your orientation is, how many friends you have, where you live, or even whether you have assault/harassesed/raped someone in the past, or whether you spent time working against sexual assault.

You still know people who have been assaulted. Don’t be an ostrich and pretend that you don’t. They could be friends, family, co-workers, lovers, partners, former partners, teachers, students, dog-walkers, etc. You know them.

And if you’re a good person, which I assume you are (or at least, want to be), you’ll want to support them in some way.  There are so many ways to help people who are victims/survivors (I prefer survior, not all people do), so why not give it a go.  Here are some ideas:

*Believe them. So often, people talk about false reports, how people make stuff up, how unless a penis went in a vagina while she struggled and shouted no that it’s not assault. All of that is bullshit. If someone shares a little or a lot of their story with you, BELIEVE THEM.

*Be there.  Be there whether they decide to tell you or not, whether they tell you just one sentence or the whole story comes pouring out.  Just be there.

*Ask what you can do to help. Some people need a shoulder, others need a place to crash, some just want you to hold them while others don’t want you to touch them. ALWAYS ask, whether this happened yesterday or ten years ago.

*Do NOT try to tell a survivor what they “should” or “have to” do.  They want to regain strength and control.  Be there to help, but let them make their own decisions, like who to tell (or n0t), what charges to file (or to not do so), etc. There is not right way to be a survivor.

*Do NOT add more violence to the situation, by saying things like “I’m going to kill that fucking asshole” or “that bitch is gonna die.” Violence is scary period. It is MUCH scarier after you’ve been intimately affected by it.

*For those who are dealing with legal or medical rammifications, help them.  Whether that is driving them to a court house, helping them film out school/police reports, googling info on local laws, statutes of limitations, finding them a SANE (sexual asssault nurse examiner) to help them find evidence, etc. It doesn’t have to be an all day event; any little thing is a show of support.

*Donate money, time or both to your local or national sexual assault organizations, whether they shelter surviors, run hotlines, train college campuses on how to change the climate towards sexual assault prevention, etc.

*Help compile lists of good therapists; get recommendations from friends, online, from sexual assault survivor support sites.  Make copies, or put them online.  If you’re in a more niche community (queer, kink, etc), help find kink aware therapists, and queer friendly professionals.

*Make lists of local sexual assault support organizations.  Have these available or hand or email to survivors.

*Speak out. On facebook, change your status to say something against sexual assault or that you support survivors. On twitter, tweet about it. Put up a blog post, or relink to posts like this on tumbler. In the real world, stand up and speak. Be part of Take Back the Night. When someone touches someone inappropriately, or says something that is harassement, speak out against it.  There IS strength in numbers.

It is only if we all band together that we can make change. Don’t be part of the problem, but worse, don’t be a bystander.  Bystanders are how people get killed because no one spoke up, or how sexual harassment becomes an acceptable norm, because no one spoke up. Don’t be that person.  Do whatever you can, however little or however big, to support sexual assault survivors, and to work together to eliminate and eradicate sexual assault.