Saturday, April 26, 2014

Haphazard Ramblings of an Anti-Violence, Pro-Education Feminist: Or What I Want You To Know About Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

When it comes to sexual assault and domestic violence, I truly believe that knowledge is power. Continually educating yourself and others about the facts can make such an impact on preventing, coping with, and recovering from violence. This is an issue that affects every single person on this planet whether they have experienced violence themselves or have a loved one that has. If you tell me that you don't know a single person that has experienced sexual assault or domestic violence, I will tell you that you're not listening hard enough. This is important to you and your life. My last semester in school, when I was finally able to take a Women and Gender Studies class, we were asked to do an assignment. The instructions were to create some kind of brochure, pamphlet, etc that provided information about services available in our area. I'm pretty sure I blind sided my instructor. I've included the brochure below but I also found the paper that I submitted with it that included everything that I wanted to put in the brochure but couldn't. I'm not an expert. I'm just a woman/nurse/previous college student that believes in education, prevention and recovery. So here is some random facts/thoughts that I want you to know about sexual assault and domestic violence:

Rape and Sexual Assault

If you plan to have a sexual assault exam:
  • Don't change clothes
  • Don't shower/douche
  • Don't brush your teeth or hair
  • Don't eat or drink
  • Don't smoke

There are only a few Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners that work in the hospitals in our area and they rotate. If you go to a hospital without checking, you may have to leave and go to another. Calling BRCC or the police can help speed the process up because they will find out where to take you.

Things that happen in a sexual assault exam:
  • Once the exam starts, no one can leave or come in. 
  • You will be asked for your statement of what happened. This will be written verbatim by the SANE nurse into the report (Even if you say "don't put that" she will write what you said and "don't put that".)
  • This statement is very important because it is now a legal document that can be used in court
  • The nurse will perform a physical exam that includes swabbing the skin, mouth, teeth, under the nails, and orifices. The nurse will also take pubic and head hair samples. The nurse will perform a pelvic exam and take swabs. Pictures will be taken of any bruises or marks and of your body. 
  • The nurse will usually offer prophylactic antibiotics for any potential STIs. This includes pills and a shot in the muscle above the buttocks. Some locations may also offer emergency contraception. These medicines are not required. 

Other information about the sexual assault exam:
  • Your information is already protected through HIPAA but it will be further protected as confidential and the SANE nurse will be the only one to see it in the hospital. This record can be subpoenaed for court. 
  •  A family member, friend, or advocate from BRCC can be in the exam room with you. They cannot leave once the exam starts. 
  • A sexual assault exam cannot prove rape. It can only prove sex may have happened (and not definitively). 

Sexual assault is NEVER your fault. There is nothing you can do to deserve to be raped. 
Your friends and family may not react well when you tell them. Some people are scared or don't know what to say. Some people won't believe you. Find others that will believe and help you. There are tons of resources online for recovery and healing as well as on our campus. 

You deserve to be believed. You did not deserve to be raped. 

Domestic Violence

This is not your fault. No one deserves to be abused.
Verbal and emotional abuse is a very real thing. This should not be discounted just because it doesn’t leave physical marks. Psychological abuse is real abuse.
This can include things like name calling, threats, insulting or criticizing, telling you that you are crazy, degradation, etc.

The cycle of violence:
  •  First phase: Tension Building

During this phase, the abuser may use emotional abuse and tries to gain complete control over the victim. The abuser will lose their temper easily and be increasingly violent. There is a breakdown in communication and the victim may feel like they are “walking on eggshells.”
  •          Second phase: Explosion

The abuser lashes out, with physical, emotional or sexual violence.
  •           Third phase: Calm/making up

The abuser may pretend that the violence never happened or may profusely apologize, begging to get a second chance. Many promises of “I won’t ever do it again” are made and the victim is sometimes showered with gifts and affection. After a while, they start going back into the tension building phase, starting the cycle over again.

[Note: during the making up phase, the abuser may apologize but it is often a backhanded apology, putting the blame on the victim. Example: Instead of “I’m sorry I hit you.” The abuser might say “I’m sorry you made me so mad I had to hit you.” Or “I’m so sorry but if you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have to hit you.”]

How You Can Help Someone Else:
  •           Believe them. Don’t pass judgment or offer advice or personal stories.
  •           Don’t demand that they leave or put the abusive partner down. This may drive them away.
  •           Accept that it’s ok to be confused about feelings towards an abusive partner. Don’t judge someone for still loving the person that is abusing them.
  •           Encourage the person to get help without demanding that they do. Offer to find resources for them so they don’t have to risk information being found at home.
  •           Call a domestic violence hotline for more information about what you can do to help this specific person
  •           Record events that the victim tells you with dates and descriptions. If they go to court at a later date, this might be helpful to proving abuse.
  •           Don’t blame the victim. Don’t say things like “You’re stupid to stay with him.” Or “Why do you let her treat you like this?”
  •           Don’t place conditions on your continued support (If you don’t leave him/her, I don’t want to help you anymore).
  •           Do not contact the abuser or confront them. This is dangerous and can lead to violence against yourself and increased violence towards the victim
  •           Call the police if you witness physical violence
  •           Help the victim develop a safety plan

Safety Planning:

Not everyone is ready to leave when they ask for help. It takes some victims years to get out of abusive situations. The most important thing for a person in a abusive situation (and for a supportive person to help with) is to make a safety plan for when the victim is ready to leave or when they think that they or a loved one may die if they don’t get out. This decision can happen abruptly so it is important to have a solid plan.
  •           If possible, contact (or have a trusted friend contact) the closest domestic violence shelter to get information about crisis intervention and getting out of your situation.
  •           If possible, keep important documents (ID, birth certificates, social security cards, driver’s license, money, credit cards or checks, work permits, green card, passports, etc.) in a safe place in the home or in a friend’s home to be accessed quickly in an emergency.
  •           Have a friend hold on to some extra clothes for yourself or your children. They may not be time to get these if leaving abruptly. (Medication is a good thing to have a store of outside the home if possible.)
  •           Establish a safe place to stay. This can be with a friend or in a shelter.
  •           Keep a card with contact information of people who can help with you at all times so you don’t have to remember phone numbers.

 There is so much information and so many resources out there. These are just the haphazard ramblings of anti-violence enthusiast. What is something that you wish you had known when you or a loved one experienced violence? 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Culture of Objectification

This is kind of a strange post because it's an assignment that I did for school. We had an assignment about the culture of female objectification in media and this is my PowerPoint! I had some fun with it. :) Send me your "favorite" objectifying ad!

Since this is just a picture of my slide, here is the video:

Here's the video:

Here's the video:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

First post of the new year! And the first post in a long while. I have the usual excuses: school, winter break, school, computer troubles, school, etc. Another reason might be because I've been feeling discouraged as far as feminism and activism go. When I'm in school, I distance myself from any other subject that might distract me and I feel a little empty.

Cheering myself up with a lovely dinner with a lovely person :)

Fortunately, I'm taking my first Women and Gender Studies class (online, nursing schedules blow) and my instructor posted this video (below) of Courtney Martin speaking at a TED Talks about reinventing feminism. The video speaks for itself but here are the main things I got from it.

  • Feminism is always changing and it's okay if I change with it or take a break and come back to it as long as I adapt. 
  • Feminism happens in big ways and in little ways.
  • It's okay to put myself first for a while so I can work harder later.
  • I don't have to change the world today.

With that, I'm attacking this semester head on and when I have that diploma in my hand, I will be a force to reckon with. Not just because I'll suddenly be in charge of helping to keep people alive (yay nurses!) but because I will be started on a completely new feminist journey that could go anywhere. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival 6th Edition: Feminism and Activism

Here it is! The sixth edition of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival! Thank you to everyone for your submissions; the ones you wrote and the ones you found! We have some great posts about personal activism and some that are calls to action. Check them out and share!

Feminist Tight Rope
The lovely LeAnn Stokes of Standing at the Intersection writes about something in this post that we as feminists have all struggled with at some point: burnout. Stress. Despair, whatever you want to call it. Luckily, she has given us some helpful tips on how to manage a healthy feminist lifestyle.

Carrie Nelson writes a post for DOC NYC about a film called RAFEA: SOLAR MAMA. The film is about a woman from Jordan who goes to India to study solar engineering with the intent to bring the technology back to her home.

Ashley Lauren Samsa of Small Strokes Fell Big Oaks (the wonderful founder of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival) writes about blogging activism and the struggles of writing for an audience. This post speaks to me personally as a very small time blogger that’s not sure if I’m making any kind of difference. Her last line is perfect: “Well, with each article I write, if I get one person to think about a new issue or an old one in a different way, I’m an activist. We don’t need an audience to make a real difference in the world.”

In this inspiring guest post on, Nikki Eisinger Striefler shares her story of a lifetime of breaking ground and her struggles as a woman in politics. She ends with a call to action, saying that women who act as women in politics can save the world.

Sandra Wolfe writes about activist burnout in this post with statements I think we can all relate to at some point in our activist careers. The frustration of constant social injustice takes its toll but Sandra uses the help of her partner’s graceful words to remind us that we do this because we love it and we need to give ourselves a little love too. 

Conservative Women Campaigning Against Own Interests
In this post, Tim Peacock of Peacock Panache shares some enlightening information about the Lilly Ledbetter Act and how conservative women are fighting against their own rights. 

Culturally Disoriented of the same named blog, writes a wildly entertaining post about our feminist victories in the last few months and reminds us of where we still need to go. Somewhere in the Feminist Batwoman comic strips and victory parties, CD provided me with my new favorite frustration word: ARGLEBARGLE

War on Women or Overreaction?
Kayleigh Ruetz of Blogging Like Your Rights Depend on it talks about her personal reasons for activism in this short, passionate post. She’s very convincing and makes me want to punch people in the face (with knowledge). 

Tim Peacock educates us again on the bill that would change The Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program and would force women who are pregnant from rape to prove it to get government assistance for their baby.  He closes with a chilling, “What's next in the conservative war on women- lie detector tests for raped women? One can never tell these days.”

Leigh of Bitch Flicks writes about the critically acclaimed HBO drama, Boardwalk Empire; a show about a woman named Margaret who fights for women’s reproductive rights in the 20’s. This post provides not only a great synopsis of key points in the show but is peppered with bits of true history. She ends with a reminder that this fight is not over yet. 

In this passionate post published on The Serpent, Isidora Phoenix talks about why a Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) is so important not only to the protection of trans people but also in changing the perception and treatment of trans people. 

Margaret Hale of uncomfortablyhuman, writes about an article where the author throws out the old idea of "vaginal orgasms only" for a new idea of "clitoral orgasms only". Margaret suggests that we stand up for fluidity and individuality of women and not take them from one box and place them in another. 

Our Muff March is a stand against pornified culture
Rosie Mockett of The Guardian, is taking a stand against America's own version of female genital mutilation: vaginaplasty. She rights about a "Muff March" to protest the idea that women's genitalia don't shape up. My favorite slogan/chant: Keep your mitts off my bits!

16 Day Challenge: Let’s Eliminate Gender Violence
Carla Koppell of USAID writes in this post about a 16 day challenge that ends December 10th to end violence all over the world. Gender based violence is a epidemic and needs to stop.

Thank you for reading! Don't forget to check out December's Blog Carnival hosted at Our Feminist {Play} School! As always, if you want more information or want to see the upcoming carnival schedule, check out Small Strokes Fell Big Oaks info page here.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I Don't Care For Who, Just Vote

Ok, that's not totally true. I do care who you vote for. I don't think it's any secret who I'm voting for.

Michelle Obama! Just kidding. But seriously. Michelle for 2016? But anyways, I do care who you vote for. I think there is a candidate that is not perfect but is actually trying to move forward instead of undoing everything. I think there is a clear candidate that actually thinks about women outside of binders.

But what I care about more, is that you vote. Voting is one of our most basic rights, one that we have fought for since the beginnings of our country. I'm tired of hearing my peers saying, "I don't really follow politics. I'm not going to vote. It's not my thing." Umm, you're an American citizen. The right to vote is definitely your thing. 

Another thing I hear all the time: "My vote doesn't matter anyways. The Electoral College decides who wins." Ok, I get this one a little. It's true, voting is a little weird. Don't Google how it works, you'll get depressed. BUT, here's the deal. Even if your vote doesn't directly vote for the president, it does vote for the person that's going to vote for the president. You determine who represents you. So vote and bring your like minded friends.

Next pet peeve: "It's just picking the lesser of two evils." Ok, so PICK THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS. If that's all you have to pick from (which it's not but kind of is, I don't want to go into the flaws of a binary system) why wouldn't you want to pick the one that sucks less? 

But my biggest, most aggravating and infuriating pet peeve about election day: "I don't know much about either one so I'm just not going to vote." What do you mean, you don't know? You don't know anything about the people that have arguably the most influence on your future? You don't know how each plans to change the policies that determine how you live your life? What about student loans? Don't care, The Walking Dead is on. What about healthcare and insurance? Don't care, I'm looking at pictures of cats. What about your status as a fetus incubator?? Don't care, I have to Instagram my food. 

Who wouldn't be a vegetarian with food this beautiful!
Now don't get me wrong. I watch TV (though it's usually Charmed, not The Walking Dead), I look at pictures of cats, and I Instagram my food (see above). But, I educate myself about the people who are trying to make decisions about MY life. And it's not hard to do. Like a few pages on Facebook, follow the candidates on Twitter, listen to NPR or watch the news (except Fox, we want information, not fairytales). 

Wow, that turned from a plea to vote into an election rant. Whoops. But the plea still stands. Please vote tomorrow. Your life might not depend on it, but what you do with it does. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Vagina Monologues Season: Post 2!

We've officially had our first 2 practices! They were great practices and we have an awesome cast. I know I'm really excited to be getting back into the season and I think/ hope these ladies are too.

This is a picture that the lovely LeAnn took at our second practice with her spiffy panorama feature. We're a little sparse during this practice (we have 30 women in the show not including the two directors!) because of classes and work and such so I can't wait to see what it will look like with everyone in their costumes with the spotlights.

More pictures and posts to come!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Submit to the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival, Sixth Edition: Feminism and Activism

Hi all! So, Ashley Lauren from Small Strokes Fell Big Oaks has graciously agreed to let me host the 6th edition of the Feminist Odyssey Blog Carnival! If you don't know what that is, check it out here to see the details and past editions.

The theme for this edition is Feminism and Activism. Please submit a blog post if you are interested! It can be a new one or an old one or even someone else's blog post that you found interesting. It can be a written or video post. It doesn't just have to be about going to rallies either (though those would be awesome!). There are so many ways that feminists are activists these days. It can be anything from the rallies and protests to choosing to not use microaggressions (using "feminine" words like pussy to describe weakness or using the word "gay" as an adjective for inanimate objects or situations.) It could be asking others not to make rape jokes around you. Even writing a feminist blog post is activism!

There are a million ways to be an activist and I want to hear about yours. Submit your post and check out the rules here and tell me about your activist side! Please share with your friends, families, co-workers, neighbors, anyone that might be interested. Submissions are due November 21st and the edition will be out the 28th!

Leave a comment below if you have any questions!

________ UPDATE _________
So some people have very graciously pointed out to me that it's really confusing to submit unless you've done it before. Here are the easy peasy instructions that I failed to give you in this post.

1. Write your awesome post about feminism and activism.
2. Click on this link
3. Fill out the form with the link to your blog post, your name and email address (all required and important!) and any remarks you may want to include (optional!).
4. Click submit!
5. If anything goes wrong, email me ( or comment below!

Please let me know if this is more helpful. You can also email me if you want to know if your post was properly submitted because the website emails me whenever someone submits a post!