Brave, Bold & Beautiful 2015: Celebrating Survival & Creating Community Awareness

MESA Team: Alyssa Stein, Rebecca Jaskot, Martha Hawkinson, Camilo Casas, Dr. Janine D’Anniballe, Laia Jorba, Gosia Pastusiak, Amanda Fielder, Garrett Hernandez-Rimer

The 2015 Brave, Bold, & Beautiful fundraiser was an evening of inspiration and hope. The event honored the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, a survivor of sexual assault, and highlighted the important issue of prevention education. Our guest speaker, New York best-selling author, Rosalind Wiseman shared her insights around the challenges that young men face in breaking free from expected gender roles that facilitate rape culture.

We at MESA recognize the importance of having emergency medical services made available to survivors in our own community. The SANE program provides this invaluable service to sexual assault survivors. The Daily Camera recently published an  article highlighting the success of the SANE program.  Between the cancellation of the program in 2002 through March of 2015, the Boulder community had to travel to Loveland or Denver for a SANE exam. Now the community can receive care after a sexual assault at Foothills Hospital-Boulder Community Health or the Medical Center of the Rockies.  Many appreciate that the service is now available to Boulder residents. There is a group of caring community members that deserve recognition. The Boulder District Attorney Stanley Garnett and Chief Trial Deputy Katharina Booth pushed for the return of this program, but recognized that funding was limited. The approval for funding the return of the SANE program came from the Boulder County Commissioners, Cindy Domenico, Deb Gardner, and Elise Jones.  Further support and funding were provided by Jessica Ladd-Webert, the Director of the CU Office of Victim Assistance, as well as Valerie Simons, the Title IX Coordinator for the CU Office of Institutional Equity & Compliance.  Furthermore, the program simply could not have taken off without well-qualified professionals, such as Elyse Diewald and Debra Delk, to administer quality care to survivors during a SANE exam.

MESA honored each of these community members with a unique gift of art from Heartstrings Card Company.
SANE Program Awardees: Elyse Diewald, Debra Delk, Elise Jones, Cindy Domenico, Deb Gardner, Stanley Garnett, Valerie Simons, Jessica Ladd-Webert, Katharina Booth, and MESA Director Dr. Janine D’Anniballe

Brave, Bold, & Beautiful is also about celebrating survivors of sexual assault. Those that attended the event were inspired by a story from a survivor of sexual assault.

The evening came to a close with Rosalind Wiseman’s speech, “From Schoolyard Cooties to Rape Culture.”  Wiseman gained fame after writing her best-selling book, Queen Bees and Wannabees, which served as inspiration for the movie Mean Girls. Her most recent publication, Masterminds & Wingmen, particularly aligns with MESA’s efforts to educate young men and boys about healthy masculinity. Wiseman, a mother of boys, knows all too well how young men are faced with cultural norm expectations how to behave.  Even to stand up against a peer telling a rape joke can be difficult when young boys have not been given the proper tools and knowledge for how to handle such situations.  Rosalind tasks adults with stepping up, particularly the men in these boys’ lives. MESA has set out to initiate a school club for young men within Boulder County schools known as Men of Strength (MOST) Clubs. The club aims to provide young men with the knowledge and skills to prevent gender-based violence and foster healthy masculinity. At MESA, we believe that the prevention of sexual assault begins with community education. As poet, writer, and activist Eve Ensler once said, “When men stand up to end violence against women, the world is going to change.”

Today is Colorado Gives Day – 24 hours to give where you live

Join the movement & give back

Today, December 8th, 2015
Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) invites Coloradans to support our efforts to end the suffering in our communities caused by sexual assault by donating to us for Colorado Gives Day on Tuesday, December 8th.

Presented by Community First Foundation and 1stBank, Colorado Gives Day is an annual statewide movement to celebrate and increase philanthropy through online giving. Last year, $26.2 million was raised for Colorado nonprofits in just 24 hours.

As MESA is a program of Mental Health Partners, your donation to MESA will need to be made through the Mental Health Partners donation page on the Colorado Gives Day website. Once on this page, look for the field under “Donation Details” that says, “Where do you want your donation directed?” and select MESA from the drop-down menu. This will ensure that your donation goes directly to MESA services.

$1 Million Incentive Fund

This year, Community First Foundation and 1stBank each contributed $500,000 to create a $1 Million Incentive Fund, one of the largest gives-day incentive funds in the country. Every nonprofit receiving a donation on Colorado Gives Day receives a portion of the fund, which increases the value of every dollar donated. For example, if MESA receives even 1 percent of the total donations made on Colorado Gives Day, MESA also receives 1 percent of the $1 Million Incentive Fund – that’s $10,000!
MESA believes that every person has the right to live free of sexual assault. Your donation to MESA will fund our client services and prevention education programs. To learn more about what your donation can provide, visit our contributions page.

Make a contribution today

2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful featuring Best-Selling Author Rosalind Wiseman


Thank you to the 2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful Sponsors:

Merrill Lynch Website

Daily Camera Website

Flatirons Subaru Website

Emily Davis Consulting Website

2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful featuring Rosalind Wiseman

Please join Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) at the 2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful featuring guest speaker, Rosalind Wiseman! Purchase tickets here!

rwiseman_lowresWhen: Thursday, December 3, 2015 from 6:00 – 8:30 pm
Where: The Glenn Miller Ballroom located                        

at the CU University Memorial Center                  
1669 Euclid Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309
Tickets: $50 General Admission | $25 Students/Seniors

BBB Map Screenshot






The Brave, Bold, and Beautiful is a fundraising event held to honor survivors of sexual assault and individuals who are committed to the mission of MESA. We believe that every person has the right to live free of sexual assault. We are moving to end sexual assault and the suffering it causes in our community. We challenge all forms of oppression and recognize their connection to sexual violence.

This year’s event focuses on the importance of gender-based primary prevention of sexual assault and through school-based prevention programs that will create an empowered youth.

This year’s Brave, Bold, and Beautiful features best-selling author, Rosalind Wiseman.  Rosalind is well-known for her works, Masterminds & Wingmen: Helping Our Boys Cope with Schoolyard Power, Locker-Room Tests, Girlfriends, and the New Rules of Boy World and Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World. Rosalind Wiseman is an internationally recognized expert on children, teens, parenting, bullying, social justice, and ethical leadership.  Rosalind shares a passion to innovate and invigorate educational programs within our schools.

Enjoy appetizers and drinks, music by Cloud 9 String Quartet, inspirational speakers and awards.


2015 MESA Star Award
Tanu Singh
An inspirational survivor of sexual assault

2015 Brave, Bold, and Beautiful Award
The SANE Program Awardees:

Katharina Booth
Chief Deputy District Attorney for the
Twentieth Judicial District

Debra Delk
Director of Nursing Practice for
Boulder Community Health

Elyse Diewald
SANE Coordinator for the

Medical Center of the Rockies

Cindy Domenico
County Commissioner
Boulder County Courthouse

Deb Gardner
County Commissioner
Boulder County Courthouse

Stanley Garnett
District Attorney for the
Twentieth Judicial District

Elise Jones
County Commissioner
Boulder County Courthouse

Jessica Ladd-Webert
Director of

CU Office of Victims Assistance

Valerie Simons
Executive Director and Title IX Coordinator of the
Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance


Register now!



Introducing the Clinical Keynote for WINGS 3rd Annual Conference: Dr. Janine D’Anniballe!

MESA is Proud to Announce that our very own, Dr. Janine D’Anniballe, will be this year’s Soaring to New Heights Conference Clinical Keynote, hosted by the WINGS Foundation!

Dr. Janine D'Anniballe, Ph.D.
The WINGS Foundation’s Soaring to New Heights Conference will be covering two days (September 11th & 12th); providing two tracks, Clinical/Professional (9/11) and Experiential/Educational (9/12). All are welcome to attend one or both days, to give participants a chance to tailor their experience according to their individual needs and interests. Workshops are tailored more to clinicians, providers, and criminal justice professionals, but registration is open to all interested non-clinicians, as well!

Dr. D’Anniballe will host the Friday Keynote: “The Neurobiology of Trauma & How Yoga & Other Holistic Services Assist in Healing and Growth.” The following is a quote from the
Dr. Janine D’Anniballe is a licensed psychologist and a nationally recognized expert who specializes in the areas of neurobiology of trauma, vicarious trauma and treatment for survivors. Her expertise, professionalism, and presentation style have made her a highly sought-after trainer. Her workshops have been described as dynamic, inspirational, and impactful. One of Dr. D’Anniballe’s strengths is her ability to present challenging and complicated material in an understandable and interesting way – engaging her audience with mix of research and real life clinical examples.
This conference is a rare opportunity to hear Dr. D’Anniballe’s presentation on the ways that trauma affects our brains and our bodies, as we gain greater understanding about our capacity to heal in holistic, body-centered ways. Click here for more information. Early registration ends August 10th.


Volunteers Needed!

Recruitment Fall 2015

It’s that time of year, again!  Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA) is seeking individuals that have a passion for helping others.  Volunteering with MESA provides an opportunity for personal growth and experience, while moving to end sexual assault.  MESA needs you!  Click here to begin the application process.

Secondary Survivors Workshop

Secondary Survivors Workshop

Has someone you care about experienced rape, incest, molestation or other forms of sexual violence?  Being a parent, family member, friend or partner of someone who has been sexually assaulted can have an emotional, physical, social and spiritual impact on your well-being.  Participating in a group is a safe and effective way to get support and education on how to support your loved one and cope with your own feelings.


This 4-week workshop will cover:

  • Sexual Assault myths and realities
  • The impacts of trauma
  • Exploring the Secondary Survivor Needs and Feelings
  • How to support your close one
The workshop will be held at MESA (2336 Canyon Blvd. Suite 103, Boulder, CO, 80304) on the following Wednesdays: July 22nd, July 29th, August 5th and August 12th, from 5.30 to 7 pm.


Sliding scale based on income (standard fee is $35 per session).
Call MESA (303-443-0400) or send an email to to register.

Body Image and Sexual Assault

The impact of sexual assault on the psychological and somatic (body-based) dimensions of a person is complex and can take several forms. But how does sexual assault affect body image? Most survivors experience disturbances in their body image, ranging from a mild preoccupation with their physical appearance, to self-injury, eating disorders and body dysphoria. Because the body has been treated as an object by the perpetrator, and the boundaries of the self have been damaged and violated, there is often a dissociation and separation from the body itself. Part of this is denial: “it did not happen to me, but to this body.” Part of this is the psychosocial coping mechanism to decrease bodily pain, and part of that is pure rejection; the body is seen as something shameful, disgusting, and dirty for “letting the assault happen.” The focus of the survivor is on molding, punishing, controlling, and treating the body as something external (an object). Radically different coping strategies fall under this category: from comfort food, to binge and purge behaviors, self-harm and elective cosmetic surgery. The goal may be to meet externally empower themselves by meeting the cultural standard of beauty, or to deny their own body in order to avoid sexual attention. Either way, there is less and less capacity for the survivor to understand and correctly read the signs of the body (hunger, thirst, fatigue, etc.) and be attuned with its needs. This state of constantly monitoring and paying attention to how the body should look (instead of how it feels) is placing the life force at the outside of the survivor, and reinforcing the objectification of the body, as something to be used by others. How can we then reverse the cycle? The concept of body image resilience may be applicable if we think of body memories all individuals have experienced at some point in their lives, experiences that connected them to power, confidence and trust. Expanding and embodying those past positive experiences is as fundamental as the psychotherapy trauma work. Survivors cannot fully heal without raising their critical mind to analyze media messages and start talking about their own bodies and the bodies of others in a way that respects each person’s inner journey and identity. Bodies are fantastic instruments (not objects) and the foundation of the self; the more comfortable we are in our skin, the stronger we will become in our lives and the easier it will be to recover from trauma.

Why is Sexual Assault more Taboo than Domestic Violence?

It is neither possible nor therapeutically productive to compare levels of pain and suffering between victims of various crimes and oppressions, but it is certainly necessary to name the unique factors contributing to the harm of sexual violence. It seems that communities and individuals are more comfortable talking about domestic violence than sexual violence. From a clinical perspective, all forms of physical trauma have similar somatic symptoms; the body is the target of the violence, and it responds in ways that can be difficult for survivors to understand and accept. Unfortunately, both of these crimes have been pervasive in our society and are often complexly interwoven. While not all sexual assaults happen in a domestic violence context, many domestic violence situations also involve rape as a weapon for control. If one in six men and one in four women had been sexually assaulted (and as always statistics are tricky), that means that almost everybody is directly (as a primary victim), or indirectly (as secondary victim or perpetrator), affected. Still, talking about sexual assault seems to be too big of a taboo. Part of the explanation is, as always, cultural and political. Media and advertising portray women as “weak,” passive objects to posses who have no opinion and do not know what they want; whereas men are depicted as “strong” and animalistic, acting through biological needs that cannot always to be controlled. Any other individual who does not fit within the gender binary is more likely to be a target of sexual violence. Strangely, violence seems to be more accepted in movies and TV shows than consensual sexual content. In my view, the movie rating system is totally reversed as it shows that violence is OK, but that sexuality and intimacy are something to hide and of which to be ashamed of. What is this telling us about pleasure and intimacy? How can we provide good education around boundaries and healthy intimacy when the culture itself does not want to even look at it? I also believe that because of the lack of education and the level of vulnerability involved, sexuality in mainstream US culture has a lot of shadows that individuals have trouble exploring and working through. Sexual misuse (if not abuse) seems to be much more close home, in which fantasies, cultural images and lack of education about pleasure, vulnerability and respect, are a bag that all of us hold tighter or loser. Unless we dare to explore our shadows and dark spots, unless we want to look at these issues and disrupt the cultural myths, it is going to be difficult to overtly talk about sexual assault and healthy relationships.

Dancing Against Oppression

The One Billion Rising for Justice campaign is failing to recognize the systemic roots of women’s inequality as well as its intersection with modern day racism and classism. Because the campaign uses flash mobs as one of their main mediums, one cannot help but think that they are also missing out on using dance as a form of resistance. Although this short article cannot do justice to this topic, it is an attempt to acknowledge the ways in which dance has been used to fight oppression through its diversity across cultures and historical struggles.
Resistance dances are subversive because they question the norm and expose the hidden construction or roles and bodies in different cultures, shaking the ideologies in power. This has been the aim of many modern dancers in the turn-of-the-century, as well as more recent choreographers. Pina Bausch and Matthew Bourne are examples of this in Western societies. Chandralekha, a choreographer from India, has questioned the “Indian womanhood” and a woman’s role in family and marriage. As dangerous as the subversion of roles, is the claim of the pleasure of the body, something that Caribbean dances have asserted for centuries as a healthy expression of the self and of life.

We could also look at ways in which non-dominant groups have used dance and movement to express a sense of belonging and identity. Dance is a medium to fight marginalization and the decline of cultures. With the Spanish conquest, many Mesoamerican body art practices and indigenous dances (i.e. Aztec Amoxtli) were banned. These dances were once cultural, political, and religious daily rituals; but after the conquest became an embodied way to express identity, culture pride and resistance, which still lives in present-day manifestations. In the Andean region, the traditional dance (Qoyllur Rit’i) was mixed within imposed rituals of the Spanish Catholic conquerors, hidden to the eye of the dominant culture while resisting the repressive efforts of conquerors. We can also see covered practices in Capoeira dances, an age-old Brazilian aesthetic martial art form (with roots in African circle dances), used by slaves to disguise fighting and training for freedom.

Dance has also been a medium for those marginalized groups that were growing in number and were struggling to have a voice in the dominant culture. For instance, in Japan, the Sukeroku’s dance symbolically expressed commoners’ resistance against the samurai ruling class in the eighteenth century. This hidden meaning helped the rising class to build their own identity and power.
Performance has helped oppressed communities to channel frustration through creativity. Break-dance and hip-hop is an attempt to criticize, voice, transform and adapt to hard life situations. These styles also embody the need to taunt the younger people to toughen and prepare them for the struggles they will need to face in the future, as the big brother would do.
Finally, there are practices that try to recover forgotten histories, such as Ailey Company. He is an icon for African American diaspora artists who are committed to honor historical struggles and represent the ethnic diversity of the US in an immense ecumenical effort.
In essence, dances in different cultures have been used both as expressions of identity and cultures of subversion. It has the great ability to morph and transform throughout the years, adapting to new realities and keeping the integrity of their philosophy.

Adam Sadler, Animation, and Another Example of Trivializing Sexual Violence in Children’s Films in “Hotel Transylvania”

In the 2012 Sony Pictures Animation film Hotel Transylvania, Adam Sadler plays the voice of Count Dracula, who builds a magnificent monster hotel where various characters of the monster genre can rest peacefully in the absence of humans. As Count Dracula’s daughter goes through her teenage roller coaster years, she becomes more and more curious about the world outside of Hotel Transylvania. She eventually falls in love with a human boy named Jonathon who stumbles upon the hotel while traveling through the woods. As Jonathon realizes that the monsters of Hotel Transylvania are “real” and that he has not in fact stumbled upon a costume party, he grapples with curiosity and difference. In two distinct scenes, Jonathon interacts with a heterosexual skeleton couple in ways that are both troubling and unnecessary to the movie’s plot. Both scenes negotiate gender and issues around consent and rely on unchallenged narratives about female bodies and male entitlement.

In the first scene with the skeleton couple, Jonathon discovers that the female skeleton is “real” after walking up to her and sticking his hand through her rib cage.
Part of the irony/humor associated with the scene relies on the skeleton’s lack of flesh, sex organs, and other constructed markers of gender, and thus her presumed lack of ability to be sexually violated. Further, the skeleton’s identity is communicated purely through performance, body language, and gestures. In this sense the skeleton’s performance of gender indicates femininity which is followed by voyeurism and entitled touching, implying that experiencing sexual violence in unavoidable while being feminine. As Jonathon slips his hand into the skeleton’s rib cage, his facial expressions indicate pleasure and curiosity. The interaction is interrupted when the female skeleton screams, slaps Jonathon, and cowers while her husband aggressively confronts him. The “male” skeleton exclaims: “Keep your hands out of my wife” rather than the more colloquially used phrase “keep your hands off of my wife”, further emphasizing the irony that they are skeletons but also playing with sexual innuendo around being inside of someone in terms of sexual intimacy.

In the second scene involving the skeletons, Count Dracula and Jonathon accidentally intrude upon the female skeleton while she is showering. While Count Dracula apologizes profusely and looks away, Jonathon continues to watch her, again with an expression of curiosity and gratification. A key point regarding this scene is that the female skeleton is being watched while bathing in her hotel room, which falls within the definition of sexual assault because she has reasonable expectation for privacy. Further, Jonathon continues to look at her although she is clearly uncomfortable which implies that he is entitled to her body for his own sexual pleasure. Once again the skeleton shrinks away and her male partner intervenes expressing ownership over his wife’s body.

In a positive sense, these scenes could push us to think of sexual assault as not being about sex, but about power and invasiveness and how victims experience assaults differently. The scenes are problematic because they imply that sexual assault is an unavoidable part of a female-identified person’s life, and that female identified people are essentially helpless without protection from males. Further, the fact that the film is in animated form allows for these interactions to be viewed outside of their more real context. These scenes present sexual voyeurism and unconsensual touching as funny and acceptable unless they offend a male who is already entitled to the female being targeted. Finally, the irony around the skeletons is that they are not considered “real” people because they lack tissue and organs; although both scenes vividly depict a violation of the body/person present, even if they are in skeleton form.