Do You Know How to Talk Healthy Sexuality with Your Kids?

Parents from Centennial and Casey Middle Schools do now! Peers Building Justice, MESA’s collaborative program with SPAN (Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence) spent two hours with two groups of parents this April practicing the skills needed to have difficult conversations with teens and pre-teens. The goal of the workshop, designed by Colorado Youth Matter, is to help parents have more conversations with their children about sex and sexual health and to make those dialogues positive so that they will be open to more conversations. Additionally, MESA brings the perspective that these “birds and the bees” conversations aren’t just about biology, but also about respecting boundaries and communicating about consent. These workshops are available in both English and Spanish.

Please contact amanda@movingtoendsexualassault.org for more information or to schedule a workshop.

Dear Rape Culture Deniers

Within the last couple of months, anti-rape advocates and organizations have had to address a ludicrous and harmful declaration: that Rape Culture does not exist. RAINN rejected the fact that our society has created a culture that validates and justifies sexual violence while marginalizing and sometimes vilifying survivors for speaking out. Another so-called victim advocacy organization posted a blog entry that compared “PC Feminists” usage of the term Rape Culture to Hitler’s hate propaganda that targeted Jewish people in his awful Mein Kampf book that helped stoke racial flames that eventually (and quickly) started the ethnic-cleansing-and-genocide fire we’re all familiar with. Yes, someone actually compared feminists and Rape Culture to Hitler and anti-Semitism. Rape Culture exists, it is a reality that we all have experienced and/or have been oppressed by in some way. Unfortunately within the current movement and anti-rape activism “Rape Culture” has become synonymous with strict-gender-and-class based ideals. Rape culture is typically invoked when talking about sexual assault on college campuses and with women as survivors and men in privileged positions (who are rarely punished) as the attackers. Certainly, this is prevalent, but there is more to Rape Culture and sexual violence than what mainstream media, anti-rape advocates and deniers of Rape Culture frequently discuss.

Rape Culture is more than simply misogyny; it is racism, heterosexism, nationalism, anti-Trans* hatred, and classism that oppress all individuals in society, survivors, victims, and everyone else. This country was built on violence, and a majority of that violence was directed at racial groups-specifically Native populations and Black slaves-that were tormented with sexual violence as a means of colonization and control. This specific sexual assault and rape still occurs to this day-Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be targeted for sexual violence, and practically with impunity with the current laws-and communities of Color are still experience rape and sexual assault disproportionately. The LGBTQ community also experiences high instances of rape and sexual violence, and are subsequently either further victimized by our heterosexist society or just ignored. Rape Culture trivializes the experiences of male survivors. Rape Culture permits a major news article to call an 11-year old gang-rape survivor “promiscuous.” Rape Culture is when a chemical magnate who confesses to molesting and sexually assaulting his toddler daughter and infant son is given no jail time because he wouldn’t “fare well” in prison. Rape Culture mourns the loss of “promising” futures of sex offenders while demonizing survivors. Rape Culture looks the other way when prisoners of both sexes are sexually assaulted or raped. Rape Culture is when a Trans* survivor is afraid to report the attack to police for fear of retaliation for their identity. Rape Culture is when we speak of survivors and perpetrators using sex-binary pronouns. Rape Culture is when we use the word “rape” as an everyday verb or don’t speak out against rape jokes or harmful language.

We perpetuate rape when we do nothing as bystanders. We are oppressed by Rape Culture when we have to defend ourselves as survivors and advocates. Rape Culture exists and we as a community have to contend with it every day of our lives, at every step. It is not a witch hunt against men concocted by PC feminists to persecute innocent men and gain funding from the government. It is an oppressing and violent force that created the need for rape crisis centers and the anti-violence movement in the first place. We anti-rape activists are not out to imprison innocent men or spread lies about sexual assault and rape culture for personal or monetary gain. We are social justice advocates working to eradicate the social inequities and oppressions that are inherent in Rape Culture, and work towards a future free of sexual violence.

Intersections

INTERSECTIONS: Coming Together to Better Serve Sexual Assault Survivors with Disabilities

Intersections is a collaboration between Moving to End Sexual Assault (MESA), Boulder and Broomfield Counties’ rape crisis center, and Imagine!, the primary provider of developmental disability services in Boulder and Broomfield Counties. The context of this work is situated in the epidemic levels of sexual abuse with people with disabilities. This collaboration endeavors to create sustainable, systemic changes within both organizations that will result in exceptional services for sexual assault survivors with disabilities in our community.

The Intersections project is in the fourth year (since 2009) and is funded by the United States Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). In this final quarter of the project, Intersections is close to completing the deliverables proposed in the Intersections strategic plan. As the Intersections wraps up its project work, the collaboration is proud to report out its achievements during the implementation phase.

The Intersections collaboration has successfully accomplished the following milestones contributing towards the larger goal of enhancing services for sexual assault survivors with developmental disabilities.

  • Created the innovative Organizational Culture Review Tool (OCRT) for systemic review of the organization’s culture at both MESA and Imagine!. The OCRT comprises of the following chapters:
    • Policy and Procedure Review Tool (PnP); reviewed identified policies and procedures for being more trauma-informed and disability-aware and developed a report of recommendations for MESA and Imagine!.
    • Safety and Accessibility Review Tool (S&A); reviewed the organizational culture (physical environment, information & communication environment, programmatic and attitudinal environments) at MESA and Imagine! pilot sites. Developed a comprehensive report of recommendations for enhancing the organizational culture to be more accessible, responsive, safe and welcoming for survivors with developmental disabilities.
  •  Formulated MESA’s Accommodations Policy and Procedures.
  • Developed the Sexual Assault Against People with Disabilities 101 training curriculum for Imagine!.
  • Developed the 83%: The Intersection of Disability and Sexual Violence curriculum for cross-organizational training at MESA and Imagine!.
  • Organized the Intersections Workshop Series for MESA and Imagine! staff, volunteers & interns:
    • Care for the Caregivers: Understanding Vicarious Trauma & Self Care by Katie Asmus.
    • 83%: The Intersection of Disability & Sexual Violence by Caitlin Looney (Mental Health Therapist, Dayspring, Imagine!) & Ashley Cohn (Community Education & Training Coordinator, MESA).
    • The Intersection of Disability & Sexual Violence: Safety & People with Disabilities-The Tools by Roberta Sick.The Intersections collaboration, beyond the life of the grant, with its limited capacity and resources is deeply committed to continue working on the long-term recommendations and systemic changes as part of the respective organizations. MESA and Imagine! moving forward shall continue to liaise, share expertise and remain an incredible resource for each other to better serve sexual assault survivors with developmental disabilities.

As Intersections- Project Manager, I would like this opportunity to thank all the participating members, workgroup members, executive committee members, core team members, grant consultant and OVW for their invaluable contribution, support and guidance throughout the project work. We could not have achieved what we have without you. Thank You!

For more information:

  • http://www.movingtoendsexualassault.org/currentprojects.html
    • http://www.imaginecolorado.org
    • http://www.accessingsafety.org/index.php/main/right_menu/community_profiles/2009 community-communities/boulder-co

Sanjukta Chaudhuri,
Project Manager, Intersections