September 25, 2009

“Inconsistencies” in sexual assault disclosures

Posted in Myths, Victim Blaming tagged at 9:42 pm by sacetalks

Debunking sexual assault myths is one of the biggest components of our jobs as public educators at SACE.   One myth is that women are “asking for it” by wearing “provocative” clothing.  Another is that women are to blame for being assaulted if they were drinking at the time.  Yet another is that women often lie about being sexually assaulted.

All myths are devastating to survivors.  The lying myth impacts how people who are sexually assaulted heal from their assault, as it influences whether or not anyone chooses to disclose.  When researching what articles to include in this week’s news summary, I stumbled across this gem: Defence points to inconcistencies.

The article details a sexual assault trial in which a man is prosecuted for allegedly anally penetrating a woman.  The defense is arguing that the woman is lying about the sexual assault, which is not only evident in how she did not fully disclose to police, but in how aspects of her testimony have changed.  For example, when she initially reported the sexual assault, she said that the alleged offender forced her clothes off; now, however, she is saying that the offender told her to take her clothes off.

This idea of “inconsitencies” is something we hear a lot in junior highs and high schools.  The story usually goes something like this: “My friend Michaeal was accused of sexually assaulting someone last year, but I know he would never do anything like that.  Anyway, the woman who accused him is just vindictive and she told conflicting stories anyway!  She told my friend that Michael forced her to have 2 drinks, while she told me she had 5 drinks.  It’s pretty clear she was lying.”

I can see how a lot of people may mistake inconsistancies as lies.  However, we must account for the impact of trauma on an individual’s memory before we dismiss that person’s story as false.

Most of our memories play like movies in our heads: we can remember people and the sequence of events.  Memories of trauma, however, are more like pictures; and just as pictures can get jumbled up in real life, so can memories of trauma.  It’s common for people who have experienced any kind of trauma to mix up their memory of what happened: it’s part of our body’s way of protecting us from the traumatic experience.  This means that inconsistent stories do not indicate that the person in question is lying.  If anything, it indicates that the person may be having a common reaction to trauma.

Please keep in mind that lying about sexual assault is very, very rare.  In fact, FBI statistics show that only 2-3% of all reported sexual assaults are false allegations.  This is the same percentage as any other crime, including robbery and physical assault.  Further still, this 2-3% includes the number of people who recant their stories, which we know happens when survivors don’t want to be interrogated on the stand like the woman in the linked article is.

Sexual assault is a crime that is vastly underreported, not overreported.  Please believe people who disclose – not being believed can have an extremely negative impact on someone’s healing.  And for those survivors who may not have disclosed to anyone yet, or may not have been believed by anyone yet – consider telling someone else if this is something you’d like to talk about.  Please know that our 24-hour Sexual Assault Crisis Line, 780 423 4102, is always available to you.  And that we believe you.  And it’s not your fault.

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This Week in the News

Posted in Current Events at 9:11 pm by sacetalks

The following is a list of news articles and editorials on sexual assault in communities across the globe (over the past 7 days).  Many of the articles below may contain victim-blaming language, distortion of information which supports sexual assault myths, and/or triggering content.  What these articles do showcase is the prevalence of sexual assault (given that only a small percentage of the 1 in 10 sexual assaults in Canada which are reported receive media attention, several articles on sexual assault within one week indicate a huge number of assaults), what kinds of sexual assaults are reported and how rampant sexual assault myths are.  Please be aware that SACE does not support the content or delivery of any of the following news pieces.

Edmonton

Alberta

Canada

International


September 18, 2009

This week in the news (September 18, 2009)

Posted in Child Sexual Abuse, Current Events, Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (Rape Drugs) at 8:36 pm by sacetalks

The following is a list of news articles and editorials on sexual assault in communities across the globe (over the past 7 days).  Many of the articles below may contain victim-blaming language, distortion of information which supports sexual assault myths, and/or triggering content.  What these articles do showcase is the prevalence of sexual assault (given that only a small percentage of the 1 in 10 sexual assaults in Canada which are reported receive media attention, several articles on sexual assault within one week indicate a huge number of assaults), what kinds of sexual assaults are reported and how rampant sexual assault myths are.  Please be aware that SACE does not support the content or delivery of any of the following news pieces.

Edmonton

Edmonton police issue warning about sex offender’s release

Alberta

Victim silence troubles sex-crimes investigators

DNA order leads to sex assault arrest

Canada

Man arrested in connection with several sex assaults

‘Tragic’ affair ends teacher’s career

Teacher guilty of sex with student

POLICE INVESTIGATING ASSAULT ALLEGATIONS

The sex trade: ‘Not a glamourous life’

Take back the night

Crown seeks to have sex offender jailed indefinitely

Women to Take Back The Night

Sexually molested two protegés, tennis coach gets no jail time

Durham teacher jailed for sex with teenaged boy in Durham sobs during sentencing

Police investigate attempted abduction

Pedophile tried to train me to be like him, nephew tells court

Senior sex offender jailed

Man gets 15 months for sex with teen

Speaking out on woman abuse

Advocate seeks funding for victims of crime

Alleged sexual assault minimized: aunt

Teacher’s sentence fitting for sex with child

Paradise man jailed for sexual assault

Sexual Assault Charges Laid for Incidents at CFB Borden

Ventling trial delay

Local man charged with several sexual offences

Sexual assault charges for Borden lieutenant

Sex offender gets indefinite prison sentence

15-year-old sexually assaulted

Sanford Brass declared dangerous offender

Former elementary teacher guilty of sexual touching

OPP Wants to Speak to Tipster

Document fight delays Aziga ruling

Man who groped cashier gets probation

Lieutenant charged with sex assault

Police may have nabbed the sleepwatcher

Appeal court rejects bid for new trial in sex case

Man charged in sexual assaults

Women march against sexual violence

Teen tells luring trial she convinced accused she was legal age before sex acts

Sex Charges With Underage Girls

46 Year Old Faces Sexual Assault Charges

‘You are not alone. There is help out there’

Taking back the night

Dozens more charges for Smith

An end to violence

American extradited in Fort Erie sex assault

Keeping an eye on the police is not ridiculous

Take Back the Night march draws 150

Man accused of sex assault cross-examines victim

Man jailed for racially-motivated attack

Naval officer given new duties in wake of sex assault claims

Letter – “Take Back the Night”

Man charged in sex assault remanded

Vendetta against violence

Sherri McLaughlin: Bring her back, family pleads

Suspect in Kamloops cold case has a long history of violent attacks

Reluctant court accepts plea bargain in child sex killing

Kugaaruk child killer sentenced to life

Nanaimo RCMP warn women of flasher

Women to ‘take back the night’

Ajax rapist a threat to community: psychiatrist

NS abuse victim wants compensation from province

Woman faces sexual assault charges

Man charged with sexual assault, 47 drug charges

Groping cashier lands man on probation

Irwin Cotler: Stopping violence against women

International

Scholes pleads guilty to kidnapping, rape

Pervert facing jail over sexual assault on teenage girl in Livingston

Premier to apologise to ‘forgotten Aussies’

Lab tech on trial for allegedly fondling victim during sleep test

Man arrested for sexually abusing a mentally challenged woman

Marshfield doctor offered restitution to assault victims, attorney says

Rapist gets 48 to 96 years

Woman slams judge for freeing sex-pest boss who groped her at 13

Changes sought in how kids can testify

Executive held again on child porn charge

Hong Kong detective jailed for raping woman, molesting 3 others

Assault on minors

DA: Dad abused baby, left her in woods to die

Australian ‘Fritzl’ accused of 30-year rape

Court: Jamie Leigh Jones’ claims against Halliburton Co. can go to trial

Woman assaulted at prestigious polo event

Lust in return for rides in Penan country

September 11, 2009

Bosco Homes

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:41 pm by sacetalks

 

Once again our government and society has disappointed me with the closure of eight Bosco Group Homes.  This post is in response to this article. 
Bosco to close eight group homes

 These closures mean that more then 80 children and youth are left to find other group homes and treatment facilities, which are hard to find since there are very few with available rooms. Yes, the murder of two people was terrible.  However, the two youth who were charged are “those” kind of kids, the “bad” kids that no one wants to deal with. Now, the one organization that does want to help these kids gets shut down because of one incident and because of a few concerned residents in the area that are uninformed about the whole thing. Bosco Homes took kids that no other agency would be willing to take, so please tell me where these kids will end up now?

 Not only does the whole thing about the group homes being shut down really disturb me but it’s the fact that these kids are being so harshly labeled. Doesn’t anyone ever stop to wonder how these kids that are in intensive treatment facilities or group homes end up there? I can tell you from personal experience of working in an intensive treatment facility that it’s not because the kids are bad kids.  It’s because they have been dealt a unfair hand in life. They have experienced things that we wouldn’t want our worst enemies to experience. For example, many of these children and youth have experienced sexual, physical, emotional abuse and neglect, to name a few. These are kids that have not had the advantage of a loving home life or the proper supports in their life. Many of these kids have been told throughout their lives that they are bad would never amount to anything good.  Now, once again, they are being told this not only by one or two people, but by our society.

 The residents in and around Ardrossan who have supported the closures may think that problem is now solved because they don’t have to deal with “those kind” of kids anymore.  Well, I have news for you: the problem doesn’t go away because it’s not in your backyard anymore. For example, if a child is severely sexually and emotionally abused and ends up in Bosco Homes because behavioral issues that stem from the abuse, those issues don’t magically go away by placing the kid in another community or group home. The only way for those issues to be resolved is by specialized support and care which Bosco Homes was supplying. These kids need more support and care than any average kid in and Bosco Homes was providing that for them.  Now, that support and care has been ripped away from youth who need it and once again, they are stigmatized.

 The stigmatization of these youth is very damaging to them and their self esteem. If a child is told over and over again that they are a bad kid and that they are not wanted in any community, that child is going to start to live up to the stereotype that society puts on them. They will think, “society and everyone around me, even people who don’t know me, thinks this about me. I might as well live up to that expectation.”  Labeling youth in care, not only in Bosco but other agencies, is not helping them to be better people.  In actuality, this stigmatization contributes to low self-esteem, which perpetuates offending behaviours.  Instead of stereotyping these youth, lets come together and show them that they aren’t bad people and that they can find support and understanding in their community to help them become great citizens.

This Week In The News

Posted in Current Events, Uncategorized at 4:20 pm by sacetalks

The following is a list of news articles and editorials on sexual assault in communities across the globe (over the past 7 days).  Many of the articles below may contain victim-blaming language, distortion of information which supports sexual assault myths, and/or triggering content.  What these articles do showcase is the prevalence of sexual assault (given that only a small percentage of the 1 in 10 sexual assaults in Canada which are reported receive media attention, several articles on sexual assault within one week indicate a huge number of assaults), what kinds of sexual assaults are reported and how rampant sexual assault myths are.  Please be aware that SACE does not support the content or delivery of any of the following news pieces.

Alberta

Police charge man with sexual assault
Innisfail woman escapes attempted sexual assault
Electronic monitoring dispute keeps man in jail
Edmonton Spa Kept Sex Slaves: Police

Canada

Man charged with serious sex assault
Alleged abuse victim of Catholic priest in court to keep vow to …
Teens face sex assault charges
Kugaaruk killer’s sentencing begins
Police search for suspect in sexual assault

International

For women, taxis must still be a haven
Sexual abuse of models is fashion’s dirty secret
Jack Tweed arrested after sexual assault claim
Man jailed for 30 years of abuse
New Gilroy facility to serve south Santa Clara County sexual …
Principal to face sexual assault charges
Former Montville teacher faces seven years in sexual assault of …
3 men arrested for attempted sexual assault, kidnapping
Naval officer strikes plea deal in sexual assault case
Lehigh teen charged with sexual assault
Raleigh County Man Accused of Sexual Abuse
Former Lion charged with assault
Report Notes Sexual Misconduct by Prison Workers
Many teenage girls abused by boyfriends

September 4, 2009

It’s not your fault

Posted in Drug Facilitated Sexual Assault (Rape Drugs), Men's role in sexual assault, Rape Culture, Victim Blaming at 8:57 pm by sacetalks

The Edmonton Sun recently published an article on drug-facilitated sexual assault, particularly in response to the heightened levels of binge drinking now that university and college campuses are soon open.

Here is my response:

I am writing in response to Tanya Enberg’s August 27th article entitled, “Frosh week activities put young adults at risk for some risky behaviour”.

In her article, Enberg quotes a psychologist who asserts that frosh week activities, including drinking alcohol, put young women at risk for sexual assault.  However, the problem with binge drinking is not that women get out of control, as Enberg’s article implies.  Rather, the problem with binge drinking is that offenders use being drunk as an excuse to sexually assault people.  Instead of scrutinizing the behaviour of offenders, however, Enberg judges the behaviour of survivors by implying that sexual assault happens because of how much survivors drink, rather than what offenders do.  Such victim-blaming is dangerous not only because it contributes to the myth that people are to blame for being sexually assaulted when they are drunk, but because it is inaccurate: our criminal code clearly states that no one can consent to sexual activity when drunk.  This means that if a young woman, like the kind that are discussed in the article, engage in binge-drinking activities, that woman cannot consent to sexual activity. If that woman complies with sexual activity, or is coerced into sexual activity, the offender is responsible for sexual assault.

I urge newspapers such as yours to shift the focus in sexual assault articles.

Instead of focusing on what women can do to protect themselves from being assaulted, we should be focusing on what we all must do to not sexually assault other people.  After all, the only person responsible for sexual assault is the offender, never the survivor.

Pragya Sharma
Director of Public Education
Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton

September 3, 2009

This Week in the News

Posted in Current Events at 10:42 pm by sacetalks

Edmonton

Alberta

Canada

International