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Sexual Assault Self-Care Group

If you are a survivor of sexual assault please join us as we start a new 6-week psycho-educational support group.  The group will begin on June 11th, 2015 and meet from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  If you are interested in the group, please call either Jessica at 423-303-3522 or Angie at 423-303-3525.  You can also inquire of the location at this time.  You will need to come in for an initial assessment/intake before the group begins.  Some of the topics we will cover are, self-care, how trauma effects the brain, self-esteem, and lots more!  If you are looking for a place to continue your healing, this is it.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

On April 29th, we will be honoring victims/survivors of sexual assault by wearing denim.  The history of Denim Day goes back to 1992, when a 45 year old a driving instructor was accused of rape.  When he picked up an 18 year old girl for her first driving lesson, he allegedly raped her for an hour, then told her that if she was to tell anyone he would kill her.  Later that night she told her parents and her parents agreed to help her press charges.  While the alleged rapist was convicted and sentenced, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1998 because the victim wore tight jeans.  It was argued that she must have necessarily have had to help her attacker remove her jeans, thus making the act consensual, (“because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them . . . and by removing the jeans . . . it was no longer rape but consensual sex”).  The Italian Supreme Court stated in its decision “it is a fact of common experience that it is nearly impossible to slip off tight jeans even partly without the active collaboration of the person who is wearing them.”  As of 2008, the Italian Supreme Court has overturned their findings, and there is no longer and “denim” defense to the charge of rape.

Why We Are Here

The goals of the Family Violence Program are:

  • Prevent and interrupt the cycle of domestic violence
  • Assist sexual assault victims/survivors in dealing with the effects of trauma
  • Increase program participant’s access to community resources
  • Increase program participant’s and the community’s knowledge of the dynamics of domestic violence and sexual assault

Interesting Information, continued

*More than half of DV survivors live in households with children under 12.

*47% of homeless school-aged children under 5 have witnessed domestic violence in their families.

*Exposure to violence significantly impacts development, behavior, education, health, mental health, and increased risk-taking behaviors as adolescents and adults.

*Denials, evictions, ruined credit, and lease terminations are often based on violence/abuser interference.

*Survivors experience discrimination based on their status as victims.

*High density/high violence in public housing complexes may place women at continued risk and trigger trauma.

*Stalking, harassment, on-going violence and threats by the perpetrator may occur even after the survivor is housed.

Issues That Can Challenge Stabilization:
-Trauma impacts (survivor and children)
-Ongoing legal issues
-Fears about child custody
-Stalking-prone abusers
-Interrupted/sabotaged employment history
-Criminal record
-Chemical dependency
-Bad credit, inexperience with handling money

DV survivors are often homeless/at risk of homelessness because they lack that network due to:
-The abusive partner’s pattern of coercive control
-Isolation from friends/family/social supports
-Ostracism in the community
-Economic abuse
-The abusive partner’s sabotage in order to maintain control


Interesting Information

Here is some interesting information about domestic violence and homelessness presented by Jewish Women International, National Alliance to End Domestic Abuse.  Did you know:  Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault history (and trauma) are significant contributing factors to chronic homelessness in women?   Additionally, 92% of homeless women have experienced severe physical or sexual abuse in their lives; 63% were victims of domestic abuse.  Thirty-eight percent of all domestic violence survivors become homeless at some point; DV accounts for over 40% of family homelessness; and homeless women may seek the perceived safety of a new partner and become the victim of survival sex and other coercive control.  Housing considerations are a huge part of deciding what to do when DV becomes part of a living situation.  For many survivors, fleeing DV means losing their housing and becoming iimpoverished  Fears and uncertainty about how they will make it on their own, and where they can live result in many survivors staying – especially when there are children.  Homelessness is only one end of a continuum of housing problems faced by DV survivors.  For example, survivors may experience missed or late payments for rent/utilities, they may make compromises like selling their belongings or skipping food to make payments, and they may be ineligible for housing services due to credit, landlord, or criminal justice problems.  Some families face barriers using emergency shelters.  In many cases DV shelters lack capacity and often prioritize the highest degree of current DV danger (regardless of street danger).  Over half of the survivors who identify a need for housing services upon fleeing abusive homes don’t receive them and survivors are often faced with the choice of returning to the abuse or coping with chronic homelessness with little hope of permanent housing.    Check back next week for more information on this subject.