Hey Tweeters: Rape is Not a Joke!

[Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault]

Social media, like everything else, has a good side… and a bad side. The idea that social media can bring people together to talk about a subject is wonderful IF the subject is a positive one. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

During the weekend, a horrible hashtag was the number one trending topic worldwide. The hashtag? #ItAintRapeIf.

We’re not even going to mention some of the hurtful jokes people were coming up with to tag along with this trend, but it was a cruel reminder that we have a long way to go before everyone realizes the seriousness of an assault.

Rape is not a joke. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United Sates has be raped at some time in their lives. 80% of female victims of rape experienced their first rape before the age of 25. This is serious stuff and it affects more people than we think. People that we know.

A victim faces so many obstacles to reporting after being assaulted. Self-blame is a huge reason… not knowing that it is never the victim’s fault. Many of the trending topic responses we saw on twitter were victim blaming. The reality is that there is NO EXCUSE for rape. It is NOT the victim’s fault and nothing anybody does or says justifies an assault.

It is about absolute, definitive, vocal, undeniable CONSENT from someone who is well within their senses. Without consent, it is an assault.

Fortunately, there were some people who stood up for what they thought was right and fought back with the hashtag #RapeIsntAJoke. As a community, we need to stand up and put an end to the victim blaming, the rape jokes and the excuses. Victims need our full support.

Jonah Mowry’s Powerful Message

Hello IStanders!

We came across this video and just had to share! Here is Jonah Mowry and in this powerful video he tells his story on being bullied- a feeling we know MANY others are going through. There are many celebrities sending Jonah their support via twitter including Perez Hilton, Lady Gaga, Amanda Bynes, Ricky Martin, Paula Abdul and many others.

Recently, there have been rumors that Jonah lied in his video, but regardless, the video speaks for itself. Whether the rumors are true or not doesn’t really matter. Afterall, the message is clear: Stop bullying now!

What do you stand for?

When does “whining” on Twitter/Facebook become an alarm?

We all have them. Those friends who think it’s everyone’s business to know when they are happy, angry, upset, feeling lazy, and hungry. The million-posts-a-day friends. But when those posts become scary, and by scary we mean: confessions of being sexually assaulted and molested, forced into prosititution and insinuations of commiting suicide, do you know what to do?

On November 7th, 2011, in a suburban town near Houston, Texas, 18-year-old Ashley Billasano stayed home from school and went on a tweeting frenzy. [Warning: Tweets are intense and explicit.] She wrote 144 detailed tweets about her experiences with sexual assault, molestation by a family member, and being forced into prostitution at the young age of 14. She also tweeted about telling the authorities and CPS (Child Protective Services). She later was told there “wasn’t enough evidence for prosecution” and that’s when she made a devastating decision. After already having failed at suicide once, and after the tweeting rampage, Billasano (or “Billy” as her friends knew her) took her own life just moments after sending a final tweet which read “Take two. Hope I get this right.”

We have to view this tragic loss as a wake-up call. In today’s age, it is undeniable that social networking online is the main source of communication between us all.  Especially among the youth! Youth spend more time on twitter and facebook than they do working on homework. (The majority anyway, if it doesn’t include you, KUDOS!!) So in a world where posting statuses and tweets about what we’re doing and where we’re going is considered NORMAL, how do we know when we need to step in for someone else?

Go with your gut.

If one of your facebook “friends” or someone you are “following” on Twitter is posting some really over the top posts where they seem EXTREMELY upset, more than usual, and it makes the alarm in your head go off a little, TRUST it!

Remember, when someone goes through a traumatic experience such as sexual assault, they tend to go through a rollarcoaster of emotions and may act in a way we might not understand.

So if you come across something like this, and your gut is telling you to ACT, here are some suggestions on what you can do:

  • Talk to them. Sometimes they just need someone to listen. Not judge them. Believe them. And if they’re reaching out on a social networking site, it’s probably because they have no where else to go & want someone to just step in and say “Hey, I care.” However, if the situation is dangerous, you should refer them to professional resources or report.
  • Report to a person with authority. If the situation is too intense, and you don’t feel you are the appropriate person to take care of this issue, do not hesitate to contact a teacher, parent, principal. SOMEONE. You never know, you might be the only one trying to do something and by telling someone who can help, you are doing your part.
  • Report to law enforcement. Sometimes you might think immediate action is needed. Use your better judgement! If it seems like an emergency, it probably is.

Never assume that someone is exaggerating their self-pity. A series of whiny posts may actually be a cry for help. Ashley posted 144 tweets and no one responded. We all need to feel like someone cares for us at times. Take action! Do something and you might just save a life.

If you or someone you know is struggling with the effects after a sexual assault and you live in the Santa Cruz/Pajaro Valley Area, call Women’s Crisis Support-Defensa de Mujeres toll-free crisis line at:

1-888-900-4232

For someone outside of the area struggling with sexual assault, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at:

 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, and you live in the Santa Cruz/Monterey area, contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline for your area at:

Santa Cruz: 831-458-5300

Monterey: 831-649-8008

Or Toll Free at: 877-ONE-LIFE (877-663-5433)

For someone dealing with suicide outside of the area, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at:

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Thanksgiving is not about Turkey?

Halloween is over and Thanksgiving is around the corner! The Prevention Department here at Women’s Crisis Support- Defensa de Mujeres can’t prevent you from eating too much on this holiday (bring on the turkey!), but we CAN remind you of all the great things that are going on in your life. The bottom line about this holiday is not eating until our zippers explode (shocking, right?!), Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. With all the violence that goes on around us, in our community, in our schools, let’s be thankful that you are here reading this post. Because if you’re reading this, then it means you’re (most likely) alive. And no matter what we’ve all been through, let’s remember to breathe easy, because we’ve made it this far! There are many in our community who won’t be able to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, there are many that don’t have a place to call home. There is always someone less fortunate then us, and in this holiday of giving thanks, why don’t we thank our community for providing us with the resources and the people we need to get through tough situations? Give back to the community this season, and always remember to be thankful for what you have.

 

Ready for Halloween?

Halloween is coming up and many of you will be dressing up and heading out for a night on the town! Whether you are going to celebrate it Trick-or-Treating, at a house party with some friends, or heading to downtown Santa Cruz, here are some quick and easy steps so you and your friends can stay safe during your fun and spooky night.

Downtown Santa Cruz

  • Bring emergency cash and a cell phone (with full battery). You never know what craziness lies ahead so it’s always better to be prepared! You might also want to look up the numbers of local cab companies and store those on your phone. It’s better to have a plan than to be stranded! Play it safe.
  • Do not go alone! Downtown Santa Cruz can be quite hectic and there will be a ton of people there that you don’t know. Don’t agree to “meet up” with your friends and don’t say you’ll meet back up at the car afterwards, arrange a way for all of you to get there together, stay together, and leave together.
  • Develop a buddy system. It’s easy to lose track of one person, especially if you’re going in a large group, but assigning “buddies” to each person will help you stay together. Don’t wander off!
  • Steer clear of any potentially violent situations. It can happen anywhere, especially in big crowds. If something around you looks like it’s heating up, move away! Innocent bystanders are not safe. You never know what kind of weapons might be involved.
  • Be careful on the road. Assign a designated driver. Make sure that person has not had a drink and is able to drive. Many others drink and drive so be especially aware on this night. Make it home safe.

House Parties

  • Again, go with, hang with, and leave with close trusted friends! We cannot reiterate this enough. Most assaults occur with someone you know so don’t think that because you know most of the people at the party you’re safe by yourself. Stay with trusted friends and leave with them.
  • Carry emergency cash and a cell phone in case you get separated from your group.
  • Watch your drink! Do not accept a drink from someone you hardly know. Be wary of mixed drinks like “jungle juice”; these drinks can have an excessive amount of alcohol that could creep up on you later on. We do not condone drinking, but if you’re going to, be smart!
  • Don’t assume people you just met have good intentions. It’s nice and fun to meet new people and make new friends at a party, but don’t assume they have good intentions. Don’t isolate yourself with someone who you’ve just met.

Trick-or-Treating

  • Always carry a flashlight, cell phone, and emergency cash.
  • Make sure the treats you receive have not been tampered with.
  • Do not enter an unknown home or vehicle.
  • Use sidewalks (not the road or lawns), stay with the group, and take care of each other.

And last but not least, TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. If something does not feel right, it probably isn’t. Don’t dismiss the warning signs. We know Halloween is fun and exciting, but these are simple and easy steps you can take that will make you and your friends safer. So remember to stay with trusted friends, carry emergency items (money, cell phone, etc), watch your drink, and have fun.

Happy Halloween!

Teen Volunteers!

Need community service hours?

 The Prevention Program at Women’s Crisis Support- Defensa de Mujeres is looking for Teen Volunteers! Earn your community service hours for Watsonville or Pajaro Valley High doing amazing outreach, workshops, presentations, events, blogs, and campaigns with us! We’re looking for high-spirited dedicated teenagers to help us with our most creative and fun projects that bring awareness on teen dating violence and bullying. If you’re interested, and you attend either Watsonville High or Pajaro Valley High, contact our office at (831) 707-2207. Hurry! Positions are limited.

Click here to see our photos from last years events with our teens!

 

Teen Volunteer Training Description for Parents

Teen Volunteer Application

Teen Volunteer Parental Consent

Training Schedule- For Teens

Turn in forms to the Prevention Office at 220 East Lake Ave. Watsonville, CA 95076

Hope to see you soon!

Come to our Candle Light Vigil!

 October is officially Domestic Violence Awareness Month!

The staff here at Women’s Crisis Support-Defensa de Mujeres have been working hard the past couple months to put together many events and fundraisers to help promote awareness! One of our biggest events will be our “Candle Light Vigil” which will be held October 17th. This event will commemorate the silent victims of domestic violence who have passed away from domestic violence in Santa Cruz County within the past few years. We will also have speeches from survivors, food, and music. And guess what… it is totally FREE! So please make it out and show your support. BREAK THE SILENCE! End Domestic Violence.

Event: Candle Light Vigil

Location: Watsonville Plaza

Time: 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Cost: FREE

Bring your family and friends! Hope to see you there.