How I Survived Sexual Assault Twice and Learned the Healing Power of Advocacy

  [caption id="attachment_1999" align="alignleft" width="240"] Mae Flores on her way to TEDx Hoboken at O’Hare International Airport on November 2, 2017.[/caption] By Mae Flores It was my final year at Hinsdale Central High School. I was 18 years old. My family was on a cruise in the Caribbean during the New Year’s holiday. That was when it first happened. I always was a happy kid and grew up with privileges most kids could only dream of while living in a western suburb of Chicago. I had strong female role models in my life. Some people associate being victimized with poverty. I was the opposite....

Chicago’s Women Employed in a New Moment

[caption id="attachment_1994" align="alignleft" width="271"] Director of Strategic Partnerships at Women Employed, a nonprofit advocacy organization based in Chicago, Illinois, dedicated to improving women's economic status and remove barriers to economic equity.[/caption] By Sharmili Majmudar The recent avalanche of public outcry about sexual harassment began just as the non-profit I work for—Women Employed (WE), advocating for gender equity since the 1970s—was organizing an event, Everyday Feminism, on making the workplace better for women. The event featured a dynamic panel of Chicago leaders including Chicago Says No More founder and Mesirow Financial COO/CFO Kristie Paskvan. We know power relationships have been used to perpetuate this...

Chicago Catholics respond to the challenges of Domestic Violence

By Rev. Charles Dahm, O.P. [caption id="attachment_1959" align="alignleft" width="300"] CBS 2 Chicago’s Dana Kozlov, Rev. Charles Dahm, O.P., and Chicago Says No More Founder Kristie Paskvan at a celebration last Spring of Rev. Dahm’s 80th birthday and fundraiser for Archdiocese of Chicago DVO ministries.[/caption] About 10 years ago, I began preaching about the tragic suffering of women and children who are brutally abused, physically and emotionally, in their own homes. Sadly, the problem continues to grow even as it gains the attention of many volunteer ministers in the parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago. My response to parishioners in families needing help at...

How do you stop teen sexual abuse before it starts?

Union League Boys and Girls Club staff learn to anticipate, intervene and prevent sexual abuse By Mary Ann Mahon-Huels, president and CEO, Union League Boys and Girls Clubs of Chicago.   As  president and CEO of the Union League Boys and Girls Club (ULBGC), serving  approximately 14,000 youngsters and teens who are members of clubs in our nine locations and a staff of 190, I always am seeking training beneficial to our leadership and ultimately our members. Through a member of my Board, I was introduced to Kristie Paskvan who founded Chicago Says No More. Although I was aware of the importance of understanding...

The Most Dangerous Time

Leaving is impossible if you have no place to go By Pat Davenport, a member of the Steering Committee of Chicago Says No More, is the Executive Director of A Safe Place in Zion, Illinois. When people ask why a victim of domestic violence stays with an abuser, frequently those asking the question fail to recognize the most basic human need—the need for shelter. The biggest barrier to victims leaving their abusers is often they have nowhere to go. At A Safe Place, our primary mission is to remove barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. And, to that end, A Safe Place provides...

Chicago Says No More leads the way for salon professionals to Listen. Support. Connect.

By Jessica McCarihan Jessica McCarihan is a member of the Steering Committee of Chicago Says No More and a trained advocate for victims of domestic violence. A first in the country, the Cosmetology Renewal License Domestic Violence Course (HB4264/PA 99-0766), effective January 1, 2017, requires all licensed salon professionals to take only once an awareness and training course which guides them on how to respond to clients who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault. Called Listen. Support. Connect., this free class is underwritten by Chicago Says No More, the only organization authorized to offer it, and does not increase...

How I Learned the Importance of Advocacy

By Deborah L. Graham Deborah Graham, a member of the Steering Committee of Chicago Says No More, is Senior Advisor, Illinois State Treasurer Office. I started to advocate because I survived domestic violence. When I was a victim 24 years ago, there were few agencies readily available for me to seek assistance. There were no housing programs, so I lived in the shelter for eight months. I secretly had to save money.  I was afraid my children would be taken away by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). I was plagued with shame for a good number of years and kept...

Tone at the Top

Chicago Says No More CEO Breakfast By Kristie Paskvan Mesirow Chairman and CEO Richard Price, and CFO Kristie Paskvan with Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, featured speaker at the Chicago Says No More CEO Breakfast at Mesirow Financial, January 31, 2017. This January, I met with a number of CEOs about a new workplace initiative to assist employees affected by domestic violence and sexual assault. 1-in-3 women and 1-in-7[1] men will experience some sort of relationship violence in their lifetime. That means you and I both probably socialize or work with people that have been affected, but we just don't know it, because most...

Are You in an Abusive Relationship?

Five warning signs you’re experiencing domestic violence By Neusa Gaytan “Immigrant Latinas may not know domestic violence is against the law.” Despite the prevalence of awareness messages about domestic violence and the relentless discussion of predatory sexual behavior during the presidential election campaign, many victims of abuse in the immigrant community remain in the shadows. Domestic violence is not just defined by one mode of behavior, for instance a “beating.” It is a pattern of abusive behaviors when a predator uses physical, emotional, economic, social media or sexual means to gain and maintain control over a victim. Typically, the controlling person is in an...

Chicago Says No More: Embrace the conversation

“People I had known for years, who I never suspected were victims, shared their journeys.” By Mary E. Toomey Last year, while organizing an employee awareness event at my company around domestic violence and sexual assault, I learned I did not realize the power silence can have, if we let it. In any setting, including a corporate one like Bank of America, it can be uncomfortable to discuss such a sensitive, serious issue. Yet, creating a safe space for dialogue and simply listening to each other is one of the most important things we as people and as a company can...

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