The Hunting Ground

‘You can never fully recover from something like this.’ Alderman Matt O’Shea regarding sexual assault on campus.  This film sends a strong message, and that is why I believe every high school upperclassman should watch. After viewing the documentary, I thought more about the many stories I’ve heard over the years about what happens to some of our young people when they go away to college. So, I became convinced our students in Chicago’s 19th Ward need to be educated. The Hunting Ground is eye-opening, a window into what happens on college campuses: I’m talking about every type of campus from community colleges...

Domestic Violence In The Media

Abuse is frequently romanticized—or even glamorized—in pop culture. Naughty people doing wicked things elicits a wink and a nod, practically an endorsement rather than condemnation. Even in news stories, the victim is blamed in sensational crimes that get shared on social media. The social network’s self-righteous streak implicates victims as somehow complicit with perpetrators. Many asked why Rihanna and Janay Rice stayed with their partners, when they should have been focusing on the real question: Why and how did their partners become abusers? The key question. Why do we ask victims to justify their behavior? Is there a need for #WhyIstayed?  Nicole...

The Too Perfect Guy

“The Perfect Guy,” starring Sanaa Latham, Michael Ealy and Morris Chestnut, is about domestic violence. Instead of approaching the subject of DV as something that can happen to anyone, it focuses exploring how a tough, strong, successful woman can become a victim so quickly. The woman bears all the responsibility. First, she allows the Perfect Guy into her life. Then she lets him hurt her. This is a classic example of how society views domestic abuse: Blame the victim. One-in-three women and one-in-seven men experience violence from intimate partners. Many abusive relationships start out as too good to be true. The National...

The heartbreaking truth about campus sexual assault

Sexual assault on campuses has dominated recent news. The new powerful Lady Gaga video, “Till It Happens To You,” describes in detail the trauma of sexual assault, as well as the devastation and loss of self-esteem that follow. The five minute movie by distinguished female filmmaker Catherine Harwicke, (who directed “Twilight” in 2008 and “Thirteen” in 2003) and Diane Warren composer of the song, a theme for a documentary about campus rape, “The Hunting Ground,” realistically speak about an experience many people would rather not face. But the prevalence of college rape demands attention. The Gaga video puts the violence—its...

Consent and Sexual Assault: What You Need To Know, What You Need To Teach Your Kids

Consent. A simple word when you look at it. But never has a single word been so widely associated with non-verbal actions assumed to convey its message. Was the fact that he was flirting with me consent? Was the fact that she came home with me consent? General usage regards consent as: an agreement or permission to do or allow something. And therein is the problem. Consent for sexual activity cannot be subject to interpretation. Our language must be clearer. For years, courts and legislatures have tried to define consent. New York followed California as the second state to mandate that colleges...

Campus Sexual Assault in Illinois: Progress, But Our Work is Not Done

College students and parents across Illinois recently received welcome news when House Bill 821, Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s legislation to help colleges and universities prevent and address campus sexual assaults, became law in Illinois. HB821, The Preventing Sexual Violence in Higher Education Act, sponsored by Rep. Michelle Mussman (D-Schaumburg) and Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D-Olympia Fields), goes into effect August 1, 2016, and will require Illinois colleges and universities to: Develop a clear, comprehensive campus sexual violence policy, including detailed incident reporting options and university response guidelines;   Notify student survivors of their rights, including their right to confidentiality; of the protections the university can...

First Response: The Importance of Listening When Sexual Assault Survivors Tell Their Stories

When New York Magazine published their now-iconic cover story featuring 35 women who reported that, over the course of many years, Bill Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted them, social media was ablaze. With Cosby having admitted in a deposition to using Quaaludes with women, it seemed the tide had begun to turn from the aggressive doubting of these women’s accounts to a reluctant acceptance that perhaps Cosby had actually harmed them. Within their stories, and within the stories of so many of the survivors that we at Rape Victim Advocates (RVA) have served in Chicago since 1974, there’s a shared pivotal moment that deserves...

BREAK THE CYCLE OF INTIMATE PARTNER VIOLENCE

Physical, sexual or psychological harm inflicted by a current or former partner or spouse: that’s the definition of intimate partner violence (IPV) according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Stopping this kind of violence before it begins often means addressing behaviors children learn during their earliest years of development.  Educational programs to help stop this cycle of violence are crucial. IPV survivors may not realize the full extent of the mental and physical harm done to themselves, nor understand its impact on their children and other family members. Without intervention and education, there is a high probability of...

More than physical: How to identify different forms of domestic violence

When you think you know someone experiencing abuse, how can you help? First and foremost, be a present listener. Do not try to “fix” the victims’ problems. Your responses will not be their responses. Encourage them to reach out for help. Be prepared to offer phone numbers. Let the person know you are concerned for their safety. Offer suggestions without being judgmental. Again, be a present listener. Also, be aware acts of domestic violence are not always physical and not always immediately recognizable. Abusers can start to control their victims slowly and subtly and, by the time victims realize they are in...

Every 3 Seconds: An Overview of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is, to put it plainly, a huge problem in America. How huge? In the U.S., 20 people are abused by a partner every minute. That’s one case of abuse every three seconds.  1 in 3 women and 1 in 7 men experience violence by their partners in their lifetimes. Domestic violence and its effects cost the U.S. more than $8.3 billion per year. Chicago’s Domestic Violence Help Line receives over 500 calls a day, and 44 percent of the violent-crime admissions to Cook County Jail are related to domestic violence.  In light of this enormous human toll—and the economic, social...

Quick Escape