Conversation Points – Plus More

Hello All,

 

It has been a while since I’ve made a blog post and I’ve found time appropriate content to write about, so here it goes.  I knew it would be a while since I made another post and I’ve had lots of ideas, but the timing just didn’t feel right.  Finding founding board members has been as challenging as sources informed me and I am still seeking them which is the main reason I don’t want to go gung ho on blog posts.  If you have any recommendations for founding board members please let me know!

 

I probably won’t post about my encounters in all of my posts, but being that this is new to me it just seems appropriate.

 

During the last county fair I got talking to my mom’s coworker about what I am doing.  He told me that his daughter had studied abroad and shared whole heartedly that his biggest fear was his daughter experiencing sexual violence.  It made me wonder if this was true for the general population of study abroad parents and I started thinking about surveys.

 

Not too long ago I was going for a walk and got stopped by a cabin neighbor who is a recently retired member of law enforcement.  Like so many, he asked me what I have been up to so I obliged.  He didn’t know that study abroad/international student sexual violence was even an issue.  He was very cognizant of what I was sharing and even provided me with contact information for somebody he knew from his days in law enforcement.

 

For years after my rape while abroad I would talk to others about all the great experiences I had while abroad, but now with my nonprofit I talk primarily  about sexual violence.  When I meet somebody who knows about my nonprofit and still brings up all the positive experiences I had it fills me with joy.  I had so many great experiences despite my rape and I am thankful to those who can appreciate the good times with me and allow me to reminisce.  Looks and mannerisms can be deceiving (in a good way).  So many people ask what I’m up to and repeating things over and over can be a little exhausting, but you would be surprised at some of the genuinely great questions I have been asked.

 

After thinking things through and with a little more experience I have determined what may be best to reach out to all the study abroad/international student programs.  I think the Sexual Assault Safety Profile should be the focal point of orientation in regards to sexual violence.  It should come with supporting documentation that is convincing.  It would talk about the first 2 or 3 steps after a sexual assault elaborate on why they are so pivotal.  Definitions and details on consent and bystander intervention would be necessary as well.  I also ask that during orientation something like Google Hangouts or Skype be used in order to introduce the students to who would help them in the case of sexual violence.  It is imperative that sexual violence does not get mixed in as just an emergency.

The last thing I am going to include is material that is being added to my actual website content.

 

The importance of community response to sexual assault

By Dani Bostick Nov 10, 2015, taken from Huffington Post via SB Nation

 

How we react to sexual assault as a community can have damaging effects on victims.

 

If you hear about an allegation either in the media or in person, think before you react. It took a lot of courage for the alleged victim to report the crime to law enforcement, or simply share his or her concerns with a friend. Your reaction can contribute to a culture in which victims are silenced and do not pursue justice for crimes. Or, you can start making your community a safer, more comfortable place for victims, one in which they do not have to worry about having their reputations maligned while their perpetrators are heralded as model citizens.

 

It is not up to you to decide whether a crime happened. It is up to you, however, to contribute to an environment where alleged victims feel comfortable pursuing justice without being victimized a second time.

 

Bystander intervention doesn’t need to involve heroics. Ask yourself: Do my words and actions help my community be a safe place for victims to report their crimes and deal with the aftermath of their assault? Or, am I contributing to a culture that imprisons victims in silence and shame?

 

The author would also like to share a video which can be found online with her main message called “Victim, Unashamed and Unsilenced” Dani Bostick TEDxColoradoSprings https://youtu.be/ohMve-6LAZU

 

If you know of someone that might benefit from SASARI’s resources, let them know how to find us.

 

Facebook: facebook.com/sasarifrommn

 

Website: sasari.org

 

Kind Regards,

Callie

SASARI Founder

 

*Featured image was found here: http://pioneersettler.com/homemade-christmas-ornaments/


Post Traumatic Super Delightful

Yesterday I attended Post Traumatic Super Delightful and I would like to start this post by including some information and resources provided to attendees upon entry.

Written and performed by Antonia Lassar

PTSDtheplay.com

We believe that education is the strongest weapon we have to fight rape culture and sexual violence!  Sexual violence hurts everyone in a community, not just survivors and it’s everyone’s responsibility to be educated and accountable in this fight.  So happy learning!  We stand with survivors.  We stand with bystanders.  And we hope you stand with us.

Title IX legislation that protects students from gender based violence and discrimination is being ignored and violated at countless colleges across America.  While many schools are under investigation, most people are still uneducated about their rights on campus.  Title IX is a law that applies to all kinds of gender based discrimination, including sports among other things, and also including sexual assault.  If you believe that your school mishandled your case, you have the right to file a Title IX complaint.  You can find more information here:

http://knowyourix.org/title-ix/how-to-file-a-title-ix-complaint/

To find your Title IX Coordinator:

http://www.titleix.info/Get-Involved/Find-Your-Title-IX-Coordinator.aspx

Antonia’s performance was perfect and also so balanced.  It was the perfect balance between comedy and seriousness.  It was an hour of pure entertainment, but also awareness and education.

I found out about this event because of my involvement with Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MNCASA).  I heard amazing things about the event and didn’t think twice about attending.  When I was waiting in line for the doors to open I was surprised when I talked to the lady in line behind me.  She came to the event because it was a part of Minnesota Fringe Festival which covered 11 days and included 174 different shows amongst 24 different locations.  I am still impressed at the variety of people Post Traumatic Super Delightful drew in.  I attended the final Minnesota show which took place at Phoenix Theater on Hennepin Avenue in Uptown Minneapolis.

During the performance I was feverishly taking notes all while not being able to take my eyes off Antonia.  I would like to watch it over again to pay more attention to hidden messages.  It was that great of an experience, believe me.

In regards to study abroad I have the understanding that Title 9 (IX is the proper way for it to be addressed, but I don’t have the time or patience to understand roman numerals) is the only law that even comes close to applying to students being sexually assault abroad, but it is about as clear as mud.  I have an inclination that students aren’t reporting sexual assaults to study abroad programs and study abroad programs aren’t all reporting sexual assaults to the designated coordinator anyways.  I am all about consistency and think everybody needs to be on the same page in order for things to move forward in a positive manner.  I liked hearing Title 9 terminology like violation, complaint, filed/official, appeal suspension and think it got me motivated to do something because that is how little I have heard about Title 9 and study abroad sexual assault.

A new phrase I heard and could appreciate is “You don’t catch rape (like a cold).”

I loved the two songs and thought they were perfectly placed: I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor and I’m A Survivor by Destiny’s Child.

I heard the word informed and wrote it right down.  Our students need to be well informed and that is why SASARI is so near and dear to my heart.

Throughout the performance the crowd was having quite the riot because it was filled with so many funny moments.  But, during the performance it was stated that as a survivor it is like you are not allowed to laugh and how often times survivors just can’t laugh, but that laughter forms a connection.  This sure rung true to me.  Last night as I lay there sleepless I had a thought come to mind.  Maybe it is possible for the survivor to have the last laugh.

At the end of the performance an original song was played from a recording.  I have never been able to hear lyrics well, but this piece was quite clear to me.  “If the ceiling fan could cry, only one who saw.”  In my case I would use my Mediterranean blue bedding.  I don’t believe ceiling fans were common in the country I was located.

During the performance something along these lines were mentioned twice: For all my pain, he hurts worse than me.  I don’t plan on dwelling on this statement, but I will sure take it!

If you are worried that I shared too much from the performance, there is so much more to the performance than what is written above.

When I left the theater I was on cloud nine.  As I walked to my car I couldn’t get over what a beautiful night it was and how much I loved the atmosphere.  I wanted to stay just a little longer, but didn’t because of time mainly and kept walking to my car despite pre-mentioned hesitations.  I turned off Hennepin and there to my right I saw an unexpected person down the first dark alleyway which startled me.  Tears welled in my eyes.  My mind filled with the question “Are you supposed to call somebody or not call somebody in this situation?”  I also thought about the risk reduction techniques I was breaking and how many people don’t believe they should be shared anyways.  Finally I got a slight trigger because there was a debate about walking in the dark or getting a ride from strangers the night I was raped.  Lucky for me I was about half a block from the agency that helped me get where I am today.  The place I attended a support group not too terribly long ago, the first big step I took to real healing.  As I got into my car and closed the door I heard the sweet sound of my phone ringing.  The first person I called when I felt scared.

If you know of someone that might benefit from SASARI’s resources, let them know how to find us.

 

Facebook: facebook.com/sasarifrommn

 

Website: sasari.org

 

Kind Regards,

Callie

SASARI Founder

 

*Featured image was once available on Amazon.com and was named “Pink Heart Shabby Flower Floral Ceiling Fan Light Pull”


First Point of Contact for Victim/Survivor After Sexual Assault

As you may have read in the first blog post, SASARI has very limited contact with colleges/universities at this point.  We want to start out with a few and build from there as we work things out.  I have received a piece of feedback from a college/university that should be shared though.  They expressed that they believe the host university or program should be the first point of contact after a student experiences a sexual assault while abroad.  Here was my response to them.

I encourage you to download and fill out the Sexual Assault Safety Profile as completely as possible for your students.  I think I have a note on the bottom that it should be in the order these people should be contacted.  Please remember this: What the school would like a rape survivor to do and what a rape survivor feels inclined to do in the moments after trauma may be different.  During my orientation at my host school we were asked to contact the study abroad advisor on the 24 hour line in the event of an emergency, but there wasn’t a fiber in my being that was about to call that number and tell that person anything that had to do with sex and violence.  But I am one student.  If the school helps a student prepare a one page Sexual Assault Safety Profile and explains why a rape survivor would want go to the school and not an advocate first I might understand where you are coming from.  Mustering up the courage to get help from an advocate is a feat in itself.  And it is their job to take care of victims!  I know that if one person e-mails me about the first point of contact issue there will be more.

I was raped in 2005.  In 2014 I contacted of my host school to tell them about my rape.  They gave me resources that I could have used in my time of need, but I don’t remember ever having these sexual assault specific resources being made available to me during orientation.  This is why a Sexual Assault Safety Profile printed out is so necessary.

I would like SASARI.org to be designed for all students, not just one college/university’s study abroad students.

If you ever want wording on the sasari.org webpage to be changed please let me know.  About first point of contact or anything else.

One of my brainstorm ideas is that an alert system be designed for students abroad so they can just push a button to notify the proper individuals of a sexual assault and get a proper response.  This thought most definitely needs to be explored and researched, buy I am eager to share these ideas.  This alert system may alleviate the “first point of contact” dilemma, but backup protocol would be needed in case of technology failure.

If you know of someone that might benefit from our resources, let them know how to find us.

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sasarifrommn

 

Website: www.sasari.org

 

Kind Regards,

Callie

SASARI Founder

 

*Featured image is “Miniature Art on the Tip of Pencil by Dalton Ghetti”


Introduction

Hello!  Thank you for taking the time to read the very first Students Abroad Sexual Assault Resource Initiative blog post.  This will probably be one of the lengthier entries, but I feel it will be worth your read.

I would like to start out by giving you a background on how SASARI came to be.

As you may already know, I was raped while studying abroad in 2005.  I did not reach out for help at all.  Trying to explain my reasoning is far too complicated for this blog post.  But I can say that I suffered from depression.  Around 2010 or 2011 when I was experiencing particularly deep depression I reached out to my relatively new device, the smart phone.  I used Google to search “study abroad rape help” and all I remember seeing were stories of other people being raped abroad.  This was my first attempt to reach out for help.  What I feel I was doing was acknowledging the fact that study abroad sexual assault deserved its own set of resources and help.

In 2014 I was feeling especially courageous.  I picked up the phone and I called the study abroad program at NDSU so I could inform them about what happened to me while traveling through their program and they transferred my phone call to the campus sexual assault advocate as fast as humanly possible.  After several phone conversations the advocate asked me to shoot a 3 minute video to show to future study abroad students at NDSU orientation.  During the process I decided I wanted an organization for this video to belong to, but I didn’t know of one that was the right fit.  Within a week the name Students Abroad Sexual Assault Resource Initiative came to me like an epiphany.  Every time somebody compliments me on the name or logo it makes me smile.  I can’t wait to make a difference in the lives of others with the work of SASARI.

My initial vision for SASARI was that we needed to get our study abroad students educated on this important cause during orientation before leaving.

The moment I started speaking publicly about my work people were quick to tell me that my work is needed, but that many international students are coming to the United States and sexually assaulting our students here too.  I listened.

While researching “study abroad sexual assault” I compiled a large list of things students are supposed to find out before traveling.  I think we should be taking a more collaborative approach.  I have two universities analyzing/scrutinizing my initial list and I can‘t wait to hear what they have to say.  I have learnt that it may be best to approach campus sexual assault advocates about SASARI and not the study abroad programs themselves.

While gathering material for sasari.org I came across this statement “A common feeling a rape survivor will experience is that they feel all alone.”  Reading this hit home for me.  I didn’t even remember this part of my thought process post rape, but now I do and it was intense.  Being abroad only exacerbates the feeling of being alone.  In the moments after my rape I was certain that I was the only study abroad student who had ever been raped.  Not only did I feel alone, but I didn’t have faith that anybody would understand just how bad my experience had been.  Our students deserve the best and that is why I keep doing what I’m doing with SASARI.  I don’t know if I will ever have accurate numbers on just how many students go abroad and are assaulted or assault, but I will sure do my best to be the voice for victims around the world.

My website is not where I want it to be yet.  I just wanted the content available and started.  My two main pages ‘Traveling Abroad?’ and ‘Get Help Now’ will be broken down and restructured to subpages with better titles and shorter pages.  Right now I think they are hard to navigate and are too long.  My home page also needs editing, but I cannot edit it until my website lady makes a little adjustment.

SASARI officially earned tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service on May 12th, 2015.  What a great milestone!

SASARI is keeping track of stories that deserve public policy attention.  Please read this article I found on Forbes.com titled “In Sexual-Assault Cases Overseas, School-Trip Chaperones Can’t Be Prosecuted” – http://onforb.es/1Bnmday

SASARI is still looking for founding board members.  If you know of somebody who has an interest in the work of SASARI that would like to volunteer their time to this cause please send an e-mail to callie@sasari.com.

The last item of self disclosure I would like to share is that while I was obtaining my degree in Business Administration my very favorite class was leadership.  I hope to be the best leader possible!

If you know of someone that might benefit from our resources, let them know how to find us.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/sasarifrommn

Website: www.sasari.org

Kind Regards,

Callie

SASARI Founder

*The photograph for this post is copyright 2008 by sandgrains.com.







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