Monthly Archives June 2019

Change Happens Here

By: Marina Peed

My kids will tell you that I like to discuss uncomfortable topics. The best way to address a problem is to push past the discomfort and talk directly. Danger thrives in dark, unattended places…including the crisper drawers of my refrigerator. We can do better and we must do better.

Why are sexual assault and child sexual abuse still occurring?  There are laws which criminalize sexual violations. Yet only 35% of victims report these crimes to law enforcement.  What social conditions make you more comfortable reporting a stolen car than a sexual assault? You have a lot more to lose and questions to answer after an assault.

Mosaic Georgia, formerly Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center & Children’s Advocacy Center, served almost 1,000 new victims of sexual molestation and sexual violence last year. The vast majority (62%) of our clients were minors: 35% of our clients/patients were under 12 years of age; 27% were 12-17 years old; 18% were 18-24 (college age).  Most of our clients are female (84%) yet we serve everyone regardless of sex or gender identity.

As a mom and an advocate for all children, I encourage you to push through the discomfort and talk to someone in your home, office, school, faith community, or bowling league about ending sexualized violence. You can create an environment where your family and friends can feel safe and supported. Mosaic Georgia is here to help facilitate those conversations.

March 3-9 is No More Week across the country and the theme is Change Happens Here.  Even small actions can go a long way toward creating a society that does not tolerate domestic violence and sexual assault. The best sexual assault prevention occurs when EVERYone is respected.

Change happens…

  • when we act as if we respect ourselves
  • when we act as if we respect others
  • when we don’t assume
  • when the “bro code” holds guys accountable instead of covering up bad behavior
  • when good people intervene rather than pretend not to see
  • when consent is requested
  • people are believed first and feel safe to tell what happened
  • when we promote healthy relationships and boundaries from infancy
  • when treatment is available to children who exhibit problematic sexualized behavior

Sexual abuse and assault is 100% preventable behavior. You can help change our common culture that has supported violence for too long. Please join us. #ChangeHappensHereGwinnett

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A Daily Dose of Courage

 

Courage: the ability to undertake an overwhelming difficulty or pain despite the unavoidable presence of fear.

What’s a kid to do? We tell children to speak up for themselves and we want them to be quiet and respectful. Each family has its own norms and unspoken expectations. Regardless, it takes courage for a child to speak out when someone abuses her and threatens harm if she tells anyone. How should the community respond?

Courage meets compassion

The Gwinnett community has a multi-disciplinary team that operates with the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) model. Designed to be welcoming and convenient, all the steps after reporting take place in one private location, Mosaic Georgia: forensic interview, forensic medical assessment, and supportive services. Law enforcement and other necessary agencies go to Mosaic Georgia to collaborate on the investigation and issues resulting from the abuse/assault.

There are no fees, no co-pays, and no hospital waits. Our goal is to reduce trauma and stress through the reporting and investigative process and offer advocacy support during and after.

Building courage

People often ask, How can people get away with this? Coercion and silence are the primary tools used by people who physically and sexually abuse. Abusers know what is important to their victims and use that information to garner compliance. Abusers often diminish their victim in the eyes of others with comments about them being sneaky, lying, promiscuous, or attention-seeking to discredit her or him in the event the code of silence is broken. Many victims finally find their voice to protect others. “When I saw him with my little sister, I couldn’t stay silent…”

A family matter

Child abusers are opportunistic, choosing victims they can easily access and manipulate. The harm is compounded when the abuser is a family member, close friend, fellow student, or trusted teen or adult. The relationships are complex and intertwined. Feelings of genuine love or respect are conflicted with the confusion, pain, and shame the abusive behavior conjures. The weight of silence can lead to many forms of self-destructive behavior.

“I don’t want him to go to jail. I just want him to stop…”

You may assume that family members will form a protective shield around the person who gives voice to the abuse. Yet a common response is frustration, even anger toward the victim. Competing interests cause more damage to everyone. He may be the family breadwinner or have some social standing at work, church, school, or the ball field.

Private and public courage

What is not spoken is not acknowledged (don’t ask, don’t tell) and is allowed to continue. That lack of courage hurts everyone involved. It also explains why so many victims who report abuse later recant. The pressure to maintain the family’s status quo is too great for courage to sustain.

Ask any student in middle or high school and they can tell you about a video or snapchat that went viral. And find out how the victim was trolled and threatened as a result. The discourse focuses on the recipient of the assault, not on the behavior and decisions of the perpetrator. While some abusers feel shame after an assault, many do not believe they did anything wrong. “It just happened. She didn’t scream or anything.”

Our collective courage is challenged everyday. “I don’t want to get involved” for fear of backlash. That’s another way silence oppresses.

Courage + Support = Survivor

At Mosaic Georgia, we see courage every day in the people we serve. We help them put the pieces of their lives back together so their futures are brighter than yesterday. If this resonates, know that you are not alone.

We applaud your daily courage for living your life whether you have spoken your truth aloud. As Christopher Robin told Winnie the Pooh, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” We are here for you, too.

24/7 Help Line: 866-900-6019.

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Did You Know?

 

Did you know that in America every 92 seconds someone is sexually assaulted? Or that people between ages 12 and 24 are at higher risk for sexual assault and rape? How about that 1 in every 10 rape victims are male? Or that 21% of TGQN (Transgender, Genderqueer, Nonconforming) college students have been sexually assaulted? (Victims of Sexual Violence: Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence)

Did you know that the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) Community is at higher risk for sexual assault and rape? Within the community, transgender people and bisexual women are at the highest risk. 61% of bisexual women, 47% of bisexual men, and 40% of gay men experience rape, physical violence, stalking, and/or other forms of sexualized violence. From the 61% of bisexual women, almost half (48%) were raped before age 18. (Human Rights Campaign. (n.d.). Sexual Assault and the LGBTQ Community. Retrieved from https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-assault-and-the-lgbt-community)

Due to the discrimination that people within the LGBTQ+ Community face from strangers, coworkers, family, the community at large, even friends, most of these crimes go unreported or are never even told to anyone. Additionally because of this discrimination, most LGBTQ+ victims and survivors feel that they cannot reach out for help. Here at Mosaic Georgia we are pleased to serve all victims because sexualized violence knows no sexual orientation, race, gender, age, or socioeconomic status. We will treat you with respect and guide you through this difficult process.

If you or someone you know is a victim of sexualized violence please call our 24-hour crisis line at 866-900-6019 to speak with a trained Advocate. If you are 18 or older we can even explain what non-investigative options, you have.

 

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