Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Shatter the Silence - Sexual Assault Awareness Month

I needed to watch a training video (complete Sexual Abuse Safety System for Camps and Conference Centers) to volunteer at camp...

My case was nearly textbook in every example. From the grooming, to the keeping secrets, to accidental touch, to the long term effects it had on me: depression, mood change, and alcohol abuse, the list goes on. I was crying while watching it and as I started to sink into “stinking thinking,” I was prompted to claim the blood of Jesus and His power. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:37-39, NRSV). I am thanking Jesus I am restored, healed by him and no longer controlled by the actions of a man I had no control over.

I have grown so much spiritually and am grateful that I am able to hear the softest voice prompting me to remain in Him.

Ministry Safe provided the training I took and it is extremely well done and "spot on" from my perspective and experience.  They include a section about the "gatekeepers," the people responsible for keeping the children safe and again, textbook example of my experience.  

Family Watchdog allows you to search for  offenders in any area you chose (city, zip code, school zone, etc.) and is FREE.  However, as Ministry Safe says, "Checking for criminal convictions alone will not protect children in children's programs. Statistically, less than 10 percent of sexual offenders are ever criminally prosecuted, because children do not report abuse until years later, if ever. As a result, approximately 90 percent of offenders have no criminal record to check."  Yet another reason careful screening of volunteers is important.  

If you are a volunteer and are required to go through training, have a background ran on you, and character references, not to mention interview questions that are unexpected, PLEASE submit to the process with the understanding that lives are at stake and whatever measures the ministry deems necessary are for their protection, which is what we should all desire: safe places for our children to grow up.  

Here is an excerpt from my biography, 
Things took a bad turn for me when I was 15.  Unfortunately, the choice of another hurt me deeply and I became a rape victim.  For five years, I kept this incident a secret but my behaviors and personality took a turn for the worse.  I was no longer content and joyful.  I lived with knowing that God could have stopped it from happening and chose not to.  I resented Him for that.  
 By the time I was 20, I was faced with helping someone else who had been raped by the same man and I released the burden I had been carrying alone for years.  My family was supportive and loving through the whole process.  Through counseling, I slowly was able to see that God still loved me and had not given up on me.

There are many sites for you to go to for professional help and suggestions.  These are my own.
What to do/not do when someone tells you they were sexually assaulted:

  1. Do NOT suggest in the slightest that they did something to provoke the attack!  
  2. Do NOT ever say:
    "What did she expect when she dressed that way."
    "If she hadn't gone to that party then she wouldn't have been raped."
    "She shouldn't have drank so much."
    "She should have been paying better attention."
    "What did she think would happen?"
    "I hate to say it but, I'm not surprised."
  3. Do NOT compare rape stories to someone else's experience.  If it is your own story, you will have a better idea of what they need to hear.  If it is not your own experience, do not offer someone else's story for comfort.  
  4. Do NOT sympathize with the offender with statements like, "He is sick," "He was drunk," and never say, "Boys will be boys"!  
  5. Know that you are a special person in which this survivor is trusting you!  With that in mind, DO say empathetic statements like, "I have no idea what you are going through but I am so sorry." 
  6. DO offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on.  Healing takes years and knowing people won't tell you to "move on," "let it go," or "I wish things were like they were before" is a very powerful tool for the survivor to have.  
  7. Just be there.  Don't try to fix it, solve it, or treat the situation as a problem that needs addressed.  Listen, empathize, love, and support the survivor and their families.  
  8. Remember the family but focus on the survivor.  
If you are in a position that requires you to report the incident, NEVER promise you won't tell.  Report the abuse to your supervisor immediately.  If you are not in a position that is require to report abuse and it is has not been reported, offer to be there with them when they report it, stand by their side, and encourage them to report the abuse.  (This is not legal advise, this is a non-professional survivor speaking).

I could go on but focusing on Sexual Abuse Awareness Month, be aware!  Watch this video by a mom and BE AWARE!  

#notavictim #survivor #morethanconquerors #shatterthesilence 

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