Cultivating a Culture of Consent

Posted on April 24, 2019

As Sexual Assault Awareness Month comes to a close, it’s important to reflect on the ways in which the occurrence of sexual assault is perpetuated by our everyday attitudes and actions, as well as by the longstanding sociocultural systems we exist within. As it stands, our society unfortunately exists as a place where every 92 seconds an American is sexually assaulted (RAINN), victims often feel silenced and ostracized, and when they do speak, their voices often fall on deaf ears. This is exactly what is trying to be highlighted in conversations about rape culture. While the term “rape culture” helps us to understand the insidious ways in which sexual assault is a deep cultural problem, it begs the question of what can be done to affirmatively and proactively combat it. What kind of culture can we cultivate as an alternative?

Consent culture is a culture which normalizes the action of asking for consent and respecting whatever responses are given. It affirms that each individual has bodily autonomy and maintains that boundaries (a person’s right to choose what is comfortable to them) should be respected unconditionally. The foundation of this culture is built upon a basic understanding of consent. Consent involves an enthusiastic, affirmative, and voluntary “yes” that is not implied or assumed in the absence of a “no” and can be revoked at any time. While consent should always be given in situations of sexual interaction, it doesn’t only apply here. Consent culture should be extended to all facets of life and treating it as such is imperative in efforts to combat both rape culture and sexual assault.

What are some practical ways to cultivate a culture of consent? Teach the concept of consent early and model it! Showing children what consent looks like and that they have a right to develop and maintain healthy boundaries is integral to the process of creating a culture of consent. Beyond this, helping children to ask for consent and accept rejection in their everyday interactions with friends and family members creates a foundation for their relationships later in life. Some basic ways this can be achieved is by asking children for permission, giving them multiple alternatives in situations when asking them to do something (so they can make choices based on their personal boundaries), and preparing them for bodily autonomy and independence. 

Teaching children about consent is just one component of creating a culture of consent. In order to successfully cultivate a culture of consent, we must constantly ask how the concept of consent can be applied to our lives and integrated into our everyday actions. We must be respectful, and not dismissive, of the boundaries people establish, while simultaneously maintaining the boundaries we establish for ourselves. 

Written By: Nadia Rosales

Learn More 

Resources:
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
RAINN
LoveisRespect.org

Additional References:
Leary, M. (2016). Affirmatively replacing rape culture with consent culture. Texas Tech Law Review 49(1), 1-56.

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Intersection of Domestic Violence and Homelessness

Posted on April 17, 2019

The intersection of homelessness and domestic violence is the connection of two extraordinarily serious social issues facing communities. Survivors fleeing abusive relationships often must leave their homes, with no other available housing options. Advocates within this field consistently see women and families become homeless as a direct result of domestic violence, and this, in turn, increases the risks for survivors experiencing abuse.

Survivors face numerous barriers to safety on a daily basis and are often trapped between experiencing continued violence or homelessness. Abusers use control tactics to isolate the survivor from their support network(s), limit their access to finances, employment, or education, cut them off from community resources, and create a constant state of fear. An abuser’s use of power and control can create barriers to accessible housing for the survivor. Abusers will often destroy a survivor’s credit or rental history by generating debt in the survivor’s name or defaulting on bills that have the survivor’s name listed on them, which then makes it increasingly more difficult to obtain a lease. Survivors may also experience lack of steady employment, resulting from missing work due to violence or being fired due to the abuser’s stalking/harassing behaviors. Many survivors also face housing discrimination when landlords evict them due to repeated police presence at the apartment or property damage caused by the abuser.  Abusers may also cause a survivor to lose subsidized or other affordable housing by violating the voucher requirements or rental agreement. These barriers are further compounded for people who experience additional forms of oppression, such as people of color, the LGBTQ community, First Nations people, immigrants, persons with disabilities, and individuals experiencing poverty. Folks with children also face additional risks. With a lack of resources, survivors are often forced to choose between continued violence and not knowing where their child’s shelter and next meal will come from. 

It is imperative for communities to recognize the intersection of homelessness and domestic violence and join in the fight to combat both these forms of oppression. Community partners make our work at Denton County Friends of the Family possible. We would not be able to provide safety, support, and housing for survivors without your continued help. Below are ways that you can get involved to help our community.  

Written By: Taylor Cameron, MS, LPC, NCC

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Start By Believing

Posted on April 5, 2019

#StartByBelieving

TAKE THE PLEDGE

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM). The purpose behind #SAAM is to spread awareness of the prevalence of sexual assault and the impact that it has on victims and survivors. As community members, we all have a choice to advocate for victims in our daily lives. Whether it is through volunteering, sharing social media posts about the issue, or holding those accountable around you when they perpetuate the cycle of violence, you have the power to be a part of the solution and stand up for victims.

In honor of #SAAM, take the pledge to #StartByBelieving! As an advocate in the community, you pledge to:

  • Start by believing when someone tells you they were raped or sexually assaulted
  • Support survivors on the road to justice and healing
  • Help end the silence.

2 in 5 women in Texas will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. With the rise of the #MeToo movement we have an opportunity to be a part of a grassroots change to support and believe victims of sexual assault. Take the pledge and be a part of the solution this #SAAM!

TAKE THE PLEDGE

Learn more about End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) visit their website: www.startbybelieving.org
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Know The Warning Signs

Posted on April 3, 2019

Know the Warning Signs 

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. According to TAASA (Texas Association Against Sexual Assault), Sexual Assault is best understood as a broader continuum of unwanted non-mutual sexual actions that range from subtle to extremely violent. It can include but is not limited to rape, sexual threats, intimidation, incest, sexual assault by intimate partners, child sexual abuse, human sexual trafficking, sexual harassment, street harassment, and other forms of unwelcomed, coerced or non-consensual activity.  

Sexual Assault can happen to anyone. As advocates, it is our duty to know the warning signs of those who may be survivors of Sexual Assault, and how to best assist them in their healing. 

With any rape, sexual assault, or domestic abuse case, as a friend or ally, always believe the victim. Believe the warning signs that there is trauma and feel encouraged to reach out to our Crisis Line at any time, day or night. 800-572-4031 or 940-387-7273 

Warning Signs for Adults: 

  • Depression 
  • Self-harm 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Anxiety 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections 
  • Avoidance of people or places  
  • Failing grades/lack of work productivity 
  • Increase in drug/alcohol intake 

Warning Signs for Teens: 

  • Unusual weight gain or loss 
  • Unhealthy eating patterns (loss of appetite or excessive eating) 
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections 
  • Depression 
  • Expressing thoughts of suicide 
  • Anxiety / Worry 
  • Failing grades 

Warning Signs for Children: 

  • Exposing oneself  
  • Sharing obscene images 
  • Trauma to genitals or unexplained bleeding 
  • Sexual behavior inappropriate for a child that age 
  • Bed Wetting 
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people 
  • Avoids removing clothing or taking baths 
  • Excessive talk or knowledge about sexual acts 
  • Resuming behaviors that they had already outgrown 

If you ever notice any of these warning signs in a friend or loved one, let them know you are there for them, believe them when they choose to tell you their story, have open communication, and let them know that they can reach out to our Crisis Line 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year at 800-572-4031 or 940-387-7273.  

Eight out of ten victims of sexual assault know their perpetrator, which means that there could be dynamics involved that you are not aware of. If the sexual assault was recent, you can always encourage the survivor to call 911, but it is important to understand that it is their choice whether to report their assault or not. Remember that your role as their support system is to believe them and help them access resources, but it is not to take control of the situation or tell them what to do.  

You can learn more about the warning signs and what sexual assault is by visiting both the TAASA and Rainn websites linked below.  

TAASA

RAINN

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Sip & Stroll

Posted on March 27, 2019

Sip & Stroll Wine Walk

Thursday, March 28th @ 6:30pm-9:00pm

@Shops of Highland Village

LEARN MORE

Come join us for a night of wine, food, fun, and giving! The Sip & Stroll at the Shops of Highland Village is tomorrow night at 6:30pm! A $10.00 donation to Denton County Friends of Family will get you an exclusive goody bag, commemorative wine glass, access to entertainment, and food pairings around the property. The first 300 guests will be guaranteed a goody bag from the Shops. 

Check in at the Barnes & Noble in the middle of the shopping center and then take off to shop and taste delicious wines! What is better than being able to sip and shop at the same time? Not only are there wine stations throughout the Shops at Highland Village for you to indulge in, but your night will also be full of unique entertainment. Entertainment will include hand writing analysis, living vine wall photo op, a strolling guitarist and more! 

Events like Sip & Stroll are very important to our agency. Community support of our agency and clients goes such a long way to not only raise funds for our programs, but raise awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault. We hope that you can all make it out tomorrow! Thank you for investing in safety, hope, healing, justice & prevention.

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Purple Postcard Campaign

Posted on March 20, 2019

The following information is provided by the Texas Council on Family Violence:

Per statistics from Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), within the last five years, 691 Texas women have been killed from domestic violence. In 2017, over 71,000 survivors received services from a family violence program. Sadly, in Texas, 41% of survivors needing shelter services were put on a waitlist because all shelters were already full. 
 
The funding for family violence centers, unfortunately, has failed to address the growing population’s needs for survivors in Texas. “Every day, shelters and support programs for survivors must make maximum use of scarce resources to save lives. Critical services are needed to make our communities across the state safer” says TCFV.
  
TCFV are advocating for survivors every day at the Capitol. Per a TCFV Rep, it is our voices that will make their efforts successful. At the end of this month, TCFV will be holding a press conference and delivering postcards to legislators. These post cards contain a simple message directed at your elected official: make funding for family violence services a top priority. 
 
Please take a moment to complete a postcard by clicking on the button below, as well as sending the link to everyone in your professional and personal networks. It takes less than one minute to fill out a card, but the impact of that one minute can be lifelong for survivors of family violence. 
 
This information was provided by a representative from the Texas Council on Family Violence in regards to their Purple Postcard Campaign.
 

Purple Postcard Campaign

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