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The Journey of Stephanie Burns

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” – Dr. Maya Angelou

Stephanie Burns is a phenomenal woman who experienced trauma as a young adult and had the remarkable courage to report the incident and undergo a trial. Inspired by the words of the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou, Stephanie felt empowered to create a space of strength and celebration in the face of trauma. She works tirelessly to promote thriving in herself and others.

We felt an immediate kindred connection with Stephanie, in our parallel missions to create strength out of trauma. Watch Stephanie’s powerful journey of healing and thriving.

 

Click here to listen to her story.

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Oliver’s Community Card Registration

Click Here on the link below to download the Oliver’s Community Card form for Verity

Olivers Community Card Form

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Verity has extended its services to Guerneville!

Verity is extending our services by introducing an office into Guerneville at the (West County Community Services and Family Service Agency of Sonoma County’s) River Family Service Center located at 16390 Main Street, Guerneville, CA 95446 every Friday from 11am-3pm starting April 6th. No appointment is necessary, drop-ins welcome.

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Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  View the full calendar of events below or download the pdf to view a larger version.  You can also view the calendar for more information.

 

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Op-Ed Columnist: How Pimps Use the Web to Sell Girls

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
Pimps are turning to the Internet instead of street corners for the sex trafficking of minors. Just look at the case of this teenage girl in Brooklyn.

Here is a link to the North Bay’s Backpage website, as discussed in the above article. http://northbay.backpage.com/FemaleEscorts/

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From Sports Illustrated: The Sandusky Effect

Please download the full article here.

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We all have a role in stopping abuse

By Chris Kirchner

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/133666868.html

 Once again, child sexual-abuse allegations have people everywhere shaking their heads in disbelief. Anger and frustration fill the airwaves, news columns, and blogs with questions like “How did this happen?” and “How did it go unreported for so long?”

“Stranger danger” has often been overemphasized by those who would keep children safe from predators. While studies have shown that one in four girls and one in six boys are sexually abused by the age of 18, the sad truth is that 90 percent of victims know the offenders well. They are relatives, friends, neighbors, and, as alleged in the Penn State case, coaches.

Understanding what keeps child victims of sexual abuse silent is easy. They fear that revealing the abuse will bring harm to them or those they love, loss of affection, and punishment. Child sexual abuse is a crime that thrives in a climate of silence, secrecy, and shame. Fear is what offenders count on as they groom their victims.

What is not so easily explained is the silence of adult witnesses to such crimes. But if the problem is a lack of information about how to report such abuse and what will happen as a result, we must make sure that information is more widely known and understood.

When a report of child sexual abuse is made to the police or the Department of Human Services in Philadelphia, there is a partnership in place to ensure the abuse ends, that the child has a safe place to talk about what happened, and that the child and his or her family get all the services they need to start healing. The Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, a nonprofit child advocacy center that responds to allegations of abuse, is part of that partnership.

It is easy to feel powerless and overwhelmed in the face of the headlines. It is harder to turn our anger and frustration into positive action for victimized children.

Here is one positive action we can all agree on. Raise your right hand and repeat after me: “If I see, hear, suspect, or in any way become aware that a child is being abused, I will not keep silent. I will have the courage to help that child break free of the silence, secrecy, and shame that should never define a child’s life.”

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Occupy Wall Street

Got your attention? Good. Because my point is not that Sesame Street is part of the problem in our epidemic of child abuse. This cherished institution has always been part of the solution. Before it was fashionable, Sesame Street tackled some of society’s most sensitive issues and found a way to talk about them to young children without scaring the bejesus out of them.

So hats off to Sesame Street for doing good by being good.

Some of our other cherished institutions, not so much. The unfolding scandal at Penn State has rocked college football to its foundation. But the real problem isn’t college sports — it’s us. For too long we’ve allowed child abuse to continue in a sick parallel universe while we go about our everyday lives. Even as Penn State continued to wow us on the football field, it allowed a child predator to operate unfettered on its own campus.

But we’ve been down this sordid road before. A respected institution Is revealed to have condoned child abuse and we pretend to be shocked. When asked why he robbed banks, notorious outlaw Willie Sutton replied: “Because that’s where the money is.” It should come as no surprise that sexual predators hang out in places where the kids are.

For nearly a decade, people who could have stopped the abuse at Penn State decided that protecting the university’s reputation and powerhouse football program was more important than protecting young boys from being raped in the shower. An unconscionable truth.

Although university officials acted quickly to contain the scandal once the lid blew by firing its legendary football coach and the school president, it was too little, too late. What makes the Penn State case especially despicable is that the accused sexual predator, a trusted guardian, reached out his hand to give at-risk youth a chance in life, then utterly betrayed them. Instead of turning these fragile lives around, they’ve been damaged even more.

Child abuse victims are 1,030 times more likely to abuse drugs and 740 times more likely to abuse alcohol, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The long-term health care costs associated with child abuse are staggering. Victims are 160 times more likely to be morbidly obese as adults, 220 times more likely to smoke and 1,220 times more likely to commit suicide, which is why the center calls child abuse this nation’s number-one public health crisis. Abused children are 30 percent more likely to commit violent crimes in later life, and are significantly more likely to abuse their own children or beat up their spouses. Aside from lost and wasted lives, child abuse is costing America billions.

How worried should we be? “Child exploitation crimes are exploding,” says US Attorney Barry Grissom, warning that there’s been “an historic rise in the distribution of child pornography, in the number of images shared online, and in the level of violence associated with child exploitation and sexual abuse crimes.” His dismal conclusion: “The only place where the numbers have dropped is in the age of the victims.”

In fact, it’s never been easier to exploit children. Many of our kids have become road kill on the information highway. The United States Attorneys’ Bulletin reports that the evolving Internet has “greatly expanded opportunities for offenders to find and distribute child sexual abuse images and to share with each other their mutual interest in sexually exploiting children.”

Americans may be divided on many issues, but clearly we can all agree our children deserve protection. We need more than just another well-meaning law. There were people at Penn State who were legally mandated to speak out, but stayed silent. Silence is not an option. We each need to take personal responsibility, because child abuse is everybody’s shame.

It’s time to put down your iPad and pay attention to what’s going on around you. If you suspect a child is being abused, step up and have the courage to speak out.

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F.B.I. awaiting new definition of rape

On Tuesday, an F.B.I. subcommittee made recommendations to create a new federal definition of rape, moving the agency a step closer to updating the way it counts sex crimes for the first time since 1927. Currently, the F.B.I. considers rape to be “the carnal knowledge of a female, forcibly and against her will,” which excludes anal and oral rape, male rape and rape committed without physical force but also without consent.
Read more about the newly proposed definition on CALCASA’s blog –> F.B.I. awaiting new definition of rape
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Vice President Biden Calls on New Generation to Take Action

In Video Message, Vice President Biden Calls on New Generation to Take Action in Preventing Dating Violence and Sexual Assault at School and On Campus
On 17th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, Vice President Biden Says “1 is too Many” Youth Victims of Dating Violence and Sexual Assault
Washington, D.C. – Earlier today, in a video message tweeted by @VP, Vice President Biden called on high school and college students to share their ideas for how to prevent dating violence and sexual assault at their schools and on their college campuses.  Over the next two weeks, young men and women are invited to join this important conversation by submitting their ideas via the new whitehouse.gov/1is2many page or by using the hashtag #1is2many on Twitter.

Despite the significant progress made to reduce violence against women since the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) – authored by then-Senator Biden – was signed into law on September 13, 1994, young women aged 16-24 continue to experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault. One in five young women will be a victim of sexual assault during college, while one in ten teens have been physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year.

“The only way we’re going to stop it is for all of us to speak up and act and make it clear that violence against women will not be tolerated at your school, on your campus, at any time, for any reason period,” Vice President Biden says in the video message. “No means no. No means no if she’s drunk or you’re sober. No mean no if you’re in a dorm room or on the street. No means no even if she said yes first and changed her mind. No means no, no matter what.”

“I am asking all of you to help get this message out, all across the country, on every single campus in the country,” the Vice President continues. “I want to know from you…what has your school done to make you feel safer? What could they do that they’re not doing, to make you feel safer? What ideas do you have to help prevent dating violence and sexual assault and make campuses safer for everyone?”

For over 20 years, Vice President Biden has led the fight to combat violence against women. With the introduction of VAWA, then-Senator Biden exposed high rates of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking experienced by women every day in this country. Over the past year, in response to the high rates of violence and abuse young women are still experiencing, the Vice President has refocused his longstanding commitment to reducing violence against women specifically on teens and young women aged 16-24.

In April, the Vice President announced comprehensive guidance with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to help schools, colleges and universities better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to the problem of campus sexual assault.

In July, the Vice President, with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, launched the “Apps Against Abuse” challenge – a national competition to develop an innovative software application, or “app,” that provides young adults with tools to help prevent sexual assault and dating violence in real time. The winner of the challenge will be announced next month.
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Learn about what's new at Verity, announcements from our partner organizations, and ideas to help you get involved in fighting sexual violence.
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