Monday, April 29, 2013

Sexual Assault Awareness Month .................



As Sexual Assault Awareness Month draws to a close and no other source locally seems to have taken on the issue frontally on as same gender loving women's issues get overlooked for other matters as usual over these many years I decided to do a list of tips to remind our SGL sisters in particular and their children perhaps to be on the look out for. These are not hard and fast rules but just a guide as one can fill in the rest easily based on ones own defence mechanism and monitoring of personal space etc. 


Vigilance is key these days and with several reports of missing sisters who are said to be part of the community concerns are rising by a few especially a new group called Quality Citizenship Jamaica who say their main focus is on older lesbian and bisexual women.



A short online survey they recently conducted suggested that there are many under-reported issues of sexual assault by women from their representative community. In a recent comment on Facebook by one of its founders claimed that 42% of those who participated experienced some sort of sexual violence. They are yet to publish the full results to substantiate this claim but I would not doubt it altogether.

My early years with other organizations I observed a steady rise in corrective rape (lesbians raped in a supposed bid to heterosexualize them) and other non penetrative acts they are forced to perform on their abusers as so called punishment for not wanting a man via Jamaican standards.

Two women were also featured in a documentary shot over a year ago by Selena Blake where one recounted her episode where she was forced to perform lewd acts on her attacker. The hush about this problem is not helping any and we must call it out in the open but with a male dominated LGBT advocacy or in this scenario GLBT still insensitive to the SGL female community needs fully what is one to do. A rape/sexual assault victim who is lesbian or bisexual might not want to sit in an incident report taking session and rehash her horrific experience done by other men to another man, sometimes the gender of the crisis intervention professional is crucial in service delivery.


Wonderful that a "We are Jamaicans Video Campaign" is on now but how is that going to help the women who do not see themselves being fully represented especially those from the lower socio economic strata? The figures for female Same Gender Loving persons being assaulted is indeterminate as many asborb the pain and recover very slowly over time without ever sharing the information and with a stigma surrounding rape on a whole as with victims many just clam up and are afraid to find a trusted professional or friend to share and seek help.

With the main advocacy group itself going through its bouts of internal challenges including its reeling from being evicted from its offices earlier this month along with its parent entity how are the programs going to be executed? when it is all about manipulating the foreign LGBT support to cover up the ineptitude and lack of good leadership.

Here are some tips however one could consider to be on the safe side:

No woman wants to be raped. 

Yet we live in a society in which the myth of "she’s asking for it" still exists. Avoiding rape and sexual assault is a concern for many women, especially college-aged students; they're the group at highest risk of being sexually assaulted. The belief that most rapes occur at the hands of a faceless stranger in a dark alley couldn't be further from the truth.. Most rapes involve someone the victim knows.

But these common sense tips offer practical advice for everyone. They can help any woman or girl minimize risk, improve safety and protect herself from situations that have the potential to become dangerous. Awareness of possible risks goes a long way in keeping women safe.

Trust your instincts and go with your gut. If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, do what you need to do to get yourself out of there. Don't worry about what others may think or try to be polite so as not to offend others. Your safety is top priority.

Carry your cell phone and make sure it's charged.

Plan ahead and use your phone as an extra measure of safety. Know who you'd contact if a situation makes you uncomfortable; have their number programmed so you can send a quick text for backup or help. If you're going out with friends, decide in advance where you'll meet at the end and at what time, so if your phone dies you'll still be able to connect with them.

Think twice about what you put on Facebook or Foursquare. 

When you use social media to share where you are or where you're going, friends can find you but others may be able to track you as well. Use common sense and ask yourself -- would you give this information to a stranger? If not, then don't share it online.

Your safety takes priority over someone else's hurt feelings. 

You're with someone or you're in a situation that makes you feel unsafe. There's nothing wrong with lying to extricate yourself from what's going on. Make up an excuse as to why you have to leave and get yourself to a safer place. It's easier to patch up someone's hurt feelings (if you've misinterpreted the situation) later on than deal with the aftermath of rape or sexual assault.

Don't keep quiet if you see something happening. 

Perpetrators are much less likely to act if their actions are being observed. If you see something questionable or believe another woman's safety is at risk, speak up, step in, draw others' attention to what's happening, or call for help. If you speak up and intervene, you've prevented one sexual assault crime from occurring and reduced the possibility of five other women being victimized in the future.

Friends don't let friends leave alone. 
If you and your friends are going out for the evening or headed to a party, go together. Arrive as a group, keep in contact with each other throughout the night (either face to face or by texting) and leave together. There's safety in numbers, so avoid going off alone. If you do decide to leave your friends, tell them where you're going and who you're going with.

Watch that drink and stay within limits. 
Whether you're consuming wine, beer, liquor or sipping non-alcoholic beverages, keep your hand on your drink and be aware of it at all times. Drink tampering has become all too common and often leads to sexual assault. Don't accept a drink or open can or bottle from someone you don't know or trust. If you end up leaving your drink unattended for some reason, throw it out and get a new one. In a bar, watch your drink being prepared. At a party, get your drink yourself or prepare it yourself and open up your own can or bottle; don't let somebody else do it. Don't drink from common open containers like punch bowls. If you're drinking alcohol, know your limits and how much you can consume without losing control or awareness of what's going on around you.

Make sure you've got your friends' backs and vice versa. 
Watching out for your friends -- and knowing that you can trust them to watch out for you -- is a key factor in preventing rape and sexual assault. If a friend seems out of it, is acting completely different from her normal behaviour  or appears much more intoxicated than she should be based on the amount of alcohol she's consumed, take care of her and get her to a safe place. If you think she's been drugged -- or you feel you've been drugged -- call the police. Don't hesitate or think that because alcohol was involved, no one will believe you or that you'll be blamed. When you see a medical professional, explain exactly what happened and any apparent symptoms or behaviours so that they can administer the correct tests.

One has to be also mindful of who one lets into your circle persons can present themselves as friendly with ulterior motives as I always say via this blog "Be Vigilant, Be Safe"

Peace and tolerance

H

(includes sections from women's issues on About.com)

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