Spotlight on R.A.D.

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The R.A.D. mission is to “develop and enhance the options of self defense, so they may become viable considerations to the woman who is attacked” (Lawrence N. Nadeu).

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Spotlight on…Green Dots!

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Green Dots is an organization on the Vanderbilt University campus that addresses and supports victims of personal violence and why personal violence situations occur. Green Dots are individual choices that meet in a shared vision trying to create a social movement. It is a person’s choice to save or prevent someone from being in a dangerous situation. The organization symbolizes moments where someone can help a person in potential danger and prevent a dangerous situation by going through the training and identifying the signs. These green dots will increase the safety of everyone on campus and in the community and believing in Green Dots could end the perpetration of violence. Through education, outreach, and staff development we can create more green dots around the community to help more people avoid sexual assault. At Vanderbilt, the organization aspires to integrate in all aspects of campus life, increase faculty and staff support, serve diverse populations, and implement the best practices to enhance programmatic efforts. They truly want to make a difference in people’s lives.

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Green Dots even includes the athletic department in their goal of educating the entire campus about how to avoid personal violence and what the signs look like. A majority of the athletic teams went through the training. It was a great way to learn about the signs of a potentially dangerous person and situation. For example, the trainer from Green Dots explained what steps a guy at a party might make to persuade a girl to go home with him for a sexual interaction. Some signs include; buying the girl drinks, encouraging her to drink a lot, complimenting her, engaging in a conversation so it seems like he is very interested in what she is saying, various physical interactions, and finally taking her home. The instructor also gave a booklet about documenting personal experiences. This was a way to reflect and grow from various experiences. We also learned about stories of young women who were victims of personal violence. Going through this training was more than beneficial because it helped to realize how important it is to protect each other when people are drinking or going out. Being sexually assaulted can happen to anyone, so being aware of the people around you is essential.

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Sexual assault has fallen by more than 50% in recent years. Had the 1993 rate held steady, 9.7 million Americans would have been assaulted in the last 20 years. Due to the drastic decline over the last 20 years, the actual number of victims was only 4.2 million people. The decline of these numbers is heavily due to the rising awareness of sexual assault across the nation. To put things into perspective, here are some statistics about sexual abuse: every two minutes, another American is sexually assaulted. And each year, there are about 237,868 victims of sexual assault. Organizations, like Green Dot, are working towards ceasing this phenomenon and ending sexual assault. Green Dot parallels many of the ideologies and concepts we’ve discussed in class. Although sexual abuse is a new concept to our classroom discussions, it is not a new occurrence in everyday life. Green Dot isn’t the only organization addressing and supporting victims of personal violence. Lately there has been a huge push against sexual assault on college campuses, and we have read many articles focusing on bystander intervention and the emphasis on the victim never being at fault. A huge problem in today’s society is that many times blame will get put on the victim. “She was asking for it” or “she wasn’t that drunk” or “oh, she was flirting the whole night…” are common excuses we hear after sexual assault takes place. Society continues to misplace blame and shame on survivors, both men and women, on college campuses and everywhere else. Many famous people have been working to end this stigma that often get placed onto a victim. Marisa Hargitay, Law and Order SVU star, is a huge advocate for survivors of abuse—working to make sure they receive the justice they deserve. Many other organizations have been working to promote bystander intervention. Philip J. Hanlon, the president of Dartmouth, has also been working heavily on informing his students of the important of intervening when deemed necessary. Hargitay and Hanlon are just two examples of people that are working towards stopping sexual assault.

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Another concept we discussed in class is the difference between consent and coercion. Consent is when someone agrees, gives permission, or blatantly says yes to engaging in sexual activity with someone else. Central to the concept of consent is the understanding that every person has a right to control his or her body. Unless clear permission is given, no one else has the right to engage in any sort of activity with another person. Consent is not body language, assumptions, being drunk, marriage or even coercion. Coercion is a tactic that perpetrators use to exert power and control over another person. Coercion typically occurs when a person intimidates or manipulates someone into engaging in sexual activity without the use of physical force. Green Dot is working to ensure consent is given before someone goes off with someone else. It is all about bystander intervention. Green Dot promotes the idea that it is the job of outsiders observing situations to intervene if they feel they must. No one should feel like they can’t step into a situation that just doesn’t seem right.

Understanding what Green Dots can truly change your life. You gain a better understanding of how to protect yourself and others, as well as preventing a potentially dangerous situation. If you would like to learn more, you can visit their website at: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/greendot/ or email greendot@vanderbilt.edu. It is partnered with Project Safe so you can also contact Cara Tuttle Bell, Director of the Project Safe Center, at cara.tuttle.bell@vanderbilt.edu with any questions. 

By Amanda Lockwood, Kayla Peterson, Liam Sabino

The connection between domestic violence, mental health, and “the escape”

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and any other factors. In this essay, I plan to analyze it as being especially detrimental to women’s health, both mentally and physically. This approach yielded more details because the reported prevalence of women being victims of domestic violence is higher than men. I am not trying to make a claim that men do not experience domestic violence, but with the ideologies of hegemonic masculinity and the pressure to maintain a tough image, it makes sense why men fail to report their own cases of domestic violence.
Before delving deeper into the topic, I think it’s beneficial to get some exposure to the statistics surrounding this issue.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
• 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.
• Women experience more than 4 million physical assaults and rapes because of their partners, and men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults.
• Women are more likely to be killed by an intimate partner than men
• Women ages 20 to 24 are at greatest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence.
• Every year, 1 in 3 women who is a victim of homicide is murdered by her current or former partner.
Domestic violence is more common than one may think. It is a issue that a person may have found others in once or twice, but loosely placed themselves into the victim’s shoes. As we look around and see this issue occurring in everyday life, it’s difficult not to ponder a few questions: What truly defines domestic violence? Why do the women who face domestic violence stay with their abuser? How does this issue tie into identity as a whole? Is this a women’s health issue?
For those who don’t have a full grasp on the meaning of domestic violence, it is noteworthy that the term is a mosaic of negative acts; there is no single act that encompasses the entire definition.
The US Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
From this definition alone, it’s easy to see why domestic violence is such a common issue.

Moreover, Tyler Perry is a producer who explores the mental and physical detriments of domestic violence. In all of his movies, there’s always at least one woman experiencing abuse. His productions, in essence, follow a formula, where he presents a timeline of how women escape from this physical and mental abuse.
For example, in his production Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Perry presents the audience with two characters: Helen (the protagonist so to speak) and Charles (the antagonist). Helen had the marriage that most women aspire to have. She was a stay at home wife, lived in a luxurious mansion, drove only expensive cars, and was married to a prestigious lawyer. Beforehand, the couple experienced an unbreakable love and their 18 years of marriage was a testament to this. When Charles started having intercourse with a mistress, his relationship with Helen started to become less than ideal. He would dodge the love of his wife, leaving her alone most nights. He would five her little attention, often treating her like a pet rather than spouse. He would say things to break her down mentally, often leaving her distressed and pondering what she could do to save her broken marriage. Helen is eventually beaten and dragged out of her own house, later to find out that she has been replaced by her husband’s mistress.

During a conversation with her Aunt, Helen seems immensely bitter with her own actions rather than her husband’s actions. She explains that her husband has stripped all her ties with her family, repressed her true identity, and developed her into someone who resembles a leech. She has no money, she has no clothes…All of her possession are essentially gifts from her previously loyal husband. She has never had a job, and doesn’t have substantial education to jump into the workforce. This ultimately causes Helen to experience mental distress, and she later shows obvious signs of depression.
(I will not spoil the entire movie, but if you enjoy empowered endings then please go watch this film!)

This movie highlights one of the many reasons women feel they can’t escape their abuser and even depicts the overall effect of domestic violence. In this particular case, Helen did not escape because of financial reasons. Throughout her 18 years, she has always had financial security. This is something that has never been a struggle for her, and the thought of having nothing gives her extreme anxiety. Other reasons women may feel escaping their abuser is farfetched are fear that the abuser will come after her and her family, fear that their children will not have the experience of a full household, or fear that that no one else will “love” them like their abuser (which is ironic but it’s something that is actually said alot). All of these things have something in common, they all stem from fear itself.

This movie also illustrates the pivotal role domestic violence has on identity deconstruction. Like many other women who experience domestic violence, Helen lost her true self. She started to see her issue as something that was initiated by her actions, and this caused rising confusion about her role as a wife and a woman. Women start to analyze their self worth and purpose amidst the catastrophe and this does lead to a great deal of distress (as seen in the film).

So is domestic violence a women’s health issue?
It is in my own opinion. It’s an issue that can lead to mental distress and eventually mental disorders. Domestic violence is not discussed enough, and this becomes problematic when women are experiencing the abuse. The world must loudly speak out, discuss the resources for the victims, and show that victims are not alone. This approach could help a victim or two who feel they’ve had enough but have no recognition of what to do next.

In your opinion….
What are some strategies the nation could take to ease the cases of domestic violence? Do you think cracking down on the laws would help? Do you think longer sentence time would get abusers attention? But I’m also interested to know…Do you think this is a women’s health issue?

I AM UNBEATABLE

 

As a class we went to this gallery on campus were we looked at Donna Ferrato’s photography which looks at domestic violence. Ferrato’s pictures and event in the gallery is called “I AM UNBEATABLE”. Ferrato started “I AM UNBEATABLE because it aims to educate through photography to understand the dangers associated with domestic violence. To recognize the warning signs. To know that love has nothing to do with violence.”(http://www.iamunbeatable.com). This video above shares many of the photographs taken by Ferrato and shares some stories and statistics about domestic violence.

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I AM UN-BEAT-ABLE

 

 

After attending this class event I thought it would be a great opportunity to write an engaging assignment on it because I took a lot from it and also took some neat pictures from this gallery. This event called “I AM UN-BEATABLE is about everyone having the right to live free from violence. Our society today we hear a lot about domestic violence happening between relationships and married couples. This class event we looked and discussed domestic violence through pictures and a short video clip that was presented. This mission of I AM UN-BEAT-ABLE is to raise awareness, educate and prevent domestic violence against women and children through real stories of real people (http://www.iamunbeatable.com).

 

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What does sex have to do with being Unbeatable?

The collection of inspiring photos by Dona Ferrato was a completely eye opening experience for me. I have known people close to me who have experienced abuse by a family member. They had to struggle to escape and find a new safe place to live. Ferrato’s original pictures were the most moving to me because you it showed the violence in everyday life. It made it all too real to see the expression on both of their faces as the abuse is occurring. So often it is easy to ignore what is going on and tell women to “just leave.” Ferrato’s later pictures express the horror that occur when a people try and escape those situations, 75% of murders in domestic assault cases happen after the victim leaves. Sometimes it is harder to leave than it is too stay because of so many unknowns that you face by walking away. How can we expect women to be ready to leave when the court systems make it so hard for women to finally have control over their own lives?

Men try and use physical power over women in order to have control; “men, as the dominant gender, use violence as a means to obtain and sustain power over women”(p.47). This was made all too real in the images displayed across the gallery. This degredaradtion of women and gender norms of women aid to the belief that men can control women. Women are seen as fragile, while men are supposed to be dominant and masculine. Rape culture in the media doesn’t help this either. The fact that boys see even their idols like Chris Brown and Ray Rice engaging in domestic assault causes males from a young age to accept that these things happen all around them. Due to this societal expectation the cycle of violence too often is continued and gone unnoticed. Every 18 months as many people die from abuse as did in 911 and yet it as many organizations try aid the cause, it is not seen as a huge public issue. As a society, why haven’t we not been more keen on addressing this issue when so many people are dying?