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Until We Value Girls the Same as Boys, Violence Against Women Will Continue in High Rates Around the World

By Holly Kearl, Huffington Post
Founder of Stop Street Harassment and author of 3 books including “Stop Global Street Harassment: Growing Activism Around the World.” She also works for the Aspen Institute and the OpEd Project

In the United States, a woman who publicly speaks out for equal rights for women or states that men should stop harassing and abusing women may be harassed or might even face rape or death threats. I know this firsthand from advocating for the end to street harassment and most of my feminist activist allies have experienced these extreme responses too. Ridiculously, even advocating for something as seemingly basic as “potty parity” for women, as feminist writer Soraya Chemaly did earlier this year, can result in public ridicule and sexism.

While some Americans like to deflect the severity of the treatment of women here by saying women’s lots in life are so much worse elsewhere – and women’s lives are bad in many regions of the world – our cultural norms can make it pretty bad for women here. Isn’t it telling that advocating for women’s rights can be dangerous?

The truth is, women are not as valued or respected as men in American culture, nor are our opinions, and this cultural norm directly contributes to our high rates and acceptance of violence against women. This connection became clear to me during a U.N.-organized conference in Istanbul on ending violence against women, held in early December and attended by representatives from 70 countries.

One meeting objective was to review our progress on ending violence against women since 1995 when 189 countries adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – Violence against Women. While 135 laws on domestic violence and rape have passed since then, the rates of violence against women have not changed. For example, at least one in three women worldwide have faced forms of gender-based violence, and that figure is much higher in many countries.

In the United States, despite also having laws against various forms of violence, such as the Violence Against Women Act, our numbers are dismal too. Across their lifetime, 1 in 5 women will be raped. One in three women has experienced physical violence by an intimate partner. More than half of girls in grades 7-12 have experienced sexual harassment in schools and 65 percent of women have experienced it in public spaces, often starting as teenagers. One in four women ages 18-24 has faced online sexual harassment.

Given the statistics, it is not surprising that conference attendees were in agreement that laws are not enough. Executive Director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as well as many other leaders there emphasized the need to focus on changing cultural norms and changing attitudes.

Notably, in a breakout session, Lara Fergus, the Director of Policy and Evaluation at Our Watch in Australia, said that the organization’s recent five-year study on preventing violence against women found that attitudes held by both men and women that women are inferior directly contributes to an increase in violence against women.

That makes sense. If we want to end violence against women in the United States, we must end the treatment of women as inferior, including the devaluing of girls and women.

Sadly, this devaluing starts before birth. A 2011 Gallup Poll showed that twice as many Americans wanted sons over daughters. A new study shows that as more companies are offering paternal leave, there has been a 58 percent increase in fathers using their company’s paternal leave policy if their child is a boy. If she was a girl, there was no increase at all in fathers taking time off.

Then women’s time and work is valued less than men’s, and that starts at a young age, too. Research shows that girls are paid less than boys for their housework and chores. In adulthood, overall on average, women make 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, with women of color making even less. Women face a pay gap in nearly every occupation and it’s worse for mothers.

Women’s opinions also are valued less and less sought after than men’s. One of the ways this plays out is through the low number of women in leadership; few people are encouraging and mentoring women to be leaders. Congress is only 20 percent female. We’ve never had a female president. The number of women serving on corporate boards is so dismal that there are more men named John, Robert, William or James than there are women of any name. There is a significant lack of tenured female professors at universities, and a new study this month found that men with mustaches outnumber women as heads of medical departments in the 50 leading medical schools.

A key recommendation across the Istanbul conference was engaging more boys and men in this issue. That is true, we sorely need more boys and men speaking out and taking action. Too few are. We cannot end this without them. And most obviously, we need boys and men to not harass or use force and violence against others.
But the biggest takeaway I had from the global convening was an urgency to look at our cultural norms and see if and how they convey that boys and men are more valuable. Then we need to re-think any harmful cultural norms and change them. The reality is, we will make very little progress toward ending violence against women if we do not value and respect girls as much as we value and respect boys.


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20 Traits of Emotional Abusers

by Swanwaters.com

The founders of the website, Swanwaters.com, are all survivors. They began their healing journey together years ago, and wish to share the support and relationships they have found through that process.

One thing that SwanWaters.com has learned is that while survivors may be thousands of miles apart, the strategies used by their emotional abuser are eerily similar. There seems very little difference in how the abuse is perpetrated. The below list of traits will help you spot the emotional abuser(s) in your life.

1. An abuser takes no responsibility for their faults.

2. An abuser expresses no true emotions.

3. An abuser drains the energy right out of you.

4. An abuser is charming, flirty and overly confident.

5. Abusers are lovely one minute and lash out the next.

6. Abusers usually do not ‘communicate.’

7. Abusers often lack maturity.

8. An abuser likes to divide and conquer.

9. Abusers don’t talk of their past, but often have issues.

10. Abusers show jealousy.

11. An abuser loves playing the victim.

12. Abusers lack emotional self-control.

13. Abusers make superficial judgments about others.

14. Abusers are often cruel.

15. An abuser will try to come off as perfect.

16. Abusers are predominantly concerned with image.

17. An abuser thinks you only exist for their needs.

18. Abusers abhor compliments.

19. An abuser always aims for deniability.

20. Abusers are drama addicted.

To read more, click here.


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New Law Offers Students New Protections from Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault at Colleges and Universities

A new federal law that recently took effect offers college students new protections from domestic violence or sexual assaults on campus.
The Campus Sexual Violence Elimination (SaVE) Act “is the most significant update to the campus sexual assault provisions of the Clery Act in two decades,” said U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), the legislation’s co-author, told the Norristown Times-Herald. “The Campus SaVE Act makes a huge leap forward in protecting college communities and providing resources for victims of domestic or dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.”

You can read the full story here .

According to Casey’s office, a student starting college in the fall of 2015 will receive training and education on primary prevention and awareness of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, and there must be ongoing prevention efforts. This must include comprehensive, intentional, integrated programming, initiatives, strategies and campaigns intended to end intimate partner violence. Prior to the Campus SaVE Act, there was no explicit requirement for prevention and awareness programming.

The law requires institutions of higher education to develop a clear statement of policy regarding domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking, including programs to prevent these tragedies from occurring; provide written information to victims regarding their rights and the resources available to them; and establish clear campus conduct procedures for disciplinary procedures against individuals accused of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault or stalking.

In addition, the law provides resources allowing the student, who is the victim of an alleged crime, to understand how to pursue a campus disciplinary proceeding; something that had been a challenge in many cases previously. The process frequently was not transparent and was administered by staff that is not trained.

The Campus SaVE Act, which became law as part of the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act (VAWA), amends Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require each institution of higher education participating in a Title IV program, except foreign schools, to:

• Include in its annual security report a statement of policy regarding its domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking awareness and prevention programs and the procedures it follows when such an offense occurs.

• Explain in writing students’ rights anytime a student reports being a victim of sexual violence, including: stalking, dating or domestic violence. This would include a victim’s right to notify law enforcement if the victim chooses, to receive help from the school to report the incident, to seek a protective order from a local court, and to change residence, class schedule and travel arrangements as necessary to preserve the victim’s safety.

• Explain to students the school’s obligation to help enforce those protective orders.

• Start teaching bystander education – a prevention strategy that focuses on teaching male and female students alike that they can prevent sexual assaults and that they have a responsibility to do so.

• Direct the Secretary of Education to seek the Attorney General’s counsel regarding the development, and dissemination to schools, of best practices for preventing and responding to sex offenses and other forms of intimate partner violence.

Help is available for free, 24/7 by calling The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or the Safe Helpline 1-877-995-5247.


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Fraternity ready to hu-MAN Up

Campus sexual assault has become a heavily reported issue in the media recently. Universities have implemented programs regarding awareness and prevention. Being a college student I am aware of this big issue campuses are facing. While on Facebook the other day, I saw a post about what a fraternity at my school, Millersville University, was doing to fight sexual violence.

The president of the Delta Tau chapter of Lambda Chi Alpha, Anthony “Ant” Ciliberto, had posted about how proud he was of his chapter for being the first fraternity in the nation to be certified in the Hu-MAN Up Safe House training.

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Making lasting change in April

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is in full swing, and what a SAAM it’s going to be! The month kicked off with Niagara Falls turning teal and the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape hosting a a screening of The Hunting Ground  in Philadelphia with Women Organized Against Rape and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. With today marking the Sexual Assault Awareness Month Day of Action things are going to really get exciting. Next week is a double whammy of It’s On Us and International Anti-Street Harassment weeks. That only puts us halfway through the month!dv740077

Over the past few years, we’ve seen a rise of not only public awareness, but a massive surge of public activism around college sexual assault, and that is why it is this year’s SAAM focus. Research shows that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men will be victims of sexual assault while in college, and 90 percent of those go unreported. Groups and campaigns like Know Your IX and It’s On Us have begun to pave the way to change those numbers, but it can’t stop there.

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Pa Programs Commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Did you know that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men will be raped at some point in their lives? In addition, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, in eight out of 10 cases of rape, the victim knew the perpetrator.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Many of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s 60 community-based centers have planned special events to commemorate the occasion. For more information, follow PCADV on Twitter @PCADVorg, and visit www.pcadv.org to get information about the domestic violence center serving your community.

Centre County Women’s Resource Center

o April 9 – Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, noon
o April 6 – Jasmine Enriquez, keynote speaker, Alumni Hall HUB, 6 p.m.
o April 23 – Take Back the Night, Penn State’s Old Main, 6 p.m.
o April 25 – ACTIVIST FOR CHANGE: Poetry and Spoken Word Event to End Sexual Assault, Webster’s Bookstore Café, 4 p.m.
o April 29 – Denim Day for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Blackburn Center Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, Westmoreland County

o April 18 – Fifth Annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, St. Clair Park in Greensburg, 10 a.m.

HAVIN, Armstrong County

o In Armstrong County – high school & college students signed proclamations against violence for SAAM. http://www.havinpa.org

Victim Assistance Center YWCA of York, York County

o April 2 – “Beyond the Bar Training,” Cobblestone’s Bar, York, 9 p.m.
o April 10 – “Beyond the Bar Training,” Murph’s Study Hall, York, 8 p.m.
o April 14 – Campus Sexual Assault Response Summit, York College, 8:30 a.m.
o April 18 – “I got my voice back,” Community Arts Inc. book launch of sexual assault survivors’ poetry, G’s Jook Joint, York, 7:30 p.m.
o April 21 – Crime Victims’ Rights Vigil, colonial courthouse, downtown York, 7 p.m.
o April 23 – “Beyond the Bar Training,” The Depot, York, 8 p.m.
o April 24 – Hip. Hop. Hope. Teen Dance Instructions, YWCA York, 7-9 p.m.

HAVEN of Tioga County

o April 18 – Community Day, Mansfield University
o April 29 – Nation Denim Day participation

YWCA Northcentral Pa.

o April 9 – Shout-out and Panel Discussion, J.V. Brown Library, 4 p.m.
o April 11 – Sexual Assault Awareness Night, Imbibe Bar, 8 p.m.-midnight
o April 17 – Take Back the Night, Lycoming College, 6-8 p.m.
o April 18 – Sexual Assault Awareness Night, The Cell Block, 9 p.m. – midnight
o April 24 – Jeans Day

PPC Violence Free Network & Shelter, Venango County

o April 26 – Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Bandstand Park, Franklin, 2 p.m.

Transitions of PA: Union, Snyder & Northumberland Counties

o April 15 – Mock Trial, “I think Something Happened Last Night,” Union County Courthouse, Lewisburg, 6:30 p.m.

Survivors Inc., Adams County

o April 2 – Gettysburg College Take Back the Night, Gettysburg College Junction, 5 p.m.
o April 3 – Take Back the Night March, HACC Gettysburg, 6 p.m.
o April 7 – SAAM Day of Action and “The Internet – A Molester’s Paradise” with Jim Holler, HACC Gettysburg, Robert C. Hoffman Room, 1:30-3 p.m.
o April 11 – Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, hosted by SAE Gettysburg College, 5 p.m.
o April 14 – Children’s Advocacy Center’s Pinwheels to Prevent Abuse Conference, Eisenhower Hotel & Conference Center, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
o April 14 – 50 Shades of Grey: Sexy or Sexist? Gettysburg Library, 6:30 p.m.
o April 18 – Adams County SPCA’s 25th Annual Loyalty Walk, Gettysburg Area Middle School, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
o April 20 – The Shoe Project, YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County, Monday-Friday
o April 21 – Campus Community Dialogue, YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County Community Room, 6 p.m.
o April 22 – The Yellow Dress, Gettysburg Area High School
o April 25 – YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County Race Against Racism, 8 a.m.
o April 25 – YWCA Hanover’s Kid’s Day Celebration, Moul Field, Hanover, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
o April 27 – Day of Transformation, Gettysburg Hotel, 1 p.m.-7 p.m.
o April 29 – Denim Day: make a social statement with your fashion statement, wear jeans with a purpose

The National Sexual Assault Hotline number is free, confidential and secure: (800)-656-HOPE(4673).

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No More Not Talking About It: Beginning with Autonomy

We are still not talking about it; 73 percent of parents with children under the age of 18 have not discussed sexual assault with them. Studies indicate college is far too late to have discussions about consent and healthy relationship, as 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under 18. It’s a difficult conversation to have. It’s a matter of, where do you start?

It begins with autonomy.

  1. You have the power, control and ownership over your body, your mind and SELF.
  2. You do not have the right to exert power, control and ownership over anyone else’s body, mind or self.


Believing and teaching these two principles will guide every future conversation about consent, healthy relationships, dating violence and sexual assault, as all of these things stems from power and control. Talking and practicing boundaries and choices will help your child understand their own and other’s autonomy.

Ways to teach autonomy:

  1. Model: Your child will model your behavior; practice and respect autonomy. Be clear about boundaries involving your child. Be kind and respectful to others.
  1. Support: Support your child as much as possible to exercise their autonomy. For example, bedtime might not be a choice, but choosing a pair of pajamas can be. Even though a family member may be well intentioned, never force your child to hug or kiss anyone. It can lead to them interpreting that the individual’s wants and needs are more important than their own. Encourage the family member to instead ask for a hug or kiss.
  1. Talk openly: Encourage your child to ask questions, but be prepared to answer open, honestly and age appropriately. By having conversations frequently and casually, you’ll avoid the one-time “big talk” while encouraging an open dialogue if something is happening to your child.

Fostering your child’s autonomy and discussing it openly will teach them how to respect other people’s autonomy and how to feel confident in their own.

Here are some resources to get the conversation started:




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February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month

By Ewa Dworakowski

Did you know that one in three teenagers experience some form of dating violence, and that two-thirds of these victims will never tell anyone that they were abused?

February is synonymous with Valentine’s Day, but many people may not know that it’s also Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month.

Teen dating violence is a pattern of actions or threats of physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by someone aged 13 to 18 against a current or former dating partner. Signs of dating violence include:
• insults and put downs
• coercion and control
• peer pressure
• sexting and texting
• posting insults or threats online
• threats
• forced sex
• hitting and hurting

To learn more about teen dating violence and find help, visit www.pcadv.org.

Below is a list of Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month events happening in Pennsylvania:

Armstrong County
HAVIN Inc. is hosting a number of programs during February. Some programs include raising awareness of teen dating violence and education on safe dates. Ford City Public Library will have newsletters, flyers and bulletin boards as well as a poetry reading on domestic violence.

Columbia/Montour Counties
Throughout February, the Women’s Center Inc. will partner with schools and start each school day with morning announcements that share statistics, facts and general information about healthy teen dating. The Women’s Center also will provide an information table for one week at each school to educate students on teen dating violence. Students will have the opportunity to sign a pledge and participate in a photo booth where they can use orange signs and props to list different attributes of a healthy relationship.

Cumberland/Perry Counties
Domestic Violence Services of Cumberland and Perry Counties has provided high schools in the area with announcements for the month of February. They are also holding an essay contest for all high schools and will be selling candy bars with healthy teen dating information.

Dauphin County
YWCA of Greater Harrisburg is hosting a public service announcement video contest for Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Participants may enter a video that is between 15 and 45 seconds long, which focuses on teen dating violence. Cash prizes will be awarded. All entries must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Feb. 6. Visit ywcahbg.org/psacontest for more information.

Lawrence County
The Crisis Shelter of Lawrence County is holding assemblies on teen dating violence in four local schools. Two schools will be making bulletin boards with teen dating violence information. Students in the community have also created art and will compete in the community Feb. 13-15.

Montgomery County
Laurel House is sponsoring its annual poster contest that features National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline numbers. Laurel House is also collaborating with interested community members in an effort called the Orange Shoelace Campaign. High schools in the tri-county area will be selling shoelaces and are encouraged to wear them throughout the month of February. In addition, Laurel House is collaborating with the Tri-County Area YWCA on a teen movie night including a film and discussion on teen dating violence.

Tioga County
HAVEN of Tioga County Inc. is partnering with the local university’s Men Against Violence group and hosting an event focused on awareness. Various info graphics will be posted to social media. HAVEN will also be reaching out to local teachers to educate them on teen dating violence and raise awareness about how HAVEN can provide training to their students.

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pic holiday safety blog

PCADV offers tips for staying safe during holidays

It’s sad but true: Domestic violence doesn’t take a holiday. In fact, for thousands of Pennsylvania families, the increased time an abuser and victim spend together may increase the potential for domestic violence.

To help families remain safer during the holiday season, the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence and its 60 programs serving domestic violence victims in all 67 counties have compiled a list of safety tips.

“These common-sense tips can help reduce domestic violence, and save lives, during this stressful time of year,” said PCADV Executive Director Peg J. Dierkers.

PCADV is promoting the tips through a social media campaign using the hashtags #YuleBeSafer and #PeaceAtHome. We encourage everyone to share these tips with friends and family. And we also encourage everyone to follow PCADV on social media to receive tips and other important information year-round. We are on Twitter @PCADVorg and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pennsylvania-Coalition-Against-Domestic Violence/479697025386367. Other informational resources are available at our website,www.pcadv.org.

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Learning the Warning Signs Can Help Prevent Abuse in Schools

In the coming weeks, parents across Pennsylvania will be sending their children back to school — sharpened pencils, crisp notebooks and bright new backpacks proudly in tow.

A new school year is filled with hope and promise.

But sadly, for some children and teenagers, a new school year means exposure to a danger that many people don’t want to talk about: sexual abuse at the hands of a teacher, coach or school staff member.

According to a recent article in TribLive, an online newspaper in Pittsburgh, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has the second highest number of claims of teacher misconduct in the United States, second only to Texas.

The article notes that state attorneys have made 450 complaints against teachers so far this year, and it quotes state officials as saying, “Claims of inappropriate relationships, sex abuse and misconduct filed again Pennsylvania school teachers are on track to double in less than a year.”

The article also quotes a Pennsylvania Department of Education lawyer who says an “alarming portion” of these cases involved inappropriate relationships between students and teachers.

According to Virginia Commonwealth University professor Charol Shakeshaft, who conducted an extensive study on educator sexual misconduct in 2004, nearly 7 percent of 8th to 11th graders in the United States — about 3.5 million students — report having unwanted physical sexual contact with a teacher, coach or other adult in their school. The percentage climbs to about 10 percent — almost 4.5 million students — when non-physical sexual conduct such as sharing pornography is added to the equation.

How is this possible?

For starters, educators typically are held in high esteem, and students often trust them implicitly. Most people who sexually abuse others spend time “grooming” children and teens, and often the adults around them, by showering them with special attention and gifts to gain their trust — sometimes, long before the abuse begins.

The high esteem for educators also prompts parents and other adults to overlook uneasy feelings or questions of inappropriate behavior. They figure their “gut feeling” about the teacher or staff person couldn’t possibly be true.

Another factor that prompts abuse to go undetected is that, today, social media and technology enable contact between teachers and students at any time — often without the parents’ or guardians’ knowledge.

Very often, children don’t report the abuse because they are ashamed or fear for their safety after being threatened by the perpetrator.

That’s why bystander intervention is so important. The onus must always be on the adult — never on the child or teenager who is being abused — to report questionable behavior.

A goal in every school should be to create an environment in which all adults — and students, too — are active bystanders who feel comfortable raising concerns and asking questions if an educator’s behavior doesn’t seem right. If it raises red flags, chances are the behavior isn’t OK.

Many times, adults fear that raising concerns may damage the teacher’s reputation. Creating a culture in which it’s OK to question is invaluable, because it ensures that children’s safety — rather than an adult’s reputation — is the top priority.

Adults in the school community — faculty and staff, the principal, the PTO, all parents and neighbors — can help create a safer environment by learning the warning signs of abuse and inappropriate behavior.

Does a teacher or coach come in before school or stay after school to meet with the same student again and again? Do they leave the building together? Are other students talking about these interactions? Is the student behaving differently or seemingly sick or upset?

If there’s a consistent, negative buzz surrounding a teacher, there’s a possibility that he or she is a pedophile. It’s in the best interests of students in the building to have adults who know the warning signs and have the backbone — and the school’s backing — to question the behavior.

Next: What educators and parents can do if they suspect child sexual abuse at the school.

Marylee Sauder has a freelance writing business, Sauder INK. In addition to writing blogs for the PA Coalition Against Rape, she serves on the YWCA Lancaster board of directors, volunteers weekly on the YWCA’s sexual assault hotline and is a trained community presenter on sexual assault prevention issues.


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