Support local representatives

As individuals, there are many ways for us to work toward ending abuse within our communities; we can stop victim blaming. We can intervene if we feel an individual is being pressured into unwanted physical activity or if their significant other is ignoring or mistreating them. We can alert authorities when we hear whispers of abuse, or threats of individuals taking their lives or that of their children if a relationship ends. Another way we can end abuse, however, is to support our local leaders making a difference.

Two Utah politicians are constantly moving forward bills and amendments to further free and empower survivors of abuse. Angela Romero of the Utah House of Representatives and Todd Weiler of the Utah State Senate, are enacting laws that are making a difference.

Previous Laws

In 2015, Romero and Weiler introduced a bill defining what consent means. They proposed consent could not be given if an individual is incapacitated, and consent could not be given if the individual was unable, at the moment, to understand the consequences of their choice. The bill passed, and now these definitions of consent are used in Utah courts.

In 2017, Romero and Weiler introduced Sexual Assault Kit Processing Amendments. The bill required all sexual assault kits, except for those classified as restricted kits, to be tested and obtain DNA profiles. It also mandated that sexual assault kits be completed within a certain amount of time. The Department of Public Safety was given authority to implement a sexual assault kit tracking system, and the Department of Public Safety and the Utah Prosecution Council were required to provide training to law enforcement on how to respond to sexual assault cases. This bill passed and all provisions therein became effective on May 9, 2017.

Also in 2017, Romero and Weiler introduced Campus Advocate Confidentiality Amendments. This bill defined terms and made it clear who was responsible for reporting information in a case of domestic violence or sexual assault in a higher education setting.

Upcoming Bills

In 2018, Romero and Weiler are introducing the Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Amendments. This bill proposes a cohabitant can be defined as an individual who, “is or was in a consensual sexual relationship with the other party.” By adding this definition, individuals who were not married or living together, but experienced abuse, can file for protective orders and seek safety within the courts.

The proposed bill also adds many responsibilities to law enforcement officers who are called to an abusive situation. The bill proposes, “A law enforcement officer who responds to an allegation of stalking shall use all reasonable means to protect the victim and prevent further violence including:… confiscating the weapon or weapons involved in the alleged stalking; making arrangements for the victim and any child to obtain emergency housing or shelter; providing protection while the victim removes essential personal effects; arranging, facilitating or providing for the victim and any child to obtain medical treatment; and arranging, facilitating, or providing the victim with immediate and adequate notice of the rights of the victims and of the remedies and services available to victims of stalking.”

The bill also requires victims of stalking be given a list of local shelters and directions on how and where to file a stalking injunction.

This bill will be discussed in the 2018 general legislative session, and a decision will likely be made in March 2018. We encourage each of you to let your representatives know you support Senate Bill 27, and we encourage you to reach out to Representative Romero and Senator Weiler and thank them for their work.

We can make a difference through our policies, laws and political involvement.

Talk about abuse

Domestic violence and sexual assault is hard to talk about. We want to make a difference in society, and we want survivors to feel like they can talk about their feelings and experiences, but it’s scary.

It’s scary for the survivor of abuse to open up about what happened to them, but it’s also scary to hear.

I presented to parents and their children today, and I had no idea what to say. I wanted to teach the kids what CAPSA is so they can be a resource for their peers, but I also didn’t want to introduce them to a world they may never have been exposed to. For those who came from loving families, I didn’t want to be the one to tell them that some parents hit their children and their spouse. I didn’t want to tell them of the policeman who called CAPSA because a man threatened to kill his mother-in-law. I didn’t want to be the one to take away a child’s innocence. That’s part of why I didn’t want to talk about domestic violence today. But what other reasons do we have for not talking about abuse? Can I suggest a few?

Not in my…

Just like we don’t want to shatter the innocence of children, we also don’t want to ruin the reality we’ve created for ourselves. Even though we know abuse happens, we don’t want to own up to the fact that our society and our families are imperfect. We want to believe that our family’s better than that; our neighborhood’s better than that; our state’s better than that; our church is better than that, but abuse happens to everyone and anyone. It is no respecter of person’s, and though we can take steps to prevent it, we can’t ignore it when it does exist.

I should have known

We also may not want to talk about abuse because we don’t want to feel guilty or like we should have known. When a brother, sister or neighbor tells you they’ve been abused, you don’t want to be the one thinking, “If only I had known…” You also don’t want to be thinking back on your interactions and wondering how you missed the signs. That happened to me once. A co-worker unexpectedly disappeared and said she’d moved to Texas. She’d been inconsistent in her work recently, and I just thought she had a more whimsical, care-free personality than I did. I later found out she’d been taken by her partner to Texas and kept hostage in an apartment. She secretly sent a message to her parents letting them know her location, and with the help of police, they rescued her and brought her home.

Even though she was free from her abuser, he still called asking for her at work. I was always the one to answer the phone, and I didn’t know if it was better to tell him she no longer worked at the office or to tell him she was unavailable. I wasn’t sure what would be safer. But I still look back on that situation and think about how my coworker’s partner was always on Skype. We’d be in a meeting and he’d Skype in, and she had to answer it. He made her wear a ring on her left hand, and we all thought she was engaged or married, but she just said it was a promise ring. I look back and I see all these signs of abuse. How did I not notice them before? But although I was interning at CAPSA at the time, I was still caught in reason number one of why we don’t talk about abuse. I thought nothing like that would happen to my family, friends or co-workers. I may even have underestimated how common abuse is in Logan. Even being an intern, I may have thought, ‘well yeah, it happens to some people, but not my kind of people. Not people who are working where I am, pursuing a master’s degree and living a successful life.’ I was wrong.

Though it’s scary to talk about abuse, and it’s sad to think about individuals like my co-worker kidnapped and trapped, it’s important to talk about abuse, because you never know who’s going to talk to you about it. You also can’t end abuse if you don’t know what it is or what it looks like.

How to talk about it

Here are a few tips for discussing abuse with your family and peers:

  • Use the media. TV shows, songs, music videos, movies and video games all provide opportunities to discuss domestic abuse and sexual assault. The National Network to End Domestic Violence has a list of more than 60 popular movies with domestic violence themes in them. Use this resource to know how and when to talk to children about what they’re seeing.
  • Allow children to express themselves. Sometimes children won’t want to talk to you about domestic violence, but they may find it helpful to draw a picture about it or write in their journal about their feelings. Allow them to learn in whatever way is beneficial for them.
  • Ask questions. Ask your peers about their dating lives. Talk about concerns and frustrations. Allow individuals to share their feelings with you freely.
  • Do service. Providing service for CAPSA, or a similar organization, can be a good way to introduce people to domestic violence. If doing a coat drive, individuals may ask why we need coats. If helping in daycare, explain to those around you why CAPSA has a daycare, and how it helps clients.
  • Refer to the experts. If you don’t know how to talk about a certain issue, you can always give CAPSA a call at (435) 753-2500, and we’ll help you out. We understand you may not know all the statistics, legal terms or complications associated with domestic violence or sexual assault. We’ll help you understand these things, as you have a desire to learn more.

Domestic Violence Trivia

CAPSA’s Trivia Night is February 24, 2018. To get us in the spirit, we’ve created a set of trivia questions revolving around domestic violence. See how you do:

  1. Which state first rescinded the right of a man to inflict violence upon his partner?
  2. In what year did domestic violence become a federal crime?
  3. In what year did the first shelter for abused women and children open in the United States?
  4. Which film did the domestic violence term, “gaslighting” originate from?
  5. The classic Cycle of Abuse has four main stages: tension building, acute violence or acting out, reconciliation and what?
  6. True or False, domestic violence rates in Utah are higher than the national average.
  7. Including CAPSA, how many domestic violence shelters are there within the state of Utah?
  8. On average, how many times does an individual try to leave an abusive relationship before succeeding?

STOP!

It’s time to review your answers:

  1. Alabama was the first state to rescind this right in 1871. The defining case in the matter was Fulgham V. State.
  2. Domestic violence became a national crime when the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was passed by the United States Congress in 1994.
  3. The Women’s Advocates was the first domestic violence shelter in the U.S., and it opened its doors in 1974.
  4. The term gaslighting originated from the 1944 movie Gaslight. The term is used to describe a form of emotional abuse where the victim feels it is their fault for provoking the abuser to anger. Many individuals who have dealt with gaslighting feel they are going crazy and cannot do anything right.
  5. The Cycle of Abuse culminates in the Honeymoon or calm stage where the abuser is kind and loving toward their victim and they promise they will change and no longer be violent, controlling or manipulative.
  6. True. Nationally, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men will be abused in their lifetime. In Utah, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience abuse.
  7. There are 16 domestic violence shelters throughout Utah.
  8. On average, it takes a survivor of domestic violence 7 attempts to escape before succeeding.

Learn more about domestic violence and how to help a loved one on the Get Help part of our website. If you or a loved one experiences or experienced abuse, call CAPSA at (435) 753-2500.

 

Give Local

With Thanksgiving coming up, we think of our blessings and how we can better help those in need. As you consider what you can do to give back for all you’ve been given, consider giving local. By giving local, you’re ensuring your gift has an immediate impact on your neighbors and friends.

CAPSA development director, James Boyd created a flyer to learn how to give local and how to use your tax write-offs or estate planning to give local, but another good way to give local is to follow non-profits on social media. Often, the most pressing needs are expressed through this outlet.

Planned Giving Flyer

CAPSA Facebook | Stokes Nature Center Facebook | Cache Education Foundation Facebook | Cache Community Food Pantry Facebook | Common Ground Outdoor Adventures Facebook | Four Paws Rescue Facebook | The Family Place Facebook | Cache Valley Veterans Association Facebook | Little Lambs Foundation for Kids Facebook

An interview with NUVPEC chair, Ana Hernandez

Most of us probably haven’t heard of NUVPEC, but it stands for the Northern Utah Violence Prevention Education Coalition. To learn more about it, I interviewed the coalition chair, Ana Hernandez.

Q. Can you tell me the history of NUVPEC – when and how it was started?

A. In 2009, CAPSA’s prevention department completed a curriculum for male and female peer-to-peer discussion groups. At that time, CAPSA employees felt it was important to create a coalition.  It was called the Northern Utah Violence Prevention Education Coalition in order to address prevention efforts at the community level.

Our mission as a coalition is to reduce the incidences of sexual violence among youth in Cache County. The Northern Utah Violence Prevention Education Coalition aims to provide professional, respectful, sensitive and age appropriate prevention education to youth of all ages. NUVPEC will unite to implement developmental assets with an emphasis on positive values, social competencies and positive identities to help our future generations establish healthy, responsible and caring relationships.

Q. Who’s involved in NUVPEC?

A. Several organizations sit on NUVPEC: The Family Place, Alpha Chi Omega, the Logan Police Department, the Cache County’s Sheriff’s Office, Utah State University, Cache Makers, Pregnancy for Choices, the Department for Children and Family Services, Utah State’s Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information Office, Intermountain Healthcare, the Bear River Health Department and concerned citizens.

Q. What is NUVPEC doing in our community – what are the positive results you can point to from the program?

A. We hope that we are making a difference by raising awareness of domestic and sexual violence within our youth. Currently, we have several projects in the works.

Upstanding Youth Leadership Conference: Hosted at Utah State University on December 2, we have worked tirelessly with the Utah State Health Department and CAPSA to put this conference together. It is targeted specifically for Cache and Rich youth leaders, and we are hoping that by providing training by Marty Liccardo and other helpful workshops youth will be able to go back to their respective communities and teach their peers about making a difference and changing social norms.

Media Contest: Every year from January to the end of February the state of Utah holds a Media contest surrounding healthy relationships. This contest is for students, and NUVPEC participates by informing all the Middle and High School students about the contest and its theme.

Safe Dates: We partner with the Logan Police Department and the Fun Park to create an environment for youth to have fun while gaining an understanding of how to stay safe on a date and what to do if you feel uncomfortable at any portion of a night out.

Q. How are youth involved in NUVPEC?

A. NUVPEC raises awareness and holds events specifically for our youth. Members of the CAPSA Youth Council also help educate their peers with a member of NUVPEC.

Q. How does NUVPEC inspire and create youth leaders?

A. I hope that by making a difference the youth can see that they too can make a difference. A lot of times youth, and even adults, feel that in order to make a difference they have to be labeled as a leader. However, you do not have to be in any type of position (although it can be helpful) to make a difference and rise to inspire and be a leader.

Q. What have you learned from chairing NUVPEC?

A. When I started, I met with each member individually and listened to their concerns, ideas, and successes with the intention of making the coalition better. So far, I have been able to include more members from our community. I am also reaching out to the Latino community in hopes of bringing awareness to them,as well. I realize that although I am not perfect, I have learned that by showing others that I am human, that I care and that I am there to help them make a difference we become more united and are able to achieve more.

Q. What are the long-term goals of NUVPEC?

A. I want to continue inspiring youth to become the leaders of tomorrow. I also want to reach out to more community organizations and involve them in order to bring more awareness to families, and specifically youth.

#MeToo

By now, I hope you’ve heard of the #MeToo social media campaign. It was started by Alyssa Milano on Sunday, October 15, as a way to show all of us how prevalent sexual assault and sexual harassment are.

Milano tweeted, “If you’ve been sexually harassed or assaulted write ‘me too’ as a reply to this tweet.” She then shared a photo which read, “Me too. Suggested by a friend: ‘If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote, ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.'”

Personally, I think that goal has been accomplished. My co-workers, family members, neighbors, friends and casual acquaintances have found their voice, and stated, “Me too!”

One post I found most interesting came from a local clergy member in Cache Valley. He shared an article written by a female pastor in California. This pastor, Jennifer, told the stories of her colleagues who have been harassed in church, some have been harassed by congregation members and others have been harassed by congregation leaders. It was a reminder to me that, unfortunately, sexual assault and domestic violence happen everywhere.

Maybe along with declaring, “Me too,” we should stand up to say, “Here too!” It happens in our churches. It happens in our schools. It happens at parties. It happens at work. Unfortunately, it may feel like there is no safe place to turn to, because everywhere people are being assaulted. But I don’t want you to feel unsafe. Even if it is Halloween in a week, I don’t want you constantly looking over your shoulder wondering when something bad will happen. Instead, I want you to first, recognize it happens everywhere, and it’s not your fault. If you’ve been abused, please don’t add to your pain by retracing your steps and just thinking if I hadn’t have gone there… If I hadn’t gone to that party, if I hadn’t gone to his apartment, if I hadn’t gone on that date… It happens everywhere. You are not at fault. There are people who believe you, hear you and care about you. Seek help, and find peace.

Second, I want you to recognize it happens everywhere! If something looks or feels out of place and inappropriate, it definitely might be. Don’t just think because you’re at church, at school, at work or at a friends house that you’re safe. Logan is not a big city. It is a generally safe town, but Logan and Cache Valley are not immune to violence. Please don’t be nervous to walk outside your front doors, but please don’t be oblivious to people’s safety, and don’t just assume we’re safe because we’re in Logan or we’re with friends or we’re at a university sanctioned event. Unfortunately, abuse happens everywhere. It happens in our homes, which seem like they should be the safest places possible. For this reason, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves on signs of violence, and realize how we can stand up for those who we think might be in danger. In that vein, Loveisrespect.org has warning signs and resources for helping a child, a co-worker, a friend, an acquaintance, etc. utilize these resources, and help stop abuse.

#MeToo showed us the prevalence of sexual assault within our communities. Hopefully, thinking about #HereToo can help us realize our role in both not blaming victims of abuse, and helping those in need. Abuse happens everywhere, but kindness and hope are kindled everywhere as well.

Thank you to all who have supported CAPSA.

Dine out for CAPSA in October

Monday’s in October, you can support CAPSA by dining at the following restaurants. Enjoy good food for a good cause!