Who matters?

Standard

Who matters when we think about domestic violence and sexual assault? Who are we protecting and who do we silence?

Over the course of the last few months, our country has been forced into a reckoning of whose pain is important and whose lives matter in a visible and vocal way. From the start of the pandemic, we’ve seen how the disease has allowed prejudice and racism, especially against Asian Americans, thrive. We’ve seen our communities argue about whether wearing masks to protect our neighbors is “worth it” or whether our vulnerable community members should be thrown under the bus in the name of economic recovery. Finally, and most recently, we’ve seen such egregious (and heartbreakingly common) examples of violent, murderous racism and police brutality against Black Americans and people of color.

We have to answer these questions every day in our work. Whose lives are important? Who do we care about? Who are we willing to protect? Who will we speak up for?

As we’ve worked from home, listening to new podcasts, shows, and webinars, one theme has been constant: people with power almost always ignore abuse as long as they can until it becomes inconvenient or impossible to ignore the victims any longer.

In “The Catch and Kill Podcast with Ronan Farrow” and “Chasing Cosby”, we see the countless women who were ignored in favor of protecting powerful men. Countless media, court officials, law enforcement, and even friends and family ignored, dismissed, or discouraged the hundreds of victims who came forward. Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby (like so many others) were only held accountable when there was no other option.

We see this decision to ignore the needs of some in favor of a bigger “agenda” when listening to the second season of “Slow Burn” which focuses on the sexual abuse scandals faced by Bill Clinton during his years in office as President. Monica Lewinsky has maintained that she does not feel like she was sexually assaulted by President Clinton, but there is no arguing that she was treated as a political football, rather than a victim of violence or power inequity. Both sides (regardless of party) seemed to view Clinton’s inappropriate pursuit of Lewinsky as an opportunity to bring down their opponent or support their candidate. We have to answer this with Clinton, with Kavanaugh, with Trump, with Franken, and yes, with Joe Biden. How do we respond to allegations of sexual abuse and violence? Is our response different when it is “our guy”? Are we concerned with supporting victims and survivors? Or are we looking to score cheap political points? Are we ignoring survivors and victims because we’re afraid to lose the election, the seat, or the moral high ground?

And let’s take that even farther…are we afraid to support victims because we don’t know what it will mean for our community? Our family? Our workplace? Ending violence requires courage and consistency. We MUST be willing to be brave. We must be willing to hold EVERYONE accountable, no matter the cost. We must take the risk to create a world where everyone is safe, everyone is free, and everyone is loved.

Counselor’s Column–June 2019

Standard

Melissa McGraw, Director of Counseling Services at Safe Passage

What is Human Trafficking?

In June several domestic violence staff attended a training on human trafficking in Springfield.  Domestic violence and rape crisis centers are seeing more and more victims of human trafficking entering shelters or seeking counseling services.  And, yes, trafficking is occurring in DeKalb County.

Human trafficking may involve either sex trafficking or labor trafficking.  It includes recruiting, harboring, or obtaining a person by force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of involuntary servitude or the sex trade.  There is an intersection between domestic violence and trafficking in that survivors of trafficking may be trafficked by an intimate partner or family member.  Contrary to popular belief, victims of trafficking are not always immigrants from other countries.  Victims of trafficking may not immediately identify that they are being trafficked.  Advocates and counselors are learning to ask specific questions to help identify if their clients are not only victims of domestic violence or sexual assault but also may be victims of trafficking.

Trafficking survivors often present with significant trauma histories and symptoms as a result of their traumas.  The counseling staff have worked to help these clients identify and process their feelings of shame and betrayal related to being trafficked by someone they thought they trusted and loved.  This may be a long-term process that also involves connection to case management and legal services.

As a result of this training, Safe Passage has staff who are more equipped to identify and meet the unique needs of trafficking survivors.

If you’d like to learn more about trafficking and how to recognize and support survivors OR if you think you may be a victim of trafficking, call us 24/7 at 815-756-5228.

National Avocado Day

Standard

Avocado…the trickiest food to prepare, the key ingredient in guacamole, and the reason millennials aren’t able to afford to buy houses.

I love avocados.  I didn’t when I was younger, but something changed in me.  I grew older.  I grew wiser.  I grew avocado-ier.  Now, I want avocados on everything.  Avocados in my smoothies.  Avocados on my toast.  Avocado on my omelettes.  Avocado everywhere.

I know avocados are pretty expensive. They are a hassle to cut and difficult to store.  They have to be shipped to Illinois from thousands of miles away, meaning they may be a green choice but they aren’t a GREEN choice.  I know older generations often look down on my generation for our avocado love.

But the thing is, I still love them.  I feel good when I eat avocados.  They make me happy.  And isn’t that what self-care is all about?  Doing things that you love that make you feel healthy?  Doing things that remind you of the good in the world?  It may seem silly, but when I’m having a bad day, I remember that I live in a world where I can eat avocados and suddenly life feels just a little bit more okay.  And that’s no small thing.

What do you love?  What brings you joy and health and peace?  What are the small things that you can do to care for your precious self?  Don’t worry if other people don’t understand.  Find your avocado and love it with all the fierceness of your powerful heart.

Walk a Mile

Standard

Mark your calendars and dig out your high heels!  Safe Passage is once again hosting “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes!”  An opportunity for our community to stand against sexual violence by putting yourself in the shoes of a sexual assault survivor for a mile walk in high heels!

April 14, 2018 at noon in DeKalb, IL with after party to follow at Fatty’s!  More details to come!

Walk a Mile is a great opportunity for everyone, but especially men in our community to stand together and say that we will end our rape culture that allows sexual harassment and abuse to persist.  Come join us for a fun and important event!

walklogofb1