What is campus sexual violence?

festaPreventing sexual violence on campus takes more than one department, office, club, team, administrator, professor, staff member, or student. It takes all of us, working together in big and small ways. Everyone can play a role in creating safety, equality, and respect on campus.

What is sexual violence? Sexual violence occurs when someone is forced or coerced into unwanted sexual activity without agreeing or consenting. Reasons someone might not be able to consent include:

  • fear
  • being underage
  • having illness or disability
  • incapacitation due to alcohol and other drugs

Consent can be given initially and later be withdrawn. Sexual violence is a crime that comes in many forms, including forced intercourse, sexual contact or touching, sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and exposure or voyeurism. Sexual violence is never the victim’s fault. It does not matter what the victim is wearing or doing, whether the victim has been drinking, or what type of relationship the victim has with the person who is sexually abusing them.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and will focus on campus sexual violence. Day One will host several activities throughout the month to raise awareness. REGISTER NOW for the 2nd annual Day One 5K on April 12 and show your support!


Sexual Assault Awareness Month to Focus On Safer Campuses

cute group teenages at the building of universitySexual violence is getting more and more attention on our college campuses. Several national initiatives are underway, including the White House Task Force to Protect Students From Sexual Assault and the It’s On Us campaign, to change cultural norms and engage campus communities in prevention.

Under the Clery Act, colleges and universities are required to report all campus crimes to law enforcement authorities; schools must publish an annual security report, maintain a public crime log, release crime statistics, issue timely alerts about crime, implement an emergency response plan, and have procedures for handling missing person cases.

When it comes to sexual assault, most cases are handled through a campus-based adjudication system where offenders are not held legally accountable. And, according to the US Senate Subcommittee’s 2014 Survey Report, 40% of colleges and universities reported not having investigated a single sexual assault case in the past five years.

Unfortunately, the current system of due process set in place puts an enormous amount of pressure upon victims who do report, with multiple hearings that in many cases re-traumatize the victims. More college students have begun to speak out against the flawed system, such as Emma Sulkowicz, who as a performance art piece called “Carry That Weight” drags her mattress with her everywhere she goes to symbolize the burden she bears everyday knowing her rapist is still on campus. Senator Kristen Gillibrand reflects on the time spent with Sulkowicz at the recent State of the Union Address:

The fact is, these courageous women and men who, like Emma, are speaking out about their assaults should not have to share the most horrific experiences of their lives publicly in order to get the attention of their schools and their government. That shouldn’t be on them.

Day One is advocating for a new system here in Rhode Island that prioritizes the wants and needs of the victim. While both the college/university and law enforcement work together to investigate the case, the victim is provided a safe environment to evaluate their options with a professionally trained sexual assault advocate. Though this new system does not yet universally exist, it has been proven successful in terms of increased reporting by a similarly modeled system in Ashland, Oregon called You Have Options.

As part of the You Have Options program, victims can remain anonymous but still provide a documented report of the incident and are not required to report to law enforcement in person. Instead, they are allowed to have a sexual assault advocate report on their behalf. The victim also maintains control over when the initial report is made and is not pressured to participate in a criminal investigation. The goals of this victim-based system are to:

  • Increase sexual assault reporting by eliminating as many barriers to reporting as possible
  • Increase identification and prosecution of perpetrators
  • Decrease sexual assault victimization

In Rhode Island there is a high concentration of colleges, making campus sexual assault a priority for our community. Day One has been proactively meeting with colleges and universities across the state to develop an approach for handling these cases. We recently finalized an MOU with Roger Williams University, the first of its kind in the state. To further our efforts in the Rhode Island community, we are having our annual 5k in April. Register today at dayone5k.com!

For more information on sexual violence and the resources available, go to dayoneri.org.

Day One focuses on Bystander Intervention in new campaign

Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) 2015 will have a national focus on campus sexual assault. To promote awareness in Rhode Island, Day One is launching a campaign designed to highlight the importance of bystander intervention.

Key features of the bystander approach:

A bystander, or witness, is someone who sees a situation but may or may not know what to do, may think others will act or may be afraid to do something. Bystander education programs teach potential witnesses safe and positive ways that they can act to prevent or intervene when there is a risk for sexual violence.

This approach gives community members specific roles that they can use in preventing sexual violence, including naming and stopping situations that could lead to sexual violence before it happens, stepping in during an incident, and speaking out against ideas and behaviors that support sexual violence. It also gives individuals the skills to be an effective and supportive ally to survivors after an assault has taken place. Research shows that this technique is a promising way to help prevent the widespread problem of sexual violence across campuses and other communities.

Check out Day One’s billboards and bus panels that will soon be popping up around the state!

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What Happens to the Adult Cases?

Woman relaxing in sunsetGiven the headlines in recent months concerning college sexual assault cases, it’s clear the time has come to seriously examine the way adult sexual assault cases are handled from start to finish in Rhode Island. We’re dealing with a fragmented system that needs our attention.

Most sexual assaults are never reported to law enforcement, and even among reported cases, most will never be successfully prosecuted. This reality has been a long-standing source of frustration for survivors, victim advocates, and members of the criminal justice system. As more victims come forward, attention to the issue of sexual assault has increased and has placed the entire reporting and investigation process under scrutiny.

Day One has worked closely with law enforcement and other agencies around the state to develop an effective, coordinated response to child sexual abuse with our Children’s Advocacy Center. Cases are tracked, monitored, and followed up on long after the initial disclosure. We are currently applying the same approach to the burgeoning issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). It’s evident we need the same type of coordinated system to address adult sexual assault in our state.

To start the process, Day One is coordinating a specialized task force to address adult sexual assault in Rhode Island that includes law enforcement, prosecution, Day One advocates, medical professionals, and higher education representatives. A sexual assault survivor may have contact with many different agencies. This team will be responsible for the oversight of adult sexual assault cases from the initial report to investigation and prosecution to trauma-informed clinical treatment and support for the victim.

Through this task force, we aim to:

  • Establish a comprehensive and collaborative multi-disciplinary team approach to dealing with adult sexual assault cases statewide
  • Develop and implement policies and protocols using a best practices approach to investigation and prosecution
  • Improve response rate to sexual assault victims in urgent need of services
  • Ensure that an efficient system of response is accessible to all victims

There is currently no consistent, centralized means of tracking of sexual assault data in Rhode Island.  Without effective tracking, many of these cases cannot be properly monitored and followed up on. We know that, based on successful models in other states, a positive experience during initial reporting creates an environment where victims feel supported and believed, and decreases re-traumatization.

We owe it to our students and to our community to provide the best possible response to all sexual assaults. Without that, we are sending a message not to bother reporting this crime, a message that has already been sent too often in Rhode Island.

Day One Honors Stars and Engages Community at Recent ‘Be Among the Stars’ gala

At the beautiful Aldrich Mansion with an Old Hollywood theme, Day One held its annual event on September 26, complete with a Hollywood film premiere of the agency’s new video

It was a night filled with Old Hollywood glamour. Rhode Island community members turned out in droves to enjoy a night of dinner, drinks, dancing and more while supporting Day One. From the raffle prizes, which ranged from a night out on the town in Providence to a high-end weekend away on Block Island, to the lively music by Nancy Paolino and the Black Tie Band to the Hollywood photo booth, there was something for everyone!

Guests got to hear from our Day One stars, who were honored for their help in the fight against sexual violence, as well as watch the debut of our new agency video!

Missed it? Check out some photos from the night, and stay tuned for details about our 2015 annual event. Special thanks to our sponsors!

Thank you to our 2014 sponsors

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From your sponsorship of the Day One 5K to our Annual Event to sustaining our critical programs that have a statewide service scope, THANK YOU!

Day One Receives Verizon Foundation Grant to Support Victim Services

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Peg Langhammer, executive director at Day One (left) accepts a $5000 grant from Michele Cinquegrano of the Verizon Foundation.

Day One received a $5,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to support victim services, in particular, a support group for secondary victims of sexual abuse. Entitled ‘Finding our Way Back: Reconnecting to Traumatized Youth, ‘ this program addresses the traumatic effect of violence committed by members of the family. This group therapy is effective support for caregivers of domestic violence victims since the caregiver has to be aware of their own emotional reactions and be able to manage it to effectively help the survivor.

Day One is among 48 nonprofit agencies across New England receiving a total of $280,000 in Verizon Foundation grants to support domestic violence and sexual assault prevention and services programs. The Verizon Foundation New England Domestic Violence Solutions Awards focus on programs that provide survivors with resources that enable them to continue treatment and recovery; support the health and wellness of families affected by domestic violence; engage men to take action to end violence against women; and educate teens on healthy relationships.

Day One is the only agency in Rhode Island organized specifically to deal with issues of sexual assault as a community concern, and is currently addressing some of the most critical issues facing the state right now, including child sexual abuse, the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and college sexual assault.

“We’re seeing a significant increase in the need for our services, so this grant comes at a particularly important time,” says Peg Langhammer, Day One executive director. “We’re so grateful to the Verizon foundation for their generous support and look forward to continuing our efforts to end sexual violence in our communities.”

“Day One works hard each and every day to raise awareness about domestic violence and sexual assault in local communities, while advocating for the rights and safety of survivors,” said Michele Cinquegrano, regional director of government affairs at Verizon. “Verizon is proud to continue to support and invest in these programs that help survivors and their families rebuild their lives and bring attention to this important issue affecting our communities.”

The Verizon Foundation is focused on accelerating social change by using the company’s innovative technology to help solve pressing problems in education, healthcare and energy management. Since 2000, the Verizon Foundation has invested more than half a billion dollars to improve the communities where Verizon employees work and live. Verizon’s employees are generous with their donations and their time, having logged more than 6.8 million hours of service to make a positive difference in their communities. For more information about Verizon’s philanthropic work, visit www.verizonfoundation.org; or for regular updates, visit the Foundation on Facebook  and Twitter.