The Impact of Institutional Sexual Abuse

sgsAfter nearly a year of painful disclosures and multiple investigations into past sexual abuse at St. George’s School in Middletown, Rhode Island, a financial settlement (details have not been disclosed) has been reached for the victims and the findings of an independent investigative report have been released.  Day One has been working with St. George’s victims since the beginning, and we are confident the courage of these survivors will encourage others to come forward and begin their healing process.

This is certainly not the first time systemic sexual abuse at a private school has been brought to light, as detailed in the Boston Globe Spotlight story earlier this year, Private Schools, Painful Secrets.

According to the Globe article, more than 200 students have been victims of sexual abuse and harassment at New England private schools since the 1950’s. At least 90 students or their families have filed lawsuits or other legal claims related to sexual abuse at New England private schools. At least 67 private schools in New England have been affected by allegations of sexual abuse by employees disclosed over the past 25 years.

Beyond the numbers

While the numbers are upsetting and might be surprising to many, it’s important to consider the effects of child sexual abuse on survivors, particularly when it occurs in adolescence within a trusted educational institution.

“Boarding school children are the perfect victims for perpetrators,” says Amy Battersby, Day One Clinical Director. “In addition to abusers having ample access to victims, living in the environment where the abuse occurs can cause the entire school to be unsafe for the victim, making it much more difficult for him or her to come forward.”

In addition, teenagers are at a developmental stage where they are typically desperate for a sense of belonging and are in constant conflict between the need for nurture and their search for independence. These traits can put them at increased risk for victimization.

A lifelong effect

Some common impacts on the victim include an incredible sense of betrayal by the perpetrator, peers and other staff. “Abuse survivors have a shattered sense of self,” says Battersby. “Their decreased self worth can result in self-harming behaviors such as cutting, substance abuse, or isolation.”

The St. George’s survivors felt the frustration of not being heard or validated by administrators, in addition to the shame and guilt over the abuse. Day One stands by these and other survivors in their brave decision to come forward and get help.

You can reach Day One at 401-421-4100 or www.dayoneri.org to request services.

Statement from Day One on St. George’s Settlement

“We share in the joy and validation that the St. George’s abuse survivors feel as a result of today’s settlement. While we acknowledge that no amount of compensation can make up for the irreparable damage child sexual abuse causes, this settlement is an important step in the survivors’ healing journey. We support these brave survivors and applaud them for their courage in coming forward.

We know there are others who have not come forward. Day One has been working with St. George’s survivors from across the country since January, providing services directly in Rhode Island or connecting them with services in their area. We stand ready to support any survivors who want their voices heard by getting them the help they need.”

Peg Langhammer, Day One Executive Director

Day One Honors ‘Hall of Fame Inductees,’ Raises More Than $65K at Recent ‘Swing Into Summer’ event

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Held at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in the heart of Newport, Day One’s 2016 annual event engaged community members and partners, celebrating accomplishments and spreading awareness Day One held its annual event on June 3, 2016 at the … Continue reading

Statement from Day One Regarding No Criminal Charges in Sexual Abuse Cases at St. Georges School

Statement by Peg Langhammer, Executive Director of Day One

The state of Rhode Island has concluded its investigation of some of the sexual abuse allegations at St. George’s School and there will be no criminal charges. While we understand the disappointment and even outrage many victims are experiencing, the statute of limitations prevented criminal charges in cases preceding 1979.

This is not over. We know there are more victims out there, post 1979 when the statute changed, that could press charges. Day One works closely with law enforcement and prosecution and we are ready to assist any victims that come forward.

We are confident that any confusion about the investigation of these cases by DCYF will be rectified in a new bill now making its way through the Rhode Island General Assembly. This bill passed in the Senate and will likely pass in the House next week, providing our children with much needed protection and holding offenders accountable.

#YVYV; Your View, Your Voice: Bring in the High Schoolers

Let’s review:

This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, #SAAM. Day One, and other organizations like us, are standing with the National Sexual Violence Research Center to show Prevention is Possible.

Daily, Day One spreads awareness through community outreach and educational programs that really do show that Prevention is Possible. Our education department is reaching out to high school students before they get to the essential, experimental years of college, (where sexual assault offenses are growing rapidly, read more here) with information that can keep them and, possibly, a friend safe as well.

Year round, our education department works with students in our Your Voice, Your View program or #YVYV. This grant-funded program moves from school to school encouraging students to use their voices to learn about topics like sexual violence and what makes healthy relationships. Through this program, Day One is able to meet the students where they are comfortable and bring important topics to the table that, as a society and culture, we are still having issues addressing publicly.

How Do We Do That?

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Check out Day Ones Vine!

The method is in the name: Your Voice, Your View. Day One’s Education Department wants to help Rhode Island youth develop their own views and use their own voices to understand and spread awareness about sexual violence, sexual preference, gender norms, and healthy relationships.

This year, we implemented a new way for youth to get involved and interested: Social Media and Cash Prizes.  Through our Vine social media page, with #YVYV, a new prompt is released every month. During this month, all Rhode Island high schoolers are invited to join in this dialogue. Day One wants to hear what you would do in certain tough situations.

Through Vine, Day One is hoping to reach a much wider young audience in our state to start very important conversations. The dialogue focuses on both victim and bystander situations to get the wheels turning if anyone is put into a tough situation. We encourage high schoolers to think like “Active Bystanders” through dialogue and education.

The prompts can range from “Give us your go to strategy for keep friends safe.” to  what would  you as a student do when hearing another student called a “fag” or judge for sexual preferences:

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Since, this April, Day One is spreading awareness about #SAAM, the question prompt was:

“Prevention is Possible when…”

Our winner, Dionna Greene responded,

“Prevention is possible when [we] try to get help and not be scared of judgement.”

Thank you, Dionna Greene, for participating in our conversation and enjoy your $25 dollar gift card!

SAAM Ribbons

 

Day One has been very pleased and excited by this online dialogue and are hoping to see more high schoolers and schools join in the conversation! Here’s how to get involved:

  1. Have your high schooler visit our Vine page
  2. Comment and participate in the conversation as much as possible.
  3. Wait for $25 raffle: The winner is picked in a raffle drawing; the more involved you are involved in the conversation, the higher your chances.

A great way to start this conversation with in your household is to register and fundraise as a family for our Annual Day One 5K! Education and open conversation are two very powerful prevention tools and remember together…

Prevention is Possible!

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#SAAM

Day One has education and training opportunities  for college students and the general Rhode Island community. Learn more about our Education and Community Outreach here, at DayOneRI.org.

 

 

 

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Chaarity Williams

Advocacy, Day One

#SAAM Day One 2016 Treatment Highlight: Trauma Process Yoga Group

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Yoga has been a new, up and coming hobby in the United States for the past 10 years. Every year Americans are learning more about the benefits that come with continuous yoga practice. Some of the claimed benefits include:

  • Increased Flexibility
  • Prevents Cartilage and Joint Breakdown
  • Spine Protection
  • Prefects Your Posture
  • Boost Imunity

And the list goes on.

Recently, yoga has revealed its other healing properties to the general Western culture. Trauma Informed Yoga was created and copyrighted by the Trauma Center. When the Trauma Center decided to form this treatment, they were in completely uncharted area.

Using the model of formed by the Trauma Center in 2002, there have been many spin offs of yoga treatment. Day One is always looking for ways to provide creative and effective treatments for our clients and yoga has been one of the great additions.

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Amy Battersby, LMHC,CTSC

Trauma Processing Yoga Group (TPYG) treatment has been used here at Day One for three years, along with the group’s creator Amy Battersby, and the treatment received much positive feedback from clinicians and Day One clients. Battersby, Day One’s Clinical Director, helped developed this treatment in light of coming to Day One’s clinical team. Yoga being a passion for Battersby, she was very excited about creating a trauma sensitive yoga program that could be available for a larger demographic of survivors.

Battersby and her personal yoga instructor of seven  years, Elizabeth Bulter, came together to develop a program that created a space of healing through yoga in three levels.  Each level pushes the participants a little further in their journey for healing. Level one yoga focuses on topics like stillness, safety, and recognizing and working through triggers. Level three focuses on topics like knowing when and how to ask for help and maybe even future relationships.

At Day One, the yoga is always co-led with a yoga instructor and a clinician. This way, when the participants want to talk something out, they have a method to get the attention of the clinician and allows for group processing with a professional informed on trauma techniques. Battersby and Butler have seen great results.

“95% of the participants have continued on to the next level.”

– Amy Battersby, Day One Clinical Director

Battersby notes that each level of the experience is very individualistic, but as the group comes together they began to become a great support for one another. The TPYG participants has even taken it upon themselves to create a Facebook group for each other as an online support group. Ninety-five percent of participants have continued to the next level, there are waiting lists for all levels, more classes in the works, and the TPYG is expanding classes for male victims of sexual assault.

Stories from TPYG are monumental, on issues many people do not think twice about. One participant proudly announced during check in that she was able to walk to the store alone. Another came to the circle, in tears of joy and personal bewonderment, that she was actually sleeping for the first time in years!

Here is a direct quote from a level one TYPG participant:

“Thank you for all this. In all the years I’ve gone through therapy, I felt I benefited most from this exploration than in all the years of talk therapy. THANK YOU ALL!”

-Female, 30’s, 6 months pregnant.

Battersby and Bulter are working together to help survivors take over their daily experience from the inside outward. Our body should be a safe place, but when your body is protecting you from trauma, the stillness of the inner mind can be our worst enemy. TYPG is teaching survivors to listen to themselves and to learn tangible coping mechanisms to work through the hard moments on a daily basis, whether through active breathing or striking a child’s pose.

Day One is excited to have innovative practices to bring healing in creative ways that are available to all who are seeking. Are you interested in Day One’s Trauma Processing Yoga Group? Visit DayOne.org to learn about upcoming classes!

If you are interested in contributing to Day One’s innovative healing services,please donate here.

And don’t forget our Annual 5k! This is fundraising week!

Start fundraising today and in list for our prizes! Learn more here.

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Chaarity Williams

Advocacy, Day One

 

Sexual Assault on College Campus

saam_tealribbon_jpegSexual Assault on university and college campuses is an growing nationwide issue. There have been many studies on this growing issue and the findings continue to be mind boggling.

In 2013, CNN covered a study that was conducted in a number of major universities in the United States and the results concluded that the 26% of women on college campuses have been sexually assaulted, in terms of attempted or completed rape. In this same study by the Association of American Universities (AAU), it claims that the at more prestigious universities, the percentage increased about 10% or more.

Findings through the Everfi study ” The Relationship Between Alcohol and Sexual Assault on the College Campus”, also reveals that drugs and alcohol maybe be a  consistent factor in many of these college sexual assault cases, but it is important not to use this factor as an excuse the behavior of offenders or shift blame to the victim.

Although the AAU survey inquired over 150,000 students from 27 universities all over the United States (and EverFi more than 250,000, with a less diverse focus group), the working definition for sexual assault for the AAU survey included “any unwanted sexual contact” and, because of the vagueness of the definition, this has been heavily criticized. Even the statistic from the Department of Justice Studies in 2007 that states “1 in 5 women have been sexually assaulted” has been questioned under this working definition. However, as the the president of Harvard announced after the release of the AAU study:

‘The results warrant the attention and concern of everybody in our community,’ Drew Faust, president of Harvard, said in a statement. “Sexual assault is intolerable, and we owe it to one another to confront it openly, purposefully and effectively. This is our problem.’
–excerpt from CNN 23% of women report sexual assault in college, study finds by Kelly Wallace
Day One agrees completely that it is time to take measurable action!
That is why the Rhode Island Adult Sexual Assault Task Force is working to educate students, staff, and parents on available resources to ensure all victims have support and services.

The task force has been working with campuses and universities to create a Resource Guide for Collegiate Survivors of Sexual Assault to help victims on campus have access to the support they need. The task force is planning to release this guide, as well as a centralized list of FAQs, during SAAM 2016, connecting survivors to Title IX coordinators and officers (train campus/ university staff to help those who are victims of sexual assault), resources, victim compensation, and other support.

Ways to get involved:

1. Sign up for our Annual Day One SAAM 5K, just in time for our fundraising week!

2.Volunteer HelpLine Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Advocate Training is coming up this June! Apply today!

3. Donate to Day One Efforts: Educational Training (for businesses and schools), trauma informed yoga, counseling services, and more.

Learn more about Day One services and information above:

23% of women report sexual assault in college, study finds by Kelly Wallace

Everfi.com

Get Informed, Day One

Chaarity Williams

Advocacy, Day One