“I Remember You, Linda Yalem” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Today is September 29. Please remember Linda Yalem, and all victims and survivors of violence and sexual trauma.

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Linda Yalem Linda Yalem

Linda Yalem.  A name, comprised of two words, of a young woman, a fellow student of mine at the University at Buffalo (UB).  Linda Yalem.  😦  Tears come to my eyes as I remember her, and the suffering and tragic loss of life that she experienced at the hands of the now-convicted Bike Path Rapist, Altemio Sanchez.  Linda Yalem (June 8, 1968 – September 29, 1990) – and other girls and women – were raped and/or murdered by Sanchez during approximately a 30-year period.  It took police investigators more than 16 years from the date of Yalem’s death on September 29, 1990 to apprehend Sanchez, who was convicted for the murders of Yalem, Majane Mazur, and Joan Diver, on August 15, 2007.

In 1990, I was a sophomore at the University at Buffalo, just as Linda was.  While I never personally knew Linda, I quickly came to know of…

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Teaching Respect and Protection of the Human Body: Working to Stop Rape and Sexual Traumas (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Rape, sexual assault, molestation, and other sexual traumas are far too common throughout our society.  So many people have experienced sexual traumas in their lives; unfortunately, it is much more common than might actually be fathomed.  Pediatricians, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, and first responders are those who may often have interactions with patients or clients who are victims and survivors of sexual traumas.  They are those who often work with individuals following sexual traumas, though I am one who is also interested in teaching about the respect and protection of the human body in order that sexual traumas may be lessened and/or prevented in our society.

Teaching Prevention of Rape (from http://sundial.csun.edu/2013/08/culture-of-rape-victim-blaming-has-got-to-go/, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Teaching Prevention of Rape (objectives by Zerlina Maxwell, 2013, illustration by Jasmine Mochizuki, from http://sundial.csun.edu/2013/08/culture-of-rape-victim-blaming-has-got-to-go/, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Last year, writer and political analyst Zerlina Maxwell shared five objectives regarding how men, particularly young men, can be respectful of women’s humanity rather than viewing women as sexual objects.  Maxwell’s objectives were in regard to addressing the issue that women do not need guns to protect ourselves from rape because that places the blame on the victim/survivors, rather than placing responsibility on the offender.

I agree with that.  Society still often blames and stigmatizes victims and survivors, though I have observed that to be changing slowly as a result of more survivors speaking out about their experiences.  Speaking out is a good thing for many reasons.  It helps survivors heal, it can help provide information that protects others from experiencing sexual trauma, and it helps reduce and/or eliminate societal blame, revictimization, and stigmas experienced by survivors.

Also important to address is that people of all ages and backgrounds can be sex offenders, whether or not they have been charged and/or prosecuted.  Research that I, myself, have completed in this area has reflected that those who experience sexual traumas by others may be infants, children, teens, or adults.  It is also important to state that males an females may experience sexual traumas, and that those sexual traumas may be perpetrated by males and/or females, as well.  This is not an issue, therefore, that solely affects women, but also is a worldwide issue that affects our entire society.

Yes Means Yes, No Means No (from getacover.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Yes Means Yes, No Means No (from getacover.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

That stated, a focus that I would like to bring to this post is in relation to protecting and educating young men about the humanity and integrity of young women’s bodies.  A particular focus in these respects is one that I direct toward male undergraduates and male entrants into the military.  Perhaps, then, a focus can be on stopping and/or preventing rape, as well as including language that focuses on protecting and respecting women’s bodies.

In my experience as an undergraduate college student, I am aware that there are those college men who rape, who encourage their male peers to rape, and who believe that rape is sex.  Both my experience and that I have observed includes the views of some college men who are fraternity members and football players.  It is the attitudes and behaviors of some of these men who reflect negatively on their peers.

Real Men Don't Rape (from bewakoof.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Real Men Don’t Rape (from bewakoof.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Similar attitudes and behaviors are increasing in regard to many men in the military.  Those who rape and sexually traumatize others cause and perpetuate trauma, particularly when much of our society still appears to blame, stigmatize, and revictimize survivors.  Survivors of sexual trauma should not be viewed as, nor treated as criminals; offenders should receive consequences, treatment, and be held accountable and responsible.

Another focus that I would like to state in this post is to share with young women, teen girls, and others who may be targeted for sexual trauma, ways in which to potentially protect themselves from it.  No matter how much one may work to protect oneself, it may not prevent or stop a sexual trauma from occurring, though such information is more helpful to know than not to.  One red flag to recognize is when a boy or young man is repeatedly pressuring, particularly about sex and/or drinking alcohol.  An objective of teen boys and young men who rape is to get a target drunk and/or spike alcohol with the pill known as the date rape drug.

Prevent Date Rape (from barnesandnoble.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Prevent Date Rape (from barnesandnoble.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

One way to immediately protect oneself from this is to be aware of and recognize when a male is being pressuring regarding sex and/or drinking alcohol, and to remove oneself from that situation as quickly as possible.  Regarding some males, as soon as a female says, “No,” that becomes a cue for them to work more quickly toward raping their target.  So, in order to excuse oneself from such a situation, a female should not draw attention to feeling uncomfortable, wanting to leave, or desiring to return home, but should use some other excuse to leave the situation that will not escalate any potential for the male to commit sexual trauma toward her.

Other ways for females to protect ourselves is to recognize and be aware of males who are members of college fraternities, football and/or other sports teams, and who are in the military.  This also applies to males who serve in professions that support a strong male patriarchy and hierarchy, including the Catholic Church and other employers or volunteer organizations.  Unfortunately, males in many male groups often protect each other with a code of silence regarding offenses and/or crimes that may occur by their members.  When such offenses are brought to the attention of their superiors or the authorities, they may continue to be protected by other males, however it is important for such offenses to be officially reported and documented.

Rally Against Rape in New Delhi, India (from globalpost.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Rally Against Rape in New Delhi, India (from globalpost.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Something else for females to keep in mind is that some males believe that rape is sex, and that if they want it, they are going to “take” it by whatever means necessary.  Because some males believe that their action of raping another is sex, they seem to think they are “being men,” experiencing a “rite of passage,” and being “one of the guys.”  They may brag to peers about their sexual prowess, and how a female who was targeted was “easy,” “slutty,” or “trashy,” thus causing other male peers to become interested in targeting her, as well.  Females must be aware that males talk, and that their talk among each other may not reflect a realistic or accurate portrait of what occurred.  So, when other males appear “interested,” females must be aware that their interest may not be genuine, but may be based only on the inaccurate perspectives received from the males’ peer(s).

A big disadvantage for women in our society is that society teaches girls to always be agreeable, cooperative, and nice, and to look up to males, respecting them and holding them in high esteem.  Certainly, many males are worthy of trust, respect, and being viewed positively.  However, for girls who become women who have been taught to trust, respect, and view positively those who should not be, they may be more easily targeted for and experience sexual traumas.  Those who target others seek vulnerability.  Those who have any potential for being targeted should be aware of this, and also be aware of the other ways identified and described in this post to protect themselves.

Rape Victim-Shaming of Society Football (from pinterest.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Rape Victim-Shaming of Society Football (from pinterest.com, retrieved September 13, 2014)

Again, when a person experiences sexual trauma, the person who was the offender should be held responsible and accountable, not the survivor or victim.  A person may take every action to try to protect herself or himself from sexual trauma, and it may still occur.  Therefore, it is imperative for the survivor to know that he or she is not at fault and not to blame.  Those who offend have had experiences and/or learning that causes them to believe that it is acceptable for them to commit sexual offenses and/or traumas against others.

If you know of anyone who has experienced sexual trauma, consider going with them to report the crime.  Consider accompanying them to their doctor.  Perhaps, refer them to and go with them to a rape crisis agency.  There are trained professionals who are very sensitive toward survivors of sexual traumas, and there are other trained professionals who are not sensitive at all, but blaming and revictimizing.  Survivors and victims of sexual traumas must be supported on their journey to healing.  And, society must take every possible action to educate about and protect people of all ages from experiencing sexual traumas.  Respecting and honoring others and their bodies is all-important in establishing and maintaining healthy relationships.

Remembering 9/11 (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

9/11 Tribute Image (from matthew.komputerwiz.net, retrieved September 10, 2014)

9/11 Tribute Image (from matthew.komputerwiz.net, retrieved September 10, 2014)

This is to honor and remember all the innocents lost in the tragedies of 9/11, as well as to be in support of their families and friends.  They are no longer with us in body, but remain ever-present in spirit.  May we always remember and never forget.  May they rest in peace, and may everyone strive to live in peace and harmony with each other.

Paying the Price for Sight (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Glasses (from allaboutvision.com, September 5, 2014)

Glasses (from allaboutvision.com, September 5, 2014)

I gave in.  I tolerated it for about one year, but finally decided that I needed to go to my optometrist for another eye exam.  One year ago, it had been five years since my previous eye exam.  I really had not needed to go because there were no changes in my vision.  I decided to go last year just to have a routine eye exam completed, and to get new glasses. 

Last year, I went to a different optometrist than my usual doctor.  I went to a lady in my immediate area, and she completed my eye exam so fast that I have resolved never to return to her again – or take any of my family members to her either.  She lost my business.  Her eye exam reflected that my vision had improved, but in fact, the prescription for lenses that she gave me was not strong enough.  This is what my regular optometrist confirmed upon my inquiry during my most recent eye exam about two weeks ago.

The lady who completed my eye exam last year prescribed me lenses that were not strong enough, and thus, the reason for the headaches I had been having.  Rather than return to her and have another eye exam, I reverted back to my old glasses (my five year old glasses) and wore them.  A couple of months ago, the frame of my glasses popped apart, and I paid $65 at a local jewelry store to get it repaired.  I like those frames, so it was worth getting them repaired.  But, I was back to wearing my five year old glasses again.

In the past year, I also experienced another issue.  Not only could I not see objects at a distance clearly, my vision was worsening while reading close up.  At 42, I knew I would need separate glasses for reading, or have to get bifocals soon.  It took me one year of trying to navigate with my vision changes for reading close up before I gave in.  I am now getting bifocals.  It is a sure sign of age when people have to get bifocals.  I joke with my son that I’m truly an “old lady” now because I can’t see.  Lol.

Last year, I spent $100s on my eye exam and the two new pairs of glasses that I purchased – that were the incorrect vision strength.  It is a hardship for me to pay that much money.  I was burned, and so I will not return to that optometrist, nor will I recommend her.  That was money down the drain.

Two weeks ago, I again spent $100s on my vision.  My eye exam was $90, while my glasses frames were $100, and each lens was $105.  This time, I didn’t get myself a spare pair of glasses, but settled for one.  If my vision worsens soon, I will be out those $100s anyway.

Even at spending $400 for my eye exam and new glasses, I probably spent less than I would have if I purchased vision insurance independently.  I don’t have any insurance, so I have to pay out-of-pocket for everything.  It gets very costly, and I have to pick and choose which healthcare providers to see and for what reasons.  It would be nice to have health insurance, and not be too poor to be eligible to receive Medicaid. 

So, again this year, I have paid the price for sight.  I had not intended to spend another several hundred dollars on my vision again this year.  That money could have gone for other things.  I did really well with my vision going unchanged for about five years, however, and am grateful for that.  Now that I’m an old lady, I’m sure that I’ll be getting much use out of my new bifocals.