Monday, April 23, 2012

The Blame Game: Yes, Even in Winnemucca.

The Blame Game: Yes, Even in Winnemucca

Violence is a fact of life. It’s sad, but it’s a fact. Turning on the news or talking to a friend or neighbor, you’re likely to hear of the crime happening close to you.

Yes, even in Winnemucca.

While April is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), we keep awareness and impact of sexual violence all year round. As advocates we work to ensure people know how to defend themselves, how to stay safe in

different situations, what to do if an assault happens, options the survivor has available as far as reporting, medical care, financial assistance, and protection. What we cannot do is stop the assailant from assaulting. Sexual violence does happen and it happens frequently.

Yes, even in Winnemucca.

AVA alone averages two sexual violence requests for assistance a month. There has been a disturbing change recently: survivors are choosing not to report the crime. Unless the case falls under mandatory reporting laws, the choice on whether or not to report depends wholly upon the survivor. Does that mean the person is lying? Very rarely. False reports happen, but the U.S. Department of Justice estimates false reports account only for 2% or less of all rape reports. So what is causing this drop in rape reporting that’s occurring across the country? There are different reasons, but one common thread is victim blaming. Victim blaming is rampant across the world.

Yes, even in Winnemucca.

Come on, you know you’ve done it. You hear about someone becoming being accused of violence and you say, “No way! I know him, she’s lying. Besides, she’s slutty! Have you seen the way she dresses? How she acts? She’s

asking for it.” Whether it be your favorite athlete, politician, friend, co-worker, family member…in rush to defend the person, you have blamed the victim and excused the violence. It happens all the time and often publicly: causing the survivor to recant in fear and future survivors scared to report after seeing how they’re treated.

Yes, even in Winnemucca.

So we’d like to clear up any confusion about what causes rape. Rape is caused by rapists, misogyny, structural violence, institutional tolerance. NOT by: women’s clothing, the way she walks, the makeup she wears, being in the “wrong” place, drinking, and not being “careful enough”.

With a little help from our friends, here is a list of sexual assault prevention tips:

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you when you are in public.

7. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

8. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

9. Carry a whistle! If you’re worried you might assault someone “accidentally” hand it to the person you’re with so they can blow it if you do.

10. Don’t assault people.

Additionally, to remind the rapist what is NOT an invitation to rape:

1. The way a person is dressed.

2. The way a person is behaving.

3. What a person is drinking. Alcohol is never a reason, but often the rapist’s excuse.

4. How intimate they are currently or have been with you.

5. Remember: No does mean NO.

6. Lack of consent.

Pop quiz!

Things that cause rape are: 


a. Flirting

b. Snarky behavior

c. Clothing

d. Drinking too much

e. Rapists

If you guessed E, congratulations! Your prize is knowing who is to blame for rape. We CAN take the blame and shame from the victim and put it on who belongs to: The Rapist. There is NEVER an excuse or an invitation to rape. We CAN make it safer for survivors to come forward and get the help they need and deserve without fear of becoming the accused. Survivors of such a horrible crime deserve to feel protected and cared about.

Yes, even in Winnemucca.

Friday, April 6, 2012

AVA-CASA Scentsy Funrsdaiser Through April!

Child Abuse Prevention Month 2012 ~ Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Fundraiser in Winnemucca

In 1983, April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month was created after the U.S. Congress recognized the increasingly alarming rate children were abused and neglected and the lack of programs to prevent child abuse. Each year, child abuse and neglect awareness activities are held across the country.

In 1989, the Blue Ribbon Campaign to Prevent Child Abuse began as a way for a Virginia grandmother to pay tribute to her grandson who died as a result of abuse. She tied a blue ribbon to the antenna of her car as a way to remember him and to raise awareness her community to the tragedy of child abuse. The Blue Ribbon Campaign has since expanded across the country; many people wear blue ribbons each April in memory of those who have died as a result of child abuse and in support of efforts to prevent abuse.

April 4 is recognized nationally as the Day of Hope. This day is dedicated to remember the children whose lives have been traumatized, many lost, because of child abuse and neglect.

Unfortunately, child abuse still occurs hourly across the country. It is estimated that between 2,000 and 5,000 children die each year due to physical abuse or neglect: that is one child every four hours. According to the Office on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, Nevada ranks number 1 for child deaths by abuse. Nevada has the fourth highest rate of children who are removed from the home for abuse among the states analyzed in the 2009 Child Maltreatment Report. Over 30% of the reported victims of child abuse in Nevada were repeat victims. An abused child returned to parents without intervention has a 35% chance of being seriously re-injured.

The statistics itself can be heartbreaking, having it happen to a child you care about can be devastating. It’s not always obvious when a child is being abused, but here are some signs to watch for:

• bruises or broken bones on children not yet old enough to walk

• unexplained bruises, burns or cuts

• bald spots

• fear of adults, especially parents

• fear of physical contact

• risk-taking

• destructiveness toward self or others

• acting like a much younger child

• poor social skills

• aggression

• defiance

• clothing that may be inappropriate for warmer months to cover marks

Signs of sexual abuse may include:

• secretiveness or refusal to undress in front of others

• unusual interest in or knowledge of sexual things

• inappropriate displays of affection

• fear of a particular person or family member

• depression or withdrawal

• over-compliance

• aggression

• poor social skills

• poor school performance

• pain during urination

• difficulty in walking or sitting

• frequent vomiting

• genital or anal itching, rashes, bruising, bleeding or pain

• frequent yeast or urinary tract infections

• wetting pants or bed

Signs of emotional abuse may include:

• delay in physical or social development

• speech, sleep or eating disorders

• repetitive actions, such as rocking, sucking or biting

• lack of concentration

• lack of emotion

• lack of interest in things that child used to enjoy

• increased emotional needs

• depression or withdrawal

• aggression

• wetting pants or bed

Signs of neglect may include:

• clothing that is dirty, torn, poorly fitting or inappropriate for the weather

• sleepiness

• poor hygiene

• untreated medical or dental problems

• hoarding or stealing food

• inappropriate responsibility for younger siblings

• apparent lack of supervision

• frequent lateness or absences from school or other activities

• destructive behavior, i.e. hurting him or herself or others

• low self-esteem

• poor social skills

• learning disabilities or lower mental ability than normal for age

If a child tells you about abuse, know what to do.

• Do not act shocked – instead remain calm and accepting. Reassure the child that you believe him or her. Say that he or she did the right thing by telling you.

• Tell the child that the abuse is not his or her fault, but do not speak negatively about the abusive adult.

• Do not promise to keep the child’s disclosure a secret – let the child know that to provide help, you will have to tell another trusted adult.

• Tell the child what you will try to do to help, and what he or she may expect.

• Assure the child that things may be difficult at first, but will get better – don’t promise that the abuse will stop.

• If a child tells you about sexual abuse right after it happens, do not bathe the child or change his or her clothes.

• If you are worried about a child’s immediate safety or if the child is afraid to go home, call 911. Do not take the child home with you.

Some signs that a child is experiencing violence or abuse are more obvious than others. If you feel something is wrong, report it. Reporting suspected child abuse and being wrong about it is better than not reporting it and the child continued to be abused.

It can be a hopeless feeling to know such horrible things may be happening right in your own community. Abuse is not an easy or pleasant topic, but it’s one that needs to be addressed. The effects of child abuse can impact the victim, physically and emotionally, throughout their entire lives in harmful ways.

To help show your support to put an end to child abuse, Advocates for Victims of Abuse - Court Appointed Special Advocates (AVA-CASA) will be selling car magnets for only $3 each. The magnets come from the National CASA organization and states “I am for the Child”, “Lift Up a Child’s Voice. A Child’s Life” and “End Child Abuse” on a blue ribbon, which is the awareness color for child abuse prevention. This magnet is a great way to show your support to end child abuse!

AVA-CASA will also be having a month-long fundraiser with the help of caring community member and Scentsy Independent Consultant, Sharon Krupicka. The fundraiser will be held over the month of April and orders can be placed anytime online on Sharon’s Scentsy site ( or contact an advocate at AVA ( or 304-7007). Not only are these wonderful products, but they make great Mother’s Day gifts too! All proceeds from these fundraisers will go to provide direct services for child and victim advocacy.

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD

For more information on child abuse prevention, please visit:

National Court Appointed Special Advocates

Child Welfare Information Gateway

Prevent Child Abuse America


Denim Day in Winnemucca ~ April 25 ~ Free Ribbons Available!

Make a Statement with Your Fashion Statement- Wear Denim in Support of Survivors April 25, 2012!

Help Dispel the Myths Surrounding Sexual Violence!

AVA has FREE denim ribbons available to the public

Denim Day in LA & USA will be held this year on April 25, 2012. This campaign gives people the chance to make a social statement with their fashion statement while supporting survivors of sexual assault and spreading awareness about sexual violence.
It all began in Italy, 1990: An 18-year old girl is picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He takes her to an isolated road, pulls her out of the car, wrestles her out of one leg of her jeans and forcefully rapes her. Threatened with death if she tells anyone, he makes her drive the car home. Later that night she tells her parents, and they help and support her to press charges. The perpetrator gets arrested and is prosecuted. He is convicted of rape and sentenced to jail.

He appeals the sentence. The case makes it’s all the way to the Italian Supreme Court. Within a matter of days the case against the driving instructor is overturned, dismissed, and the perpetrator released. In a statement by the Chief Judge, he argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

Enraged by the verdict, within a matter of hours the women in the Italian Parliament launched into immediate action and protested by wearing jeans to work. This call to action motivated and emboldened the California Senate and Assembly to do the same, which in turn spread to Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, and Denim Day in LA was born. The first Denim Day in LA was in April 1999, and has continued every year since.

Organized annually by Peace Over Violence, Denim Day in LA and Denim Day USA recall an Italian court case that sparked international outrage when judges did not convict a rapist because the victim wore jeans. The judges ruled that because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her attacker remove them, thus implying consent.
Since then, Denim Day in LA and Denim Day USA has grown to become a national movement held annually during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. More than 600,000 supporters took part in 2010 and more are expected to participate this year, including high school and college students, and employees of leading corporations and businesses.

“ONE IN THREE TEENS EXPERIENCE PHYSICAL OR SEXUAL ABUSE WHILE DATING,” “NO EXCUSES” and “BYSTANDER EDUCATION” are three of the sexual assault excuses highlighted in the ads, which are designed to inspire a critical dialogue about violence prevention. Each ad states the tag line: “There is no excuse and never an invitation to rape.”
The Advocates for Victims of Abuse is working to expel the myths surrounding sexual violence and help survivors understand that rape is never their fault. No circumstances, whether the couple is in a relationship, how the victim was dressed, whether alcohol or other drugs were ingested: nothing excuses sexual violence.
Organized annually by Peace Over Violence, Denim Day in LA and Denim Day USA recall an Italian court case that sparked international outrage when judges did not convict a rapist because the victim wore jeans. The judges ruled that because the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her attacker remove them, thus implying consent.
Since then, Denim Day in LA and Denim Day USA have grown to become a national movement held annually during April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. More than 600,000 supporters took part in 2009 and more are expected to participate this year, including high school and college students, and employees of leading corporations and businesses.
Denim ribbons are made available for those who may not be able to wear denim at work or for those who would rather show their support by wearing a ribbon. People may call, email, or contact us via our website to request ribbons and they will be delivered at no cost. Donations are accepted and appreciated!

For more information about Denim Day in LA and Denim Day USA, please visit  For free ribbons or to donate email or call 304-7007 or 623-2328

April Schedule for Women's Free Self-Defense Courses in Winnemucca!

April's schedule for women's FREE self-defense and empowerment classes provided by Paul Montenegro of Montenegro's School of TawKwon Do and AVA Executive Director, Rebecka Swatman are as follows:

April 2, 4, 20,22, and 30. All times are 7:30- 8:30 p.m. Classes are held at the Montenegro School of TaeKwon Do, 5184 1/2 Winnemucca Blvd. (Behind Computer Tamer and next to BLM offices). While the classes are each month, the techniques are easy enough for anyone to pick up from one session. A review is given at each class to enable full benefit for anyone who wants to learn these powerful self-defense menthods.

Each class involves critical discussions covering the most important awareness principles and safety strategies. Even if you are already well-versed in safety strategies and are well aware of your surroundings, these lessons will reinforce your safety consciousness and heighten your awareness in many settings. We recommend you bring a partner (friend, sister, daughter, etc) if possible to practice techniques with.

Offered monthly to all women ages 18 and over (if younger, parental permission is required), these classes are exceptional and lessons include:

4 phases of a typical sexual assault by stranger, the “Triangle of Victimization”: Undercover Assailants: non-strangers conduct a shocking 78% of all sexual assaults! Between the ages of 16-24, 1 in 4 women experience some form of sexual violence. In college, most attacks occur during freshman and sophomore years.

This course has an emphasis on what you can do to ensure you never allow a predator to catch you off-guard. Making responsible choices and defending personal boundaries is part of total empowerment.

This course includes 11 intense sections:

1. Awareness and Intuition: Knowing your surroundings, trusting your gut in situations, exit strategies, confidence, and how to be a bad victim. Safety in a variety of different situations such as using the buddy-system, cell phones, bystander intervention.

2. Combat Base: How to physically establish a rock-solid base so the attacker can neither push nor pull you against your will.

3. Wrist Release: A man will grab a woman by the wrists to detain, neutralize, or demean her. In this lesson, learn wrist releases guaranteed to free you from any wrist grab, regardless of the attackers strength.

4. Trap and Roll Escape: Being trapped beneath a sexual predator is a nightmarish experience potentially leading to panic, suffocation, exhaustion, and eventual submission. In this lesson, you will be taught two highly effective escapes from this frightening position.

5. Front Choke Defenses: Assailants often attempt to strangle their victims during a sexual assault. In this lesson, we teach how to apply leverage to escape the two most commonly used front choke holds.

6. Super Slap: Striking a large assailant with punches has limited effectiveness and may cause you to break your hand. In this lesson, we teach how to use a Super Slap to disrupt the attack and facilitate your escape.

7. Guard Get-Up: Most important physical technique in this course! Ultimate goal for most sexual predators is to get inside victim’s legs. Should you find yourself in this situation, the Guard Get-Up will enable you to remain calm, stay safe, and escape at the right time.

8. Stop-Block Frame: Sexual predators often test their victims’ spatial boundaries. In this lesson, we teach how to use verbal assertiveness to establish your personal space and what to do if the attacker crosses the boundary and physically assaults you.

9. Trap and Roll Extras: This includes more variations from the #3 lesson. Includes what to do if a man achieves the most terrifying position: mounted on top of you while pinning both your wrists to the ground.

10. Guard Get-Up Extras: Greatest challenge when trapped beneath an attacker is to avoid panic and exhaustion. Additional variations are taught to ensure your survival against an attacker trying to punch, pin, or choke you.

11. Hair Grab Defense: An assailant will often attempt to control his target by grabbing hair. In this lesson, learn to defend against the most common hair grabs whether standing or on the ground.

12. Guillotine Choke: Whether your attacker lowers his head to subdue you, he unknowingly creates a perfect opportunity for you to protect yourself.

13. Elbow Escape: An emergency alternative to the Trap and Roll Escape.

14. Rear Attack Defenses: A surprise attack from behind is one of the most challenging attacks to overcome. In this lesson, we teach how to escape when someone attempts to choke you or bear hug you from behind.

15. Weapon Defense: Some assailants will use a weapon to intimidate and control their victims. In this lesson we use the weapon to address the psychological aspects of dealing with an armed assailant, as well as methods to use when your life is on the line and you MUST act.

If anyone is interested in taking a class but is not comfortable with any of the lessons, it’s acceptable to sit out and observe. No one will be asked to participate in anything they are uncomfortable with. If any special accommodations are needed, please contact us and we’ll make arrangements ahead of time.

Patience, timing, and leverage can overcome any of life’s adversities, regardless of their nature. Remember: Anyone can be a victim, regardless of where you live, education, age gender, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, etc. Everyone can learn to protect themselves!

Space is limited, contact us to reserve your and/or your youths spot! For a full description of each class, please visit . To reserve your spot or contact us with any questions, please call 304-7007 or 304-5997. Or email us a

All classes are FREE, but donations are always accepted and appreciated. AVA is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charity (EIN 26-3966611), any donations made are tax-exempt and a receipt will be provided.

Day of Silence in Winnemucca on April 20


Think Before You Speak

Not only are these words of wisdom that we should all live by, it is the motto of the National Day of Silence held on April 20, 2012 for it’s 17th year. Why be silent? A silent demonstration can be a peaceful way to bring urgent attention to an important issue. Silence as a method of organizing is much different than silence that is coerced or forced through oppressive bullying, harassment and intimidation. A silent demonstration is active, rather than passive, and causes people to pay attention.

As creator Leigh Thomsen points out, “Silence has multiple effects: Bring attention to an issue and encourage reflection on the issue; simulate the how others are silenced; focus the attention on the issue or cause and not the protester; demonstrate that the demonstrators desire peaceful resolution; and spark discussion and dialogue.

National Day of Silence is an annual event held by student groups all over the country designed to bring attention to the bullying, harassment, and name-calling of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students. In 1996, the first Day of Silence took place at the University of Virginia after a student there committed suicide after suffering constant bullying. Since then, over 8,000 middle schools, high schools, and colleges have participated in the annual event where concerned students and teachers vow a day of silence to bring attention to bullying experienced by GLBT students and their allies.

Recognizing the Day of Silence: some vow a day long silence, some for a lunch hour or a certain time during the day. However it is recognized in different communities, the Day of Silence is one that grows stronger throughout the years to reach internationally, where Australia has begun to recognize it. Anyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression can take part to ‘speak out’ through their silence to end bullying and harassing. For ideas on what you can do to participate in the National Day of Silence, visit

The Day of Silence has recently gotten some extra attention, gaining even more support because of recent cases where bullying has led youths to taking their own lives. While some of these youths were not part of the GLBT community, there is no doubt that name-calling, harassment, and bullying led to their deaths.

Bullying in schools, on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, even texting has led to cases of suicide. In some cases, to the point where the target of the bullying feels suicide is the only escape from it.

So what exactly constitutes bullying? According to the Anti-Bullying Network, bullying is calling someone names, gossiping about them, leaving them out of activities, threatening them, making them uncomfortable or scared, physically harming them.

Bullying Prevention and Facts:

• Many studies have shown that increasing domestic violence at home are leading to an increase in bullying online and at school.

• 58% of kids admit to never telling an adult when they've been the victim of a bullying attack.

• Bullying affects witnesses as well as targets. Witnesses often report feeling unsafe, helpless, and afraid that they will be the next target.

• Bullying is a communitywide issue that must no longer be ignored or thought of as a rite of passage. Students, parents, and educators all have a role in addressing bullying situations and changing school culture.

• The two keys to creating change are: increasing awareness that bullying has lifelong impact, and giving people the tools they need to respond effectively.

• Students can be especially effective in bullying intervention. More than 55 percent of bullying situations will stop when a peer intervenes. Student education of how to address bullying for peers is critical, as is the support of adults.

• Silence is no longer an acceptable response to bullying. Adults, students, and educators can no longer look away when they see bullying. Ignoring it won’t work. Everyone needs to be empowered with options to respond.

Based on the bullying statistics, it is clear that cyber bullying is on the rise more so than any other type of bullying. Many report seeing these types of bullying in chat rooms, social networking websites. Many students are forced to deal with at-school bullying and have it follow them home as they see hurtful comments and rumors being said about them throughout the Internet.

Bullying isn’t just for kids. Adults are guilty of it too. Even in our small community, individuals of all ages have been known to do it. Who hasn’t heard a piece of gossip here? Most of us will hear gossip and dismiss it as just that, never giving it a second thought. A bully will start it, even repeat it with no regard to the harm they may cause, perhaps embellishing to make it more interesting, thus inflicting harm to the person they are gossiping about.

Why do people bully? There can be a number of reasons regardless of their age: they want to be popular, seeking attention, they may feel jealous of the person they are bullying, they may not feel good about themselves, so they put others down or hurt them, they are trying to gain control over a situation, or they may be bullied themselves. Sometimes the bully is displaying the behavior they have learned from parents or family. This can often be the case where someone is bullied because of their sexual orientation, gender identity, even race, ethnicity, or religion. No matter what the reason, it is never okay.

Bullying is violence and there is a cycle to violence. It is emotional and verbal abuse and should be recognized as such. No one should ever live in fear. If you know someone who is being bullied, please help them. Breaking the silence is the only way to break the cycle. Remember, if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

AVA has provided classes and materials regarding bullying in the past, these classes have always filled quickly and the materials requested often. We are continuing to provide materials and classes, if you or your organization would like any of these free materials or to arrange a class, please contact us.

For more information: