May 15th, 2007
In January, while I was in Southeast Asia, FEAR Project board and volunteers met to discuss current and upcoming works. One of the goals they set was to do as much outreach as possible during April which is National Sexual Assault Awareness month.
Board member Alison Cathro, RN, SANE-A, secured most of our engagements. Every six months for the past several years FEAR has spoken at the CORE Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) training for nurses from around the state. To this we added Liberty High in the Issaquah School District, a community group in Longview, Washington, including the police chief, a return visit to Mercer Island High, the Asian Counseling and Referral Service summer program, Chief Sealth High in Seattle, and the Washington Chapter of the International Association of Forensic Nurses. (at left: Alison speaks in Longview)
These presentations combine our multimedia with speaking focused on communication, relationship, and the meaning of consent. We acknowledge that youth today are likely ‘partying’ and may be having sex; we aren’t there to judge, incite fear, or lecture them on their lifestyle choices. (One student wrote of the 16 people in her class only four hadn’t had sex). We are there to share with them vocabulary, concepts, laws, and to provide them with tools to help them better understand themselves and, through this, others. (at right: in Longview)
We speak personally and honestly about why we do our work and what it means us individually. It is not an us/them model, it is a conversation meant to involve and incite our audience to action; action in their own communities starting with dialog about sexual violence leading, hopefully, to an environment where victims of abuse feel they can begin to share their experience. At the FEAR Project we believe healing starts with talking. And who knows, maybe somewhere along the way a potential perpetrator will think twice about what he or she is really doing.
A male freshman once asked me “So if we’re both drunk and we have sex and she doesn’t like it the next day I could get sued for rape?” to which I responded–as is Washington law–that one must be mentally capable of giving consent and alcohol can influence ability. Cathro, the forensic nurse, says ninety percent of her rape cases involve alcohol. My advice to the young man? To be respectful. To have fun but there is no shame in waiting until they are sober, to talk with his date, and to always ask if what they are doing together is something she wants to do. (at left: in Longview)
We aim to continue our documentary work but have learned we also need to expand our ‘services’ in terms of presentations and exhibitions–even though most of this work is unpaid. In order to continue we are applying for grants and, of course, soliciting for donations as we would rather speak for free than not speak at all. We have a number of amazing opportunities this fall and intend to push forward on as many as we can.
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