What to do if you are raped :: 2007/09/03 15:01

If you are raped, there are certain things you have to do immediately to increase the chances that your attacker will be apprehended and hopefully put away.

Do not immediately bathe, wash or dispose of the clothes you wore during the attack--your body and clothes can provide important evidence for catching and prosecuting the rapist.

Tell someone--the police, a doctor, a friend or a counselor at a rape crisis center. There are rape crisis centers in every city, at most hospitals and on most college campuses. The national rape crisis phone number is 800-656-HOPE, and they will refer you to the closest center in your area. It might feel strange to contact some center for help where you don't really know the people who will be helping you. However, the beauty of a rape crisis center is that the staff and volunteers are trained to deal with these situations. They don't need personal information from you. They are there to help you.

As soon as possible, get yourself to a hospital or clinic. There you will receive the standard rape kit procedure, which collects evidence of rape. You will be able to talk to a counselor and will be told where you can get some follow-up counseling, which is highly recommended. Also, you will be offered emergency contraception and antibiotics to fight potential STDs.

In the weeks and months following a rape, get tested for STDs, pregnancy and, about six months after the attack, HIV infection.

Consider continuing counseling. After going through counseling, eventually it may be useful to join a rape support group. It is common to feel some sense of alienation from people who have never been through the sort of nightmare that you have endured after a rape, so meeting with a group of other rape survivors could be useful.

2007/09/03 15:01 2007/09/03 15:01
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Sexual Abuse - A survivor's story :: 2007/09/03 14:59

By Latanya Williams

Being raped is one of the most traumatic experiences anyone ever endures. It's something you deal with for the rest of your life. It leaves a dark mark that never lightens.

But you must find a way to move on.

I was raped by my stepfather--the man I considered to be my father. I was 13. I was young and very innocent. I did not know how to do anything except trust the ones I loved.

And then my step-father shattered my life. He raped me. I felt nasty, hurt, angry, betrayed and, most of all, I felt like less of a person.

friends & family

Except for my mother, my family was not there to support me. That made it even harder to deal with. Without God, my mother and two very good friends (Cynthia Liccardo, who prosecuted the case and Tracy Cianfrocca, the investigator), I don't think I could have made it as far as I have.

When I used to cry, my mom was there, and when I needed to talk, my friends were there.

afraid to tell

It took years for me to move on. In the beginning, I was always watching my back. I couldn't sleep. Individual counseling made me feel worse. But I started to counsel myself. I made myself believe that it wasn't my fault. I went to school and I went to group sessions at Anchor House, a home in Trenton for runaway teenagers.

After the rape, I told my mother right away, even though my step-father warned me not to. I was afraid to tell because my step-father said that it would destroy their marriage. He gave me money. He paid me not to tell.

But I told anyway. My mother took me to the hospital and called the police. My step-father was arrested, but he got out on bail. The judge issued a restraining order, which meant that my step-father couldn't come anywhere near me. But one day, he followed me to school, and so they put him in jail until the trial.

When I turned 17, I finally started getting my life back in order. But then the case went to trial and in some ways it was like reliving the whole thing. Next to the rape, it as the most embarrassing and stressful thing I've ever endured. It was embarrassing because I had to sit on a stand and tell 13 people--strangers, really--everything that had happened that night. All the details of the rape. It was horrible.

 taking the stand

Things got worse before they got better. My step-father's lawyer tried to say that this really didn't happen. But I knew it did. He tried to confuse me and bring up things from my past that had nothing to do with the case.

The part that really makes you sick is looking at the person who invaded your body. It makes you scared and nervous. I can still remember the feeling that went through me when I saw him in court. I had a flashback and I felt like he could do it again.



a guilty verdict

But I got through the trial with Cynthia's (the prosecutor) help. She talked about everything that would happen. We went to the courthouse the day before the trial. She showed me where everyone would be sitting and she let me sit on the stand so I could see how it would feel. She talked me through the whole thing.

The jury found my step-father guilty. He is serving 10 years in prison. I was glad he went to jail, but I also feel like it isn't enough. I still feel like I have to watch my back. But thanks to a few special people who didn't let me shut myself out from the rest of the world, I have been able to take control of my life.



life goes on

I graduated from Trenton High first in my class. I was able to choose any college I wanted and now I'm in my second year at a private, all-girls college.

It's true that you never get over sexual abuse and rape. But you can learn how to deal with it.

If you have been raped, don't shut out the rest of the world. Talk to someone you trust.

Get help. Remember that no matter what, you are somebody and you can achieve anything you want.

I'm living proof that anything is possible.

If you are being or have been sexually abused, get help! Call the toll free National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD (24 hours a day/7 days a week) or RAINN's hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE. Trained professionals will tell you how to get help close to home.

2007/09/03 14:59 2007/09/03 14:59
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Knowing Mr Nice Guy :: 2007/08/15 12:26

"You can't register because you still owe $200 from last semester," Lee said. As he punched the keys, I could see the numbers on the computer screen reflected on his glasses.

I reached for the zipper of my purse. "Can I pay it right now?" I asked. As I opened my purse, the zipper snapped off in my hand.

My purse slipped from my grasp, bouncing off his desk and my knee before hitting the ground and releasing its contents all over the floor.

"Damn," I said. I got down on one knee, reaching for a stray tampon that had rolled under his desk. As I got back up, I noticed that Lee had been on the floor right beside me.

"I'm so sorry," I said.
"Happens to everyone." He said, and smiled.

He had a beauty mark just above his lips, on the right side. I met his eyes as I eased my way back into the chair. He's adorable.

"So everyone drops a load in your office?" I said. I winced. Why, why, why had I said that?

He leaned back in his chair, grinning. "It's not my office. This is my work study job. It's kind of boring, but..." He went on and on, but I wasn't listening.

"Go out with me." I blurted out.
"Okay." he said.

We went to a nearby diner and I made a pig of myself by finishing off dinner with two slices of pie. But I wasn't embarrassed. There was something about Lee that made me feel like I couldn't do a single thing wrong.

We went on lots more dates. Then, we left dating in the dust and were officially "going out." Everything was just fine.

For my birthday, he gave me a purse that fastened shut with a tiny heart-shaped clasp. Inside was a small card that simply read "I love you."

The "I love you" thing was sweet. I guess. I wondered if I loved him. I wondered as I sat in class, as I eyed the cute boy I always saw in the dorm hallway, as I tried to focus on writing a term paper.

A week later, when I got a D on that term paper, I went crying to Lee for sympathy.

"It's no big deal." He said. "You'll do better on the next one."

When, at lunch a few days later, I spilled ketchup all over my new sneakers and Lee failed to so much as hand me a napkin, I stormed off.

As I rounded the corner approaching my dorm room, I spotted Jeremy.

2007/08/15 12:26 2007/08/15 12:26
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The Stalker :: 2007/08/15 12:25

"Want to come in and see my stereo?" Jeremy said. His eyes glimmered with a discomforting mixture of arrogance and being mildly drunk. I could smell the beer on his breath. But when a good friend first told me about Jeremy, he sounded hot.

"He's seen you around campus, and I think he said he was in one of your classes freshmen year. Anyway, you should say hi. He talks about you all the time."

Hey, instant worship. If that's not hot, I don't know what is.

Jeremy and I had a nice, but lukewarm evening. We talked about our classes (he was a finance major), our hometowns (hailed from Virginia) and our mutual love for comedy central.

"So, can we do this again sometime soon?" he asked, as we said goodbye in the hall.

"Sure," I said.

"Friday?"

"Sure," I said again. I felt sort of torn. Jeremy seemed like a nice enough guy--smart, a good conversationalist and a nice view from the rear--but it was impossible not to notice how "click"-less we were.

I just didn't feel anything when I was with him, and I definitely couldn't imagine kissing him. There was something about his devotion to his motorcycle and sneaker collection that made me think, maybe this guy won't understand me.

Then again, I hadn't had a single date in months. And different doesn't necessarily mean bad, right? I decided to give him one more try.

Friday night found me back in Jeremy's dorm room. He answered the door wearing a pair of scrubs bottoms and no shirt.

I guess we're not going out, I thought.

"Hey, I have a present for you." he announced, before I could even sit down.

"Really? That's a surprise."

"It's just my way of saying thank you," he said.

"Thank you for what?" I replied.

"For the great time we had the other night. and for tonight."

"Oh, how sweet," I said. But in my head I was thinking, Tonight? He's thanking me for tonight?

I wanted him to put his shirt back on. His chest was hairy and I felt weird. He opened a drawer and pulled out a black sketchbook.

"I didn't know you drew." I said.

"I usually don't, but I was inspired."

I took the hard black book in my hands and flipped open the cover. The first drawing I saw was a close-up of my left eye. There were three pages of my left eye. There were sketches of my face from all different angles, me sitting in the cafeteria, in class, and out on the lawn.

My mind raced. The sketches were so detailed.

How long would he have to watch me to draw one of these? I could feel his eyes on me.

"You don't like them?"he said.

"I do. They're so detailed." I could think of nothing else to say.

"It was nothing. I could stare at you all day."

"It looks like you have," I said. Oh, I don't think I should've said that. I waited for him to look hurt or angry, but after a second he just laughed.

"Do you like the idea of having someone watch you?" he asked. Oh, Jesus Christ, I thought.

"Yeah, but I've got a parole officer who takes care of that," I said.

I didn't give him a chance to rebound from my awful joke. I was on my feet, jacket in hand.

It was only when I got back to my room that I realized I still had the sketchbook in my hand. I flung it down the garbage shoot at the end of the hall, pausing a minute to hear the hollow thud when the book hit the bottom.

2007/08/15 12:25 2007/08/15 12:25
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Here's how to get rid of a cheating boyfriend :: 2007/07/20 12:11

Some advice from Mona:

Dear Mona,

My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 3 years now. He has cheated in the past several times and once I physically caught him. He talks about me in bad ways to his friends all the time. He makes me look like a psycho which I am not. He has brought my self esteem down a lot and I don't know how to deal with it. I love him a lot. When we are together we have fun, but he makes me look stupid in front of other people. what kind of advise can you give me?


Dear Effie,

I'm not a fan of the 'bad company is better than no company' philosophy. You love him? Sure, but countless 'mos use those three big words as an excuse for staying in not-so-ideal relationships. You've convinced yourself that your boyfriend's emotional abuse is just him being himself with his buddies; but what he's really doing is breaking up with you. It sounds like you've become the punch line of a running joke between him and his friends... And they're probably wondering exactly how long it will take you to get a clue.

He will keep pushing and abusing until the light bulb goes off and you move on. And why wouldn't he? He cheated and yet you stayed. He says mean things about you to his friends (in front of you), and yet you stay. He will continue to do those things and the treatment will get worse, because he knows... you'll stay!

My tough love here is not in favor of him. I personally think he's a coward for treating you like a one-hit wonder when you should be the star of the show. However, I must put you in control of your own destiny.

That being said, I must ask: Are you staying with him out of love or is it fear? You may not be afraid of him physically, but what is it that keeps you hanging on his heels while he makes a mockery of your relationship? Are you afraid of being alone or being rejected or getting back into the dating market? Of course, your first thought is to fall back on the love part, but as Mama Lisa always tells me, "What's love got to do with it—especially when you have to give up your dignity?"

Love is great when it is mutual and honest. And real love is never part time (i.e. If he treats you nice while you're alone, he should treat you nice in front of his friends). Love becomes our own worst enemy when it shifts to one side. Think of Effie in Dreamgirls. Effie was cheated on, betrayed and kicked out of the group without even knowing it. Yet, instead of walking away and moving on, she continued to vie for the attention of those that rejected her. There she stood begging them to take her back. And when yelling at them didn't work, she proceeded to sing the most desperate relationship anthem ever written, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". In case you don't know the lyrics, she says oh-so-desperately, "You're gonna love me!" Meanwhile Curtis—the one that cheated on her—shakes his head and walks away.

Set aside your heart for a moment and stop singing. Your boyfriend is not going to treat you better because you tell him to or wish it upon him. If his part time love is enough for you, then you have to take the baggage that comes along with it; but by the mere fact you reached out, something tells me you know you deserve better.

Don't make excuses for him and don't try and understand why he demeans you in front of his friends. Run and protect the last bit of self-esteem you've got left. Again, as Mama Lisa says, "People only do to you what you let them do to you!" Move on and find someone that'll treat you like a star—not just backstage, but all of the time!

Yours in tune,
Mona

2007/07/20 12:11 2007/07/20 12:11
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