Thursday, September 27, 2012

Breaking the silence on sexual violence

This week's blog contribution comes from Sasha Mackey, outreach advocate with Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.  Five Town Communities That Care strives to promote healthy youth and to reduce adolescent substance abuse, suicide, violence, delinquency, school drop-out, and teen pregnancy.  Here in the Five Towns, we are blessed to have much lower rates of overall violence in our community than many urban areas, but we are by no means violence free.  Sasha gives us a glimpse into a type of violence that most Mainers seldom talk about.

Breaking the Silence... Let’s Talk about it.

Sexual violence - what is it and who does it affect?

Sexual violence is an act of power that violates a person’s trust and feeling of safety.  This happens when someone forces or manipulates another person into any unwanted sexual activity.  Some forms of sexual violence include rape or sexual assault, child sexual assault and incest, intimate partner sexual assault, unwanted sexual contact/touching, molestation, sexual exploitation and sexual harassment. Sexual violence does not discriminate; it affects people of all genders, ages, races, religions, incomes, abilities, professions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations.

Did you know… 1 out of 5 Mainers reported being a victim of rape or attempted rape in their lifetime? (Rubin, 2007)

Chances are you know someone who has been sexually assaulted. 

A common myth that is often portrayed in our media culture, movies and TV is that of a sexual assault occurring late at night, down a dark ally by a complete stranger.  But sexual violence is not just a crime between strangers.  Survivors and offenders are often known classmates, loves ones, family members, neighbors, employers or friends.

Did you know… 11.9% of Maine high school students – 13.3% of girls, and 10.4% of boys – report having been physically forced to have sexual intercourse in their lifetime.

And 19.4% of Maine high school students – 24% of girls and 14.9% of boys – report having been the target of offensive sexual comments at school or on the way to or from school in their lifetime. (Maine Centers for Disease Control. 2010)

What you can do

These statistics are not meant to create fear, but meant only to raise awareness and break the silence that is attached to the issue of sexual violence. 

It is the responsibility of every member in the community to create safe and comfortable neighborhoods.  As parents and leaders in the community we can help by having open and honest discussions with each other and with our youth.  By talking about the issue in a safe and educational way, we get to be in charge of what message is delivered.  The statistics are proof that sexual violence does not go away if we just don’t talk about it.  We can model supportive relationships and behaviors with friends and family.  Trust your feelings, and listen to your “inner voice” if someone’s behavior feels unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable.  We can speak up when we hear harmful comments or witness violent acts.  And most importantly, we can stand up for survivors and believe their stories.

Did you know… Help and Support are available in your community.

Survivors of sexual violence can experience a wide range of emotions such as anger, sadness, fear, guilt, shame, doubt and the list goes on.  Some people may act differently and may be come quieter or secluded where others may act out or turn to harmful coping strategies.  If you or someone you know has felt the impact of sexual violence, support is available. 
Your community is supported by the Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine.  If you have any questions, concerns or are looking for support, help is just a phone call away. 

Sexual Assault Support Services of Midcoast Maine
24 hour, free and confidential support line number for Eastern Cumberland, Sagadahoc, Lincoln, Knox and Waldo Counties 1-800-822-5999 or from a cell phone, 207-725-1500.

No one deserves to be sexual abused, so let’s work together to break that silence and as a community, we can all…

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Celebrating community, Scout style

The following brief was submitted by Chris Mills, Committee Chair of Pack 200 Cub Scouts, Camden. His account of Scout participation in Five Town CTC's 3rd annual Harvest Hoot festival expresses so well the power of volunteering, of organized clubs, and of community spirit---and is a shining example of how these three elements combine to promote healthy youth in our community.

Five Town CTC wishes to thank all the Cub and Boy Scouts, their parents, and everyone from the Scout community who came out to help with the Hoot! If your organization would like to join with Five Town CTC in promoting healthy youth, give us a call!

Shelley and Finn Mills enjoy the Hoot!

Pack and Troop 200 were asked by Five Town Communities That Care to coordinate all the kids activities and games at a six-hour family festival (Harvest Hoot) at the Camden Snow Bowl on September 8. We set up paintball slingshot, a Pinewood Derby, a rain gutter regatta, a boat building station, face painting, a craft table, cub cars and three large pine stumps where kids could pound nails to their hearts' content.  Andrew Clement, Scoutmaster, was there with some of his Scouts. He had his trailer set up doing a Dutch oven cooking demo over a fire. The beef stew and chocolate cherry cake, both prepared in Dutch ovens, were gobbled up by anyone who walked by. The Boy Scouts worked hard pulling cub cars up the hill and sitting on the dunk tank ---- a volunteer activity they thoroughly enjoyed.

We had a total of 18 Scouts and 19 adults who volunteered.  All Scouts and Scout leaders were in uniform. It was a perfect opportunity to show the community-at-large what Scouting is all about. The feedback from Five Town CTC has been very positive. The event organizers were amazed at all the activities that we had going on and how well staffed we were. The organizers got a lot of feedback from people attending about how much fun the kids area was. Everything that we offered was free, which made a big impression on the parents.

Our Scouts had a blast both manning stations and participating. It goes to show you that volunteering can be fun and fulfilling.

We made a very good impression on many adults with Scout age children and probably will see some come to our first Pack meeting.

-----Wake and act each day with the understanding that your actions will be absorbed by your children...and your children will grow to be contributing adults to the level of your influence.