August 9, 2018
Sadly, we are not surprised by last week’s jury not guilty verdict in the case of a 39-year-old teacher in Twin Falls who knowingly admitted he had sex with a 17 year old student.
“We just felt that we couldn’t throw this guy’s life away, when in our definition she wasn’t raped,” Jason [the foreman] said. “He made a mistake, but we don’t feel that he’s a predator and he’s going to be out there raping girls.”
“Rape is such an ugly word,” the foreman said. “We just could not slap him with the label of rapist when even she said it was consensual and she pursued him.”
No matter that Idaho Rape Statute states that it is the crime of rape “where the victim is sixteen (16) or seventeen (17) years of age and the perpetrator is three (3) years or more older than the victim.”
Our criminal justice system continues to fail survivors of sexual assault. Gender bias and discrimination, or victim blaming, is inherent across Idaho’s criminal justice system – from law enforcement’s failure to test almost half of collected forensic rape kits to low prosecution rates, and now this – a jury that completely disregards Idaho law.
Here’s the thing, we do not want to demonize the teacher, but he should be accountable for his behavior. He was 39 and a teacher who was in a position of trust, power, and influence over a 17-year-old student. Every 17-year-old student has the right to be able to trust that teachers to do what is right and not exploit any student for any reason.
We cannot be surprised at the jury verdict. The societal consequence of devaluing girls, women and people who are gender nonconforming is exactly this – a 39-year-old male teacher can have sexual intercourse with 17-year-old female student without accountability. The jury perpetuated the low expectation of a man, not expecting him to say no to sexual advances, even from a minor he was entrusted to protect.
All of this raises the question – is the criminal justice system the best fit for survivors of sexual assault? Would community accountability be a solution? What if the teacher lost his teaching license and is permanently banned from working with adolescents? What if he had to pay for her counseling or other needs?
We do not know the whole story or the impact on the 17-year-old girl. Is she a survivor of a previous trauma? Did she feel objectified by our culture that over values physical appearance of girls and women and denigrates their intellect and individual power? Were other students shaming her? Is that why she dropped out of school?
We need to directly address the extraordinarily high rate of sexual assault of Idaho’s female high school students – 15% of Idaho female students 9th – 12th grade have been forced to have sexual intercourse as compared to the national rate of 10%. Rape IS an ugly word, even more so, it is an ugly act of violence.
The 2017 Idaho Youth Risk Behavior Survey results show that 9.4% of Idaho high school students have been forced to have sexual intercourse when they did not want to at some point in their lives. When you break this data down, the numbers become even more shocking. For example, 12% of 9th grade girls and over 1 in 4 senior girls (21%) reported they had been raped. Overall, 15.1% of female students and 4.1% of male students reported being the survivor of forced sexual intercourse. And Idaho is much higher than the national averages; nationally, 6.7% of students overall and 10.3% of female students reported they had been raped during their lives. Idaho’s high rates indicate a great need for increased sexual assault prevention work and enhanced responsive services for young survivors of sexual violence.
Because community-based domestic and sexual violence program staff are often the known community experts for providing supportive services to people in their community who have experienced these forms of violence, they can be particularly helpful in engaging parents and organizations serving youth to work alongside schools and school districts to create polices that prevent, remedy, and respond to sexual harassment and assault impacting access to educational opportunities and benefits.
As a resource and starting point for programs looking to address school response to sexual assault, the non-profit, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, recently published a toolkit entitled Ending K-12 Sexual Harassment: A Toolkit for Parents and Allies. This toolkit provides: links to web-based videos and weblogs; information on Title IX, the federal law that every public and most private schools must comply with that puts in place requirements for the prevention of and response to sexual violence, along with steps schools must take to be in compliance with that federal law; other resources and relevant information; and concrete actions you can take to make sure that your local schools are Title IX compliant.
While this guide is a great starting point, remember that you don’t have to do the work alone. Building relationships with parent groups and other youth-serving community programs will help make sure that your program has the support it needs to provide effective services and resources to youth who come to you in the aftermath of an act of violence. And as always, the Idaho Coalition staff is here to support you in this area. For more information on Title IX or other laws that may protect students from sex- or gender-based harassment and sexual assault, please contact Annie Hightower.
Three Things to reach out to me for:
As we do our work with Native/Tribal populations, we must be aware of the community’s stories, both of the past and present. As mentioned in part one of this series, we spoke about how colonization and policy have affected the cultural and general wellbeing of native women and their families throughout history but what is the status of native women today? This article will take a deeper look at what that looks like in the present.
Status of Women in Native Communities Today:
These are harsh realities for many of the native women we serve. The devastating effect is a combination of the deterioration of indigenous culture and sovereignty, the systematic traumatizing children, and government sanctioned barriers to healing, among many other factors. The effects of colonization have created cycles of abuse in native families and communities for centuries now, these statistics reflect that.
As advocates for our communities, you may be asking yourself what is it we can do to repair and alleve harm given the history? We can support native organizers by advocating for tribal sovereignty, and supporting native causes. We can begin understanding our role and responsiblity in creating spaces within our programs that are unique to native families experiencing violence. Spaces that allow families to reconnect and heal from past harms though their spiritual beliefs, culture, and allow them to maintain family structure. All while creating the space and opportunity for families to build the future they envision for themselves and their families. The next article will talk about how to create these spaces within your program.
ii Steven W Perry, American Indians and Crime- A BJS Statistical Profile 1992-2002, Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, December 2004.
iii Greenfeld, Lawrence & Smith, Steven. American Indians and Crime. Bureau of Justice Statistics, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, February 1999. NCJ 173386. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/aic.pdf
Three Things to reach out to me for:
Empowerment is absolutely contagious. Once one finds liberation, their presence begins to spread hope, healing, and wholeness. By cultivating this empowerment, Nisha aspires to co-populate a world of liberation for all of us. After graduating from Boise State as an educator, she hopes to move abroad, continuing her work in teaching & social justice activism.
Tanisha will be energizing our Youth Activist Network. Welcome, Tanisha! To contact Tanisha, email Tanisha@engagingvoices.org
Micaela Rios Anguiano
Micaela is a social justice advocate and activist who works across issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. She commits to uplifting the voices and histories of those impacted by generational trauma, violence and oppression. Micaela takes pride in her Mexican roots, history, culture and ancestral healing wisdom. She’s on a journey toward grounding her own truth and power and serves as a vessel in others’ healing and liberation.
Micaela will be energizing our HHS FVPSA Specialized grant with services specific to Latinx communities. Welcome, Micaela! To contact Micaela, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Marney is a multi-faceted professional with over 20 years of experience in finance, management, fundraising, grants management and relationship stewardship. She is passionate about community engagement and social impact, and is known for delivering impactful outcomes with expertise, creativity and integrity. Though Henry departed in May to work for Clearwater Analytics, he has been working with the Idaho Coalition during this transition.
Marney will be energizing our organizational finance and accounting. Welcome, Marney! To contact Marney, email email@example.com
A Reading & Discussion with Author Kelly Sundberg
Monday, August 13 | 6:45 PM – 9:00 PM | The Linen Building
Click Here to Register!
The Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence invites you to join us for an evening and conversation with author Kelly Sundberg, where the author will read from and discuss her memoir “Goodbye, Sweet Girl”.
Enjoy beer & wine (no host bar) by Woodland Empire, light appetizers by Manfred’s, and live music (TBA)!
Tickets are $30 with UNLIMITED INSTANT SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE.
Raised in Salmon, Idaho, Kelly Sundberg writes with raw honesty and devastating openness of The Glass Castle and The Liar’s Club, chronicling how her marriage devolved into a shocking tale of abuse-examining the tenderness and violence entwined in the relationship, why she endured years of physical and emotional pain, and how she eventually broke free.
“It is a hell of a thing to write about brutality and suffering with strength, grace, generosity and beauty. That’s precisely what Kelly Sundberg has done in her gripping memoir about marriage and domestic violence”
– Roxane Gay, author of “Bad Feminist” and “Hunger”.
One of ELLE Magazine’s 30 Best Books to Read this Summer. Doors open at 6:45 PM.
Registration is Required, please click here to register.
Join us for a Making a Connection: Understanding the Needs of American Indian/Alaska Native Families involved in Domestic Violence/Child Welfare Matters with Terri Yellowhammer. This interactive and conversation based webinar will speak to the unique challenges and experiences that American Indian/Alaska Native families face as they navigate domestic violence and the Indian Child Welfare system.
About the Facilitator: Terri Yellowhammer Terri Yellowhammer is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Lakota Tribe with ancestry with the White Earth Ojibwe Nation in northern Minnesota. She brings over 25 years of experience working with American Indian/Alaska Native people. She provides training and technical assistance (T/TA) to Department of Justice-funded Defending Childhood Initiative Tribal grantees to develop comprehensive, community-based strategies to prevent and reduce the impact of children’s exposure to violence; she also provides T/TA tribal expertise through her work with Education Development Center’s Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Center for the Application of Prevention Technologies. She is involved in a pilot project at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital as a volunteer to provide nurturing to American Indian infants diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome. Ms. Yellowhammer serves as a Supreme Court Appellate Justice for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe and is a respected attorney and policy analyst in Indian Child Welfare in Minnesota, where she is a public defense attorney for the Indian Child Welfare Law Center. She is a consultant to guardians ad litem in Indian Child Welfare Act cases for the Minnesota Board of Guardians Ad Litem. She has also served as an assistant attorney general for the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General.
Join us for a two-day workshop on Sexual Assault, Neurology of Trauma, and Healing for Idaho Coalition community and tribal domestic and sexual violence program members and organizational members presented by the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. Light breakfast and lunch provided.
On Wednesday, September 12th, Cat Fribley with the National Sexual Assault Coalition’s Resource Sharing Project (RSP) will provide a day-long workshop on sexual assault services in dual programs and more! As the Director of RSP, Cat provides capacity building training and technical assistance to state and territorial sexual assault coalitions, state SASP Administrators, rural grantees, and Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative (SADI) project sites. In addition, she coordinates the national activities and events of the project. Cat has worked to end sexual violence for 20 years at national, state and local advocacy organizations. She has held such varied positions as SART Coordinator at a university-based rape crisis center, and Director of Training and Volunteers at a dual program. Cat trains on a broad range of sexual assault issues, with special interest areas including: survivors giving birth; healing sexuality; organizational trauma and resilience; organizational development; and LGBT issues.
On Thursday, September 13th Dr. Janine D’Anniballe will present a day-long workshop on The Neurobiology of Trauma and Implications for Healing and Current Trends in Sexual Assault. Dr. D’Anniballe is a licensed psychologist and a nationally recognized expert who specializes in the areas of neurobiology of trauma, vicarious trauma and treatment for survivors. Her expertise, professionalism, and presentation style have made her a highly sought-after trainer. Her workshops have been described as dynamic, inspirational, and impactful.
On September 13th Vanessa Timmons will also present. Vanessa Timmons has been a writer, activist, and women’s health advocate for over 25 years. She attended Marylhurst University’s Multidisciplinary Studies Program in Portland, Oregon, and has continued her formal education through certificates and training, including the Interpersonal Neurobiology of Trauma Certification Program at Portland State University. Vanessa has served as the Director of Programs at Raphael House of Portland, a Northwest regional field organizer for the National Organization for Women, and the domestic violence program coordinator for the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordination Office, in addition to serving OCADSV in the past as the Women of Color Coordinator and Board Chair.