Acquaintance Rape: A Reality on College Campuses

Turner’s recent conviction for two felony charges of sexual assault, and one for “attempt to rape” have sparked immense controversy over Judge Aaron Persky’s lenient six-month jail sentence for the crime. The 12 page impact letter that the victim read in the courtroom went viral. Despite the terrible trauma the young woman referred to as “Emily Doe” experienced, there really is a profound good that has come from this tragedy. That is the platform for exposing the ongoing and often silent threat of acquaintance rape on college campuses.

The www.freedictionary.com defines acquaintance rape as a, “Rape committed by someone with whom the victim is acquainted.” According to the National Institute of Justice, in college rapes, the perpetrator is known to the victim 85 or 90 percent of the time. In only about half of the cases are they a dating partner though. For example, Turner and his victim’s only connection was attending the same fraternity party.

Sexual assault can happen to women or men, and can occur anywhere. Yet RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reports, “9 out of 10 rape victims were female in 2003.” So, let’s talk about young women on college campuses where 99 percent of rapists are male. (Campus Safety Magazine) The Bureau of Justice Statistics, estimates that 80 percent of sexual assaults of college females are likely to go unreported. Other information from www.campussafetymagazine.com reports that alcohol is often a contributing factor in sexual assaults, “… 69 percent involve alcohol consumption by perpetrators.” This research also finds that 43% of victims had consumed alcohol.

Alarmingly, campus sexual assault surveys indicate that about 1 in 5 female students will be a victim of sexual assault. These statistics, however accurate are not the point according to Tyler Kingkade in his December 2014 Huffington Post column. Kingkade says the point is that victims are finally speaking up asserting that once they did report, their cases were handled poorly by campus hierachy. After all, a university can be hesitant to admit that they have a problem with rape on their campus. It’s not exactly a PR selling point for parents, “Have your daughter come to our college and then take your chances.”

In fairness, some universities are aggressively addressing this tragic phenomenon through preventive education. Yet this knowledge can come too late for acquaintance rape victims, since freshmen and sophomore students are at the highest risk of violation. That’s why, it’s paramount for parents to speak candidly with their college-bound kids. Warning their daughters not to go to a party alone but with other females, and not to ever leave with a male she doesn’t know well.

Tell her to guard her drink and never drink from a punch bowl or open container, because Pill bottledrug facilitated rapes are an ongoing issue. “Alcohol remains the most commonly used chemical in crimes of sexual assualt, but there are also substances being used by perpetrators including: Rohypnol, GHB, etc.,” according to the RAINN Website.

Tell your sons that, “No,” means, “No.” Regardless of how far the sexual activity has gone, and if a young woman is incapacitated like Turner’s victim was, her ability to legally consent is impaired. Don’t assume that your child will not drink, attend parties, or make poor choices, even if they are a church-goer or home-schooled, because a teenager’s newfound freedom can be a dangerous gift with deadly consequences. Lastly, don’t expect public high schools to be solely responsible for prevention. They are inundated with a multitude of prevention issues like: bullying, teen dating violence, prescription drug abuse and heroin prevention, nutrition, safe driving, etc. Instead parents have to step up to the plate, and start this difficult conversation, because sexual assault is an all-too-common reality.

In addition, acquaintance rape can be a very problematic crime to prosecute turning into a “He did,” versus “She wanted to,” conversation. Many times, the victim can be traumatized a second time through the brutally invasive process, when her character is put on trial. In Brock Turner’s case, there were two Stanford students from Sweden passing by who witnessed the sexual assault of the unconscious victim, and detained Turner until authorities arrived.

Emily Doe has no remembrance of the circumstances, because her blood alcohol was three times the legal limit. This in no way excuses Turner’s criminal behavior, but in all reality if it weren’t for the intervening Swedes,  this startling case might have been one more unreported statistic.

6353664 - CopyChristina Ryan Claypool is a past two term board member for the former Ohio Coalition against Sexual Assault. She has been featured on Joyce Meyer Ministries and on CBN’s 700 Club. Her book, Seeds of Hope for Survivors for everyone who has ever been brokenhearted, addicted, or a victim is available on www.amazon.com. Her website is www.christinaryanclaypool.com.

Please follow and like us:

Recovery: The Art of Repurposing Lives

My mother had an artistic ability to make everything beautiful. For instance, once with half-a-dozen children loaded in her old car, she spied a treasure in the trash about a block from our home in Lima. Mom gasped with pleasure at the sighting, but I was sure the old bookshelf had seen better days. Not to be denied, she marched up to the front door of that house and asked the elderly female owner if she could have the bookcase.

BookshelfThe dark wood was heavily marred with scratches, and it didn’t look like much of a prize. In those days, Old English furniture polish was the standard cure for distressed furniture, so Mom doused the entire shelf in the dark liquid. Almost magically, it seemed to breathe new life into the discarded antique. When the wood dried, she found a lace dolly that covered the deep gouges on top, and then filled the shelves with books and glassware. Even though I had seen her do it countless times, once more this resourceful woman created something of beauty out of second-hand junk.

Back then, we didn’t use terms like: repurpose, refresh, restore, or reinvent. There was no category of household items or furniture known as Shabby Chic or vintage, or stores filled with repurposed products. If something was used, it was simply that, “used.” It was to be looked down upon, rejected, or devalued.

We can devalue others too, overlooking the fact that the art of repurposing isn’t just about old furniture or broken jewelry. Rather it’s about putting back together the pieces of people’s lives that have been shattered by addiction. After all, it’s easy to look at individuals making poor choices, and to believe they are past societal or even spiritual redemption. Addiction is complicated, whether it is heroin, prescription painkillers, countless other drugs, or even alcohol. Since the battle with heroin began, many folks have forgotten that although alcohol consumption is legal, it can still be a dangerous substance if abused. For example, alcohol remains a contributing factor in divorce, domestic violence, and in 40 percent of violent crimes.

Headlines and nightly TV news stories tell us the harrowing tales of the wrongs committed by individuals plagued by substance abuse. There are murders, robberies, fatal car crashes, and overdoses that paint the picture of people whose lives are out of control. But that’s not the whole picture. Whatever the addiction, we can cast off these struggling human beings and offer them and their loved ones little hope for restoration forgetting that recovery is always possible. Celebrities including: Robert Downey Jr., Eric Clapton, Samuel Jackson, and many others have overcome drug addiction. Even the most lost and hopeless of cases can turn into the greatest advocates for change when provided with a fresh start.

Yet this is not a rose-tinted philosophy requiring little effort. Increased funding will have to be continually allocated to addiction and mental health issues, along with ongoing education to know how to better serve this at-risk population. Long-term affordable treatment centers, recovery programs for those incarcerated, and family support networks will have to be established. More twelve step recovery and faith groups will be essential, but prevention among the young will be key. In this recovery fight, there are those on the frontlines who deserve our gratitude for their dedication. Mental health professionals, law enforcement officers, court system employees, first responders, and medical personnel who are daily confronted with the first step in the plan to save lives. Also, twelve step leaders and courageous recovering addicts who share their powerful testimonies in hopes of preventing others from walking the treacherous path of addiction.

Our nation’s heroin epidemic took most of us by surprise, and we are still reeling from its existence. Yet burying our heads in the proverbial sand won’t make it go away. That’s why we should support those on the frontlines, and equip them with whatever assistance we can provide, while wrapping our arms around the families that have been wrestling with a loved one’s addiction in whatever way possible.

Key NecklaceThankfully, my mother’s lesson about reclaiming the vitality of a cast-off item stayed with me. That’s why not long ago, when I found a large rhinestone and silver-plated key at a church sale, I had to buy it.

I had no idea what to do with the sparkling key, but then I happened upon a necklace that had lost its own pendant. The key fit perfectly on the long silver chain, but it still seemed incomplete. I added a few more gems including: a miniature heart with a mustard seed, and a silver charm from a broken bracelet engraved with the words from Scripture, “If you have faith so small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

Writing this column is having faith in the impossible. My mother taught me another lesson. When you don’t know what to do, do something. So I’m writing another recovery column, hopeful that keeping the conversation going is a way to fight back. For now, may we all take “one day at a time,” and work together to find solutions by rejecting apathy, refusing to give up, and reclaiming our communities one life at a time.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy and Ohio AP award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker. Contact her through her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.

Please follow and like us:

Parents warn your kids about Acquaintance Rape

Two female college students studying togetherSteubenville football players, Bill Cosby, and now a former Stanford swimmer, have made headlines over accusations of rape. Since in our country, we’re innocent until proven guilty, this column isn’t about prematurely convicting the accused, or even further chastising the guilty. Rather, it’s about exposing the ongoing and often silent threat of acquaintance rape. The www.freedictionary.com defines acquaintance rape as a, “Rape committed by someone with whom the victim is acquainted.” Originally, this crime was commonly identified as, “date rape,” but that terminology is too specific. Although in college rapes, the perpetrator is known to the victim 90 percent of the time, they are not necessarily a dating partner.

Tragically, rape and sexual assault happen both to women and men, and can occur anywhere. Yet RAINN, the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network reports, “9 out of 10 rape victims were female in 2003.” So, for space, let’s talk about young women on college campuses only. Alarmingly, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 80 percent of sexual assaults of college females are likely to go unreported. Why wouldn’t you tell someone if you had been raped or sexually assaulted? Maybe, because in some cases, there are extenuating circumstances causing a victim to blame herself. For example, a 2004 study conducted at 119 colleges found that one in 20 college women reported being raped during the school year…[while almost] 75 percent of the victims said they were intoxicated when the assault occurred.” Additional statistics indicate that “75 percent of male students and 55 percent of female students involved in acquaintance rape had been drinking or using drugs.”Bar shot

Campus sexual assault surveys indicate that about 1 in 5 female students will be a victim of sexual assault. These statistics, however accurate are not the point says writer, Tyler Kingkade in his December 2014 Huffington Post column. Kingkade says the point is that victims are finally speaking up and saying that once they did report, their cases were handled poorly by campus hierarchy. Here’s the dilemma: often a university is hesitant to admit that they have a problem with rape on their campus. It’s not exactly a PR selling point for parents, “Have your daughter come to our college and then take your chances.” A victim can also be revictimized by the reporting process, and the inability to successfully prosecute the crime. Although some universities are aggressively addressing this tragic phenomenon through preventive education. Yet this knowledge can come too late for acquaintance rape victims, since freshmen and sophomore students are at the highest risk of violation.

That’s why, it’s paramount for parents to speak candidly with their college-bound kids. Warning their daughters to not go to a party alone but with other females, and never leave with a male she doesn’t know well. Tell her to guard her drink [even if it is water or soda] and never drink from a punch bowl or open container, because drug facilitated rapes are an ongoing issue. “Alcohol remains the most commonly used chemical in crimes of sexual assualt, but there are also substances being used by perpetrators including: Rohypnol, GHB, GBl, etc.,” according to the RAINN Website. Their national sexual assault hotline is 800-656-HOPE.

Tell your sons that, “No,” means, “No.” No matter how far the sexual activity has gone, and if a young woman is incapicitated, she’s just not fair game because she is unable to legally consent. Don’t assume that your child will not drink, attend parties, or make poor choices, even if they are a church-goer or homeschooled since these can be the most vulnerable youth due to naivety. Remember a teenager’s newfound freedom can be a dangerous gift with deadly consequences. Lastly, don’t expect public high schools to be solely responsible for prevention. They are inundated with a multitude of prevention issues like: bullying, teen dating violence, prescription drug abuse, nutrition, etc. It’s time for parents to step up to the plate, do a little research, and start this difficult conversation.

Christina Ryan Claypool is an Amy Award winning freelance journalist, who is a past two term board member for the Ohio Coalition Against Sexual Assault. She is the author of the book, Seeds of Hope for Survivors, which includes the chapter, “The Reality of Acquaintance Rape,” available through www.amazon.com or her Website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. Ryan Claypool has been featured on Joyce Meyer’s Ministries Enjoying Everyday Life program.

Please follow and like us:

An Obituary’s Message to Call your Mother

Mom, This one's for you!

Mom, This one’s for you!

Earlier this year, my local daily newspaper changed the placement of the obituaries moving them to page two. I’ve often wondered how many other newspaper readers are like me, keenly interested in the obituaries. I also question how my gradual transition from reading the comics as a teenager to devouring the death notices as a boomer occurred. Once, an elderly relative humorously confided that he read the obituaries right away to make sure he wasn’t among those listed. Of course, in case you miss one, you can simply go online and Google the person’s name and date of death. Often you can even post condolences to the family or send flowers if you like. Facebook can be another great way to be alerted to the passing of a friend or former co-worker when someone posts their obituary online. Living in a society that is in a constant state of flux geographically necessitates that we stay in touch electronically.

But what’s so important about an obituary anyway? In explanation, caring about people makes you realize what a vital part that death plays in the game of life. Commemorating those who have gone before us is an integral rite of passage, and being there for those left behind is of paramount importance. Yet, to be there, you have to be informed, thus the relevance of the obituary.

An obituary can tell you a lot about a deceased individual, even when you think you already know them. Then there are times, when you aren’t acquainted, but you are startled by the details of their death and human curiosity and compassion kick in. For instance, when someone young dies, even when they are a total stranger, most people probably lament this untimely passing in a deeper way. We sympathize, because the death of a child is every parent’s worst nightmare, and your heart aches for those suffering this loss.CassieCasket

There is death by suicide, too. An obituary doesn’t usually reveal this heartbreaking detail. However, sometimes you can read between the lines to decipher that for some reason an individual could no longer bear to be part of this world. Other tragic deaths include accidents caused by alcohol consumption or those drug-related, of which there are far too many lately. As with a violent murder, the facts are frequently disclosed in a related news story. Another heart grabber is when several members of a family die together.

No one is spared the pain of burying loved ones, that’s why it’s necessary to be there for those left behind. I learned this valuable lesson in my youth, when a teenage friend committed suicide, and I failed her dear mother who was like a second mother to me. In the midst of this crisis, I disappeared. I didn’t visit the funeral home or call, because I was terrified of dealing with death. It wasn’t death itself that frightened me, rather the fear of saying or doing something wrong, or of not being strong. My misconception was that I wouldn’t be missed, but I was.

Growing up through my own funeral home tour of duty I have come to realize that you remember the faces there, and you are acutely aware of the absence of those who don’t come. It’s a defining moment like serious illness, when you realize who your true friends are. After all, the Bible says we should, “…mourn with those who mourn.” When I do pay my last respects now, I no longer feel overwhelmed by the need to have eloquent words of comfort. I simply say how very sorry I am, and offer a hug, remembering how grateful I have been for those consoling embraces in days past.

I wish I could give Robert Downey Jr., my condolences and a big hug. Sadly, the famous actor lost his 80-year-old mother on Sept. 22, 2014. A few days later, he courageously posted a beautiful obituary that he had written about her on his official Facebook page. He candidly included that his mom’s broken career dreams were caused by alcoholism, something she successfully overcame. He even credits a 2004 phone call from her as the catalyst for his own sobriety today.

Obituaries like Downey Jr.s’ are a startling reminder to the living to appreciate our tragically flawed loved ones. He closes it with the poignant words, “If anyone out there has a mother, and she is not perfect, please call her and say you love her anyway…”

Oh, how I wish I could, but the only obituary I’ve ever written was my mother’s. Still, maybe it’s not too late for you to take the actor’s wise advice and call yours.

Robert Downey Jr.s Mom

 

Click on the photo of Robert Downey Jr.s’ mother, Elsie, to read his touching obituary.

 

Please follow and like us:

No really: What Would You Do?

What would you do

“What would you do?” appears to be a popular question. When you enter the phrase in the Google search engine, over 917 million results are listed.

At the top of the list is the site www.abcnews.go.com/whatwouldyoudo. This link directs folks to the ABC series, “What Would You Do?” The 9 p.m. Friday evening program is both an in-depth study of ethics and human nature, and an intriguing look at how ordinary people react when confronted with societal issues like sexual harassment, theft, bullying, domestic violence, racism, hazing, etc.

This is not a new question for journalists to consider. In the early 1950s, aspiring writer Jacqueline Lee Bouvier authored a column for the Times-Herald in Washington. In an indirect way, young Jackie sometimes asked her readers, “What Would You Do?” Jackie and John Kennedy

For example, one specific piece questioned, “Would you rescue a great artist who is a scoundrel, or a commonplace, honest family man?” Later, this budding journalist would become Mrs. Jacqueline Kennedy, our nation’s First Lady. It is Jackie’s question about human responsibility posed back then, that apparently still interests TV viewers today. For instance, in some episodes of the ABC show viewers are asked, “What would you do?” if you saw two lifeguards getting drunk in the middle of their shift? Or what about intervening, if you observed a man slipping a drug into his date’s drink? Would you react in the same way, if his date was dressed seductively? What would you do about a baby locked in a hot car?

According to an Associated Press article titled, “TV show uses hidden cameras to expose attitudes” by TV writer David Bauder, the show’s producer Chris Whipple got the idea for the series from “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. “There was an immediate response in the ratings after Primetime carried the first segment in 2004 with an actor portraying a babysitter verbally abusing a boy in a park,” according to Bauder. Five hour-long segments were produced in 2008 anchored by veteran broadcaster John Quinones, who originally joined ABC News in 1982. The program quickly soared in the ratings, and devoted fans continue to watch.

In the nineties, Nickelodeon had their own version of “What Would You Do?” While, other viewers might find the ABC series similar to the comedic TV show, “Candid Camera,” but its content is not as amusing, as it is revealing. Although there are some humorous moments and less serious subjects featured in ABC’s “What Would You Do?” For example, one classic show featured two wedding crashers, who were at times engaging, and at other times, blatantly rude, resulting in some pretty good laughs.

But it is not the chuckles that impress me. It is observing human nature at its very best when a heroic soul intervenes on behalf of a stranger facing some kind of injustice. It is also observing humanity at its worst, because onlookers often turn their apathetic heads away, and allow individuals being mistreated to suffer alone. Besides, when people react on hidden camera, they have no idea anyone is watching.

One standard of commonsense ethics can be found in the universal acceptance of the Bible’s Golden Rule which states, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12 NIV) Similarly, in a spiritual sense, the show is reminiscent of the timeless classic by Charles Sheldon, In His Steps: What would Jesus do? Written in 1896, the allegorical work is one of the best-selling books of all time.

In His Steps - Barbour books edition

In His Steps – Barbour books edition

Wikipedia explains that in Sheldon’s book, “…many of the novel’s characters [are] asking, ‘What would Jesus do?’ when faced with decisions of some importance.” Sheldon lived in the pages of his own book, confronting poverty, educational disparity, and racism first hand.

In the 1990’s, the motto, “WWJD?” became a popular phrase in our country adorning bracelets and bumper stickers everywhere. After all, people need a role model for the behavior that they embrace when confronted with an unfair circumstance.

As for the ABC show, I’ll bet Jesus would have had something to say about the episode where a blind woman was unjustly shortchanged by a bakery cashier. Yet I’m not sure He would have loudly and repeatedly told the obnoxious clerk to “shut up” like an intervening male customer did. Still, in his own way, the righteously indignant man really was a knight in shining armor trying to assist a vision-impaired damsel in distress. But the real question is not what he did, but, “What would you do?”

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her at www.christinaryanclaypool.com     

 

Please follow and like us: