In The Wake Of #MeToo, More Victims Seek Help For Repressed Trauma

Damian Dovarganes/AP

Original post by  (NPR)| 

“[We’re hearing from] people who were recently sexually assaulted, people just wanting to process a harassment issue, or people who experienced it a long time ago and were maybe triggered from the recent social media stuff,” says Nicole Nordan, the counseling program director.

Nordan says calls normally slow down around the holidays and in the colder months, but not this year.

As more victims of sexual harassment and assault continue to come forward in the wake of the “Me Too” movement, organizations like the YWCA and rape crisis groups that provide support to survivors are finding themselves unusually busy. They are feeling the ripple effects of the recent wave of allegations against high-profile men in media, entertainment, and other industries.

Multiple companies and organizations – including NPR – have fired or suspended high-profile powerful men accused of sexual harassment, and Nordan says many callers are reaching out after their own experiences of harassment, assault, and other abuse.

At the YWCA, the hallways are filled with the soft purr of white noise machines.

On the other side of the office walls, Development Director Laura Boone says counselors are meeting with people who’ve reached out for support. They work with victims to decide if they need help getting counseling, reporting an assault, finding a safe place to live, and other services.

“The noise machines are placed outside of each one of the counseling offices, and it’s to give privacy to the client,” Boone says. “The walls are thin in here; we’re trying to pack everybody in here, to be able to service everyone.”

She says the YWCA has had to lean more heavily on interns to help meet the demand.

The high-profile incidents, advocates say, are empowering others to report their own stories.

“People feel, ‘Okay now I won’t be ignored; people won’t judge me; they won’t say they won’t believe me,’ because others in the community are coming out and people are standing by them,” Nordan says.

Not “too late” to ask for help

On the other side of the state, Bristol Crisis Center in largely rural southwestern Virginia is seeing a similar influx of hotline calls.

Emilee Lawson, who works with sexual assault victims, says she’s also hearing from survivors dealing with buried trauma. “And they’ll ask me … is it too late to get help or maybe get resources for counseling or something, and the answer to that is ‘no,’ ” Lawson says.

Lawson says the “me too” movement that emerged on social media in the wake of the sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has made many people feel empowered to come forward. But for some, she says the barrage of news about the subject triggers painful memories.

“That is a topic of conversation almost every week in our support group,” Lawson says. “You can’t go to the grocery store and buy an apple without seeing sexual assault plastered on the front page of a magazine.”

Support workers need support, too

At Lutheran Community Services Northwest in Spokane, Wash., there’s been no seasonal slowdown either, says Erin Williams Hueter, director of victim advocacy and education.

She says it’s too early to fully quantify the effect of the movement, but crisis hotline workers are also needing support as they get busier.

“Because some of the areas they might have turned to for recovery or self-care now feel sort of tainted by sexual violence – like the entertainment industry or the music industry,” Williams Hueter says. “And that’s been really difficult, too, to lose heart in people that we looked up to or people that we relied on for a break.”

Not slowing down

At the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, services provided to victims were up 25 percent in November compared to last year.

The demand has been so great, says President Scott Berkowitz, that RAINN has had to hire 40 new staffers for its national hotline in the past two months. “We’re hiring as quickly as we can. So as far as we can tell, this isn’t slowing down anytime soon,” he says.

Berkowitz says when sexual harassment and assault are in the news, the crisis hotline often sees a brief spike in calls. But he says the “me too” movement has opened the door to a flood of requests for help that could continue for much longer.

If you need support:

There are many resources available, both locally and nationally for victims of sexual abuse, harassment, assault, or domestic violence to seek help. Here a few:

  • RAINN, or the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
  • The YWCA’s national Domestic Violence Crisis hotline: 877-718-1868
  • Many local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and women’s organizations also offer a variety of services and support

Fargo Police Chief David Todd featured in NYT Opinion Video on Gun Rights and Domestic Violence

FARGO – Fargo Police Chief David Todd has entered the gun debate on the national stage.

In a video on The New York Times’ website and Facebook page, Todd shares his views on gun rights and gun control, and discusses the death of officer Jason Moszer. “Even as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, I have a red line. Individuals with violent records like domestic violence should never be allowed to own a gun,” Todd says in the video.

Interspersed with Todd providing his views, The New York Times video plays images and police radio recordings from the night officer Moszer was shot after Moszer and other officers responded to a domestic violence call.

“My biggest fear is losing one of my police officers,” Todd said in the video.

“Statistically, these (domestic violence calls) are the most deadly calls we get, and the trend is rising,” he added. Todd states in the video that the man who shot Moszer was a convicted felon with a history of domestic violence and who was able to legally own a gun because 10 years had passed since his release from prison.

“It does not have to be this way,” Todd said. “Domestic abusers should not be allowed to have guns.”

According to Todd, federal laws have loopholes when it comes to domestic abusers and guns and he said only 17 states require anyone with a domestic violence restraining order to turn in their firearms. On the other hand, in 2017, eight governors from both parties ignored pressure from the gun lobby and closed some loopholes, Todd said in the video.

“I understand criminals will always find ways to hurt people, but we can still take reasonable steps to prevent deadly acts by people who already have a violent record with firearms,” Todd said.

“We all want fewer people to die from domestic violence and we want our police officers to go home at the end of their shift to be with their families,” he added.

In an interview with WDAY, Todd said he agreed to record the video provided that it was done carefully. “I was not interested in being used as a pawn in a political agenda, so we worked through what my concerns were and I wanted it to be a common-sense message,” Todd said in the interview.

The New York Times contacted Todd, knowing the 2016 shooting death of officer Moszer was still fresh in the minds of people in the community.

“Gun ownership is a part of life here and that is a right we need to preserve, but there are common-sense things we need to look at when we have people convicted of violent crimes or domestic violence that perhaps they lose the right to own that gun,” Todd said in the video.

Millions of New York Times readers saw Todd’s video, and many seemed to agree with his statement.

“Watching comments, certainly more cynical outside our region, but the majority agree with what I am saying,” he told WDAY.

To view the video, click here.

ND SAVIN System to be Renovated

Original article by Daniela Hurtado (KFYR-TV) |
BISMARCK, N.D. – Most crime victims want to know the status of the case against the accused. North Dakota’s statewide automated victim information and notification system or “SAVIN” provides that kind of information.

SAVIN has seen updates in the last three months because of Marsy’s law, which is an expanded list of rights for victims approved by lawmakers last year. As a result of Marsy’s law being approved changes to SAVIN have to be made to better notify victims.

“One of the good things unarguably is that we would be able to provide a lot more information about what’s happened with court cases and with defendents, to give to people who are victims, or even people who are just be interested in the status of certain criminal cases,” said Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General.

The three year long renovation to the system will cost more than $800,000, two thirds of which will come from the state’s general fund and the other part from counties and cities.

“I believe it will be a great benefit to the Bismarck City Attorney’s office and provide us with an updated method of providing notification to victims of crimes,” said Jason Hammes, Bismarck Assistant City Attorney

“We now have completed the upgrade for the municipal courts. We’re rolling that out right now. So, that is something from the municipal courts all the Marsy’s Law notices can be sent automatically as soon as all of the cities have signed up for it,” said Stenehjem.

Other things included in the upgrade are juvenile court, sentencing, pardon board and some jail transfer notifications. The Attorney General says this is a long process but with three months in, the kick off of the update is marching along nicely.