Blog

Sexual Assault Victims MUST break the silence

 

A New York Times article this week recounted how an 18-year-old freshman reported her rape and regretted doing so after Hobart and William Smith Colleges held her disciplinary hearing.  According to the New York Times article, “panelists interrupted her answers, at times misrepresented evidence and asked about a campus-police report she had not seen. The hearing proceeded before her rape-kit results were known, and the medical records indicating trauma were not shown to two of the three panel members.”

The main takeaway from this is that first responders, law enforcement officers, and officials from Higher Education can re-traumatize the sexual assault victim.

I know a great deal about this because after my sexual assault at an Atlanta hotel in 1990, security officials created secondary victimization for me by escorting me to security offices of the hotel and placing me just feet from a man they believed was the perpetrator.  I realized instantly they had apprehended the wrong man, but in that split second, the man lunged toward me and violently screamed at me, “You f@@#$ing bitch, I didn’t do this you you!”  I was already traumatized from the robbery and sexual assault which had occured in the hour before, but this secondary victimization was absolutely ubsurd and should have never taken place.

In the opinion of the freshman student, the three panelists did the same to her.

Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who has investigated the quality of campus rape investigations. recently surveyed 440 colleges and universities and found that one-third had failed to properly train officials adjudicating claims.

While the national debate continues over how best to stop sexual assaults on campuses, we must also roll up our sleeves and start educating higher education officials on how to prevent secondary trauma.  I plan to speak on this subject next month at the Police Officers Association of Georgia.  Stay tuned….

 

10 Smart Travel Tips to keep Women Safe

 

 

As summer vacations continue, many women will travel abroad, book family trips and plan girls’ weekends for much needed R and  R.  Others will simply be traveling for work which they do year-round.

No matter if your plans are for business or pleasure, it’s always important to stay safe when traveling in a new place.  According to many hotel managers I have interviewed since 2010, the safest hotel floors are between 2 and 6.  The first floor is not a good choice because perpetrators can easily access this floor.  In addition, if you get too high in the 20s and up, you have to spend an inordinate amount of time in an elevator which can make you vulnerable as a single traveler. Therefore, the lower levels are a good choice, especially in case of a fire…most fire departments’ ladders reach to the 6th floor!  Jenny Lynn Anderson  offers 10 tips when checking into a hotel.

Safety Tips

  1. First and foremost use “common sense” street smarts and listen to your female intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t ignore that feeling.
  2. When checking into a hotel, ask for a room close to the elevator so you do not have to travel down a potentially dimly-lit corridor to reach your room. (My room was at the end of the hallway and I believe I was more vulnerable there as a target.)
  3. When the hotel desk clerk checks you in, make certain he or she does not say your room number aloud for other guests to hear. The correct protocol is for the hotel clerk to write down the room number on your key envelope and hand it to you without “announcing” this information in front of other guests.
  4. Select an upper floor room between floors 2-6  because they are safer from crime.  Ground floor rooms are more vulnerable to problems because of access and ease of escape. Upper level rooms allow a great deal of time in an elevator where you could be vulnerable to assault.
  5. Whether checking in during the day or at night, ask the bellman or desk clerk to escort you to your room. After unlocking the room, quickly inspect places where someone can hide (the closets, under the bed and bathroom including behind the shower curtain) before the bellman leaves.
  6. Some hotel security consultants recommend that unescorted women do not enter their guestrooms while anyone else is in the hallway. They say to hesitate around the elevator lobby or in the corridor until you can safely enter a room without anyone observing the room number.
  7. If you lose your electronic room key and have to ask the desk for another key, request that they make you a new key rather than a copy of your old key (they have the ability to do both).  Making a new key might inconvenience any traveling companions but as soon as you use it in the door, it will render the lost key invalid as well.
  8. Steer clear of isolated situations that can put you at risk. Avoid exterior corridor hotel/motels and even poolside entrances.  These make it easy for predators to see which room you entered.  Never use emergency staircases.
  9. Utilize the swinging metal security lock in your hotel room.
  10. Make sure your door is shut and locked – even on quick trips to the ice machine. Don’t prop the door open, even for a brief moment. It doesn’t take long for an observant thief to grab personal items and flee.

Visit Jenny Lynn Anderson’s website at www.jennylynnanderson.com. “Room 939: 15 Minutes of Horror, 20 Years of Healing” can be purchased through her website, on amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com.

Can Wearing Jewelry Keep a Woman Safe? Yes!

 

There’s a cool “Cuff” that’s hitting the market this fall and every woman who worries about safety should own one of these bracelets or necklaces.  Here’s the lowdown…

The inventor is Deepa Sood, a former VP of product development at Restoration Hardware, who had an “aha” moment one night while out with her husband and friends.   “We had a dinner party during which, over many glasses of Pinot, my husband and some of his friends were geeking out over the Nike + Fuelband and some design friends and I were trying to stack the band in between our other jewelry to make it fit more into our looks. It was a battle of the bands! The next morning, I found myself wondering—why does all this cool functionality have to be relegated to one aesthetic vision.”

The result?  Bracelets, necklaces and key chains in the Cuff line ($35 to $150)  that serve as a personal alert system.  CuffLinc, the brand’s innovative technology, is a small device embedded into the accessories that connects to your smartphone and sends alerts to your trusted network when you sense you are in a vulnerable or threatening situation.

Here’s how it works: Download the app and designate family and friends to receive alerts in case you sense danger. A subtle touch of the wrist or neck will ping everyone in your network and identify your location via GPS, and it won’t stop until someone responds.

High tech.  Beautiful.  Stylish.  Smart.  Who can resist?  The Cuff collection is available for preorder now, with delivery schedule this fall.

 

 

 

Fight Like a Girl

Growing up, my mother gave me advice that literally saved my life.  She told me and my sister, Janna, that if we EVER were attacked by a man, then do everything in our power to survive.  She told us to kick, scream, run fast as we could…do whatever it took to get away.
 And I did on November 28, 1990 when I survived a brutal sexual assault.
The reason I’m still here today is because I fought like a girl!  Let’s champion girls’ confidence and keep this conversation going. 

Always #LikeAGirl

Let’s Lean In and Empower Women

Growing up in the 70s, the stereotypical mom was June Cleaver.  Donned in dress heels, pearls and apron, this suburban mom’s domestic quest was the kitchen!  My being reared in the quiet and small town of Statesboro, Georgia, the Cleaver persona was paramount. 

     But not so in the Martin home.
     My mother, Faye Sanders Martin, was a pioneer woman in the field of law.  Rather than being tethered to a stove, mother was a strong and successful attorney producing an income that would be envied by most men of that day. Ten to twelve working hours designed her days.   For 22 years, she encouraged and paved the way for countless other female law students to follow in her footsteps, (including my successful sister Janna Martin)
     In November 1978, Faye Sanders Martin was recognized for her brilliance and dedication to the legal profession.  She was appointed as the first woman Superior Court Judge by a Governor in the State of Georgia. I was 16 years old.

     I remember as if it were yesterday standing by her side as she was sworn in by Georgia’s Governor Busbee.  My fearless mom, a Superior Court Judge in Georgia!  This image — this portrait of a strong, independent, go-getter, smart woman – set and sustained the illustration for Janna and me as to how to conduct ourselves in future personal and professional roles.

     But today, for most girls, this is neither that illustration nor reality.  Now, unfortunately they are caught up in the superficial cosmetic web while viewing stock photo images of scantily-clothed women holding power tools or sitting behind a receptionist’s desk.
   

Enter Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, who wants to challenge these female stereotypes with LeanIn.org. (Applause, applause). She has partnered with Getty Images to try to change the way women are portrayed by creating a 3,000 plus collection of images of women and girls who are the real deal– self-assured, confident and empowered.

I choose to follow in my Mama’s footsteps and promote the image of “real women.”  How about you?

 

A New Way of Living

  One of my favorite musical pieces is sung by Barbara Streisand.  Her lyrics are about a place where we can find peace, quiet and openness.
     But for years spiritually, I was unable to experience any of these life items as I continued to suffer from  a sexual assault invading and destroying me at the age of 28.
     I lived in a prison of constant negative chatter! It closed me down….for a long time.  It changed me into a person I did not recognize.
     Then, during my 10th year of my healing journey, I found the strength to forgive and it set me free.
     So remember there’s a place for us survivors to find peace….collectively.  It’s found in breaking the silence and bonding in sisterhood.
     Just reach your hand out and take mine and we’ll get there….together.
     Somehow, someday, somewhere, you WILL find a new way of living.  You have to hold on to this belief and keep the faith; for it’s truly all we have.