Be Aware of Cruise Ship Violence before You Embark

Approximately two weeks from now, our oldest daughter Morgan will be setting out for a 5-day cruise with a few of her sorority sisters for spring break. Paradise awaits our 20 year old, but so does the lurking possibility of sexual assault.  According to the FBI, sexual assault is the leading crime reported on the high seas. Ladies, here is what you need to know beforehandto make sure you have the safest, most worthwhile trip abroad this spring:

When you leave the United States, you leave behind a few protections.
We have certain protections as citizens by the United States that may not apply in every country. There are no police forces aboard these ships, only a security staff with little to no reinforcement backgrounds. Should an assault take place, there is no enforcement to secure the “crime scene” and speak to witnesses. Keep in mind that if the victim is a U.S. citizen, the FBI will investigate, but other countries may have jurisdiction as well.
Medical attention may not be as thorough.
In the event of an assault, rape, or otherwise, it’s important to remember that the medical attention you receive may not be as thorough as a typical hospital or doctor’s office. Ask your travel agent ahead of time if there is a licensed medical physician on board, does the physician speak English, and how and where are the medical facilities. Medical examinations can be costly; meaning your insurance may not be accepted outside of U.S. territory. Luckily for you, “temporary” insurance does exist through The Bureau of Consular Affairs; they have a list of companies available to offer short-term policies.
Now that you have boarded the ship, dangerous situations are still there for you to take caution by. In the event of a rape, assault, etc., it is crucial that you remember these tips:
Do not shower, wash your clothes, or your bedding.
This could destroy valuable evidence that authorities would need to execute a proper investigation.
Immediately seek medical treatment.
Search for the medical facilities aboard the ship, and have a forensic exam done to ensure that any and all evidence is collected. Take photographs of any physical injuries or bruises.
If the assault took place on the ship, call the FBI and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Let the authorities know about the crime, and seek advice on how to proceed about the accident from there. The number for the FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. is (202) 324-3000. FBI jurisdiction over sexual assault at sea arises under federal criminal law. Be sure to alert the cruise ship’s authorities as well.
Get names and contact information of anybody involved or who may have been a witness to the incident. 
If the crime occurs on foreign soil…
Call your nearest embassy or consulate regarding local resources and alert the local police of the crime. Consular personnel should be available 24/7 to assist you. There are a few ways a consular officer can assist you:
  • Contact your family, friends, employers, etc.
  • Locate medical services
  • Provide you with information about the local criminal justice process
  • Obtain a list of local attorneys who are fluent in English.

Call your doctor as soon as you get home.

Make sure you have received proper medical care and long-term counseling, if necessary.
Spring break is a time to relax and enjoy the company of friends and loved ones. Keep yourself safe by arming yourself with knowledge and understanding that sexual assault is real and could literally happen anywhere. Be safe and soak up those rays!


Outrage over Gang Rape in India Ignites Women and Men to Protest

About 8,006 miles separate Statesboro, Georgia from New Delhi, India, but despite the distance, I am in the trenches with the women of India who continue to protest the barbaric gang rape of the 23-year-old medical student whose life ended as the result of being assaulted.  This attack on the woman takes me to the front lines again to shout this battle hymn to the world:  violence against women must end. 
India, of course, is steeped in a culture that does not truly respect women, but theirs is not the only culture that perpetuates this mindset.  It’s here in America too.  Look at this information for eye-opening statistics.
I am only ONE voice on this globe, but this is my commitment:
 I will be a voice to end violence against women.
  1. I will encourage women to speak up and speak out about the atrocities of rape and sexual assault. My message:  rape is not about sex. It is about power. It is about torture. It is about brutality. 
  2. I will be a “face” for what our society will not face:  1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted.
  3. I will help save women’s lives by speaking publicly, thereby helping prevent such crimes in the future.
If there is an organization in your community that needs a speaker in 2013, I WILL BE THERE!  

Would you have intervened to save a life?


Last week’s New York City subway tragedy in which an argument led to the death of Ki-Suk Han after he was pushed by an assailant onto the tracks of an oncoming subway train verified violence is rampant in America. Many journalists chose to report that subway motormen were at fault for not being required to enter stations at lower speeds.
One might think this is the answer.  But, as I considered the circumstances, I thought about how many bystanders were on the train platform who did nothing to come to the aid of the victim.
On the night of my sexual assault 22 years ago in a hotel in downtown Atlanta, nearby room guests heard my screams.  Police reports verify one man came out of his hotel room as a result of my cries for help. 
from the Police report… 
I heard a woman’s voice yelling with an unmistakable “No, No.”  I exited my hotel room to look down the hallway and upon seeing nothing but a person’s arched back entering a door, I returned to my room. Yet I still felt uneasy.”
This bystander could have intervened on my behalf!
The man in the subway died needlessly because sadly, people just stood around–an idle curse of humankind.
Rather than be “standers by,” we need to be stander bearers who have courage to get involved when society urges us to look the other way.
I offer these tips on how to be an ACTIVE BYSTANDER.

3 Entrepreneurs Share their Email Marketing Strategies

I had the opportunity to be a part of a dynamic pilot radio show last week in Atlanta.  Business Radio X and Constant Contact invited  the franchise owner of  Pigtails and Crewcuts franchisor, a Dove Chocolate Discoveries Chocolatier and me to be guests to share how we use email marketing to grow our brands.

Hosted by Lanelle Henderson, Regional Development Director for Constant Contact and Lee Cantor of Business Radio X, the hour-long show is full of great tips to use to market your business.

Click here to listen to the radio show.

What will it take to end sexual violence against women?

This video  is one you don’t want to miss.  It was presented to a group of us attending the Georgia Symposium on Sexual Violence two weeks ago.  It left me inspired to continue talking about rape and sexual assault and to continue my involvement in any MOVEMENT to stop sexual violence against women.  
Here’s what we can learn from this video:
1) It takes guts for a leader to stand out and be ridiculed.
2) In order to be effective, leaders should embrace followers as equals.
3) The first follower can transform a “lone nut” into a leader.
4) A movement must be public.  It must show not just the leader, but the followers as well.
5) Consequently, the followers can emulate the followers.
6) The result is powerful and can create a movement needed to bring about change.