X
Click here to CLOSE & redirect to GOOGLE

Blog

ZCENTER WELCOMES NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center is pleased to announce Sandy T. Williams has joined our team as the new Executive Director. Williams has 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, with nine years helping survivors of domestic violence. She will successfully lead ZCenter in the advancement of our mission.

Mike Farrell, ZCenter’sBoard President: “We are very excited to welcome Sandy as the ZCenter’s new Executive Director. She brings a wealth of experience and energy, which are critical to her success in leading our organization.”

Most recently, Williams served as Executive Director of Between Friends where she successfully led the organization through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic while also strengthening and diversifying its board of directors, expanding programming, and developing a strong financial foundation for the organization. She previously provided leadership and management of the residential and community-based domestic violence services of YWCA Evanston North Shore.

Sandy T. Williams is an innovative leader with a passion for addressing issues of gender-based violence, women’s health, and systemic inequities. Her experience includes various senior leadership positions in programming, fund development, training, and education.

“ZCenter has a long-standing history of working collaboratively with survivors to address the pervasive issue of sexual violence. I am excited to join this dynamic team and build upon its strong foundation of service and advocacy, as well as advance the organization to new heights while deepening the impact of our work,” Williams states.

Williams is a certified domestic violence professional, holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, a Master’s Degree in Couple and Family Therapy from Capella University, and a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in nonprofit management from Roosevelt University.

DOWNLOAD PDF

Happy Pride Month!

“Mom & Dad I have nothing to tell you”: An Analysis of Coming out (or not) During Pride Month


Now that June is here, and stores and streets alike have become much more colorful, those of us who are questioning their Sexuality or Gender Identity (or who are still in the closet) might be feeling more pressure to make a huge decision: coming out. A large portion of Queer representation in popular media tends to put quite a bit of focus on this, both in terms of the process of coming out, and the feelings and pressure that others may put on you to define your Sexuality, Gender, etc.

Certainly, during Pride Month, when the Queer community is much more visible, many more people will be thinking about their own Gender and Sexuality, and wondering if it may be time to make that crucial decision. Social media is filled with influencers and celebrities and friends alike coming out, sharing their Gender Identity and Sexuality with the world. Commercials are oversaturated with messages encouraging you to celebrate your identity by purchasing pride merchandise or sticking a pronoun pin on your backpack, and TV shows and books surrounding the LGBTQ+ experience almost always involve coming out in some form or another as part of the plot. The pressure to find your identity and broadcast to the world is a message that gets churned out everywhere, and during Pride Month, the message is especially glaring. While coming out can be an exciting opportunity to celebrate yourself and your community, I’d like to acknowledge that it is not always safe for everyone in the Queer community to come out.

In communities where LGTBQ+ issues are ignored or actively shunned, or in homes where Queer people might be reliant on people who may not be supportive of their identities, coming out might pose a threat to one’s safety. People who are not yet comfortable with their Sexuality, Gender, or other aspects of their identity may feel pressure to conform and fit themselves into a label in order to come out – but the truth is there is never any pressure to come out. Coming out can be an exciting decision, but it is also deeply personal. How you choose to identify and who you choose to share that identity with is your decision, and your decision alone. You may decide to come out to everyone in your life, or you may decide not to come out at all. You might even only come out to one person. But no matter what, you are always a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and you are always welcome in the community. Your identity is valid, regardless of whether or not you’ve announced it to anyone. You are not any less Queer, any less valid, or any less yourself.

In a time where we put pressure on ourselves to find certain niches and communities to land in, and where social media pressures your to fit as many aspects of yourself as possible into a neat label, not coming out might feel like you are doing yourself and the community a disservice, but that is not at all the case. It is a big decision, so take your time. Keep yourself safe, and most importantly, be gentle with yourself.

Have a wonderful rest of your Pride Month, no matter where you are in the process.

Download pdf


Written by Mikayla Chen (she/they), ZCenter Intern/ BA Psychology Candidate at Lake
Forest College

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence.

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

BEING AN ALLY TO THE LGBTQIA+ COMMUNITY

Download pdf (English & Spanish)

Being an Ally

    • Trust your good intentions

You might not be a perfect advocate and you might feel that you don’t have much knowledge to support members of the LGBTQ+ community, however an imperfect advocate is much better than a silent bystander

  • Educate your self through professional development, inclusive development, inclusive workshops, or training and any other personal or professional growth opportunity.

Increase your awareness, especially in regards to gender-role stereotypes, gender-expression stereotypes, and possible internalized heteronormativism in your mind. Based on the awareness, you can reduce unintentional harm and create a safer and more inclusive classroom

  • Use more inclusive language

Use “they” pronouns instead of “he” or “she”

  • Confront any homophobic or negative marks

Many people use slurs without consideration for those they are offending. Teach others to not use terms that they do not fully understand because the incorrect use can result in harm.

Disclosing

When someone comes out to you and tells you they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) your initial response is important. They have likely spent time in advance thinking about whether or not to tell you, when and how to tell you and it’s likely that they chose to tell you because they see you or already know you as a supportive ally.

Here is what to remember if someone comes out to you:
1. Offer support but don’t assume they need any help.
2. Be a role model of acceptance.
3. Appreciate their courage.
4. Listen!Listen!Listen!
5. Assure and respect confidentiality
6. Remember that they have not changed.
7. Challenge traditional norms

 

Statistics

  • 71% of LGBTQ youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in the past year.
  • 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered suicide.
  • 71% of LGBTQ youth in our study reported discrimination due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Definitions

Understanding terms:

  • LGBTQIA+: An acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual, and many other terms (such as non-binary and pansexual_ that people use to describe their experiences of their gender, sexuality and physiological sex characteristics.
  • Queer(queerness): An umbrella term that is both an orientation and a community for those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. This umbrella term can be used by anyone under the LGBTQ spectrum.

Understanding Sexuality:

  • Gay: This identity is used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex.
  • Lesbian: Defines queer attraction to women. Most commonly used as exclusively women who love women or non-binary people who love women. There is no one perfect definition that encompasses all experiences of lesbianism.
  • Bisexual: People who are sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both women and men.
  • Pansexual: People who are sexually attracted to all people regardless of gender identity.
  • Asexual: People who are not sexually attracted to any person regardless of gender identity.

Understanding Gender Expression:

  • Gender Identity: The gender a person feels they are inside. Only the individual can say what their gender identity is.
  • Gender non-conforming: A person who identifies as both genders, either gender or somewhere along the gender continuum, also known as gender non-binary or agender.
  • Transgender: When a person’s gender identity is different than what doctors assigned to then when they were born (sex assigned at birth).
  • Two-spirit: A person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit. It may be used by some indigenous people to describe their sexuality, gender, and/or spiritual identity.
  • Third gender: Concept in which individuals are categorized either by themselves or by society. As neither man or woman. It is also a social category present in societies that recognize three or more genders.

Intent V. Impact

  • Intent: Someone’s reasoning or motivation for doing something
  • Impact: How the action or conversation made someone else feel

Download pdf (English & Spanish)

The Importance of a Positive Self-Esteem

What is self-esteem?

According to the American Psychological Association it is “the degree to which the qualities and characteristics contained in one’s self-concept are perceived to be positive. It reflects a person’s physical self-image, view of his or her accomplishments and capabilities, and values and perceived success in living up to them, as well as the ways in which others view and respond to that person.” Not only does having a positive self-esteem mean valuing yourself but also that you value your capability to achieve. Your self-esteem is how you define yourself as a person including your personality, physical body, talents, and how other view you. Each individual focuses on different aspects for their self-esteem. 

 

Having a high self-esteem doesn’t mean that you think you are perfect. Your self-esteem can fluctuate. Having a positive self-esteem is important for your mental health. Having a positive self-esteem allows you to have coping skills that help you handle negative aspects. It also allows you to deal with stress in healthier ways. There are multiple ways to improve your self-esteem. A few examples are building positive relationships, seek support, and journal positive things in your life. Building positive relationships can help by staying positive. Seeking support such as finding a therapist to discuss strategies to help. Journaling positive things in your life can also help you focus on aspects you are happy about. These are small steps remember that we are building habits that contribute to a positive self-esteem. 

 

For continued learning, please reference the below sites:

 https://dictionary.apa.org/self-esteem

https://youtu.be/OLIFu9Xfnh4

https://www.skillsyouneed.com/ps/self-esteem.html

 

Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

What is Victim Blaming?

Victim blaming occurs when an individual questions a person’s experience, such as their actions and how they could have prevented sexual violence. Examples of victim blaming include “what were you wearing,” “why didn’t you say anything earlier,” or “you were sending mixed signals.” Victim blaming is implying that a person deserved what occurred to them, which is not okay. The reality of sexual violence is that it occurs because someone chose to take advantage and cause harm. Victim blaming discourages survivors to speak out about their experiences. Victim blaming allows perpetrators to get away with their actions. It is important to stand up to victim blaming comments. Show your support to survivors by stating that you believe them. You validate their experience and empower that individual. 

 

 RAINN provided important statistics highlighting sexual violence. 

  • Someone is sexually assaulted in America every 68 seconds. 
  • 1 out of 6 women have been the victim of attempted or completed rape. 
  • 1 out of every 10 rape victims are male. 
  • Those in Indigenous communities are twice as likely to experience rape/ sexual assault compared to all races. 
  • Sexual violence occurs in the military and often goes unreported. 
  • Sexual violence affects thousands of prisoners across the country. 

For more information, please see RAINN.org

Below I have attached a great video that provides more information and scenarios to understand victim blaming. 

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

 

Stress and Anxiety

Identifying stress and anxiety can help you find the necessary tools needed to stay healthy. Stress is caused by an external trigger while anxiety is the persistence of worries. Stress and anxiety are normal responses from the body to danger. The cause of stress is in response to a recognized threat. Anxiety may not always have an identifiable trigger. While stress is short-term, anxiety is a long-term experience. Sometimes stress can turn into anxiety. Stress is the body’s reaction to a threat. Anxiety is the body’s response to stress. I have attached a great chart created by Georgia Hope that provides the similarities and difference between anxiety and stress. 

Ways to help cope with stress and anxiety are: journaling, downloading relaxation apps, sticking to a regular sleep schedule, avoiding drinking caffeine, and reaching out to family or friends. Journaling can help you not only express your feelings but can help you identify when you are feeling stress or anxiety. There are great applications to help guide you to relaxation. Sticking to a regular sleep schedule can help you tackle stress. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep you are more irritable and less patient. That being said, most adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Avoiding caffeine is important because when you drink caffeine you elevate your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone in the body. Lastly, reach out to your family and friends. A strong support system is important as they can reduce our stress and uplift our moods. You should seek out help if you are having difficulty doing normal daily activities. 

 

For more information on stress and anxiety, please see the following resources:


 

Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

 

What Is Dating Violence?

There are many different types of dating violence such as physical violence, sexual violence, psychological abuse, economic abuse, and stalking. Dating and relationship violence is a pattern of coercive and abusive tactics that are done by one person in a relationship to gain power and control over another person. It is okay to say no to sex during a relationship. If you are forced to any sexual activity, it is sexual abuse. 

 

LGBTQ+ Relationship Violence

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals can experience slightly different dating violence. It can be a bit different because it can involve outing a person’s sexual orientation. It can also include reinforcing fears that no one will help the individual because of their sexual orientation. They can also question the individual’s commitment to the relationship. 

Warning Signs of Abusive Behaviors

  • Exhibits jealousy when you talk to others
  • Consistently accuses a partner of flirting or cheating
  • Tries to control where you go, whom you go with, what you wear, say, do, etc.
  • Attempts to isolate you from loved ones
  • Uses force, coercion, or manipulation in sexual activity
  • Degrades or puts you down

Resources for Learning More about Intimate Partner Violence

 

 

 

 

 

Dating Violence and Abuse, Office on Women’s Health

Dating Violence, U.S. Department of Justice

Preventing Teen Dating Violence, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Power and Control: Break Free From Abuse, National Domestic Violence Hotline

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

AirTag Safety

As an advocate for the rights of sexual assault and sexual harassment survivors, I wanted to share some important information on AirTags and how to be aware of this device. 

First, let’s look at how the AirTag works. AirTag sends out a secure Bluetooth signal that can be detected by nearby devices in the Find My network. AirTags were created to help find personal objects such as keys or bags. These devices send the location of your AirTag to iCloud then you can go to the Find My app and see it on a map. 

While technology continues to advance, it is important to be safe. Reports have been made that the Air Tags can also be used to track people unsuspectingly. It can be slipped into a purse or attached to a car, raising questions about privacy and safety. Apple states that it has incorporated features in the AirTags to discourage unwanted tracking. Some of these features include audible alarms and messages about nearby tags that pop up on iPhones. A notification pop-up will state “AirTag found moving with you.”  The Apple site says to follow the on-screen instructions to disable the AirTags. If you feel your safety is at risk, please contact your local law enforcement. It is also encouraged to look through your belongings to try and find it. In order to disable the AirTag to stop sharing your location you can twist counterclockwise on the back of the device by the Apple logo and take the battery out. The person tracking on the other end will no longer be able to see your location.

 

Please see the following resources that provide further information. 

Apple AirTags: How to Protect Yourself From Being Tracked, cnet.com

AirTags: Apple’s Item Trackers – Everything We Know, macrumors.com

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

Campus Sexual Harassment

Sexual violence affects millions around America. The problem with reporting is that though many women and men experience harassment, many are reluctant to notify officials because they worry they won’t be believed. It is important for schools to report accurately to encourage students to report sexual harassment and violence. 

Title IX legislation eliminates sex-based discrimination to ensure all students both female and male have access and quality education. It offers protection from athletics and admission to housing and sexual harassment. Every public school that receives federal funding is required to report this information. According to the American Association of University Women, “Yes. Title IX covers all forms of sexual harassment, and sexual violence is considered a form of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment under Title IX includes any unwelcome sexual conduct, such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person’s will or where a person is incapable of giving consent. Title IX also prohibits sex-based harassment, which may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of a sexual nature.”

According to RAINN sexual violence statistics, women age 18-24 are at higher risk of sexual violence; 13% of students experience rape or sexual assault; 21% of transgender, genderqueer, and gender non-confirming students have been sexually assaulted. Sexual harassment affects health. It can cause loss of appetite, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and suicidal thoughts. 

 

Ways anyone can work to end sexual violence on campus:

 

1. When someone you know is sexually assaulted or harassed, remember these three steps: believe, validate, and empower. I believe you can be the most powerful words that survivors hear. You can validate their trauma and pain with statements like “I’m so sorry this happened to you” or “You did nothing to deserve this.”  Empower the survivor to make their choice about next steps, giving them options such as a medical exam, a police report, or a visit to a rape crisis center.

2. Educate yourself on local resources and activism groups. RAINN can help you find your local rape crisis center. 

3. Consider joining the effort by volunteering for a hotline or activism events. You can sign up to be a volunteer at ZCenter here.

 4. Be an active bystander. Learn more here.

 

For more information, please see these important resources for statistics on sexual violence: 

Campus Sexual Violence, RAINN

Title IX, AAUW

 


Written by Denisse Ochoa, BA Sociology Candidate at University of Wisconsin-Parkside, ZCenter Outreach Intern 

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence. All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

Translate »