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April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Please click below for a pdf version with all links needed for registration:

ZCenter SAAM Events 2022

*Standing Silent Witness at our Dempster Street location has been cancelled for 4/22/22, due to rain.

* Please note that the webinar for 4/20, Talking about Safety with Kids, has been cancelled.

 

 

 

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.

International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day. Thank you to all the women who have contributed to make this world a better place. National Women’s Week began in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter. Below I have created a list of important women and a brief description of their accomplishments.

 

Ruth Bader Ginsburg- advocate to dismantle gender discrimination. Second Woman to serve for the Supreme Court. 

Dolores Huerta– One of the most influential labor activist in the 20th century and leader of the Chicano Civil Right movement. 

Winona Laduke– A Native American Activist, economist, author. She devoted her life to advocating for indigenous control of their homelands, natural resources, and cultural practices. 

Audre Lorde– Poet and author she wrote about being an African American lesbian. 

Margot Sanger- Margot founded the birth control movement and became advocate for women’s reproductive rights.

Sonia Sotomayor- First Hispanic and third women appointed to the Supreme Court Justice. 

Malala Yousafzai- An advocate for women’s education. 

Alice Wong- The founder and the director of the Disability Visibility Project which is an online community that fosters and amplifies disability media and culture. 

Susan B. Anthony- Most visible leader from Women’s Suffrage Movement 

Betsy Ross- credited for sewing the first United States flag.

 

If you would like more information on important Women History Figures please follow: 

Women’s History: Susan B. Anthony

Women’s History Month Facts

 

Important facts regarding women:

  • Every year, Women’s History Month has a theme. The theme for 2022 is “Women providing healing, Promoting hope.”
  • Wyoming Territory was the first place to grant women the right to vote.
  • The 19th Amendment did not allow all women the right to vote.
  • Women couldn’t get credit cards by themselves until 1974. 
  • More women are earning college degrees than men. 
  • The gender gap still persists.
  • Women make up 57.8% of the labor force. 

 

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.

Social Work Month

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much”  ~Helen Keller

 

March is the national month of social workers. According to the National Association of Social Workers, there are 720,000 social workers in the U.S, who have dedicated their focus in fighting social injustices. Due to COVID-19, the national need for social workers has had a dramatic increase. 

Social workers are constantly fighting for social injustices dating back to the Civil Rights Movement, in which social workers fought for voting rights for people of color. One of the biggest social injustices that social workers fought for and continue to fight for is women’s rights. 

 

Timeline and Overview of Women’s Rights

 

  • 1833: Social workers fighting for women’s rights dates back to the mid 19th century, in which Oberlin College was founded as the first educational institution to accept women  and African Americans. Prior to this, women did not have access to higher education as women typically became housewives, needing no education. 
  • 1872: In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for U.S. president. Although she did not win, she paved the way for women to run for president. Victoria was one of the many  leaders of the Women’s Suffrage Movement, first to own a brokerage firm on Wall Street, and an activist for women’s rights and labor reform. 
  • 1890: Wyoming became the first state to allow women the right to vote in its state elections. 
  • 1918: Margaret Sanger won a suit in New York which allowed doctors to advise their patients about birth control. Margaret Sanger was a big advocate of providing women with birth control information. In 1916, Singer opened her first birth control clinic in Brooklyn. Shortly after, she was arrested, which led to her fight for birth control rights and those rights being granted in 1918. 
  • 1920: In 1920, the 19th amendment was ratified which granted women the right to vote, an issue that was a long standing fight against Congress. Although many individuals were involved in this fight, Alice Paul was a social worker who became a fundamental figure in women’s history. Alice Paul founded the National Women’s Party, which led to women getting the right to vote. 
  • 1932-34: In 1932, Hattie Wyatt Caraway, of Arkansas, became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. In 1933, Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve on a Presidential Cabinet under President Roosevelt. In 1934, Lettie Pate Whitehead was the first woman to serve as director in a big corporation (Coca Cola Com.). 
  • 1963: The Equal Pay Act was passed which promised everyone would be payed equally regardless of race, color, religion, national origin or sex. 
  • 1964: The Civil Rights Act was passed prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, nation al origin, or sex. 
  • 1969: Women were able to work jobs that were for men only if they met physical requirements. 
  • 1973: The U.S. The Supreme Court declared that the Constitution would protect women’s right to terminate early pregnancies, making abortion legal. 
  • 1987: Congress assigned March as the National month of Women’s History Month. 
  • 1994: The Gender Equity in Education Act was adopted by Congress, which promoted math, science, and learning by girls; it also advised on providing counsel for pregnant teens and services for the prevention of sexual harassment. In that same year, the Violence Against Women Act was created to provide services for victims of rape and domestic violence. 
  • 2021: Kamala Harris becomes the first female vice president. 

These are just a few events in U.S. history that have enabled women to have the same equality as men, at home, at work, with their bodies, and basic human rights. There is still a long way to go to achieve equality for all but without activists and social workers, we would not be able to be where we are now!

Learn more about the history of women’s rights:

 

 

References: 


Written by Evelyn Perez, ZCenter Intern and BSW Candidate at Northeastern Illinois University.

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.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education

Education plays a large role in our understanding of the world. It can often lay a foundation for our perceptions of the world. Yet, at the same time, there can be considerable gaps in education that students look to fill. An example of this is within sexual education in high schools. Sexual education has long been a point of tension within school districts. For some districts, it is abstinent only sex education, where students are to refrain from sexual intercourse. Other districts focus on consent. The overall result of this tension point is that there is a gap between what students are learning and what they want to learn. This is demonstrated by the findings from Louisa Allen’s “Closing Sex Education’s Knowledge/Practice Gap: The reconceptualization of young people’s sexual knowledge,” which show that there are two ways that young people, ages 17-19 conceptualize sexual knowledge (Allen, 2001). The first way is information that comes from secondary sources, such as sexual education (Allen, 2001). The second way is from actual experiences with sex (Allen, 2001). Yet, students and young people are receiving their sexual education, not just in the classroom, but in multiple different ways.

The first step in understanding this gap is to understand that there had long been a debate about how sexual education should be taught. There is a debate about whether sexual education should emphasize the risks of sex or stating that teen sex is normal and ensuring it is taught to be safe and responsible (Gordon & Ellingson, 2006). According to the data from Planned Parenthood Action Fund, 37 states have laws requiring abstinence be included in lessons (Planned Parenthood). Only 18 states require educators to educate on the matters of birth control (Planned Parenthood). There is not a uniformed sexual education program throughout the United States, which means that students all over the country are learning different things about sex. The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) has long been advocating the sexual activity focuses on the message that “sexuality is a joyful, integrative, and natural part of being human” (Gordon & Ellingson, 2006).

Yet, a majority of students are receiving what is known as “official sexual education.” This official sexual education focuses on risk mitigation, focusing on Sexual Transmitted Diseases and Infection prevention (Ollis, 2016). Overall, when students were asked about sex, they were not talking about “official sex,” such as Sexual Transmitted Infections or pregnancy prevention, but rather they are talking through their own experiences and what sex means to them (Allen, 2001). The ‘So What’s an Abstinence Anyway?’ lesson had the least variation in interpretation: 90% of the students determined that the danger messages were most dominant. Even in this case, however, the remaining 10% of participants were split between pleasure and equal/unbiased messages” (Gordon & Ellingson, 2006). The current forms of education that are valued when it comes to sexual education is that which “prescribes appropriate behavior rather than knowledge” (Allen, 2001). Even with teaching students every aspect of sexual intercourse, from risk mitigation to consent, students will often bring their own “interpretations based on gender, race, class, sexual orientation, and youth’ (Gordon & Ellingson, 2006). Yet, a well-rounded sexual education could prevent future beliefs in rape myths if done properly. The Sexual Education Forum encourages Sexualities and Relationship education that promotes sexual education that includes discussions on sexuality, emotions, sexual health and more (8). Santelli

According to the SIECUS, if students cannot articulate what they are looking for in a sexual relationship, then they will not be able to articulate consent or non-consent (Gordon & Ellingson, 2006).. This becomes especially prominent when analyzing the gap. This gap can be filled by family, their churches, their peers, their older siblings, and many more. Yet, the overwhelming majority of students are turning to pornography as a way to learn about the themes and topics that they are not learning about in the classroom. These themes include, sexual pleasure, sexual anatomy, and the mechanics of sex. A majority of people between 13 and 18 years old have limited knowledge of the basics of sexual reproduction, even though 95% of that population have been through some form of sexual education (Hesse & Pedersen, 2017). The knowledge that students want to know is not taught in the classrooms (Allen, 2001). 

Comprehensive Sexual Education is an important form of early intervention for Preventing Sexual Assault. These conversations with our youth are imperative in the fight to end sexual violence. 

For more information on comprehensive sexuality education services offered by ZCenter, please contact info@zcenter.org.

Gordon, L. E., & Ellingson, L. (2006). In the eyes of the beholder: Student interpretations of sexuality lessons. Sex Education, 6(3), 251–264. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681810600836364

Lyndon, A. E., Duffy, D. M., Smith, P. H., & White, J. W. (2011). The role of high school coaches in helping prevent adolescent sexual aggression: Part of the solution or part of the problem? Journal of Sport & Social Issues, 35(4), 377–399. https://doi.org/10.1177/0193723511426292

Watson, M. A., & Smith, R. D. (2012). Positive porn: Educational, medical, and clinical uses. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(2), 122–145. https://doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2012.680861

Ollis, D. (2016). ‘I felt like I was watching porn’: The reality of preparing pre-service teachers to teach about sexual pleasure. Sex Education, 16(3), 308–323. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681811.2015.1075382

Hare, K. A., Gahagan, J., Jackson, L., & Steenbeek, A. (2015). Revisualising ‘porn’: How young adults’ consumption of sexually explicit Internet movies can inform approaches to Canadian sexual health promotion. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 17(3), 269–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2014.919409

Sharma, M. K., Anand, N., Thamilselvan, P., Suma, N., John, N., Sahu, M., Thakur, P. C., Baglari, H., & Singh, P. (2019). Is porn use becoming a modality of sex education among teenagers? A case study. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 45, 18–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajp.2019.08.001 

Hesse, C., & Pedersen, C. L. (2017). Porn sex versus real sex: How sexually explicit material shapes our understanding of sexual anatomy, physiology, and behaviour. Sexuality & Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, 21(3), 754–775. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-017-9413-2

Allen, L. (2001). Closing sex education’s knowledge/practice gap: The reconceptualisation of young people’s sexual knowledge. Sex Education, 1(2), 109–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681810120052542

Hare, K. A., Gahagan, J., Jackson, L., & Steenbeek, A. (2015). Revisualising ‘porn’: How young adults’ consumption of sexually explicit Internet movies can inform approaches to Canadian sexual health promotion. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 17(3), 269–283. https://doi.org/10.1080/13691058.2014.919409

Hirst, J. (2013). ‘It’s got to be about enjoying yourself’: Young people, sexual pleasure, and sex and relationships education. Sex Education, 13(4), 423–436. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681811.2012.747433

Rohrbach, L. A., Berglas, N. F., Jerman, P., Angulo-Olaiz, F., Chou, C.-P., & Constantine, N. A. (2015). A rights-based sexuality education curriculum for adolescents: 1-year outcomes from a cluster-randomized trial. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57(4), 399–406. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jadohealth.2015.07.004

Santelli, J. S., Grilo, S. A., Choo, T.-H., Diaz, G., Walsh, K., Wall, M., Hirsch, J. S., Wilson, P. A., Gilbert, L., Khan, S., & Mellins, C. A. (2018). Does sex education before college protect students from sexual assault in college? PLoS ONE, 13(11).

deFur, K. M. (2012). Don’t forget the good stuff! Incorporating positive messages of sexual pleasure into sexuality education. American Journal of Sexuality Education, 7(2), 160–169. https://doi.org/10.1080/15546128.2012.681214

Peter, C. R., Tasker, T. B., & Horn, S. S. (2015). Parents’ attitudes toward comprehensive and inclusive sexuality education: Beliefs about sexual health topics and forms of curricula. Health Education, 115(1), 71–92. https://doi.org/10.1108/HE-01-2014-0003

Adeoye, H., & Odebowale, I. (2014). Sexuality education and contraception as correlates of sexual behaviour among university undergraduates. Gender & Behaviour, 12(1), 6125–6134.

Jeffries, W. L., Dodge, B., Bandiera, F. C., & Reece, M. (2010). Beyond abstinence-only: Relationships between abstinence education and comprehensive topic instruction. Sex Education, 10(2), 171–185. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681811003666317

 


Written by Cassidy Herberth, Prevention and Education Specialist.

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.

LGBTQ+ Center Lake County: Community Partner Highlight

This month, we are proud to highlight the great work of one of our community partners, LGBTQ+ Center Lake County. This organization has collaborated with ZCenter on Pride events, a staff Safe Zone Training, and referrals for youth support, just to name a few of their great services. We are fortunate to have this agency in our community and we offer you here more information from a recent conversation with their Executive Director, Nikki Michele.

 

  1. Please share what your organization offers and how people can access your services.

Just like so many other organizations, we have had to pivot our services during the most recent Omicron wave. Currently we are running two virtual support groups (one for adults, one for youth), and a book club. We are working on setting up a parent support group (fill out a survey here). We also host two monthly social events: Queer Happy Hour on the 4th Thursday of the month, rotating venues around Lake County, and an LGBTea & Coffee on the first Wednesday morning of the month. We are also busy providing SafeZone trainings to a wide array of organizations around Lake County. We are looking forward to our second annual Lake County PrideFest, June 4th, in Waukegan. We also have a Discord server to serve as a virtual “drop in space.”

 

  1. Can you tell us about where you are located?

As a nonprofit that was established during COVID, we’ve had to delay getting a brick and mortar space. However, we have been strategizing an ideal location, and are currently considering one of the more eastern Lake County townships. They tend to be home to more marginalized communities (People of Color, low income, homeless) who have less access to services and transportation. Having a community center in eastern Lake County would make it easier to reach this vulnerable demographic. 

 

  1. During Black History Month, we often share statistics on how People of Color are more vulnerable to sexual assault (RAINN.org). Could you share how you reach out to People of Color who are also LGBTQ+? Also, how would you describe the unique experiences that you see for LGBTQ+ People of Color?

The LGBTQ+ Pride movement owes its very inception to Black trans women. QTBIPOC individuals have always been on the frontlines of the charge for equality. From Bayard Rustin in the Civil Rights movement, to activists like Marsha P. Johnson, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Stormé DeLarverie at the 1969 Stonewall riots, to the Black Lives Matter movement founders Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi and Alicia Garza, QTBIPOC people throughout history have driven enormous advancements in media, the arts, sports, activism, advocacy and politics, which have enhanced the lives of people everywhere. Despite these amazing triumphs, QTBIPOC consistently experience widespread discrimination and violence in every realm of society. AntiBlackness and anti-LGBTQ attitudes have created systems of oppression with real consequences: Black LGBTQ people face some of the highest risks of violence, workplace discrimination, homelessness, HIV and AIDS, and healthcare disparities and mistreatment in America. Moreover, women of color, who must also contend with sexism prevalent in our society, are even further impacted by these issues. In short, being a Black trans woman in America means you’re far more likely than most other people to experience serious roadblocks and harms, in the form of everything from extreme poverty to violent murder.

 

  1. For any readers who want to know more about how to be an ally for LGBTQ+ folks (and for People of Color), what do you recommend? Are there resources you can share?

I truly believe one of the most impactful things we can do is also one of the simplest: listen to marginalized people’s experiences. In the wake of George Floyd’s brutal street execution, I was personally challenged to follow Black social media content creators, keep my mouth shut and LISTEN. This simple act has begun rewiring my perceptions of the Black experience. Because we live in an inherently bigoted society that actively promotes cisgender heterosexual white men at the expense of all other groups, we have been imbibing societal discrimination and bias daily along with our tap water. We must intentionally push back against our hardwired mindsets. As we listen to others’ experiences, we gain valuable insight into their very humanity, which deepens our ability to empathize and, in turn, transforms us into effective advocates. So, my challenge to anyone seeking to do better is to seek out QTBIPOC content and amplify their invaluable contributions. 

 

  1. Is there anything else you would like our readers to know about your work for social justice and your services for the community?

I am very proud to be partnering with Mayor Taylor (Waukegan) to perform the audit with the Human Rights Campaign that will assign a score to Waukegan for its LGBTQ+ inclusivity and safety. Part of this effort has included making major changes within the Waukegan Police Department to address the decades-long bias and discrimination (of LGBTQ+ folks, and Black and Brown lives) that was all too prevalent. I’m thrilled to see the Lake County seat take a lead in this way, and hope it will put additional pressure on surrounding townships to follow suit.  

 

To learn more about LGBTQ+ Center Lake County, please visit their website: https://lgbtqcenterlakecounty.com/

 

Notes on acronyms and abbreviations used:

  • LGBTQ+: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual/Two-Spirit, Queer/Questioning, and Others. Also commonly used is LGBTQIA: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual/Two-Spirit, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, and Asexual. Learn more at Seattle Pride.
  • BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Learn more at VOX.
  • QTBIPOC: Queer, Transgender, Black, Indigenous, People of Color. Learn more from UCLA and USC.

Written by Kristin Jones, PhD, EdM, Outreach Supervisor.

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.

Black History Month

We honor Black History Month with a look at how Black History Month started and some of the key figures who advanced racial justice from within the Black community.

Black history month began with Carter G. Woodson, known as the father of Black History. Woodson believed that Black people should be proud of their heritage. He also believed that Americans should understand the overlooked achievements of Black Americans. Woodson felt that Black history was often ignored and suppressed by authors of history books. He launched Negro History Week in the month of February to acknowledge Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Carter G. Woodson published books on Black history including A Century of Negro Migration (1918), The Education of the Negro Prior to 1861 (1919), The History of the Negro Church (1921), and The Negro in Our History (1922).

W.E.B Du Bois was an African American writer, teacher, sociologist, and activist. He became a founding member of the  NAACP. He was the first Black American to earn a PhD from Harvard University. His doctoral thesis focused on the suppression of the African Slave Trade to the United States of America. Du Bois focused on the great challenges of the Black community: poverty, crime, and lack of education. With the help of Du Bois the NAACP was known as the leading protest organization for Black Americans. One of W.E.B Du Bois’ writings included The Souls of Black Folk.

Thurgood Marshall was a civil rights leader, lawyer, and the first African American Supreme Court Justice. He fought against Jim Crow. He is best known for the Brown v. Board of Education case, which declared that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional in public schools. Another important case was Murray v. Pearson, where Marshall was able to sue the school for denying admission to Black applicants because of their race. Marshall fought for affirmative action and supported women’s right to choose an abortion.

To learn more about Black History Month and other important historical figures, please see these NAACP and PBS resources (please click on the hyperlinks). For further discussion on the role of Black Women in anti-oppression work, please see our previous posts:

Below are a few ways to contribute to Black History month all year long.

  1. Support Black owned Business
  2. Learn about important Black figures and their contributions
  3. Purchase, read, and share books by black authors 

 


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.

Human Trafficking

In 2020, Polaris Project reported 10,583 new cases of trafficking in the US, as well as 16,658 victims identified. In 2019, Polaris Project reported 11,500 situations reported nationwide, inferring a decrease nationally. 

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline Data Report in 2020, there were 933 signals received in Illinois. In comparison to the 2019 National Human Trafficking Hotline Statistics, there were 844 signals received. Through this data, we can see a definite increase in human trafficking cases in Illinois. 

Human trafficking (HT) has been around for many years, but has not yet received the attention needed from the community just like sexual assault. Looking at the data reports can be overwhelming but does not change the fact that the community should have a more open conversation about HT!

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline Data Report from 2020 in Illinois, sex trafficking is the most common industry of potential trafficking with 76%, followed by labor trafficking with 13%.

It is important to recognize what makes an individual more susceptible to becoming a victim, as well as preventative techniques to recognize human trafficking. The top venues where sex trafficking occur are hotels/motels, illicit messages/spa businesses, and online ads. The top venues where labor trafficking occurs are domestic work, and construction. 

What makes someone susceptible to becoming a victim of HT?

 

Sex Trafficking 
      • Substance Use Concern
      • Runaway/Homeless Youth
      • Unstable housing
      • Mental Health concern
      • Recent Migration/Relocation
Labor Trafficking
    • Recent Migration/Relocation
    • Self-Reported Economic Hardship 
    • Unstable Housing 
    • Criminal Record/Criminal History 
    • Substance Use Concern

 

Human trafficking is not a new phenomenon in our country. In fact, this has been going on for many years, with millions of victims, and we have not yet found a cure to this social injustice! Yvonne Ambrose was the mother of late Desiree Robinson, who passed away after becoming a victim of sex trafficking. Desiree became a victim of sex trafficking through social media where Joseph Hazley pressured her into selling her body. On December 23rd, 2016, Desiree was taken to the perpetrators house were she was abused, raped, strangled, and murdered. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_hTFKD6JIk

Through COVID-19, we have seen a shift in how recruitment occurs. In prior years, the most common forms of recruitment were strip clubs, foster homes, and schools. Due to the shutdown, the internet/social media became the top recruitment location for trafficking. Polaris Project reported 125% increases in recruitment reports from Facebook, while Instagram reported 95% increase when compared to its previous year. 

As HT has gained more attention from the public, many have adopted preventative techniques such as prevention education, and education for healthcare workers when aiding a victim. Although HT has gained more attention, there is still a long road ahead of us to help spread and inform our community members on the impact of HT! 

There is this notion of belief that HT does not occur in our own neighborhood. Unfortunately, the reality is that not only does this happen in our community, this is a global phenomenon! With the help of our community and the proper preventative education we can help spread awareness on HT and prevent community members from becoming victims of HT!

If you or someone you know needs immediate help due to human trafficking, please call or text the national hotline:

Call: 1 (888) 373-7888
SMS: 233733 (Text “HELP” or “INFO”)

Written by Evelyn Perez, ZCenter Intern and BSW Candidate at Northeastern Illinois University.

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.

 

SOURCES: 

https://polarisproject.org/2020-us-national-human-trafficking-hotline-statistics/

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/state/illinois 

https://polarisproject.org/2019-us-national-human-trafficking-hotline-statistics/ 

https://humantraffickinghotline.org/sites/default/files/2019%20Illinois%20State%20Report.pdf 

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-sex-trafficking-girl-killed-20190603-story.html 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b_hTFKD6JIk

National Human Trafficking Prevention Month

Human Trafficking in Lake County, Illinois: Demographics and Statistics

 

In early 2020 the Lake County Sheriff’s Office announced fourteen arrests as the result of a multi-day human trafficking crackdown in suburban Gurnee. According to a news release, the Lake County Sheriff’s Special Investigations Group used classified advertising websites to lure customers to a Gurnee hotel before making arrests. This news came as a shock to many who believe that something as horrific as human trafficking would never occur in their safe, quiet neighborhood. Little do they know Lake County has some of the highest rates of human trafficking in Illinois. 

According to Polaris Project, in 2019 there were 434 human trafficking victims identified in the state of Illinois. Additionally there were 115 traffickers identified and 53 trafficking businesses. 

Due to the high rate of underreporting, we do not have precise statistics for the number of trafficking victims in Lake County. However, according to the Center for Impact Research in Metropolitan Chicago, 16,000 to 25,000 women and girls are involved in prostitution in Chicagoland annually, with one third getting involved in prostitution by the age of 15 and 62 percent by the age of 18. Data on contacts to trafficking hotlines shows how few of the estimated tens of thousands of victims reach out for help. Numbers from Polaris Project show that in 2019 there were only 648 calls to their national hotline from people living in Illinois. Additionally, 73 webform contacts, 27 emails, 74 texts and 22 webchats.

In a three-month period during a 2013 study of online solicitation, there were over 50 postings by men residing in Waukegan and Gurnee; and almost 100 postings by men living in suburbs surrounding Lake County. The study showed us that sex trafficking is pervasive throughout Lake and Northern Cook counties in Illinois, including men buying sex in a variety of venues and women experiencing various forms of violenceand profiding sex against their will (Call to Action to End Violence in Lake County, July 2017).

Data shows that most cases of trafficking in Lake County are most heavily concentrated in and around the cities of North Chicago, Waukegan, and Gurnee, which also have the highest rates of gang activity. Some research indicates that as many as half of the gangs in the Chicago area are involved in sex trafficking. 

The Chief of Police of North Chicago states that trafficking of minors through gangs is a major issue in that community. Wealthier communities of Lake County like Deerfield, Highland Park and Lake Forest are also facing the presence of human trafficking through erotic massage parlors and other sexually related services. According to State Representative Barbara Wheeler, human trafficking is a lucrative business in northern Illinois and traffickers will use massage parlors as a cover and method for connecting sex trade customers. It is estimated that 50 percent of those who are trafficked are also engaged in the legal commercial sex industry. Data shows that sex trafficking flourishes most in places where legal sex-oriented businesses such as strip clubs, adult stores, escort services, and erotic massage parlors are prevalent.

Human trafficking is an ongoing crime within our community. As we continue to raise awareness and encourage victims to seek help, we are sure more data will be brought to light. At ZCenter, we are committed to fighting for those affected by sexual violence and we know that the more people we reach means more will come forward. 

 

Human Trafficking – Lake County Resources

 

Human Trafficking is not a new phenomenon, but caring about it is. Human Trafficking has been happening forever, but only in the year 2000 was it recognized as a crime by the US Government & the United Nations. You have the ability to make an impact on human trafficking in Lake County. 

Awareness is key in identifying signs within our community and reporting information to local law enforcement. Here are some indicators which suggest a person may be a victim of human trafficking:

  • Person is under the age of 18 and is involved in the sex industry.
  • Person has visible signs of abuse including unexplained bruises, black eyes, cuts or marks.
  • Person exhibits behaviors of fear, anxiety, depression or paranoia.
  • Person expresses interest in, or is in a relationship with significantly older adults.
  • Person has a tattoo or brand and is reluctant to explain it.
  • Person has untreated illnesses or infections, particularly sexually transmitted infections.
  • Person is not in control of own money or identification.
  • Person displays secrecy of whereabouts after having been open about activities in the past.
  • Person keeps unusual hours.
  • Person wears new clothes, gets hair/nails done, possesses new material goods with no financial means to obtain these independently.
  • Not speaking on own behalf
  • Evidence of inability to move or leave job or take time off
  • Unpaid for work or compensated very little
  • Lives with co-workers and employer no privacy
  • Works off the books in a low-paying job

This list is not exhaustive. One of these indicators on its own may not mean someone is trafficked, but a combination of indicators may amount to a situation of human trafficking. If you think you know or have met a victim of human trafficking in the Chicago area, call your local police department, the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT program hotline at 877.606.3158, or the national hotline from Polaris Project at (888) 373-7888

To take an active approach in ending trafficking consider participating in training to recognize and respond appropriately to trafficking. Operation Underground Railroad offers free training  to help you identify the signs of trafficking.  Identifying victims is only one step in solving the issue. Resources need to be available to assist victims to transition to safe living situations.

Trauma-informed spaces and organization are made available to help create pathways for victims to exit their exploitative situation. Each of us needs to educate ourselves and raise awareness in our social circles.  In Lake County, education and support services are provided by Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, Stepping Stones, and a Safe Place

 

Further information, resources, and hotlines:

The Polaris Project

Stop It, The Salvation Army

Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center

A Safe Place for Help

Stepping Stones Network

Lake County Coalition Against Human Trafficking

 

Sources:


Written by ZCenter Staff, reposted from January 2021. 

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.

Support and Resources during the Holidays

This can be a joyous and festive time of year for many. It can also be a time when sexual assault survivors feel triggered, a time when abuse within families becomes more prevalent, or a time when basic needs are unmet. We at ZCenter hope to support you in whatever way we can. Please look through our list of resources and self-care ideas if you are experiencing this time of year as challenging. May we all have the support we need.

 

General Assistance

For general information about Lake County resources, including shelter, food, counseling, hotlines, etc., please reach out to United Way of Lake County by calling 211.

For United Way of Metro Chicago, call 311.

Sexual Abuse, Assault, or Harassment

  1. ZCenter’s Crisis Hotline: 847-872-7700
  2. ZCenter general information: 847-244-1187 or info@zcenter.org
  3. RAINN national hotline: 800-656-HOPE (4673)
  4. Polaris Project (for human trafficking) hotline: 800-373-7888

Domestic Violence

  1. A Safe Place for Help Crisis Line: (847) 249-4450 or 1-800-600-SAFE
  2. A Safe Place for Help general information: (847) 360-6471 or info@asafeplaceforhelp.org
  3. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
  4. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence hotline: 800-799-7233

LGBTQ+ Resources

  1. LGBTQ+ Center Lake County has compiled a list of resources for the LGBTQ+ community in Lake County, found here.
  2. National Suicide Prevention 24-hour Lifeline: 800-273-TALK
  3. The Trevor Project 24-hour Hotline: 866-488-7386

Servicios en español

  1. Mano a Mano – Round Lake (Bilingual family resources, advocacy): (847) 201-1521
  2. La Paloma (housing, counseling, abuse/trafficking survivors): 847-731-7165 x190. For immediate crisis: 800-600-SAFE (800-600-7233)
  3. HACES: Hispanice American Community Education and Services – Waukegan (Immigration, family resources,DACA, Bilingual GED): (847) 244-0300

Mental Health/Suicide

  1. Text-A-Tip is a 24/7 anonymous text crisis hotline offering emotional support for middle school and high school youth. Simply text LAKECO (and your message) to the number 1-844-823-5323.  Within seconds, you will receive an automated response, and within minutes a live mental health counselor will respond to your text.  All messages are sent through a cloaking server located offsite that keeps the communication completely anonymous.
  2. The Lake County Health Department’s Crisis Care Hotline: 847- 377-8088
  3. SAMHSA National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)
  4. NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)
  5. Nicasa Behavioral Health Services (Behavioral/Emotional Support, SubstanceAbuse): (847) 546-6450 or info@nicasa.org
  6. National Suicide Prevention 24/7 LifeLine: Dial 988, or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) en español: 1-888-628-9454
  7. National 24/7 Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 741-741

 

Self-Care During the Holidays

The National Suicide Prevention LifeLine recommends the following for self-care ideas for December and beyond. 

  • Take a walk outside
  • Write a love letter to yourself
  • Write about something you are grateful for in your life (it can be a person, place, or thing)
  • Create a happy playlist and a coping playlist
  • Treat yourself to a favorite snack
  • Watch your favorite movie
  • Forgive someone
  • Forgive yourself
  • Say thank you to someone who has helped you recently
  • Create a DIY self-care kit of things that make you feel better
  • Take your medication on time
  • Take a new fitness class at the gym (yoga, Zumba, etc.)
  • Plan a lunch date with someone you haven’t seen in a while
  • Pamper yourself with an at-home spa day
  • Take a day off from social media and the Internet
  • Reach out to your support system
  • Cuddle with your pets or a friend’s pet
  • Take the time to stop, stand and stretch for 2 minutes
  • Wake up a little earlier and enjoy your a morning cup of tea or coffee before the morning rush
  • Take a hot shower or bath
  • Take yourself out to dinner
  • Volunteer
  • Start that one project you’ve been contemplating for a while
  • Sit with your emotions, and allow yourself to feel and accept them. It’s okay to laugh, cry, just feel whatever you’re feeling with no apologies!
  • Cook a favorite meal from scratch
  • Take a 5-minute break in your day
  • Compliment someone (and yourself, too!)
  • Give yourself permission to say no
  • De-clutter your mind: write down 5 things that are bothering you, and then literally throw them away
  • Donate 3 pieces of clothing that you no longer wear
  • Take the time to find 5 beautiful things during your daily routine
  • Take a mental health day from school, work, etc.
  • Take a nap
  • Reach out to the Lifeline

 

Written by Kristin Jones, PhD, EdM, Outreach Supervisor. 

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.

 

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