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Survivors

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

Write Poems/Heal from Trauma

What do Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, Fiona Apple, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Carly Simon, Missy Elliott and Rupi Kaur all have in common? Besides being some of our most beloved poets and lyricists, each one is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

Writing poems and songs can tap into a part of our brains that may be closed off by the symptoms of sexual trauma: dissociation, intrusive thoughts, hypervigilance, that feeling that something bad is about to happen. Especially if the trauma occurred in childhood, when our brains were still developing, we might find it helpful to soothe ourselves through the rhythm, repetition and routine of being creative.

In poetry, we can express ourselves — our grief, our anger, our hope, our defiance — through words in an intentional, healing way. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Poems Don’t Have to Be Happy

Some survivors find relief in doing creative work that is honest and raw, not being pressured to tie the ends up nicely. Poems can help us explore all our feelings, even the ones we usually think of as negative. We can use words to capture the pain of a broken heart, the rage at a choice we didn’t get to make, the vulnerability of our worst moment. Poems don’t have to be happy to be beautiful.

Create a Sanctuary

Where to begin? Light a candle. Turn on a sound machine or some lo-fi hip hop beats. Make tea, wrap a warm blanket around your shoulders, and find a spot of sunlight on the kitchen floor. Make your creative writing time soothing for body, brain and soul.

Get Inspired

Invest in a copy of Mary Oliver’s Devotions, Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, or do a search for any of Maya Angelou’s many written creations, including this ground-shaking one. Look for performance poetry on youtube, like this, and let anything Amanda Gorman has made inspire you. Check out Wild Writing, one of many online creative writing courses that are open to anyone. There are countless ways to express ourselves through words, and through playful experimentation and a commitment to the journey, we can find our own way through.

Seeing Our Words on a Page

It can be such a confidence booster to hold something in our hands and say, “I made this.” Writing poetry isn’t about getting published. It isn’t about creating a masterpiece or getting all the words just right. The words are ours — we control them. We own them. No one can take them from us. Making our healing work into something tangible, something we can feel, touch and see, is a way to regain strength and restore agency.

Always, Always Celebrate

When you write something you realize has captured your truest heart, your deepest feelings, capture that moment! Our brains release happy chemicals, most notably dopamine, when we take note of an accomplishment. Treat yourself to a set of colored pens. Ask a loved one if you can read your poem to them. Or print your written piece on pretty paper, stick it in a frame, and put it on your bedside table. Memorialize, in some big or small way, how far you’ve come.

Work with a Trusted Professional

Trauma work is always hard work, and you won’t want to do it alone. Zacharias Center has trained counselors that work with groups and individuals, serving children, youth and adults. Or, you may already have a relationship with a therapist, spiritual director, or social worker. Ask if you can share what you’re working on. Ask if creative, expressive work can be incorporated into your sessions.

We’d also love to see you at our upcoming poem-writing workshop (3/23/22 at 12 noon), which you can register for here: Free Webinar: Writing Poems to Process Trauma — ZCenter

 


 

Written by Courtney Coates, MSW Candidate at Loyola University, ZCenter Counseling 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

Self-Care during the Holidays

As the holidays are upon us, I’m sure we can all feel the stress and chaos that come with celebrating the final days of the year. This time of year is such a wonderful time to spend with family watching movies by the fireplace, playing outside in the snow, baking, engaging in craft activities, etc. The holidays can create an immense stress load on individuals, and therefore it is important that we care for ourselves. Self-care is not an activity that requires much energy, time or focus. Taking five minutes a day to focus on ourselves can prevent future burnout. Today, I will discuss possible self-care tips that we can all take part in during this stressful time. 

Meditating comes in many different forms such as guided meditation, yoga meditation, mindfulness meditation, etc. I am personally a big fan of guided meditation, specifically sleep guided meditation. According to the health coach institute, guided meditations on a range of subjects help you center yourself and keep calm through the holiday hustle and bustle”(healthcoachinstitute). There are countless apps that help provide quick, simple, and easy access to meditation sessions. One of my favorite apps to use is called Meditopia, which has different types of meditations for sleeping, relaxing, focus, self-love, releasing stress, and motivation. 

Another self-care tip is staying active through walks, runs, sport activities, etc. There are countless studies that prove staying physically active helps with cardiovascular health and improves bone health, flexibility & mobility, muscle strength, etc. On top of these benefits, during physical activities the body releases endorphins, which are neurotransmitters that increase pleasure and well-being all while reducing pain and discomfort. Through the pandemic, I have become a big fan of going on walks with my not-so puppy. I’ve realized that going on walks, even if it is for 15-20 minutes a day, helps reduce my stress level; as well, it allows me to take a breather. 

Sleeping! This is my all time favorite self-care activity as it does not require much from us, and is very easy to do! You might be thinking, “How does sleeping count as self-care if it is something we do on a daily basis?” The reality is that sleeping an adequate amount each night helps our bodies immensely. There are countless studies that prove the benefits of receiving the appropriate amount of sleep helps us prevent getting ill, lowers our risk of developing serious health problems, reduces stress, improves mood, allows us to think more clearly, etc. Most adults require 7-8 hours of sleep a day, while teens and children vary depending on their age ranging from 9-13 hours a day. Making a bedtime routine can aid us in getting the appropriate hours of sleep, allowing us to wake up the next day restful and ready to face challenges. 

Making time for self-care should not be an activity that requires a lot of time from us or should be something that we dread doing. During the holidays, the days seem to blend with one another, not allowing us to take a breath of fresh air. Between shopping for the perfect gifts to cooking for the family, it can become very hard to make time to schedule self-care. Making time to schedule self-care during the holidays is important as this can prevent future burnout, lower the risk of health problems, etc. I hope my tips have helped you all think about quick ideas for self-care that do not require much time, energy, or focus!

 

Happy Holidays!

 


Written by Evelyn Perez, Northeastern Illinois University BSW Student and ZCenter 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.

 

https://www.healthcoachinstitute.com/articles/20-tips-for-holiday-self-care/ 

https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationships/get-enough-sleep

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