Intimate Partner Violence
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month, WCSAFE wants to acknowledge the lives and experiences of those survivors who have been victimized at the hands of an intimate partner.
It takes strength to endure. Survive.
We want you to know that it is not your fault.
We believe you. We support you.
You are not alone.
We are here to help.
Intimate Partner Sexual Violence, or otherwise known as IPSV, can be defined as any unwanted sexual contact or activity by an intimate partner with the purpose of controlling an individual through fear, threats or violence. IPSV is the most common type of sexual violence and a common component of domestic violence, yet it is rarely discussed. In fact, most cases go unreported and service provider responses often ignore survivor’s experiences of sexual violence and/or are otherwise inadequate.
Did you Know?
- More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner.
- Approximately 2/3 of domestic violence victims have also been sexually assaulted by their abuser.
Sexual violence is often coupled with other abusive behaviors that a batterer uses to exert power and gain control over their partner. The power and control wheel, originated in Duluth, Minnesota, is one of the most powerful tools used by advocates to illustrate this and how the threat/use of both physical and sexual violence (see outer rim of wheel) can reinforce the other tactics (inner spokes of the wheel) used by the perpetrator to achieve their goal (center of wheel).
Like other forms of sexual violence, it’s difficult to know the extent of IPSV. As with all forms of sexual violence, survivors are often reluctant to disclose experiences or may otherwise not recognize their experiences as sexual assault, and may not identify as victims. While sexual violence frequently occurs in abusive relationships, sexual violence within the context of an intimate relationship carries a unique impact because it rests at the intersection of both forms of violence. It’s necessary to understand intimate partner rape as a problem distinct from domestic abuse because, for many survivors who are battered and raped, the sexual violence itself is particularly devastating and is often unaddressed by service providers.
One survivor, Linda illustrates her experience with intimate partner violence this way:
“And they say marital rape is not as bad as stranger rape. I don’t know. I have never been raped by a stranger. But I think being raped by your husband in your own home must be worse in some ways. At least if you’re attacked by a perfect stranger it is not so personal. Your husband is the person whom you should be able to turn to for comfort, who should protect you. ”
Linda is not alone. Below are just some of the issues common to IPSV victims/survivors:
- Longer-lasting trauma: There’s a common notion that IPSV doesn’t have as bad an impact as sexual assault by a stranger. In fact, research reveals that the trauma can be longer lasting. Significant reasons for this are lack of recognition and ability to share the pain.
- Higher levels of physical injury: If we accept that generally, most rapes are not physically violent, those that do involve injury are likely to be partner rapes.
- The incidence of multiple rape: Although IPSV can be one-off, survivors of IPSV suffer the highest frequency of multiple rape.
- Higher levels of anal and oral rape: Partner perpetrators commonly use these forms of assault to humiliate, punish and take ‘full’ ownership of their partners.
- Advice to “put up with” rape: Marital rape victims are a group singularly prone to being advised by church, family or friends that they should be grateful that the rapist is a good father, and that it’s their duty to submit.
- Financial dependency on the rapist: Survivors with children who are permitted no money or employment of their own may feel that there is no escape.
- Safety issues: The IPSV survivor may need a place of refuge, court-orders and assistance with legal/custody matters.
- Difficulty defining the act/s as sexual assault: Survivors are socialized to see rape as involving non-consensual sex between two strangers. Additionally, there may be reluctance to define a partner she loves as a “rapist.”
- Psychological Effects: Survivors experiencing IPSV often carry a variety of psychological effects including depression, suicide, PTSD, anxiety, fear, self-blame, low self-esteem, and guilt. Additionally, survivors of IPSV may experience intense self-blame, shame, and confusion. Survivors of IPSV may experience confusion that is rooted in their inability to trust their own judgment, the sense of betrayal they feel at their partner, or societal beliefs that repeatedly deny her experience as one of sexual violence.
Intimate partner sexual violence (or IPSV) must also be considered from a cultural lens. Survivors from minority and underserved communities may experience more complex issues as intersections of race, class, and gender all influence the survivors experiences with the violence, which includes their engagement with systems, service providers and most importantly, their individual healing process.
In order to remove the stigma around IPSV and create opportunities for survivors to heal, we must continue acknowledging the impact sexual violence has on the lives of survivors and create opportunities for survivors to share their experiences while working to remove the stigma, shame, and seclusion that perpetuates their silence.
If you or someone you know is a survivor of IPSV, contact the advocates at WCSAFE for assistance and information on available services.
Considering the Differences: Intimate Partner Sexual Violence in Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Discourse. Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Connections Spring/Summer Edition, 2008.
Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners. Hybrid, Melbourne, 2006.
License to Rape: Sexual Abuse of Wives, The Free Press, New York, 1985.
Sexual Assault Among Intimates: Frequency, Consequence, and Treatments, NIJ, 2005.
“Little Brown Girl”
By: LaQuetta Travis
Little Brown Girl no one knows the pain you’ll go through as you grow
Little brown girl no one dares speak of your sorrow, your plight so they stand boldly, they mock and they stare
could it be that no one cares?
Little brown girl I’d tell you now if I knew it would help somehow little brown girl if you only knew the misery, the torture, awaiting you.
Little brown girl I weep for you born a woman and a hated hue.
Little brown girl little brown girl heed my warning I know what I’m saying I’ve been where you’re going
Little brown girl here’s the simple truth you were born in a world that simply hates you no other words, no other explanation the color of your skin is your condemnation.
Little brown girl I pray for you to rise above how the world views you to beat the odds and eat the chips that they all stacked against you.
Little brown girl I’m your biggest fan I see your strength the weights under which you stand.
Little brown girl fire in her heart the world set against you from the very start.
Little brown girl even the brown boy isn’t loyal. He will love you then leave you. To struggle and toil. And don’t get it twisted even if he stays he will add to your troubles not keeping them at bay.
Little brown girl, little brown girl the salt of the earth thrown into the tire straight from the hearth.
Little Brown Girl I’m pleading with you don’t give now you have too much to do.
Little brown girl so much to accomplish once you are done they’ll all be astonished.
Little brown girl something to be admired instead of oppressed you should be desired.
Little brown girl in a perfect world there’d be no reason for your tears to unfurl.
Little brown girl stand through the pain stand through murk, the mire, the world’s disdain.
Little brown girl stand through those tears for one day soon you’ll be the very thing they fear.
Little brown girl I salute you go ahead with your bad self and show them what you can do. Little brown girl, little brown girl, Little brown girl.
An Advocates Inspiration
By: Kristyn Weinert, LLMSW
WC Safe First Responder Sexual Assault Advocate
We are all born with a unique opportunity to be given a choice to determine our fate and destiny in life. Some say it’s a passion, others it’s a calling; however to me it’s both and what I call inspiration to be a voice for others. As Theodore Roosevelt stated, “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. For me, this profound and resonating statement describes my life’s purpose to stand for the well-being, equality and justice of others to ultimately make a positive impact and improve the lives of others. By taking such a stand, my actions allow an individual to develop a safer, more secure, healthier and more stable foundation that would assist that individual to move forward in life. A little bit of kindness can change a whole day, year, or life.
We get so caught up in what you’re supposed to do; you miss out on what you’re meant to. Being an advocate is to provide individuals and families with compassionate care, support, and empathy and being the voice to those who temporarily lost theirs. We are agents of change working to improve the lives of others by advocating for a diverse population. We are heroes and our superpower is empathy. We promote social justice so everyone can get an equal and fair change. We empower clients with strengths within the community and build upon them to make a positive impact. Standing up for the rights of others and working towards obtaining needed resources, providing coping skills and self-care techniques. I provide every individual I encounter with tools to help ignite their inspiration.
Every day is a constant reminder of a new day and I look forward to what awaits me. I search for what inspires me to becoming the best version of myself. My inspiration is a collaboration of clients, co-worker, other disciplines, friends, family and nature. A wise woman; my mother, once told me that you never have to search for inspiration. Inspiration is a blank painting canvas and all that we need is around us every single day. If we quiet our minds for a brief moment we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell that inspiration. Just like each and every single individual inspiration is unique, limitless, has no boundaries nor is judgmental. It comes in all unique forms, shapes, sizes, sounds, and colors. Just take a deep breath, open your eyes, take the first step and extend your arm out to embrace that inspiration no matter what it is. Let no one stand in your way to accomplish whatever you set your mind to. You are in control of your destiny and happiness. You will face several obstacles that will challenge you, but stay focused on the goal or dream that you set for yourself. Remember to smile and be gracious; even when things may not be going as you planned, but the way it is intended. Some of life’s unexplained detours end up creating a more fulfilling journey that was meant for you alone. All you need to do is take a leap of faith and be kind to yourself. Breathe, one step forward and know that you are never alone. I’m with you always.
I would like to take a moment to personally say thank you to all those individuals I have met in my life; co-workers, professors, family and friends for inspiring me with your stories, struggles and success. Your trust in me will continue to burn the endless inspirational torch inside of me to be my best version of myself, be an inspiration to those I encounter and together we can continue to make a difference, provide hope and inspire others, including our families, communities, and world with love, hope, and faith. When society is judgmental. Inspiration is free.
Food for thought: Here are some questions to get you started.
- Who inspires you or who do you inspire?
- What inspires you?
- Where do you find your inspiration?
- When do you seek, look, or find inspiration?
- Why do you look for or give inspiration?
- How do you give or receive inspiration?
About Kristyn Weinert
Kristyn Weinert, LLMSW, First Responder Sexual Assault Advocate, who completed her Bachelors and Masters in Social Work from Wayne State University in Detroit and has her limited license in Social Work to practice in Michigan. Kristyn has been selected by Wayne State University Social Work Dean to be the student committee student advisor during her three years in the Social Work Program. Kristyn was awarded by the National Association of Social Workers in 2015– Michigan Chapter Student of the Year for Wayne State University for leadership, academic success, community involvement, and contribution to the positive image of the social work profession. While obtaining her BSW & MSW, Ms. Weinert interned with Residential Hospice and Harbor Oaks Hospital. She has experience working with adults and families in a clinical and medical setting. Her clinical interests include in working with mental illness, grief, and loss, anxiety, PTSD and depression as it relates to trauma.
At Wayne County SAFE, Ms. Weinert is a First Responder Sexual Assault Advocate and provides advocacy and counseling to youth 12 and older as well as secondary support to non-offending family members. Ms. Weinert is inspired and passionate in helping assist youth, adults, vulnerable, oppressed and underserved populations, and is always mindful in working with a diverse cross-cultural society. She utilizes a therapeutic setting by creating an atmosphere of trust, mutual respect and effective communication. She has an interest in utilizing CBT-DBT, Grief and Loss, and Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, guided imagery and meditation.
An Interview with WC SAFE Board Secretary Scott Stewart
How were you first introduced to WC SAFE and how did you first get involved?
I was first introduced to WC SAFE by actually searching the NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work) Board Member postings, which I was incredibly lucky to spot! I reached out to the Board members due to their need for both public relations and marketing assistance and thought I could help. I initially was involved on the Fund Development Committee, helping to plan our two large events and to improve WC SAFE’s brand in the community.
Why do you continue to be involved in WC SAFE?
The incredible passion that WC SAFE’s staff has and the impact that WC SAFE has in the community is remarkable. Being able to grow the organization by continuing to improve operations, funding, and branding allows me to feel comfortable knowing this service is available for all those in need throughout Wayne County.
What are your goals for WC SAFE as the Board Secretary?
My overall goal is to improve efficiency and operations of the Board of Directors so that we can have a greater impact and improve support for WC SAFE’s dedicated staff members. I want to be able to grow the organization to the next level with improved organization.
Share any story about WC SAFE that has impacted you?
WC SAFE started as a small task force and has quickly grown into one of the most silent but most heavily impacted organization in Wayne County. I’ve never seen more dedicated and passionate staff, ones who are willing to give as much time as possible to help victims through these traumatic experiences – being their advocate so they can lead successful and happy lives with relief. This is the only organization providing this type of service in Wayne County and I wish this type of organization existed everywhere.
Outside of WC SAFE, what are your interests?
What other interests? 😛 Mostly, I love giving back to my community and teaching others about the power of social change. I love traveling and exploring the differences in culture in areas both nationally and globally.
About Scott Stewart
Scott Stewart is the Marketing and Development Manager at Oakland Integrated Healthcare Network (OIHN), a community health center in Pontiac, Michigan, and serves at the Secretary on WC SAFE’s Board of Directors. Scott has over five years of dedicated experience in working with nonprofits and social issues focused on children’s health, human rights, homelessness, education, and domestic and sexual violence. His passions involve advocating for those who are silenced, improving communities through grassroots engagement, and solving the complex intersection of social issues. Scott holds a BAA in Integrative Public Relations from Central Michigan University and goes to Wayne State University for his Master’s in Public Administration.
Examining Rape in Art History
By: Katie Michael
So here is the story of Medusa. If you took mythology in high school, then you probably learned that Medusa was a hideous woman with snakes on her head that turned men to stone. After hundreds of attempts by warriors and men of Greece to kill Medusa and steal her head (for its ability to be used as a weapon to turn onlookers to stone), Perseus finally beheads Medusa. After using it as a weapon, he gave it to the goddess Athena to adhere to her shield. So there is your cliff notes version…..There are different versions of the Medusa myth but this seems to be the most widely accepted. For most of us, our high school mythology class did not touch on how Medusa became a hideous woman with snakes on her head. According to several scholars, Medusa was once a beautiful priestess in the goddess Athena’s temple. In fact, she was the goddess of war’s favorite. Medusa had to swear to an eternal vow of chastity and be recognized as a symbol of purity. Along comes the god of the sea – Poseidon who rapes Medusa in Athena’s temple – the Parthenon. In doing this Medusa is no longer eligible to serve the goddess or legitimately marry. These laws or rules as you would call them also symbolize that women in ancient Greece were considered property. Athena, hearing of the incident, punished Medusa by banishing her to an island, turning her hair into snakes, and making her facial features so unattractive that it turned anyone looking at her to stone. She is isolated and banished from all society. She is silenced and punished. She is blamed.
So you’re probably asking what was Poseidon’s punishment? None. As a powerful male god – one of the most powerful, it is expected of him to take what he wants. This is not the only story depicting sexual violence in Greek mythology. Looking at other stories, there is a common theme of male gods raping women. Hades – god of the underworld raped the goddess of spring Persephone and fed her pomegranate to force her to spend 6 months of the year in the underworld. Zeus (which we have several accounts of his assaults on women) came to Danae in the form of a shower of gold and assaulted her. Often times these male gods would take on the form of a beautiful animal, for instance, a swan (Zeus taking on this form to rape Leda), and other times in the form of wind (Boreas the North wind assaulting Orithyia).
Rape has been a central theme in art history since ancient Greek times. Art depicting rape and war was often the focal point and popular subject in Greek, Roman, and post-renaissance western European art. In fact, it was such a sought after theme that the term “heroic rape” was applied to these narratives. The hero(s) of the story claim victory over land and in turn also claim their opponents: women. These scenes of rape take on an almost romantic view and mask the truly heinous crime committed. Often times when viewing these works you would not recognize that rape was the central theme unless you read the story behind it. There are several other pieces of art throughout history we could study that focus on themes of sexual violence. Victim blaming is the central outcome of these stories in Greek mythology. These acts are never seen as unacceptable. In fact, the gods committing sexual violence against women is glorified and seen as their divine right.
These same themes are part of rape culture in today’s society. We can take the story of Medusa and apply it to several current cases pertaining to sexual assault. Every time a survivor is asked, “Why was your dress so short?” or “Why did you leave the party with him?”… Every time a case goes to trial and the perpetrator is let go… or when a rape kit is left on a shelf and not tested, rape culture is perpetuated and reinforced. These survivors, too, are isolated and silenced. When we view the images and art of Greek Gods, we see strength and wisdom but fail to acknowledge the history and sexual violence behind these mythological stories and artworks. Women, whether goddesses or not, have to fear sexual violence and then are often blamed. Although we see these being depicted in art and in current media, we as a society need to stop blaming survivors and start providing them with the support they need.
About Katie Michael
K￼atie Michael holds a bachelor in art history and a bachelor in communications from the University of Toledo. She is currently the Community Relations Coordinator for the WC SAFE program. In this role, Katie often wears several different hats; visioning and coordinating the annual VOICES art show, event planning, fund development, marketing, office administration and community outreach. She helps co-facilitate the volunteer program and the art therapy group – which has been a great source of joy in her position. Katie is passionate about the arts and believes them to be a great healing tool for trauma survivors.