Common Ground

The excitement is building on Common Ground…

Read on to be a part of the excitement while we build a whole new look for you!

 

What is Common Ground?

 

Since the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative was so specific to the project, we wanted to give the SADI Corner a makeover to make it more relevant and sustainable. We want to keep the lessons we learned from the SADI Project, but present them in ways that express our continuity and commitment to putting it all into everyday action. 

 

Why “Common Ground?

 

Oh how we wrestled with the name! “What’s in a name”? Unlike Juliet’s take on them, there’s a lot to unpack from a name. The webpage name for this was no different. When named well, resource pages can provide inspiration, navigation, and be a great clue of where to find the most useful information. So why “Common Ground”?

I will say, I researched hundreds of names until I found something that sat well with me. Something I could feel in my soul. But, if I am being honest, the word “common” has always given me pause. This is mainly because so much of me exists in the UNcommon. I revel in standing out and being different. Differences rock! However, so much of who we are and what we do, threads through each other’s lives in a woven tapestry that has become this glorious movement.

 It was important for me to choose a name that all of the threads of our movement could come and glean resources to move the needle forward towards ending sexual violence. The name also needed to represent not only the beautiful threads of advocacy, but also the prickly pins and needles of racism and oppression. For such difficult things though, we needed something strong. A stronger representation of the work we plan to do on this page. A battlefield, if you will. 

But since I, as the SADI Specialist, weaving this tapestry, am more of a lover than a fighter, I wanted a simpler place. A common ground, per say. A place where we can confront the difficult topics in a technical way, that moves all the pieces together. A place that can include everyone, a place that focuses on those in marginalized communities that need the most attention. A place to focus on all the lessons we learned from SADI, but making it more accessible and easy to put into practice. 

So… after much thought and lots of research, The Common Ground sat well within my soul. It feels good. It’s a safe space. It’s a welcoming place. It’s the judgment- free zone. There is much to be learned and learn FROM The Common Ground. It’s a great place to start. Once I sat with the word, and really began to think about all the things that connect us, I realized that “common” is not so bad. It’s very important we meet on common ground in advocacy. Whether it’s one on one with survivors, or working policy change, it’s always a wonderful start when you begin on common ground. I hope you all are as excited about the construction of this page as we are. I have so many wonderful resources planned and I look forward to working with all of you in turning this into a successful venture. With that said, Caution! Hard hats are required in this area! Let’s get this done together!


NCCASA 2023 Biennial Conference
Back to the Future

Tuesday, May 16th – Thursday, May 18th, 2023

 

Conference will be held virtually through Zoom. All logistics and information will be sent out to each presenter once their proposal has been approved.


**Call for Proposals**

“Do not dwell on the past! The past has been written with ink…the future in pencil! Worries about what cannot be changed is unnecessary, focus on what you can control and work to not make the mistakes again.”

NCCASA’s 2023 Conference, Back to the Future, will focus on potential applications of lessons learned, promising practices, and our pathways forward to ending sexual violence in NC. As we look toward a world where COVID will always have an impact, we are still reminded that there is a need to offer spaces for recovery and to collectively share ideas for equilibrium and rebuilding.

We are looking for workshops that explore the following questions: How do we build trust and relationships with collaborative partners and community members, with marginalized communities, in our service delivery and intervention, and in our primary prevention? How do we acknowledge and support survivorship in the work with trauma- informed and person- centered care? Also, how do we enhance agency capacity, outreach, community organizing, program management & development to prevent and address trauma while promoting health, wellness, and access to resources and safety? We especially welcome culturally-specific workshops that promote sexual violence specific resources and services outside of the civil/legal system.

Workshops are 90 minutes in duration, and priority will be given to sessions that are interactive, engaging, and provide participants with something tangible. We envision workshops that go beyond lecture style presentations. We are accustomed to and encourage a delivery style such as Train the Trainer, case studies, or small group work. Our goal is to offer participants a conference experience with minimal lecture that promotes participation amongst attendees.

The Conference Committee composed of NCCASA members and allied professionals will select workshops based on the content of the proposal and the relevancy to the 2023 conference. Proposals should include and make clear how lessons learned and promising practices can be analyzed and implemented to continue forward momentum.

Guidelines for Submitting Proposals:

 

  • Please complete the training proposal form on the following page. Incomplete proposals will not be reviewed by the Proposal Committee.
  • Training proposals are due by 5:00pm on Monday, March 13th, 2023. Proposals received after this deadline will not be reviewed by the Proposal Committee.
  • Please submit your training proposal via email with the subject line, “TRAINING PROPOSAL,” to Deanna Harrington, Director of Statewide Capacity, at deanna@nccasa.org.
  • Training proposal submission does not guarantee workshop acceptance.

 

  • Notification of selection will happen on Monday April 1st, 2023

 

Click here to fill out the Proposal Form.

It’s possible we are all a little cagey to get too excited about 2023. Maybe our hope has been a bit dulled by the last couple of years. It may just feel safer to lower the bar when it comes to expectation. However, it’s worth reflecting together that we have weathered some storms and we are all still here! As survivors, advocates, friends and colleagues we have discovered courage and resolve we didn’t know we had. When we shine that light of resilience, we encourage each other to keep on. 

What does “light in the darkness” mean to you? Maybe you think about your faith or someone who was a guide or support during a rough time, or when you were able to strengthen another person. Maybe it was a date on the calendar, a powerful memory, or something to look forward to. An old friend we unexpectedly run into at just the right time. That text with an apology or a well-deserved “thank you.” That sacred place where you feel closest to something larger than yourself. 

For me, a light in the darkness means hope: hope we receive and hope we give.

It means clarity and presence, whether the light is a part of the collective light of others, or if it shines alone: one small point of light, defying the darkness, refusing to be overcome by it. Maybe it shines though it flickers and is dim, or maybe it glows with steady intensity and heat. Either way, lights in the darkness remind us that we are not alone, and that there IS a way forward. 

In January we focus on human trafficking awareness and we have seen significant changes in the North Carolina Anti-Human Trafficking (AHT) landscape in funding, organizational capacity and partnerships. And while there are many bright spots to celebrate, we have more work to do in centering survivors' well-being and implementing public health framework in our programs and strategic planning. We want our work to be impactful in the way it gives hope to others. 

We can also be a light in the way we do our work. What would happen if we prioritized: 

  • impact over output?
  • courtesy over competition?
  • relationships over influence?
  • abundance over scarcity?
  • presence over busyness?
  • empowering survivors over personal glory?

As we face 2023 with all the joys and challenges it will bring, let’s resolve together to cultivate that which gives light to others. In the very real darkness, let’s resolve to be hope givers. 

Courtney Dunkerton, Human Trafficking Program Coordinator

The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) is pleased to open the selection process for the the 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council. The Council will be comprised of twelve (12) youth, ages 13-17, who are committed to working hard, promoting advocacy and leadership which will shape the direction, content and marketing efforts for the 2023 Young Advocates Institute.

In an effort to ensure that the council is accessible and representative of our state’s rich diversity, we encourage students from all across North Carolina to apply to the council as we will use video conference call services for meetings. 

About the Young Advocates Institute
Launched in 2011, the Young Advocates Institute is a social justice summer learning initiative that empowers and trains 200 youth, ages 13-17, from across North Carolina during a week of prevention/intervention education, advocacy and leadership development seminars. The purpose of the Young Advocates Institute is to give youth a voice, the opportunity to share experiences regarding social justice issues and help them become an integral part of the solutions. To date, the Institute has trained over 2,000 youth and adult allies. In 2023 the Young Advocates Institute will celebrate its 12th year of service.

Duties of the Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council 

Selected council members will serve for an one (1) year term are expected to:

The Advisory Council will have access to:

The application for the 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council is now open. We encourage applicants who are enthusiastic, creative, willing to work with a team and possess a want to learn about varied social justice issues to apply.  No previous experience is required.

To apply to be a member of the 2022-2023 Young Advocates Institute Advisory Council, complete the online application available at https://forms.gle/xM58Ydq5pXurY2tL7

by Friday, November 11, 2022

The selected council members will be announced on Friday, November 18, 2022.

If you have any further questions, contact Tracy D. Wright at (919) 871-1015 or via email at tracy@nccasa.org

Registration is now OPEN for NCCASA’s Fall 2022 Member Meeting.  During our virtual time together we will provide NCCASA updates, opportunities to connect with other advocates in small groups and a workshop “Moving Grief”.  “Moving Grief” will be lead by Chesla Nickleson Licensed, Hospice Chaplain training to be a sex therapist at the Institute of Sexuality Education and Enlightenment) and AW Shields a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Movement Chaplain. This workshop will create a chance for Movement Leaders (you all) a space to identify, process the burden of grief that is a common experience in our work. This workshop is designed to educate participants about various aspects of grief and provide a safe space to practice processing grief in helpful ways individually and communally. 

 

Click here to register. 

The conference planning begins so quickly, it's hard to believe, but the time is here! This year, NCCASA will convene a committee of individuals from advocates at community sexual assault programs, trauma therapists, program directors and members of underrepresented communities to help plan the annual conference.

 Submit an Interest Form by September 31st and help create the theme, topics, materials, desired workshops, and more!

 If you are selected as a committee member...

 

Plan to meet via conference call in late October.

You will take part in deciding the theme of the conference, keynote selection and workshop selection / topic development.

Registration will be waived!

Most of the committee work will be in email communication, conference calls and workshop selection. We are seeking committee members from all across NC state and look for 1 representative per interested agency to support this diversity of perspectives.

 Contact Deanna for any questions regarding the conference or steering committee application at deanna@nccasa.org.

The North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NCCASA) is pleased to announce and open applications for the 2022 Young Advocates Institute Summer, July 13-17, 2022 in Durham, North Carolina. 


This year is the 11-year anniversary of the Young Advocates Institute. For over a decade, the Young Advocates Institute has been a rigorous training ground for over 1,800 youth across North Carolina. Merging the prevention/intervention of sexual and dating violence +social justice + education + advocacy + love + hip hop and popular culture lens + intergenerational approach, the Young Advocates Institute is a soulful and liberating experience.

Still grappling from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Young Advocates Institute made the tough decision not to host its traditional offering of 200 youth on a college campus.   Instead, this year fifty (50) youth, ages 13-17, will be selected to participate in the 2022 Young Advocates Institute. In addition, we will host a four (4) day meeting at a hotel in theRaleigh-Durham area, virtual session in August and  an end of year conference call in December.

The Young Advocates Institute now has an application process. The application is a tool to further enhance an active, interactive, and dynamic setting for students to grow their knowledge and skills.

  • The learning style question helps with the content design
  • The leadership style question helps with group dynamics
  • The short answer questions provide an opportunity to see how students feel and what matters to them

The expectation is a rich learning environment that is shaped by the gifts of lived experience and the multiple perspectives of the students we serve.

Apply for the 2022 Young Advocates Institute online at  https://forms.gle/FUiAo5Ga2ZNKZz1HA

 

The deadline to apply for the 2022 Young Advocates Institute is 5pm on Friday, June 24, 2022.

Applicants of the 2022 Young Advocates Institute will be notified on or before Monday, June 27, 2022.

Attached you will find:

If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me at (919) 871-1015 or via email tracy@nccasa.org.

A Reckoning 

On May 22 Guidepost Solutions released to the public a report of their investigation into the actions of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee that had been the center of a swirl of accusations regarding its handling of reports of sexual abuse  perpetrated by leadership within the network of Southern Baptist Churches across the US. 

 

The report revealed a pattern of systemic abuse, cover up, stonewalling and refusals to investigate or report to law enforcement sexual assault and child sexual abuse. In some cases there were repeating pleas from church members for the leadership to look into cases of child sexual abuse and rape that continued to happen, and cases in which abusive church leaders remained in ministry, or moved from church to church, free of any accountability.

 

It made plain what survivors and advocates had been saying for decades. It vindicated the survivors who had suffered considerable spiritual abuse by members of the committee  in the form of harassment, intimidation, and multiple attempts to ruin their names and silence their voices. These survivors persisted, protested, and organized at great cost to themselves, bringing to light what was fought so hard to keep in the shadows.

 

The report also revealed that the Executive Committee kept a running list of names of over 700 perpetrators. This list was not kept to stop or protect others from them, but for their own legal protection. The members of the SCB Executive Committee did not use their knowledge of names, victims, and places to report or stop of the sexual violence from occuring. As in many instances of insitutionalized sexual violence, files were kept in secret. That list was published today. 

#Churchtoo

In November 2017, the hashtag #churchtoo began to appear alongside of #metoo to create a space for survivors who had suffered sexual abuse  by church leadership. Outrage against survivors and allies was swift and sure. The status quo blustered about insubmissive, outspoken women, and complained loudly of “trauma culture,” in which victims claim a celebrity status, welding power to hold hostage cultural institutions by their cry of rape and oppression.” 

 

Survivors did not back down. 

 

As many of us have watched this reckoning, Big Names and Big Institutions fell under the weight of survivor testimonies, allies who believed them, and Christian investigative journalists’ podcasts, blogs and articles.  No doubt these days have been filled with anxiety and trauma for survivors. This blog post shares ways we can better understand the unique dynamic of sexual with spritiual abuse, and ways we can support survivors. 

Sexual Abuse in the Context of Spiritual Abuse

There is an opportunity for us to lean into this work and welcome survivors from faith communities, acknowledging the harm of sexual abuse that takes place with communities of faith that is complex and unique to each individual. 

 

Spiritual abuse is a form of psychological abuse that can happen when a person uses shared beliefs, sacred writings and threats of exposure to exert power and control over another individual or group. Spiritual abuse by one person against their partner to control might  be more easily recognized and  associated with intimate partner violence, but there is also a distinct dynamic in which sexual violence is leveraged within relgious communities, and manipulated to gain dominance over a person or group, particularly young people.

 

Abusers of sexual violence use their positions of spritual or denominational authority and influence who twist shared views of religious writings and practices to brainwash victims into believing coerced sexual “acitvity” is sanctioned by God. The abuser uses the responsibility to serve and protect the religious community from outsiders to keep a victim silent and “complicit.” Abusers often take advantage of young people’s lack of knowledge about their bodies and sex, combined with religious sounding “teaching” that keeps victims trapped in shame and confusion. Many victims carry this confusion into their adult years of marriage, and are unable to distinguish between consenual and nonconsenual sexual activity.

 

Often a loyal following, spiritual and intellectual dependence ensures that any outcry would never be believed. These abusers can be leaders who enjoy a protected status who often remain  aloof, alone and unaccountable, though well-loved and respected. Toxic church cultures can create situations in which abusers who are not leaders, but use their proximity to power to take advantage of others, especially by “policing” young people’s modesty and proper behavior within dating and marital relationships by requiring confession and “accountability.” Often these communities adhere to a rigid social order that does not invite transparency or inquiry. It is an atmosphere in which sexual violence can flourish and abusers can hide because they position themsevles as  “godly” people who hate wickedness. Sometimes abusers use exaggerated performative measures to be “careful” around women who are not their wives. 

 

Alternatively, sexual abuse can hide among more welcoming congregations that do not look on one another with suspicion and distrust. Abusers are often well-liked, kind and generous. They have groomed their community to regard them as members of their own family who want their young teens or adults to spend time with them. Their grooming looks exactly like the ministry expected of them. The congregation’s naivete and trust is manipulated, as he would be the very last person to suspect any kind of harm.

How do we heal?

This kind of emotional abuse can be very damaging and extremely confusing to a survivor, as a person’s spiritual faith and convictions  is a deeply personal aspect of a person’s  life and identity. 

 

Survivors are burdened with untangling what was false and harmful from what remains true in spite of the harm. 

 

There IS hope for healing! But it is messy and requires a lot of untangling things.This kind of abuse is so complex because there are so many layers of trauma to unpack and questions to answer: Who is safe? Who was complicit? If I could be deceived this way, what else am I deceived about? Who am I? What do I still believe? Is this God’s fault? What lies about myself have I believed? What needs deconstructing?

 

ALL those questions and feelings are normal, but it feels so scary. People take sides and call us names, say that we are bitter and unforgiving. But our healing is not for them! It is for ourselves! Healing takes time, and there is no one way and no straight path.

 

For advocates, there are many ways we can support survivors of sexual and spritual abuse. It’s important to meet survivors where they are and not assume we know all the ways they are processing their own spiritual needs: Some may want nothing more to do with religion and others may seek comfort from those very things that harmed them. We need to constantly check our own bias about our own internal experiences and feelings about communities of faith. Survivors can find it difficult to make choices and be confused by empowerment language when coming from a place with strict gender roles. Survivors can swing from hating to desperately clinging to their faith community. They may continue to pay reverence to their abuser in ways that can seem strange. 

 

We can also help those in the faith community practice non coercive ministry that :

  • believes survivors 
  • holds abusers accountable
  • de-centers a persons’ desire to minister and help, while centering (prioritizing) the survivor and what they actually need. 
  • practices awareness that touching, laying hands on, and asking how to pray, hugging, and crying on without consent can feel threatening and manipulative
  • asks for consent before touching or praying for or with someone
  • does not ask for or shares survivors' stories as prayer requests. They must understand that caring does not entitle a person to information or access to that person.
  • honors how the survivor defines what safety is to them .

 

Ultimately survivors determine their own pace, place, and people who get to be part of their journey. If invited, we walk alongside with gentleness and affirmation. 

 

If you see yourself in this narrative and want to talk to someone, reach out to your nearest rape crisis center. Many times we wait until well after the abuse to seek help. Please reach out to us if you need to connect with a place where you can receive support.

 

I write this in hope. I am a survivor of both sexual and spiritual abuse. I am still healing. I still practice my faith, and over the years have cultivated a deep sense of belonging and purpose through it, despite the great harm I have experienced. Hope rooted in a sure place is a mighty powerful thing. What happened to me is one part of one chapter, and my story is still being written. 

 

Courtney Dunkerton

Human Trafficking Program Coordinator