Feb 27, 2018
By Maria Halyna Lewytzkyj-Milligan and Evelina Molina
Learning about issues that women face when they have been raped involves a lot more than opinions about rape culture, intellectualizing the effect of rape scenes in movies, or reacting to the first-hand ordeals in the media.
When Brock Turner, the former Stanford athlete, received a light sentence in 2016 for sexually assaulting an unconscious woman, it sparked outrage around the world. Yet leaving ourselves in a collective state of outrage becomes hazardous. Americans are unhappy about what they learned, but we’re not looking at the deeper issue. We have to learn is how that outrage translates into solving the sexual assault problem that permanently impacts women.
In preparation for a community-wide effort to better understand how we can work together, one significant step that we took was to establish Sat On Her Case, a Sonoma County-based volunteer initiative. If we ,as a community, are going to learn more about how rape impacts us, we need reliable research. We found that we didn’t know what resources were available. As two educated women who had been actively involved in other community efforts on numerous occasions, it surprised us that we didn’t know where to turn. It meant that there were likely others just as uncertain.
Sat On Her Case set out to collate the resources, to get our hands on a movie inspired by Oprah, who raised awareness about Recy Taylor at the Golden Globes while accepting the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award. We decided that hosting an event to show a film and lead a panel discussion for Women’s History Month would help us in our advocacy effort, raise awareness of the issue and lead to more answers, more questions and more solutions.
As part of Women’s History Month, Sat On Her Case is co-sponsoring the film on Thursday March 29th, 7 pm, at the Rialto Cinema in Sebastopol.The film is a benefit for Verity, a local organization that support women who have been victims of sexual assault and abuse.
Afterward, we will host a panel discussion on the topic of RAPE KITS. Our society is not prioritizing justice against the perpetrators of sex crimes a high priority.
Recy Taylor refused to be silent, but many women fear coming forward and want to move on with their lives for many reasons, whether or not justice has been served…burying our voices and silencing outselves. Our panel will discuss how we can address some of the issues surrounding the backlog of rape kits that we find here in our own communities and what we can do about it and what is being done.
Our panel includes Sonoma County District Attorney Jill Ravitch, Executive Director at Verity Christine Castillo, Sonoma County Chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW) President Elaine B. Holtz, Sonoma County Sheriff Robert Giordano andJade de la Cruz, Instructor and Owner of Jade’s Women’s Self-Defense.
According to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, there are more than 2 million survivors of rape living in California. Thousands of women have to experience what it’s like to find out that they Sat On Her Case and what we’re finding is that it is difficult to find the statistical numbers that give us an accurate picture of the number of rapes in Sonoma County annually or monthly. We have found some results for certain cities like Santa Rosa that we include on our website, but as we get a better idea of how many there are county-wide, we will update readers.
We also include information on the process of how rape test kits are collected and processed, in order to get a clearer picture of what a rape victim faces and where and how the backlogs occur. A rape kit—also known as a sexual assault kit (SAK), a sexual assault forensic evidence (SAFE) kit, a sexual assault evidence collection kit (SAECK), a sexual offense evidence collection (SOEC) kit, or a physical evidence recovery kit (PERK)—is a package of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault.
Since space is limited here, we are eager to direct you to our website satonhercase.com to stay informed on what we find and learn more after watching the movie with us on March 29th at the Rialto. Reception begins at 6 pm; movie starts promptly at 7pm.
Additionally, Sat On Her Case will host a screening of “I am Evidence” in April during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
What is human trafficking? How does it impact you and me? Does it happen here in Sonoma County? Our Healdsburg AAUW Branch is teaming up with Santa Rosa AAUW and the Healdsburg Soroptomists to educate our community about this growing problem.
Please come on March 7 to view the award-winning film
“Not My Life”, narrated by Glenn Close.
A panel discussion led by Katherine Hargitt, the Chair and Founder of the Sonoma County Task Force on Human Trafficking, will follow.
Dr. Katherine Hargitt, Licensed Clinical Psychologist and a Founder of the Sonoma County Task Force on Human Trafficking; Elizabeth Quiroz, Trafficking Survivor, Victim’s Advocate and Task Force member; Jessica Stillman, Human Trafficking Caseworker with Verity – Sonoma County’s rape crisis trauma center in Santa Rosa.
This program is free and open to the public. Bring your friends and neighbors.
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