Chigonas, Courage, Kind Hearted Woman documentary, PBS Frontline, RAINN fundraiser, Robin Charboneau, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Sexual Violence, Strength, Strong Women

A Strong "Kind Hearted" Woman

Last night I watched a powerful documentary titled “Kindhearted Woman.” The story of Robin Charboneau, the 32 year old single mother on the Spirit Lake Reservation. Her story touched me in so many ways, and on several levels: as a woman, survivor, mother…I could go on, but an excerpt from her introduction gives you a sense of this remarkable woman. 

Throughout my entire life I have struggled with the aftershock of trauma from my childhood experiences of sexual abuse. I had no idea who “Robin” was, certainly no idea who “Kind Hearted Woman” (my Native American name) was. I struggled with the question of, why? Why was I abused over and over and over again? 

I struggled until, one night after I had prayed and asked, why? I had a dream (vision) of someone dying in the family and everyone in the house knew what had happened to the person, but would not tell. They would not say anything when the police came and questioned everyone. Then, right before they left, I finally found the strength to open my mouth and say “I KNOW WHAT HAPPENED.” 

When I woke up, I knew then and there that I needed to make the commitment to do the film. I needed to bear witness to my own life so that others would learn from my experience and know that there is a way out of the darkness.

Several studies have found that Native American women suffer sexual abuse, 
domestic violence and physical assault at rates far exceeding women of other ethnicities and locations. Kind Hearted Woman is the story of how the challenges of these abuses show up in life and how one woman dug in and dealt with these issues. (You can watch the two episodes on the PBS website).

When I first found out about the film, I wondered about the effects the documentary will have on Robins children and her life. Was it too much honesty, would it breed fear or shame, how would they deal with the abuse all out in the open? 

After I viewed the second episode I no longer wondered about that issue. I only thought about how brave Robin is and how open she became with her son and daughter. She was honest and although talking to them about boundaries, abuse, and her divorce seemed overwhelming at times, there she was struggling to be real, to trust others, and at the same time nurturing to her children. 

Honesty, therapy, and support helped Robin help her children, herself and others. I’m glad she found some resources to assist her and more happy that she found the strength to keep on keeping on during the struggles with her mental health, sobriety, and recovery. Her story brought healing. It ain’t easy.

During “Sexual Assault Awareness Month” you can do a lot for others. One small but huge action is a donation to RAINN non-profit (Rape, Abuse,Incest National Network). 

Donations are tax deductible, and RAINN will send you a receipt and place your donation on the RAINN Makers page.

My pledge is to give away one of these cool bracelets (either Hope, Courage, or Strenght) to someone who donates to this cause before April 19, 2013. Random selection of whom will receive one of these bracelets will be made on April 20, 2013 and notification soon after.

Your donation will help others who are struggling with their abuse. Be the change you wish to see.

Healthy choices, RAINN, RAINN fundraiser, Safety Tips, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, Spring Break, Wisdom

10 Steps to a Safer Spring Break

Spring break is over for some colleges but is just beginning for several others. It’s a time,(and I have to go way back in my memory) when you can chuck the books relax, stay out late, and sleep in without feeling guilty for missing a class.

Whether you go out to one club or ten in a week of partying there is still a part of you that you don’t want to chuck-your safety. 

Seven of these tips are from RAINN and three are from my own experience-which I’ve handed down to my teenagers.

  1. Trust your instincts. If you feel unsafe in any situation, go with your gut. If you feel uncomfortable or something doesn’t feel right, leave and get to a safe place immediately. If someone is pressuring you, it’s better to lie and make up a reason to leave than to stay and be uncomfortable, scared, or worse.
  2. Be wary of the “You Only Live Once” mentality. Being spontaneous and adventurous goes hand-in-hand with spring break. However, being too carefree can lead to dangerous situations. Don’t leave your normal logic at home just because you’re in a foreign place.
  3. Don’t let your guard down. A spring break destination can create a false sense of security among vacationers. Don’t assume that fellow spring breakers will look out for your best interests; remember they are essentially strangers.
  4. Protect your location on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. If someone you don’t know or trust asks you to go somewhere alone, let him or her know that you would rather stay with the group. Use any excuse you can think of to get out of a difficult situation.
  5. Get local. Know your accommodation address and the safest routes to and from your local destinations. Before leaving a hotel, ask the concierge for a business card with the hotel address or write the address down if you are staying at a rental property. Have the number for local cab companies and always keep enough cash on you to take a taxi home. Know who to contact in the event of an emergency, such as 911 or local authorities. If traveling internationally, have the contact information for the U.S. Embassy with you.
  6. Be a good friend—stick together & have a plan. Check out your surroundings before you go out and learn a well-lit route back to your hotel or rental property. Have a plan A and B.
  7. Use your cell phone as a tool If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, shoot a quick text for a “friend-assist.” Make a back-up plan before you go out just in case your phone dies. If you are traveling internationally, buy a pay-as-you-go phone or contact your cell phone provider to activate international coverage during your trip.
  8. Drink responsibly and know your limits. For every alcoholic drink, drink an equal amount of club soda, water, iced tea. Don’t be that girl that stumbles into the bathroom barfing all over the place.
  9. Shield your drinks. Keep your drink close, don’t leave it on the table. It only takes seconds to drug your drink. Likewise don’t accept drinks from strangers.
  10. Check out the club before you go there. Do they have a reputation for drugs, fights or shootings? If so, find somewhere else to go.
In the event of a sexual assault during spring break, seek immediate medical attention. In the U.S., call 911 or the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE) for advice and support. If you are traveling internationally contact the State Department or the American Embassy in country, to be connected with special services for American victims of crime abroad. You can also register your international trip with the U.S. State Department, to be notified of safety status changes.

I’ve pledged a personal 30 day campaign to raise funds for RAINN. It’s not a whole lot, but it’s an effort to support victims and be part of the change to make lives better. I invite you “…to be the change you wish to see in this world.”-Gandhi

On my Facebook page I’ll have status updates, until April 19, 2013, on this fundraising effort. I’m also giving away one of the Hope, Strength, or Courage bracelets.* 

Contributions are tax deductible, safe on a secure website, and you will receive a receipt from RAINN.

Have a wonderful weekend.

*details are posted on my FB page about the giveaway.
Encouragement, Facebook Mona AlvaradoFrazier, RAINN, RAINN fundraiser, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Violence, Strong Women, Support for victims

How to Support Victims of Sexual Violence

News reports over the weekend publicized the sexual violence recently perpetrated in the cases of Steubenville and New Delhi.

The fact that both these cases occurred in public with more than one perpetrator was particularly grievous, horrendous and terrifying. 
The first media reports about these two cases felt like the unnerving news of the shootings at Sandy Hook, the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, and the Aurora, CO movie theater.

Is no one safe from sexual violence even on a bus, at a party, on a military base, in a church?

We know the answer. We’ve heard and read about it. One of every six women who read this has experienced sexual abuse, one in 33 men. 

This, like all cases of sexual violence I read or hear about, pains me, as a human being, a woman, and a person who has experienced sexual abuse.

The reports, images, and news talk linger in my mind much, much longer than they do in an 30 or 60 second news blurb. 

For the victims it lasts a lifetime, in one way or another.

This is an emotional laden subject and one you may click through. Not because you don’t care, but because you feel hopeless or powerless about this subject. 

But you are not powerless to help support someone who has experienced sexual violence.

You can become more aware, volunteer with an organization that assists victims, donate money, and/or support organizations that are dedicated to stopping sexual violence.  

One of the national resources is RAIN (Rape, Abuse, Incest, National Network). These suggestions to help emotional support someone comes directly from their site:

  • Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
  • Be patient. Remember, it will take your loved one some time to deal with the crime.
  • Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.
  • If you are dealing with an issue involving your child, create a safe place by talking directly to them.
  • Encourage your loved one to report the rape or sexual violence to law enforcement (call 911 in most areas). If your loved one has questions about the criminal justice process, talking with someone on the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1.800.656.HOPE, can help.
  • Let your loved one know that professional help is available through the National Sexual Assault Hotline, 1.800.656.HOPE, and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.
  • If your loved one is willing to seek medical attention or report the assault, offer to accompany him or her wherever s/he needs to go (hospital, police station, campus security, etc.)
  • Encourage him or her to contact one of the hotlines, but realize that only your loved one can make the decision to get help.

To help support victims you don’t personally know, use your shopping acumen by  shopping to support RAINN. From Amazon to Urban Outfitters, and in between, anywhere from 7% to 1.5% of sales are contributed to this organization. Or buy some RAINN Gear, they have some very cool bracelets that I bought. Here’s one of them. 

Or help support my personal 30 day campaign to raise funds for RAINN. It’s not a whole lot, but it’s my pledge to support victims and be part of the change to make lives better. 

On my Facebook page I’ll have status updates for the next 30 days (until April 19, 2013). I’ll give away one of the bracelets.* 

Contributions are tax deductible, safe on a secure website, and you will receive a receipt from RAINN.

*details will  be posted on my FB page about giveaway.