Alternatives To Violence of the Palouse, Inc.
Help for victims and survivors of domestic and sexual violence, friends and non-offending family members, with a focus on prevention education and community outreach.
24-hour Crisis Hotlines:
(208) 883-HELP or
Collect crisis calls will be accepted.
What Is Sexual Assault/Abuse?
Facts And Myths
Common Reactions Of Victims
Support Groups and Advocacy-Based Counseling
Alcohol, Drugs And Sexual Assault
How To Protect Yourself
How To Protect Your Child
Getting Medical Attention
Reporting To Law Enforcement
Crime Victims Compensation
Strong At The Broken Places (a poem by a survivor)
WHAT IS SEXUAL ASSAULT/ABUSE?
Sexual assault is a broad term that encompasses a variety of abusive actions. Sexual assault is oppressive and demeaning in nature and is best described as a sexual expression of aggression, control, and/or power inequality.
Definition: Sexual assault/abuse includes unwanted, unwelcome, and/or non-consensual sexual jokes, cat calls, obscene phone calls, voyeurism ("Peeping Tom"), exhibitionism ("flasher"), sexual photographing or videotaping, forced touching in a sexual manner, forcing someone to engage in sexual touch, coerced and/or forced sexual intercourse, sometimes with added physical violence (beating, use of weapons, etc.). Sexual assault/abuse can happen to anyone regardless of race, socio-economic status, sexual preference, age, and/or gender. Sexual assault/abuse can be male on female, male on male, female on female, or female on male. Acts of sexual violence fall into one or more of the following categories:
Stranger Rape: occurs between a victim and one or more perpetrators who are not known by the victim. Frequently this type of rape involves the use of force and/or threat of harm by physical violence (beating, use of weapons, etc.).
Power Rape: (sometimes known at date rape or acquaintance rape) occurs between a victim and perpetrator(s) who are acquainted in some manner, and usually involves a violation of trust. THE KEY IS THAT SEXUAL INTERCOURSE OCCURS WITHOUT THE VICTIM'S CONSENT. The perpetrator(s) may use threats of harm, coercion, mental incapacitation of the victim using alcohol and/or drugs, or physical force to overcome the victim.
Partner/Spouse Rape: occurs between a victim and her/his spouse/partner. Similar to power rape, the perpetrator may use threat of harm, coercion, mental incapacitation of the victim, or physical force to overcome the victim. THE KEY IS THAT SEXUAL INTERCOURSE OCCURS WITHOUT THE VICTIM'S CONSENT.
Child Sexual Abuse: is any situation in which an adult or someone significantly older than the victim threatens, forces, or manipulates a child into sexual activity. Many offenders don't need to use physical force with children. Instead, they take advantage of their position of trust and/or authority. Child sexual abuse includes sexual intercourse; sexual contact, including through clothing; exposing one's sexual organs in an offensive, sexually suggestive or otherwise inappropriate manner; inappropriate touching; engaging in activities related to child pornography; promoting prostitution by minors; permitting, encouraging or forcing a child to watch sexual activities of others; allowing others to sexually abuse/exploit a child; encouraging or forcing a child to engage in sexual activity with any person or with animals; encouraging or forcing a child to engage in sexually explicit conduct.
Approximately 1 in 4 females and 1 in 7 males are reported to have been sexually abused by the age of 18.
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MYTHS AND FACTS
Sexual assault/abuse myths are beliefs held within our society that place blame on the victim and justify the actions of the perpetrators. These beliefs affect everyone and therefore can have a great impact on how sexual abuse, rape and victims of these crimes are perceived. When victims reach out to individuals who understand this type of victimization, they are more likely to receive appropriate support and assistance. On the other hand, telling someone who strongly believes the myths about sexual assault/abuse can be hurtful, as the person may overtly or inadvertently blame the victim.
Sexual assault/abuse myths are related to beliefs that girls and women are "sexual temptresses" and that boys and men respond to their "uncontrollable" passion through aggressive sexual pursuit. The myths also are related to oppressive belief systems, including homophobia, racism, and sexism, which maintain that certain individuals or groups of individuals are "inferior" and are available to be used and abused.
Common sexual assault/abuse myths include:
Myth: Sexual assaults only happen on dark streets and walkways by strangers.
Fact: The vast majority of assaults occur in either the victim's or the perpetrator's house and the perpetrator is often known by the victim. 84% of all sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
Myth: It is impossible for a husband to sexually assault his wife.
Fact: Regardless of marital or social relationship, if a woman does not consent to sexual activity, she is being sexually assaulted. 14% of married women said their husbands had used physical force or threats to try to have sex with them. Former husbands, boyfriends, and ex-boyfriends commit 26% of rapes and sexual assaults.
Myth: It is impossible to sexually assault a man.
Fact: Men fall victim for the same reasons as women: they are incapacitated, coerced, and/or overwhelmed by threats or acts of physical and emotional violence.
Myth: As long as children remember to stay away from strangers, they are in no danger of being sexually assaulted.
Fact: Children are usually assaulted by an acquaintance, a family member or other care-taking adult. Children are often coerced into sexual activity by their assailant, and are manipulated into silence by the assailant's threats and/or promises, as well as their own feelings of guilt about participating in the activities.
Myth: Gay men are more likely to perpetrate sexual assault on males.
Fact: Perpetrators can be anyone. In 98% of rape cases, rapists are heterosexual men. 24% of male victims of sexual molestation were victimized by females.
Sexual assault/abuse can be emotionally devastating because many victims feel partially responsible for the assault/abuse, usually as a result of believing one or more of the societal myths about sexual assault/abuse.
Victims may fear that others will not believe them or that others may blame them for what happened. Another serious impact of sexual assault/abuse myths is that many victims remain silent and do not seek the support that can help them in their healing process.
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Victims of sexual assault/abuse can experience a wide range of reactions to their trauma. Each individual is different in the way they handle and cope with their victimization. Just because a person does not exhibit one or all of these reactions does not mean that they have not been traumatized. Some typical reactions include:
- emotional shock
- feelings of powerlessness
- feelings of helplessness
- fear of being alone
- fear of being around men
- total or partial denial
- guilt, fear that they are to blame for the assault/abuse
- fear of telling family and/or friends
- fear of being "dirty"
- fear of "going crazy"
- feeling overwhelmed
- fear that they were not "really" assaulted if their body responded sexually
sleeplessness hysteria extreme calm muscular tension nausea loss of appetite overeating nightmares/reliving the event bed wetting stomach aches obsessive/compulsive behavior disorientation lack of concentration excessive movement excessive lethargy difficulties with sensuality/sexuality difficulties with touching fear of not being believed loss of trust difficulty recognizing that what happened was sexual assault/abuse
"Change the changeable, accept the unchangeable, and remove yourself from the unacceptable."
Males who have been sexually assaulted/abused will have many of the same reactions as females. They may also feel:
- confusion about their masculinity
- confusion about their sexual identity
- fear that help is only available for female victims
- fear that others will not believe them
Children rarely talk about sexual abuse they are experiencing due to many factors, such as fear, shame, guilt, and/or not having the words to speak about it.
Several indicators of possible abuse include:
- withdrawn behavior
- aggressive behavior
- inappropriate sexual behavior
- inappropriate sexual knowledge for age
- self-destructive behavior
- excessive fears, hysteria
- problems with peers
- difficulties at school
- poor self-esteem, self devaluation, lack of confidence
- chronic depression
- suicide attempts
- torn, stained or bloody underclothing
- pain or itching in the genital area
- difficulty walking or sitting
- bruises and/or bleeding in external genitalia
- venereal disease
- frequent urinary or yeast infections
- threatened by physical contact, closeness
- significant weight change
- eating disorder
- bed wetting
PHYSICAL SIGNS OF ABUSE IN CHILDREN ARE RARE. **Having one or more of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that a child is being abused.
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SUPPORT GROUPS AND ADVOCACY-BASED COUNSELING
Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse provides free confidential services, without discrimination, to women, men, and children who have been affected by sexual assault. This can include advocacy-based counseling with trained individuals who support survivors in an individual, family or group setting; information and referral services; and 24-hour crisis intervention from ATVP staff and volunteers.
Support groups are available for victims and survivors, as well as non-offending parents, to share like experiences and offer support to one another in a safe, confidential setting. Goals include education, empowerment, self-esteem building, problem solving, reduction of anxiety and stress resulting from victimization, and safety issues. Child advocacy is provided.
For information on any of the services Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse can provide, please contact us.
ALCOHOL, DRUGS AND SEXUAL ASSAULT
Drinking alcohol puts a person at higher risk for sexual assault. When intoxicated, perceptions about what is happening around and to a person may become blurred. One's ability to resist an attack is lessened. Some people purposefully "feed" others alcohol before coercing or forcing sex, in order to reduce their defenses.
About 75% of men and 55% of women involved in acquaintance rapes had been drinking prior to the attack.
The effects of alcohol include:
- lowered inhibitions
- impaired judgment
- dizziness · impaired coordination and motor functioning
- memory loss (blackouts)
People frequently underestimate the impact of alcohol. Many people who thought they had been drugged and were tested actually had a high level of alcohol in their system and no other drugs. These effects can leave a person vulnerable to sexual assault. People who consume too much alcohol and are alone often become targets for individuals or groups of individuals who are "scouting" for a victim.
Rohypnol is a prescription sleeping medication that is illegal in the United States. It is an odorless, colorless and tasteless tablet that dissolves quickly in liquid. It can easily be slipped into a victim's drink without their knowledge. Other names for Rohypnol include: "roofies," "la rocha," or "roachies." An individual who has been slipped a "roofie" may appear to be very drunk, after drinking a small amount or no alcohol at all.
The effects of "roofies" include:
- lowered inhibitions
- impaired judgment
- impaired motor skills
- amnesia (memory loss while drugged)
Serious complications, including coma and death, can occur if Rohypnol is consumed in high amounts and/or combined with alcohol.
GHB has never been approved for any medical uses in the United States. While GHB is not currently listed as a federally controlled substance, it is illegal in many states to manufacture, possess or sell GHB. In states without specific laws, intrastate sale or possession can be punishable. GHB is most commonly made in a clear, liquid form, which is colorless, odorless, and can be easily mixed into a drink. Because of its similar appearance to water and its salty taste, GHB is often referred to as "salt water" or "water." Other common names for GHB include: "Georgia Home Boy" or "Grievous Bodily Harm." Most GHB used today is "homegrown," made by non-professionals in their homes. There can be significant differences in the purity, concentration, and potency when GHB is made, making its effects extremely unpredictable.
The effects of GHB include:
- deep sedation
- acid burns
- respiratory depression
- respiratory arrest
Serious complication can occur when GHB is consumed in high amounts and/or combined with alcohol.
Many people mistakenly believe that "taking advantage" of a person who is drunk, on drugs, or passed out is not rape. According to both Idaho and Washington State laws, an individual cannot consent to sexual intercourse when intoxicated or drugged to the point that one cannot make clear, rational decisions. Nor can an individual give consent when s/he is passed out.
It is strongly recommended that if you think you or a friend has been drugged that you seek immediate medical attention. A free drug test is available to determine whether a sexual assault victim has been drugged. This test can be accessed by law enforcement, rape crisis centers, and hospital emergency room departments. This test requires that a urine sample be provided within 72 hours of drug ingestion. It should be noted that the test also includes screening for alcohol, amphetamines, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, cocaine, GHB, marijuana, and opiates.
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HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
Being sexually assaulted is never your fault.
You are not the person who is in the wrong - it is the assailant who has committed the crime. However, there ARE things that you can do which may help to lower your risk of being assaulted.
- Set sexual limits and clearly communicate them to your partner
- Be assertive
- Listen to and trust your intuition and "gut feelings"
- Notice your own fears
- Be cautious in a new place - too much trust can be dangerous
- Consider paying your own ways on dates
- Don't let someone into your home that you don't feel comfortable being assertive with
- Be very aware of your limits when drinking pr using drugs
- Open your own drinks.
Don't share/exchange drinks with anyone Don't drink from a container that is being passed around Don't drink from a punch bowl or beer-bong Never leave your drink unattended Choose drinks that you are familiar with Don't drink anything that has an unusual taste or appearance Don't assume that your friends are looking out for you or can protect you from harm If you must drink or do drugs, do so in moderation.
"Passivity is the dragon that every woman must slay in her quest for independence."
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
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HOW TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD
- Children need self-esteem reinforcements.
- Support your child in developing self-confidence.
- Help your child learn the importance of trusting and paying attention to their feelings.
- Children need to know that their bodies belong to them.
- Children need to know that it's OK to say "NO".
- Help your child learn the difference between good secrets and bad secrets.
- Develop vocabulary for body parts with your child, so that s/he has the words to express her/himself.
- Play "what if..." games with your child to help her/him practice what s/he would say or do.
- Be there for your child and let her/him know that you believe her/him.
- Know the facts! Don't rely on stereotypes and misconceptions to protect your child.
- Remember, if abuse does occur; let your child know it is not her/his fault!
If a child trusts you enough to tell you about an incident of abuse, you are in an important position to help!
- Keep calm. Children can mistakenly interpret anger or disgust as directed towards them.
- Believe the child. In most circumstances, children do not lie about sexual abuse.
- Give positive messages, such as "I believe you," or "I'm proud of you for telling."
- Explain to the child that s/he is not to blame.
- Listen and answer the child's questions honestly.
- Respect the child's privacy.
- Be responsible. Report the incident to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.
- Arrange a medical exam.
- Get help. Professional counseling can be very beneficial, even if it's only for a short period of time.
- Call Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse for information and support.
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GETTING MEDICAL ATTENTION
It is strongly recommended that you seek medical care following a sexual assault. An advocate with Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse can accompany you to provide support and explain procedures.
A medical history will be necessary in order for the physician to identify any medical conditions that could affect your treatment. This will include allergies, prescription and non-prescription medications, major illnesses; and for women, any use of birth control, a gynecological history, menstrual status and date of last period.
You may choose to request a rape exam, which is a thorough exam including the collection of forensic evidence. If you think that you might want to pursue legal action either immediately or in the future, such as prosecution, it is in your best interest to request a rape exam so that physical evidence can be collected in a timely fashion.
If you do not want the rape exam, you can request that only a medical exam be performed.
THE RAPE EXAM
Be aware that timing is very important when making the decision to request a rape exam. It is recommended that the rape exam be performed immediately after the assault, or within 72 hours, while the evidence is still able to be collected.
Although it may be painful or uncomfortable for you, it is best that you DO NOT change your clothes, bathe, douche, go to the bathroom, drink, eat, or brush your teeth before you go to the hospital or to see a doctor. Bring a change of clothes to wear home after the exam. If you have already changed your clothes, place the worn clothing in a paper bag to take to the hospital.
A description of the assault will help the physician with the rape exam. It may also be used as evidence if there is a prosecution.
- The medical professional will have you undress while standing on a clean white cloth. The purpose of this is to allow the nurse or physician to note torn clothing, rips, tears, stains, moss, leaves, sand, or other foreign materials.
- All of your clothing will be put into separate paper bags and then sealed. When you have undressed, any debris and the white cloth will be collected as evidence. You will not get your clothes back while the case is being prosecuted.
- The medical professional must complete the exam according to forensic protocol, which includes taking swabs, hair samples, fingernail scrapings, and a blood sample.
The last step will be the follow-up procedures for the medical and/or rape exam:
- Referral to a sexually transmitted infections (STI's) clinic or your private physician for repeat cultures in six weeks.
- Referral to a clinic or your private physician to test for pregnancy.
- Referral to a clinic or your private physician for an HIV test in 6 months.
- If there are any other physical injuries, a check-up will be scheduled.
If you choose not to have the rape exam, seeking a medical exam at any time after the assault is very important for your personal health. An advocate with Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse can accompany you to provide support.
THE MEDICAL EXAM
- Is conducted for your protection.
- Is for the detection and the potential treatment of any physical injuries.
- Is for the detection, treatment, and prevention of possible sexually transmitted infections (STI's).
- Is for the detection and prevention of possible pregnancy.
- Is to identify possible non-medical concerns and provide appropriate referrals (ex: counseling, legal aid).
- Is to see if any follow-up examinations and tests may be needed.
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REPORTING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT
The legal aspects of sexual assault/abuse can be difficult, frustrating, and tedious. Remember, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse is here to support you through the process, and we have legal advocates who are sensitive to the feelings you may have and understand legal processes.
A police report may be taken at the hospital, or, if you decide not to seek medical attention, you may file the report with your local law enforcement agency. At the hospital or doctor's office, an officer will arrive to talk to you and ensure that the chain of evidence procedures are followed if you choose to have a rape exam. The officer may stand in the doorway or just outside the door of the examining room to make sure the evidence from the exam is preserved. Law enforcement departments usually try to send an officer who is the gender that you requested, however, this may be difficult in rural areas where there are fewer female officers.
The officer will want to find out what happened and will ask you some questions. These questions are very personal and may seem accusatory, but by asking you such detailed questions, the officer is establishing exactly what happened so that law enforcement can make a determination on what to do next in the investigation of the crime. Some of the questions may include:
- What happened? Where? When? How?
- Did you freely engage in any of the sexual activities?
- Did you say "no"? Did you resist?
- Was there penetration? Vaginal and/or anal? Oral? Digital (fingers)? Objects?
- Were there drugs and/or alcohol involved? Were you and/or the perpetrator intoxicated and/or high?
We understand that it is difficult to discuss such personal things, especially after experiencing a trauma such as sexual assault/abuse. Please remember that, in order to prosecute successfully, detail is important. REMEMBER, RAPE IS NEVER YOUR FAULT!
THIRD PARTY REPORTS
If you do not want to file a report yourself, an informational third party report can be filed. This means that someone can give law enforcement details about the assault, as directed by you, on your behalf. Law enforcement will not do an investigation based on a third party report. Without your full cooperation, an investigation and successful prosecution is most likely not possible. Advocates through Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse are available to help you if you are interested in reporting by third party.
CONDUCT BOARD REPORTS
If you are a student at the University of Idaho or Washington State University, you also have the option of filing a report with the university conduct boards. Based on your report, the conduct board will determine the appropriate action and penalty, if any. If you are interested in pursing possible conduct board reports, advocates from Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse are available to assist you.
If you choose to report the assault/abuse to law enforcement, they may investigate the crime and interview all of the individuals involved. This includes the perpetrator and any witnesses that may have seen you either before or after the assault/abuse. Sometimes people who have been victimized by sexual assault/abuse are scared about what reporting might mean and sometimes change their minds. Law enforcement will usually take into consideration your concerns and/or wishes in deciding to pursue investigation and prosecution. However, it is possible that the case will be investigated and prosecuted even if you do not want to pursue charges. If you are unsure, law enforcement may or may not make an arrest and they will pass the information on to the prosecutor. The prosecutor will determine whether or not to file charges.
If the perpetrator is arrested and booked into jail, it is likely that s/he will be released on bail. If the perpetrator is released, you should be notified. Almost always a condition of release will be to have no contact with the victim.
Law enforcement investigates the crime and sends the report to the prosecutor. It is the prosecutor's decision whether or not to file charges. Victims of crime cannot "press" or "drop" charges. Depending on your willingness to cooperate with the prosecutor and/or the amount of evidence available, charges may be filed against the perpetrator. If you do not wish to cooperate with law enforcement and/or the prosecutor, your decision usually will be honored and no charges will be filed. However, it is always the prosecutor's decision to follow through with the case, whether you are cooperative or not. If the prosecutor believes that there is not sufficient evidence to prosecute, s/he may not file charges or follow through with prosecution, even if you want the prosecution to go ahead. The prosecutor will explain his/her decisions to you. If you are unwilling to cooperate, but the evidence is overwhelming and the prosecutor strongly believes that s/he can prosecute successfully, then s/he may proceed despite your preference. We encourage you to work with law enforcement and the prosecutor to the extent that you are able. Legal advocates through Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse are available to support you through this difficult process, explain the criminal justice system, keep you abreast of the status of your case, and accompany you to any legal meetings (law enforcement, prosecutor's office) or hearings.
A plea bargain is an agreement made by the prosecutor and the defendant's attorney that is presented to the Judge for consideration. This usually means a guilty plea for a less serious offense or lighter sentencing. The need for a trial, and therefore victim testimony, is not necessary. As the victim, your wishes concerning a plea bargain agreement should be taken into account by the prosecutor.
THE DEFENSE ATTORNEY
At some point, the defense attorney will want to question the victim as s/he prepares the defendant's case for trial. This request usually comes via the prosecutor. If you are contacted directly by the defense attorney you are advised not to speak to him/her but REFER HIM/HER TO THE PROSECUTOR. The prosecutor will then accommodate the defense attorney's request for a meeting at a time that is convenient for all involved.
The purpose of the meeting is to question the victim so that the defense attorney has all the information s/he needs to prepare for a defense at trial.
At the trial, evidence is presented which usually includes the victim's statements and any physical evidence (ex: photographs of bruises or injuries, saliva, hair, or semen) or other evidence that has been collected. The defendant (perpetrator) does not have to present any evidence, testify or put on a defense at trial. In cases of sexual assault/abuse or rape, the evidence often comes down to one person's word against another's. Your statement to law enforcement and the evidence collected during the rape exam and at the scene become an extremely important part of the evidence that can be presented by the prosecutor at trial. Therefore, it is important to remember that the longer you wait to report, the less evidence there will be and the harder it will be to prosecute the case successfully. Legal advocates through Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse are available to be with you to provide support through the trial and any other court hearings.
If the defendant either pleads guilty to the original charge(s), pleads guilty to a plea bargain, or is found guilty at trial, a sentencing hearing date will be set. A pre-sentence investigation is usually conducted to review any criminal history the defendant may have, and to gather other relevant information. It is at this point that a VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT can be made. Victims can write their statement and have it submitted to be a part of the court document, or can read their statement in person at the sentencing hearing, or do both. The VICTIM IMPACT STATEMENT can include information about how the crime has affected the victim and the victim's family, and what sentence and/or penalties the victim would like to see given. Further statements can be made at future parole and/or release hearings.
REMEMBER: a legal advocate through Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse can assist and support you through every step of the legal process. We at ATVP understand how very difficult the decision to tell someone and/or to report to law enforcement may be. We are here to support you no matter what your decision may be. Our mission is to help you recover from your assault/abuse, whether that recovery includes reporting to law enforcement or not. Please be aware that although the legal process can be painful and difficult, many survivors have found it to have a healing effect.
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CRIME VICTIMS COMPENSATION
If you require medical or mental health treatment as a direct result of being a victim of a violent crime such as sexual assault/abuse, domestic violence or child abuse, you may be eligible to receive assistance from the Crime Victims Compensation Program.
Assistance is available for victims and/or their families. An advocate through Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse or the Crime Witness Coordinator in the prosecutor's office can assist you in filling out the Crime Victims Compensation Application Form. If you have a rape exam at the emergency room, the hospital will most likely fill out the medical portion of the form for you.
KEY POINTS TO KNOW:
- In Washington, you must make a report to law enforcement officials within one year of when the crime could reasonably have been reported. You must apply for benefits with the Washington State Crime Victims Compensation Program within two years of reporting the crime, or within five years if you have good cause; with the exception of minors, in which case the time does not begin to run until their 18th birthday.
- In Idaho, the crime must be reported to law enforcement officials within 72 hours of the crime or there must be a documented good cause why it was not. You must file a claim with the Idaho State Crime Victims Compensation Program within one year of the crime or show good cause why you did not.
- Crime Victims Compensation pays the expenses for victims and their families for certain services related to the crime. This includes the rape exam and can include counseling/therapy costs.
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Police and Sheriff's Offices, Latah and Whitman Counties
Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse
24 hr. Hotline and Crisis Intervention
Confidential, safe, free Shelter
Information and Referral
Domestic Violence Hotline (Idaho State), 24 hrs.
Domestic Violence Hotline (Washington State), 24 hrs.
Jail, Latah County, Idaho
Jail, Whitman County, Washington
Latah County Mental Health
Palouse River Counseling
UI Counseling Center
WSU Counseling Center
Information and Referrals
UI Women's Center
WSU Women's Resource Center
(208) 883-4357, or
COLLECT CALLS ACCEPTED
1 (800) 669-3176
1 (800) 562-6025
(208) 882-2216, ask for Jail
(509) 397-6266, ask for Jail
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STRONG AT THE BROKEN PLACES
I remember seeing this vase at someone's house
it was strong, and clean
it held flowers and some branches
and was very beautiful
They told me
"It was broken
a long time ago, but we glued it back together
and look at it now."
So finally I know that I, too, am strong
and clean, and very beautiful
that I can hold my life,
that the branches in my water
can take root and grow.
The hammer broke me, once, but
now I am stronger at the broken places.
~ a survivor
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