Tag Archives: Sexual Assault

#EnoughIsEnough Summit Report 4/25/18, By Lori Bunton

The National Organization for Women (NOW), in conjunction with the Feminist Majority Foundation, sponsored a one day summit and congressional briefing in DC, Enough.Is.Enough, to address sexual harassment and assault in the workplace and schools.  The goal of the summit was to have speakers from all walks of life-legislators, activists, academics and survivors-explore various facets of sexual violence in workplaces and in schools.  The speakers would address needed improvements in law and policy, recommendations for the most effective methods in preventing and dealing with sexual violence, and strategies to craft a more survivor-centric legal system.

Panel 2: Moving Forward Models: State Laws and Workplace Policies Photo Credit: Lori Bunton

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Not testing rape kits is a massive failure to take advantage of science

“Why are there so many untested rape kits in NC?” People have asked in response to an article on who initiated the rape kit inventory in NC and to posts about #endthebacklog and the documentary “I Am Evidence” that examines the problem of untested rape kits and is being shown on HBO at 8pm on 4/16/18.

The problem is there’s no rule on who foots the bill for rape kit testing across the country — it depends on the state and city you live in. 

According to “NC may have more untested rape kits now than any state. Advocates want answers.” News and Observer, 3/7/18,

“California and Florida currently are reported as having more than 13,000 untested kits.”

Looks like NC has a sordid history with not bothering to test them. According to the same N&O article on untested rape kits,

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NOW Charlotte Supporting County Opposition to 287g

NOW Charlotte was well represented at the Mecklenburg County Commissioner’s meeting on March 20, 2018, supporting county opposition to 287g. The federal 287g program is a collaboration between state or local law enforcement and Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) federal program that allows local law enforcement to carry out immigration enforcement duties. The Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office has deported over 15,000 people in Mecklenburg County. NOW Charlotte signed onto an anti-287g letter that was signed by over 40 organizations demanding the end of the program.

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February/March 2018 NC NOW Newsletter Available

NC NOW Newsletter for February and March 2018 includes stories of how people in Fayetteville got that untested rape kit inventory done (with Fayetteville NOW’s help), some events around the state (Trauma to Prison Pipeline Report, Title IX at FSU), national events on #EnoughIsEnough and the next US Supreme Court case, NIFLA v. Becerra, on what CPCs can say in California. Currently CPCs need to tell the truth in California, and the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates are suing to change that!

See the newsletter online at NC NOW Newsletter for February and March 2018.

Rape Kit Inventory Initiated in Fayetteville, NOW Helped

Many North Carolinians learned that there are 15,160 untested ‘sexual assault evidence collection kits’ (SAECK) left in North Carolina on February 28, 2018. These kits, also known as ‘rape kits’ were inventoried as part of the 2017 state budget, thanks to a bill that was spearheaded by the executive director of a Rape Crisis center in Cumberland County, Deanna Gerdes. Prior to the inventory, no one knew how many untested ‘sexual assault evidence collection kits’ there were across NC. Gerdes worked with Lt. John Somerindyke, Fayetteville Police Department’s Special Victims Unit commander, who discovered the problem in the first place and leads a unit to solve these crimes.  Other key supporters were bill sponsor state Rep. Billy Richardson, D-Cumberland; Roberta Waddle, a long time officer of Fayetteville NOW and NC NOW; and Gerdes’ daughter, Kathryn. Attorney General Josh Stein announced the count on 2/28/18, and has great recommendations going forward what to do. NC is finally making progress on untested rape kits, thanks these heroes in Fayetteville.

Deanna Gerdes at Podium, SBA Celebration with Fayetteville NOW. Photo Credit: Gailya Paliga

Gerdes and Somerindyke have talked about their journeys to getting this bill written and passed at a few events with NC NOW and the Fayetteville NOW chapters in the past 6 months. On Feb 22, 2018, the Fayetteville chapter of the National Organization for Women held their 18th annual Susan B. Anthony (SBA) Birthday Celebration, where they honored Gerdes and Somerindyke for their work on the passage of this bill. Some of their journey is captured in “Fighting for statewide sexual assault survivor justice: Gerdes and Somerindyke honored at Fayetteville NOW event,” which was the cover story in the 2/6/18 issues of Up and Coming Weekly, a community paper in Fayetteville. Gerdes and Somerindyke also did a workshop at NC NOW’s state conference last October on grassroots work to pass the auditing of the Sexual Assault kits. More about their workshop and the conference at “Mobilizing Women NOW – Totally Worth It! Summary.”

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Rape Crisis Sensitivity Training in Fayetteville – March and May 2018

Upcoming ‘rape crisis sensitivity’ trainings in Fayetteville advertised at Fayetteville NOW’s Susan B. Anthony Celebration on 2/28/18. Become informed about rape and sexual assault, find out how you can help survivors.

Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County works closely with Fayetteville NOW. More on SBA Celebration and work that Fayetteville NOW and the Rape Crisis Center have done together on rape kits in next posts.

At a “Shine A Light on Sexual Assault” program in 2016, “Ze Surratt II, from the Cumberland County Rape Crisis Center, said the organization was founded in 1976 when there was a realization that sexual assault survivors needed additional assistance beyond police and doctors.” Read more about the event at Program seeks to assist survivors of sexual assault,” Fayetteville Observer, 5/1/16.  Surratt is still involved with the center, and with organizing these trainings.

Volunteers must attend both classes – one set in March 2018, and one set in May 2018. See more information on the flyer.

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Charlotte NOW: Trauma to Prison Pipeline Report, 2/7/18

Charlotte NOW had a great turnout for a very informative and inspirational meeting on the “Trauma to Prison Pipeline.” The groups speaking, “Changed Choices” and “Safe Alliance”, inspired Charlotte NOW with the work they are doing as well as made attendees realize how much work still needs to be done. The Title IX Coordinator for Charlotte/Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) gave a report on what is being done in our schools for girls experiencing trauma.

Charlotte NOW event picture - 2/7/18

A view of the event, Melissa Mummert from “Changed Choices” speaking. Photo Credit: Charlotte NOW

Prior to the speakers, attendees enjoyed a very dramatic reading of Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I Woman” speech and an update on Harriet Tubman becoming the first woman on the $20 bill.

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Fayetteville NOW’s 18th annual Susan B. Anthony event – 2/22/18

This 18th annual Susan B. Anthony event will honor Deanne Gerdes, Executive Director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County RCCC, and Lt. John Somerindyke, of Fayetteville Police Department’s Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit. Gerdes and Somerindyke are being thanked for all they have done to further the progress of cold rape cases by initiating coordinating efforts with local legislators relative to untested rape kits.

Sexual Assault Kit from display at 2017 NC NOW Conference Photo Credit: Catherine Evangelista

Date: Thursday, Feb 22, 2018
Time: 5:30pm-7:30pm
Place: VFW Post 6018, 116 Chance St., Fayetteville NC
Registration: Use this form, which you can see below.

Fayetteville’s local weekly periodical, “Up and Coming” featured an article about the event, “Fighting for statewide sexual assault survivor justice: Gerdes and Somerindyke honored at Fayetteville NOW event.”

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Charlotte NOW: End The Sex Abuse to Prison Pipeline Forum – 2/7/18

Girls are affected by violence at an alarming rate in the US. Many of these girls are penalized for trauma induced behavior without receiving the wrap around services they need. Many of them end up in the school-prison pipeline. 73% of girls in the juvenile court systems are victims of sexual or physical assault.

The Charlotte NOW chapter leadership met with the Title IX Coordinator to learn what CMS has in place to help these girls. Their February 2018 meeting (Feb 7, 7-9pm, Unitarian Universalist Church) will focus on this initiative with a distinguished panel of guests, including Changed Choices and Safe Alliance, who are knowledgeable and active in this endeavor. They will share their knowledge and their experiences and what people can do to help. Please don’t miss this most informative meeting. And most of all, let’s show our support for these women who are making Changed Choices!

Charlotte NOW chose decriminalization of trauma as their focus for 2017/2018.

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A New Horizon Is Coming – Fayetteville Women’s Rally, 1/20/18

Fayetteville Chapter of NOW is sponsoring a Women’s Rally, on Saturday, January 20, 2018, at 1pm at the Downtown Market House in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 

We are commemorating the anniversary of last year’s historic Women’s March on Washington (2017), and more importantly, we are celebrating the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court Decision Roe v Wade (January 22, 1973).  It’s that historic ruling that declared women’s right to privacy, afforded via the 14th amendment (due process), extends and affords women the right to have an abortion.

Additionally, we ask women who believe and realize that they can make a difference to stand with us, to join us.  It will be the women (and the men who support us) working to dismantle the barriers that create the following.

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