An 89-year-old woman is suing a Minnesota nursing home for punitive damages because she was forced to spend 72 hours in a mental health unit after she reported that she was raped by 30-year-old Andrew Scott Merzwski. According to court documents, the woman was a resident at Edgewood Vista senior living facility near Duluth the night that Merzwski entered her room as she was preparing for bed and began taking off his clothes when she invited him to stay and watch a movie. Though she refused his advances, Merzwski later admitted to having sex with her after the victim’s daughter called the police. Merzwski was eventually sentenced to 53 months in prison and ordered to register as a sex offender for a period of 10 years.
But the remaining issue is Edgewood Vista’s egregious mishandling of the crime, which included not only failing to report the crime to police immediately, but mistreating the victim. After the elderly victim reported the rape, Edgewood Vista responded by sending her to a psychiatric ward at St. Luke’s Hospital for nearly three days, where, according to the nurse who eventually examined her, she was locked in a cold room with nothing but a blanket. When nurse examiner Theresa Flesvig finally was able to do a physical examination, she found the “biggest tear” as a result of rape that she had ever seen in her career. Keep reading »
Bob Jones University, an uber-Christian fundamentalist college in South Carolina, has drawn attention for commissioning and then covering up a study on how well the institution handled sexual abuse.
According to The New York Times, the university solicited a consulting group, Godly Response To Abuse In The Christian Environment (Grace) to serve as an ombudsman and investigate how the school handles sexual assaults. Bob Jones hired Grace in the first place after seeing numerous other colleges around the country attract federal investigation for mishandling sexual abuse on campus. According to a blog post for Bob Jones’ public relations, the school wanted “ to evaluate its processes and procedures for responding to reports of sexual abuse and specifically to ensure the University maintained best practices for a legally compliant and loving, scripturally based response to such reports.” Keep reading »
Caroline Heres, Julie Gelb and Jackie Reilly are on a mission to decrease sexual assault on college campuses. Last fall, Caroline and Jackie, who are students at Syracuse University, discussed the fact that they’d both been assaulted. What started as a chat between two friends evolved into a need to take action. Together, they decided to spread the word by contacting Syracuse sororities and holding a meeting about helping one another prevent assault
The pair received an encouraging response, and it quickly became clear that they had major potential on their hands. They teamed up with their sorority sister Julie Gelb, a PR major, to create Girl Code Movement. The organization aims to bring college women together across the country and encourage them to be active, empowered bystanders to help prevent rape through identifying possible victims and keeping them out of harm’s way. Keep reading »
Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto is pretty much that douchey frat boy who you never invite to a party, but somehow ends up there anyway , and you wish he would just go somewhere far, far away so you never had to think about all the obnoxious things he’s said. Remember him? He called the military’s effort to eradicate sexual assault a “war on male sexuality.” He’s tweeted that he hoped the young women whose boyfriends died saving them during the Aurora, Colorado, shooting were “worthy of the sacrifice.” So it should come as no surprise to you that he is blaming rape victims for drinking. Keep reading »
This “Don’t Get Raped” public service announcement seems like pretty great satire from a bunch of college (high school?) kids. Well, until you remember “advice” like this is pretty much what launched the SlutWalk protests in the first place. Don’t dress like a slut. Don’t drink. Don’t flirt. Don’t hook up. Instead of teaching men not to coerce or force women into sex, it’s much easier to police women’s behavior by telling them everything in this video in all seriousness. [Vimeo]
Upon first glance, you might mistake this sculpture for a naked man trying to foist unwanted physical contact upon an unsuspecting woman. It could be a trigger for anyone who has experienced sexual assault, but it’s art. The realistic statue, entitled Sleepwalker, is part of an exhibit featuring sculptor Tony Matelli at Wellesley College’s Davis Museum. And since it’s February 3rd installation, it’s been creeping the students at the all-woman’s college the hell out. One of the college’s students, Zoe Magid, even started a Change.org petition to get the Sleepwalker removed from the campus center. Lauren Walsh, the student who penned the petition writes:
“[T]his highly lifelike sculpture has, within just a few hours of its outdoor installation, become a source of apprehension, fear, and triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many members of our campus community. While it may appear humorous, or thought-provoking to some, it has already become a source of undue stress for many Wellesley College students, the majority of whom live, study, and work in this space.”
Keep reading »
The reaction to Dylan Farrow’s New York Times article about sexual abuse she allegedly suffered as a young girl at the hands of Woody Allen has gotten even murkier this week. Mia Farrow, 28-year-old Dylan’s mom, and Lena Dunham have both voiced their support. But Moses Farrow, one of Mia’s other adopted children, has publicly sided with his father, telling People magazine that Mia was “vengeful” and “drummed it into me to hate my father.”
Oh dear. Keep reading »
(Trigger Warning: Discussion of incest and childhood sexual abuse.)
The greatest gift my father gave me was a passion for art. As a pianist and composer with a Master’s degree in Musicology, he infused our home with creativity throughout my childhood. He encouraged me to find my own outlet; instead of sports teams and debate club, my extracurricular activities included violin lessons, piano lessons, drawing classes, painting classes, dance classes, theater camp, and color guard practice. You name it, I tried it.
The day we discovered my true passion was the day my father brought home a video camera. As I started to experiment with filmmaking as a medium of expression, he shared with me his advice about being an artist: “Never compromise your artistic vision for mainstream success.” “Art should never be restricted to those who can afford museum admission or concert tickets – create art that can be accessible to the public.” “Look for the art around you in every day life and draw inspiration from it.” “Let art drive everything else in your life.”
My memory of my childhood is hazy, so I can’t remember if our talks about art started before or after my father molested me. It happened so casually, so blatantly, that I assumed it was normal, loving behavior. Given the way he would constantly praise my appearance, talk openly and explicitly about sex, and encourage me to feel comfortable walking around naked in front of him, I did not realize that what happened to me was abuse until I was an adult. Today, we no longer have a relationship. I have nightmares about hearing his voice when I pick up the phone. Looking at photographs of him makes my stomach churn. But as I write this, I am listening to one of his recordings over and over again, straining to hear the words I know he will never say. Keep reading »