Tag Archives: campus rape

Unsafe On Any Campus? earns two gold medals in literary competition!

PRESS RELEASE

Lake Buena Vista, FL (8/5/2017) – The Florida Authors and Publishers Association awarded two Gold Medals to Florida college faculty member Samuel Staley’s book Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It, one each the categories of Adult Non-Fiction and Political/Current Events.

Hosted by the Florida Authors and Publishers Association, this prestigious national award is open to books published between 2016 and 2017. Organizers say this year included the largest number of entries every drawing from a national pool of authors and publishers.

Unsafe On Any Campus? is written by Samuel R. Staley, a full-time faculty member in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University.  Staley joined the faculty in 2011 after 25 years in the nonprofit private sector. He was unaware of the extent of the problem, which is national in scope, until he learned the stories of survivors and their friends while coaching martial-arts based self-defense classes at FSU. Staley holds a black belt in To-Shin Do, a self-defense oriented version of the classic Japanese “ninja” martial art of Ninjutsu developed by ninja master Stephen K. Hayes.

“Virtually every student will know a survivor of sexual assault by the time he or she graduates from an American university or college,” says Staley, who acknowledges the extent of the problem may vary significantly by college and location. Staley describes his book as a primer for parents, college counselors, and students. “This book is my way of using more than 30 years of professional experience in the field of public policy analysis to explain a very complicated problem and outline practical pathways toward eliminating this scourge on our campuses,” he says.

“The FAPA President’s Book Award exists to promote excellence in the publishing industry by recognizing talented contemporary authors who put both heart and soul into their work. FAPA is proud to be a champion of authors and publishers going the extra mile to produce books of excellence in every aspect.” said Jane R. Wood, President-Elect of FAPA.

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It is a nonfiction book analyzing contemporary campus culture, why it puts college students at risk for sexual assault and rape, and presents a holistic solution that puts harm reduction at the center of strategies and programs.

Ruth Krug, a survivor of campus sexual assault, writes in her Foreword: Unsafe On Any Campus? is  “innovative, practical, and empowering” and “signifies a turning point in addressing rape and sexual assault in college and university environments.” Unsafe On Any Campus? is published by Southern Yellow Pine Publishing.

Medals were awarded at the annual FAPA President’s Book Awards Banquet held this year at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace in the Disney Springs TM Area of Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

“We are proud to announce this year’s winners who truly embody the excellence this award was created to celebrate.  We had a record number of entries this year. Competition was stiff! We salute all of our winners for their fine work,” said FAPA’s President, Terri Gerrell.

The Florida Authors & Publishers Association is an organization for authors, publishers, independent publishers, illustrators, editors, printers, and other professionals involved in the publishing industry. It focuses on providing the highest quality of information, resources, and professional development to members and others interested in the writing and publishing profession.

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For more on Unsafe On Any Campus, including discussion questions, videos, and other materials on campus sexual assault, visit: http://www.campusninjaselfdefense.com

To purchase Unsafe On Any Campus?

  • at amazon, click here.
  • at Barnes & Noble, click here.
  • at Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, click here.

 

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Five life lessons inspired by sexual assault survivors

Most of the sexual assault survivors I have come to know in the process of researching and writing Unsafe On Any Campus? were teenagers when they were raped. For many, the assault turned their world upside down, sending them into a downward spiral of self-loathing, distrust, and cynicism. Fortunately, for most, resilience won out. In fact, a few have even found a new center, a renewed sense of self, and an element of peace.

This begs the question: What life lessons can we learn from these trauma survivors? Here are just five:

  1. Live in the moment. In all too many cases, the rape was so traumatizing that victims dropped classes, withdrew from school altogether, or completely shifted their everyday lives inward. Their depression was fueled by continually reliving the events and the assault. Their transition from victim to survivor often began with a renewed and deeper appreciation for the moments of support, beauty, and dignity they experienced each day rather than reliving the horror of the assault. This allowed many to reclaims their sense of purpose and recapture the dignity that makes them human. 
  2. Draw strength from community. Eighty percent of women who have been raped never disclose the assault to university or law enforcement officials. The figure is even lower for men. The trauma is so personal, so devastating, that many victims are afraid to tell anyone, even their closest friends and family. Reaching out to those cared for them most intimately, those who gave their unqualified support, started them on their path toward recovery. Without the support of those friends and family, survivors say they wouldn’t have had the courage to acknowledge let alone go public with their assault. This close knit group because their rock, their community, and a foundation stone for rebuilding their lives. 
  3. We each have our own journey. Each survivor has their our own personal journey to recovery. The more survivors I met, the more obvious it became that each rape (and assault) was different, each circumstance was unique, each consequence personal. I have met women who were able to move on quickly, and others that struggled to leave their home. The depth of their trauma is highly individualized, making their journeys equally diverse. Survivors are deeply respectful and tolerant of the importance for individuals to chart their own course, to discover their own path, to recovery. This inward reflection leads to a recasting of identity and understanding of self that is inspiring strong and purposeful. 
  4. Each journey has its own path. Not all survivors choose the same road to recovery or healing. The physical and emotional nature of a violation through rape triggers deep wounds that are often invisible, even to those that experience it. Thus, the paths are as varied as the journeys and require many more decisions than paths available. These paths can seem like they shift under their feet, and often become illuminated only after they have been trodden. Survivors on a healing journey are remarkably resilient. They understand the nature of emotional barriers and the difficulties of overcoming them. They are patient and empathetic. They persist with grit and determination. 
  5. Forgiving yourself is essential for healing and stepping foot on our path. Often, this self-forgiveness begins when we acknowledge the truth of a seemingly trite, but essentially true, mantra: “It’s not your fault.” Many of the men and women I came to know became victims through no fault of their own. They were in the wrong place at the wrong time, and unaware of the threat standing right next to them. Yet they blame themselves first and this weight drags them deep into depression. The path toward healing begins with forgiving oneself. Indeed, this may be the most important lesson of all because this self-forgiveness releases one from the self loathing and guilt that keeps victims in the past, focused on the past, and their paths dark.

These teenagers became women far too soon, their innocence stolen in a matter of minutes. They were forced to “grow up” and become adults far faster than any parent would want for their child. Fortunately, many survivors find a place where they can accept themselves again and embark on a path of self re-discovery. These stories—their journeys of recovery and healing—are almost never told. They don’t make it into make it into the headlines. Yet, as these survivors pivot on their path, they often find a light others may never know.

They also inspire me.

By bearing witness to their trauma, we can take inspiration from their journeys. By allowing ourselves to hear, we can understand the struggles that come with trauma. If we understand, we can support those who are on their path as well as those struggling to find it.

Perhaps, if enough of us understand, sexual assault and rape will become relegated to a dark part of our social history and banished from our present culture.

 

Permission to reprint and distribute this blog post is given with attribution to the author, Samuel R. Staley, Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It (Southern Yellow Pine Publishing, 2016)

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College rape and the power of words on a bathroom door

These messages formed a multi-day conversation on the effects of college rape on young women

These messages formed a multi-day conversation on the effects of college rape on young women

I still remember the day my business manager came into my office and said “you have to see what’s on the women’s bathroom door.”  What followed changed the course of my life, personally and professionally.*

Written in permanent black marker was a heartbreaking question: “How do you get over being raped?”

Having someone ask the question in person is wrenching enough, but for a young woman to feel the desperation acutely enough to use the anonymity and randomness of a stall door was worse. We were in the College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, a far cry from any victim support services or law enforcement. For Ruth, a campus rape survivor, the question was rattling enough.

Even for those like me, who had not experienced that kind of soul-tearing assault, could feel the pain, confusion, and emptiness implied in the words and act.

But what happened over the following days was more extraordinary. Other women responded, spontaneously, sincerely, and constructively. Based on writing styles, ink colors and consistency, I estimate that between 14 and 18 women contributed to what became a conversation across the entire door.

At first, women provided information about institutional support: the FSU police department, office of the victim advocate, and emergency numbers were listed. Then, the conversation turned to the human tragedy.

A spontaneous response to a rape victim's query on how to get over being raped.

A spontaneous response to a rape victim’s query on how to get over being raped.

In this anonymous, sterile, empty physical space, women provided heartfelt personal support and counsel. “I was raped, as well,” a new contributor to the discussion testified. “Just know you’re not alone sweetheart.” Another inked in elegant handwriting:“Your value and dignity as a woman are unchanged” followed by a heart symbol (emphasis by original author).

And the support kept coming,

  •         “be strong”
  •         “Remember, its (sic) not your fault. You re (sic) perfect, you are worthy. You are beautiful inside and out. Never forget, your sisters are here for you.”
  •         “This does not define you. Look to the future, allow yourself hope and ambition. Set goals, you are amazing.” (heart symbol)

And they still encouraged her to call the police—“Sisters help each other. Making that call is scary”

A rape victim's response to her supporters on the bathroom stall door

A rape victim’s response to her supporters on the bathroom stall door

In a powerful statement about to the ability of humans to connect through personal tragedy, the initial victim responded: “You guys are so nice to me. Thank you for that.”

Remarkably, the maintenance and cleaning staff at FSU let the conversation flow and did not clean the door for days (perhaps weeks). Perhaps they sensed the importance of the conversation for the woman who asked the question, the women who provided support to her and other survivors, and for raising awareness about the pervasiveness of the problem and the desperation of women caught in its vortex.

I don’t know if the young woman sought counseling, or took advantage of the university’s counseling services, or ever met the other dozen or so women that provided support to her.

The effect on me, however, was powerful. These brave, anonymous women allowed themselves to become vulnerable, confessing their own soul wrenching experiences while providing unsolicited, spontaneous support for their sisters. No other event showed how important sexual assault and rape were as events that shaped campus culture and the experiences of women on campus.

Prior to this, I had born witness to individual survivor stories. These were personal relationships. As a social scientist and public policy analysis, they were anecdotes. Now they were no longer anecdotes. I saw a pattern. This conversation convinced me that this issue needed a voice that could raise awareness about its depth, grounded in the emotional experiences of survivors, and think through the hard problems of coming up with a solution even if they were controversial.

A woman's spontaneous encouragement to a rape survivor's testimony

A woman’s spontaneous encouragement to a rape survivor’s testimony

I don’t know if I am that voice, but the product of my personal revolve to address this problem on college campuses and wrestle with the public policy implications led to blogging and eventually writing Unsafe on Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It. The book’s cover incorporates some of the photos of this conversation taken by Ruth, and used with permission, to provide testimony on the emotional toll sexual assault and rape take on young men and women on our campuses.

I want to give a shout out to Judy Williams Kirk for suggesting I figure out a way to incorporate these testimonies into the cover and to Gina B Smith for her provocative and heartfelt cover design.

Read Ruth’s discussion of this event on her blog, Reclaiming Lost Voices.

Read more about Unsafe on Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

Unsafe On Any Campus?

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It

Buy the book at Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. (Contact me at sam@srstaley.com or Southern Yellow Pine Publishing for larger order discounts of 5+ and 25+. Pre-orders can be purchased with a $3 discount using the coupon code READ.

*Note, an earlier version of this article misidentified Ruth Krug as the woman who brought the messages to my attention. In fact, my business manager, Judy Kirk, alerted both of us to the words. Ruth, a campus rape survivor, worked for me at the time, and she was the one who chronicled the conversation through photos each day as the contributions lengthened.  

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Amazon links to “Unsafe On Any Campus?” are now live!

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It.

I am happy to report that the amazon.com links to Unsafe On Any Campus? are now live! I also discovered that pre-orders have hit #53 in the rankings under political science/public policy/abuse.

  • Amazon print $14.95: http://bit.ly/UnsafeAznPrint
  • Amazon kindle ($4.95): http://bit.ly/Unsafekindle

Pre-orders for $3 off are still available through Southern Yellow Pine’s website using the coupon code READ: http://bit.ly/syppunsafe

And, of course, we have an amazing line up of experts for our public forum and launch event at Element3 Church on July 28th, at 7:00 pm.

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6 questions to ask college admissions staff about sexual assault

High school officials and parents don’t bare sole responsibility for changing the campus climate, although in a previous post I provided a list of 10 proactive steps they could take to reduce the risk of sexual assault in college. Parents and college students can also become powerful, constructive, and effective advocates for change and accountability. I discuss this in the last chapters of my forthcoming book, Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault, and What We Can Do About It. 

Among the questions I discuss in the final chapter that parents and student should ask college and university administrators are:

  1. What programs are in place to assist victims, reduce theUnsafeResearch risks of sexual assault, prevent sexual assault, and hold offenders accountability? What performance measures do you use to evaluate their effectiveness?
  2. How much education programming do you provide to freshman on sexual assault and bystander intervention? What is the participation rate?
  3. Is dorm staff trained in sexual assault awareness, bystander intervention and victim support?
  4. What fraternities, sororities or students groups are active in providing sexual assault prevention, risk reduction, and other training to students on campus?
  5. How does your college or university benchmark its performance among its peers?
  6. How often does your college or university review its sexual assault, victim advocate, and adjudication policies?

Check out more details from the book at my website, campusninjaselfdefense.com.

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What parents can do about college campus sexual assault

Staley,selfdefenseinstructor,2

Coaching self-defense at Florida State University with members of Global Peace Exchange

Ever since I started writing my book, Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault, and What We Can Do About It, I have been asked what are the proactive steps we can take to reduce the chances our kids will be sexually assaulted when they go to college. It’s a fair question, and I discuss some of these steps in the last chapter of my book. For those that are impatient, here are 10 action items that will go a long way toward addressing the problem:

  1. Enroll your children in a martial-arts based self-defense program as early as middle school or ninth grade that includes scenario-based training and situational awareness.
  2. Encourage high schools to include human sexuality in their curricula so that students are at least exposed to professional opinion about sex, intimacy, and human bonding, and why sexual assault and rape can be so devastating.
  3. Encourage high school college counselors to include workshops on the risks and dangers on modern campus life, including bystander roles, responsibilities, and interventions.
  4. Encourage parent groups and associations to hold workshops on campus sexual assault, risk reduction, and prevention.
  5. Encourage adult discussions with teenagers and college-age children about sexual assault and how it impacts their lives and the lives of their friends.
  6. Be open to a wide range of remedies and strategies for addressing sexual assault on college campuses while also insisting on evidence-based accountability in the programs;
  7. Insist that colleges and universities hold offenders accountable, and provide evidence that their programs are reducing risks of sexual assault faced by students.
  8. Read the campus sexual assault policies for the colleges and universities students plan to attend.
  9. Ask for data on sexual assaults, investigations, and the results of those investigations.
  10. Ensure college-bound students are aware of programs and support available to them and their friends at the schools they plan to attend.

You can find out much more self-defense programs and the book at my website, campusninjaselfdefense.com.

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25 questions “UnSafe On Any Campus?” will answer

This summer, my newest book, Unsafe On Any Campus? College Sexual Assault and What We Can Do About It, will be published by Southern Yellow Pine Publishing. This journey has been both amazingly personal and one of the most challenging writing projects I have undertaken. I now have a portion of my self-defense website, campusninjaselfdefense.com, devoted to the book. Here are 25 questions Unsafe On Any Campus? will answer:IMG_1195 (1)

  1. How serious is sexual assault on today’s college campuses?
  2. Is sexual assault and rape an “epidemic” on today’s campuses?
  3. Who is most likely to be a victim of sexual assault?
  4. What is the connection between sex, sexuality and emotional trauma?
  5. What makes the trauma associated with rape and sexual assault different from other assaults and crimes?
  6. How does modern college culture complicate efforts to reduce sexual assault on campus?
  7. Is sexual assault an inevitable outcome of the “hook-up” culture and sexual promiscuity?
  8. How does miscommunication between men and women lead to higher rates of rape?
  9. Why don’t men “get it” when it comes to sexual assault?
  10. What is the profile of the “typical” rapist?
  11. Why can’t the traditional criminal justice system handle sexual assault and campus rape more effectively?
  12. What alternatives might be more effective in reducing sexual assault than traditional law enforcement?
  13. How can college students and young adults protect themselves and their friends against sexual assault?
  14. What role do bystanders play in stopping sexual assault?
  15. What programs or strategies are most effective in reducing sexual assault and rape on college campuses?
  16. What role can victim-offender dialogue and Restorative Justice play in creating better outcomes than the criminal justice system?
  17. What role does risk reduction plan in solving the sexual assault problem?
  18. Do sexual assault prevention strategies work?
  19. Why do some people minimize the effect of sexual assault and rape on college campuses?
  20. Why are so many women unwilling or reluctant to report their sexual assaults and rapes?
  21. What role does the media play in promoting sexual assault?
  22. Why is the famous “Rocky kiss” really a rape, and why does it matter?
  23. Is James Bond a serial rapist?
  24. What role can self-defense based martial arts play in reducing risks and preventing sexual assault?

Check out this blog and my website for more details about the book and answers to these questions!

 

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The story in “Unsafe On Any Campus?”

Staley,JohnLongMS,Nov2013

Sam Staley talks about writing novels about interpersonal violence and bullying at John Long Middle School in Wesley Chapel, Florida

Oddly, many people, including professional writers, don’t think of nonfiction books in terms of story. This is unfortunate, because any rhetorical work implies the presentation of an idea or perspective, and involves some form of persuasion. Otherwise, why write the book? My Newest book, Unsafe On Any Campus?, is a case in point.

Unsafe On Any Campus has two goals: educate the general public about the character, nature, and extent of campus sexual assault and rape, and provide a practical framework for reducing its prevalence and impact. But the book can’t be just a “brain dump”: a compilation of statistics and studies. It also can’t be what fiction writers call an “information dump,” dialogue or story interruption with the sole purpose of providing story or character background. In fiction (and screenwriting for that matter), every word in dialogue or the narrative is chosen to move the story forward. This is what we mean by “every word counts.”

Nonfiction writers also have to tell a story, and they need to use active voice and tone to move the story forward and keep readers. Like novelists, they need to “show,” not just tell. So, even though Unsafe on Any Campus? uses statistics, these numbers, case studies, thought experiments, figures, and charts are used to move the story forward in a compelling, active way. They aren’t just “dumped” on the reader, hoping they will sort out their importance on their own. Their inclusion in conscious, deliberate, and intentional.

I started thinking about nonfiction as story after my first published novel, The Pirate of Panther Bay, was published. When I co-authored fourth non-fiction book, The Road More Traveled Ted Balaker, a policy book about traffic congestion, I thought about how the argument and story builds to its concluding chapter of policy recommendations. I learned a lot from Ted because his background was network television, and he understood the importance of showing or painting pictures for viewers to illustrate important points. In other words, don’t just “tell” your audience something—show them a picture and let them come to their own conclusions based on the information you have artfully provided.

Ted and I had a structure to the story. We identified the problem, and then showed how different ways of parsing data gave us a different way of looking at traffic congestion. This was just not an information dump. This section challenged our skills to explore the problem and show the reader a different way of looking at it. This new way of looking at the data then organically led to a section that showed how our worldview was different from conventional views—this builds the conflict in our story. Our books final chapters examined the path forward built on our new vision. (The follow up book, Mobility First: A New Vision for Transportation in a Globally Competitive 21st Century, co-authored with Adrian Moore, was even more intentional.)

This approach to story structure in nonfiction was crucial for Unsafe On Any Campus? because of the controversial and high profile nature of the social issue and the conclusions and recommendations I present in the final chapters. My goal is for readers to look at the problem of campus sexual assault in a different light, cut through the “white noise” of pundits and experts talking past each other, and consider what I believe are practical and effective solutions in a more comprehensive framework.

The book has three parts: chapters that establish why campus sexual assault is an important issue (even if it is not an “epidemic”), how we need to think differently about the problem (contemporary campus young adult culture), and how these first two elements are essential to framing the solution. In other words, each section has its own internal purpose and goal, but they build on each other organically to reach a climatic conclusion in the story of how we address campus sexual assault.

We’ll see how readers, professionals, and pundits respond this summer with the book is released. For more on Unsafe On Any Campus, check out www.campusninjaselfdefense.

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