I had an amazing opportunity to attend the National Sexual Assault Conference (NSAC). I and seven other advocates from across Nebraska were awarded a scholarship to attend by the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence. The conference was held in Washington D.C. August 31st through September 2nd, 2016 in Washington D.C. This conference filled me with a great deal of insightful information that will assist me immensely in Bright Horizons’ prevention efforts. I can use all of this new information in presentations on “Domestic Violence” and “Teen Dating Violence”. I can also incorporate it into flyers and projects during “Stalking Awareness Month”.
One of my favorite training sessions that I attended was called “Digital Stalking & Other Technology Threats”. During the presentation I was informed about all the different ways a stalker abuses technology to harass and stalk their victims. For example using security spy gadgets that are easily accessible to anyone. All you need is an Internet connection and a credit card. Anyone can buy sophisticated surveillance tools. There was a website called www.trapcall.com that was really interesting. You can unblock a blocked incoming call. The service will reroute the incoming phone call through an (800) number. Then the service sends it back to your cell phone with the phone number provided. Spoofing was also a new term that I learned at this particular session. Spoofing can be a way to protect your identity, but also can be used as a stalking tool. There is a third party that routes your calls and then you are able to change your phone number (caller ID) to whatever you want. The sound of your voice can be changed and the call can also be recorded. It is truly amazing what lengths abusers and stalkers will go to in order to harass their victims.
There are some safety precautions a person can take if they feel like they’re being stalked. You can download the apps “Tech Safety App”, and “Bsafe App”. “Tech Safety App” gives educational resources about increasing your own privacy and security while on a cell phone. The “Bsafe App” lets immediate family and friends be on a list that can provide them with your GPS location. You can also make emergency calls and fake calls in case of emergency or to throw off someone following you. There are so many different types of apps out there that are good and bad for users. It really baffles me that a perpetrator will go to such great lengths to prey on their victims through different Internet outlets.
Another training session that was very intriguing was “Using Digital Storytelling to Support Sexual Assault Survivors in Speaking Out”. In this session the presenter spoke a lot about helping survivors heal. She explained ways to approach and guide the survivor from experiences. She then played a short clip focused on a young girl that was in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend. He became physically abusive and very controlling. The girl was able to tell her story of abuse with drawings. It was powerful to see how the abuse affected her. At the end of the film she realized that what was happening was not her fault and grew strong enough to leave. By doing that she folded the drawings. Closing the door on the abuse that she had suffered. It was a very emotional short clip that let a person be on the inside of a victim’s thoughts and feelings after extreme abuse.
All in all it was a really great experience. I was able to meet some really awesome advocates at this training! Having the chance to hear their background, stories and how they came across this line of profession was very interesting.
Being from a rural community and traveling to a national conference was a huge social change for me. There were advocates from very small towns, huge cities, SANE nurses, prosecutors, and members of the U.S. Army, and many others. It was really neat to listen in on discussions from different perspectives.
I took away with me many tools that I can use for our outreach plan. I will be incorporating fresh ideas into future activities with high school and grade school students. I have a fresh perspective on outreach efforts to the seven counties that I cover. Attending this and other trainings is such a great way to learn and prosper. Coming together and brainstorming about new and inventive ways to create awareness in our communities of the effects of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault can be strenuous at times. I feel that being able to experience the face-to-face contact with presenters has really improved my knowledge on the subject!
By: Emily Elsbury