All Articles Tagged "sexual assault"

“If You’re Willing To Put Out, We Would Be Willing To Put Up The Money” New Doc Explores Sexual Harassment

April 29th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Angela Hutchinson Tackles Sexual Harassment In New Doc H.U.S.H.

As women, the issue of sexual harassment comes up quite often, in our lives, and as an editor for a women’s site, in our work as well. And being that this month is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, it only makes sense that we highlight and feature the work of other women who are fighting the same fight. Angela Hutchinson is one of those women. The write, producer and director produced a documentary titled “H.U.S.H. (Hollywood’s Uncovered Sexual Harassment).” The confessional style film seeks not only to highlight a very real issue within the industry but also to show the resilience of women.

See what Hutchinson had to say about the film below.

How did the idea for the documentary come about and why did you feel you needed to raise awareness for this issue?

About a year and a half ago when I kind of first got wind of the Bill Cosby issue. A couple friends and I were talking about it and it was kind of interesting because half of us, at the time, didn’t necessarily really believe all the women. Then, there was another group of us that thought, ‘Well, you kind of know what you’re getting into in this business. If you go take a meeting with someone who’s married at their hotel, what are you really saying?’

And then I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore because Bill Cosby is not the first and certainly won’t be the last instance of men, powerful and even not so powerful men, in the business, victimizing women, unfortunately. There’s so much of it and I’ve experienced a lot of it myself.

So, I thought it would great to bring light to this issue. Not to get into male bashing but really more so to help other women who are coming into the business. A lot of the situations I think my colleagues have experienced, they would have handled them differently, if they were not blindsided by the industry itself, like understanding this is a part of it and this is how you deal with it.

Did you and your friends’ opinions change about Bill Cosby and when did that happen?

I think it was as more and more women started to speak out. At first it was like, you’re innocent until proven guilty. It’s supposed to be you’re innocent until proven guilty. But it just became such an extreme amount of women coming forward. That’s similar to situations that we’ve experienced. I might say something about a producer and they’re like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s that guy’s name?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s so-and-so.’ And they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, the same thing happened to me.’

A lot of times women aren’t going around saying ’It happened to me, it happened to me.’ But once someone does speak up about it, the situations are so similar. Because people have an m.o. They have certain characteristics in how they approach women.

So, over a period of time, at least for myself, I definitely grew to have a different point of view about the women as opposed to just thinking ‘Oh well,’ you know what to expect.’

Tell me about your own experiences with sexual harassment in the industry?

One of the first ones that I experienced, which I talk about in the documentary H.U.S.H. I had scheduled a meeting with a big time production company executive. And I was so excited to have the meeting. We were going to talk about my script. The meeting was supposed to be an hour. We ended up there being there an hour and a half. And I kept trying to bring up, the script but he would keep going back to ‘Am I dating?’ trying to give me advice about the business. He always kept circling it back to my personal life. I would try and reel it back in and he was like, ‘We definitely would be willing to buy it. If you’re willing to put out, we would be willing to put up the money for it.’
I just looked at him and thought, he’s joking to see how I’m going to react. I just kind of laughed it off. But he was straight-faced, he was not laughing, it was not a joke. And I was like, ‘Oh, well the only thing I’m selling here is my script.’ And he said, ‘That’s what they all said.’ I’m like, ‘Ok, well this one really means it. So, thank you for your time.’

Then I just left the meeting. He continued to send me e-mails with all these sexual innuendos and he was doing it from company e-mail. It was ridiculous. But he was so bold to do that, which made me know, this is not the first time he’s done this. At one point, he said to me, ‘The script is on my couch if you want to join me.’

Finally, he stopped. That was when I first moved to Los Angeles, that was 10 years ago and that was a wake up call for me. Because I was exposed so early that every situation, thereafter, I’ve been a little more guarded and went into things different than I would have been normally.

Angela Hutchinson Tackles Sexual Harassment In New Doc H.U.S.H.

Source: Shutterstock

Recently, I was trying to find a distributor [for one of my scripts.] and I met a guy, who’s a producer. He’s done ten movies, very legitimate guy, I know his life as a colleague. And he said, ‘This is a man’s business. I can help you sell this better than you can.’ And he said, ‘I need the dvd’ I said, I’ll get it to you on Monday. He said, ‘No, I’m going out of town you have to drop it off tonight.’ It was really late already.

Because so much had happened, I had a girlfriend run with me to downtown Los Angeles. And she’s like, ‘’It’s 11’o clock at night!’ I said, ‘I know but this dude wants me to drop off this DVD.’ And we get down there and I said [ to his concierge] ‘I want to leave this for so-and-so.’ And he said, ‘ He specifically told me that I can’t accept anything from you. You have to take it up.’ So I’m thinking this dude he’s really got some balls. So I told my friend, ‘If I’m not back in 5 minutes, call the police.’ She was like, ‘What?! That seems so dramatic.’ I said, ‘I know it seems dramatic but trust me.’ So I went upstairs and put the DVD on the bottom of the door and just knocked on his door and then just walked off.  And by the time I got almost to the end of the hallway, he had opened the door and said, ‘Hey Angela, come back. Come back.’ He was literally dripping wet. He had a towel on, just on his lower. And he’s like, ‘My wife is gone. Why don’t you come in and have a drink.’

And I’m like, ’No I’ve got to run. My girlfriend’s downstairs. She’s in the car waiting for me. I gotta go.’ And he was like, ‘Alright, ok, it’s like that?’
And I said, ‘It’s not like anything.’

He was a very legitimate guy and actually did watch the movie. He said, ‘It was a great movie, I’m going to try to hook you up.’ And it got some offers in. I ended up passing on them; but still, he did what he said he was going to do. And I think that’s why it gets difficult. You know, we always hear the examples about the crazy people trying to get stuff from you and can’t do anything for you. But then there are some situations where the person can actually help your career, or elevate you in some way, whether it’s financial or opportunity and so it becomes a challenge.

When something happens to a woman, the tradition is to blame the her instead of attempting to correct the man. Does the documentary address that?

The documentary is a confessional style so it doesn’t speak on it head on. But I think indirectly it does. One of the women, who is a model, experiences that. So she speaks on that. When she says no to a man, he said ‘Well, why are you a swimsuit model?’ And she’s like, ‘What do you mean, why am I a swimsuit model?’ What does that have to do with me not wanting to have sex with you?’ So we definitely address that issue indirectly in the documentary.

Tell me about the process of putting this documentary together.

Start to finish, this was the first project I was able to complete from concept to it airing on a network, within a year. The process went very quickly. The hardest part was finding women who were comfortable doing it and being on camera to talk about it. Because when we first announced that we were doing it, I had 200 e-mails from all over, New York, Chicago and back. But a lot of the women weren’t comfortable talking on camera, they just wanted to tell me their stories. They’re just like, ‘I’m glad you’re doing this because this happened to me.’ But they said, ‘I don’t want to go on camera, I don’t want to talk about it. I want to work again.’ And I understand that, so I think it took a lot of courage for the women who did want to do it.

Shooting it was a lot of fun. A majority of our crew was male…when I would be like ‘Cut.’ It was silent. The men were just so stunned by what they had heard. They were so apologetic on behalf of men.

What do you believe men can do to support women as it relates to sexual assault.

I think one of the biggest thing is when they hear about a situation—because guys talk—and they kind of laugh it off. I think what they can do is not do that. When a male friend of theirs is doing or saying something to offend a woman, they should speak up and say ‘That’s not really appropriate.’

When men hear from a woman, telling you, this is what happened to me and this is how it affected me, they might take a second look. You think just touching her butt is no big deal. But it is a big deal and it has an affect on how she views her self worth. Is that what you want to do to women? Would you do that to your guy friends? No, you wouldn’t.

Angela’s documentary H.U.S.H. airs tomorrow, Saturday, April 30, on Los Angeles’ KLCS, at 9 p.m. and again on May 1, at 10 p.m. on the same channel. It will be available in other parts of the country later this year.

“I Never Got A Chance To Heal:” How One Survivor Came To Terms With Being Raped While Her Attacker’s Mother Was In The Same House

April 29th, 2016 - By Lauren R.D. Fox
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When many women create online dating profiles, their first thought isn’t that they will encounter rapists, and yet earlier this year VICE reported that the incidence of online date rape has risen within the past six years because offenders use “the ease of access” afforded by dating websites to lure “potential victims not thinking of them as strangers, but someone they have got to know.” JJ, an anonymous survivor of online date rape shared her account of being attacked by a man whom she met online with us. Read on to understand her story, how the attack changed her view of rape, and what advice she would give victims as she continues on her journey of healing.

MadameNoire (MN): How old were you at the time of your attack?
JJ: I was 22 years old at the time of my attack; it was 24 days before my 23rd birthday. I met my rapist –I seriously don’t remember his name, it is something I repressed so deeply, but I think it starts with a J — on an online dating site, either OK Cupid or Plenty of Fish. We talked for a few weeks, did some casual things, like Starbucks for coffee, before he invited me to his house. He was the same age as me, a recent college graduate, so he was still living at home with his parents.

MN: Can you walk us through what happened?
JJ: The day I came over, his mom was home so he had to sneak me in. We watched TV in his room, he showed me his diploma and college things; it was very casual. We hooked up a little bit but I didn’t feel comfortable doing more. He kept going and I said, “No.” He ignored me and even though I pushed him off, he pinned me down to where I couldn’t fight him anymore. I gave up fighting him. I was terrified. I was too scared to scream, too scared to move so I just laid there and waited until he was done. I don’t really remember what happened after or even me leaving his house. I was so numb and in shock. I just wanted to get home. That’s when my tire burst on the Long Island Expressway (LIE). That whole day was extremely stressful; I’m honestly not surprised that I repressed what happened for so long.

MN: What was your perception of rape before you were assaulted?
JJ: My perception of rape before it happened was largely based on myth and fiction. I watched a lot of Law and Order: SVU and thought rape happened in dark alleys and by abandoned buildings. I never thought it would happen to me. I mostly thought that rape was perpetrated by older men, criminals, and “creepy” guys; it was unfathomable that a rapist could be my own age, someone fresh out of college and who surely dealt with all of the consent campaigns most college campuses had. I know some people looked down on rape victims and asked about what they were wearing, the circumstances, etc. but I never held any of those viewpoints before I was attacked. I always believed the accuser and felt sympathetic. I don’t think I would have been able to live with myself if I held any other notions on rape, especially since I ended up being attacked.

MN: Did you seek legal ramifications against your rapist?
JJ: I did not pursue any legal action against my attacker even though I know could have. At the time of the attack, I was not in a great place mentally. My father was dying at the time and I did not want to stress and shame my family by going through the ordeal of a trial. I also worried that my sexual history would be on display because when I was in college, and even before I started talking to my attacker, I did hook up frequently. I did not want to be judged by anyone or be labeled a slut. I still can report the crime if I want because the attack is within the statute of limitations and I do have proof of the attack — he messaged and texted me apologizing, asking for forgiveness, etc. — but I probably will not because of the time that passed.

MN: Did you share that you were sexually assaulted with your family members or friends?
JJ: It was easier to share that I was sexually assaulted with my friends before my parents. And even then it took me two weeks after the incident to say anything. And I only told my one best friend and a few coworkers at my previous job that I trusted. It took about a month after it happened for me to tell my parents. They were so upset and my mother wanted to know why I didn’t report it, why I didn’t tell them sooner, and it’s awful because I was more concerned about stressing out my family than my own mental health. I told my therapist almost by accident and she was shocked at how nonchalant I was about the whole thing. Only then did I realize the extent of what really happened to me. If I didn’t see her for a session when I did, I most likely would have repressed the whole incident.

18-Year-Old Arrested For Fighting Back Against Ex-Boyfriend Who Leaked Her Nude Video

April 21st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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18-Year-Old Arrested For Fighting Back Against Ex-Boyfriend Who Leaked A Nude Video

Source: WSB-TV

We often talk about the criminalization of Black youth, being processed into the justice system at an early age, for minor offenses that often don’t require more than a slap on the wrist. The latest example of this injustice comes from Newnan High School, in Georgia, with 18-year-old Xavier Jones.

According to WSB-TV, Jones’ friends told her that her ex boyfriend posted a nude video of her on the group chat app Kik. When Jones saw him at school, she poured her drink on him before cussing him out.

Afterward, a teacher took Jones to the principal’s office and suspended her for a day. That would have been a reasonable punishment for her actions. But administrators weren’t finished. They called Jones and her mother back to the school the next day. The young lady was placed in handcuffs and arrested.

Jones said, “They told me to stand up and he put the handcuffs on me. Then I started shaking and crying.”

Deputy Police Chief Rodney Riggs said the only crime that they were able to determine was disruption of schools. He said, the confrontation between Jones and her ex-boyfriend drew a large crowd of students and it took several officers to eventually make the crowd disperse.

A witness alleged that Jones threatened to kill him.

But the two attorneys, L. Chris Stewart and Gerald Griggs who took on Jones’ case for free, believe that if the police believed her threat was serious, they would have charged her with more than disruption of schools.

Stewart said, “(It’s wrong) to put a young girl in handcuffs over defending herself and standing up for being violated.”

Griggs said, “I characterize it as the victim getting victimized, and that’s exactly what happened in this case.”

The case seems particularly unfair seeing as how Jones’ ex admitted to posting the private video. He claimed he deleted the video before police could collect it as evidence. Despite his admission, he’s not facing any charges. Jones faces a misdemeanor charge punishable with up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

Her attorneys want all charges dropped.

Griggs said, “Clean her record so she can go to college.”

The “Creepy Uncle” Is Not A Joke

April 18th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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creepy uncle

Source: Lionsgate

When my father feels strongly about something, good or bad, you’ll hear his opinions about that thing for years, even decades to come. And he felt very strongly about a particular scene in Tyler Perry’s film, Madea’s Family Reunion.

For those of you who have seen the movie, it’s the part where Joe, (Madea’s older brother, also played by Tyler Perry) sees a young girl, his relative, walking past in a rolled up shirt and short shorts. Not only does he oogle her body, commenting on it to the rest of the men at the table; he takes it a step further, calling the girl over to him to ask her to bend over into a barrel to retrieve cool drink at the bottom of it. Clearly, it’s a ploy to get the young lady to bend down and expose her behind to her elderly family members. Joe isn’t the only man who requests a beverage, two others do the same.

If you don’t remember it, you can watch it here.

The entire scene is supposed to serve as comic relief. We’re supposed to find Joe lusting after his own niece to be funny. You know, on some, even seasoned old men will be boys type of humor. And his behavior is just supposed to be shrugged off. Shake your head and keep on moving.

But doesn’t just shaking our head and walking away kind of excuse the behavior? Even worse, doesn’t laughing at this type of behavior cosign it even further?

That was a rhetorical question, but let me help you out, yes it does. There’s really, very little funny about sexual harassment, particularly when the perpetrator of it isn’t held to task for his or her actions, as is the case for the Tyler Perry characters. The scene is even more interesting, considering Perry’s own history with sexual assault. Sill, the prevalence of men preying on young women, even women in their own families, is so commonplace, we don’t even recognize how dysfunctional it really is.

It’s not just Tyler Perry.

It’s quite a bit of us.

Just today, I found this meme on Facebook.

Source: Facebook

Source: Facebook

Thankfully, the person who posted it, noted that while the initial creation of the meme was for humor, we have to stop looking at our “creepy uncles” as punchlines.

People laugh at this, but this is real and your uncle is a pedophile. #NOMORESILENCE #EXPOSE

And that’s the truth.

There are very real, life-altering, lifelong lasting effects of being assaulted, violated and raped by family members. And these secrets are so often swept under the rug, particularly in the Black community. And while humor can often aide in discussing real issues, that’s not what’s happening here.

“He Took her Soul:” The Story Of How A Sexual Assault At 14 Led Marcie Gerald To Suicide

April 13th, 2016 - By Brande Victorian
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Marcie GerardMarcie Gerald was your average Midwest teenager. She was a member of the Rainbow Girls, a Masonic youth organization that teaches leadership training through community service. She took dance classes, modeled, acted in her school play, was loved for her humor and was “an amazing little girl.” But all of that changed after she was sexually assault.

At the time Marcie was 14; her rapist somewhere between 28 and 30. Recently released from the Illinois Department of Corrections, he saw the young teen walking down the street one day and her life would never be the same.

“I don’t know how to explain it,” Marcie’s mother, Elizabeth Gerald said. “Before [Marcie] was raped she was beautiful. She was an honor roll student, she was interested in going to Harvard Law. After the rape, she was very depressed; she spiraled down, she would sit in the tub and scrub herself raw. She would have anxiety attacks. It was like night and day. He took her soul the day he assaulted her.”

The day of the brutal attack Marcie sent a text to her mother saying she had been assaulted. “I thought maybe she got into a fight or something,” Gerald recalled. “She told me where she was and when I got there she was crying and she told me what happened.” Gerald called 911 and officers transported the teen to the hospital; her uterus and ovaries were so inflamed she couldn’t walk. When doctors administered the rape kit, they immediately knew who Marcie’s rapist was because he was already in the system. But catching the man who sexually assaulted her didn’t stop Marcie from feeling raped over and over again in the court room when she had to face her attacker during his trial. In order to take his plea deal, the repeat offender had to confess every detail of his crime and, according to Gerald, that’s what made things worse.

“[Marcie] became suicidal after that. [Her rapist] had to tell everything he did and the bad thing about it is to this day, as far as I know, he’s never really showed any remorse. I don’t know if he knows she’s deceased or not but never once did he apologize. He would look at her and wink. He just kept saying, ‘Look at how pretty she is.’ He basically told her that if she wouldn’t have been so pretty he wouldn’t have been so attracted to her and that was why he attacked her and that made her feel worse, to know you’ve been raped because you have a pretty face. He never took any responsibility.”

It was the court room experience that actually convinced Gerald to push for her daughter’s rapist to take a plea deal. During the trial, Marcie would come home and cut herself after hearing her attacker’s testimony. “I said we can’t keep doing this; we have to take the plea and get it over with.”

Marcie’s first suicide attempt took place in April 2014. Her older brother, Hermari, found her lying on the floor of her bedroom foaming at the mouth after drinking bleach. EMTs took her to a pediatric hospital where her stomach was pumped and she spent time in a mental health hospital for a couple of weeks after the incident. The second time Marcie attempted suicide by cutting herself. The third time, Gerald said, was after her daughter’s rapist took the plea and confessed to sexually assaulting her. “She had to relive it all over again and she never got over that.”

Because Marcie’s rapist threatened to have members of the Chicago gang Gangster Disciples harm her and her family, she began homeschooling following the attack. Freshman year she was placed in a therapeutic school and still maintained honor roll standing while getting treatment from the Laynie Foundation, a non-profit mental health agency in Matteson, IL.

“She would have her ups and downs,” Gerald said, “but the last year, 2015, was just a bad year for us because my sister died of cancer in January, then my brother called me crying saying his son had been murdered, one of my best friend’s died. It was just death after death after death and I think it was just too much and it pushed her over the edge.”

July 19, 2015 would prove to be the day Marcie could no longer put up the fight, though by all accounts the day was like any other Gerald said. “That Sunday she had a regular day; we had Sunday dinner, we went to church. Marcie was into healthy hair and her weight so we would go to the health food store and she would get natural soaps and products and I asked her did she need me to do anything for her before I laid down and she said no.

“She did ask me to make her a bath — she liked lavender oil and almond milk bath beads — so I did that and she took a bath and relaxed and I laid down. After midnight she came downstairs and said ‘I love you mommy’ and I said ‘I love you too baby’ and gave me a hug and kiss and she just laid down with me like she always did.”

20141203_192252Around 6 am Monday, July 20, Gerald attempted to wake her daughter and couldn’t. “I said ‘Marcie, get up” and nothing happened and I said it again and shook her and when I still couldn’t wake her up, I grabbed her from the front and said ‘Marcie, Marcie’ and she wouldn’t wake up.”

Hermari told his mom to call 911 and paramedics arrived on the scene within a few minutes and transported Marcie to the emergency room. Gerald threw on a robe and slippers and rode with her daughter in the ambulance. While in the waiting room a nurse told Gerald the doctor wanted her to start calling family members and she didn’t understand why. A few minutes later, the nurse, doctor, and a third person asked Gerald if they could speak with her in a private room and asked her to take a seat.

“At that time the third person informed me he was a chaplain and it still didn’t dawn on me what was going on. The doctor said ‘Miss Gerald, this is one of the hardest parts of my job’ and I said ‘Oh my God, what’s wrong? Does she need to be switched to another hospital?’ and he told me she was expired. He said there’s nothing else they could do. She’s gone. It’s like I could hear it but I started going into a twilight zone.”

At 15, Marcie had overdosed on Tramadol, the narcotic she had been prescribed to deal with the pain and inflammation she’d suffered as a result of her rape.

Though it has yet been a year since Marcie passed, her mother wasted no time turning her pain into action to prevent other people from having to experience the loss she did. “One thing I learned is that when people don’t stay active they sit in the house and they break down. I decided not to let her death be in vain and I started going around spreading suicide awareness and I speak on mental illness issues and rape. That’s what helps me.”

Gerald said it was hearing people repeatedly say “Black people don’t kill themselves” that made her share Marcie’s story with the world.

“The thing is, suicide is the third leading cause of death and I’ve had people say they have lost children, husbands, wives, all types of best friends to suicide but a lot of people don’t want to come out and say it was suicide. They’d rather say it was a natural cause or accidental death because of the stigma in the African American community… We brush it under the rug; it’s a secret.

“Since I’ve been going around talking on sexual assault and bullying I’ve had women and, believe it or not, men tell me they were molested as children and their mothers would say ‘What goes on in this house stays in this house’ and they never got treated.”

It’s those stories that keep Gerald motivated, and though suicide and sexual assault are personal to her, she has a message for the Black community at large.

“One of the things we have to learn to do as African Americans is we have to learn how to love and be kind to one another. We’ve got to unite. We’re the most religious race, but were also the most dysfunctional; we’re the most separated. Men call women hos, thots, B’s; women think it’s cute to be a bad B. We’ve got to come together. We’re the only race that doesn’t come together and the stuff that happens to us we don’t hear about, and the stuff that does make the news is the homicides and gang shootings but it’s just as many suicides as it is homicides. I’ve lost three nephews to gun violence and I lost my step-son. I tell people, the pain is the same whether it’s a homicide or a suicide because they’re not coming back. We’ve got to come together to save our youth and our adults because mental illness is real in the Black community.”

Gerald is also doing work on the legislative front to get a bill passed that would impart severe consequences for individuals whose actions tangentially lead to another’s suicide.

“I feel like if a person causes a person to take their life, whether it’s assault, bulling, taunting, domestic violence, sexual assault you should be charged for that person’s death.”

Such a law would certainly affect Marcie’s rapist who was only sentenced to eight years behind bars after coping his plea deal. He will spend the rest of his life on parole.

“Marcie just had a sweet 16; her birthday was January 3 and because of this man I had to take flowers and balloons to a cemetery,” Gerald said. “She should have been here, but she’s in peace; her pain is over.”

To support Elizabeth Gerald on her legislative mission, donate to her Go Fund Me fundraiser and like the Marcie Jonea Gerald Movement Facebook page.

Should The Smithsonian Include Bill Cosby’s Sexual Assault Allegations In Its New Museum?

April 3rd, 2016 - By Ashley Monaé
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Image Source: WENN

Image Source: WENN

Bill Cosby’s controversial scandal of rape allegations that has been looming in the media continues, as earlier this week the new National Museum of African American History and Culture revealed that they would include Cosby. While the museum, which is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, said that the comedian would be showcased in an exhibit on African-American entertainers in film, theater, and TV without mention of the allegations against him, things have changed, CNN reports.

On Thursday, founding director Lonnie Bunch said in a statement that the museum will include information about Cosby’s recent scandal in their “Taking the Stage” exhibit, in addition to highlighting his accomplishments in television and comedy:

“There have been many misconceptions and mistaken notions about the presence of Bill Cosby within the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s exhibition, ‘Taking the Stage,’ that explores the history of African American participation in film, theatre and television. This is not an exhibition that ‘honors or celebrates’ Bill Cosby but one that acknowledges his role, among many others, in American entertainment. Some people feel that the Smithsonian should eliminate all mention of Bill Cosby as a result of recent revelations. This museum seeks to tell, in the words of the eminent historian John Hope Franklin, ‘the unvarnished truth’ that will help our visitors to remember and better understand what has often been erased and forgotten. Like all of history, our interpretation of Bill Cosby is a work in progress, something that will continue to evolve as new evidence and insights come to the fore. Visitors will leave the exhibition knowing more about Mr. Cosby’s impact on American entertainment, while recognizing that his legacy has been severely damaged by the recent accusations.”

Interestingly, in January, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art withdrew an exhibit funded ($716,000) by Cosby and his wife, Camille, of which showcased works from the families private collection and received a fair share of backlash. This definitely may have swayed Bunch’s decision.

Johnnetta Cole, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art and longtime friend of the Cosby family, also shared her thoughts on Cosby’s exhibit, defending it. Cole said that the showcase is “not about the life and career of Bill Cosby” but rather “is about the interplay of artistic creativity in remarkable works of African and African-American art and what visitors can learn from the stories this art tells,” Think Progress reported.

As of now, the museum is continuing with Bunch’s decision of including the accusations of 50 women who accused Cosby of sexual misconduct and will open on September 24.

What are your thoughts?

Howard Students Protest The University’s Handling Of Two Rape Allegations Against An RA

March 24th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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howard students protest

Source: WUSA 9

The students at Howard University are making their voices heard after the school failed to address two separate sexual assaults that occurred on campus.

According to WUSA 9, more than 100 Howard students gathered earlier this week to protest the university’s handling of the two rape allegations. Both at the hands of the same student, a former Residence Hall Advisor (RA).

According to D.C. police reports, the first of the two incidents happened in May 2015. The second in February of this year. Both incidents were alleged to have happened on campus property.

Tori Elder, one of the students who helped organize the protest said, “It’s an outrage to know that we live in a building with a rapist. I felt like my safety is gone. I don’t feel safe at all.”

The most recent alleged rape, according to police documents, happened on February 8 in a residence hall.

The university’s handling of the cases all came to light this week, when one of the alleged victims tweeted her disgust that her alleged rapist was still on campus.

When other Twitter users questioned her about the assault, she said, “my coworker raped me and got me fired.”

Another user said, “If you want to protest/stand up against CHS/Howard I’m with you. You aren’t the only girl who this has happened to this year.”

WUSA confirmed that another incident was reported in October, detailing a rape in a parking garage at Howard University Hospital, across the street from the same residence hall where the second rape was reported.

Recent tweets have been posted regarding the alleged sexual assault of a Howard University student by another Howard student.   The University administration took immediate action as soon as we learned of this matter.   While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any ongoing investigation, we are and have been actively investigating all reports that have been made to us.  These cases cannot be adjudicated through social media without compromising the integrity of the investigation.

Howard University takes matters of sexual assault very seriously.  As part of our commitment to a safe campus environment, we continue to refine and enhance our Title IX protocols and procedures consistent with best practices and federal regulations. This is further supported with ongoing prevention education, collaboration, training and campus engagement.

During the protests, students shut down part of 4th Street NW and could be heard chanting “No means no!”

This RA hasn’t just been accused of rape on Howard’s campus. A woman from UCLA forwarded a letter, allegedly from officials, which stated that the man had been banned from campus after he was accused of distributing revenge porn of a female student.

The protestors released a list of demand.

You can take a look at coverage of the protest in the video below.

13-Year-Old Reports Her Rape, The School Sends Her Home Indefinitely

March 23rd, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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13-Year-Old Reports Her Rape, The School Sends Her Home feat

Source: Corbis

So often when we hear about rape and sexual assault cases in schools, we think about students on college campuses. But these issues aren’t limited to dorm rooms and frat parties. Rape and sexual assaults are happening in middle schools as well. Sadly, just like college campuses, the instances aren’t always handled properly. And it’s usually the woman or young girl who suffers more than she did initially.

That was the case with a 13-year-old, Haitian-American girl in Brooklyn.

BuzzFeed detailed the story and interviewed the girl who they identified as G. (She was identified only by her middle initial to protect her privacy.)

Last year, during her spring break, G.’s mother and friends noticed that she had stopped eating and sleeping. She was having panic attacks and complaining of excruciating pain. When they asked her what was wrong, she refused to say. Later, that same month, April, a video surfaced that would explain everything.

A boy in G.’s eighth grade class at Spring Creek Community School, a middle school, filmed himself penetrating G.’s mouth and anus. G. claimed that she was raped, while the boy said he sex was consensual. The video was shared throughout Brooklyn.

G. said, “It was the most awful thing. It was bad enough that everyone knew what happened. But knowing that they had seen the video was that much worse.”

Her classmates didn’t just watch the video, they taunted G. with their opinions about it. “They said I allowed it to happen to me. But I had no ideas what I was supposed to do.”

When G. reported her rape to the Spring Creek’s principal, things went from bad to worse. While Title IX regulations require that schools that receive federal funding have to thoroughly investigate claims of sexual harassment and assault; and  that students can’t be denied education based on their gender, that’s exactly what happened to G.

According to a complaint filed by G.’s attorney in November, the first administrator she told did not report the incident. Another one asked her why she hadn’t fought the boy off. Finally, the principal sent G. home indefinitely while the school tried to handle the situation.

While G. was missing school, no one ever referred her to counseling or legal services. In fact, they didn’t even send her homework home. After four days, the principal told G.’s mother that she had arranged a “safety transfer” to another school. She also said there was nothing more Spring Creek could do.

In reality, the principal didn’t even do what she said she would. There was no safety transfer put in place. G.’s mother had to take matters into her own hands. After about a month, with the help of sexual consent litigation attorney Carrie Goldberg, G. was transferred to another school.

The Title IX complaint is currently being investigated by the federal government’s Office for Civil Rights.

During her interview with BuzzFeed, G. said she can’t understand why she was being punished for telling the truth.

“Everyone was blaming things on me. It was so much pressure. I couldn’t take it. At times I felt like giving up on my life.”

G. said that before she was raped, she’d never had sex. She’d never even had a comprehensive sex education class and she wasn’t comfortable talking to her mother about sex, which is why she waited so long to tell her.

But her mother sensed that something was not right.

“I knew something was wrong with my daughter. I could feel her pain in my body. I hurt too.”

According to her Title IX complaint, G. said that the incident took place near campus while she was waiting for the school bus. The complaint also describes how the boy videotaped himself penetrating her before sharing the video online.

The principal’s decision to send G. home was so that her presence wouldn’t “make things worse.”

When police and administrators looked at the video they concluded that it was consensual sex and then dropped the investigation.

The police convinced G.’s mother not to press charges and then asked G. why she didn’t fight him off of her.

According to BuzzFeed, the school was more interested in accusing G. of dishonesty. The complaint alleges that even if the sex were consensual the fact that it was recorded and circulated, it’s still a crime, child pornography to be specific.

While there is a lawsuit in motion, G. is happy at her new school but she still doesn’t feel comfortable around boys. She says she still has flashbacks of what happened to her last April and worries that everyone believes it was her fault.

She said, “Things have gotten better but what happened is still such an impact on my life. Sometimes I still feel like giving up.”

You can read the full story here.

She Bad: Survivor Poses In Front Of The Scene Of Her Rape In Dominatrix Outfit

March 14th, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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Source: Tumblr

Source: Tumblr

Rape is so much more than just a violation of your physical body. It’s the toil it takes on your psychological and emotional well-being, your sense of self-worth that can be the hardest to heal. Survivors will reach that healing in a variety of ways. Some people talk to confidants, some seek therapy. And many others seek to regain the agency that was taken from them on the night of their assault. The creatives out there know that often, the best way to express yourself is through art. Nearly two years ago, we told you about Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia student who resolved that she was going to carry a mattress around with her on campus as long as she and her rapist attended the same school.

And while we would like for Sulkowicz’s story to be an anomaly, young women are often raped and violated on college campuses throughout the country. Sadly, that was Karmenife Paulino’s story too. According to, just before her 18th birthday Paulino ran away from an abusive household. She thought she’d found refuge on the Wesleyan campus. But after being there for just two months, she was raped in the basement of a fraternity party.

Paulino thought she would find a haven in Wesleyan, instead she found herself crying in class. making efforts to avoid her rapist, studying the university’s sexual misconduct policies and filing reports and attending hearings.

Eventually, during her junior year, the man was expelled.

Recently, Paulino, now 22, a graduate of Wesleyan, returned to Wesleyan to assert her sexual agency and power in a photoshoot called Reclamation. In it, Paulino poses as a dominatrix in front of the very fraternity house where she was raped with men wearing chains, gags in their mouths, donning shirts that read “Frat Filth.” (In an effort to maintain an environment of consent, the male models had safe words and hand signals if they wanted to let Paulino they were uncomfortable with something she asked them to do.)

Paulino said the dominatrix outfit is particularly special to her.

“I’ve worn that outfit before many times. It’s what I feel the most powerful and the most vulnerable in and I wanted to wear it because women who are sexually confident are always demonized in these spaces and in society in general.”

But the photoshoot also contains a bit of levity.

“There’s something really powerful and beautiful about dominatrixes and just to be in front of these frat houses and to have these models kissing my feet and worshiping me — there’s an element of humor to it.”

Then on a more serious note, Paulino said she’s tired of Black respectability politics and people of color’s bodies being viewed as vulgar and ‘too much.’

Respectability politics played a huge role in her fight for justice as Paulino had to overcome the initial feelings of turning in her rapist, a Black man.

“When we speak we have to represent the entire community, which is horrible,” Paulino said. “Because my rapist was black it was really difficult for me to call my rapist a rapist. I felt like I had let my community down and like I was enforcing stereotypes.”

In addition to fighting for her own case and the photoshoot, during her last semester at Wesleyan, Paulino started a Survivor Support Network to help sexual assault survivors like herself. She said the campus was largely lacking in those type of resources. She called for more “safe spaces” on campus.

“Spaces are everything, especially on college campuses,” responded Paulino. “We’re not asking to be ‘coddled’ — we’re asking to be safe.” 

Since leaving Wesleyan, Paulino has relocated to New York City, where she hopes to work with survivors of color.

“I needed to take these spaces that had so much power over me, over my community, over everything, and then have that power completely switched and have it rest on my shoulders.”

You can check out all the photos from Paulino’s shoot, here. 

Victim Blaming From The Victim: R Kelly Waited Decades To Discuss His Sexual Assault But Finds Cosby Accusers’ Silence Strange

January 21st, 2016 - By Veronica Wells
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R Kelly Waited Decades To Discuss His Sexual Assault

Source: Sebastian Kim for GQ

I’ve never denied R Kelly’s musical genius. Though I can no longer listen to his music in peace, I can’t deny the fact that the man had jams, many of which characterized my childhood and adolescence. But as the saying goes, or as my father would like to say, “Genius ain’t free.”

It often comes with quirks, eccentricities and in the case of R Kelly, [alleged] perverse sexual desires. In his recent, three day interview with GQ‘s Chris Heath, titled “The Confessions of R Kelly,” we see both sides. We learned of the boy who looked at the Sears (now Willis) Tower and vowed to become great and formidable like the structure itself. The child turned man who couldn’t and still struggles to read, spell and solve math problems. And a man who, despite these deficiencies, is quite clever with analogies.

In describing his own mind, R Kelly said:

“If you look around, you see cars rolling down the street all the time, but if you ever see a floating car, you gonna be like, ‘Whoa! Whoa! Wait a minute, what is that? I’ve never seen that before.’ You can’t figure it out because you don’t know who built it, you don’t know who created it, you don’t know who came up with the concept, you don’t know the blueprint of it, you don’t even know how it works, but you love it because it looks so sweet, floating down the street. And that one car, if it has any type of feeling in it, is gonna feel alone, because it’s not understood.”

It makes sense. He is different.

And for all of his strengths, including his musical giftedness, unique mind and ability to overcome growing up without a father, illiteracy, being repeatedly molested; the interview also showed Kelly’s often warped, disturbing, cringe-worthy thought processes. There are moments when he seems to speak about the affection and connection to his family members in strange terms. Like being “in love” with his grandfather and “in a son/mother way having a serious, serious crush” on his mom.

There was his discussion of his relationship with Aaliyah (the very little he would say about it) where he, a 27-year-old, when they met, talked about being her “best, best, best, best friend.”

Most notably, he went into detail about the sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of an older female relative from the time he was 7-8 until he was 14 or 15. Until his 2012 autobiography Soulacoaster, Kelly had never told anyone about it. Not his wife, not his mother. No one. He told Heath it started as oral sex and then became forced intercourse. When he tried to confront this woman, as an adult, eight or nine years ago, he said she:

“Didn’t want to talk about it. Didn’t own up to it. Told me, ‘Sometime when you’re kids, you think you’ve been through something, or did something, that you didn’t do, probably was a dream.’ Things like that. But it was definitely not a dream.”

And then interestingly enough he talked about forgiving this woman for perpetuating what he considers a generational curse.

“I, well, definitely forgive them. As I’m older, I look at it and I know that it had to be not just about me and them, but them and somebody older than them when they were younger, and whatever happened to them when they were younger. I looked at it as if there was a sort of like, I don’t know, a generational curse, so to speak, going down through the family. Not just started with her doing that to me.”

It’s a curse Kelly says he has broken. Then the interviewer and author asked Kelly if he wished that this woman were held accountable for her actions.

“Back then, too young to judge. As I’m older, I’ve only learned to forgive it. Was it wrong? Absolutely. But it’s a family member that I love so I would definitely say no to that one. To be honest, even if my mom, I saw her kill somebody, I’m not gonna say, ‘Well, yeah, she definitely should go to jail.’ It’s just something I wouldn’t do.”

Let’s put a pin there and we’ll return to it in a minute.

R Kelly Waited Decades To Discuss His Sexual Assault

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When talking about fatherhood, R Kelly likened himself to the Bill Cosby. The Bill Cosby we once knew as father figure Heathcliff Huxtable from the show. Naturally, choosing to evoke that name, Heath had to ask Kelly what he thought about the allegations lodged against him.

His answer was very interesting.

“I can say is that it was a long time ago. And when I look on TV and I see the 70-, 80-, 90-year-old ladies talking about what happened when they were 17, 18, or 19, there’s something strange about it. That’s my opinion. It’s just strange.

Although if—
“[interrupts] It’s strange. Strange is strange. I can’t explain strange. That’s why strange is strange. Because it’s something we can’t explain.”

But don’t you think that if they’re telling the truth, it doesn’t matter how long ago it was?

“If God showed me that they were telling the truth, I would say that’s wrong. I don’t care if it was a zillion years ago. But God would have to do that, because God is the only one can show me that. No man can tell me that. No woman can tell me that. And when you wait 70 years, 50 years, 40 years, to say something that simple, it’s strange. You know why I say that is because it happened to me, and it wasn’t true.”

R Kelly is not the only Black person to proclaim Bill Cosby’s innocence. He’s not the only man or woman to question why the women waited so long to report the incidents of sexual assault. He’s not the only famous person to question whether or not these women are after fame or notoriety.

But being that R Kelly is a survivor of childhood rape who waited decades, 38 years to be precise, to talk about the experience, it is incredibly hypocritical for him to question these women for coming forward years after their alleged assaults with Cosby. The same shame, guilt, confusion he felt as a child might have been the same feelings these 50 + women dealt with as well. Not to mention Kelly’s relative was not famous and powerful like Bill Cosby was. Clearly, he’s viewing the situation from the lens of a famous Black man, accused, time and time and time again, of his own sexual deviance.

Which brings me back to the comments he made about his relative. R Kelly talks about eventually coming into the knowledge that what happened to him was wrong. But he doesn’t believe his relative should have been held accountable for her actions because he loved her.

Listen, I’m all for love; really I am. But love doesn’t excuse wrongdoing. It seeks to correct it and make the loved one better. And if you want to talk about breaking generational curses, his relative being punished for sexually abusing him would have gone a long way in accomplishing that both psychologically and symbolically. Children and adults need to see that their bodies and their feelings are so valuable, that there is punishment associated with the violation of them. You don’t cease to love someone because they’ve been punished for inflicting bodily, emotional and psychological harm on someone else. You hope it makes the better and prevents them and even the victim from perpetuating that evil onto someone else. Maybe if R Kelly had seen those type of consequences, it a might have helped to hold him accountable for his own predatory relationships with young girls.

Perhaps R Kelly feels like he’s broken the curse because his victims, for all we know, are not family members. But romantic and sexual relationships with girls, children, is not breaking the curse. It’s continuing it on a grander scale, with the money and access to not only feed his proclivities but cover them up and evade punishment as well.

I could be completely off base; but the same forgiveness R Kelly is issuing to his relative might be the same leniency he’s extending to himself. In one part of his mind, he realizes his behavior is not right. But in another, he excuses it by saying it happened to him. And since he’s loved and adored by fans and was exonerated by the justice system, he feels he should be excused.

But it’s just not true.

What R Kelly needs is to be honest about his past, his patterns, (a couple of other things like his mother’s death) and seek to really break the curse through acknowledgement, therapy and then reform.

If you haven’t already, carve out some time to read the entire interview. It’s very well-written, well constructed and very telling.