Sexual violence is any physical sexual act committed without the consent of the other person or when the other person is unable to give consent. It includes sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Sexual trauma is any lingering physical, emotional, or psychological symptoms resulting from a physical assault or battery of a sexual nature. The state of Alaska has the highest rate of sexual assault in the nation.
On this episode, Blaze Bell, a tenacious sexual assault survivor, shares her story of triumph over tragedy, Keeley Olson, executive director of Standing Together Against Rape, details how her organization meets the unique needs of sexual violence victims and survivors in Alaska, and Eden Lunsford, a trauma therapist, talks about how she helps sexual violence survivors recover personal power and reestablish agency over their lives.
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Executive Director, STAR Alaska: Standing Together Against Rape
Keeley Olson is the executive director of STAR Alaska, Standing Together Against Rape.
She grew up in northcentral Montana and graduated from the University of Montana with a bachelor of social work. After managing a domestic violence shelter and transitional housing program in Missoula, Montana, Keeley returned to her alma mater to study organizational communications.
After relocating to Olympia, Washington, she served on the board of directors for SafePlace, a domestic violence shelter and rape crisis center. She was tapped to develop a new division of victim advocates for the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and worked as an advocate specializing in domestic and sexual violence intervention. Keeley has served in Montana, Washington, and Alaska as a certified expert witness for domestic violence and sexual assault cases.
Learn more about STAR Alaska at www.STARAlaska.com.
Singer, Motivational Speaker,
Holistic Coach & Sexual Assault Survivor
Blaze Bell is a singer, motivational speaker, holistic health coach, and podcast host. Her personal experience of trauma and addiction led her on a powerful healing journey. Blaze has turned her pain into her purpose and now coaches others on how to reclaim their lives and heal their past. She is the board president of Victims for Justice, 2019 winner of the First Lady Volunteer of Alaska Award, and the creator of four signature programs centered on helping others rise up and heal.
Learn more about Blaze at www.BlazeBell.com.
Eden Lunsford, MS. LPC
Owner, Fireweed Counseling & Wellness LLC
Eden Lunsford is a licensed professional counselor and certified BrainSpotting therapist who has been in private practice since 2018. She believes in the ability of the mind and body to heal and uses trauma therapy to help her clients become a stronger, more resilient version of themselves.
She earned a master of science from Alaska Pacific University and worked with STAR Alaska, Standing Together Against Rape, for nearly 10-years.
In 2012, she was trained in TF-CBT (Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy). She added EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) and EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) to her list of certifications in 2014. Since 2019, BrainSpotting has been her preferred modality for assisting clients on their healing journey to overcoming the devastating effects of sexual assault.
Learn more about Eden at www.fireweedcounselingandwellness.com.
Keeley & Blaze’s
According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, forms of sexual violence include:
- Rape or sexual assault.
- Child sexual assault and incest.
- Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner.
- Unwanted sexual contact or touching.
- Sexual harassment.
- Sexual exploitation and trafficking.
- Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent.
- Masturbating in public.
- Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge or permission.
- Nonconsensual image sharing.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment.
Further examples are:
- Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, either explicitly or implicitly.
- Physical acts of sexual assault.
- Requests for sexual favors.
- Verbal harassment of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation.
- Unwanted touching or physical contact.
- Unwelcome sexual advances.
- Discussing sexual relations/stories/fantasies at work, school, or in other inappropriate places.
- Feeling pressured to engage with someone sexually
- Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails, or text messages.
Sexual trauma is the lasting emotional, physical, or psychological effects from any sexual act inflicted on a person without their consent.
Signs that you or someone you know is experencing sexual trauma include:
- Continuing anxiety.
- Severe mood swings.
- A sense of helplessness.
- Persistent fears.
- Sleeping difficulties.
- Eating difficulties.
- Social isolation.
- Hyper vigilance.
- Reluctance to leave house.
- Sexual problems.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Numbing behaviors.
Signs that you or someone you know is perpetuating sexual violence include:
- They touch others inappropriately.
- They shame or coerce partners and others into sexual acts, they gaslight or make their victims doubt their reality.
- They engage in sexual acts with people who are unable to consent due to their age, ability, intoxication or other limiting factors.
RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network states:
- Every 73 seconds another American is sexually assaulted.
- 1 out of every 6 America women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have will experience sexual violence at some point.
- Almost half of all victims of sexual violence in the United States were raped by an intimate partner.
- Ages 12-34 are the highest for sexual violence.
- From 2009 to 2013, Child Protective Services agencies substantiated that 63K children a year are victims of sexual abuse.
- The majority of child victims are 12-17.
- Of victims under the age of 18, 34% are under the age of 12 and 66% are between the ages of 12 and 17.
- Approximately 70% of sexual violence victims experience moderate to severe distress, a larger percentage than for any other violent crime.
- The majority of sexual assaults occur at or near the victim’s home.
- 48% were sleeping or performing anther activity at home.
- 29% were traveling to and from work, school or running errands
- 7% were attending school
Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. It does not discriminate. It crosses all gender, race, age, and social- economic barriers. It is not “caused by” or “brought on by” the victim. It is the sole responsibility of the perpetrator.
Create, honor and enforce a standardized, affirmative definition of consent, dismantle toxic masculinity denounce strict gender stereotypes.
Advocate for violence-prevention programs in your local school district, urge elected officials to commit to funding programs that support victims of sexual trauma, strengthening the definition of consent the Violence Against Women Act, and the Equal Rights Amendment.
Advocate for youth, adult, and professional personal safety and sexual violence education and bystander intervention programs, urge elected officials to commit to funding programs that support victim/survivor recovery, strengthen the definition of consent, and support the Violence Against Women Act and the Equal Rights Amendment.
RAINN-Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network:
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE, online.rainn.org y rainn.org/es) in partnership with more than 1,000 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help survivors, and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
STAR Alaska: Standing Together Against Rape
Since 1978, STAR has been responding to the needs of survivors of sexual assault, while integrating prevention and education programs with a goal of reducing harm to all Alaskans. All STAR services for survivors are provided free of charge.