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Planning for prevention: What's the logic behind my program?

Planning for prevention: What's the logic behind my program?logic model

Blog by Alexis Marbach, Empowerment Evaluator, RICADV

Strategic planning for prevention seems like such a luxury. Can you imagine stepping back from implementing a program, researching emerging trends in program delivery, and participating in an agency wide conversation around the efficacy of a given program? In an era of reduced funding (and subsequently reduced levels of staffing), comprehensive planning can fall by the wayside as we strive to give and do more with less. But what happens when we forge ahead without the thoughtful and sometimes complicated planning process? We run the risk of implementing a strategy that fails to meet the needs of our audience (culturally, developmentally) and fails to achieve our intended outcomes. As prevention specialists, we must plan for our programming to know if we have the resources we need, if our program's content aligns with our intended outcomes, and what we need to do to effectively implement our identified program.

During the last week of August, I set off for Los Angeles to facilitate a conversation around one kind of planning process: creating a logic model. I was invited by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to present the core components of logic models to their Rape Prevention Education (RPE) grantees at the pre-conference to the National Sexual Assault Conference. There are over 64 RPE programs in the state of California, and each one has a unique scope of work for their primary prevention activities. While all California RPE grantees are working to evaluate their primary prevention efforts, many have not stepped back from implementation and evaluation to reassess which of their prevention programs are the most effective. In the last few months, RPE grantees have also experienced a reduction in their funding, forcing them to step back and decide which programs (or pieces of programs) should be cut or put on hold as CDPH has made it clear that their expectation is that RPE grantees "do less with less" not do more with less. Given this news, I must admit that I was a little worried about the tone of my training. Would the participants feel as though this was just one more hurdle to jump through or one more public health tool that took time away from their ability to implement? I was totally off the mark.

Over 65 prevention specialists, administrators, and rape crisis center advocates joined me on Tuesday morning to talk about the mechanics of logic models. We started by reviewing some content we had previously discussed in a webinar in July, and then outlined how we would move forward. I framed our conversation as an opportunity to learn how to create a tool that would have multiple benefits such as:

Legitimate Rapes: A 2012 Bluster and Opportunity to Discuss Sexual Assaults

Legitimate Rapes: A 2012 Bluster and Opportunity in 2013 to Discuss Sexual Assaults 

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by Jessica McCauley
Child Counselor, Sojourner House

"Legitimate rape."  

It was late summer, 2012, and Todd Akin, a Republican member of the House of Representatives from Missouri running for a 2012 U.S. Senate seat, was being interviewed on St. Louis television. He had just answered a question about his views on women who became pregnant due to rape and whether they should have the option of abortion. He also gave us one of the year's most ridiculous catch-phrases and menacingly misguided statements on the topics of women's health and violence against women uttered during the 2012 election:

"First of all, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Outrage ensued. One reason is because Akin's remarks came after decades of research, advocacy, systems change, and public engagement, especially work that revealed the prevalence of acquaintance rape (also called date rape). Whereas a common misconception about "legitimate" rapists is that they are strangers that jump out of bushes or dark alleys, the reality is that most often sexual assaults are committed by is a friend, family member or date.

But Representative Akin's statement also brought up the question: What kind of rape isn't legitimate in the eyes of Akin and others who share his views?

"What kind of rape isn't legitimate?"

For women's equality advocates and those trying to end violence against women, it was not a surprise to hear that someone had views like those expressed by Akin (though it was maybe surprising that he would make them in as compounded a public arena as a television interview in an election year). Here are some other aspects of sexual assault that are opposed, misconceived, disbelieved, unacknowledged or misconstrued:

  • Statutory rape, where both parties may have consented, but one is under age on the books. This is considered rape because the younger person was not old enough to make an informed or an emotionally mature decision, and therefore gave consent under the pressure or manipulation of an older individual.
  • Rape where force was not used to fight against the perpetuator? Unfortunately, it is not widely known that there are actually three responses the body automatically produces to threat of harm: fight, flight and freeze. While most people have heard that the reptilian part of our brain involuntarily reacts by fighting or running, a third response is just as common: freezing. This may be seen when an animal in the wild becomes immobile in the hope that a predator will pass them by unseen. Our brains elicit this response as well. This experience has been likened to being paralyzed. A person in freeze mode may very well want to fight off the aggressor, but they are literally unable to move. This feeling adds to the trauma of the incident, especially if the survivor feels somehow at fault for not struggling.

Yes, No, and a Better Understanding of Consent

Another topic that is commonly misunderstood is the issue of permission and "consent."  Human rights law and standards in the International Criminal Court includes the following statement:  "Consent need not be expressed, and may be implied from the context and from the relationship of the parties, but the absence of objection does not of itself constitute consent. In other words, a lack of a no is not a yes!  For example, a person who seems uncomfortable, unsure or hesitant about a sexual act is not consenting, even if they have not specifically used the word no. An individual who cares about the feelings, wishes and desires of their partner will notice that they are not willing. While people should be encouraged to speak up, it is also imperative to recognize the past life experiences that may make this difficult for some to do so.

Another misconception about consent is that it need only be given once. This comes into play with marital, or spousal, rape (a form of domestic violence); while now outlawed in every state, the last state to enact this law did so in 1993! (The first was in 1975.) There are still some countries where it is not an official crime, because historically consent was assumed in the marriage contract (National Center for victims of Crime.) However, no matter how many times two people have had sex in the past, a partner must give consent each and every time.

Legitimately Affected

Imagine this: an annual holiday where he has to face his abuser; a date with a fellow student that goes too far; an uncle who spends more and more time with his niece; a husband who forces his wife to engage in sex as part of a cycle of violence he imposes.  This is the reality for many:

  • 1 in 6 women are survivors of sexual assault.
  • 1 in 5 men have experienced some form of sexual victimization in their lives.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men were sexually abused before the age of 18.

Conflicting feelings may arise within a person who is taken advantage of by someone they cared for and/or trusted.  Complicated or not, all victims of sexual assault face "legitimate" challenges and barriers to overcome, and perpetrators and rapists are the ones that need to be shut down.  


So as we look back at 2012, and at the words of Congressman Akin, we recognize both a low point in terms of how misinformed and out-of-touch some really are about sexual assaults and women's health, and a high point in terms of the number of people across the country who responded in outrage to his remarks. Nationally and here in RI the community is saying NO MORE to domestic violence and sexual assault. And like those who voted for Akin's opponent, we are also saying NO MORE to leaders who are misinformed, disconnected, or working without our best interest in mind. For more information, visit or call 401-467-9940.

Holiday Giving and Survivor Empowerment with DVRCSC

Holiday Giving and Survivor Empowerment with DVRCSC

by Deb Greene


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The holiday season is here with its celebrations, decorations and cheer. But for some, like victims of domestic violence, the holidays can be a time of sadness, loneliness, and distress. One organization responding to those who've fallen into the second category is Domestic Violence Resource Center of South County (DVRCSC).  Hear what DVRCSC staff member, Deb Greene, had to say about her experience as a victim and her contributions as a survivor and staff member. 

The work I do at the DVRCSC is a passion for me for many reasons, including that I endured domestic violence for ten years back in the seventies. Back then, the resources for victims were pretty much non-existent, and that's primarily because it was simply considered a private issue between spouses, partners and family members. In my own case, it took years but I finally left my husband - with my two children - but had to go "underground" for three months upon making the decision. I was only 23 years old and terrified.

Later, I decided that I didn't want to run forever and returned to R.I. where I got two jobs to support myself and my boys. However, my then ex-husband continued to stalk me for two more years. Without many resources or supports, there were times I truly wanted to give up, but I was determined not to let my abuser win. I also wanted a better life for my children. After all, they didn't ask for the horror they had survived.

During the course of everything I endured, I promised myself that eventually I would help other victims; I got no help but I certainly wanted to make sure others did. Fast forward to today, and I have been involved with the DVRCSC for seventeen years. I started as the faciliator of a support group, but have since worked in different roles at the organizatino's safe home. I truly love my work and feel that I am able to be a positive influence and advocate in my client's lives.


Join Greene and the entire DVRCSC family in collecting gift cards for groceries, phone minutes, drug stores, department stores, etc. to empower clients to be able to shop for their families and themselves. In order to distribute the cards to clients and to give them to shop for the holidays, please drop off donations in person to 61 Main Street in Wakefield, RI by Friday, December 14th. Hours are Monday through Friday, between 9:00AM and 5:00PM. Please call 401-782-3995 with any questions!

Blog postings and user comments reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

From Stuffed Envelopes to Emergency Calls

Stompout DVFrom Stuffed Envelopes to Emergency Calls

How and Why I volunteer at Women's Center of RI

By Delrita Butler

To be quite honest, I didn't have a background that I believed qualified me to help women in distress.  But the time had come for me to stretch myself and do more for our world community.  You see, I truly believe that every contribution brings us one step closer to healing our planet – a planet where, in all corners, battered women are raising our children. 

As a culture we can't survive without our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends, but we know that those same people are often the victims of abuse.  So knowing that women are the glue in the lives of families, decision makers, politicians and healers, I wanted to help strengthen them.  That is the reason I ended up at the Women's Center of Rhode Island (WCRI) – an organization that offers a safe place to make new choices with support, counseling and people who genuinely care.

A New Beginning, Slow and Steady

I started by giving my time doing what I was comfortable doing.  I know that women who have suffered abuse need our support and alternative ways to end the cycle of domestic violence, but I started by making phone calls, stuffing envelopes and handing out informative brochures.  I also collected used cell phones and participated in community outreach programs.  I even cleaned out a donation closet and took inventory of needed clothing.  It was easy, I was within my comfort zone, and I felt good about it.

Soon, I was asked to step up and participate by answering the WCRI 24 hour helpline.

Jumping in, Anxiety and All

Answering the helpline felt like more of a commitment and made me feel a little anxious.  I didn't have any counseling skills and I wasn't sure I was capable of talking to women in distress.  Still, I agreed to take the training and I am so glad I did!

The helpline training was very comprehensive, for it was structured to give participants written support materials, lectures, and role-playing exercises.  The sessions also consisted of remarks from women and discussions with them that included first-hand accounts detailing the ordeals they had personally overcome to successfully transform their lives.  Though painful to listen to, their struggles and courageous attitudes gave me hope.

After my training I was assigned a partner to shadow me while I spoke to the women on the phone; someone literally had my back!  With someone sitting next to me and picking up the phone if I got in a jam, I felt assured.  I would learn at my own pace and not worry about making mistakes that might hurt the caller.

Meet a Happy and Healthy Volunteer and Join Me

Well, I am now answering the helpline independently, and I feel like I have found the best of the volunteer experiences.  Plus, I hadn't counted on the transformation I would undergo; yet I get to change the world one person at a time and grow exponentially! I work with caring, insightful, intelligent people who want the best for the women involved in abusive relationships – and the best for me, a volunteer.  If you are interested in improving the lives of others while growing personally, I encourage you to contact the Women's Center of Rhode Island to inquire about volunteer opportunities.  Tell them Delrita sent you.


Meet volunteers and staff members from the Women's Center of Rhode Island at their two upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Month events or contact them by phone at 401-861-2761:

  • Wednesday, October 24, 2012 – The Women's Center of RI presents Byron Hurts' film "Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes" at the MET School Black Box Theater, 325 Public Street, Providence, RI.  Doors open at 6pm; film to begin at 6:30pm, followed by a panel and community discussion.
  • Sunday, October 28, 2012 – "STOMP Out Domestic Violence" Fashion Show II at Fete Music, 103 Dike Street, Providence, RI.  Organized by the Empowerment Movement to benefit the Women's Center of Rhode Island, doors open at 2pm and the show begins at 3pm. 

Blog postings and user comments reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.

NFL Players and League Act to End Domestic Violence

NFL Players and League Act to End Domestic Violence

By Linda Impagliazzo
Executive Director, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center


Football. The wait is over. And there's no better example than this October 13-14 weekend, as the New England Pats took on Seattle and Buffalo competed against Arizona.

With the new season of the NFL in full gear, it is difficult not to think about the still-recent domestic violence arrest of Chad (Ochocinco) Johnson. I applaud the Miami Dolphins for terminating his contract as a sign that domestic violence is not acceptable in the NFL, and I commend others in the league for taking a stand. Two examples are Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys and William Gay of the Arizona Cardinals – and former Pittsburgh Steeler.

Many NFL players have experienced the impact of violence in the home themselves and are deeply and detrimentally affected. But these players have had the courage to tell their stories to help others.

Jason Witten: Child Witness

Witten is aware of what it is like to grow up in an abusive home; he remembers his mother leaving a domestic violence situation when he was 11 years old. At the time, his mother and two brothers fled to live with his grandparents. Jason says he was fortunate to have his grandfather as a positive role model who introduced him to football, and he now makes it his mission to help children like him who have witnessed domestic violence.

Witten started The Jason Witten SCORE Foundation which places male mentors in domestic violence shelters. The mentors seek to demonstrate positive male behavior to children in order to break the cycle of violence. He also started a prevention program in high schools in Texas called "Coaching Boys into Men," which trains coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.

William Gay: Losing A Parent

Another player making a difference is Gay of the Cardinals, who is featured in a video produced by the Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. Gay's mother's life was tragically cut short by a man who claimed to have loved her; the video is a moving and courageous account of Will's early life and the role that the homicide of a parent by an intimate partner played in altering his childhood and life. In sharing his own personal tragedy, the audience is left with the sense that Gay relives the pain of his upbringing in order to help others who may be witnessing or experiencing a similar situation.

NFL: Taking a Stand

Apart from individual players, how is the NFL helping to end domestic violence? In an interview with this past August, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined some of the areas of the the current personal conduct policy that he and the players' union want to put in place, including a section dealing with domestic violence and a clause about players and league employees: anyone "convicted of a domestic violence attack can be subject to fines and suspension." The NFL expects its players and employees to be role models for the many fans, and the idea that domestic violence is part of the league's personal conduct policy is a good demonstration of their commitment.


So, as the football season continues, let's join together with Jason Witten, William Gay and others in the NFL who are working with the community to stop violence against women, and making a difference in the lives of families affected by domestic violence.

Blog postings and user comments reflect the opinions of the responsible contributor only, and do not reflect the viewpoint of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any posting. The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence accepts no obligation to review every posting, but reserves the right (but not the obligation) to delete postings that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate.