I started writing after the NCIS interview. I knew I needed to remember the details of the assault for trial. What started as my victim statement grew into a full length book of the struggles seeking legal justice in a military system. I take a yearly trip, flying on the day of the assault, and surround myself with loved ones I don't see often. In 2014, I found this book necklace at a little shop in San Diego. My book One Of Us is with the copy editor and I can't wait to get it back!
I won the End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) photo of the day yesterday for capturing the crowd listening to Dr. David Lisak. Last night, I took a photo with Jon Krakauer who wrote "Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town." I picked up the prize for the photo challenge and it was a hard copy of Krakauer's book!! I can only hope that my book "One of Us" about going through the military judicial system as a civilian/Peace Corps Volunteer will some day be on the shelves with his.
How I spent my extra 24 hours 2012:
I continued with a second day of testimony against the man who sexually assaulted me. After the defense lawyers were finished, I wearily went back to the prosecutors office to wait for the verdict. We were called back into the court room around 8pm. The man who chose to rape me was looking at a potential 60 years to life in prison and yet the military jury chose to acquit him of the six charges. He did a fist pump after hearing the news and his lawyers patted him on the back. I sat there thinking "that's it?" and how much I had struggled to do my part in keeping him from hurting other woman.
We finished trial on February 29, leap day. This is the first leap year since then. Check out my blog post in response to the military judicial system and the Associate Press article covering the trial.
How I spent my extra time this year in 2016:
Discussed equality and social justice in a social work grad school class. I thought about how I now work on a sexual assault risk-reduction and response program for international volunteers. I checked on the status of the copy-edit of my book One of Us. I checked facebook and saw a friend who I had been in student government with during undergrad. A few weeks ago, I saw him in DC and he said how he uses my blog post from four years ago to teach about social justice in his college class.
I chose to leap forward in life and use the horrific experience to bring about positive social change. It's on us to support victims and survivors because we are so much more than what has happened to us and we can work together for a safer today.
With great excitement, I handed over the flash drive holding the One of Us manuscript to the copy-editor! If you are interested in supporting One of Us, check out the gofundme page.
Have you published a book or worked with a copy editor? What was your experience? Tips or advice?
Nerd alert! Typically on Tuesdays, I'm taking grad classes. This morning, I really wanted to finish the journal article I was reading on the metro about innovative interventions aimed at reducing binge drinking. Then at work, I created a page about how sexual predators use coercion to increase their targets alcohol intake (leading to binge drinking- 4 or more drinks for women and 5 or more drinks for men), and how predators use potential harmful effects of binge drinking to their advantage.
Talking about alcohol can be tricky. Really good people offer to buy someone a drink while out and about without bad intentions. People can consume a lot of alcohol without it resulting in a physical or sexual assault. Awareness of tactics sexual predators use is important. Conversations with friends before going out about expectations, plans for what to do if someone gets separated from the group, how to respond if something doesn't seem right are all important in regards to safety.
Here are a few point about alcohol abuse and perpetrators when it comes to sexual assault:
- Although the media has labeled drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB as the date-rape drugs of the present, these are only two of the many drugs used to incapacitate a victim. Of the 22 substances used in drug-facilitated rapes, alcohol is the most common. (LeBeau, M., et al., Recommendations for Toxicological Investigations of Drug Facilitated Sexual Assaults, Journal of Forensic Sciences. 1999.)
- The relationship between alcohol and rape is multifaceted, and alcohol may be both a precipitant of and an excuse for sexually aggressive behavior by men (Abbey et al., 2001; Berkowitz, 1992; Larimer et al., 1999; Richardson & Hammock, 1991).
- Men who have committed sexual assault also frequently report getting their female companion drunk as a way of making it easier to talk or force her into having sex. (Abbey, McAuslan, & Ross, 1998).
- Alcohol was a factor in 61% of Kanin’s sample of college date rapists, and 76% of his sample admitted to attempts to intoxicate a female date (Kanin, 1985).
- In a study on male sexual coercion, 23% of college men admitted to getting a date drunk or stoned to engage in sexual intercourse, and 23% of women reported a date getting them drunk or stoned and engaging in unwanted sex (Tyler, et al., 1998).
- Alcohol can be a disinhibitor and increase sexual impulsivity, as well as lower an individual’s detection of risk and impair their ability to resist assault (Abbey, 1991).
- Intercourse obviously cannot be consensual when one individual is incapacitated due to intoxication. Men may believe that there are fewer risks associated with coercive sex when they are intoxicated (Tyler et al., 1998).
Good day friends!
I wrote a book! I'm really excited about how close I am with sharing a final product with others!
Peace Corps Writers sent an email on Oct 27 saying they were "happy to accept One of Us as a Peace Corps Writers book. Your writing is strong and your story an important one."
Friends have asked how they can support the project (Thank you!!). I'm not one to typically ask for help- between work, grad school, and the book, my energy and finances are a bit stretched.
Here's where you can help!
The book still needs a thorough copy-edit and then formatting for print. I have been given rough estimates and the costs should be around $3000. The $2500 goal on here will help offset the costs. I am hoping to send my current manuscript to the copy-editor in the next couple of weeks once the semester calms down. **
Short description from oneofusmovement.com :
"One of Us: Sex, Violence, Injustice. Resilience, Love, Hope.
With this autobiographical narrative of the military judicial system experience as a civilian victim of sexual assault, Sandi Giver has vividly brought to light the challenges of seeking legal justice when all odds are against the victim. Giver takes the reader from the night of the assault in Uganda as a Peace Corps Volunteer to a Norfolk, Virginia, courtroom recounting intimate details to help protect others from a sexual predator. At a time where Peace Corps was under scrutiny for not supporting victims of sexual assault and the military for not keeping alleged perpetrators accountable, this case was the perfect storm."
Publishing One of Us means a lot to me. I have spent my life serving the marginalized and sexually exploited populations here in the states and overseas. From my experience, I feel like sometimes we can be dismissive of what we don't understand or overlook issues if it isn't personally relevant.
With publishing One of Us, I hope to shed light on how sexual assault impacts those around us, our loved ones. With my personal narrative, I am also sharing the challenging reality that I as a victim lived through to seek legal justice. In my daily life I am doing what I can through genuine conversations to bring about social change where we do not tolerate sexual assault. I was the first civilian invited to speak one-on-one with General Patton of SAPRO to discuss my experience going through the military legal system and they put into place some of my recommendations. Change is slowly happening. The book is one more tangible way I want to contribute to this change. If you want to know more, just ask.
With that being said, I must get back to writing a final paper on the Violence Against Women Act for grad school. Thank you sooooo much for your support!
LinkedIn: Sandi Giver
**Anything extra will go towards:
1. Other book publishing costs
2. Possibly book printing and shipping to those who have helped financially support the project
3. Book launch party to celebrate
4. Grad school so I can learn all of the skills and be that more effective in serving others.
Another sexual assault occurs according to the US Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey.
For our class policy presentation, we were also tasked with creating a handout. Combining information from multiple websites that would be relevant to an audience of future social workers, the basic topics were chosen:
- General intimate partner statistics
- Statistics for different groups including Native Americans and LGBTQ
- Campus specific information with Title IV and the required student training
- How to support individuals who are experiencing violence (this section is slightly cut off in the photo)
- Pertinent websites with resources (rainn.org, National DV Hotline, National Suicide Prevention Hotline) and films (Invisible War about military sexual assault, and The Hunting Ground about campus sexual assault)
I must say, the professor, Dr. Negi, thanked me for explaining what was in the brochure to the rest of the class. Dr. Negi also said that the brochure was the best she had seen. The time I have spent at my full time job learning inDesign, layouts, and tailoring information to different populations has really helped.
What resources or other information do you think would be helpful for future social workers when it comes to violence against women or gender based violence?
Policies are confusing. Who do they impact? Who are the people who have to carry out the services? What services are even available?
Watch this short video to get a basic understanding of VAWA. This is a video I created for a Social Welfare and Social Policy grad school class.
Have a question? Leave a comment and I'll do what I can to help out!
When a student chooses the Violence Against Women Act for a policy debate and wants to create a video about stakeholders and their position, finding a law enforcement officer and lawyer friend to help you out is pretty awesome
"I am a mere data point along a data set of others who have been sexually assaulted."
I challenge you to watch the short video. 670-equivalent to the number of civilians who officially reported their sexual assault to the military in 2010.
November 5th is my Day of Resilience. I am thankful for all who supported me while I sought legal justice. I am also grateful for the honest and genuine conversations that have followed. Now is the time to become educated, learn skills, and take action against sexual assault.
This email made my morning! I was first introduced to Peace Corps Writers after fellow RPCV Nick Duncan published his book Tales from a Mzungu through this platform. He had a great experience working with their staff and I'm glad to start this process!
The goal of Peace Corps Writers is in line with the Peace Corps third goal of bringing the world back home. Through publishing books of writers who have served as Peace Corps Volunteers or staff, readers get a glimpse of the countries we serve and what Peace Corps service is all about.
Benefits of publishing through Peace Corps Writers:
- Hard copies of One of Us will be printed on demand through CreateSpace
- Peace Corps Writers logo will be on the back book cover
- One of Us will be sold through Amazon.com
- Eventually, One of Us will be featured on the website with an announcement of publication, listed in "New Books by Peace Corps Writers," an interview, and a review of One of Us
- Working with Marian, their wise and supportive staff!
At this point, One of Us needs a professional copy-edit and specific formatting for print. I've contacted a couple of contractors and they are on board. The lowest estimate is around $2500-3000. If you are interested in financially supporting One of Us, head over to the Contact page and send us an email!
To stay up to date on the book progress, click on the button in the footer of this page.
What do you think could be possible benefits of a book about the realities that sexual assault survivors must live through when seeking legal justice? What would you be the most interested in learning about?
This Purple Thursday, I'm wearing purple in support and honor of domestic violence victims and survivors. To friends and family, I want to be a safe space and a person you can trust when you need someone to talk to. Check out www.thehotline.org for resources and info on how to get involved in supporting others.
Below are ways that family and friends can help domestic violence victims and survivors from www.thehotline.org . In what ways have you supported victims of domestic violence?
ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THEY ARE IN A VERY DIFFICULT AND SCARY SITUATION, BE SUPPORTIVE AND LISTEN.
Let them know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure them that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there. It may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. Let them know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen.
Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. They may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize their decisions or try to guilt them. They will need your support even more during those times.
IF THEY END THE RELATIONSHIP, CONTINUE TO BE SUPPORTIVE OF THEM.
Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. They will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
ENCOURAGE THEM TO PARTICIPATE IN ACTIVITIES OUTSIDE OF THE RELATIONSHIP WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
Support is critical and the more they feel supported by people who care for them, the easier it will be for them to take the steps necessary to get and stay safe away from their abusive partner. Remember that you can call the hotline to find local support groups and information on staying safe.
HELP THEM DEVELOP A SAFETY PLAN.
Check out our information on creating a safety plan for wherever they are in their relationship — whether they’re choosing to stay, preparing to leave, or have already left. (In addition to a safety plan, a financial escape plan will be crucial for independence from an abuser- check out these 7 steps to build a credit history, quietly, before getting out by Michelle Crouch.)
ENCOURAGE THEM TO TALK TO PEOPLE WHO CAN PROVIDE HELP AND GUIDANCE.
Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to get a referral to one of these programs near you. Offer to go with them. If they have to go to the police, court or lawyer’s office, offer to go along for moral support.
REMEMBER THAT YOU CANNOT “RESCUE” THEM.
Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately they are the one who has to make the decisions about what they want to do. It’s important for you to support them no matter what they decide, and help them find a way to safety and peace.
Lee has mad filming skills. We met while he was still the videographer at my workplace before his current job of flying around the globe shooting beautiful nature shots.
Last summer, we discussed a small video project for the book and today we finally spent an afternoon in front of the camera! I shared an iMovie version of the video concept and script with a select group of friends this week-- being vulnerable with friends is difficult but needed. One friend said, "Sandi, I've known your story for years. Having it written out like that seriously gave me chills."
The goal of the short film is to hopefully help others know they are not alone in the difficulties sexual assault survivors are faced with, get the word out about the book to literary agents, and to possibly find partnerships with organizations. These are exciting times.
Be on the look out for updates once Lee returns from filming beautiful nature in California!
Dana Fleitman of JWI and I had real talk session with college age interns. The group was amazingly attentive and engaged!
We looked at what sexual assault is, myths around sexual assault, and how we can actively change the conversations.
With the interns, I shared about how my assault started as a girls night out. How we were having a good time with new people and didn't recognize the signs of a sexual predator. How I was completely caught off guard when things escalated from consensual to illegal. The other three didn't know how to respond when I tried telling them the next day. Because what happened to me didn't fit the stereotype, it was confusing to figure out.
What stood out the most from this speaking engagement were the conversations afterwards. These young women identified with the excitement of going out with friends, encouraging friends to get involved with individuals they hardly knew also lacking any accountability. We had a conversation about ways we can watch out for each other and support each other if someone does experience an assault. I would much rather be a protective friend in the moment than one who ends up being called to testify in a court of law after an assault.
It's on us to get informed about sexual assault facts, to learn skills like bystander intervention to help prevent assault, and to speak up and change the conversation.
A friend sent out an email requesting volunteers for a short documentary on an exhibit at the textile museum. Not only were the two videographers incredibly sweet and smart, they were actually interested in people's stories.
For me, I chose this outfit in particular for a couple of reasons. First, I love purchasing jewelry from local artisans. I used to collect mugs from places I would visit- jewelry is walking art that I can share the stories of. This necklace was made in DC by an artist who re-purposes pieces. This piece may have been a handle of some sort in its previous life.
Second, I chose teal since it is the color for sexual assault awareness. I organize a lot of different events during April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I am always amazed at how I am naturally drawn to the deep blue/green and how I can wear a different teal outfit to each event.
I am an advocate for sexual assault survivors with a fierce confidence. I believe in not tolerating sexual violence and live a life that shows it.