SAAM 2016/Redmylips

Sexual Assault Awareness Month 2016.

This was  a very busy month. We had two challenges this month.

  • To provide some form of content on the Voice’s of Hope facebook page, every single day, and we accomplished it.
  • To wear red lipstick everyday for the month of April.

Challenge was accepted and achieved. On top of that challenge, Voices of Hope had 4 speaking engagements. So it was a VERY busy month besides working a full time job and being a wife, and a mother. Surprisingly, I still went to bed each night almost shortly after my son, at 9PM.

All my red lips!

REd My Lips 2016

The first week of April, I had the opportunity to travel to WVU. It was very inspiring to see what the Peer Advocates there organized. The day I went to speak was pretty intense. My mom was driving down to meet me and go with me. I was going to being speaking front of a play the students had organized called “Hush.” I ended up sharing resources with the students prior to the play. I hope what I shared was beneficial and made an impact. I can’t begin to put into words how inspiring these students are and the effort they put forth to bring sexual assault awareness to their campus.

The second week, I was heading back to the University of Pitt for the 3rd time. THE 3RD TIME!! I really have enjoyed every time I have spoken at Pitt. They had a beautiful event the evening of of the 14th. I was so excited that one of my best friends, Julie Miller, was able to come and hear me speak. This was the first time she was able to. So it made the event even more special. They started with an introduction and then had three individuals read poems they wrote about sexual assault. Afterwards, they had a dance team performance a piece called “1 in 5.” I have to say that it was very triggering for me, the dance piece. It was a first time, in a long time that I had some anxiety. It felt like a huge stone was one top of my chest so that I couldn’t expand my lungs to breath. Next the Vice President, James, of the new group called “Students engaging in Conversations about Consent and Sexuality,” introduced me. I spoke about what happen to me, the struggles I dealt with during recovery, and how I turned a negative into a positive. I thanked them for inviting me back, and then was able to meet with an individual that works in the Title IX office.

The third week of April, I did not have any speaking engagements but that did not stop me from spreading the word. I received a teal ribbon from Pitt and began wearing it. When I went to an appointment at the doctor’s, a girl asked me what the teal ribbon meant. I told her that it was sexual assault awareness month, and the ribbon did exactly what it was suppose to do, spark a conversation.

The last week of the month was a fun one. I was interviewed by the one and only Melanie Taylor from 100.7 Star Pittsburgh! It was so great to have a conversation with around sexual assault awareness month, and what some of the universities have been doing. I was also able to share my site, facebook and twitter page!!! Listen to the first part  Listen to the 2nd part The Tuesday, on the 26th, I help my first webinar called: The Silent Crime: what your workplace needs to know about sexual and domestic violence. I thought it went really well! I hope the participants enjoyed what they learned and I hope to get to present and other organizations!

Throughout the entire month, I was able to wear red lipstick everyday. It was a challenge, because it gets everywhere! And it made it hard to kiss my son or my husband lol! But it truly made an impact because I was able to start some conversations online in regards to SAAM, Sexual violence awareness month.

The newest thing I was able to participate in was some twitter chats for survivors. There was a Solidarity chat every Monday, and Survivors steps chat every Wednesday. This opened me up to a whole new world that I never new existed and enabled me to talk to other survivors. Something I used to be uncomfortable with. So not only did I help in my healing process, but I was able to spread awareness through out the entire month!!!


Lastly, I had some great supporters this month who came out and was able to spread awareness too……a huge thanks goes out not only to them but also my husband and my son for putting up with my red lips alllllll month long!!! (If you liked the color I used, it was from the Dollar Store, go figure!!)




Darkness cannot drive out darkness – Paris, France


I am interrupting our scheduled blog post with a new one because of the attacks on Paris.

Paris, the city of lights, for as long as I can remember has been one of my favorite cities. Whether it be the sites: the Eiffel Tower, the Notre-Dame, the Sacre-Coeur, the Arc de Triomphe, Musee de Louvre; the culture, the food, or the people, I love every aspect of Paris.

Seeing an attack in any of the part of the world has always been heart wrenching, and Paris is no different, except that it is one of my favorite places. My heart goes out to all the victims, their families, and anyone else that has assisted in helping these people.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness

Because my blog is on changing sexual violence, I have chosen an article to share from France. This year, France has created campaign that will hopefully bring an end to sexual violence on public transportation.

Not only in France, but all across the world, women face inappropriate comments, groping and sexual violence on Public transportation. The campaign has created posters showing just how things can get out of hand. It will educate those that are unfamiliar with the epidemic of sexual violence, and create awareness to allow for bystander intervention.

Check out the article France fights sexual violence

#prayingforParis #VOH

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

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~ Kristine Irwin

Imagine this. You wake up in a hospital bed, and you have no idea why you are there. You turn to a nurse, and you say, “What am I doing here?” They turn to you and say, “Because you were raped.” What would you do if this was you or a friend telling you this story?

Take a moment and put yourself in that person’s shoes…with the organization called “Walk a Mile Her Shoes,” you can.

Walk a Mile in her Shoes is an organization that was founded back in 2001 by Fred Baird. This event takes the saying, “You can’t really understand another person’s experience until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Its primary focus is men putting on women’s shoes and walking a mile in hope of bringing an end to sexual violence. Today, WaMiHS is a worldwide event with over 100 events taking place during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April. It has also expanded to where women also Walk the Mile as well to show that sexual violence knows no boundaries.

Pittsburgh, where I reside, did not have a Walk a Mile Event until 2015. I first heard about the event when PAAR, Pittsburgh’s Action Against Rape, reached out to me to be the keynote speaker. Through correspondence, I was able to meet the amazing Camille Goleb.

Camille moved to Pittsburgh a few years ago and found that Pittsburgh is a city she absolutely loves. After sitting down with her, I was able to gain some insight about her thought process on this event and why she organized it.

Camille had previously participated in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes during college, where the campus police would participate in the event. She was able to partake in the walk twice.

Once she moved to Pittsburgh and realized that this event had not yet taken place in the city of steel, she wanted to take action and began formulating on how to organize it. Camille choose the date of September 12th and had the event kick off around 6PM. She was able to get sponsors, bands, raffle prizes and had t-shirts made. Many shoes were donated for the men participating. All the money raised from the event was then donated to PAAR. Camille chose PAAR because it is the only Rape Crisis Center in Allegheny County and she felt that all money raised would be donated entirely to the cause.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is such a great statement to get the word out about sexual violence. Camille says that she gets frustrated when people focus on protecting yourself in order to prevent sexual violence. The event truly can make a impact on our society by changing views from victim blaming, and shaming to giving hope to survivors and starting a conversation that educates our culture which includes learning what consent truly is.

When I sat down with Camille and discussed the event, she mentioned some of the negative comments that she had seen on social media about it. She then said that every event is not perfect, but this event does not exclude anyone. As mentioned above, sexual violence knows no boundaries and Walk a Mile can attest to that.

I must say that I have to give a major shout out to Camille for standing up for what she believes in and making a loud proclamation to take a step to end sexual violence. It is truly inspiring and I hope she continues to bring the event back every year.

Thank you, Camille!

KDKA’s Spot on Walk a Mile PGH

#WalkaMile #PAAR #StopRapeEducate #VOH

Happy 1-Year Anniversary, It’s on Us!

It’s On Us.

Exciting News! The It’s On Us campaign turned 1 year old last month!  For those of you who are unaware of “It’s On Us,” allow us to share some information on the campaign.

Not too long ago, sexual violence was a topic that nobody spoke about. It’s on Us is a campaign created by the U.S. government which centers on the topic itself by specifically targeting colleges and universities. It has taken a few years to reach this high point of the campaign, but all the efforts it took have really paid off.

In April 2011, Vice President Joe Biden and the Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, introduced comprehensive guidance to help colleges and universities nationwide better understand their obligations under federal civil rights laws to prevent and respond to sexual assault on campus.

In early 2014, President Obama established a task force to protect students from sexual violence. In April of 2014, this same task force launched the 1is2many PSA, which you can watch at this link: 1 is 2 many PSA

I can remember watching this PSA when it was released and crying. I cried because when my own assault happened to me eleven years ago, I made a judgement call to get into a car with an acquaintance, leaving my friends behind. Simply because I knew this person, I thought I was safe, and so did my friends. The main message of the PSA for It’s on Us, came across so powerfully by illustrating the point that we all need to watch out for each other. The night of my own assault, my friends were watching out for me. The  difference was that we all thought I was safe with this person, and in turn I wasn’t. I also appreciated seeing a group of men be so vocal on how sexual violence is a crime no matter what. Without consent, it simply doesn’t matter.

It’s on Us also released a report, around the same time, that goes over tips for how schools, teachers and students can better understand and equip themselves with the right information to overcome this issue.

The report included action steps, recommendations, and best practices in four key areas:

(1) Identifying the scope of the problem through campus climate surveys
(2) Preventing campus sexual assault and engaging men
(3) Helping schools respond effectively when a student is assaulted
(4) Improving, and making more transparent, the federal government’s enforcement efforts

The campaign seeks to engage college students and all members of campus communities by preventing sexual assault in the first place. It’s on Us was launched in partnership with the Center for American Progress’ Generation Progress, along with student body leadership from nearly 200 colleges and universities across the country, collegiate sports organizations such as the NCAA, and private companies that have strong connections with students at colleges and universities.

It’s On Us aims to fundamentally shift the way we think about sexual assault, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it. The campaign reflects the belief that sexual assault isn’t just an issue involving a crime committed by a perpetrator against a victim, but one in which the rest of us also have a role to play. We are committed to creating an environment – be it a dorm room, a party, a bar or club, or the greater college campus – where sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported. This effort will support student-led efforts already underway across the country, and will focus particularly on motivating college men to get involved. (via

The campaign, which can be found at, has asked individuals to take the pledge. This pledge is a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault.  It is a promise not to be a bystander to the problem, but to be a part of the solution. When one pledges they must follow the four criteria:

  1. To RECOGNIZE that non-consensual sex is sexual assault.
  2. To IDENTIFY situations in which sexual assault may occur.
  3. To INTERVENE in situations where consent has not or cannot be given.
  4. To CREATE an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported.

It’s on Us has partnered with many celebrities and individuals to create PSA, and show their support for It’s on Us. You can check a few out below.

It’s on Us – Questlove

Rose Bryne – It’s On Us

So most of this was over a year ago…what is the campaign up to on it’s year anniversary?

Well they just released their new PSA called, “The One Thing” which you can view here: The One Thing

Here are some Highlights from the first year of “It’s On Us”:

  • On September 19, 2014, President Obama and Vice President Biden unveiled “It’s On Us,” in partnership with Generation Progress at the Center for American Progress. “It’s On Us” recognizes that the solution to sexual assault begins with all of us. It seeks to reframe the conversation surrounding sexual assault in a way that inspires everyone to see it as his or her responsibility to do something, big or small, to prevent it.
  • In the last year alone, students have launched “It’s On Us”campaigns at over 300 schools and have hosted more than 650 “It’s On Us” events.
  • Since the launch of “It’s On Us” last September, almost 220,000 people have taken the pledge to end sexual assault on college campuses; “It’s On Us” PSAs have had over 10  million  views online  and campaign has generated over 3 billion media impressions.
  • “It’s On Us” now has over 90 partners including media, sports leagues and conferences, sexual assault prevention organizations, non-profit organizations, and corporations.

Ok so now that I filled you with facts on this campaign, here is what it comes down to: bystander invention. Bystander intervention involves developing the awareness, skills, and courage needed to intervene in a situation when another individual needs help. Bystander intervention allows individuals to send powerful messages about what is acceptable and expected behavior in our community.

Check out this video from the TV what would you do……it shows a young girl, drunk, at a bar and a man who approaches her and tries to take her to his hotel. Watch what the people around her do. What would you do – Bystander Intervention

Want to help? Want to take the step to change rape culture, because it is ON US. Take the pledge. at It’s on US.

Continue to spread the Word.

#Itsonus #VOH #Bystanderintervention