Monday, December 8, 2014

Tahoe SAFE Alliance Unveils Public Service Announcement on Domestic Violence Health Crisis

This Holiday Season, Tahoe SAFE Alliance has much to be thankful for.  We are grateful for the hundreds of women, men, teens, and children that have found their voice.  Women like Olivia, 18, who is a survivor of sexual assault.  She has found healing through talking and sharing her story with others.  And women like Celia, 32, who is a survivor of domestic violence.  She has found light where before there was darkness.  She and her two children are now able to live happy, healthy, violence free lives. 
We are thankful for the special people who support our work – through volunteering, action, and financial gifts.  We couldn’t help the hundreds of men, women, teens, and children that seek our services without the support from our North Lake Tahoe and Truckee community.  These individuals ensure that our services – the very safety net for abuse victims – are available tomorrow and for years to come.  

This Holiday Season, we are also reminded that there is more work to be done.  Educating our community about the violence and abuse that is happening in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee is extremely important so that those in violent situations know about our services.   And, to help community members  be better equipped to help our family, friends, and neighbors when we see or hear it. And, if we are to be successful at ending violence, it's important that we educate youth, businesses, and adults about violence prevention, safety, and healthy relationships.

Furthermore, raising awareness about Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s mission is important in helping to raise money for our programs and services and ensuring the financial health of the organization.  We have a multi-faceted fundraising strategy that includes financial gifts from individuals.   It is support from community members that make our organization strong.

End of year donations are important.  As we geared up for our annual end of year appeal, we received a special gift from a local community member.  This passionate family financially supported the creation of a Public Service Announcement to help us broaden awareness and financial support.  We worked with the talented and experienced Jameson Media Group and recruited Reno’s Channel 2 Evening News Anchor Wendy Damonte to communicate the domestic violence crisis and Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s financial need.

We are very excited about the PSA and it holds significance as it’s the first created for and by a domestic violence organization in Northern Nevada.  It will run on Reno’s Channel 2 in December and February.  We hope that it will raise awareness about this important issue and increase much needed funds for Tahoe SAFE Alliance.

As you watch the video, please be reminded of the 787 community members that Tahoe SAFE Alliance helped last year.  We answered 404 emergency calls on our 24-hour crisis line.  Eight women and 15 children took shelter in our Safe House.  We provided 1,688 legal services to 133 clients.  And, 31 children were given 1:1 counseling with a licensed Marriage & Family Therapist Intern.  

Please help us raise awareness and share this video with family and friends.  We hope that it will motivate community members to get involved and join the movement to ending violence in our families and schools.  If we are to stop violence, it takes all of us working together.  

Happy Holidays,

Dawn Harris
Fund Development Manager
Tahoe SAFE Alliance

Monday, September 22, 2014

Domestic Violence in the NFL: We Challenge You!

September 17, 2014

Recent events surrounding the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens, and Ray Rice have vaulted conversations about domestic violence to headline status. We at Tahoe SAFE Alliance applaud the NFL for taking new and progressive steps in response to NFL players who commit domestic violence and the Baltimore Raven’s for releasing Ray Rice because of his actions.  However we feel that the new policies and reactionary punishments will not be sufficient in preventing violence against women by players in the NFL.   Much more needs to be done including on-going, progressive prevention and education efforts. 

Since 2000 80 NFL players have been arrested for domestic violence. The total amount of games those players were suspended for? 11. Most of those suspensions were for one game and handed out to those players who plead guilty. It is also important to note the combined time that these players spent in jail? Less than 10 days. 

Make no mistake; the difference between the Ray Rice incident and other NFL domestic violence incidents is that Rice committed his crime in a space that happened to be being filmed. Shortly after the NFL revised its policy on handling domestic violence incidents, San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald was arrested on felony suspicion of domestic abuse.  49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, and NFL Commissioner Goodell have chosen not to take action with any penalty while the case is “being looked into”. 

 Their reasoning?  The NFL has traditionally not gotten involved in issues of domestic abuse unless there is a conviction or some damning evidence.  However, national statistics show that only a small percentage of individuals arrested for domestic violence are ultimately convicted. The reason?  Attackers in domestic abuse have an advantage most criminals don’t.  They have an intimate relationship with their victim and know how to appeal for sympathy. All too often in domestic violence cases the victims are silenced by their relationship.

The recent incidents in the NFL are catapulting domestic violence to the forefront of our nation’s attention. 

 However, domestic violence in our society has remained a serious problem in the United States. One in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner every year. But more importantly, domestic violence kills: more than 3 women a day lose their lives at the hand of their abuser.  In fact, Nevada ranks #5 in the nation in domestic violence murders.  And, these numbers are low when you consider most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police.  Just like reported NFL domestic violence issues are only a fraction of the total number of instances. 

 In addition to the immediate trauma of the abuse inflicted on victims of domestic violence, both physical and emotional, victims are often re- traumatized by a society that all too often blames them for the violence that was inflicted upon. Victims of domestic violence stay in abusive relationships (and may defend their abuser) for all sorts of reasons: love, fear, embarrassment, children/family, and economic isolation, among many others. It takes profound strength, and often many attempts (on average 8), for a victim to leave an abusive relationship. These survivors should be praised for their strength, rather than blamed for not leaving.   

We should all be asking victims “How can I help?” instead of “Why do you stay?”   

Last year, Tahoe SAFE Alliance provided direct services to 787 survivors of domestic/intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and child abuse in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.  Of this, 425 were survivors of violence and abuse who received services such as safe housing, counseling and support, filing Emergency Protective and Temporary Restraining Orders, and assistance with divorce and child custody issues.  Furthermore, we work hard every single day to create a violence free culture by educating school children, local businesses, and community members on violence prevention, safety, and healthy relationships. 

Recently, the NFL announced it has tapped 4 women experienced in crimes against women to help craft the development and implementation of the league's policies, resources, and outreach on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. This includes Rita Smith, the former Executive Director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. We at Tahoe SAFE Alliance applaud these latest efforts and, while this is a step in the right direction, we challenge the NFL to use their public platform to demonstrate leadership when setting policies that other sports franchises and business and industry, can adopt and model.  This includes providing progressive, comprehensive, and on-going education to teach players about healthy relationships and information on ending violence against women.   

Tahoe SAFE Alliance believes violence is a learned behavior and therefore can be prevented.  We call on all men in our community to stand up and take responsibility for their actions and words and to be role models to our youth.   Together, we can stop abuse and make our community a safe place for everyone. To donate, volunteer, or get involved go to

Karen S. Carey
Executive Director
Tahoe SAFE Alliance 



Monday, July 14, 2014

Lessons from bell hooks: How I Use My Power and Privilege to Fight Domestic Violence

In this guest post, Paul Bancroft of Tahoe SAFE Alliance weaves together bell hooks’s power and privilege theory with his own standing as a white male in the domestic violence prevention field to explore how one can make a difference as an insider and outsider in a movement.
bell hooks rocks my world.  I first encountered her work in grad school. Her writings on race, gender, and class have resurfaced over the years, most notably in two recent encounters.  I purchased a copy of her book A Will to Changeand, as I opened it to begin reading, I discovered that it had been signed by her. Definitely a bonus when buying used books! A week later, a quote from the same book surfaced at a retreat I attended as a participant in the Strong Field Project Leadership Development Program.  We were asked to read different quotes that were taped onto the walls and then choose one that resonated with us and share it with our peers.  Of all of the quotes, this one from bell hooks spoke to me:
“In the dominator model the pursuit of external power, the ability to manipulate and control others, is what matters most. When culture is based on a dominator model, not only will it be violent but it will frame all relationships as power struggles”.
I chose this quote because it articulates one of the bigger issues that I think the domestic violence (DV) field is facing. DV intersects with a myriad of other forms of oppression.  bell hooks uses the phrase “imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy” to describe our political system. While her description may be open to interpretation and unpacking it deserves its own blog entry, I would argue that it also describes many of our social systems and it is a useful reminder that there are multiple oppressive systems at play that need to be addressed if we are really going to work towards ending DV.
The power in being tactically inside and strategically outside
As a field, are we reaching out, sharing victories and challenges with, and learning from other movements like those organizing around immigrant and LGTBQIA rights, worker’s rights, economic justice and access to health care? Can we do a better job of working together towards systematic changes with the vantage point of, as Paulo Freire puts it, “being tactically inside and strategically outside”?  The DV field operates within “the system” as we are primarily funded by local, state, and federal dollars. Similarly, we rely on the criminal justice system to hold abusers accountable and provide various forms of support for those experiencing abuse. Yet we are also situated outside of “the system,” since we can locate ourselves within the broader social justice movement.
bell hooks frequently addresses privilege and power in her writings. Her writings resonate with me because of how I interpret her work. I believe she advocates for creating space where, for instance, men can work as allies in the DV field, white people can work as allies in the fight for racial justice, and heterosexual people can work as allies towards LGBTIQA rights. This is possible as long as we are aware of and willing to take ownership of our privilege and the power we hold.
Understanding and using power and privilege to work as an ally
As a white, educated, middle-class male who has been involved in social justice work for many years, I have learned how to use my power and privilege in a way that is consistent with “being tactically inside and strategically outside.” I can use my white maleness to gain access to relationships, information, and resources to benefit the community members whom we serve. I feel I am in a unique position to be able to challenge other men’s sexist behavior. I have helped bridge the language gap between English and Spanish speaking community members, and I have used my inherent male privilege to gain access to and influence the decision making of law enforcement as it pertains to victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.  
People with power and privilege can work as allies and are not merely participants in the “White Savior Industrial Complex.” In other words, if people constantly work on awareness and own their power and privilege, listen, ask questions, build relationships, critique (especially themselves), and understand the history and context in which they operate, then they can work from a genuine place; not just come in to “save” those less fortunate folks.   In order to own my power and privilege I need to understand why it exists in the first place by asking, “What systems are in place that perpetuate that power and privilege?  Who benefits and who suffers as a result of these systems?  My work is to use my power and privilege to dismantle the systems that maintain it, to challenge the status quo, and to be an ally.
One of my favorite quotes as adapted from Antonio Machado is “we make the road by walking.” Let’s create the space to walk together where we collectively work to make the world a better place.

Paul Bancroft is Client Services and Prevention Director at Tahoe SAFE Alliance.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Teens Taking Action

April was a busy month full of national observance and recognition days that tie into Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s mission and vision; Sexual Assault Awareness Month, National Youth Violence Prevention Week, National Child Abuse Prevention Month, Denim Day and National Volunteer Appreciation Week. Incline and Truckee High Schools’ Teen Peace Projects, a youth club ran by Tahoe SAFE Alliance, did some amazing awareness and outreach to their peers to recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Teen Peace Project teens at both Incline and Truckee High Schools joined together to travel to Reno to tour the Kid Kottage Kampus center where SART examinations are done.   SARTs, or Sexual Assault Response Teams, are multidisciplinary interagency teams of individuals working collaboratively to provide services for the community by offering specialized sexual assault intervention services.  These specialized services are provided by trained individuals, such as nurses, detectives and rape crisis center advocates. Debra Robison, a licensed sexual assault examiner nurse for both adult and pediatric, gave the tour. During the tour she informed the students that 155 adult and 49 children exams were conducted last year. Although the tour was a somber and eye opening experience for the high school students, they also felt some comfort that compassionate medical services for rape survivors exist in our area.

Denim Day is a yearly awareness day recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Denim Day was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court where a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent.   This decision did not recognize that coercion, threats, and force are part of the act of rape. (For more information visit; ) The Truckee High School Teen Peace Project held a week long raffle for this one day event. They spent Monday thru Thursday passing out buttons, informing students about Denim Day and encouraging students to wear jeans on Friday.  Participatory students were entered in the raffle to win a basket full of donated prizes!

During the month of April, Teen Peace Project students at both high schools wanted to extend awareness beyond Sexual Assault during April. They chose to raise awareness in their school and amongst their peers about the need to end Sexual Harassment and the importance of Healthy Relationships. The clubs designated a week to each of the topics, and within those weeks used posters and the morning announcements to share statistics and information with the student body. 

It was inspiring to see our local youth motivated, excited and enthusiastic to participate in Sexual Assault Awareness Month as well as create awareness among their peers!  It was also moving to see our local schools supportive of school-wide campaigns around the topic of Sexual Assault.  The Teen Peace Projects energy has carried over to May which is National Teen Self-Esteem Awareness month.   Check out, and like, their Facebook page to see what they’re up to (!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

One Billion Rising Flash Mob

My name is Kassi Reisbeck and I am serving at Tahoe SAFE Alliance as an AmeriCorps member. I work with the Prevention Program team on outreach and awareness to teens in our community.  Part of my prevention duties is running a club in Truckee High School, Teen Peace Project, which is a peer-based group focused around healthy relationships and respect. On February 14th some of my club members and I participated in an awesome movement that I am excited to share with everyone!

On February 14th community members from North Lake Tahoe and Truckee gathered at the train station to watch, cheer, and dance to a flash mob representing the global campaign One Billion Rising. Started in 2012, One Billion Rising is a global campaign to end violence again women, rise for justice, and promote gender equality. The “billion” refers to the UN statistic that one in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, or about one billion.

Last year, a one-day event was held, a call for one billion women around the world to join together to dance in a show of collective strength.  This one day flash mob culminated a global action to end violence against women with tens of thousands of events held in more than 190 countries! This year on February 14th even more stood up and became a voice in the name of justice for gender equality.

This was the first year for Truckee to participate in this one day event and we had more people participate then we ever imagined. Jan Rogers, a Truckee community member, was the go getter for this flash mob, organizing the place, time, and choreography to the dance. She originally planned the dance to go off at noon but decided to change it to 3:10 so youth could be involved. This is when Tahoe SAFE Alliance and the Prevention Program team planned to get participate in the event. Tahoe SAFE Alliance’s Prevention Program collaborates with local school districts to provide violence prevention education and facilitate youth empowerment groups.

When I mentioned the opportunity to participate in One Billion Rising to my club members they really jumped on this opportunity! They were extremely excited to participate in the flash mob and help raise awareness locally.  Jan was ecstatic to hear teenagers wanted to get involved. The club members learned the dance at one of their weekly club meetings and spent the rest of the week making signs for people to hold at the flash mob.

Not only did the Truckee One Billion Rising event go amazing, throughout the world this event was, in my eyes, life changing. Women and men of all ages chose to rise up and speak out about the violence that is happening around the world. The subject of Violence against women is a difficult one to discuss and face for most people, cultures, and communities. Whether it is considered taboo, a non-issue, or private matters, a wall of silence often envelopes the issue, making it one of the most entrenched and difficult human rights violations to dislodge and eradicate. Fortunately more and more people are rising up and becoming that voice. The Truckee event showed that, in full motion, and I could not be happier with the results!