Remembering Teens Living With Domestic Violence

By: Judy Szeg, Advocate at Safeline in Chelsea, Vermont

We hear a lot about children who are exposed to domestic violence (also known as IPV – Intimate Partner Violence).  Unfortunately, we don’t hear or talk nearly enough about teens who are living in homes where one of their parents or caretakers is hurting the other. It is as if kids in homes with IPV become invisible when they become middle school age. Continue reading

Youth as Leaders in Their Lives

By: Willow Wheelock, Advocate, WomenSafe in Middlebury, Vermont

Youth experience and have to navigate many of the same circumstances that adults do: drug use and addictions, sexual assault or harassment, oppression (sexism, homophobia, racism, classism etc), abuse, control and/or violence in their dating relationships, abuse of power by others, alcoholism and more.  And while many youth may have access to programs or supports for these issues, rarely are there real opportunities for youth to take the lead in working towards social change; instead, Continue reading

Welcome to WholeSomeBodies!

By: Amy Torchia, Children’s Advocacy Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

WholeSomeBodies is a curriculum for adults who have children and youth in their lives—such as parents, teachers, coaches, and mentors. There are several trainers in Vermont who have the skills to bring this opportunity to you, your school, your parent community, etc.

Through the course, participants are able to… Continue reading

How Childhood Trauma Could Be Mistaken for ADHD

By: Amy Torchia, Children’s Program Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

It feels like Advocates have been talking about this for years.  We know that a good number of the kids with whom we work – children and teens who have experienced domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and sexual assault – are diagnosed with ADHD.  We have had infinite conversations with caretakers about situations where their children have been prescribed stimulants for ADHD to help increase neurotransmitter levels (connected to pleasure, movement, and attention) with no apparent positive impact on their behavior or emotional well-being.

Children who have experienced trauma often behave in ways that resemble those associated with ADHD.  They may have difficulty controlling their behavior and may quickly shift from one mood to the next. They might periodically ‘relive’ a terrifying memory and lose focus or become hyper-vigilant anticipating a threat to their safety.

For this group of children, could it be that it isn’t ADHD that is driving their seemingly inattentive, hyperactive and impulsive behavior?  Could it instead be Continue reading

#YesAllWomen: More Than a Twitter Trend

By Vivian Huang, Peer Educator with Women Helping Battered Women, age 16, South Burlington High School

Yes, all women have been degraded, discounted, and denied.
Yes, all women have been judged by our appearance, not our merit.
Yes, all women are outraged by the misogynistic ravings of 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, whose May shooting rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., killed six people and wounded thirteen others.

As the story unfolded, Rodger’s mindset appeared through chilling public videos and a lengthy manifesto. The shooter’s justification was that of pure hatred toward women who Continue reading

Introducing the Adults who Experienced Domestic Violence in Childhood (AEDVC) Leadership Forum

By: Amy Torchia, Children’s Advocacy Coordinator at the
Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Even after having worked as a Children’s Advocate for 27 years, I continue to wish for more ways to hear from children and youth about what it is like to live in a home where there is domestic violence. I am excited to Continue reading

Slutty Selfies or Prudish Pics: Perspectives on Sexting Reveal We’re Not Getting Anywhere

By: Kerry Holden,Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist at Umbrella in St. Johnsbury, Vermont

The recent academic article reviewed by Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic (On Teen Sexting: Same Sexism, Different Technology) highlights the continued conundrum of our adolescent girls: to be a slut, or to be a prude? Clearly, this dichotomous model, plaguing women and girls for centuries, offers our girls two limited options as to how they orient themselves into their developing sexual worlds. However, a bigger and deeply frightening issue looms broadly above, Continue reading

Going to college: things I wish I didn’t have to say to my daughter

By: Amy Torchia,Children’s Advocacy Coordinator, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

“It is estimated that 1 in 5 women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted during their time there — 1 in 5.”

–President Obama, remarks at White House, Jan. 22, 2014

“We know the numbers: one in five of every one of those young women who is dropped off for that first day of school, before they finish school, will be assaulted, will be assaulted in her college years.”

–Vice President Biden, remarks on the release of a White House report on sexual assault, April 29, 2014

This stat comes from The Campus Sexual Assault Study and is enough to send a mother of a 16-year-old daughter, someone like me, off the deep end.

We’re thinking about college now.  I am envisioning my daughter Continue reading

Who wears short shorts? AKA losing my cool while shopping with my teen daughter

By: Bethany Pombar, Prevention Specialist at the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

A couple of weeks ago I chaperoned a middle school dance where one of the jobs we were asked to fill was to judge whether or not the girls’ outfits met the dress code before letting them in.  The dress code was stated as no “spaghetti” straps and nothing strapless, hems had to be below where the finger-tips fall on the thigh.  Clearly, these are all codes targeted at what the girls were wearing. None of the volunteer parents wanted to sign up for this role; it made us all intrinsically uncomfortable to be looking at young girls’ bodies and clothing and judging them this way.

Last week I was presenting at a community forum around prevention where I was talking about teaching boys not to objectify girls Continue reading


 By: Bethany Pombar, Prevention Specialist, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

The world is changing; there is no doubt about it. The first photos were sent via a phone in 1997; by 2006 over half of the cell phones sold in the world had picture capabilities. By the time the first iphone was released in 2007, we were primed for easy photo sharing. Today’s youth expect everything to be photographed and shared. It is their way of exploring the world and connecting to each other. An entire marketplace of “apps” has grown to support picture sharing: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Wink, Flickr, Rando, the list grows every day.

Along with this ease of access has come a growing concern over sexting Continue reading