To tell my story as a date rape survivor and communicate my message in a way that can help the most people.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

'Social Media Nightmares' Premiere

Within the past few months I have written a few posts referring to an interview I had been preparing for to be aired on an internationally reaching cable TV channel. I am happy and excited to announce that the show titled 'Social Media Nightmares' aired on E! True Hollywood Stories on Wednesday February 25th at 10:00pm and will soon be linked to my website. I am part of the episode to include several other stories and will be speaking about meeting my attacker Jeffrey Marsalis on, the sexual assault, rape crisis counseling and trials to follow. My interview airs in the 1st 15 minutes of the show. The Producer that I worked with was and continues to be passionate and supportive of me and the subject of date rape and sexual assault and her commitment to get the story out there was relentless. I am so grateful and lucky to be part of this show which hopes to reach the largest audience yet of all my television interviews.

E! True Hollywood Story 'Social Media Nightmares' Interview

If you're interested in reading my previous posts and thoughts at the time I was contacted, preparing and completing my interview they are 'Never Forget Why' and 'Continued Media Interests'. I am really looking forward to seeing the final product as I don't get the view the edited version until it premieres on TV just like everyone else. Although it's important for my message to reach all ages and genders, this show should reach the more targeted audience that is at risk for acquaintance rape, date rape and sexual assault and the E! channel is prime to reach that audience.

I would very much appreciate if everyone who reads this could share the link. The more people who view the show the greater the chance that a victim of sexual assault can receive the help they need or better yet my story could somehow prevent future victims. An event has also been created on my Facebook page JoAnn Speaks Out that you can Like, Comment and Share.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

A Civil Matter

As I woke up this morning and to began contemplate the subject for my blog post I started checking my JoAnnSpeaksOut email, Facebook and Twitter accounts. There it was right in front of me more negative comments from @This_iz_Stupid. Let's first go back to my post from February 8th "A 'Life' Sentence - No Other Option" in which I wrote convicted rapists (child or adult) should only ever receive a Life sentence. There is no rehabilitation for rapists which explains why the Sex Offender label was created and added to rapists sentences. Rapists leave prison and they rape again. I spoke about my own personal experience with my attacker, Jeffrey Marsalis, and how he not only believed he did nothing wrong but his attorney used the classic 'victim blaming' defense stating his multiple victims were bitter and angry for having been lied to by him about his fabricated medical career, background, etc. The prosecutors, detectives and victims all knew that if he was ever to be released from prison he would rape again.

I received a tweet from @This_iz_Stupid saying "rape isn't as bad as murder, murder is the only crime that should be life". This resulted in support from several of my friends (both child rape victims) tweeting back at the anonymous account to the effect they must not be a victim and if they never experienced an assault how do they know. I responded with a comment stating how rape changes a victims life forever in the same manner a murder victim's family is changed forever. Other supportive comments included "statistics always show they don't stop." 

What led me to this post was another tweet this morning from @This_iz_Stupid saying he/she?? "grew up with a b*tch step mom trying to take my dad's money with false rape accusations. (You could tell it was false cuz she wanted $4.5 mil)". Then @ROYALMRBADNEWS favorited the tweet. This was the last straw for me so I decided to not respond at all to the tweet but to use my words constructively. 

First, how does @This_iz_Stupid know for a fact that his/her step mom was falsely accusing his/her dad? Victims of sexual violence can all too well relay the stories of their attackers having a Jekyll & Hyde type personality. Sexual predators can portray themselves one way in public and another way behind closed doors. 

Next, the civil lawsuit does not immediately place a lack of credibility on the accuser. In the case of Jeffrey Marsalis (my attacker) there were dozens of victims who came forward to tell very similar stories of having been lured in by his charm and fabricated identity and the circumstances of their rape encounters with him. A prosecutor has to consider many different factors before moving forward with a rape case not to mention there is a statute of limitations on sexual assault. It is not uncommon for victims to decide to bring forth a civil suit against their attacker instead of going forward with a criminal trial. This does not alone make their accusation in-credible.

Finally, why does the public not blink twice when a murder victims families pursue a civil lawsuit to obtain justice for their loved one when the criminal trial doesn't have the proper outcome? The family only wants justice and will seek it any way that they can and rightly deserved I might add. My personal experience with seeking justice allows me to understand exactly what they are going through. Just as with a murderer or rapist receiving a Life sentence for their crimes a rape victim should be able to receive justice in a civil lawsuit the same way a murder victim's family does without judgement and criticism. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Trauma Recovery Survey

As a proud member of the RAINN Speaker's Bureau I not only receive speakers requests but information regarding other events, projects, etc. happening in the sexual assault community. Most recently I was notified of a research study and provided contact details if I wanted to participate. This particular study examines how people overcome traumatic experiences specifically whether people's recovery from traumatic events, such as domestic violence and sexual assault, is related to volunteering and helping others. I felt as if this was tailor made for me and contacted them immediately. After a few mutual introductory emails I was provided with an ID number and a link to the survey so I could complete and return it. As always I was happy to be using my negative life experience for something positive with the potential to effect change in some way.

A few weeks later I was contacted by the project leader who through a review of my website became aware of my advocacy and awareness work of date rape and sexual assault. He explained to me they were still in the data collection process of the study, still surveying those individuals who have experienced traumatic events and asked if I would post the survey flyer to my website in hopes of getting more participants. Since I thought the particular research work they were doing was valuable I was eager to step in and help in any way. 

This idea started when Joseph Wagoner, a doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University and adjunct faculty member at CSU Fullerton began working in the Institute for Research on Social Issues in the Fall of 2012. (After obtaining a Bachelor's & Master's in Psychology at CSU Fresno) The Institute investigates social issues that influence our society and he began working on a project examining how people overcome traumatic events. His advisor Dr. Allen Omoto and other members of the institute became specifically interested in whether those victims of domestic violence and sexual assault overcome traumatic events by helping other people having the same experience. It has been shown there is some evidence that volunteering and helping others can enhance well-being and interpersonal relationships. However it is unclear how traumatic events help or inhibit volunteerism and helping others. Overall, they are interested in how people move from being a victim to survivor and if this influences their intentions to help others.

If you or someone you know are interested in this project contact Joseph Wagoner directly. More details and his contact information are on the Flyer. The link below will take you directly to my website where the Flyer is posted.

Trauma Survey Flyer

Sunday, February 8, 2015

A "Life" Sentence - No Other Option

The other day I read a tweet posted and a link from a BBC News report regarding a child rapist who died in a Scottish prison. The gentleman who tweeted our the story also added his personal opinion of "that's where they all should die". (Jan L Frayne @Beyond_Survivor)

If you have followed my story and read my blog I have stated the same fate should fall upon all rapists. The only sentence a rapist should receive after a conviction is a "Life" sentence. There is no rehabilitation for a rapist of any kind (child or adult). Most have been repeat offenders before they are ever caught and stand trial. Then once they serve out their imposed sentences they return to society to repeat their crimes of sexual assault, the very reason the sex offender label was introduced into the legal system. They need constant monitoring once released because simply stated there is no cure for a rapist.

My own experience with serial date rapist Jeffrey Marsalis and the research I have done since his arrest, trials and sentences allows me to make such a statement. He raped dozens of women before me and dozens of women after me and his violent reckless behavior was only escalating. There is no telling what he would have done if not for his final arrest in Idaho and the investigation by the Philadelphia Special Victims Unit and District Attorney's office as a result of what was revealed from the search of his apartment there.

I am not only speaking for myself but for many of his other victims that I met during and was finally able to have intimate conversations with after Marsalis' convictions. We didn't feel safe and were concerned for the safety of other women who may be potential future victims if he didn't receive a significant prison sentence and sex offender status. Our ultimate goal though was for him to receive a "Life" sentence and none of us were going to stop until that happened. We were also very lucky to have an amazing team of detectives and prosecutors with the same drive and passion for that goal too. Jeffrey Marsalis (as with many rapists) didn't think he did anything wrong and his defense team used the "blame the victim" strategy during all 3 of his trials which reaffirmed what we wanted as far a sentencing. We all knew that when or if he got out of prison he would rape again period!

When I tell my story on college campuses, to victims advocates, television and radio interviewers I don't hesitate to say once I reveal his Life sentence conviction that he will never walk the streets again and  the next time I 'see' him it will be to dance on his grave. It may seem callous to some but as a victim of Jeffrey Marsalis and witnessing first hand how he not only affected my life, my family's and friend's lives and his other victims as a result of his heinous, predatory crimes it's not so callous after all. He will never hurt another woman again and if it could be one of my wishes it's that all victims of sexual assault get to feel as safe as I do now from their attackers.

Prison is the only place for a rapist and a Life sentence is the only punishment option.

Below is a link to the story that inspired this blog.