Posted by: joshjasper | April 2, 2009

Jury Selection

I was asked the other day to speak to a class at the University of Dubuque about gender violence.  My objective during the beginning of the presentation was to impress onto the students the major public health issue that is rape.  Rather than belaboring the statistics though, I decided to share how my morning had started.  I shared that I arrive to my office to find that one of our client’s trial had been nearly compromised due to the jury.  Now keep in mind, the trial had not concluded but rather, had only begun.  The problem was that the attorneys were having a difficult time filling the jury box because so many of the existing jurors were disclosing being victims of sexual violence themselves.  Aside from the personal experience, other jurors struggled with the fact that they were about to hear a child testify about being repeatedly raped by an adult male.

I then shared with the class that after receiving the update about the jury selection process, I was informed that our waiting list for counseling has grown to 11 people.  Keep in mind we have 5 people tasked currently with providing mental health counseling for survivors of sexual violence….5.  We are at a point right now that when we do hire the additional therapist, this person will walk into a full caseload.  So, the efforts to hire 1 therapist really needs to be extended to hiring 2.

By this point, I think my objective had been accomplished and that the class fully appreciated the fact that rape is pervasive in our community.

It was a great class in that great questions were asked and a lot of feedback was shared about gender stereotypes and how those stereotypes lead to violence.  You know, teaching boys that in order to be a man you have to be “strong, tough, provider, protector, emotionless, confident, controlling, powerful, and dominant”  and of course teaching young girls that they are “objects, passive, sexy, pretty, less than, and subservient” can quickly lead to violence.

Even if one student from the class left thinking differently about violence and empowered to make a change; I accomplished by objective.

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Responses

  1. I think this is a great post and shows that bringing our real life experiences in this field to others has the same, if not more ,of an impact than statistics/numbers with no faces. One person at a time…. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the input Tabethe. I agree with your point completely. Our work really is about reaching one person; educating one child at a time to ensure a safer community for tomorrow.

  3. We do need to attack it one at a time. But….

    if we can affect one person, and that person can affect 5 friends and each of those friends can affect 5 different friends, and so on and so on, maybe it won’t seem to take as long.

    My dad used to say, “if everyone would just pick up 5 things every night before bedtime, we’d never have to spend a day picking up the house.” Of course, he was/is right, and now I tell my kids that.

    Habits. We need to break the destuctive ones and instill new ones.

  4. I agree completely. I will say though when you realize that the “one person” now gets it and is inspired to do better for the sake of others, it doesn’t really seem to take that long to realize our quest for complete prevention.


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