Central Florida Public Schools Tackle Human Trafficking

JDSA recently partnered with the Florida Department of Children and Families, coordinating a project designed to create awareness and educate Central Florida teens about the dangers of Human Trafficking.

Just DO Something…Anything! funded and assisted Appleton Creative in the design of the campaign: a series of 4 colorfully designed posters, each depicting the dangers of modern day slavery, and distributed to every middle and high school in Central Florida.

Created with the youth audience in mind, the posters feature strong graphics, bold text and eye-catching call-to-actions. The campaign will effectively help make human trafficking top-of-mind and remind students of their value and where to go for help.

Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) is the 11th largest school district in the United States, where the posters are now being distributed to over 100 schools, reaching nearly 200,000 students in Orange, Osceola and Seminole County.

Last week, Crimeline displayed the posters at a joint forum at Valencia College Criminal Justice Institute.

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While Lake and Brevard County schools were expressing interest in displaying the posters, news of our project reached the Governor’s office in Tallahassee, where the Florida Department of Education has asked to initiate an extension of our campaign: organizing distribution of the posters to all public schools statewide – reaching more than 2 million students in over 4,200 schools.

JDSA was honored to have worked alongside the Greater Orlando Human Trafficking Task Force, their School Awareness Committee and Appleton Creative; an award-winning, full-service advertising agency with long-term ties to supporting community giving and bringing awareness to local causes. Throughout the years, Appleton has worked with many nonprofits such as Kids Beating Cancer, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, shining light on their issues through public service campaigns and advertising.

In a similar fashion, Appleton works closely with the Zebra Coalition, a network of organizations that provides services to LGBT+ ages 13 – 24, creating an annual anti-bullying poster series that gets placed in over 100 Orange County public schools. Appleton is also responsible for Zebra’s branding, website, advertising and video work.

 

Hundreds Take Action To Make A Difference For Thousands!

Lending a hand! Volunteers help sort thousands of donated school supplies.

Families picking out school supplies.

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Last week Just DO Something…Anything!, along with Century 21, helped sponsor it’s first Take Action! event at Barnett Park in Orlando, Florida. Nearly 400 residents showed up along with dozens of volunteers, who helped distribute over 3,000 back-to-school supplies: pens, backpacks, clothes, pencils, paper, and other items.

But the event wasn’t just about helping families get materials they need to start the school year. Take Action! was about doing just that … taking action against social injustice.

Local mom finds just the right size.

Finding just the right size.

JDSA, along with some of their Central Florida nonprofit partners: Harbor HouseA Gift For Teaching, and Florida Abolitionist, spent the day talking with residents about the importance of what they do and how they do it!

Also on hand was the Orlando Rowing Club, Orlando Dragon Boat Club, and Dueling Dragons boat team. Dragon’s “Cops and Kids” program is a unique partnership teaming Orlando police officers with at-risk teens, who compete in boat races across the country.  Their story was recently featured on The Today Show.

Orlando Rowing Club President, Johnny Hood and Chairperson, Chris Luciano brought a “skull boat” and an “Erg,” or indoor rowing machine for residents to try out.

Making a difference with hand prints & finger paint.

Making a difference with hand prints & finger paint.

Before the kids picked up their items they were asked to “make their mark” with paint!  “Taking Action!” by writing out – next to their imprint – exactly, what they’re going to do to help make the world a better place.

Clean the World, an Orlando nonprofit, cleaned off the paint with donated soap.  Clean the World and the Global Soap project have distributed over 25 million bars of soap to 99 countries!

We gave away about 75% of all the donated items.  What’s left is going to Haiti for those in need … thanks to Divine Way Ministries.” says Take Action! event coordinator, Anastacha Constant.  Not only did Divine Way help with donated items, they also took care of all the food and drinks.

Affordable Document Service lent their support to those in need.  LA Fitness talked with residents about the importance of exercise and nutrition.  And Orange County Fire/Rescue brought a firetruck.  Where kids (and a few adults) climbed inside and learned about fire safety and injury prevention.

Ideas for next year’s Take Action! Event are already underway…

Orange County Firefighters showing students the inside of a fire truck.

Kids get an inside look!

Orlando Fire Department show off their truck.

Fire truck on display.

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Taking action! with pens, markers, and paint!

Taking Action! with pens, markers, and paint!

President Obama Delivers Domestic Violence PSA During Grammys

The Grammy Awards hit the “pause” button in the middle of last night’s celebration to deliver a strong message from President Obama about violence against women.

It’s not OK, and it has to stop!” Obama said, calling on artists everywhere to help change public attitudes.  Mr. Obama cited statistics showing that 1 out of every 5 women have been victims of rape or attempted rape, and 1 out of every 4 women have dealt with some form of domestic violence.

Artists have a unique power to change minds and attitudes, to get us thinking and talking about what matters.” Obama said. “All of us in our own lives have the power to set an example.”

Obama urged the artists in attendance to sign an anti-violence pledge at ItsOnUs.org, “…and ask your fans to do it too.

After the President’s message, domestic violence advocate Brooke Axtell described her domestic violence experience and her failed attempts to change her abuser’s behavior.

My empathy was used against me,” Axtell said. “I was terrified of him and ashamed I was in this position. Axtell then urged women everywhere to speak up!  “Your voice will save you.  Let it part the darkness. Let it set you free to know who you truly are.”

Katy Perry then took the stage, singing “By the Grace of God.”

The President’s PSA comes on the heels of another domestic violence PSA that aired during last week’s Super Bowl.

First-Ever Super Bowl Commercial Addressing Domestic Violence Ready To Air

NO MORE, a public awareness and engagement campaign focused on ending domestic violence and sexual assault, will air a new public service announcement during the Super Bowl – in front of more than 150 million Americans!

The 30 second version of NO MORE’s Super Bowl ad will air live during the first quarter of Super Bowl XLIX.

Pledge to say NO MORE at http://nomore.org.

Central Floridian’s Help Bring Courage Door-to-Door

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More than a thousand volunteers joined Harbor House this past weekend for the 5th annual It Takes Courage event.  Fanning out across Central Florida, the volunteers split into small groups, hanging door tags with life saving information and resources on domestic violence.

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Partnering with the City of Orlando, Orlando Police Department, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, and the Orange County Clerk of Courts, volunteers focused their efforts on those communities with the highest incidents of domestic abuse.  In just under three hours, 24,000 homes had been reached.

This year, for the first time, the event was simulcast live between Valencia College http://valenciacollege.edu and The University of Central Florida http://www.ucf.edu, where a team from the volunteer UCF Domestic Violence Awareness group visited several dorms, sororities, and fraternities on campus.

“This event saves lives!”  Carol Wick, CEO of Harbor House, said to the hundreds of volunteers who gathered on the Valencia College campus just before the event kicked off.

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Last year, within two days of distributing over 20,000 door hangers, Harbor House saw a 200% increase in hotline calls and helped file 66 injunctions for protection.  Not only have injunction filings increased by 10 percent in Orange County, but domestic-related murders are down 50% from last year.

To learn more about Harbor House click here: http://www.harborhousefl.com

Interested in volunteering? http://www.harborhousefl.com/volunteer/

If you are in danger or wish to speak with an advocate, please click on the link below: http://www.harborhousefl.com/for-yourself/

Hundreds of volunteers gather on the campus of Valencia College

Hundreds ‘Walk A Mile in Her Shoes’ to Help End Domestic Abuse

Last week, men, women, families, advocates and survivors all took a stand against domestic abuse by taking a walk. Strutting through downtown Orlando … in heels.

What started out – in 2001 – as a small group of men daring to walk around a park in heels to raise awareness of domestic violence, has become a world-wide movement. Where tens of thousands of men have raised millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.

Harbor House CEO, Carol Wick – who hosted the event for the 2nd year in a row – said women aren’t the only ones who suffer from sexual abuse. “Right now we have 35 males and 60 females in our emergency shelters. Most of those males…are little boys.”

Thanks to those who decided to Just DO Something…over $20,000 was raised!

Same Sex Domestic Abuse. Yes, it Happens…A lot!

By Arati M. Jambotkar / JDSA Intern

           Summers in Los Angeles can be excruciatingly hot.  The undersized, overpriced studio apartment where I was living was part of a shoddy complex in a dangerous section of North Hollywood.  But the key perk was the reliable air conditioning.  So instead of spending my summer days at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, as a lot of young people were prone to do, I chose comfortable “ghetto isolation.”  When a twenty-something becomes a summer hermit, there’s only so much she can do.

           TV: check.

           Video games: check. check.

           Computer: hmmm…

           I met her in a chat-room on an online dating site for single lesbians.  Her profile seemed enticing enough: thirty-two year old Argentinian, long blondish-brown hair, green eyes, very athletic, college graduate, loves to party.  Her picture screamed cuteness.  And since I was feeling particularly bold and invincible, I decided to meet her.

          “Loves to party” apparently meant “LOVES TO PARTY!”  Our first date consisted of getting high and having sex.  I remember not wanting to sleep with her that soon, but I struggled with a deep loneliness of not having dated in quite awhile.  So I was submissive, and I stayed so throughout the entire course of what would be a two-year relationship of the worst kind.

          The initial dating period was textbook romance.  Occasionally, we’d go out to dinner, catch a movie, and engage in other activities those in the early romantic stages do.  She held doors open for me…even bought me kiddie meals at fast food places because I liked the cheap toys inside.  I thought these little moments would serve as fond memories later in our relationship.  They didn’t.  Instead, they faded quickly…hopelessness and pain taking their place.

          I remember the first time she hit me.  It was about a month into our relationship.  I was at my friend Marc’s house when she called my cell, politely asking when I’d be home.  She was leaving her sister’s place in Woodland Hills, she explained.  And wanted to visit me.  I told her I’d be home within the next two hours, and she should come over.  Although, not before me, as I didn’t want her waiting alone.  Half an hour later, she called again.  She was waiting for me.  In her van outside my complex.

          Honestly, my initial feeling was fear – not fear of what I now know were the unreasonable demands of an unstable woman, but fear of disappointing the person I thought was the solution to my inherent loneliness.  I asked Marc to rush me home.  He dropped me off next to her van and I climbed in.  She was angry and disappointed.  Strangely enough, I found myself excusing her anger just so I could appease her disappointment.  I think that’s the moment I was reeled in…hooked.

          I invited her back to my apartment.  Unlocking the door, I walked in first and heard the clicking sound of the deadbolt behind me.  I turned in her direction, and what seemed like one simultaneous motion, my feet fell out from underneath me, my head slammed sideways against the thin, brown carpet with my right ear bending backwards on the ground.  I remember the taste of that carpet – wooly, gritty, coarse.  And I remember feeling stunned – not just emotionally, but physically.  The physical shock, it seemed at the time, trumped the emotional response.  I remember her spitting out paranoid accusations of sleeping with Marc.  I was too scared to object – then and always thereafter.

          The next two years were filled with constant drug use and an endless barrage of physical assaults.  There was slapping, kicking, choking, breaking – destroying me from the outside in.  Once, despite my 103 degree fever, I was dragged by my hair into her van to visit her family for Thanksgiving dinner.  Another time I was punched directly in the nose, forcing it to bleed onto the white linen of our bed.  She told the doctor I tried to burn her with a cigarette, and she had kicked me in self-defense.  I didn’t object.  Unfortunately, neither did the doctor.

          She once chased me around my entire apartment complex in the middle of the afternoon, accusing me of doing the last of the drugs.  I knocked on every door in desperation.  Everyone was somewhere else.  She finally found the drugs in her own pocket.  I really think she would have killed me right then and there if she hadn’t stuck her hand in that pocket.

          My parents were gravely worried, and bought last-minute tickets to Los Angeles with the intention of taking me home to Louisiana.  But I wouldn’t go.  Despite everything – everything – I wanted to stay.  At first, I thought the loneliness was greater than any physical pain she could ever inflict.  But soon enough, through something I can only describe as the love of a Higher Power, I realized that the pain of living the way I was had become greater than my fear of that loneliness.  It was only then that I could seek treatment.

          I got on that plane.  And I never went back.

          A few months ago, she sent me a friend request on Facebook.  I took a deep breath and clicked the ‘Not Now’ button.  I’m worth more than that today.  I don’t need to numb myself at the hands of another…even at the hands of myself.  I can find self-esteem without being controlled or manipulated…without being abused and coerced.  I have an identity apart from that loneliness these days.

          So ‘Not Now’ is so fitting.  Not today.  Not ever again.

Norwegian Woman: I was raped in Dubai, now I face prison sentence

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On the surface Dubai seems to encourage westerners.  The UAE is one of the more liberal countries in the Middle East.  Especially when you consider its neighbor, Saudi Arabia. For those outside the Arab world the UAE appears western friendly.  In so far as you can consume alcohol at a local bar, public displays of affection are tolerated (more or less), and rules for women’s attire is far less restrictive than other Arab countries.  

But scratch that surface and you quickly discover a culture clash that is both confusing and combustible.

By Nicola Goulding and Phil O’Sullivan, CNN

Dubai — Norwegian interior designer Marte Deborah Dalelv has spoken out after being handed a 16-month prison sentence in Dubai — after she went to police to report she had been raped by a colleague.

The 24-year-old was convicted and sentenced on charges of having unlawful sex, making a false statement and illegal consumption of alcohol.

Her story is dominating the headlines in Norway, and has raised serious questions over the way women who allege sexual assault are treated in the United Arab Emirates.

Dalelv, who had been working at an interior design firm in Qatar since September 2011, told CNN on Saturday how a work trip to Dubai in March with three colleagues turned into a nightmare.

This family handout photo taken in Abu Dhabi in May 2013 shows Norwegian businesswoman Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24.
This family handout photo taken in Abu Dhabi in May 2013 shows Norwegian businesswoman Marte Deborah Dalelv, 24.

She said she had been out at a bar with her colleagues and friends, and asked a male colleague to walk her to her room when they returned at 3 a.m. to the hotel. She’d asked him to escort her because the hotel was large and confusing, and she didn’t want to be wandering on her own, knowing she’d been drinking, she said.

When they reached a room, she realized it wasn’t hers — but the man then pulled her inside despite her vocal objections, according to Dalelv.

“He dragged me by my purse in, so I thought, ‘OK, I just need to calm the situation down. I will finish my bottle of water, I will sit here and then I will excuse myself and say I feel fine,'” she said.

That was pretty much the last thing she said she remembers before the alleged sexual assault. “I woke up with my clothes off, sleeping on my belly, and he was raping me. I tried to get off, I tried to get him off, but he pushed me back down.”

After someone knocked — the hotel wake-up call — she managed to get dressed and make it downstairs to the hotel reception, Dalelv said. “I called the police. That is what you do. We are trained on that from when we are very young,” she said.

Some 10 or 12 male police officers arrived, but no female police officers were present, she said. Statements were taken from both Dalelv and the alleged rapist.

She was then taken to Bur Dubai police station, she said.

After again giving her version of events to officers, Dalelv said, “They asked me, ‘Are you sure you called the police because you just didn’t like it?’ I said, ‘Well of course I didn’t like it.’ That is when I knew, I don’t think they are going to believe me at all.”

Dalelv says she was taken for an intimate medical exam and tested for alcohol consumption. Her belongings were taken and she was kept in jail for four days, she said, with no explanation as to why.

Dubai police and UAE government officials have not responded to repeated CNN requests for comment.

Dalelv said she managed to call her parents on the third day to tell them she had been raped and ask them to contact the Norwegian Embassy. A day later, a representative from the Norwegian consulate came to the police station and she was released — but her passport was not returned.

A piece of paper with Arabic text was handed to her, she said. An Arabic speaker told her it listed two charges against her: one for sex outside of marriage and the other for public consumption of alcohol. Both are violations of the law in the United Arab Emirates.

It was the first time she was made aware that she faced charges, Dalelv said.

She was allowed out on bail and has been staying since at the Norwegian Seaman’s Center in Dubai.

Subsequently, she said her manager advised her to tell the police it was voluntary sexual intercourse and likely the whole issue would just go away. She followed the advice and in one of the many hearings at the public prosecutor’s office, she made a statement saying it was voluntary.

Dalelv was then charged with making a false statement.

“That was my biggest regret because it wasn’t voluntary. I just thought it would all go away,” she told CNN.

But a representative of Al Mana Interiors, who Dalelv worked for, told CNN that she was not advised by her manager to say the sex was consensual but rather by a police officer, who told her that in Arabic and it was translated into English by her manager.

Dalelv said a month after the rape, while forced to stay in Dubai as the case wound through the legal system, she was fired.

The representative, who declined to be publicly identified, said Dalelv and the Sudanese man she accused — who is married with three children — have both been terminated by Al Mana Interiors for “drinking alcohol at a staff conference that resulted in trouble with the police.”

A statement released late Saturday by Al Mana Interiors spokesman Hani El Korek said the company was sympathetic to Dalelv “during this very difficult situation.” It also said that company representatives were by her side through the initial investigation, spending “days at both the police station and the prosecutor’s office to help win her release.”

“Only when Ms. Dalelv declined to have positive and constructive discussions about her employment status, and ceased communication with her employer, was the company forced to end our relationship with her,” the statement said.

“The decision had nothing to do with the rape allegation, and unfortunately neither Ms. Dalelv nor her attorneys have chosen to contact the company to discuss her employment status.”

The company is owned by Qatari billionaire Wissam Al Mana, who made headlines earlier this year after it was revealed that he has secretly married singer Janet Jackson in 2012.

Dalelv was convicted Tuesday on all three charges and was sentenced to one year in jail for having unlawful sex, three months in jail for making a false statement and one month for illegal consumption of alcohol.

CNN could not immediately confirm what happened to the alleged perpetrator, who was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage.

Dalelv is scheduled to appear at the court on September 5 to begin the appeal proceedings. Dalelv, who is not allowed to leave the UAE pending the appeal, said her lawyers have instructed her to be prepared to go back into jail while they submit a request for bail while the appeal is ongoing.

As a rule, CNN does not identify victims of sexual assault, but Dalelv went public with her story.

Facebook page has been set up calling for Dalelv’s release, as well as a petition urging the Norwegian government to take actionon her behalf.

Her conviction may risk wider diplomatic repercussions.

Norwegian Foreign Affairs Minister Espen Barth Eide called his UAE counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed al-Nahyan, on Friday night to protest Dalelv’s sentencing, a statement from the Norwegian ministry said.

“I emphasized that we believe that the conviction is contrary to fundamental human rights, including conventions that the UAE have officially ratified,” Eide is quoted as saying.

“Norway will continue to do what we can to support her in what is a very difficult situation. Our cooperation with the UAE is strong and good, but I conveyed to my colleague that we are worried that this difficult case may disturb our good relations if we do not reach a good solution in the near future.”

Dalelv told CNN she received a call from Eide on Friday reiterating Norway’s support.

While Dubai has a reputation as a cosmopolitan city that boasts Western influences, where visitors can drink at bars and restaurants and unmarried couples can share hotel rooms, the country adheres to Islamic laws and traditions.

The United Arab Emirates has been heavily criticized by rights groups, which say it condones sexual violence against women. Human Rights Watch has called its record “shameful,” saying it must change the way it handles such cases.

In December 2012, a British woman reported being raped by three men in Dubai. She was found guilty of drinking alcohol without a license and fined.

In January 2010, a British woman told authorities she was raped by an employee at a Dubai hotel. She was charged with public intoxication and having sex outside of marriage.

An Australian woman reported in 2008 that she was drugged and gang-raped. She was convicted of having sex outside marriage and drinking alcohol, and she was sentenced to 11 months in prison.

Orlando Men Help Stomp Out Domestic Violence

They came. They saw. They walked.

Well, wobbled is more like it.

Men took to the streets of Orlando, Florida last week in high heels, wedges and stilettos. Looking to help end domestic abuse against women, the international event – ‘Walk A Mile In Her Shoes‘ – brought out hundreds of walkers and volunteers.IMG_2790

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer donned a pair of red-patent leather pumps. While County Commissioner Scott Boyd took on the daunting task of wearing four-inch black slingbacks.

It was the first Walk A Mile event in Orlando, with an initial fundraising goal of $10,000. But just as the Walk set off, community donations had nearly doubled. Setting a record for the most money raised in an inaugural Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event in any city.

But as Harbor House CEO Carol Wick told the Orlando Sentinel, this is about more than money.

This is about engaging men in an issue that really can’t be solved without them at the table,” Wick said. “I hope every man can stand up and say it’s never OK to use violence against your partner.

While, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is designed to highlight a men’s march in heels, the Orlando event welcomed both men and women. Just DO Something…Anything! was on hand to witness all the Sights and Sounds of the day’s event.

Harbor House staff and volunteers set up the registration tents

Harbor House staff and volunteers set up the registration tents

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