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January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month

Each year thousands of children, mostly minor girls, are trafficked in the United States. The sex trafficking of minors is NOT excluded from our region in rural Pennsylvania. Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the world, and in our area, we are seeing family members selling others within the family for commercial sex acts. By actual definition, sex trafficking is the exchange of any sex acts for an item of value. Items of value can include but are not limited to money, drugs, transportation, food, or shelter.Many times, these young girls and boys are lured into “the life” by false promises of precisely those things.Minor girls are especially vulnerable to someone who poses as a father figure or an older boyfriend.At first, they will give lavish gifts and treat them to an unbelievable trip. But once the trafficker feels they have their grip on them, the actual criminal behind the fake caring disguise is revealed a…

Survivors Among Us

Survivors Among UsBy: Rachel Farrow, Education Specialist

"Beware, there are monsters among us." The headlines warn, blaring out in big bold letters from every screen we encounter.
The well-meaning 'likes' and 'shares' of those urging us for vigilance -- the rally cry of danger becomes our second nature.

When you were the victim -- the prey, the stalked, the violated -- you are acutely aware of every rustle of danger.

"Fool me once," you promise, staring at yourself in the mirror.

When you were once a victim, you suddenly begin to try and analyze all of your perceived flaws -- your soft underbelly -- that made you a target.

Was it your willingness to trust? You question your upbringing, the way your voice used to lilt when asked a question. You think about all the times your parents and teachers taught you to 'be kind,' but was that kindness simply a fulcrum point for that monster to sink its teeth in?

Was it the curvature of your body? You …

Looking at the Bright Side

Looking at the Bright SideBy: Susan Mathias, CEOFor many years, victims have been stepping up and speaking about the abuse that they experienced as children. In 2011, we read the gut-wrenching details of how Jerry Sandusky sexually abused his child victims.
The recent Grand Jury Report on sexual assault in the Catholic Church told us about the 300 priests who served in Pennsylvania’s dioceses.100 priests served in our valley and there is no question about the lifelong harm that they caused their victims.The victims named could not take action because the statute of limitations had expired.The PA’s statute of limitations on sexual assault kept them from taking legal action because they did not come forward early enough.
On October 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings in which victims spoke to their Senators and described their experiences as children and the harm that abuse continues to cause them.It was heart-breaking.Growing out of these hearings, the law was changed so that…

Swipe Right for Safety: A Guest Blog

Swipe Right for Safety By: Christiana Paradis, Program Coordinator for DOJ OVW Grant, VIP Center
There are many ways that we can meet people and stay in touch through texting, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat and more! In the last few years we’ve seen changes in the ways that the internet has played a prominent role in dating practices. It’s a social norm to meet someone who has tried or is currently using a dating app. In fact, there are 40 million Americans using online dating sites—27% of that population is young adults (Pew Research Center, 2015). Dating app use on college campuses has grown and people are using dating apps for a variety of reasons. According to Tinder, 70% of college students have never met up with their matches and 45% say they use Tinder mostly for confidence boosting procrastination. In fact, 42% of Tinder users already have a partner (consensual open relationship: cool, cheating: not cool)! There are many positives and negatives to online dating. For some people, it’…

Self-Administered Rape Exams are NOT the Answer: A Guest Blog

Transitions' is pleased to have one of our colleagues and partners, Christiana Paradis of Susquehanna University, weigh in on a subject that has been gracing many headlines (and making many waves!) recently -- the announcement of a tech-startup championing "DIY rape kits." Christiana, who oversees the Department of Justice grant at Susquehanna, as well as the VIP Center for victims services on campus, spoke up about the issue -- and why 'DIY' and 'rape' should never go hand in hand.


About one month ago our University was contacted by the founder of the #MeTooKit, an organization promising to yield the “first ever sexual assault kit for at home use with immediate DNA lab processing.” At first glance, this sounds great! Something that can privately be administered so a survivor doesn’t have to go to the hospital offering more choice and privacy?! Immediate DNA lab processing so as to avoid the rape kit backlog that we’ve heard so much about across the Unite…

Fairl Family Justice Center to Open Soon

Transitions is committed to reducing trauma for children during divorce and separation of parents and we have seen how well the Child Access Center in Bellefonte works for families in Centre County. The Center has been a place for many safe custody exchanges and visitations over its seven years of operation, without incident.
The Child Access Center in Bellefonte came about in response to the murder-suicide involving Benjamin Barone and his estranged wife, Jodi. After a year of fights over custody of the couples’ 4-year old daughter, Benjamin lured Jodi to a Sheetz parking lot in what appears to be a planned custody exchange.Through a Protection from Abuse Order that Jodi had obtained in Centre County, Benjamin was supposed to have relinquished his guns but he was able to get a gun and killed Jodi and then, killed himself. CentreSafe, a sister agency of Transitions, recognized the need -- and we see a strong need, too.
In our three counties -- Union, Snyder, and Northumberland -- par…

RESPONSE Ability

I hope that you are well. I had the privilege to speak at a special event on Saturday. It was a “Walk for No More” event which is part of a national campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault. I have a strong relationship with “Transitions” in Lewisburg and I thank Susan Mathias and Heather Shnyder for asking me to speak at the event.

I have always believed that everyone has a role in working to end domestic violence and sexual assault. I feel that events like this provide a means of education for all of us. We realize that it is an issue. Do we have the courage and conviction to take a stand to make a difference?
I have always approached this topic with the teams that I have been privileged to coach. The head coaches I worked with were open about the fact that we all have a role in taking care of each other. It goes beyond what we all think of when we consider these issues. It is a matter of humans watching out for and taking care of other humans.

In my upbringing my Father an…