Adding Financial Insult to Injury | Billing Sexual Assault Survivors | from Teen Vogue

It’s So Very Wrong That Hospitals Are Charging Sexual Assault Victims

Survivors Should NEVER Pay A Financial Penalty for Rape Treatment

Karen* was 26 when her partner drove her to an ER in Boston the morning after she was sexually assaulted. She opted for a pregnancy test, pre-exposure prophylaxis anti-HIV treatment, and an IV. She assumed her insurance from her job as a certified rape crisis counselor would cover the costs.

But four months later, she received a bill from the hospital. It contained a breakdown of what her insurance covered and what she owed — and it exceeded $1,200.

Karen is not the first sexual assault survivor to get surprised with exorbitant fees. Despite the law’s intentions of offsetting medical expenses that should not have to be paid by the sexual assault survivor (and it’s not taxpayer dollars covering the costs, but rather funds from crime victim compensation programs), some hospitals are extraneously billing the patients for tests and treatments, further contributing to their distress.

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers analyzed the insurance policies of 1,355 female rape survivors between the ages of 16 and 61. They found that nearly all of them paid healthcare costs — an average of about $950 — for crimes committed against them. The study found that while insurance typically covers 86% of the $6,737 average cost of rape, including for items like a rape kit — an involved exam that collects forensic evidence for a tailored treatment program or to support court proceedings should you wish to prosecute — survivors are generally left to cover the remaining amount out of pocket. Between antibiotics, sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, emergency contraceptives, and other related treatments, the study showed some survivors accrued up to $8,900 in charges in the first month alone.

The cost is even more disheartening given that protection clauses in the law like the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) were established to prevent hospitals and healthcare providers from billing survivors after their assault. Still, many providers in the country have figured out how to tack on extra fees, Michelle Katz, a licensed practical nurse, health insurance advocate, and author of Healthcare for Less, 101 Health Insurance Tips, and Healthcare Made Easy, tells Teen Vogue. She says that depending on the facility, physicians often charge a professional component associated with their expert reading of the diagnostic or lab work, a site fee for the cost of the room and equipment, and a technical fee for the kit itself. This begs the question: Are hospitals unnecessarily billing survivors?

Marissa Miller

Teen Vogue, Hospitals Are Charging Sexual Assault Survivors With Exorbitant Hospital Fees

I’m Outraged That Hospitals Are Charging Sexual Assault Survivors

The medical industrial complex in the United States is more about profit than it is about patients.

For some, that may appear to be an inflammatory statement. While there may be individual physicians and hospitals who buck this trend, it’s become nearly universally true.

In my work as an advocate for low-income individuals, I’m constantly fighting the heinous practice of balance billing. There are Federal laws prohibiting this exploit. Yet, I help Medicaid recipients who are getting hospital bills far too often for it to be the result of simple billing mistakes. Hospital billing departments are either completely ignorant and incompetent. Or, they are deliberately attempting to take financial advantage of the poor.

Now, thanks to Teen Vogue, I learn that sexual assault survivors are being victimized in a similar fashion.

Needless to say, I’m outraged!

I can not be more clear about this. Anytime a sexual assault survivor receives a bill for their rape treatment, they are being victimized a second time. Victimized by the hospitals and physicians who send out the bill. Clearly, the offending individuals and institutions are adding financial insult to injury…

Sexual Assault Resources

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, you can seek help by calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673). For more resources on sexual assault, visit RAINNEnd Rape on CampusKnow Your IX, and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

“What Were You Wearing?”

clothing has nothing to do with sexual assault

What I was wearing never mattered…

“What were you wearing?”

It’s a question people ask survivors of sexual violence all too often; a question wrought with victim-blaming and an implication that, maybe, the survivor could’ve prevented their assault if they had worn something less revealing, less sexy.

A powerful art exhibit currently on display at the University of Kansas aims to debunk this myth. The exhibit titled “What Were You Wearing?” features 18 stories of sexual violence and representations of what each victim was wearing at the time of their assault. The outfits include a bikini, a young boy’s yellow collared shirt, a sexy red dress and a T-shirt and jeans.

The art project was created in 2013 by Jen Brockman, the director of KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, and Dr. Mary A. Wyandt-Hiebert, who oversees all programming initiatives at the University of Arkansas’ rape education center. The installation has been featured at several other schools since 2013, including University of Arkansas and University of Iowa.

Brockman told HuffPost that the main goal of “What Were You Wearing?” is to promote awareness about sexual violence and to combat victim-blaming.

Alanna Vagianos

Huffington Post, Art Exhibit Powerfully Answers The Question ‘What Were You Wearing?’

what you were wearing – art by Michael Samadhi (from an original photograph by Jennifer Sprague)

Victim Shaming & “What Were You Wearing?”

I have zero tolerance for victim shaming. I am a sexual abuse victim. And, I was shamed. My abuser was an authority figure, a teacher. Not a school teacher, but my piano teacher. My abuse went on for nearly three years.

There was no way to escape. I tried everything I could to get out of my piano lessons. Everything short of admitting I was being abused. In my early adolescent mind, telling my parents that I was being abused was too shameful.

When I was 18, I told my girlfriend, Cheryl. She was compassionate and absolutely non-judgemental. It was the first time in my life where I felt it was ok to be vulnerable enough to tell the story. Her love felt unconditional. Cheryl encouraged me to tell my parents.

She thought I’d be releasing a great burden, one I’d been carrying for a long time. If I told them what had happened, I could be released from my own burdens, guilt, and self-doubt.

Ya, that didn’t go so well…

I was blamed and shamed. I was literally told, “You must have done something to signal you were open to his advances.” And, “Well Michael, you must have wanted those attentions somehow, after all, you kept going back.”

Later, I wanted the piano I had practiced all those years removed from the house. Yes, Grandma had given me the piano. She had been a piano teacher herself. And, she had studied at the Chicago Conservatory, same as my piano teacher. But, I didn’t want that reminder staring me in the face everytime I visited home.

It took a year of fighting and recriminations before Mom finally agreed to sell my piano. And, I can’t help feeling as though it was something she resented the rest of her life. She always wanted a piano in her home. She felt it was absolutely unnecessary to sell the piano, after all, I could choose which memories to keep…

This is a great exhibit. I regret I didn’t know about it when it was at the University of Iowa. I would have visited, and likely would have cried the whole time. Not so much out of sorrow for what happened to me, but instead in empathy for all the different victims this display represents.

Sexual assault victims didn’t invite their abuse, they didn’t invent their abuse. What they were wearing never mattered…

It’s not the clothing that causes sexual violence, it’s the person who causes harm. Being able to find that peace for survivors and that moment of awareness for communities is the real motivation behind the project. Jen Brockman

Director, Kansas University Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center

dead men may tell no tales but loose lips do sink ships

Apparently, some Denver nurses need to take a lesson from fight club…

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB!

Five nurses at Denver Health Medical Center were suspended for three weeks after they inappropriately viewed a deceased patient’s body and talked about it, a hospital spokesman confirmed to Denver7 Investigates Tuesday.

A tip to Denver7 said the nurses disciplined admired the size of the deceased patient’s genitals and at one point opened a body bag to view parts of the body. A hospital spokesman confirmed details of the incident.

A different nurse heard one of the disciplined nurses make a comment in May that the nurse felt was inappropriate and reported it to hospital staff, Denver Health Medical Center spokesman Josh Rasmussen said.

“Multiple staff members viewed the victim while he was incapacitated, including after he was deceased,” a Denver Police report says.

The Denver Post, Denver nurses suspended for opening body bag to admire man’s genitals

violating a dead man

On the surface, this seems to be a humorous incident.  Some nurses got carried away, got a little naughty, and paid a fairly steep price for their indiscretion.

Three weeks without work or pay is a relatively strong penalty, isn’t it?

Perhaps…

At least that was my first thought.

Then I got thinking a little deeper, the peeking incidents might be a little more serious than they appear at first glance.  What if the shoe was on the other foot?  What if this was a young female deceased with charismatic genitalia, and it was male nurses who were peeking.  Would the response have been similar?

I think not…

My guess is that would have been no laughing matter, and that the penalties likely would have gone beyond a mere suspension.  I’d guess those hypothetical male nurses peaking at a dead woman’s genitals would have faced criminal charges.  It’s not beyond belief to think that they would have been charged with some form of criminal sexual assault.

The facts of the matter are simple.  A dead man’s privacy was seriously violated, multiple times.  To my perspective, although there was no actual physical contact, his body was violated too.

It’s not like civilized society allows people to go around peaking at other’s genitals.  Ya know?

734 Centerfolds in an hour? Meh…

Christina Cauterucci looks at all 734 Playboy centerfolds in a single sitting for Salon…

There’s no wrong way to read Playboy’s new coffee table book of naked ladies. You can breeze through the encyclopedic collection of centerfolds in chunks, stopping when a shiny lower lip or well-groomed clitoral hood catches your interest. You can use the index to find a favorite Playmate, if you’re the kind of person who has a favorite Playmate. You can turn to the year you were born or bat mitzvahed and see what the residents of dudeland were drooling over that month. You can flick the pages like a flipbook, watching faces and skin blur together like a demonic wormhole that really, really wants to have sex with you.

But if you’re going to drop up to $75 on an 8 1/2-pound volume of exposed flesh, I’d recommend taking an hour or so to leaf through the entire thing, page by page. Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds, 1953–2016 offers exactly what it advertises: every single centerfold the magazine has published through February of last year. That is a remarkable number of bodies to trap in one volume. Taken together, they offer a kind of biological survey few humans will experience in their lifetimes. Even the world’s busiest doctors and most-overbooked porn stars don’t see 700-some-odd naked women in a single hour.

If you take this route, as I did on Thursday afternoon in a painstakingly sequestered corner of the Slate office, you will catalog approximately 1,400 nipples of various shades, textures, and surface areas. You will see several hundred labia and, if you have a set, think carefully about your own. You will despair at how the satin robe and garter belt industries have escaped any attempts at meaningful innovation in the past half-century. You will wonder why, in the 2010s, just as Earth was experiencing the hottest temperatures in recorded history, all women suddenly got visibly cold.

Christina Cauterucci

Salon, What I Learned By Looking at 734 Playboy Centerfolds in One Sitting

By the time I was coming of age, in the 1970’s, Playboy was already being seriously challenged by its competitors.  As far as I was concerned, that was a very good thing.

I was never really a big Playboy guy, it was really too vanilla for me.  I was more a fan of Penthouse, which was far more to my taste.  Penthouse had better letters (at least for my sensibilities) and I felt that its photoshoots were far more interesting too.  Playboy was for my Dad’s generation, it seemed, Penthouse was for mine.

I had a cousin who worshipped at the altar of Hugh Hefner.  I’ll never forget him classifying all of Hefner’s competitors as being akin to gynecological handbooks.  I told him that it was a shame he liked bush more than pussy.

Later on, a few years down the road, my cousin went to work for the Republican Party.  At that time, I accused him of liking Bush more than pussy.

Some things never change I guess…

 

I’ve never been a big centerfold fan, just as I’ve never been agog of celebrity.  While I could envision having Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds as part of my personal sexuality library, I’m also sure there are dozens of other books I’d rather own.

In the end, I’d probably classify this weighty tome (844 pages – 8.4lbs shipping weight @ Amazon) more as a book of art than a picture book.  Playboy’s airbrush artists seem as endemic to High Hefner’s vision as the actual photographers and models.  These women are far from “real”, in almost every manner, shape and form.

I’m sure if someone paid me, like they did Christina Cauterucci, to read through the whole thing in a single sitting, I could.  But, most likely that’s what it would take.

Sorry, Mr. Hefner, that old cliched joke about buying Playboy for the articles was far more true than you might have thought.  At least it was in my case…

The Ethical Slut III Released!

Millennials are increasingly embracing non-monogamous relationships – and the 1990s guidebook that helped popularize them is getting an update…

In 1994, sexual educator Janet W. Hardy, was bedridden for a month with a bad flu that had evolved into bronchitis. She was, as she recalls, “high off my ass on Codeine cough syrup” when she caught a showing of Indecent Proposal on TV. Married couple David (Woody Harrelson) and Diana (Demi Moore) are faced with a moral dilemma when a billionaire named John (Robert Redford) offers them a million dollars in exchange for spending one night with Diana. Hardy, who is now 62, had herself been in a marriage that had ended about a decade earlier, and had not been in a monogamous relationship since. At the scene where the couple hesitates over the billionaire’s offer, Hardy wondered if she was having a fever dream.

“I was sitting there going, ‘What’s going on here?'” she tells Rolling Stone from her home in Oregon. “A million dollars and Robert Redford, and they have a problem with this? It made no sense to me. I really got it at that point, how distant I had become from mainstream sexual ethics.”

Hardy reached out to her friend and sometimes collaborator, the psychotherapist Dossie Easton to work on a book about non-monogamy. The pair had already coauthored two books on kink which were read in BDSM circles, but not much elsewhere. Both Easton and Hardy identified as queer and polyamorous, and Easton wanted to reclaim the word slut. They combined their own experiences with both casual sex and open marriages, navigating orgies and battling jealousy. In 1997, under Hardy’s own indie sex-ed publishing house Greenery Press, they published The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities. It would go on to sell 200,000 copies.

Anna Fitzpatrick

Rolling Stone, 'The Ethical Slut': Inside America's Growing Acceptance of Polyamory

Janet Hardy

Ethical Slut (the original)

I’m a proud owner of a well worn first edition of The Ethical Slut.

I purchased it on my very first visit to Washington D.C., back when I worked as a community organizer.

In the days before Amazon.com, I was thrilled to discover my future copy at an alternative bookstore near Du Pont Circle.  (If memory serves me correctly on the details…)  It’s not like I was going to find it at the local Barnes and Nobles here in the Bible Belt.

My purchase was made just after the book was first published.  I knew immediately it was a must have for my sexuality library.  I had already read a pre-publication blurb in a magazine called S&M Utopian Guardian, which had very much peaked my interest.

Dossie Easton

ethical sluts

The group I was with had to fly home the next day.  And, I have to admit being very excited about my new purchase.  So excited that I set aside the biography of Thomas Jefferson I’d been reading for the trip, and started my new find.

Reading amidst my co-workers, seated next to my boss, I couldn’t hide what I was reading.  I didn’t care.  I just sat there on the plane with my jaw agape reading Janet and Dossie’s masterpiece, occasionally nodding my head in agreement with the text.  I’m not sure how my seatmates felt about my choice of literature, I honestly didn’t notice.

I was already living a poly lifestyle and had been poly for about a decade.  In fact, I’d started living like an ethical slut briefly before the term polyamory was invented.  To me it was a simple concept – if a parent can love more than one child, why can’t I love more than one person too?  But in practice, well, it was sometimes a real struggle.  The Ethical Slut provided the framework I desired for making polyamory work.

It would not be an overstatement to say The Ethical Slut changed my life.

Slutting of the Ethical Kind

I also own a 2nd edition Ethical Slut.  I purchased it out of respect for Janet Hardy, I have a bit of a crush on her.  And, I wanted to keep up with new concepts in poly.  Call it continuing education if you will.

The second edition wasn’t quite life-changing like the first had been.  That would have been far too much to ask.  But, I still found it more than a little bit useful.

I even picked up a second copy of the 2nd edition for my Kindle not too long ago.  While I love the feel of a physical book in my hands, it got to be a little too much to be purchasing a new bookshelf every year for more than a decade.

After picking up The Ethical Slut II on Kindle, I planned to resell my physical copy of the 2nd edition.  Obviously, I hoped to economize on space.  It never happened.  I’m a sentimental bastard, and I just couldn’t part with the book.

Even More Ethical Slutting

Now there’s a third edition, just published.  And, I’ve already picked that one up too.  I plan to write up a review of The Ethical Slut III once I’ve had the opportunity to digest the new material.  It won’t be easy to be objective, but I doubt there’s much to be critical of anyway.

I’m looking forward to more continuing education in polyamory.

Thank you, Janet Hardy and Dossie Easton.  To be quite honest, I believe you truly changed the world with your book, The Ethical Slut.  You certainly changed mine… 

Iowa tells rape victims to be patient

several months wait months for evidence to be tested

The Des Moines Register is reporting that rape victims in Iowa are being forced to wait months for the processing of evidence to be completed.

In late February, 42-year-old Gina Battani told her local police she was sexually assaulted by someone she knew.

But nearly seven months later, analysis of the evidence collected from her case has not been completed by the state crime lab — while the man she has accused walks free.

She’s called at least 10 times, only to be told there is a backlog and it’s in process.

“I’ve been told to be patient,” said Battani, who lives in central Iowa.

“I have felt so insignificant — that I didn’t matter.”

Battani is far from alone. Frustrated rape victims are waiting months — or sometimes even more than a year — for Iowa’s overwhelmed crime lab to process DNA evidence that is crucial to their cases, allowing their suspected attackers to avoid arrest.

Kathy A. Bolten

Des Moines Register, Rape victims in Iowa are still waiting months for evidence testing

where’s the funding?

We live in a day and age where para-military styled police forces are becoming increasingly militarized, in both mindset and appearance.

A few years back, while on vacation, I witnessed a sight I never thought I’d see in the United States.  Something I’d previously associated only with third world countries.  Police in armored cars.

No riots.  Zero civil unrest.  Streets were not cordoned off.  Yet, there they were, a tactical response team out flexing its militaristic muscles.

Images of police dressed in imposing riot gear may act as a deterrent for civil unrest, but it all comes with a serious price tag.  Tech gear and armaments are expensive.  Armored cars are very expensive.

Yet, we can’t properly fund (and manage) our crime labs…

The popularity of crime lab shows on television leads people to believe that technology produces convictions.  It does.  But, that technology is of no use if the evidence is still sitting on a shelf.

Rape victims deserve better.  All victims of violent crimes deserve better.

Michael’s way

When a rape victim like Gina Battani ends up feeling insignificant, forgotten, betrayed by a system that has its priorities backward, there is a serious problem.

As the system works today, victims of sexual assault are being victimized a second time by the state.  Yet, the solution is so simple.  Find the political will to properly fund our crime labs.  It doesn’t really matter too much how the funding is found.

  • Add another surcharge to the court costs/fees paid by individuals who have been convicted of violent crimes, with the proceeds funding increases in staff for crime labs.
  • Add a fee for every individual released from custody on bond.
  • Hold off on purchasing a few armored cars.
  • Cut a small percentage of funds budgeted for militarized tactical response teams.
  • Eliminate out-of-state travel by state employees for conferences.  Video conference instead.
  • Subscribe to a few less professional publications, some of which cost thousands of dollars.

I’m sure there is a myriad of ways to make it happen.  To slightly twist an old cliche: Where there’s the (political) will, there’s always a way!

But please, whatever is done, do it with some urgency.  Mr Politician, treat this issue as if your own daughter had been raped.  Light a fire under somebody’s ass.  Take a page from Nike’s book – just do it!

Jeffrey Sandusky Pleads Guilty To Child Sexual Abuse

I have to believe there is a special circle in hell reserved for men who sexually abuse children…

Due to go on trial next week, Sandusky, 41, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors and 12 felonies in a deal with prosecutors, under which he would serve three to six years in prison. The judge isn’t bound by the deal and could sentence him to up to eight years.

Centre County District Attorney Stacey Parks Miller said the plea spares the victims the trauma of testifying.

Barbara Campbell - NPR

Jeffrey Sandusky, Penn State Coach's Son, Pleads Guilty To Child Sexual Abuse

There’s a special circle in hell for men who sexually abuse children.  Men like Jeffrey Sandusky.

My only complaint is that the plea bargain will likely result in “short time” for Jeffrey.

The expected sentence does not even come close to being a proportionate punishment for the swath of destruction the Sandusky’s have caused.  There’s really no denying he deserves a far worse fate.

I’d never advocate for torture.  After all, our Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment.  But, I suppose it’s ok to pretend, at least for a moment, that the punishment meted out by our court system actually fit the crime.

Lash his balls to a flagpole, and run him up the pole like old glory.  Set the flagpole on fire.  Then, toss the son-of-a-bitch a knife…

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