Sexual Assault Awareness Month Blog By: Lydia Cassell

In light of sexual assault awareness month, it is important to remember that survivors suffer lifelong consequences following the attack. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 39 men will have been raped at some point in their lives. Additionally, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 10 men will be coerced into sexual acts. Sexual assault devastates the lives of hundreds of thousands of people each year. Everyone, no matter their age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, can be a survivor of sexual assault. Not only is the physical act of sexual assault life-shattering, but the emotional aftermath of coming forth with one’s story can be just as brutal.

The world we live in makes it difficult for women and men to come forward. However, with movements like #MeToo it is becoming less taboo and survivors are being taken seriously and believed. Many sexual assault survivors are met with victim shaming responses instead of empathy and praise for being brave. It is extremely brave for a survivor to speak their truth because once it is spoken the aftermath to follow can be almost too much to bear. There are many unjust consequences that survivors are forced to endure. Many experience mental and physical health concerns for months to years after the assault. Many experiences financial difficulty due to court costs and loss of income if their assaulter was their partner or family member. Many also fear for not only their own safety, but the safety of the children and family after they have come forward with the truth. The aftermath of coming forward with your sexual assault experience is brave, scary, and painful. The pain, shame, hurt, grief, and fear are the reasons why we need to believe survivors.

In June Pathway Counseling Center will be organizing a display called the Aftermath. The Aftermath will display the long-term effects of sexual assault on survivors and will dispel the myth that survivors are lying for attention. The aftermath is real and that is why we should believe survivors. The Aftermath will be displayed in collages, paintings, written word, and photography at the Iowa Public Library all of June. To submit pieces please contact Tiffany Flowers at

If you or someone you know is interested in talking to a trauma informed therapist Pathway Counseling Center is accepting clients. To schedule an appointment please call 319-774-3160 and visit our website at

For other resources check out the Domestic Violence Intervention Program at  https://dvipiowa.organd the Women’s Resource and Action Center at or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline 800-656-HOPE (4673)

Why Talking About Suicide is Important

With winter in full swing, it is normal to start feeling more sad and tired than usual. During winter, there is a spike in suicide rates and that is why it is so important to feel comfortable asking a loved one if they are suicidal. The first step is asking simply asking your loved one if they are thinking about suicide. Many people believe that by asking if someone is suicidal that they’ll provoke them to want to attempt suicide and this is untrue. For many people considering suicide, having a person ask them if they are suicidal will feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. Asking will allow them an outlet to talk about their thoughts and feelings openly. Second it is important to know what to do if your loved one is suicidal. Calling the suicide hotline is a great start to getting connected to safe resources in your community. If your loved one has a thought-out plan with the means to take their life within the next 24 hours, it is important to take them to the hospital, call the suicide hotline or call the police.

Asking someone about suicide is difficult but crucial. The worst thing that can happen if you ask someone if they are thinking about killing themselves and they are not is they may seem shocked or confused. The worst thing that can happen if you do not ask someone if they are suicidal is death. The risk of suicide is too high to be scared to ask someone if they are considering suicide. The national suicide hotline number is 800-273-8255.

Promoting Self-Care in the Workplace

As we begin a new year, promoting a culture of self-care can improve team collaboration, productivity, and performance.  While self-care is a powerful tool, it continues to be underutilized in the workplace. Self-Care is a preventive health strategy involving actions and behaviors that improve, restore, or maintain good health as well as overall personal satisfaction. The good news is as a work  community, a new tone, pace, and culture can be established. Below are some concrete initiatives that can aid in creating a community of self-care where you work. Promote traditional self-care and relaxation techniques. Be mindful of the physical environment around your workplace and how you could invite more joy, fun, and creativity through the use of color, scents, sound, lighting, etc.

1. Establish a wellness committee.

b. Create a box or basket that includes easy, go-to comfort and care items that help you engage in playfulness, relaxation, and re-energizing.

c.  Establish a mandala coloring area in your staff break room or kitchen with colored pencils, gel pens, or markers that you and your co-workers can use for a creative break. D. Bring creativity into your agency’s staff meetings by beginning with a meaningful poem, song, story, or image that relates to the organization’s values and mission.

2.Increase social support. Social support can be defined as proactive communication, care, and understanding. Workers with low levels of support from family, friends, colleagues, and mentors are particularly at risk for productivity loss and health problems. Start a mentorship program that will allow employees to work with leadership on their managerial skills and initiate team-based activities that encourage camaraderie.

3.Shorten meetings .Unnecessary or inefficient meetings are a common complaint. That’s why ending meetings early can make a big difference. Review your team’s meeting schedule regularly and make sure each meeting is absolutely necessary. Ask for team input on meeting agendas and structure. Consider canceling meetings altogether if there isn’t a pressing topic to discuss.

4. Set an example by setting boundaries. Do  you routinely answer emails after work hours? If so, then chances are other employees do too even if it isn’t implicitly asked of them. Rewarding busyness not only stifles creativity, it can also lead to unintended health consequences and time away from work. Setting boundaries with your own time sets the tone for your team’s habits as well.