Group’s Pink Signs About Rape Culture Spark Conversation Around Upper Valley

  • Bright pink flyers have been displayed in the Upper Valley. This flyer hangs on a utility pole in West Lebanon, N.H. on May 9, 2017. (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 5/10/2017 1:06:08 AM
Modified: 5/10/2017 2:08:17 PM

West Lebanon — A grassroots group aimed at stamping out violence against women distributed hot-pink signs throughout the Upper Valley on Tuesday to raise awareness about the prevalence of what it termed “rape culture.”

Members of Conversations for Change pinned more than 100 flyers around the city, the majority in the area of Colburn Park and City Hall and near the intersection of Main and Bridge streets in West Lebanon. Signs also were posted on a message board in White River Junction, placed on car windshields in parking lots at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and were seen around Hanover and Windsor.

The signs read: “Did you know ... rapists set it up to look like victims consented. #DontBeFooledByRapeCulture. Know the facts,” and “Did you know ... due to the way memory works, rape victims’ accurate memory of trauma changes as time goes by and they remember more. #DontBeFooledByRapeCulture. Know the facts.”

However, the publicity effort ran afoul of Lebanon’s Public Works Department, which removed many of the signs because the group had not received permission from the city to post them on public property.

A representative of the group did not respond on Tuesday to requests for comment.

Peggy O’Neil, executive director of WISE, a nonprofit that aids victims of domestic violence, said Conversations for Change formed recently and holds meetings at the WISE offices, but WISE does not oversee the group, nor did it have a hand in posting the signs on Tuesday.

“It is a group ... for survivors and others to get together to talk about what contributes to gender-based violence and have open discussions,” O’Neil said on Tuesday. “In their discussions, they came up with ideas about how to do more active work in the community, and that is where the flyers came from.”

O’Neil said there are WISE staff members who are members of Conversations for Change. Phone and email messages left for one of the WISE staff members who is part of the group weren’t returned.

Rape culture, as defined by WISE, “is a term that introduces the concept that society creates an environment that normalizes violence against populations that do not have power.”

“ ... It is the camouflage that covers abusive behaviors and allows abusers to get away with it,” according to WISE’s website. “It is what distracts us with ‘why does she stay/wear that/go there’ rather than focusing on the person and culture that is causing harm.”

WISE is engaged in raising awareness on several topics related to violence against women, O’Neil said.

“We definitely support community members in becoming engaged in issues of gender-based violence and working to dispel myths, provide facts and support survivors,” she said.

The distributed signs didn’t include a call to action or provide a place for people to turn to if they have been a victim or need more information.

Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello said posting flyers on public property violates city ordinance. Individuals need permission from the City Manager’s Office, something group members did not obtain, he said.

“We are certainly looking to speak with whoever put them there to make sure (they) go through the proper process next time,” Mello said.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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