2018 Greatest Hits #5: “What Were You Wearing, Waco?”

(During these last few weeks of December we will be reprising the Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts for 2018 from the Act Locally Waco blog. I couldn’t possibly pick my favorites – so I used the simple (cop out?)  approach of pulling up the 10 blog posts that got the most “opens” according to our Google Analytics.  It is an intriguing collection that gives at least a little insight into the interests and concerns of Act Locally Waco readers. I hope this “Top 10” idea inspires you to go back and re-read your personal favorites.  There have been so many terrific ones… If you would like to see the Top 10 according to Google Analytics, here’s the link: Top 10 Most Opened Blog Posts of 2018.  Merry Christmas! — ABT)

by Berkeley Anderson and Geneece Goertzen

When someone gets mugged, we don’t say, “That suit you were wearing was a bad idea. It just screams ‘I’ve got money, rob me.’ We don’t ask victims, ‘What did you expect to happen when you had a wallet full of money? You were just asking to be robbed.’”  

So why do Sexual Assault victims face a barrage of questions that imply they are to blame for their own attack?  “Were you drinking? Why did you go out alone? Why did you let your attacker into your room?”

And, of course, “Well, what were you wearing?”

The impact of these questions is difficult to quantify, but it shows up in survivors blaming themselves for their own assault. It shows up in rapists getting away with what should be easily prosecuted cases. It shows up in negative mental health outcomes for victims.   It shows up in victims fearing to report the assault to police.

When assessing sexual violence, the only question that matters is consent. But rape culture–the normalization of sexual violence– causes some people to assert that clothing matters, shifting the focus off the obvious reason for the assault: that the attacker was a rapist.

April is recognized as National Sexual Assault Awareness Month which raises awareness about sexual violence, educates communities and individuals on how to prevent it, supports and empowers survivors, and strengthens the culture of consent.

According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, consent is an enthusiastic, ongoing, clearly communicated affirmative agreement to engage in various sexual or non-sexual activities. Past consent does not equal current consent. The absence of a “no” does not equal a “yes.” A person who is impaired cannot give consent. A child cannot consent. When sex is consensual, it means that the involved parties have granted permission. Non-consensual sex is rape.

Sexual Assault affects people across all demographics. Although rape and sexual assault are often thought of as being committed by strangers in a dark alley, that is seldom the case. Most victims of sexual assault know their attacker. This is especially true for children.  Neither is rape limited to young adult females.  Women, men, and children of both genders experience rape and sexual assault.  It happens in heterosexual relationships, and it happens among the LGBTQ community.  It happens to the young and the old. It happens to the rich and poor. It happens within all religions and ethnic origins. It happens to singles, and it even happens within marriage. Every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted.

A powerful art exhibit, “What were you wearing Waco” on display through April, aims to debunk the myth that clothing caused the assault, by featuring representations of what victims were wearing at the time of their attack. The exhibit seeks to open doors in an attempt to combat victim-blaming, promote awareness, and destroy stereotypes about rape and sexual assault.

“What Were  You Wearing, Waco? kicks off with an opening night event in conjunction with First Friday Waco at The Warehouse, 727 Austin Avenue. It will then move to different locations in Waco.

  • Opening Night, April 6th at 6pm
  • Austin’s on the Ave, April 5-14th, 3pm to 12am
  • Outside Baylor Sub, April 16-26th, from 8am to 5pm
  • At local churches & organizations throughout the month of April
  • Closing Night, April 27 at 5pm at Jesus Said Love

There is also a traveling portion of the exhibit. If you would like a piece of the exhibit to advertise “What Were You Wearing” at your church, school, or business, please email Caroline_Grace@Baylor.edu.

The original “What Were You Wearing” project was created in 2013 by Jen Brockman, director of KU’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Education Center, and Dr. Mary A. Wyandt-Heibert, who oversees the University of Arkansas’ rape education center. Born out of an advocacy ideal, the installation asks participants to understand that it is never about the clothing, and ending sexual violence is not as easy as changing our clothes.

List of Resources:

If you or someone you know has been Sexually Assaulted, you can call the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children at (254) 752-9330.   Their crisis hotline is available 24/7 at (888) 867-7233.

If you or someone you know is a victim of Domestic Violence, you can call the Family Abuse Center at (254) 772-8999. Or you can contact the 24-hour hotline at (800) 283-8401.

Baylor’s Title IX department:  254-710-8454 or visit, https://www.baylor.edu/titleIX/

Geneece Goertzen is on the Board of Directors for the Family Abuse Center, and has a passion for victim advocacy. She has worked as costume designer for many of the recent shows at Waco Civic Theatre, as well as having created many historical costumes over the last decade.

Berkeley Anderson has a Master’s degree in public service and degrees in physics and history.  She loves slam poetry, hot sauce, and any dog she meets. She is the Teen Dating Violence Project Manager at the Family Abuse Center.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Waco Women’s Soccer League: Hey Ladies, Come Play!

By Jessica Russell Morrow

I have lived in Waco, Texas, since July 2012 and am a mother to two Boys (2 ½ and 5 months).

When I was a kid, my parents enrolled me in tons of extracurricular activities including softball, piano, basketball, bowling and golf. However, the one activity that stuck with me the most was Soccer. I grew up idolizing Mia Hamm, Brandi Chastain, Julie Foudy, Kristine Lilly, Joy Fawcett and Abby Wambach.

My interest in the sport was kindled by a supportive environment. I played throughout high school for both my high school and the Olympic Development Program. I remember the bittersweet moment of taking of my cleats at the end of the championship game my senior year of high school thinking, “This is it, I guess I won’t need these anymore.” I thought about giving away my cleats and shin guards. If I wasn’t going to play in college why would I ever need them again?

I ended up packing my cleats when I left for college thinking that there was a tiny chance I would get to use them again. Within the first week I found myself making new friends and playing pickup games. I ended up joining a co-ed intramural team that stuck together through college. After college I was sure that my soccer playing really was at an end. However, I was wrong again as I found pickup games and co-ed leagues for adults almost immediately. When I moved to Boston for graduate school there were so many different adult soccer leagues for me to join I could play every day of the week if I wanted. In 2012, my husband and I picked up our lives moved to Waco, Texas. It took me several months to adjust to the heat before finding the Waco Women’s Soccer League.

The Waco Women’s Soccer League is a Saturday morning soccer league that plays across the street from the HOT soccer fields off Airport Road. The league is run by a few dedicated volunteers and functions with the help of a great relationship with the Texas Association of Sports Officials. Games are 7v7 including goalies. All the players in the league are busy women with a passion for playing. Unlike the sports I played growing up, we don’t practice during the week. Players show up ready to have fun and dedicate themselves to two 30 minute halves before going about the rest of their Saturday.

I have played with a team called the Grass Stains since finding this league. My team ranges in age from 19 to late 40s. Since joining, I have met many wonderful women and learned the power of women supporting women. This team has provided invaluable support to its players on and off the field. Off the field we have had players graduate high school, college, graduate, and law school; get married; have babies and return to playing after having babies; suffer injuries (both related and unrelated to soccer); complete marathons, triathlons and road races; and travel the world.

We have women who played Division 1 collegiate soccer passing along with 18 year olds fresh out of high school soccer. We have players who haven’t touched a soccer ball in a decade and those who find a way to play every day of the week. We have moms, daughters, yogis, runners, cross fitters, triathletes, bikers, artists, singers, wives, lawyers, nurses, doctors, teachers, coaches, veterinarians, professors, students, chefs, administrative assistants, restaurant servers, and UPS managers. However, our identity off the field doesn’t matter as we all share a common love for the game of soccer.

The Spring 2018 season is about to start and I am excited to get out there and look like an idiot as it will be my first full season since having my second son 5 months ago. I have done this post-partum journey before as I have a 2 ½ year old boy. I love having my sons on the sidelines cheering me on. My team has an entire cheering section with Husbands, Pets, Babies, Toddlers, Parents and friends. Teams recognize that family is important and many take turns watching kids on the sidelines while moms go play. We have several Dads who come to help on the sidelines as well.

I now have two boys, a 2 ½ year old and a 5-month-old. I am excited to introduce them to some of my passions and hope to be able to encourage them to develop a lifelong passion and excitement for something. My two year old is always watching what I do, so I am proud to have him watch me participate in sports. Sports, in general, has provided me with a therapeutic outlet and allowed me to make friends in where ever I go. Maybe my kids will like soccer, maybe they will enjoy something else… all current signs point to a passion for eating cheese and knocking over blocks.

Maybe athletics isn’t your outlet, but If it is, I encourage you to try out one of the many family friendly sports opportunities in Waco.  So, ladies…Come Out and Play!

Waco Women’s Soccer League

The Spring Season starts forming teams April 7th! (Just show up at 9 AM and we can get you placed on a team). Signing up doesn’t actually commit you to playing every Saturday. Many teams have players come when they can.

What to Bring:

  • Shin Guards (must be worn during regular season games)
  • Water Bottle
  • $35 for League Fees
  • Cleats (recommended)
  • Goalie Gloves (if interested in a goalie position)

Texas Sports Social Club

This great organization offers all kinds of adult sports ranging from volleyball to dodgeball to flag football

Jessica Morrow grew up in a military family and had the opportunity to live many places including California, Washington, Virginia, South Korea, Italy, Germany and Belgium. She settled in the U.S. after high school and attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia where she earned a B.A. in English. She then went on to earn an M.A. in English at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She moved with her (then) fiancé to Waco, Texas in 2012. He works as an Engineer at SpaceX. Jessica is currently the Assistant Director of Stewardship at Baylor University. Jessica and her Husband have two boys, (age 2 ½ and 5 months). She enjoys Hanging out with her family, Playing soccer, Running, Travelling, CrossFit and Yoga.


WISD Empowerment Summits inspire Young Leaders

By Aranza Torres and Jon Singletary

With a commitment to inspiring, guiding, and connecting young leaders in Waco ISD, Superintendent Marcus Nelson introduced the first Empowerment Summits for Young Men and Young Women.  Campus staff and administrators identified approximately 450 students in grades seven through 12 as future leaders from seven Waco ISD campuses.

Students had the opportunity to hear from local experts in the medical, legal and educational fields on topics ranging from managing stress, social media, sexual violence, college access and leadership development during panel-style discussions. At the Women’s Empowerment Summit, Jolanda Jones, a Houston ISD trustee, former city council member, author, attorney and former All-American athlete and member of the United States track and field team, served as the keynote speaker. Jones was also a former contestant on “Survivor” and star of WEtv’s “Sisters in Law.”

Jaime Carias, the keynote speaker for the men, is the Civic Engagement Coordinator at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Carias is also a leading urban educator, author and national speaker who is well known for his ability to inspire and educate students of all ages.

 Approximately 75 men and women from the Central Texas area representing various professions and community organizations volunteered as table hosts to provide a strong leadership presence and facilitate conversations with the attendees. The following reflections are from two of our table hosts. – Robin McDurham, Assistant Superintendent of Student Services & Family Engagement

Empowerment Summit for Young Women

As a college recruiter, I have the privilege of walking students and families through the transition from high school to college. Occasionally I am given the opportunity to participate in community events such as the Waco ISD Young Women’s Empowerment Summit on February 23rd. As a table host, I had the pleasure of meeting 8 wonderful young leaders who were hand-selected by their campuses to participate in the summit. Our table included students from different campuses and of varying grade levels. It was great to witness them get to know one another, share related experiences and provide advice and encouragement. I was thrilled to hear of the many ways these bright young women demonstrate their leadership through school clubs, dual credit classes, athletics and additional community opportunities.

I enjoyed the time I spent with my group and gained new insights thanks to the excellent speakers. The panelists covered a number of relevant topics including; social media, sexual violence and consent, college readiness, stress management and personal development. They were able to offer concrete advice and action steps students could take now. One of my personal highlights of the morning was the keynote speaker, Jolanda Jones, whose powerful and resilient life experiences are a testament to the power of hard work and the importance of finding confidence in one’s self. I feel very lucky to have been invited to the summit and have shared this time with my group.

Young leaders are one of the best elements of our school campuses. Recognizing them in our community and investing in them is imperative. Ensuring that they feel supported and heard will serve to encourage their growth. We will look to these young leaders as they move to their next grade level, the college of their choice and contribute to our community. No matter where these young women end up I am confident that they will be hard-working and successful.  – Aranza Torres

Empowerment Summit for Young Men

A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join a few local leaders on a panel as part of Dr. Marcus Nelson’s inaugural Young Men’s Empowerment Summit. Some eyes may have been on us, the panelists, but our eyes were on the amazing gathering of men in the room that day. Not only did three dozen men from Central Texas, representing a wide range of professions from accounting and law to medicine and ministry, come together in support of men’s empowerment, but more importantly were the 200 young men from Waco ISD schools who gathered. As those of us on the panel looked out on that room, we noticed the pride and confidence of the men, and the potential and hope that they represent. Too few young men in today’s culture are invited to reflect on the value of their past and even fewer have a clear expression of hope for their future. On that day, I saw that perspective shift in dozens of middle and high school men. As the panel reflected on social challenges from technology to sexuality, and as our guest speaker, Jaime Carias, shared his own journey of struggle and hope, these young men laughed, their eyes lit up, and they looked ahead at what their lives might hold. And, if this event is a glimpse of the future that Waco has with the leadership of these youth and the leadership of Dr. Nelson, then our future together is bright indeed.  – Jon Singletary

Aranza Torres has lived in Waco for a majority of her life (21 years!). She is a University High School graduate who continued her education out of state at Goshen College located in Goshen, IN. After graduating with a Bachelor of Social Work she returned to Waco to give back to her local community. She is currently a Recruiter and Dual Credit Advisor at McLennan Community College. In her spare time she enjoys being a part of the Waco Immigrants Alliance, Advisor to the MCC Hispanic Student Association, doing puzzles and spending time with her two large pitbull puppies (they’re not really puppies).

Jon Singletary, PhD, MSW, MDiv, is dean and professor of the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University. He has served on faculty at Baylor since 2003.   His wife teaches at Hillcrest PDS in Waco ISD and their children attend the Atlas Academy at Tennyson Middle School and Waco High School.