Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Hello from Los Angeles

I have been super busy over the past couple of months…As many of you know, I am a current student at Ithaca College. However, this semester, I will be based on my school's satellite campus in Los Angeles, California! My thoughts are kind of all over the place as being in a new place is very overwhelming. Overwhelming, but rewarding.

So far it has been quite the journey. I am finally getting settled in with my internship, my apartment, and everything that goes along with moving across the country (even if it is just temporary). I have already met so many people, began my networking adventures, and have come to terms with the traffic that is, and will always be, LA. No really, driving home from work takes me an hour, minimum.

California and New York are very different, and I am DEFINITELY an east coaster. My fashion, my accent, my personality--it's all New York. But hey, this is California! And I am ready to take it by storm.

Side note--For those of you at home, stay safe in the snow. For those of you here on the West Coast with me, let's hit the beach! But really….

I find that amongst all of my personal experiences, some things do not change. I still find myself on guard at most times. Los Angeles is not a joke, and unfortunately due to my appearance as described before, I stick out like a sore thumb. Like I said, east coast. It's nerve wrecking knowing that you are in a place with so much potential and that at the same time, it is up to you to go and seek it, no matter what the circumstances. The fact is, is that this is not home. BUT, I am willing (and determined!) to adjust, adapt and succeed.

For starters,  I am interning at lifestyle and beauty PR agency, which naturally, causes me to always look my best--jewelry and all. Being surrounded by so many fashionable areas and so many influential people has me pressured to always look and feel my best (even though I would want to do that anyway). But just like in New York, I feel that I must be on defense most times. Only this time, I feel like a slight outcast on the defense, and it is not pleasant. Being in an unfamiliar place is scary, especially when all you want to do is enjoy yourself and get into the swing of things. There is no other way to put it. But then, I said to myself "NOWSA." They are one of the few influencers who taught me how to be fierce and confident.

My first personal and valuable epiphany of the trip--I realized that I need to trust myself and go back to what I know. So this post is just a little reminder to stay true to yourself. Because there is no one better.

Know your boundaries, know where you are and who is around you, stay with people, pick and choose your battles. Definitely have fun, and live your life. Be smart with choices and how you carry yourself.

I know I will, because I am in LA for goodness sakes.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Some thoughts

Something has been really bothering me lately….And today, I could have cried about it.

I am talking about the disappearance of UVA freshman, Hannah Graham. Upon hearing the news today that the remains found earlier in the week did in fact belong to her, I am disgusted. To think that someone could actually commit such a crime puts me in a state of disbelief, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts.

When I first heard about the story, there was hope. Maybe, just maybe, this innocent girl who like many of us, just wanted to have a bit of fun, was actually safe. Maybe she was okay. But like many disappearance cases, as time went on, my hope dwindled. It was to the point where I was talking about it with my mom, and I actually said the words "There is no way she is still alive. It's devastating." Unfortunately, I was right. And I could go on and on about how angry it makes me, but why do that when we can learn something, and reiterate a point that has been made so many times before.

1) DO NOT walk home alone.

Girls. Guys. Everyone is at risk. College is a time to enjoy yourself, and in many cases, this enjoyment happens off campus. Please, do not walk home alone. If you get separated, are alone etc., call a taxi. If you feel at all uncomfortable, call public safety and/or the police. Especially at night, no matter where you are, people are not who they say. Trust yourself.

My best friend and I were talking about it the other day, and we made a pact. NEVER let the other one leave without someone. In fact, never leave anywhere unless you know where your entire party is.

There was a sad story at my school a few years back. A girl was with a group of people, who had split up into two during the night, each half thinking the poor girl was with the other half. She was alone, drunk, and passed out in the snow. Although she was not abducted or attacked, the temperatures in Ithaca are frigid, and unfortunately she did not survive the night because of it. Just goes to show--Know who is around you at all times.

2) DO NOT 'slut shame.'

I get it. You want to look "hot" for that guy or girl in your 10 am class, and you know they will be at that rager party tonight. Rightfully so. I try my best to appear attractive when I go out. It's human nature, and I won't deny that I haven't worn tight dresses and heels in my day. However, when you see that girl in a short skirt and crop top or when you see that guy looking sharp, that by no means is an invitation to his/her body. It is not yours or anybody else's except that person. He/she is not 'asking for it,' and while I agree that some outfits are a bit too risqué, that is not up for your discretion. Don't let it affect you having a good time, and do not label anyone a 'slut' or 'man whore' when you most likely do not know them to begin with. The victim is NEVER at fault.

Hannah was wearing something close to what most girls would wear--a crop top. And to hear some of the commentary coming from people saying she was at fault is beyond me. I'm sorry, but do you think a college freshman asked for that to happen to her? Do you really think she chose her outfit with the intention to be attacked? Really think about that, because I guarantee the answer is clear.

3) Oldest tip in the book--DO NOT trust strangers or anyone you don't feel "right" about.

Self explanatory. You don't know them, so you don't know what they will do.

I hope the Graham family has found some closure, and that they get the justice they deserved. Unfortunately, we live in a world where these things happen, and unfortunately, these are the things we have to think about in order to protect ourselves. Stay safe.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Speak Up.

So I have been back at school for about three weeks now. I guess you could say I am back into the swing of things if you consider my apartment being constantly dirtied (and re-cleaned, of course!), starting my off campus acting class and leading a social life that is the most vibrant as "back into the swing of things!" I like to see it more as "fulfilling my greatest potentials," if you will. But in my three weeks back, I have noticed a lot of things that I want to share. I'll start off today with one that I think is important. First thing to note is that it is never my intention to cause discomfort in any of my readers, but rather to raise awareness and allow individuals to be realize the realities of the world we live in.

I have this friend--Jen*. I previously knew of her, but this year we have gotten to know each other on a much more complex level for reasons I won't disclose. We definitely do not share similar personalities, and we live different lifestyles. I have my reservations, as I am sure she does with me, but all in all, under our particular circumstances, we balance each other out fairly well. We hangout.

Just a few days ago, she was recounting one of her "weekend tales" to me, expecting to hear nothing more than what I have heard in the past from her. "I was trying to figure out if he was cute enough to go home with, but my beer goggles were too strong so I really don't know. But it's whatever. It was a good time." I listen, of course, as a good friend should do, but for the past three weeks, I have heard her preach statements such as this one more so than not. What am I supposed to do? I don't know her well enough to criticize her choices, as what she has been doing, for lack is better words, is NOT my style.

But then it all halted. And it halted for a reason I wish it hadn't. At first, it was casual when she was describing to me how she woke up to a guy who was "having fun" with her while she had a faint recollection of the night prior. Out of respect for her, I won't further any details, but after a few days, it started to eat her alive. She even said and I quote, "I feel really crummy about it. Almost taken advantage of." As I stated before, she is not one of my best friends. I am still getting to know her, so I would never want to intrude on her private life. However, she was clearly trying to let her denial heal her.

But here is my input--That, to me, is rape. She should feel crummy about it. But not because of her choices from that night. Despite my difference in opinion on promiscuity, her choices are up to her, and it is not my place to lecture on what is right/wrong in the world. However, she should feel crummy about it because what was done to her is simply not okay. And I take two lessons from this that I think are way too important not to share. One, set yourself up for success. Have a plan going out at night so that alcohol and drugs will not take control of your psych. Be aware of what is being fed to your body, and only allow yourself to have that control. Tell yourself that YOU are in control. And believe it. Second, if for whatever reason, you find yourself in this type of situation, know that you are not at fault. Do not feel ashamed. Like I encouraged Jen to do, take action, and do not be afraid to tell someone. Whether it happened yesterday, a week ago a year ago and so on, have the courage to express yourself and become a stronger version of yourself.

Whether she will take my advice, I do not currently have an answer. But I offered my support, encouraged her to seek help, and am always there to listen.

*All names have been changed for privacy reasons

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tips For Taking On The World!

So you're back at school for another year…or maybe, this is your first. Either way, college has the capability to be some of the best years of your life. Trust me--I know. I just started my junior year today, and I have never been happier. Filled with friends (who turn into family), fun and adventure, being a part of the current "college demographic" is something that should be enjoyed and is something that should be cherished. Whether or not people give us a hard time for our generation norms, the bottom line is, we have some pretty awesome times ahead of us, and happiness is a great quality that affiliates itself with being a "social media savvy twenty-something."

With that being said, college is also a dangerous place. Not to scare anyone, but it is unfortunately true. However, do not fret! The goal is to be aware--not paranoid--about these situations. Prevention is key. So, go out and have your fun! Meet new people, socialize, learn as much as you can! But do so in style. Do so with class. Do so being on the defensive, and convey an attitude of friendly confidence.

Four starter tips to help all of you college students embrace everything the world has to offer:


First and foremost (and probably the most obvious)- be aware of what is going on around you. Take an extra moment to look around you and feel out the environment. Who is near you? What are they doing? Locate all emergency exits no matter where you are--the classroom, the bar, the gym. You never know when it will come in handy.


Is something wrong? A little off? Don't ignore it. I am an avid believer in this rule. I cannot tell you the amount of times I have gotten up and walked out of a venue, or a restaurant or even my school library, because someone was making me feel uneasy. Do not be afraid to go with your instinct, because majority of the time, your feel it for a reason. Your sixth sense is trying to tell you something!


Do not use up all the bathroom time in the morning so your roommate doesn't have time to shower. No, that is not the selfish I am talking about here. What I do mean however, is to put yourself first in regards to safety. Who cares if someone bought you a drink? Referring back to rule number 2, go with your gut, don't be afraid to turn things down if you feel it will in the end, best benefit you. Someone giving you a bad vibe? Do whatever you need to do to avoid communication. Bottom line--whatever is best for your continual safety, is what should be done. Despite who's feelings you may hurt, or what friendships you may be testing, the number one importance is you. No questions asked.


Personally, I always carry a little extra cash around with me in case of emergencies. However, evaluate what will come in handy for you to use! A debit card, an ID, a set of keys? Always be prepared for the unexpected, and always walk around knowing you are set for any situation.

Just some food for thought, while still making the most out of your experience in school!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Let Me Introduce Myself!

Confidence. A word I have come to know quite well over the past few years. Confidence in life, confidence in others, but most importantly, confidence in YOU, are all things we strive for, and as I sit here on my computer trying to surf the web for an appropriate quote that will give some relevance for all of you out there reading, I realized that by just simply introducing myself, opening up my world, and sharing my story, I can originate my own form of inspiration.

So with that, I am going to start off with a HUGE hello! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Marissa Accordino, and I am ready to take on the world and share it with you as I see it! A little bit of background information—Currently, I am a rising junior at Ithaca College, working to obtain my Bachelor of Science degree in Integrated Marketing Communications with a double minor in Theater and Legal Studies. I absolutely adore public speaking, singing, acting, dancing, going to the gym, eating chocolate (I know, what a contradiction)…. Heck, the list really never ends. But out of all of these things, one thing I pride myself in is advocating for what I believe in, and trying to be the best leader I can be.

Before I ventured into the collegiate world, I was a high school student like most of us. It seems like ages ago, but I woke up at seven every morning, attended my classes, did my homework, participated in my fair share of extracurricular activities and earned myself decent grades. Lather, rinse, and repeat. And while I wouldn’t change some of my high school experience for the world, I also felt that some of it was at most, typical. I was very simple and shy, I had my close group of a few friends, I was overweight, and around those that I did not know, I was reserved and for lack of better words, self-conscious. Sure, I knew that I had great qualities to offer, but the fact of the matter is, until I realized my own potential, I didn’t really believe that they could be recognized.

That is where the National Organization for Women’s Safety Awareness comes into play. As a dedicated Girl Scout of Nassau County, it was only protocol that I obtained the highest-level award known—The Girl Scout Gold Award. I have always been a paranoid person, so when trying to decide what I wanted to be the primary focus of my project, the answer was a no-brainer. Although I had never actually been the recipient of forceful harm or assault, I always had some type of sixth sense where I could perceive danger when it was in close proximity to me. And believe me—I hated the feeling. So there I was, once again surfing the web like I had done countless times before, and I came across the page for the NOWSA. Nervous and introverted, I contacted Lidia Szczepanowski-Goldmsith Esq., founder, and Fran Petito, President, not really anticipating what type of impact it would have on me. I was fully aware that this type of collaboration would have an extremely positive outcome, but it wasn’t until I actually met them and officially gained the title of First Annual Teen Ambassador, that I understood how important being a part of this organization was.

By attending safety seminars and board meetings, by being featured on radio shows and in fashion shows, by learning various safety techniques and most importantly, by becoming acquainted with people who were brave enough to educate me with their message of hope, I was not only able to find my own voice against violence and assault, but I was also able to find myself. And with that newfound confidence that has carried with me to this day, I was able to, and still hope to, spread my knowledge and empower others. Because whether you realize it or not—being able to stand tall and know that you have the opportunity to influence and inspire an infinite number of people, is one of the greatest rewards.

So in short (because I know this is quite the ramble), I want to be the first person to welcome you to my new blog as the new college ambassador for the National Organization for Women’s Safety Awareness.  It is my hope to adhere to a brand new audience, expand the circle of those involved, be an honest source of information and invite you into my world as an Ithaca College student. What I see, what I hear and what I experience will all be disclosed as it relates to safety for our generation and beyond, and I can only hope that my stories will inspire others to take a stand and Be A Voice.

Lastly, I want to thank Lidia Szczepanowski-Goldsmith, Esq. and Fran Petito for granting me the opportunity to work with such an esteemed organization. It has meant more to me than you will ever know!
Stay Tuned!!!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sexual Assault Statistics - Article - Campus Safety Magazine

Here are some important sexual assault statistics that can help your institution make informed decisions when developing policies to protect your campus community. 

  • Between 20% and 25% of women will experience a completed and/or attempted rape during their college career (1)
  • More than half of raped college women tell no one of their victimization (1)
  • 80% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 30 (1)
  • 44% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 18 (1)
  • Persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability (1)
  • Juveniles (youth ages 17 and under) account for almost 90% of male victims in every type of sex crime (1)
  • 99% of people who rape are men (1)
  • In 1 in 3 sexual assaults, the perpetrator was intoxicated (1)
  • Only about 2% of all sexual assault accusations reported to police turn out to be false. This is the same rate of false reporting as other types of violent crimes. (1)
  • Victims were on a date with the perpetrator in 12.8% of completed rapes and 35% of attempted rapes (2)
  • 43% of the sexual victimization incidents involve alcohol consumption by victims and 69% involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrators (2)
  • Approximately 1 in 5 female high school students report being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner (3)
  • College freshmen and sophomore women appear to be at greater risk of being victims of sexual assault than are upperclassmen. 84% of the women who reported sexually coercive experiences experienced the incident during their first four semesters on campus. (4)
  • Students living in sorority houses and on-campus dormitories are 3 times and 1.4 times (respectively) more likely to be raped than students living off-campus (5)
  • 38% of college-aged women who have been sexually victimized while in college had first been victims prior to entering college, making past victimization the best predictor of future victimization (6)
  • At least 50% of college student sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use (7)
  • Fraternity men have been identified as being more likely to perpetrate sexual assault or sexual aggression than nonfraternity men (8)
  • College men who participated in aggressive sports (including football, basketball, wrestling and soccer) in high school used more sexual coercion (along with physical and psychological aggression) in their college dating relationships than men who had not. This group also scored higher on attitudinal measures thought to be associated with sexual coercion, such as sexism, acceptance of violence, hostility toward women and rape myth acceptance. (9)
  • 90% of acquaintance rapes involve alcohol (10)
  • 30% of the college women who said they had been raped contemplated suicide after the incident (11)
 (1) U.S. Department of Justice
 (2) National College Women Sexual Victimization
 (3) Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Abuse, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy and Suicidality
 (4) An Examination of Sexual Violence Against College Women
 (5) Correlates of Rape While Intoxicated in a National Sample of College Women
 (6) Our Vulnerable Teenagers: Their Victimization, Its Consequences, and Direction for Prevention and Intervention
 (7) High Risk Drinking in College: What We Know and What We Need to Learn
 (8) Coercive Sexual Strategies
 (9) Dating Aggression, Sexual Coercion, and Aggression-Supporting Attitudes Among College Men as a Function of Participation in Aggressive High School Sports
(10) National Collegiate Date and Acquaintance Rape Statistics
(11) Warshaw, Robin, 1994

Sexual Assault Statistics - Article - Campus Safety Magazine
Reproduced from www.campussafetymagazine.com. By Robin Hattersley Gray | March 06, 2012