The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence


November 2012

Call for submissions for the Sexual Assault Report (SAR)

A repost from End Violence Against Women International:

We are extremely pleased to announce that Joanne Archambault and Kim Lonsway are now serving as Editors of the Sexual Assault Report (SAR), an excellent bimonthly newsletter published by the Civic Research Institute.

We would therefore like to invite professionals in the field to submit manuscripts to be considered for publication in the Sexual Assault Report (SAR). SAR publishes high quality articles and reviews of books, social science articles, and legal decisions related to sexual assault. The kinds of topics that might be interesting for SAR readers include a review of a book, DVD/video, report, or social scientific article in the field. Or, professionals could write an original article on topics such as the following:

Dynamics of sexual assault crimes, including new tactics and vulnerabilities
Impact of sexual assault on children, teens, and/or adults
Communities at particularly high risk of sexual victimization (e.g., people with disabilities, Native American women, adolescents, women serving in the U.S. military)
Victim recovery and advances in therapeutic assistance
New legislative developments & implications for practice
Strategies for increasing accessibility of programs for people with disabilities and others
Program development/sustainability for SART teams
Advocacy by systems- and community-based professionals
Effective strategies for law enforcement investigation and criminal prosecution
Current issues regarding forensic medical examinations
Approaches to effectively working with the media
Particularly interesting for SAR readers are articles that bridge the gap between research and practice, to provide concrete guidance for practitioners based on empirically supported knowledge. The publication is designed to be useful for practitioners in a wide range of disciplines, including:

Victim advocates and service providers
Prosecutors and civil attorneys
Law enforcement professionals
Medical forensic examiners
Researchers and educators
Policymakers and media representatives
For more information on SAR and the Civic Research Institute please see their website at:

Because SAR is a bi-monthly publication, articles will be accepted in an ongoing way. Article length varies, typically between 500 and 5,000 words, and the format includes only the most sparing use of footnotes, tables, and no graphs or photographs. If you have any questions about format, please see the style guidelines and language policy for SAR. A sample issue of SAR is also available for you to review.

Please feel free to contact one of us to discuss any possible ideas you have for articles. We can be reached by telephone at 509-684-9800, by fax at 509-684-9801, or via email at or We look forward to hearing from you and reading your submissions!

Transgender Day of Remembrance

This month holds the Transgender Day of Remembrance. On this day show support for those among us who are targeted for violence due to their differences from the masses. Transgender individuals are one of the most vulnerable groups to interpersonal violence. Transgender individuals also have many barriers to accessing services for recourse when victimized. Transgender individuals are at a high risk of being assaulted and killed.

On Tuesday, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance to share grief over loss of friends, partners and family members who have been lost due to violence against them. The Day of Remembrance is also a day to make a commitment to pursue equality for all, display awareness and inclusiveness in your everyday life and to be a model of non-violence.

Check out your area for events. For those in the Richmond, Virginia area, below are some upcoming events:

Monday, November 12 at 6 pm – Alliance for Progressive Values Salon with Dr. Lisa Griffin, Speaker. Helen’s Restaurant, 2527 W. Main Street. (corner of Main and Robinson)

Sunday, November 18 at 7 pm – Queer Action – VCU Candlelight Vigil held at the VCU Amphitheater

Tuesday, November 20 at Noon – Transgender Day of Remembrance Flash Mob, Queer Action – VCU held at The Compass, VCU Campus

Tuesday, November 20 at Noon – Equality in the Workplace Panel, Brown Bag Lunch by University of Richmond Common Ground held at the Downtown Campus, 626 E. Broad Street, Suite 100

Tuesday, NOvember 20 at 7 pm – Transgender Day of Remembrance – Candlelight Memorial with reception to follow held at the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Richmond, 1000 Blanton Avenue.

For Richmond events check out their social network sites:


Twitter: @RVATDOR

Surviving Sexual Assault and Guilt

After working with sexual assault survivors, one of the most common themes that arises is guilt. Survivors feel guilt for not stopping an assault when they believe they could have, guilt for not pressing charges, guilt for pressing charges, guilt for putting this emotional burdon on their loved ones, guilt for disrupting the family when disclosing that a relative has been abusive.

When seeking counseling to work through an assault, guilt is usually a large topic that is addressed through a variety of methods. But one important first step is to recognize the kind of guilt you have (Grohol, 2007).

Grohol breaks this step down into “healthy guilt” and “unhealthy guilt.” Healthy guilt involves a situation when you know you have acted inappropriately, like when you’ve had that “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad, day” and the straw that breaks the camel’s back is when the barista makes you an iced latte rather than the hot one that you requested and you explode, telling them that their job can’t be that hard. As you storm out of your local coffee shop and climb into your car, you feel terribly about speaking to a person in that way and you contemplate finding a new place to get your mid-day caffeine fix. Basically, it’s the mind telling us that our behaviors need to be changed.

Unhealthy guilt, on the other hand, is when you have the same emotional reactions of self-blame, but your behavior isn’t something that needs to be reexamined. This is where the guilt experienced by a sexual assault survivor would be classified. Many survivors feel as though their actions somehow contributed to the assault taking place: they didn’t fight back, they had been drinking, or maybe they had previously had consentual sex with the offender. However, a person should be able to act in any way they choose without expecting to be assaulted; therefore, the survivor’s behaviors never need to be reexamined.

While guilt is a common reaction among sexual assault survivors, an important step in processing the assault is to understand that your actions, regardless of what they were, did not cause it.

Stages of Surviving Sexual Assault

Acute Phase

The acute phase of sexual assault trauma syndrome occurs right after the sexual assault, and can last for several weeks. The emotional response in the acute phases can be different for every survivor. Some survivors may have an “expressed” emotional response, such crying, laughing, shouting and talking—any method of letting out any emotional tension. On the opposite spectrum, other survivors may have a “controlled” emotional response, such as being withdrawn, resistant to talking, silent, distracted, numb and disconnected. The different emotional responses may seem strange to an observer, since crying is thought to be the normal response. However, there is no “normal response”—the survivor needs to express herself or himself in any way. In addition to the emotional responses, survivors will also have noticeable changes in sleeping and eating habits.

Reorganization Phase

The next phase of sexual assault trauma syndrome is the reorganization phase. During this phase, the survivor is beginning to reorganize her life after the sexual assault. However, the survivor may feel guilty or ashamed about what happened. As a result, the survivor may punish herself with unhealthy patterns, or participate in risky behavior. Sex is still a sore subject for the survivor, as she or he may find it difficult to sexually connect with anyone.

Resolution Phase

The last phase of sexual assault trauma syndrome, resolution phase, occurs when the survivor has come to terms with her or his experience. The survivor may still be angry, sad or hurt, but is focusing on moving forward. In addition, the survivor also has more control over her or his life, in comparison to how she or he felt after the assault. However, the survivor can still have flashbacks or nightmares, even years after the assault. Healing after a sexual assault is a lifelong process, and the survivor is never “over it.”

Book Review: Trauma Stewardship

Trauma Stewardship: an Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others by Laura van Dernoot Lipsky with Connie Burk

Working in a field dedicated to ending violence against others and supporting victims of violence is exposing oneself to violence and its impact on victims, families, communities and ourselves as healthcare workers. Lipsky and Burk address the often-unrecognized toll on those who work in fields focused on trauma.

They present the trauma exposure response that list the impact of violence and crime on responders: feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, a sense that one can never do enough, hyper-vigilance, diminished creativity, inability to embrace complexity, minimizing, chronic exhaustion/physical ailments, inability to listen/deliberate avoidance, dissociative moments, sense of persecution, guilt, fear, anger and cynicism, inability to empathize/numbing, addictions, grandiosity: An inflated sense of importance related to ones’ work.

Anyone who works with traumatized people can experience these feelings, experience anxiety, irritability, and sadness over the crimes that are perpetuated against others, over the amount of violence against others that happens everyday in our communities, over the lack of funding to keep up with the scope of services needed, and the amount of professional training needed.

Trauma Stewardship is an excellent resource for all of us who are service providers who respond to victims of violence and help support our communities in the aftermath of crime. She presents tools to create balance in our working lives to be more effective in our work, be present in our communities and families, and feel at peace with the work that we do.

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