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Sexual Abuse and Assault

Virginia and National Training Opportunities

Basic and Continuing Advocacy Training through the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence  Action Alliance
Basic and Continuing Advocacy Training offers advocates and staff of Sexual and Domestic Violence Agencies as well as allied professionals and community members a foundation to learn and practice many of the skills necessary to provide effective, trauma-informed responses to survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. The Basic Advocacy Training (BAT) are scheduled to be held in Richmond, VA, while the Continuing Advocacy Training (CAT) will be held at locations around the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you would like to bring a BAT or CAT to your region, please visit our website and make a request.
All BATs and CATs are $45 and the fee includes materials and lunch.
Don’t forget to use your member discount code when registering.
Not a member?  Become one here. The 2015 codes will be provided when memberships are renewed at the beginning of the year. If you have questions about how to receive your member discount, please contact us at training@vsdvalliance.org or get in touch with your staff liaison as assigned.
Upcoming training include:
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Technical Assistance Calls & Webinars
phone
These TA calls are free for member agencies of the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance. The calls will be from 10:00 a.m. -11:00 a.m. (unless otherwise noted). Click on the title to register and receive call-in information.

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Training from End Violence Against Women International 

One of the most common requests we receive is for resources associated with the neurobiology of trauma, and the implications for trauma-informed interviews, investigations, and prosecutions. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of the training and technical assistance resources we offer in this area.
Webinar on Neurobiology
We are delighted to offer a 90-minute webinar given by Dr. Rebecca Campbell on The Neurobiology of Sexual Assault. It is available for free in our webinar archives, so it can be accessed at any time.

Participants will learn about the neurobiology of trauma and its application to victims of sexual assault. By exploring how trauma affects victims’ emotions and behavior, special attention will be given to examining how the brain processes and recalls traumatic events. This will help law enforcement personnel and other professionals recognize how these concepts can be applied to sexual assault investigations and prosecutions – with the goal of improving both victim well-being and case success.
Along with the audiorecording of the webinar, we provide the slides in PDF format, with either 3 slides per page or 1 slide per page. A transcript of the webinar is also available, along with the responses to chat questions submitted by webinar participants. These questions were adapted for a general audience, and responses were co-authored by Sgt. Archambault along with EVAWI’s Research Director, Dr. Kim Lonsway.

Webinars on Victim Interviewing

 Also available is an archived webinar by Russell Strand, entitled A Paradigm Shift: The Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview (FETI). This webinar provides information on the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for successfully interviewing sexual assault victims.

We also have an archived webinar on Effective Victim Interviewing, presented by Roger Canaff and Joanne Archambault. While it does not specifically address the neurobiology of trauma and its implications, valuable guidance is provided for successfully interviewing victims of sexual assault with an eye toward criminal prosecution.

Published Articles
Another helpful resource is a short article written by Dr. James W. Hopper entitled, “Why Many Rape Victims Don’t Fight or Yell.” It appeared in the Washington Post on June 23, 2015, and provides an excellent and accessible summary of the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for victim behavior during a sexual assault.

Dr. Hopper also co-authored an article with Dr. David Lisak, entitled: “Why Rape and Trauma Survivors Have Fragmented and Incomplete Memories.” This article was posted on Time.com, and it also provides a detailed yet accessible explanation of how trauma can impact behavior and memory. The article draws helpful parallels to the scenario where a police officer is “suddenly staring at the wrong end of a gun.”

Online Resources
In the Best Practices section of our website, there are a variety of Resources as well as Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the neurobiology of trauma and trauma-informed approaches.  For example, FAQs include the following:

  • Is there any kind of test to determine whether there is an increase in certain neurochemicals as a result of experiencing trauma?
  • Are the processes involved in the neurobiology of trauma affected by mental illness or other mental health issues? Are they affected by drugs or alcohol?
  • Are there studies about the neurobiology of trauma resulting from domestic violence? Is it similar to the effects of sexual assault? Are the implications the same for conducting interviews with victims of intimate partner violence?
  • Are there any experts who can testify about the neurobiology of trauma and the implications for victims of sexual assault?
 
OLTI Module on Victim Interviewing
 
We offer an OnLine Training Institute (OLTI) module onInterviewing the Victim: Techniques Based on the Realistic Dynamics of Sexual Assault. This module was written in 2007, and although we made updates in 2013 we have not yet incorporated information on the neurobiology of sexual assault and trauma-informed approaches. Nonetheless, we recommend this training module, because it offers hundreds of pages with detailed information on topics such as:
  • Strategizing an interview approach based on case facts
  • Preparing for heightened effectiveness and avoiding common pitfalls
  • Establishing rapport and building a relationship of trust with the victim
  • Gathering information to support a successful investigation and prosecution
  • Closing the interview and following up with the victim

For victims who have a disability, even more detailed guidance is provided in the OLTI module on Successfully Investigating Sexual Assault Against Victims with Disabilities.

The only section of the Victim Interviewing module that requires caution at this point is the topic of Cognitive Interviewing. There are certainly some valuable lessons to be learned from that approach, and there is a body of research supporting its use for certain purposes, but we caution that it should not be adopted wholesale for use with sexual assault victims. When we update that module and incorporate information on trauma-informed approaches we will reduce that content and frame its utility in somewhat narrower terms (e.g., recalling specific facts, events, details).

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Other State and National Training Opportunities

National Children’s Advocacy Center – Virtual Training Center. Various free online training opportunities.

Enhancing the Campus & Community Response to Adult Sexual Assault: A Team Approach. Free. Hosted by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services. Monday, August 31, 2015 – Tuesday, September 1, 2015 — Hampden-Sydney, VA Wednesday, September 2, 2015 – Thursday, September 3, 2015 — Williamsburg, VA

National Sexual Assault Conference. September 2-4, Los Angeles, CA, $475 and up (transportation, lodging, and most meals not included), Hosted by CALCASA, NSVRC, and PCAR {Scholarships available}

reposted from the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance  and End Violence Against Women International 

Donate Stalking Education and Prevention Curriculum Programs to local schools, churches, rape crisis and domestic violence centers.

Some Resources: 

National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention – Second Step: A Violence Prevention Program

Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – Violence Prevention Curriculum for Adolescents 

Peace Over Violence – In Touch with Teens

Check out the National Sexual Violence Resource Center – National Strengths and Needs Assessment

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) has been working on a National Strengths and Needs Assessment over the last three years.  They have released the final report: Year 3 Report and Synthesis: National Strengths and Needs Assessment.

This is the final report from the NSVRC’s three year National Prevention Strengths and Needs Assessment Project, and provides a summary of the work completed during the third year of the assessment as well as a synthesis of major themes across the three year project.  The major activities of the Year 3 assessment were the completion of a national survey comparison of findings to the Year 1 survey.  http://www.nsvrc.org/publications/nsvrc-publications-assessments-reports/nsvrc-prevention-assessment-year-3-report-and

Their Summary states:

The majority of respondents defined prevention in ways that are consistent with the models that have been promoted in the field over recent years. However, consistency was much stronger among coalition staff and RPE coordinators than among staff from local programs.

Coalition staff and RPE coordinators emphasized:
 Prevention of perpetration on
 Social change and/or norms change
 Skill building for healthy sexuality
These same themes also showed up among the staff of local programs who explained prevention in ways that were consistent with the public health model.
However, a considerable proportion of staff from rape crisis programs continued to reflect an emphasis on awareness and/or risk reduction.  For some programs, awareness was mixed with at least some element of primary prevention. This may indicate challenges with translating the definitions of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention into practical strategies. The continual pull back to awareness programs is understandable in light of the:  Long history of awareness education, continued pressure from some funders to reach large audiences, and smaller time commitment required from community partners

 

On-Air for WRIR and Blogging for the Pixel Project

I am excited to begin a couple new projects in my anti-violence work.

On December 9th, my first blog on Rape in War – a small article and a list of 16 resources that range from international organizations, documentaries, books, and news articles will appear on The Pixel Project Website – 16 for 16 Days of Activism.  I am proud to be part of the 16 for 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women.  I have spent the last 6 years focused on running a local rape crisis center and centered on response and direct education for a small regional community.  It was a great opportunity and learning element to turn my focus on sexual assault in the context of war and conflict.  When looking at rape in communities, families, and organizations; you become focused on the known predator of interpersonal crime and address the issue of sexual assault with a single survivor and family.  Sexual assault as a war crime brings home the link to larger issues of sexual assault as a part of society’s response to conflict.  The numbers of victims becomes a global number and is staggering, the extended families as secondary survivors is even more staggering when looked at as a group.  My research for this simple blog brought home the enormous amount of crime that accompanies war and conflict.  Crime that is overlooked or ignored.  The impact of trauma on the survivors, the families, and the community that will carry on is equally enormous and with the reduction of resources that happens in war, will be even more difficult to address and treat.   The impact of these crimes will continue even when peace is obtained.

My other project is going to be a weekly short spot on my local radio station WRIR  (Richmond Independent Radio).  I begin taping this weekend with the spots to be starting after the New Year.  I so look forward to sharing information on the social impact of interpersonal violence (sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, dating violence, trafficking) that are at epidemic levels in our communities.  More to come!

 

Virginia’s Sexual Assault Crisis Centers are here to help

In 2010, Sexual Assault Crisis Centers in Virginia…

  • responded to 61,860 hotline calls
  • offered 50,949 hours of advocacy services to 4,903 adults
  • provided 26,570 hours of advocacy services to 2,123 children

Survivors of sexual violence who have received advocacy services from Virginia’s Sexual Assault Crisis Centers have said the following:

“I feel so strong when I am here. I feel safe, supported, and not judged.   I have more tools to help me be safe and happy in my life.”

 “My children are getting the help they need.”

 “Everything about this experience has been positive. I have learned more about myself, who I am, and what I really want in life for me and my children and have been able to set goals for myself to better our future!

  I loved my advocate. She was there for me from the beginning of it all, causing me to feel supported!!!

 “The support group was the most positive experience. I really, really had a need to hear from other women who are survivors of sexual abuse.”

  “It’s rewarding to feel good about myself and the services I’ve received have given me back my confidence.”

 Source of all data on this fact sheet: VAdata: The Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Data Collection System, 2010.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month – Virginia Facts

 

Sexual assault affects every community in Virginia

 Nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped in their lifetime while 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime. 1

 Approximately 80% of female victims experienced their first rape before the age of 25 and almost half ex­perienced the first rape before age 18 (30% between 11-17 years old and 12% at or before the age of 10). 28% of male victims of rape were first raped when they were 10 years old or younger.2

 Sexual assault profoundly affects children and teens

 56% of youth report experiences of sexual assault and coercion. 

In 2010, Sexual Assault Crisis Centers in Virginia…3

  • responded to 61,860 hotline calls
  • offered 50,949 hours of advocacy services to 4,903 adults
  • provided 26,570 hours of advocacy services to 2,123 children

  

You can help too…

  Three out of four people affected by sexual violence turn to family and friends for help before contacting a Sexual Assault Crisis Center.4

 

1 -2  National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS), 2010. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published December, 2011.

3-4      VAdata: The Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Data Collection System, 2010.

Welcome new stand alone Rape Crisis Center in Virginia

Here is a re-post from the Roanoke Times

ROANOKE SEXUAL ASSAULT CRISIS CENTER NOW ON ITS OWN FOOTING

Sarah Bruyn Jones, Roanoke Times

October 29, 2011

The Roanoke area’s sexual assault crisis center is now an independent nonprofit, as it seeks to maintain its long-standing presence in the community.

The Sexual Assault Response & Awareness program, or SARA, operated out of Blue Ridge Behavioral Healthcare until July 1, when it separated from the agency. On Friday the organization held an open house and silent auction at its new offices at 3034 Brambleton Ave. S.W. in Roanoke.

The process toward separation began in the fall of 2009, when Blue Ridge said it could no longer subsidize the administrative costs for running SARA.

Blue Ridge sought to find another administrative home for the group, but by this year, it had become clear that SARA would have to stand on its own, said Teresa Berry, who has worked for the program for a quarter-century and is now the executive director of the newly formed nonprofit.

The new organization incorporated with the state in March as Sexual Assault Response & Awareness Inc.

By May, SARA had successfully filed with the Internal Revenue Service for nonprofit status.

SARA, which provides free support services to sexual assault victims including counseling and accompaniment to court hearings, continues to operate with grants from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Berry said. SARA gets about $165,000 annually from three DCJS grants, she said.

But that doesn’t cover general fund expenses, including legal fees and other startup costs, she said. To cover those expenses, Berry has put in about $8,000 of her own money and received another $6,000 from donors.

Friday’s open house was intended, in part, to kick off some needed fundraising. Berry said she would like to add three more people to her staff, which currently includes herself and one other person.

SARA serves about 350 victims a year and has recently seen an increase in need, particularly among young adults and teenagers, she said.

“We need to be doing more education,” she said.

The Continuum of Sexual Abuse

Many people ask what are the definitions of sexual violence/abuse.  Today’s column focuses on identifying what is sexual abuse/violence, rape, and coercion.

The Continuum of Sexual Abuse

Abuse of Sexuality is harassment that occurs when somebody does not conform to traditional gender stereotypes or being punished through the use of sex.

Witness Activity is showing a child pornographic materials and unwanted exposure to one or more other people engaging in sexual behavior.

Advances/Seduction is unwanted sexual advances and situations in which seductive dynamics are disguised or confusing.

Coercion is being pressured into participating in unwanted sexual activity.

Physical manipulation is placing a child’s hand on another person’s genitals or other body location(s) that stimulate a response and touching a child’s genitals or other body locations.

Sexual Invasion(coerced or forced) is the insertion or penetration of any orifice of a child’s body with a penis, finger, or an object of any sort and may involve the use of weapons, alcohol, drugs, etc.

Institutionally sanctioned sexual contact is the overt or covert sexual contact by anyone representing or perceived to be representing an institution, this may include agencies that are caretaking, religious, recreational, educational, etc.

This list was supplied by Jim Struve, LCSW at the National Sexual Assault Forum being held this week in Alexandria, Virginia

New Protective Orders in Virginia

Starting July 1, 2011, Virginia has made some changes to its Protective Order Laws (HB 2063/SB 1222).  These changes were made to simplify the protective order process in Virginia; provide equal access to Protective Orders for victims of sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence; and to provide equal protections through court/law enforcement response to violations of protective orders for victims of sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.   These changes are:

Changes to Family Abuse Protective Orders: The definition of Family Abuse has now been revised to specifically include stalking and sexual assault within the definition.  There have also been changes in the relief provisions.  The new definition of Family Abuse is:  “any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury and that is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member.  Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault in violation of Article 7 (& 18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury. 

Changes in Family Abuse EPO, PPO, PO-Relief Provisions:  prohibits acts of family abuse “or criminal offenses that result in injury to person or property.”  Additionally, prohibits such contacts “by the respondent with the petitioner or family or household members of the petitioner” as the court deems “necessary for the health and safety of such persons.”

Changes to Acts of Violence Protective Orders: acts of violence or “behaviors” will be same as that of the new definition of family abuse, added the elimination of warrant requirement, applies the Law Enforcement Response for violations: “Pro-Arrest” provisions, and the 34rd or subsequent violation = Class 6 Felony.

There are new definitions of Acts of Violence, Force or Threat: that states, “Acts of violence, force or threat” means any act involving violence, force, or threat that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault, or bodily injury.  Such act includes, but is not limited to, any forceful detention, stalking, criminal sexual assault in violation of Article 7 (&18.2-61 et seq.) of Chapter 4 of Title 18.2, or any criminal offense that results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of death, sexual assault or bodily injury.

Changes to Acts of Violence – Eligibility: deletion of references to specific acts, such as sexual battery, aggravated sexual batter, serious bodily injury, and stalking and replaced with references to “act of violence, force or threat” and the removal of warrant requirement.

Changes to Acts of Violence: EPO – Grounds.  Here Law Enforcement or the Victim asserts that there has been an *Act of violence, force or threat and on that assertion, the magistrate finds that there is probably danger of a further such act being committed by the Perpetrator against the alleged victim or a petition or warrant for the arrest of the Perpetrator has been issued for any criminal offense resulting form the commission of an act of violence, force, or threat. 

Changes to Acts of Violence: PPO-Grounds.  Here a petition alleging the petitioner is or has been subjected to an act of violence, force or threat or a petition or warrant for the arrest of the Perpetrator has been issued for any criminal offense resulting from the commission of an act of violence, force, or threat and may be issued ex parte upon good cause shown.  The immediate and present danger of any act of violence, force or threat or evidence sufficient to establish probably cause that an act of violence, force, or threat has recently occurred shall constitute good cause. 

Changes to Acts of Violence: PO-Grounds. Here, a petition, warrant or conviction for any criminal offense resulting from the commission of an act of violence, force or threat has been established and a hearing held pursuant to subsection D of &19.2-152.9 (PPO Statute). 

Acts of Violence EPO, PPOs, PO – Relief Provisions: prohibits acts of violence, force or threat or criminal offenses resulting in injury to persons or property; prohibit such contacts by the Perpetrator with the alleged victims or such victim’s family/household members as the judge/magistrate deems necessary to protect the safety of such persons and such other conditions as the judge/magistrate deems necessary to prevent (i) acts of violence, force or threat, (ii) criminal offense resulting in injury to person or property or (iii) communication or contact of any kind by the Perpetrator. 

Court/Law Enforcement Response to Violations of Acts of Violence Protective Orders: makes consistent misdemeanor and felony penalties for violations of Family Abuse Pos and violations of non-Family Abuse Pos.; pro-arrest measure of violations of Pos or &18.2-57.2 will be added to violations of Acts of Violence PO; Law enforcement may request an extension of an Acts of Violence EPO, not to exceed 3 days, for a victim who I physically or mentally incapable of filing a petition for a preliminary or permanent protective order.

This is a lot to take in!  So to Recap:  These changes creates one standard for getting protections for victims of family abuse and for victims of other acts of violence, including sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence.  It removes the criminal warrant requirement for the protective order issued by the General District Court, and adds enhanced penalties for violation of the protective order issued by the General District Court so that the penalties are the same as those for violating the Family Abuse Protective Order.  Additionally, it requires law enforcement to make an arrest for violation of a protective order issued by the General District Court (Pro-Arrest provision). 

If you need further information, please call the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance at 804-377-0335 and ask to speak to Gena Boyle.

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