The V Word

Advocating to end sexual and domestic violence



It’s All in the Genes: How Trauma is Woven into Our DNA

Very Excited to be offering this webinar Tuesday for the Action Alliance…

August 16, 2016 10:00 am

It’s All in the Genes: How Trauma is Woven Into Our DNA

Register Here

Presented by Carol Olson, Licensed Professional Counselor, Board-certified Art Therapist, and Development Director for the Action Alliance.

Intergenerational trauma is not a new concept for advocates helping survivors deal with their past and present. Now, science is taking this concept even further – suggesting that our genes can carry memories of trauma experienced by generations past and that this can influence how we cope with stress and trauma. The implications of this new science on how services are provided to survivors of trauma are profound.

This webinar will examine this new science and how it can transform the provision of services to survivors.

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 or get in touch with your staff liaison as assigned.
Upcoming training include:
Technical Assistance Calls & Webinars
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.


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, 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).


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 

January is National Stalking Awareness Month – Training at W&M

To register for the below conference, go to Questions can be
directed to Shawna Gray

FREE – January 22, 2010 – 9AM-5PM
The College of William & Mary
Presented by the National Center for Victims of Crime: Stalking Resource
Sponsored by the York County Violence Against Women Task Force & Sexual
Assault Services of the College of William & Mary

January is National Stalking Awareness Month, a time to focus on a crime
that affects 3.4 million victims a year. Stalking is a crime in all 50
states and the District of Columbia, yet many victims and criminal
justice system professionals underestimate its seriousness and impact.
Stalking is difficult to recognize, investigate, and prosecute. Unlike
other crimes, stalking is not a single, easily identifiable crime but a
series of acts, a course of conduct directed at a specific person that
would cause that person fear. Communities that understand stalking,
however, can support victims and combat the crime.

This training will offer practical information about recognizing
stalking and understanding its impact on the victim. This training
offers two “tracks.” The first track is primarily aimed toward law
enforcement, prosecutors, and other professionals who work within the
criminal justice system. The second track is primarily aimed toward
community advocates, school personnel, and mental health counselors.
The training also includes a session on creating a coordinated community
response to stalking.

The training is located on the campus of the College of William & Mary
at the Sadler Center. This training is free. Registration includes a
parking pass, continental breakfast, and an afternoon snack. Lunch is
‘On Your Own.’ Parking is readily available at the W&M Hall Parking
lot, which is about a 3-5 minute walk from the Sadler Center. Anyone
who has accessibility needs can be accommodated in a closer lot, if

Pre-registration for this training is required.
To register, go to,
click on the date of the training, and select ‘REGISTER.’ Directions
and maps will be emailed to registrants prior to the event, along with a
parking pass.

In-service credits for Law Enforcement have been requested.


7:30-8:30AM Registration

7:30-8:30AM Continental Breakfast

8:45AM Welcome

9:00AM Stalking: Prevalence, Lethality, and Impact
Recent national data indicates that 3.4 million people are stalking in
one year in the United States; yet stalking is a crime that is often
misunderstood, minimized or missed entirely. This session will address
the dynamics of stalking, including stalking behaviors and the impact on

Participants will be able to:
1. Define stalking and list common stalking behaviors.
2. Give general statistics on the prevalence of stalking.
3. List potential harms victims can experience, including homicide, and
reasons all stalking cases should be taken seriously.

10:15AM Break

10:30AM Break-out Sessions
Breakout 1: Investigating/ Prosecuting Stalking
This session will address considerations for the investigation and
prosecution of stalking. Information relevant to first responders as
well as detectives will be covered and well as tips for prosecutors.

Participants will be able to:
1. Identify components of an effective investigation, including victim
interview, suspect interview, determining crime scene, and collection of
2. Provide victims and service providers with information on documenting
3. Identify necessary corroborating evidence for improved prosecution
of stalking cases.

Breakout 2: Teens and Stalking
This session will address issues unique to stalking among teens. We
will provide a review of recent research on the use of technology in
stalking and harassment against teens. The session will also include
discussion on other ways dating violence and stalking are affecting
teens in our country and an exploration of the social trend of
normalization of stalking in youth and teens.

Participants will be able to:
1. Identify stalking behaviors (not necessarily criminal) amongst youth
and teens and the different dynamics of the stalking of teens.
2. Understand the use of technology in teen dating relationships and how
technology can be misused to stalk and abuse teens.
3. Recognize the ‘parent/adult knowledge gap’ in the use of technology
and other teen stalking behaviors and discuss ways to close that
knowledge gap.

11:45 PM Lunch on Your Own

1:00PM – 2:15PM Break-out Sessions:
Breakout 1: Working with Stalking Victims
The session focuses on the impact of stalking on victims and how those
working with stalking victims can assist with safety, documentation,
advocacy, and support.

Participants will be able to:
1. Determine the different legal system responses available to stalking
victims (e.g., criminal – various charges, state statutes and civil
remedies – protective orders and civil tort claims).
2. Identify four main areas of need for stalking victims: safety,
advocacy, documentation and support.
3. Advise stalking victims to disengage from stalker and engage in risk
reduction behaviors.
4. Apply best practices of advocacy model to working with stalking
Promote use of logs and other documentation/evidence collection
techniques when working with stalking victims.

Breakout 2: The Use of Technology to Stalk
This session focuses on how stalkers have used technology such as
computers, video cameras, and global positioning systems to stalk.
Evidence collection and safety considerations will be discussed.
Participants will be able to:
1. Name several different types of technology and how it is used in
stalking, including how technology is used to advance other stalking
2. Discuss how technology might impact their work and how to integrate
that knowledge into investigation, evidence collection, and safety
3. Articulate challenges posed by technology and needed system changes.
Identify areas where their stalking laws might be deficient in covering

2:15 PM – 2:30PM Break

2:30PM – 3:45PM Breakouts
Breakout 1: Threat Assessment/ Safety Planning
The session will provide simple tools that responders can use to assess
the threat posed by a stalker. Participants will learn how to identify
and respond to various risk behaviors and how to work with victims to
develop a safety plan.

Participants will be able to:
1. Define threat assessment (e.g. analysis of situation that may
demonstrate which individuals pose what risk at what times).
2. Identify elements of victim-centered threat assessment (based on
victim experience, level of fear, history of behaviors, etc.).
3. Determine most dangerous time for victims (separation, when PO
served, significant life event, increased contact with victim).
4. Practice safety planning with stalking victims.

Breakout 2: Stalking on Campus
Research indicates that stalking is all too prevalent on college
campuses. This workshop will explore the nature of stalking on campus,
including the intersection of stalking and sexual assault. We will also
discuss steps campuses can take to respond to stalking on campus,
including policy development, educational programming, and working with
Participants will be able to:
1. Discuss how stalking on campus differs from stalking in general.
2. Recognize the link between stalking and sexual assault on campus.
3. Identify resources for victims on campus and in the community.
4. Develop a framework for a campus response to stalking.

3:45PM – 4:00PM Break

4:00PM – 5:00PM Developing a Coordinated Community Response to Stalking
This session will examine the elements and benefits of a coordinated
community response (CCR) to stalking, including the steps necessary in
developing a CCR. Examples will be shared from communities who have
created a stalking CCR.

Participants will be able to:
1. Identify benefits of developing a CCR to stalking (why CCRs are
particularly beneficial to helping stalking victims).
2. Apply practices/systems of other CCRs, task forces, network groups to
development of stalking specific CCR.
3. Discuss elements of success in Links in Chain video example.
4. Develop initial design for local CCR to stalking.
5. Determine which members of local community would be assets in their

5:00PM Dismissal

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