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Posts Tagged ‘criminal justice system’

RCASA’s Friday Facts: Sexual Assault and the Criminal Justice Process Pt. 3

In Advocacy on September 16, 2011 at 6:00 am

Testifying in Court

Before testifying in court, the victim will receive a subpoena (an order to appear in court). Here are a few suggestions on preparing to testify as a witness. If the victim wants to visit the courtroom before the trial, encourage her to contact the prosecutor assigned to the case.

Tips for crime victims on testifying in court

  • When trying to decide what to wear, it is important to be comfortable, but you should dress respectfully for the court. Your choice of clothes will make an impression on the jury. Think about how you want the judge and jury to percieve you.
  • It might be helpful to plan to have other support persons (family members or friends) with you while you are waiting to testify. They do not have to be in the courtroom while you testify. If you do not want them in the courtroom at that time, tell them in advance.
  • Try to be early to give yourself extra time and to avoid additional stress.
  • When your name is called to testify, take a slow, calming breath and remind yourself that you are strong and will be just fine.
  • Speak up clearly, especially if there is no microphone.
  • Always tell the truth to the best of your memory.
  • If you don’t understand a question, tell the attorney before answering.
  • Pause when there is an objection and wait for the judge’s response.
  • Only answer the specific question you have been asked, don’t elaborate.
  • If you can, try to have good eye contact with the attorneys, the judge or the jury when you answer the questions. It is up to you if you want to look at your offender.
  • Be ready for delays and postponements. Delays are common.

RCASA’s Friday Facts: Sexual Assault and the Criminal Justice System (Part 1)

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on September 2, 2011 at 6:00 am

The criminal justice process can be overwhelming and frustrating for rape survivors and their loved ones. While they are learning about this new system, they are also trying to emotionally heal from the sexual assault. Sometimes, these two aspects are in conflict. The victim may be trying to move on with her/his life and trying to “forget” details of the rape, yet the criminal justice system requires that she remember and repeat these details in testimony to the police, the prosecuter, and to the court.

For some crime victims, if the end result is favorable (a conviction and sentence they wanted) the criminal justice system can be a part of their recovery. It can validate that what happened to them was wrong and that they are not to blame for the crime. However, for some victims who do not have a favorable experience with this system, it can create additional treatment issues– particularly if the victim felt she was not believed or was treated in such a way that it caused further harm. If you are the friend or family member of someone who has been sexually assaulted, your role is very significant in helping the survivor move through this process in a way that demonstrates respect for her decisions and reinforces that no matter what the end result with the courts, her well being and ability to move forward in life are most important.

Some points for rape survivors to know about reporting the crime:

  • Sexual assault victims deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Not all reports to the police or children’s services will go to court.
  • If the case goes to trial, it does not mean the offendor goes to prison.

Reporting What Happened

It is the victim’s decision to report the crime to law enforcement unless the victim is a minor or developmentally disabled. If the victim is a minor, the crime could be reported to the police and children’s protective services even if the minor does not want it to be reported. In all states, teachers and counselors (including Psychologists and Social Workers) are required by law to report any suspected child abuse. If the case involves a developmentally disabled adult or elderly abuse, it could be reported to adult protective services for further investigation.

Occasionally, a parent (or someone else) may report the crime, even if the adult victim does not want law enforcement notified. However, the police need the victim’s cooperation to proceed with their investigation. In most cases, if the victim will not assist in the prosecution of the crime, the police will not pursue criminal charges. The exceptions to this would be cases involving minors, or in some areas, cases involving domestic violence where mandatory arrest policies are strictly enforced (regardless of the victim’s willingness to testify).

The Police Interview and Evidence Collection

The police interview is the first of many steps in the criminal justice process. The investigation can include many other aspects, such as: collecting evidence at the crime scene; collecting medical evidence from the victim; reviewing mug shots or a line up; helping the police artist with a composite drawing of a suspect; interviewing the suspect; and possibly using a lie detector test as part of the investigation.

The evidence collection examination at the hospital is an important part of the case although it is usually a very difficult experience for rape victims. Here are some important points about the evidence collection exam:

  • This evidence collection exam is sometimes called “the rape kit” or PERK (Physical Evidence Recovery Kit). Medical evidence is best collected right after the assault or within 48 hours after the assault. A doctor or nurse at a hospital department usually completes the rape kit exam.
  • The exam involves collecting evidence from the victim’s body that could help prove the assault. It involves taking samples of pubic hair, as well as saliva, vaginal or seminal fluid.
  • Rape victims can refuse to participate in any part of the exam, but the more evidence that is collected, the stronger the case will be.

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“Coping with Sexual Assault:  A Guide for Professionals and Volunteers Working with Sexual Assault Victims” copyrighted by Sugati Publications at www.SugatiPublications.com

 

RCASA’s Saturday Prevention: Working With Kids In Juvenile Detention

In Advocacy, Education, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on September 4, 2010 at 8:00 am

The US has a problem with juvenile violence. The concern focuses on punishment and very little on prevention or intervention.

No corner of America is safe from increasing levels of criminal violence, including violence committed by and against juveniles. Parents are afraid to let their children walk to school alone. Children hesitate to play in neighborhood playgrounds. The elderly lock themselves in their homes, and innocent people of all ages find their lives changed by the fear of crime.

This recent increase in violent crimes committed by juveniles has caused a shift from goals of rehabilitation to those of retribution and deterrence. Many states have opened juvenile proceedings to the public when a minor is charged with a violent crime that incites community outrage.

Among teens in juvenile detention, nearly 2/3rds of boys and nearly 3/4 of girls have at least one psychiatric disorder. These rates place detained teens on a par with those at highest risk, such as maltreated and runaway youth.

The number of youth held in adult jails on a daily basis exceeds 7,500; and the number of
youth prosecuted as an adult is approximately 200,000. In a 2007 study commissioned
by the Campaign for Justice, Jolanta Juszkiewicz, Ph.D., authored, “To Punish a Few:
Too Many Youth Caught in the Net of Adult Prosecution.” Dr. Juszkiewicz found that
two-thirds of that approximately 200,000 were subject to pre-trial detention in adult
facilities.

Minors are granted special civil rights to education, training, medical, and emotional care that are unique to children. These rights are extremely difficult to enforce in an adult jail facility. An adult jail facility lacks the resources, specialized staffing, and the physical plant to deliver the required services.

Youthful offenders often present behavior problems when placed in general population.
These same juveniles are more likely to be victims of brutal crimes that may include sexual
assaults. Again, our ability to effectively manage the juvenile’s safety is tenuous at best. Most of the time we are forced to put them in protective custody or in some form of administrative segregation for their own protection. This amounts to an additional punishment, inasmuch, as the juvenile is in an isolation cell for the majority of the day.

Prevention is always cheaper than correction.  It is time to ensure our juvenile court system is designed to protect the welfare and rehabilitation of youthful offenders. We desperately need a system that will recognize that 99% of these juveniles will return to communities; and it is up to us to decide how they will return.

Evidence supports counseling strategies both for offenders, particularly juveniles, to reduce re-offending, and for victims, to prevent negative mental health and life course outcomes associated with abuse.

Things to Do When Working with Juvenile Survivors of Sexual Abuse and

Exploitation . . .

  • Learn what you can about sexual abuse and the impact on survivors
  • Learn about self-abusive behaviors as a coping skill and teach new ways to cope
  • Be prepared to listen to the survivor’s experiences and feelings
  • Be prepared to handle their fear of going to sleep, nightmares, flashbacks, and their ability to “dissociate”
  • Examine your own belief system about victims and abuse
  • Know the juvenile’s social histories ~ from birth on
  • Deal with your own victimization issues if you have any ~ this will impact your ability to help juveniles
  • Facilitate good communication between other service providers regarding the juvenile’s victimization issues
  • Inform juveniles of mandatory reporting laws; give survivors choices in how to deal with abuse reporting if they disclose
  • Be aware that what survivors report may only be a small part of what they have experienced
  • Know when you are in over your head and need help ~ refer to a person for expert help, but stay connected
  • Let them know you care about them no matter what has happened to them
  • Teach juveniles new coping skills to manage the effects and impact of abuse
  • Assist juveniles in repairing the important relationships in their lives that have been impacted by the abuse (juveniles will choose which relationships they wish to work on)
  • Partner with community sexual assault and domestic violence programs
  • If you are a survivor, and feel comfortable with sharing this, let the girl / boy know that you know what it’s like and that you are there to tell her/him that she/he can heal from the abuse with help and support.
  • Do this only if you have a good connection with the juvenile.
  • Set boundaries and only share this information if it will benefit the juvenile
  • Do not personally disclose if it’s for your own benefit and especially if you have not dealt with your own victimization
  • Provide juveniles with readily accessible resource books, information and people

Things NOT to Do . . .

  • Tell juveniles they have to talk about their abuse with you or anyone else
  • Wait until after a survivor discloses abuse to you and then tell them “Oh by the way, I am mandated by law to report this…”
  • Blame survivors for the abuse they have experienced
  • Feel sorry for victims and look upon them as helpless, hopeless and “damaged” for life…
  • React with disgust, revulsion and anger at what girl / boy might tell you about their
  • experiences
  • Be judgmental about the ways in which the juvenile coped with their abuse
  • Turn away from the juvenile because you can’t handle their victimization
  • Assume juveniles you work with are victims
  • Assume juveniles you work with are not victims
  • Tell juveniles details about your own victimization

RESOURCES FOR JUVENILES AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

General Information – Web Sites, Books, Etc.

Sexual Abuse in America: The Epidemic of the 21st Century by Robert Freeman-Longo, Geral Blanchard, Euan Bear (Editor), Safer Society

Stop It Now! The Campaign to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

http://www.stopitnow.com/

PANdora’s Box – by Dr. Nancy Faulkner

http://www.prevent-abuse-now.com/

Darkness to Light

http://www.darkness2light.org/

Red Flag / Green Flag Resources

http://www.redflaggreenflag.com/

RAINN (Rape, Assault, Incest National Network)

http://www.rainn.org/index.php?PHPSESSID=7e88edf91cf1eeb16abac5a73b3ee665

Sexual Abuse – A SIECUS Annotated Bibliography

http://www.siecus.org/pubs/biblio/sexual_abuse.pdf

Child Sexual Abuse – Intervention and Treatment Issues; An On-Line User Manual Series by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

http://nccanch.acf.hhs.gov/pubs/usermanuals/sexabuse/index.cfm

SEXUAL ABUSE AND EXPLOITATION: COURAGE TO HEAL: A Guide For Women Survivors Of Child Sexual Abuse

Ellen Bass & Laura Davis Good education tool for teens and providers, and to help older teen survivor’s of abuse.

I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Edited by Ellen Bass and Louise Thornton

Broken Feather: A Journey to Healing

Suznne Stutman 1996, Manor House Publishing.

“Through the enchanted world of poetry and prose, Dr. Stutman takes us on a spine-chilling personal journey from the buried depths of child abuse through the labyrinth of remembrance to the dawn of healing”.

BEGINNING TO HEAL: A First Book for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Ellen Bass Companion book to Courage to Heal – geared much more for teens.

WHY ME?

Lynn B. Daugherty Help for children who are victims of sexual abuse.

Excellent resource for children, preteens, teenagers who have are developmentally delayed.

In Their Own Words: A sexual abuse workbook for teenage girls

Lulie Munson and Karen Riskin, 1995, Child Welfare League of America

How Long Does It Hurt: A Guide to Recovering From Incest and Sexual Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friends and Their Families

Cynthia Mather with Kristina Debye, 1994, Jossey Bass Publishers

Shining through: Pulling It All Together After Sexual Abuse (for girls ages 10 & up)

Mondy Loiselle and Leslie Bailey Wright, 1992 Safer Society Press

Outgrowing the Pain: A Book for and About Adults Abused as Children

Eliana Gil, 1983, Dell

Legacy of the Heart: The Spiritual Advantages of A Painful Childhood

Wayne Muller, 1992, Simon and Schuster

AM I BLUE?: Coming Out From the Silence

Edited by Marion Dane Bauer

Very good book that addresses teens’ struggling with their sexual identity and how this effects their lives and relationships, provides support for teens.

BEGINNING TO HEAL: A First Book for Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

Ellen Bass Companion book to Courage to Heal – geared much more to teens.

Girls’ Circle: Promoting Resiliency and Self-Esteem in Adolescent Girls Curriculum

http://www.girlscircle.com Phone: (415) 883-8580

BOY V. GIRL: How Gender Shapes Who We Are, What We Want, and How We Get Along

George Abrahams and Sheila Ahlbrand

Examines gender stereotypes, a fun book for teens

BROKEN FEATHER: A Journey to Healing

Suzanne Stutman Poetry and prose on one woman’s path of healing from abuse.

CHOICES: A TEEN WOMAN’S JOURNAL FOR SELF-AWARENESS AND PERSONAL PLANNING

Mindy Bingham, Judy Edmondson, Sandy Stryker

Helps girls recognize their future need to be independent, self-reliant and productive human beings, and convince them that they can control their future options.

COOL WOMEN: The Thinking Girl’s Guide to the Hippest Women in History: Edited by Pam Nelson, written by Dawn Chipman

“Imagine fifty stories of the bravest, wildest, most glamorous women in history, all told in a way that every girls can understand… Girls today need books just as strong as they are.”

COURAGE TO HEAL: A guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse.

Ellen Bass & Laura Davis

DEAL WITH IT! A Whole New Approach to Your Body, Brain, and Life as a Gurl

Esther Drill, Heather McDonald, and Rebecca Odes

Based on issues posted by girls on the popular http://www.gurl.com website, this book serves as a resource guide for girls on all types of issues including sexuality, puberty, hormones, and relationships.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FOR BEGINNERS

Alisa Deltufo

Unique feminist picture book that offers a variety of perspectives on domestic abuse, including historical examples and attitudes about abuse, as well as resource information.

ERICA’S CHOICES: Alternatives to Running Away A workbook for teens.

To obtain a copy call: Missing Children Minnesota (612) 521-1188.

FIGHTING INVISIBLE TIGERS: A Stress Management Guide For Teens

Earl Hipp

FINDING OUR WAY: The Teen Girls’ Survival Guide

Allison Abner & Linda Villarson

Excellent book for teen girls talks about their lives and gives them really good resource info and support.

FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT Teens Write About How they Triumphed Over Trouble

Edited by Julie Lansmen published by Fairview Press

GIRL POWER: Young Women Speak Out! Personal Writing from Teenage Girls Hillary Carlip

“GIRL POWER is an extraordinary collection of writing by teenage girls from every part of American society. At a time when the lives of girls and young women are so often ignored, reduced to statistics, or turned into political footballs. Hillary Carlip brings us the powerful voices of teenage girls themselves.” Marie C. Wilson, President, Ms. Foundation for Women.

GIRLS & YOUNG WOMEN INVENTING

Frances Karnes & Susan Bean 20 true stories about inventors and their inventions.

GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN LEADING THE WAY

Frances A. Karnes and Susan M. Bean — Twenty true stories about leadership.

GIRLS SPEAK OUT: Finding Your True Self

Andrea Johnson “… takes girls on a rare and positive journey where they discover strength in being female and understanding how they can stay powerful.”

IN LOVE AND IN DANGER

Barie Levy

A teen’s guide to breaking free of abusive relationships/dating violence.

INSPIRATION SANDWICH Stories to Inspire Our Creative Freedom

SARK

“This book is food for your soul, and a bubble bath for your spirit! It is a guide to keeping your creativity alive.”

OPHELIA SPEAKS: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Self

Sara Shandler

“Ophelia Speaks culls writings from the hearts of girls nationwide, of various races, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds.”

OUTGROWING THE PAIN:A Book by and for Adults Abused as Children

Eliana Gil

Discusses patterns and behaviors common in adults who were abused. Gentle, lighthearted book aims to help survivors break habits and patterns. For adults, but could be used by older girls.

RESPECTING OUR DIFFERENCES: A Guide to Getting Along in a Changing World

Lynn Duvall “Encourages young people to become more tolerant of others and savor the rich diversity of America’s changing culture.”

SHINING THROUGH: Pulling it Together After Sexual Abuse

Mindy B Loiselle and Leslie Bailey Wright

For girls 10 and up, this book includes activities and checklists to assist younger girls in understanding and healing from sexual abuse.

SPEAKING OUT

Susan KuKlin

Teenagers talk about race, sex and identity.

STORIES FROM MY LIFE: Cassandra Walker Talks To Teens about Growing Up Cassandra Walker

“Full of wisdom tempered by humor, this book encourages young people to believe in themselves.

SUGAR IN THE RAW: Voices of Young Black Girls in America

Rebecca Carroll

“…chorus of voices from black girls between the ages of 11 and 20. The 15 interviews are meditations on what affect black ‘girlchildren’ today.

TAKING CHARGE OF MY MIND AND BODY: A Girls’ Guide to Outsmarting Alcohol, Drug, Smoking, and Eating Problems

Gladys Folkers, M.A. and Jeanne Engelmann

This book tells the truth about addictions, sheds light on mistaken beliefs, and gives girls the skills and knowledge they need to take good care of themselves, overcome life’s obstacles, safeguard their futures, reach their goals and be the capable, self-assured, successful young women they’re meant to be. For ages 11-18.

THE FAMILIES BOOK: True Stories about Real Kids and The People They Live With & Love

Arlene Erlbach

Very good book for kids to explore families.

THE KID’S GUIDE TO SERVICE PROJECTS

Barbara A. Lewis

Over 500 ideas for young people who want to make a difference.

THE MAID OF THE NORTH Feminist Folk Tales From Around the World

Ethel Johnston Phelps

“21 folk and fairy tales featuring women as heroic, clever figures rather that the usual roles of docile maiden in distress or villainous ogre causing distress. They are delightful takes from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds.”

THE POWER TO PREVENT SUICIDE: A Guide for teens Helping Teens

Richard E. Nelson and Judith Galas Free Spirit Press

TOTALLY PRIVATE AND PERSONAL: Journaling Ideas for Girls and Young Women

Jessica Wilber

Jessica, who is 14 yrs. old, encourages girls to “keep a journal to celebrate life, understand themselves and discover the power of their own voices.” Includes advice on puberty and growing up, inspiring quotes and activities.

WHEN A FRIEND DIES

Marilyn Gootman

Good book on grief and loss for teens.

WHY ME?

Lynn B. Daugherty

Help for children who are victims of sexual abuse.

Excellent resource for children, preteens.

YOUR BODY, YOURSELF

Alison Bell & Lisa Rooney, M.D.

A guide to your changing body.

MAGAZINES FOR GIRLS AND YOUNG WOMEN

TEEN VOICES: A Magazine By, For And About Teenage And Young Adult Women

Call (888) 882-8336 NOT like “Seventeen” magazine – teens talk about real life and promote the value of females.

THE NEW MOON MAGAZINE

Written by and for girls ages 8 to 14. Call 1-800-381-4743.

RESOURCES FOR BOYS AND YOUNG MEN

MaleSurvivor – Overcoming the Sexual Victimization of Boys and Men

http://www.malesurvivor.org/index.htm

Abused Boys: The Neglected Victims of Sexual Abuse by Mic Hunter

Alone and Forgotten : The Sexually Abused Man by Rod Tobin

Betrayed as Boys: Psychodynamic Treatment of Sexually Abused Men by Richard B. Gartner

Broken Boys/Mending Men: Recovery from Childhood Sexual Abuse by Stephen D. Grubman-Black

Beyond Betrayal : Taking Charge of Your Life after Boyhood Sexual Abuse by Richard B. Gartner

Diagnosis and Treatment of the Young Male Victims of Sexual Abuse by William Breer

Everything You Need to Know When You Are the Male Survivor of Rape or Sexual Assault by John LA Valle

If He Is Raped: A Guidebook for Parents, Mates, Friends by Alan W. McEvoy (Editor), Jeff D. Brookings (Editor), Debbie Rollo (Editor)

Leaping upon the Mountains : Men Proclaiming Victory over Sexual Child Abuse by Mike Lew, Richard Hoffman

Male Sexual Abuse: A trilogy of Intervention Strategies by John C. Gonsiorek, et al

Male on Male Rape: The Hidden Toll of Stigma and Shame by Michael Scarce

Memories of Sexual Betrayal: truth, Fantasy, Repression, and Dissociation by Richard B. Gartner (Editor)

Males at Risk: The Other Side of Child Sexual Abuse by Larry A. Morris, Frank G., Jr. Bolton, Ann E. MacEachron

Male Victims of Sexual Assault by Gillian C. Mezey (Editor), Michael B. King (Editor)

Opening the Door: A Treatment Model for Therapy With Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse by Adrienne Crowder

Psychotherapy With Sexually Abused Boys: An Integrated Approach (Interpersonal Violence, the Practice Series, 12) by William N. Friedrich

Speaking Our Truth: Voices of Courage and Healing for Male Survivors of Chilhood Sexual Abuse by Neal King

Sexually Abused Male: Application of Treatment Strategies by Mic Hunter (Editor)

Treating Sexually Abused Boys: A Guide for Therapists & Counselors by Lisa Camino

The Courage to Heal Workbook: For Women and Men Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse by Laura Davis

The Male Survivor: The Impact of Sexual Abuse by Matthew Parynik Mendel

Wounded Boys Heroic Men: A Man’s Guide to Recovering from Child Abuse by Daniel Jay Sonkin, Lenore E. A. Walker

BOOKS FOR PARENTS AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

A WOMAN’S BOOK OF LIFE: The Biology, Psychology and Spirituality of the Feminine Lifecycle

Joan Borysenko

BLUES LEGACIES AND BLACK FEMINISM

Angela Davis

“Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday weren’t just singing the blues, they were giving working class black women advice on topics from love to law ~ and laying the foundation for a feminist awakening.”

BOYS AND GIRLS LEARN DIFFERENTLY! A Guide for Teachers and Parents

Michael Gurian

Based on brain research, explains differences in how boys and girls learn and offers tips on reaching both boys and girls.

BRAVE NEW GIRLS: Creative Ideas to Help Girls Be Confident, Healthy, and Happy

Jeanette Gadeberg

CIRCLE OF STONES: Womans Journey To Herself

Judith Duerk

Thought provoking, & healing guide journal for women.

Resource Lists for Women and Girls Compiled by Paula Schaefer, NIC Technical Resource Provider for Meeting the Needs of Juvenile Female Offenders, FY2003, 2004, 2005, 2006.
General Resources, and Resources for Men and Boys Compiled by Leslie LeMaster, National Institute of Corrections, FY2006
For more information contact RCASA at 540.371.6771 or education@rcasa.org

RCASA’s Sunday Blog: The Benefits Of Having An Advocate In Your Corner

In Advocacy, Outreach on August 8, 2010 at 10:06 am

A Fredericksburg jury was unable to decide whether an 86-year-old man sexually abused a teenage girl he picked up March 29, 2010. John William Sinnett of Spotsylvania was charged with sexual battery and abduction with the intent to defile. The latter charge carries a potential life sentence. A judge dropped the abduction charge during Sinnett’s trial in Fredericksburg Circuit Court, leaving the jury to deal only with the misdemeanor sexual battery charge. After deliberating several hours, the jury announced that it could not reach a unanimous verdict, and Judge H. Harrison Braxton Jr. declared a mistrial.

Sinnett was on home electronic incarceration at the time of the incident for a sexual battery conviction in Spotsylvania, but had gotten permission to go get a tire for his lawn mower.  The jurors were not told about Sinnett’s criminal record, which includes sexual battery convictions in Spotsylvania, Westmoreland and Arlington.

There are no adequate words to describe what the courtroom was like.  It was surreal.  So if it is surreal for the advocate, can you imagine the impact to the victim?  The perpetrator had a great deal of support in the courtroom, he was able to have his church community rallying behind him for support.  Yet, the victim had few people there to support her.  This is a real life unbalance in cases of sexual assault.

Sexual assault is oppressive and demeaning in nature and is best described as a sexual expression of aggression, control, and/or power inequality. Victims are extremely concerned about people finding out and finding reasons to blame them for the assault. Victims are often reluctant to report a rape because they are afraid that others will blame them, their families and other people will find out, details of their lives will be disclosed, their names will be made public by the news media and yes, the court proceedings may add even more trauma to an already traumatic situation.

The effects of trauma are disempowerment and disconnection from others. The objective of recovery is to empower the client and establish new connections. Having an advocate in your corner can greatly assist with this part of healing process. The more the client learns to trust and find support in the advocate relationship, the more the client will have the capacity and strength to work through the assault and move forward.

An advocate can offer a relationship—free of judgment, coercion, and betrayal—to each client. The unique advantage of victim advocates is that they can maintain an exclusive focus on the safety and well-being of their clients. Research has found that assault survivors who had the assistance of an advocate reported that they experienced less distress after their contact with the legal system (Rebecca Campbell, 2006).

If you need Advocacy for a Sexual Assault case call RCASA for more information: 540.371.6771

RCASA Upcoming Event: National Night Out

In Advocacy, Outreach on July 30, 2010 at 9:02 am

National Night Out is a community-police awareness-raising event held the first Tuesday of August. The event has been held annually since 1984 and is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch in the United States and Canada.

The event is meant to increase awareness about police programs in communities, such as drug prevention, town watch/Neighborhood Watch, and other anti-crime efforts.

Initially communities held lights-on vigils. Now, many communities hold block parties, festivals, and other events to help bring neighbors together.

National Night Out was developed by Matt Peskin of the National Association of Town Watch in 1984. That year there were 2.5 million participants in 400 communities. In 2006 there were over 35.2 million participants in 11,100 communities.

National Night Out is a unique community event, celebrated in the United States and Canada, that focuses on prevention of crime and drug activity, and is held the first Tuesday of August every year.

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT is designed to:

  • Heighten community awareness of crime and drug prevention;
  • Generate support for, and participation in, local anti-crime programs;
  • Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and
  • Send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back
  • Promote emergency preparedness awareness

Head to the Target parking lot in Massaponax for the 27th annual National Night Out hosted by the Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office. The event is from 6 to 8:30  p.m. There will be free food (hotdogs, barbeque and chicken sandwiches) provided by Famous Dave’s and Chick Fil A, and Pepsi’s and water.

There will be barrel train rides and face painting for the kids, and representatives from Spotsylvania County fire and rescue system, the motorcycle unit demo, K-9 unit, VA State Police, Neighborhood Watch, Crime Solvers, Victim Witness and other volunteer organizations.

Go have some fun and meet some local law enforcement officials, fire and rescue volunteers and other folks in the community.

RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Virginia Leads The Way In The Elimination of Rape Kit Backlog

In Advocacy, Outreach, Sexual Assault Awareness on July 28, 2010 at 12:41 pm

90,000 women reported they were raped in the United States last year. It’s estimated another 75,000 rapes went unreported. But while rape convictions are up questions have been raised  about just how many rapists are actually being brought to justice.

Despite advancements in DNA identification and forensic technology, it still remains difficult to prosecute rape crimes.

Rape in this country is surprisingly easy to get away with. The arrest rate last year was just 25 percent – a fraction of the rate for murder – 79 percent, and aggravated assault – 51 percent.

A five month CBS News Investigation has found a staggering number of rape kits — that could contain incriminating DNA evidence — have never been sent to crime labs for testing.

Police departments say rape kits don’t get tested due to cost – up to $1,500 a kit — a decision not to prosecute, and victims who recant or are unwilling to move forward with a case.

In New York City, prosecutors are very aggressive – testing every rape kit, even in cases of acquaintance rape – over 1,300 last year alone. The results are stunning. Today New York City’s arrest rate for rape is 70 percent – triple the national average. Testing kits in acquaintance cases can tie suspects to other attacks.

Nearly a decade ago, the Justice Department launched a $600 million effort to eliminate the backlog of untested DNA evidence sitting in crime labs and police departments nationwide. But at the same time, the Justice Department, along with Congress and state legislatures, began a push to have law enforcement collect more DNA, including from people convicted for nonviolent crimes— or simply arrested for — nonviolent crimes, including shoplifting. Because of these changes, underfunded and understaffed crime labs are now flooded with DNA samples. At least 350,000 DNA samples from murder and rape cases remain untested, according to the federal government’s best estimates.

Virginia’s government was among the first to require DNA samples from arrestees and has no arrestee sample backlog. Advocates for expanded DNA testing point to the Virginia lab as a model: a lab that can handle samples from wide swaths of the population where the arrestee samples are prioritized so they can be analyzed before a suspect is released. Its case backlog includes several dozen cases in a Virginia post-conviction DNA testing project that involves decades-old evidence. The program’s goal  is to identify people who may have been wrongfully convicted.

The lab doesn’t have a target date for eliminating the backlog.  The lab is working consistently to minimize the number of cases affected so they can best serve the citizens of the Commonwealth.

RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Action Alliance 2010 Dating Violence State Law Report Card

In Advocacy, Outreach on July 21, 2010 at 8:00 am

Access to Protective Orders

Dating Violence Protective Orders in Virginia


Access to Protective Orders

People in Dating Relationships: Virginia has two types of Protective Orders (PO): 1) Family Abuse Protective Orders; and 2) Stalking, Sexual Battery, and other Acts of Violence Protective Orders. People in dating relationships may be eligible for one or both of these POs. If they have a child in common or have lived together in the past 12 months, they may be eligible for a Family Abuse PO. If not, she or he may be eligible for a PO in cases of stalking, sexual battery, and/or acts of violence (VA Code 19.2-152.8, 152.9 & 152.10) if a criminal warrant has been issued.

Minors: Virginia law neither prohibits nor explicitly permits minors from petitioning on their own behalf for a Family Abuse Protective Order or a Stalking, Sexual Battery, and other Acts of Violence Protective Order. Nor does the law specify any different procedures to be followed by petitioners who are minors as is the case where a protective order is sought on the minor’s behalf in cases of child abuse and neglect.

Definition of Prohibited Conduct

Per Virginia Code 16.1-279.1, in cases of family abuse, a judge may issue a Family Abuse PO. In Code Section 16.1-228, family abuse is defined as “any act involving violence, force, or threat including, but not limited to, any forceful detention, which results in bodily injury or places one in reasonable apprehension of bodily injury and which is committed by a person against such person’s family or household member.” While the definition of family abuse does not explicitly recognize stalking, harassment or sexual abuse, these are not excluded either and in some jurisdictions it may be possible to obtain a Family Abuse PO for an act of stalking, harassment or sexual abuse that is committed against a family or household member.

In addition, VA statute provides for a separate PO for victims of stalking, sexual battery, and other acts of violence. This PO is available to any person regardless of the relationship with the respondent. However, unlike the Family Abuse PO, a criminal warrant must be issued for the offense before a petitioner may seek a protective order for stalking, sexual battery or other acts of violence.

Relief Available

Family Abuse Protective Orders: There are three different Family Abuse POs: 1) Emergency Protective Order; 2) Preliminary Protective Order; and 3) Protective Order. There is a wide range of relief available that varies based on the type of PO being issued and the relationship of the petitioner and respondent. The types of relief that the judge may order include, but are not limited to:

• Stay away from the petitioner;

• Pay child support;

• Vacate the petitioner’s residence;

• Participate in counseling or batterers’ intervention program;

• Provide petitioner exclusive use/possession of property;

• Pay attorney’s fees; and/or

• Comply with a custody/visitation schedule;

• Other relief within the court’s discretion.

Stalking and Acts of Violence Protective Order: The relief available from a Stalking and Acts of Violence Protective Order are more limited than those provided by a Family Abuse Protective Order primarily because there is no requirement that the petitioner and the respondent be in any kind of “relationship.” The judge may order the following relief:

• Prohibiting criminal offenses that may result in injury to person or property, or acts of stalking;

• Prohibiting contact by the respondent with the petitioner or the petitioner’s family or household members;

and/or

• Other relief within the court’s discretion.

For more information and resources visit http://www.vsdvalliance.org, email publicpolicy@vsdvalliance.org, or call our 24-hr Virginia Family Violence and Sexual Assault

Hotline at 1-800-838-8238 (v/tty)

The Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (The Action Alliance) is a coalition of people and agencies in Virginia that envisions a world where relationships between people are healthy, respectful, and safe.

We have been dedicated to ensuring that unmarried partners were not excluded from the protections provided in Virginia’s domestic violence laws and expanding protections for victims of dating violence, including minors. While we are pleased that remedies now exist for victims of stalking, sexual assault, and dating violence, we are concerned that these victims are required to pursue criminal prosecution to qualify for Protective Orders and that Virginia law does not explicitly provide minors the right to petition for a Protective Orders. We are committed to reducing barriers for all victims, clarifying current laws and procedures, and identifying comprehensive solutions.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Recommendations for

Immediate Policy Change

In order to improve Virginia’s response to teen dating violence, the following changes are recommended:

• Clarify state policy regarding minors’ rights to petition for protective orders on their own behalf and promote consistent practice in Virginia.

• Conduct a comprehensive review of Virginia’s Protective Order legislation in order to improve access and simplify procedures.

• Create civil remedies for victims of dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault available regardless of whether the respondent is the subject of criminal prosecution.

RCASA’s Wednesday Outreach: Adult Services

In Advocacy, Art therapy, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness, Therapy, Trauma on July 14, 2010 at 8:00 am

RCASA offers advocacy services to victims of sexual assault and their families. Services for adults include the 24-hour crisis line, medical advocacy for SANE exams, legal advocacy, counseling, referrals and prevention education.

What services do you provide for adults?

  1. 24-hour crisis and information hotline
  2. Crisis counseling
  3. Medical advocacy
  4. Legal advocacy
  5. Counseling for survivors
  6. Other referrals as needed
  7. Support for secondary survivors/victims

What is this service?

  1. 24-hour crisis and information hotline – 1.540.371.1666
  2. Crisis counseling – in person or over the phone, a crisis can include anything from assistance following an assault to working through emotions that may have come up due to a trigger(s), reminding the survivor of the events of her/his attack- a crisis is unique to each person
  3. Medical advocacy – emotional support to survivors during medical exams, evidence collection and/or follow-up treatment. This service can be utilized even if the survivor chooses not to report.
  4. Legal advocacy – emotional support throughout prosecution of the offender, this may also include attending and preparing for court hearings, explaining the legal process and/or working with the Victim’s Assistance Program through the courthouse.
  5. Counseling for survivors – we are trained in working with victims of sexual assault and abuse, we can offer assistance with payment of counseling if the client does not have the means to pay or does not have insurance.
  6. Other referrals as needed – this can include assistance with locating resources for food, clothing, housing, work, etc. We understand that an assault or past abuse ripples throughout all aspects of our lives and we are here to help.
  7. Support for secondary survivors/victims – offering support as well as helpful information to friends, family members and partners of the primary survivor, supporting a survivor’s support system in turn supports the survivor.

Who is eligible for this service?

For all… Any individual whose life has been affected by sexual violence, past or present.

Is it confidential?

Yes.

How do I enroll in this service?

For all services, make contact with the center either by calling the hotline at any time, or by calling the office line and speaking to our Intake Specialist.

Who do I contact for more information about this service?

You may call the hotline at any time, or call the business line (540.371.6771)

Anything additional that someone would need to know about this service?

Our services are designed to support survivors in any way they need. We can help you to explore options and will never make decisions on your behalf or pressure you in any way.

Adult Resources

Books

I Never Called it Rape, Robin Warshaw
The Ms. Report on recognizing, fighting and surviving date and acquaintance rape

The Rape Recovery Handbook, Aphrodite Matsakis
Step-by-step help for survivors of sexual assault

Recovering from Rape, Linda E. Ledray
Practical advice on overcoming the trauma and coping with police, hospitals and the courts — for the survivors of sexual assault and their families, lovers and friends

Voices of Courage, edited by Michael Domitrz
Inspiration from survivors of sexual assault

The Courage to Heal, Ellen Bass and Laura Davis
A guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse

Websites (sites will open in a new window)

Pandora’s Aquarium, An online support group, message board and chat room for survivors of sexual violence.
http://www.pandys.org

Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network
http://www.rainn.org

Men Stopping Violence
http://www.menstoppingviolence.org

Male Survivor, Overcoming Sexual Victimization of Boys & Men
http://www.malesurvivor.org/

Center for Disease Control
http://www.cdc.gov

RCASA’s Saturday Prevention: Reaching Rural Communities

In Advocacy, Education, Outreach, Prevention, Sexual Assault Awareness on July 10, 2010 at 8:00 am

When sexually assaulted in a rural community, victims often find that opportunities for medical, legal or emotional services are very limited, or even non-existent. Their economic situation and geographic isolation may further limit their options. Strong community ties in rural areas mean that a victim is more likely to be acquainted with the perpetrator than in urban settings. Finally, rural culture tends to be close-knit, self-contained, often conservative and unlikely to turn to “outsiders” for assistance. Together these characteristics result in low rates of reporting, limited opportunities for victim services, and difficulties for service providers. In other words, a victim of sexual violence in a rural community is not likely to report to police or to locate or access services.

The vast majority of sexual assaults in this country are non-stranger sexual assaults, and for rural communities this is particularly true. For the nation, Rennison (1999) reports that 7 in 10 rape and sexual assault victims knew their assailants. In rural areas, where there is generally less anonymity, or as Ruback and Menard (2001) explain, where there is high acquaintance density, the likelihood of knowing the perpetrator is even greater. Furthermore, studies quite consistently point to the importance of the victim-offender relationship in predicting reporting (Ruback 1993; Pollard, 1995; Ruback & Menard, 2001). “The closer the relationship between victim and assailant, the less likely the woman is to report the crime” (Hunter, Burns-Smith, Walsh, 1996).

RCASA is working to expand the scope of our Rural Services program to more fully address Sexual Assault, Dating Violence, and Stalking Assistance.  RCASA’s goal is to expand cooperative efforts and projects between our agency, other programs serving domestic violence and sexual assault victims, and medical/forensic services already established for the urban and suburban communities to include more comprehensive sexual assault services and to provide training, technical assistance and data collection to improve the capacity of community partners to offer services for victims facing the unique challenges and barriers to receiving assistance that exist in rural locations.

RCASA is pursuing program goals in three main areas: expanding rural services to encompass a more integrated approach, training staff, volunteers, and allied partners on the unique issues surrounding sexual assault in rural counties, provide more timely and appropriate response to sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking victims, and development of brochures and information packets in both English and Spanish to distribute to the greater community. Our objectives are to: expand sexual assault, dating violence and stalking assistance to include: medical/forensic accompaniment, legal advocacy for those pursuing prosecution, case management for those with multiple needs; to provide training, technical assistance, and data collection to improve the capacity of grantees and other entities to offer assistance to victims; to provide quality information, education, and resources to victims in both English and Spanish on the comprehensive services available in the community to address multiple needs resulting from victimization.

Rural communities have cultural characteristics that require understanding and sensitivity. Both victims and advocates face a difficult set of circumstances. RCASA is working to recognize the unique set of problems and  promote culturally sensitive training and response.

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