Beyond the Backlog
Last week, at the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, federal education officials went to work to raise awareness of and improve the response to sexual assault on college campuses. The focus of their efforts is to implement effective prevention and response strategies.
In a press release issued last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that, “every school would like to believe it is immune from sexual violence but the facts suggest otherwise…Our first goal is prevention through education. Information is always the best way to combat sexual violence. Our larger goal is to raise awareness to an issue that should have no place in society and especially in our schools.”
In an investigation in 2010, NPR found that, “colleges almost never expel men who are found responsible for sexual assault and that often, as a result, it is the victim who drops out of school.” While the Department of Education’s campaign doesn’t introduce new regulations to combat that problem, it aims to reinforce those that already exist, reminding schools that they have a responsibility to the 20 percent of college women who become victims of sexual assault on campus.
Our efforts to end the backlog of untested rape kits, the collection of evidence from victims’ bodies that wait to be tested in police and crime lab storage facilities throughout the country, are part of a larger movement to change the response to sexual violence in the United States–one that recognizes the importance of justice and healing and one that demonstrates to survivors that each and every one of their experiences and cases is important.
April 1 marked the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (#SAAM for our Twitter followers). You can read a message from Joyful Heart’s Executive Director, Maile Zambuto, on the Joyful Heart Blog here and read more about it it on our website.
At the beginning of every week here on the Backlog Blog, we are going to be sharing with you some statistics about the nature of sexual violence and the response to sexual violence. We start today with some commonly cited numbers many of you might already have seen.
One of Endhtebacklog.org’s policy focuses is on ensuring healing and justice for survivors of sexual assault. There’s a lot of people behind this effort and we have tremendous respect for the work of those who help others cope with trauma. This work is not always easy. Today Chris Vargo, Joyful Heart’s New York Manager of Programs shares a bit about vicarious trauma and Joyful Heart’s Heal the Healers program.
Last month, the Joyful Heart Foundation brought individuals from two important worlds together to highlight a commonality between them: their shared risk for developing symptoms of what is known as vicarious trauma (VT).
The JHF Heal the Healers program views the community of individuals who have committed their lives to provide services to and seek justice for survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse as healers, and we believe our healers must take care of mind, body and spirit. For this particular workshop, we brought together criminalists from the largest Medical Examiner’s Office in the United States, the NYC Office of the Chief Medical Examiner’s (OCME) Forensic Biology Department and the New York County Assistant District’s Attorneys (ADAs).
Both of these teams are integral to the efforts to achieve justice for victims of crime and More >