On May 17, I had the opportunity to work and attend Joyful Heart’s 4th Annual Gala at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. As Joyful Heart’s Advocacy & Communications Associate, I was part of a team that informed attendees of one of Joyful Heart’s biggest advocacy efforts–ending the rape kit backlog–and helped them take action to do so. The night epitomized what’s so incredible about Joyful Heart’s supporters and why this work is so important.
As most events do, ours had a theme, How Will You Join? (The Joyful Revolution). In 2009, at Joyful Heart’s second Gala, the Joyful Revolution was born: a movement of our collective vision for a community that collaboratively ends the cycle of violence and abuse by turning toward the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. At last year’s Gala, the Revolution Continued as we honored the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which changed the way violent crimes against women are prosecuted and prevented.
At this year’s Gala, we asked the question How Will You Join? And it was answered in amazing ways throughout the night.
We started off with a letter writing campaign to members of More >
Polly Poskin, Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault, took some time to speak with me about her work to end sexual violence in Illinois, the progress on there on the rape kit backlog and the culture of violence against women. Her words were incredibly informed and powerful and this transcript hardly seems to do them justice. We are pleased to be sharing this interview with you today.
Sarah Tofte: Polly, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me today. Let’s talk a bit about how you got interested in working on violence against women issues.
Polly Poskin: In college, I focused on women’s history for my graduate degree. That was a time when we were learning about the women’s movement. So much of the focus was improving access to education, improving employment opportunities and expanding daycare. And we got into reproductive rights. Our women’s movement focused on educational opportunities for women, equal pay, child-bearing and child-caring issues and the right of a woman to control her body. We never talked about domestic violence and rape. I wasn’t aware of those More >
We’re continuing our feature of stories from survivors of rape and sexual assault who have been affected by the backlog of untested rape kits. Today, Natasha shares her story with us. We thank her and honor her courage in sharing what she has experienced.
“How do you pick up the threads of an old life? How do you go on, when in your heart you begin to understand: there is no going back? There are some things that time cannot mend; some hurts that go too deep, that have taken hold.” –Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
J. R. R. Tolkien has a knack for putting thoughts into words that I, alas, do not. How could I possibly put into words my journey and all the events that brought me to where I am today?
In 1993 I was violently raped, sodomized and robbed at gunpoint by an unknown assailant. When I escaped and thankfully found myself in my apartment, my roommate insisted that I go to the hospital. I agreed to wait for an ambulance, even though my first instinct was to take a shower. I am so very grateful today that I made that choice.
In the early 1990s, DNA More >
Today we have a guest post from Rebecca Carman, LCSW, a social worker with the Elmhurst Hospital Center SAFE program in New York City. Identifying a need to compile and share the best practices for responding to sexual assault victims in the hospital, she created The SAFE Coordinator’s Handbook in 2010. The handbook has been used by professionals across the country and internationally to better respond to victims of sexual violence. Today, the author shares the impetus behind the handbook and what went into making it happen.
I came to work at Elmhurst Hospital Center as Coordinator of the Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE) Program in 2004. As you may know, these Emergency Department-based programs ensure state-of-the art care for victims of sexual assault.
My role was to coordinate the 24-hour SAFE on-call team, take care of basic program administration and serve as in-house consultant. Gaining momentum nationwide for the past decade or so, SAFE programs—also known as SANE or SAE programs–are a welcome advance: they ensure sensitive and expert care to victims of sexual assault, reduce waiting times and strive for restoration of safety and control to patients.
Elmhurst Hospital, my then-new place of employment, is one of the eleven facilities comprising the New More >
Many of us are aware of the personal costs of sexual violence. We may have seen friends, family members, neighbors and colleagues navigate their lives in the in the aftermath of sexual assault or abuse. Maybe a roommate had a lock put on her bedroom door in order to manage her fear, a co-worker may have become distracted at work and seemed depressed after a “bad date” or someone in our own family may stop attending family events to avoid his perpetrator. People that experience this type of abuse suffer in varied and disparate ways, but there is a commonality in that harm is done and the personal costs are steep.
A new document produced and distributed by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence outlines some other costs of sexual violence. The document addresses the economic, health care and systems costs associated with sexual violence. It notes that:
- Each rape costs approximately $151,423;
- In 2008, violence and abuse constituted up to 37.5% of all health care costs, or up to $750 billion total;
- Rape is the most costly of all crimes to its victims, with total estimated costs at $127 billion a year (excluding the cost of child sexual abuse);
- Sexual abuse interferes with women’s More >