SHATTERED LIVES with Donna R. Gore, “LadyJustice”
Examining the effects of those who have survived violent crime and how it has impacted their lives.
Real people, real tragedy, real help.
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Individuals with disabilities, Native American women, immigrants, LGBT individuals, and other members of marginalized communities face high rates of sexual violence. This increased violence can be partially attributed to society’s attitudes about these communities and to laws and policies that prevent them from accessing justice. Anna Doroghazi, the Director of Public Policy and Communication at Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, will talk about why certain communities are more likely to experience abuse and what efforts are currently underway to make this abuse less likely.
The hour may not be enough to fully discuss all of the points below, but promises to be filled with information!
1. Update on the Richard Fourtin case (Connecticut’s Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a man found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman who can only communicate at a 3-year-old’s level.)
- Summary of the State Supreme Court decision
- What the court decision means
- Advocacy efforts underway to fix the problem
- What people can do to get involved in advocacy efforts
2. Sexual assault and people with disabilities
- Statistics about sexual violence and people with disabilities
- Why are rates of abuse so high?
- Individuals with disabilities are often not seen as sexual beings and are therefore deprived information about their bodies and sexual health. When people are denied the information necessary to describe and understand their own bodies, it is difficult for them to identify and communicate abuse.
- Our society does not always acknowledge the fact that individuals with disabilities have a right to control their own bodies. Therefore, persons with disabilities are not taught that their body is theirs and that they can decide what happens to it.
- People with disabilities are often taught to be compliant and not question the authority of parents, care providers, teachers, and other people in their lives. This sends the message that it is more important to do what you are told than to do what is comfortable.
- Because people with disabilities sometimes need assistance with tasks like getting dressed, bathing, or toileting, it is assumed that they do not have a right to privacy. Not acknowledging an individual’s right to privacy encourages the idea that they can be touched or looked at without their permission.
- What can be done to address this problem?
- Provide developmentally-appropriate information about body parts and sexuality.
- Teach that everyone has control over their own body and has the right to non-comply.
- Acknowledge that everyone has a need for privacy and model respect for privacy.
3. Sexual assault and marginalized populations
- Certain communities face higher rates of sexual violence, including immigrants, LGBT individuals, and Native Americans
- Each of these communities has been pushed to the margins through laws and policies – this can make it difficult or impossible for victims to access law enforcement when a crime occurs
- Why would it make sense for offenders to target members of these communities?
- When offenders are able to target anyone in our society, it makes all of us less safe
- What could be done to improve the safety of marginalized populations?
4. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)
- What is VAWA?
- What would VAWA have done to address violence in marginalized communities?
- What happened to VAWA during the last Congress?
- What needs to happen to get VAWA passed now that the new Congress is in place? (It looks like a new version of VAWA will be introduced this week, so this will be perfect timing!)
- How can people advocate for the passage of VAWA?
Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services, Inc. (CONNSACS) is a statewide coalition of individual sexual assault crisis programs. CONNSACS works to end sexual violence through victim assistance, community education, and public policy advocacy. CONNSACS’ mission is to end sexual violence and ensure high quality, comprehensive, and culturally competent sexual assault victim services.
The SAFE Program provides care in a way that benefits both sexual assault victims and participating hospitals. Typically, victims wait in emergency departments for several hours before a physician or nurse becomes available to set aside several hours to provide care for the patient and complete the evidence collection process. In many cases, healthcare providers are not very familiar with the process which may lengthen the time that the victim remains in the emergency department.
CONNSACS offers presentations and trainings for statewide organizations and agencies.
Talking about sexual violence is important. Everyone can have a role in preventing sexual violence and ensuring support for victims. Do you have an interest in learning more about ending sexual violence and responding to disclosures of sexual violence? We welcome the opportunity to hold an in-service, workshop or training.
- The Violence Against Women Act is on life support (washingtonpost.com)
- With Rape Leading Headlines, VAWA Stalls at Home (blogs.forward.com)
- Protect Against College Date Rape (everydayhealth.com)
- No real answers on ‘death’ of Violence of Women Act (tv.msnbc.com)
- Rape and people with disabilities (dmitryev.wordpress.com)
- ‘A victim is a victim is a victim’… the women left behind by VAWA expiration (tv.msnbc.com)
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