NYSCASA Monthly Digest — March 2022

NYSCASA’s Monthly Digest is a monthly publication that highlights news, events, and resources to support survivors and advocates.

To submit announcements for inclusion in NYSCASA’s Monthly Digest, email [email protected] with “Newsletter” in the subject line.

To receive the Monthly Digest in your email inbox, sign up for NYSCASA’s mailing list at bit.ly/NYSCASAnews.

Announcements

ACTION ALERT: Join Us in Calling on the Legislature to #FundTheGap Created by Federal VOCA Cuts

New York’s victim assistance programs are struggling to provide services to survivors of sexual and gender-based violence right now. Without immediate intervention, thousands of New Yorkers would be unable to access critical life-changing services, programs may be forced to close, and advocates could lose their jobs. This would coincide with continued increased need for services amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, particularly for disproportionately impacted BIPOC and other marginalized communities.

Survivors and victim advocates need stability now, more than ever. Governor Kathy Hochul has already agreed to designate $14.4 million from the state’s general revenues to the state Office of Victim Services to temporarily cover the shortfall. Now, it’s up to the Legislature to follow suit by dedicating $25 million to ensure victim services remain available beyond 2023. Otherwise, New York’s most vulnerable citizens will have nowhere to turn when seeking help.

Join us in calling on the Legislature to fund the gap created by federal VOCA cuts.

Please consider tweeting, posting to Facebook, Instagram, or contacting your legislators directly, signaling that we maintain our request for $25 million in their one-house budget resolution to support victim services.

Here are some sample tweets you can use:

  • Crime victim survivors thank @GovKathyHochul for protecting NY’s victim services. Now we need the Legislature to do the same. #FundtheGap
  • TY @GovKathyHochul for recognizing the needs of NY’s crime victims. We urge the Legislature to dedicate $25 million to ensure all victims get the help they need. #SaveVOCA
  • @CarlHeastie @AndreaSCousins We urge you to follow @GovKathyHochul’s lead and protect New York victims’ right to obtain help when they need it. $25 million will ensure services remain available. #FundtheGap
  • It’s essential that New Yorkers continue to receive counseling, legal representation, and other support to build lives free from violence. @CarlHeastie @AndreaSCousins #FundtheGap

NYSCASA Stands with Tracy: Statement on District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s Pending Decision Towards Survivor Tracy McCarter

The New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault joins advocacy groups across New York State in urging Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to use his prosecutorial powers to immediately drop the charges against domestic violence survivor Tracy McCarter. We are also calling on DA Bragg to significantly adjust the Manhattan DA office’s policy on criminalizing survivors of gender-based violence moving forward. This matter must be addressed with swift urgency.

Learn more and take action:

Invitation to Survivors to Share Your Story with Common Justice

The Fair Access to Victim Compensation Campaign, headed by Common Justice, invites survivors/victims who are age 18+ who have tried to access victim compensation funds in the past to share their stories in an interview. These interviews will inform the campaign’s priorities, messaging, and future actions. $50 gift cards are available for eligible interview participants.

How to Participate:

If you’re interested in participating or if you have any questions about the process, please contact Alice at 347-461-3653 or [email protected] and leave your contact information.

Upcoming Events and Training Opportunities

RAFT Advocates Support Call

March 2 at 2:00 – 3:00 PM ET

Join RAFT (Resilience for Advocates through Foundational Training) for their next support call for advocates. The goal of this monthly call is to provide a space for domestic violence/sexual assault advocates to share concerns, share resources and best practices, and as a place to listen and be heard.

Call-in information is below:

Join on your computer, tablet, or phone: https://zoom.us/j/5858043499

One tap mobile (audio-only):
+16465588656,,5858043499# US (New York)
+13017158592,,5858043499# US

Meeting ID: 585 804 3499
Password: raftcares!

If you have feedback or thoughts on how RAFT can best support you, your fellow advocates, and the DV/SV space, please reach out to [email protected].

Transformative Justice and Prison Abolition as Feminist Praxis: Panel and Workshop

March 2 at 6:30 – 8:15 PM ET

Ejeris Dixon from Vision Change Win and Heena Sharma from Survived and Punished NY will discuss their work on community-based approaches to ending violence, creating accountability for harm, and transforming our notions of justice.

Program:

  • 6:30-7:30 Panel discussion and Q&A with Ejeris Dixon (Vision Change Win) and Heena Sharma (Survived and Punished), moderated by Gwen D’Arcangelis. Open to the public.
  • 7:30-8:15 Workshop for Skidmore College students (breakout rooms): Ejeris and Heena will be available in separate rooms to have a conversation with registered workshop participants in a more intimate format giving students the opportunity to share their work and ask for feedback and/or perspectives from the panelists. Participation limited to Skidmore College students.

Click here to learn more and register.

Report Launch: Defending Self-Defense

March 3 at 6:00 – 7:30 PM ET

Survivors of domestic and sexual violence who defend themselves are systemically targeted for punishment by the legal system. Join Survived and Punished and the UCLA Center for the Study of Women for the launch of Defending Self-Defense, a community-based, survivor-centered research report that identifies key patterns in the criminalization of self-defense and recommendations to transform the conditions of criminalized survival. This report is produced by Survived & Punished, Project Nia, and the UCLA Center for the Study of Women.

Click here to register.

Celebrating International Women’s Day: #BreakingTheBias

March 8 at 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET

Please join Unity House’s Domestic Violence Program for their fourth annual International Women’s Day Panel, a discussion and celebration of all women. The event will be hosted virtually via Zoom.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87568636287 
Or dial-in by phone (audio only): 1 929 205 6099
Webinar ID: 875 6863 6287

Expanded Pathways to Healing: A Discussion on Victim Compensation

March 14 at 6:00 – 7:30 PM ET

Join Common Justice and the Fair Access to Victim Compensation Campaign for a live webinar discussion on the systemic barriers that survivors of violence face in accessing victim compensation funds. Panelists will discuss the steps that states can take to remove some of the obstacles to obtaining victim compensation and put all survivors on a path towards healing.

Speakers include:

  • Josie Duffy Rice (writer, lawyer, podcast host), moderator
  • Senator Zellnor Myrie (D-20)
  • Assemblymember Demond Meeks (D-137)
  • Anthony Buissereth (Kings Against Violence)
  • Heather Warnken (University of Baltimore School of Law, Center for Criminal Justice Reform)
  • Gabriel Garcia (Youth ALIVE!)
  • Jessica Mofield (NYC Mayor’s Office to Prevent Gun Violence)

Click here to register.

Health Care Access for Crime Victims

March 16 at 11:00 AM – 12:00 PM ET

Having access to health care services can be crucial for a crime victim. As a result of the crime, some clients will lose their health insurance, others will have a desire to change their health coverage so it is not tied to their abuser, and others may realize that they can no longer be without coverage. Things like income, household size, immigration status, and more can have an impact on health insurance eligibility.

However, clients may not expressly disclose all the issues they are facing or know that you may be able to help remove barriers to accessing health care services. This presentation will give you the tools to help service providers identify when health care coverage is a concern and ensure that clients know what health insurance coverage options and services are available to them.

Click here to register.

 

For a complete list of upcoming events and training opportunities, visit our calendar at www.nyscasa.org/calendar.

Policy News

NYSCASA’s 2022 Legislative Agenda

Survivors deserve better than flawed and harmful systems that exacerbate the traumatic effects of violence. That’s why NYSCASA advocates for policy and systemic changes that prevent sexual violence and improve survivors’ access to healing and justice.

In 2022, our legislative agenda includes:

Learn more and take action:

Learn more about our policy priorities and how you can get involved at www.nyscasa.org/get-info/policy

Senate Introduction of the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022

On February 9, Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022. The bill addresses the many needs identified during extensive engagement with the sexual assault field including expanding resources for sexual assault services, prevention, housing, and sexual assault forensic examinations. A summary of the Senate bill can be found here. The House of Representatives passed their version of the bill in March 2021.

NYSCASA joins advocates and survivors across the U.S. in encouraging the Senate to swiftly pass the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022 and send it to the House for a vote.

Learn more and take action:

House and Senate Pass Legislation to End Forced Arbitration in Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Cases, Now Awaiting POTUS Signature

On February 7, the House of Representatives approved a bill that would ban mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment and assault cases brought by workers, consumers and even nursing home residents. The Senate swiftly passed a companion bill, sponsored by U.S. Senator for New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), on February 10.

The legislation would amend the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) and prohibit employers from forcing workers to settle sexual misconduct claims in closed-door arbitration venues that often favor perpetuators of sexual harassment and assault. Employees instead would be able to file suit in court with their own legal representation.

According to the American Association for Justice, about 60 million workers in the U.S. are subject to forced arbitration, which is also used to resolve disputes involving claims of discrimination and pay disparity. A new report released by the Center for Progressive Reform illustrates how forced arbitration disproportionately impacts historically marginalized communities, including people of color, low-income individuals, and nursing home residents.

The legislation’s ban on forced arbitration would kick in immediately, and apply retroactively to previous resolved claims unless a case is pending. It also applies to consumers who approve terms of agreement in exchange for using products, such as ride sharing services. The legislation now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Perspectives and News About Anti-Sexual Violence Policy

Prevention News

Healthy Relationships Activity Book

Stopping sexual violence and other forms of harm can feel like a complicated and overwhelming task. Education is an important form of sexual violence prevention. However, many students do not have access to comprehensive, accurate information regarding sexual education and healthy relationships. Such topics may also feel overwhelming, awkward, or complicated for parents and guardians to teach at home.

The Healthy Relationships Activity Book (HRAB) is intended to alleviate some of these barriers and assist parents and guardians in building knowledge, skills, and a deeper connection with your youth. The HRAB demonstrates how you and your youth can practice every day skills of primary prevention–how you can stop violence before it ever has the chance to occur.

Campus News

Announcing NYSCASA’s First Cohort of Student Activists Against Sexual Assault

Students across New York State who have experienced sexual violence too often have needs that are left unmet. Campus climates and regulations governing student life can be a lot to learn for students outside the classroom.

NYSCASA is building supportive spaces for college students to discuss the complexity of sexual violence and how it affects student life. The goal is to establish sustainable, multi-level, community-specific approaches to address sexual violence on college campuses. The Student Activist Network Against Sexual Assault (SANASA) will develop a statewide network of strong student activists leading efforts to increase campus engagement in genuinely and meaningfully meeting students’ needs through networking and sharing resources.

Through the SANASA, student-led activist groups across New York State will receive training, peer support, and customized assistance during a two-year period. Together, we’ve already begun assessing the unique needs and resources on each campus. Students will also find commonalities and overarching issues amongst their peers across the state. The SANASA will address these issues as they emerge, ensuring that student voices are centered.

Student-led activist groups participating in the SANASA include:

  • New Paltz Accountability
  • University of Buffalo Sexual Violence Prevention
  • The Peer Support Team at St. John Fisher College

Each group meets monthly with NYSCASA and collectively for a discussion and resource-sharing session. The SANASA can support up to five student-led groups and we are actively seeking two more groups to join. If you are interested or know someone who may be, visit our website or contact E Bjorkman at [email protected] to learn more.

Perspectives and News About Campus Sexual Violence

Trauma and Mental Health

Study Finds that Interpersonal Trauma Can Affect Relationship Outcomes for Student Survivors

Exposure to interpersonal trauma, and the timing of that exposure, can influence whether college students form romantic relationships and also the types of relationships into which they enter, according to a new study by Virginia Commonwealth University researchers.

The study found that individuals exposed to interpersonal trauma — such as physical assault, sexual assault, or unwanted sexual experiences — before coming to college were more likely to be in a romantic relationship during college than those without a history of trauma. Those who were exposed to interpersonal trauma during college, meanwhile, were less likely to be in a relationship than those without trauma histories.

The study was based on data collected through VCU’s Spit for Science project. It builds on a previous study, also based on Spit for Science data, that found evidence that college students who have been exposed to interpersonal trauma prior to college are more likely to engage in risky alcohol use, but also that being in satisfying, prosocial romantic relationships mitigates the effects of trauma on a student’s drinking behavior. Click here to read more about the study’s findings.

Self-Care Training Series for Frontline Workers

Coordinated Behavioral Care developed the COVID Self-Care Training Series to help address the unmet mental health needs of frontline workers. The overall theme of the trainings is professional self-care.

Through these trainings, agency staff will have the opportunity to master self-care skills, share experiences and process their fears, concerns and anxieties as they provide care during a pandemic.

Topics covered include:

  • Organizational methods to promote self-care
  • Coping with grief and loss
  • Processing trauma
  • Emotional health in times of uncertainty
  • Professional boundaries during a pandemic
  • Returning to in-person work
  • Preventing burnout and building resilience

Click here to access recordings from the training series.

Resource Spotlight

Trust Survivors: Building an Effective and Inclusive Cash Assistance Program

Trust Survivors, a report by FreeFrom, compiles data and stories from 1,000 survivors about how to make cash assistance work for them.

With survivors identifying cash as their #1 most urgent need to get and stay safe, direct assistance for survivors is among the most promising strategies to disrupt the cycle of gender-based violence.

As New York State’s victim assistance programs develop plans to support survivors’ housing needs using flex financial funding from the state, we recommend reviewing this report to learn about how to design a survivor-centered program that will meet survivors’ needs.

Shrouded in Silence — Police Sexual Violence: What We Know & What Can We Do About It

In the midst of a national reckoning around the violence of policing, and a national conversation about sexual assault prompted by #MeToo and the ‘me, too.’ movement launched by Tarana Burke, sexual violence by law enforcement officers remains shrouded in silence. Survivors of police sexual violence are rarely heard from or discussed in either conversation, and their experiences generally do not drive organizing and advocacy in either context.

This report, in conjunction with an accompanying curriculum for sexual assault service providers, is intended to contribute to breaking this silence, to summarize what we know about sexual violence by law enforcement officers, and to offer concrete steps toward prevention of police sexual violence and increased safety, support, and opportunities for healing for survivors. Click here to access the report.

Breaking the Silence: Supporting Survivors of Police Sexual Violence — A Curriculum for Sexual Assault Service Providers

This is a curriculum for sexual assault service providers intended to accompany Interrupting Criminalization’s report Shrouded in Silence — Police Sexual Violence: What We Know and What We Can Do About It. Facilitators and participants are strongly encouraged to review the report before using any of the exercises in this curriculum. Click here to access the curriculum.

For more information and a more detailed analysis of police sexual violence, see Andrea J. Ritchie’s book, Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color (excerpts available at invisiblenomorebook.com).

Job Opportunities

Are you looking for job opportunities in sexual violence prevention and survivor support services? Visit our website to learn about employment opportunities at NYSCASA member rape crisis programs and ally organizations.
Do you have job announcements that you would like NYSCASA to share on our communications channels? Please send job announcements to [email protected] with “Job Announcement” in the subject line.

Contribute

Do you have announcements that you would like NYSCASA to share in our Monthly Digest? Email submissions with “Newsletter” in the subject line to [email protected].

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