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Responding to Sexual Assault Victims of Color (Webinar)

Event Dates
A deeper understanding of the trauma experienced by people of color and its impact on their experience in the criminal justice system provides the ability to improve sexual assault investigations and victim services for survivors of color.

Communities of color have challenges and circumstances that are exclusive to their community and commonly account for many of the barriers survivors of color face as they seek help following sexual violence. Cultural trauma occurs when members of a community feel as they have been subjected to alarming event(s) which leave indelible marks upon their group consciousness, affect their memories, and change their future identity in fundamental and irrevocable ways. Victims that experience cultural trauma may be hesitant to disclose an act of sexual violence. Today, communities of color are often victimized through sexual violence, in part, due to their race, socioeconomic states, sexual orientation, and gender.

The impact of sexual violence on communities can be understood by examining the challenges unique to each community. Research shows that individuals of color are sexually assaulted at a higher rate compared to their counterparts. The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) reported that 56 percent of Native American women experience sexual violence in their lifetime and are 9 times out 10 assaulted by a non-Native individual. Black Women's Blueprint report that 60 percent of African-American females have experienced some form of sexual abuse by the age of 18 and for every Black woman that reports sexual violence there are 15 that do not. Asian/Pacific Islander women may be subjected to sexual violence as a result of human trafficking and labor and sexual exploitation. Hispanic survivors often experience sexual violence intimate partner relationships and 35 percent experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Victims with a non-English speaking background can be impacted by a lack of culturally and linguistically competent programs and services which further hinders protection and support. During this webinar we will discuss how to work through these challenging statistics in order to support survivors of color when they disclose and to increase reporting.

This webinar will give attendees an understanding of the prevalence of sexual violence in communities of color and the unique barriers to disclosing sexual violence. Survivors of color are often stereotyped and these stereotypes perpetuate the notion that survivors of color are willing participants in their own victimization. These stereotypes are often a result of implicit bias, which is a preference for or prejudice against a person or a group of people. We all carry different forms of biases within us and are often not aware that we have them. Our biases are triggered automatically through the rapid association of people/groups/objects and our attitudes and stereotypes about them. This webinar will challenge attendees to examine their own biases they carry as humans. In doing so, attendees will be given tools to assist with de-powering these biases to ensure that all survivors of sexual violence are treated with respect and dignity regardless of the multiple identities they carry such as gender, class, race and/or sexual orientation. Attendees will also gain skills to build trust and relations with communities of color with the hope of increasing reporting and offender accountability.

Detailed Learning Objectives:
- Gain an understanding of the prevalence of sexual assault for communities of color.
- Address the implications and present-day manifestations of historical trauma on survivors of color and the criminal justice system response.
- Discuss ways to be trauma-informed and maintain engagement with survivors of color through incorporating cultural humility to improve overall response to sexual assault.

Funding for this Forensic Technology Center of Excellence event has been provided by the National Institute of Justice. The Forensic Technology Center of Excellence is managed by RTI International under award from the National Institute of Justice.

Speaker: Teresa M. Stafford

Teresa M. Stafford is the Senior Director of Victim Services and Outreach at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (CRCC). Ms. Stafford oversees the agency's 24-hour response to survivors, criminal justice advocacy, Project STAR (sex trafficking, advocacy and recovery), and administers professional development trainings across the state and national levels. Ms. Stafford has over 20 years of experience providing direct service to both offenders and victims of crime, with specialization in sexual violence, domestic violence, and families of homicide victims.

Date Created: February 3, 2021