FCASV Insight January 2017

FCASV Insight January 2017

Happy new year from all of us at FCASV! This edition of our Insight e-newsletter focuses on different ways to serve and reach survivors, and different types of trainings or therapies to consider and practice.

As we start this new year, if you're interested in joining FCASV's network of members and making a difference for survivors in 2017, please visit fcasv.org to sign-up.

Three Word Mantra

By: Eva Fiallos-Diaz 

Considering a sexual assault survivor’s path to healing can be daunting. As advocates, we know all too well the difficulties, challenges, and barriers to justice that still exist in 2017. Life is complex enough on its own and factoring in that sort of future-oriented thinking can lead to a collective sense of anxiety. The perpetuation of such thinking can unintentionally result in personal vicarious trauma, while simultaneously providing survivors with a bleak life outlook. A huge part of our work as advocates is to instill hope. The best way to teach others the art of hope is to be hopeful ourselves. So how do we move from a place of loss, fear, anger, and uncertainty so that we may in turn help survivors follow suit? Mindfulness, a secular practice with Eastern roots, offers ways to cultivate an attitude of compassion and purposeful awareness that leads to healing. In the late 1970s Jon Kabat-Zinn (1986), a physician at the University of Massachusetts, developed Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction therapy to aid chronic pain patients who were not responding to traditional treatments. Since then, mindfulness has become a core component of many mental health therapies and has proven useful in treating trauma. Its success is credited to its ability to change brain structure as well as brain functioning (Burdick, 2013).

One simple way to begin using mindfulness is to set an ‘intention’ through the creation of a personal mantra. Intention is just another way of thinking about the goal(s) you wish to achieve. Write these down (or have the survivor write them down) or draw them out. Pay curious attention to the thoughts that arise during the process. Are they judgmental? Positive or negative? Are they memories? Are they consistent with the goal you hope to accomplish? Keep in mind that they are just thoughts and gently guide your mind back to the moment and the task at hand. Once you feel like you have captured your intention, stop. Breathe. Take a moment to reflect on what you have written or drawn and how you feel. Has anything changed or shifted for you since you began this process? Breathe. Now, condense your intention to three simple words (the book and motion picture Eat. Pray. Love. may come to mind). These are the three words that you will repeat intimately to yourself throughout your day, week, and perhaps even in the years to come. They will serve to anchor you to your intention. Use them often and until you no longer have a need for them.

They’ll ground you. They’ll nurture you. Make them count.

If you are in need of some inspiration or an example, the mantra I have created for myself this year is: Learn. Create. Love. I aim to learn as much as I can about others, myself, and about the world we live in. Lifelong learning is the only way we can continue to evolve and address the challenges that confront us as advocates. I will use what I learn to create a better world for our survivors. I also hope to simply create more this year. Create good memories. Create time for the people and things I love. Recreate myself. Most importantly, all of what I do will be rooted in love for myself, others, and this world we share.

Burdick, D. (2013). Mindfulness Skills Workbook for Clinicians & Clients: 111 tools, techniques, activities, & worksheets. PESI Publishing & Media: Eau Claire, WI.

Kabat-Zinn, J., Lipworth, L., Burney, R., and Sellers, W. (1986). Four-year follow up of a meditation based program for the self-regulation of chronic pain: Treatment outcomes and compliance. Clinical
Journal of Pain, 2(30), 159-173.

Center Highlight: Women's Center of Jacksonville

The Women’s Center of Jacksonville (WCJ) is committed to looking at underserved populations and working towards making services more accessible to members of said population. In late 2015, WCJ decided to look at what communities were being underserved, and recognized that LGBTQ+ identifying individuals were not coming in for services. In order to make the services more accessible for the LGBTQ+ population in the area, WCJ decided to partner with a few different organizations and committees.

WCJ’s main partnership is with the Jacksonville Area Sexual Minority Youth Network (JASMYN), the local LGBTQ+ Youth Center in Jacksonville, geared towards 13 to 23 year olds in the area. JASMYN was able to help WCJ update paperwork and language around the LGBTQ+ community in order to make sure services are culturally competent. WCJ also started providing an advocate to JASMYN who attends the twice a month Drop-In Nights, where LGBTQ+ youth are able to gather with different activities in order to form a safe environment and community. In early 2016, the WCJ advocate attended the Drop-In Nights, providing ease of access for services, leading to many youth accessing advocacy and counseling services.

Thanks to SASP funding, WCJ has now hired an advocate who will focus directly on improving services to the LGBTQ+ population, including forming more partnerships with the University of North Florida’s LGBT Resource Center and the Transgender Action Committee. WCJ is excited to also bring JASMYN to our current locations and to our future Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Center to ensure that our policies and buildings are LGBTQ+ friendly.


Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team Announces Subcommittee Goals 

The Statewide SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) Advisory Committee is a statewide group coordinated by FCASV and comprised of representatives from a broad range of disciplines whose work brings them into contact with rape survivors. This year’s committee includes sexual assault program leaders, advocates, campus administrators, law enforcement officers, legal experts, and others. The committee works to assess and improve Florida’s response to survivors of sexual violence at the state and local level.

This year, the Statewide SART consists of four subcommittees each with its own goals: criminal justice, campus services, forensic, and victim services.

Criminal Justice Subcommittee

The criminal justice subcommittee will work to expand training on Trauma Informed Investigations Training (TIIT) to include judges, and develop incentives for State Attorney Offices and law enforcement agencies to participate in TIIT. The subcommittee members will develop a comprehensive list of trainings for advocates, State Attorney Offices, and law enforcement agencies. After conducting a statewide survey, the subcommittee will also make suggestions for Declination of Intent best practices.

Campus Services Subcommittee

The campus services subcommittee will be focusing on organizing a conference for Title IX coordinators that provides attendees with legal updates, training, support, and best practices. The subcommittee will also compile Title IX best practices and information to create a resource center of information. Additionally, subcommittee members will develop best practices for victim rights brochures on campuses.

Forensic Subcommittee

The forensic subcommittee will be addressing ways that hospitals and free standing clinics can provide comprehensive care and services to victims. This includes identifying and preparing best practice recommendations for hospitals to have emergency contraception available to all victims in all emergency rooms. Also, this subcommittee will be identifying more defined guidelines for child protection teams in relation to forensic exams.

Victim Services Subcommittee

The victim services subcommittee will be concentrating on prosecutor training to ensure they have the necessary tools to effectively prosecute acquaintance rape cases. Also, the subcommittee will examine the use of "Declination of Intent" letters. Lastly, there is no exception currently for terminating a lease where sexual violence is present between lessees. Subcommittee members will develop a report with recommended next steps on lease exception for survivors.

The Statewide SART met in Tampa last week and subcommittee recommendations will be released in a comprehensive report during the summer of 2017.

Excellence in Sexual Assault Response Project Request for Proposal Released 

The request for proposal (RFP) has been released for the 2017-2018 Excellence in Sexual Assault Response Project (ESARP). The project is a collaboration between the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence and the criminal justice community, funded by the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women. ESARP offers free training, policy development consultation and technical assistance to law enforcement organizations and state attorneys’ offices on responding to sex crimes against victims 11 years old and above.

The Excellence in Sexual Assault Response Project employs a trauma informed, offender-focused approach that incorporates the most up-to-date sexual assault investigative and prosecutorial strategies. Using new research on the neurobiological effects of trauma, ESARP teaches the Forensic Experiential Trauma Interview, or FETI, technique, redefining the way law enforcement interviews and gathers information from victims.

The ESARP model involves training key professionals across the criminal justice system: dispatchers, patrol officers, detectives/investigators, leadership and command staff and prosecutors. Trainings are led by professional law enforcement, dispatch and prosecutor trainers experienced in using the ESARP techniques. This model leads to better evidence collection and corroboration which results in more successful criminal justice outcomes.

Visit fcasv.org for the RFP documents and information on how to apply.

Quote from Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Alachua County Sheriff's Office: 2016-2017 ESARP Project Year 

“During my lifelong law enforcement career, I have been profoundly affected by the tragedy of intentional harm. The aftermath of harm committed by another human being can be chilling and everlasting. The aftermath of harm by a single incident sexual assault to the complex trauma of child sexual abuse or human trafficking can wound deeply. The serial nature of these crimes is far reaching. In an effort to honor victim/survivors and to seek a better way to serve, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) applied for the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence’s Excellence in Sexual Assault Response Project. As one of four sites chosen in 2016 in the state of Florida, ACSO has had the benefit of state of the art training across the agency from dispatch, to patrol, to detectives and command/leadership.

Bell Hooks said… "Contrary to what we may have been taught to think, unnecessary and unchosen suffering wounds us but need not scar us for life. It does mark us. What we allow the mark of our suffering to become is in our own hands." I believe that the mark of suffering to survivors is also in our hands as first responders. How we speak, how we intervene can bolster healing or impede it. Today science provides us with the wisdom to be partner to the healing with our response, with our community partners.

Specifically for law enforcement the work of Dr. Rebecca Campbell and others to inform us of the neurobiology of trauma is a sea change. Coupled with the work of Russell Strand in the U.S. Armed Services on Forensic Experiential Trauma Interviews (FETI) for dispatch, law enforcement and prosecution, these scientists are teaching us what trauma looks like and how to effectively work with victim/survivors.

As a result of the stories of victim/survivors, the science and those who seek to help, a trauma informed approach to systems and services has evolved over time. I encourage my Florida colleagues in law enforcement to consider the Excellence in Sexual Assault Response for your jurisdictions. Science has elegantly guided us to this informed project. We have the opportunity to understand abuse and trauma unlike any other time. We have the chance to mitigate its mark in the process of our work. We will be better for it. With each victim/survivor, we can choose to lessen the harm and leave a mark of excellence in the face of tragedy.”

Get to Know FCASV

Clara Vickers, Staff Attorney

Clara graduated from the College of Law at Florida State University last May after receiving her bachelors at University of Florida. While attending FSU, she worked at the Victim Advocate Program as a sexual assault advocate under then-director Melissa Ashton. She has worked since March 2016 as a law clerk and certified legal intern, and now Staff Attorney, with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence for its Legal Assistance to Victims Project.

This project is especially exciting to Clara, who has wished to pursue a career in providing representation to victims of sexual assault since her first year in law school. Together with Theresa Prichard and Melissa Ashton, Clara is helping develop the LAV project and works primarily with clients and sexual assault advocates in Central Florida to ensure that their legal needs are met. This year, the project is focusing on outreach and development.

When not at work, Clara mostly enjoys spending time with her two cats. One is very large, lethargic, and loving. He is, aptly, named Tubbs. The other is a feisty kitten named Sherman with no social skills, few degrees of coordination, a loud purr and a face that is hard to stay mad at (despite the many, many messes and early morning interruptions). She also has human friends who she enjoys spending time with while relaxing over a glass of wine and a good meal, or traveling.

Senior Sensitivity Training 

The Sexual Assault Assistance Program of the Treasure Coast participated in a unique senior sensitivity training recently. The Area Agency on Aging for the program’s circuit provided a training that addressed working with seniors when aging issues might have an impact on memory, eyesight, mobility, and even interpretations of colors.

The free, hands-on demonstration allowed each of the staff members to try and perform different tasks with limitations an elder person might experience. Staff members wore bulky gloves while trying to pick up medications, money, and paperwork to simulate arthritis. The group experienced how cataracts could change the coloring of such items as medication. They also tried walking with pebbles in their shoes to impact their mobility. To experience impaired vision, they tried to read while wearing special glasses that caused narrowing of the visual field.

This type of training could have an impact for those who work with seniors who are survivors of sexual violence. Understanding how seniors see and perceive things and considering what they experience could beneficially impact the support and services provided by local centers.

If you are interested in a similar training, you can visit the Florida Department of Elder Affairs website for a list of area agencies on aging offices.

Upcoming Events and Trainings

SANE 1-Day Clinical Skills Training*

Tavernier, FL

For more information and to register, visit fcasv.org.

Rural One-Day In-Service Medical-Forensic Examinations Training*

Bonifay, FL

This training is for health professionals in Jackson, Calhoun, Holmes, and Washington counties. For more information and to register, visit fcasv.org.

*For certified rape crisis centers: This training can count toward the FCASV 8-hour sexual violence annual training requirement. Check with your FCASV Contract Manager if you want to use contract funds to attend this training.

This project was supported by a grant awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.