We hope yousave the date - calcasa will join us for a FREE 2-part California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) training for sexual assault advocates scheduled for July 14 & 28, 10am-11:30am at the VCGCB office in Sacramento. For those who can’t attend in-person, the training will be livestreamed on YouTube. For more information about this training, and to register, visit the event registration page.


 Part 1: CalVCP 101 for Sexual Assault Advocates

Thursday, July 14, 2016, 10am-11:30am

Part 1 is ideal for all direct service staff and volunteers, as well as program coordinators and directors. We will go over the changes to CalVCP that went into effect in January 2016, and provide an overview of the program. Participants may attend in-person or livestream through the CalVCP YouTube Channel.


                                             Part 2: CalVCP Application & Best Practices

                                                      Thursday, July 28, 2016, 10am-11:30am

Part 2 is intended for advocates who would be providing information and assistance to sexual assault survivors applying for CalVCP. We will go over the CalVCP application in depth, and provide best practices for sexual assault advocates helping survivors with this process. It is recommended that those interested in this session also register for Part 1. Participants may attend in-person or livestream through the CalVCP YouTube Channel.


CSEC ActionTeam_logo

Image credit: chhs.ca.gov

Last week, CALCASA staff Adrienne Spires and Jeannette Page attended the California Child Welfare Council’s quarterly meeting in Sacramento. Established by law in 2006, the CWC’s purpose is to improve and streamline the components of the child welfare system throughout the state and, ultimately, create better outcomes for youth. The CWC consists of representatives from various state and county departments, along with advocates, service providers, parents and former foster youth. The council is currently focusing on issues like multi-system collaboration, support services for family reunification and youth transitioning out of the foster care system, in addition to a number of topical committees such as the Ending Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children Action Team.

With the increased focus on ending sex trafficking in recent years, and the passage of several key pieces of state and federal legislation related to sexual exploitation of minors, counties throughout California have begun opting into the state Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC) Program to build their capacity to respond to commercially sexually exploited youth. This often involves the creation of multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) to respond to individual youth who have been identified as CSEC in order to divert them from the criminal justice system when possible, and to ensure youth receive holistic, supportive services. MDTs must have county child welfare, probation, mental health, public health, juvenile court and substance abuse agencies participating on the team, but can also include educators, law enforcement, attorneys, survivors, victim advocates, and others.

CALCASA believes rape crisis centers can play a key role in helping counties develop and implement MDTs to respond to CSEC. RCCs have championed coordinated multi-system responses for survivors over the decades. Many RCCs have been advocating for sexually exploited minors long before CSEC became a mainstream issue and our field’s focus on empowering survivors of sexual trauma is crucial to improving system responses to youth. To learn more, the CWC and CSEC Action Team meetings are open to the public and the next meeting is Wednesday, September 7, 2016.

Are you currently participating on your local county’s CSEC MDT? Share more about the role sexual assault advocates can play in responding to CSEC in the comments!

This post is part of CALCASA’s semi-regular #TBT (Throwback Thursday) series highlighting available resources and information you may have missed that are relevant to intervention and advocacy.

Cover of book, Rape Work

Image credit: Amazon.com

Today we’re throwing it back more than a decade to review the book Rape Work: Victims, Gender and Emotions in Organization and Community Context by Patricia Yancey Martin. Rape Work, published in 2005, is the result of twenty years of research by Martin, a feminist sociologist interested in exploring how and why entities that do “rape work” – defined as the labor of responding to sexual assault – typically commit a “second assault” in the process that further harms survivors. Entities that engage in rape work include law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, victim-witness, hospitals, SANEs, and rape crisis centers. Martin’s theory is that organizations expect their workers, regardless of how those individuals may feel, to respond and behave in certain ways based on “frames” that reflect an organization’s mission and primary work activities. An example of a frame for law enforcement could be, “We’re responsible for all crime, and rape is only one crime,” which speaks to law enforcement’s resistance to allocating resources for specialized training and sexual assault investigation units even though they are more effective than generalized crime units and can improve case outcomes. A typical frame for a rape crisis center would be, “All we do comes from victims,” meaning that rape crisis centers have the luxury of putting survivors’ priorities and needs first, and strive to be survivor-centered in their practices. Martin finds that an organization’s frames can either increase or decrease its responsiveness to rape survivors, therefore perpetrating or preventing a “second assault” on survivors.

Although Martin is a feminist scholar, her examination of organizations engaged in rape work is that of an outsider observing the dynamics most of us know so well. For example, law enforcement often views survivors with suspicion, prosecutors rarely have extensive experience working with survivors because charges often aren’t filed in these cases, and rape crisis centers struggle with needing to improve the criminal justice system response to survivors without jeopardizing crucial partnerships with legal entities.  Martin asserts that communities that are highly integrated – that is, where law enforcement, RCCs, prosecutors, hospitals, etc work in close collaboration – are more responsive to survivors, as opposed to highly centralized communities where all services for rape survivors are accessed through a single mainstream entity. Unsurprisingly, the presence of a rape crisis center in a community was found to improve responsiveness to survivors. The analysis provided in Rape Work may not be groundbreaking, but it’s validating and helpful to see how rape crisis centers fit into the bigger organizational picture and are uniquely positioned to advocate for survivors over other entities engaging in rape work.

I would certainly recommend this book to anyone working at an RCC. Have you read Rape Work? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!


Have an item that should be covered in a future #TBT post? Email me about it!

Students protesting campus sexual assault

Image Credit: Psychologytoday.com

In response to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released its report this morning on the Campus Climate Survey Validation Study. The report details the methods used to create a climate survey tool, examines the climates of nine unnamed college campuses, compares the rates of sexual assault and reporting rates for each, and makes recommendations for how best to utilize climate surveys to assess sexual violence on college campuses. A range of sexual assault rates were found on the various campuses surveyed, and the report authors hypothesize that this correlates with the campuses’ level of responsiveness to survivors.

This study, although primarily directed at campuses, has important implications for community-based rape crisis centers working with college students or partnering with campuses. Campuses are struggling to meet the needs of student survivors, and rape crisis centers have the expertise to help them improve their on-campus response as well as the ability to offer completely confidential support and advocacy services to students. Additionally, RCCs can play a critical role assisting campuses in sexual assault prevention efforts. Learn more about strategies for working with campuses in our upcoming PreventConnect Campus webinar Comprehensive Prevention on College Campuses.

To read all of the BJS’s findings on their campus climate survey, download the full report here and let us know what you think in the comments!

This post is part of CALCASA’s semi-regular #TBT (Throwback Thursday) series highlighting available resources and information you may have missed relevant to intervention and advocacy.

Cover - Coming Out of Concrete Closets

Image Credit: Black & Pink

In October 2015, Black & Pink, a prison abolition group comprised of LGBTQ prisoners and allies, released their report, Coming Out of Concrete Closets: A Report on Black & Pink’s National LGBTQ Prisoner Survey. This report details the findings of a year-long project to document the experiences of LGBTQ people in prisons. Black & Pink created a survey based on feedback submitted by the readership of their monthly newspaper, as well as input from other LGBTQ prisoner justice groups. Black & Pink distributed the 133-question survey to almost 7,000 incarcerated people in 2014, and received over 1,200 hand-written responses detailing the realities that LGBTQ inmates face.

The report covers a range of topics, including respondents’ experiences with sentencing and incarceration, discrimination and violence from both prisoners and staff, health care challenges, maintaining relationships with loved ones, and much more. Survey findings are broken down by race, gender identity, and sexual orientation where appropriate, and are interspersed with images of artwork created by LGBTQ prisoners. Unsurprisingly, LGBTQ inmates disclosed being at high risk for sexual violence – respondents were 6 times more likely to be sexually assaulted than the general prison population. Even though most sexual assaults were perpetrated by other inmates, an overwhelming majority of respondents said that prison staff enabled the assaults by deliberately placing respondents in harm’s way.

Respondents also reported extremely high rates of solitary confinement: “85% of respondents have been in solitary confinement at some point during their sentence; approximately half have spent 2 or more years there. Altogether, respondents have spent a total of 5,110 years in solitary confinement.” Prisoners were routinely placed in solitary confinement against their will as a protective measure against sexual assault and other violence, despite Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Standard § 115.43 specifically stating the practice should only be used as a last resort in these cases.

Black & Pink’s groundbreaking report gives advocates a clearer picture of the lives of LGBTQ inmates, and is a must-read for those working with incarcerated survivors. Download the full report, and let us know what you think in the comments!


Have an item that should be covered in a future #TBT post? Email me about it!


Do you find it challenging to keep up with the latest news, research, and tools related to sexual assault? The national spotlight on sexual assault has led to increasingly rapid developments in the field, some of which have implications for how we serve survivors. Unfortunately, advocates are rarely afforded the luxury of time to read and stay up to date, so it’s all too easy to overlook a helpful tool or research study. To that end, I’ll be writing a new, semi-regular #TBT (Throwback Thursday) series for CALCASA highlighting available resources and information you may have missed relevant to intervention and advocacy.

House Subcommittee Hearing on Campus Sexual Assault

Lisa Maatz from the American Association of University Women testifies before the House Subcommittee hearing on campus sexual assault.

On September, 10, 2015, the the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training, chaired by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), held a hearing titled, “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses.” Four experts on campus policy weighed in on the challenges of dealing with sexual assault: Dana Scaduto, General Counsel at Dickinson College, Dr. Penny Rue, Vice President for Campus Life at Wake Forest University, Lisa Maatz, Vice President of Governmental Relations at the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and Joseph Cohn, Legislative and Policy Director at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE). The panelists testified to the complexities of campus sexual assault cases and the challenges campuses face in adjudicating them. They voiced frustration about the complicated, sometimes conflicting patchwork of state and federal laws pertaining to sexual assault, student privacy and safety. Dr. Rue and Ms. Scaduto, both campus administrators, talked about ways the government can better support campuses in their efforts to respond to campus sexual assault. Ms. Scaduto proposed the creation of safe harbor laws for colleges and universities that show good faith in complying with Clery and Title IX. Dr. Rue criticized the notion that campuses care more about their reputations than the rights and experiences of students, and highlighted the strategies universities are using to assess campus attitudes and educate students.

Mr. Cohn, from the bipartisan organization FIRE, asserted that the rights to due process for accused students need to be strengthened. His testimony supported the controversial idea that campuses refrain from adjudicating sexual assault cases entirely and instead turn cases over to law enforcement, a strategy that has been denounced by both advocates and survivors. He denigrated the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA) for not providing strong enough protections for accused students, while voicing support for the provisions included in the SAFE Campus Act and FAIR Campus Act.

Lisa Maatz spoke from her experiences as a former executive director of a domestic violence agency and director of a campus women’s center, saying, “When campus environments are hostile because of sexual harassment and violence, students can’t learn. It’s that simple, and that devastating.” Ms. Maatz highlighted two pieces of AAUW-sponsored legislation – the Survivor Outreach and Support (SOS) Campus Act, which would require schools to partner with community-based sexual assault agencies and establish independent victim advocates on campus; and the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act that would increase funding for Title IX and Clery Act investigations and mandate climate surveys thereby providing crucial information for addressing sexual assault.

Watch the full hearing on “Preventing and Responding to Sexual Assault on College Campuses” below, and let us know what you think in the comments!


Have an item that should be covered in a future #TBT post? Email me about it!

#TBT Resource You May Have Missed: House Hearing on Campus Sexual Assault