Protecting and Advancing Survivors’ Rights in Our Community

Elisabeth Olds, the SAVRAA Independent Expert Consultant responsible for monitoring compliance with the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2014 and making recommendations for improvements, would like to hear from as many survivors as possible who experienced a sexual assault in the District of Columbia after January 1, 2014.

The goals of her interviews and focus groups is to hear firsthand from survivors about their experiences with reporting to law enforcement – both good and bad – and hear their perspectives about what needs to change about that process to make it more victim-centered, and what would be most helpful to survivors in the process, such as advocates, information and resources.

Interviews and focus groups are completely confidential and no names or specific case details will be revealed. Survivors’ perspectives are central to this evaluation and can help create a law and a system that provides maximum benefit to other survivors in the future.

Elisabeth will be convening a focus group Thursday, July 9th at 6pm at 600 I Street NW. If you are a recent survivor of sexual assault, please consider sharing your experiences with Elisabeth in this confidential setting. There will be a licensed social worker available on site for anyone that requires additional support during the conversation.

Please feel free to disseminate this notice widely.

For additional information, please contact the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign at dcjusticeforsurvivors@gmail.com.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Mayor-Elect Bowser to Prevent Sexual Assault in DC!

TAKE ACTION: Tell Mayor-Elect Bowser to Prevent Sexual Assault in DC!This past year, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) helped form the Survivors Campaign (DC JSC), a grassroots coalition working to increase and codify the rights of and improve services for survivors of sexual assault in the District of Columbia. The DC JSC saw a huge success in its first campaign to pass the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act (SAVRAA). Signed into law this summer, SAVRAA is groundbreaking legislation to protect survivors in DC, including helping decrease the backlog of rape kits in the District and codify a survivor’s right to an advocate.

But there’s more work ahead! Now, we’re telling Mayor-Elect Bowser to ensure implementation of SAVRAA and make sexual assault a priority focus area of her administration, and we need your help!

Join us in urging Mayor-Elect Browser to ensure successful implementation of the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (SAVRAA).

We’ve written a letter to Mayor-Elect Bowser stressing the need to fully implement SAVRAA and improve DC’s response to sexual assault. With your support, we can let the new Mayor know that she can be one of the first leaders of any city in the country to make sexual assault prevention a key focus area. 

Tell Mayor-Elect Bowser: Sexual assault affects us all. Please prioritize the implementation of SAVRAA, and make combatting sexual violence a key part of your work to promote public safety in the District!

Thank you for your time and support. Together, we can create a safer DC.

Signed,
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign members

P.S. Are you on Twitter? Click here to send a tweet to Mayor Bowser!

BREAKING: DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms With Final Vote

DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)

May 6, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Renee Davidson
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)
renee@collectiveactiondc.org 

Landmark Legislation to Protect Survivors of Sexual Assault Passes Final Vote
Success Comes After Year of Grassroots Organizing

Washington, D.C. — The DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is elated that today DC Council cast the final of two votes to pass the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2014 (SAVRAA), landmark legislation to improve how the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) manages sexual assault cases and treats survivors of sexual assault.

The passage of the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act comes over a year after the DC JSC, a survivor-led grassroots coalition, was established in response to evidence of police mismanagement of sexual assault cases in the District. The pivotal legislation, called SAVRAA, includes all criteria for which the DC JSC mobilized support, including: 1) Granting sexual assault survivors the right to have a sexual assault victim advocate present during hospital forensic exams and in subsequent in-person police interviews; 2) Mandating the prompt processing of rape kits; 3) Providing sexual assault survivors the right to the results of their rape kits and toxicology tests; 4) Mandating that an independent consultant make semi-annual public reports on progress that MPD makes in implementing reforms; 5) Codifying DC’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and requires it to conduct case review; 6) Requiring an annual report on sexual assault from agencies that handle cases and evidence; 7) Establishing a task force to recommend further reform to the system, including additional roles for advocates, an effective system for complaints and juvenile sexual assault system reforms.

The long-awaited passage of SAVRAA is a monumental step both in supporting survivors of sexual assault and improving DC’s sexual assault response system. “This legislation means that those who report sexual assault in the District can expect that their cases will be followed through as efficiently as possible, and that they will be treated with fairness and respect,” said Sherelle Hessell-Gordon, DC JSC organizer and Executive Director of the DC Rape Crisis Center. “This was a survivor-driven advocacy effort, and we thank the brave men and women who testified and shared their stories in order to achieve today’s success,” added DC JSC organizer Marisa Ferri.

The Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act will now be passed onto the Mayor to be signed into law.

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Formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) and National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW), the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is a grassroots coalition of sexual assault survivors, direct service providers, advocacy organizations, allies and community members working to increase and codify the rights of and improve services for survivors of sexual assault in the District of Columbia.

Thank You, CASS Community!

Happy National Volunteer Week!

As you know, CASS is volunteer-run nonprofit. This week, we send an especially HUGE thanks to the DC community members that volunteer their time to make our work possible! This includes the over 400 community members that signed onto join the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC), which yesterday succeeded in helping pass landmark sexual assault reforms in DC.

We’re so proud! Thank you to all the volunteers that support us. We couldn’t do this work without you!

BREAKING: DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms

DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)

April 8, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Renee Davidson
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)
renee@collectiveactiondc.org

DC Council Passes Landmark Sexual Assault Reforms
Grassroots Survivors’ Group Celebrates Success After Year of Mobilizing

Washington, D.C. — The DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is elated that today DC Council took the first of two votes to pass the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act of 2013 (SAVRAA), landmark legislation to improve how the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) handles sexual assault cases and treat survivors of sexual assault.

“This is a monumental step in both supporting survivors of sexual assault and improving DC’s sexual assault response system,” said Julia Strange, DC JSC organizer and Director of Programs and Policy for Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS). “This legislation means that those who report sexual assault in the District can expect that their cases will be followed through as efficiently as possible, and that they will be treated with fairness and respect,” added Sherelle Hessell-Gordon, DC JSC organizer and Executive Director of the DC Rape Crisis Center.

The final version of the bill passed by DC Council includes all criteria for which the DC JSC mobilized support. In full, the legislation: 1) Grants sexual assault survivors the right to have a sexual assault victim advocate present during hospital forensic exams and in subsequent in-person police interviews; 2) Mandates the prompt processing of rape kits; 3) Provides sexual assault survivors the right to the results of their rape kits and toxicology tests; 4) Mandates that an independent consultant make semi-annual public reports on progress that MPD makes in implementing reforms; 5) Codifies DC’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) and requires it to conduct case review; 6) Requires an annual report on sexual assault from agencies that handle cases and evidence; 7) Establishes a task force to recommend further reform to the system, including additional roles for advocates, an effective system for complaints and juvenile sexual assault system reforms.

The DC JSC, a survivor-led grassroots coalition, has been working for over a year not to only to pass, but also to strengthen SAVRAA. The coalition, formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces, (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Centerand DC NOW, was established in response to evidence of police mismanagement of sexual assault cases in the District. The DC JSC is comprised of 23 organizations and over 400 individual community members. Over the past months, DC JSC members consulted with policy experts, collected hundreds of signatures in support of SAVRRA’s urgently-needed reforms, met with DC Councilmembers and testified at the December 2013 DC Council Hearing on the legislation, including sharing heart wrenching stories of their experiences of reporting sexual assault to MPD.

“Passing legislation that codifies the rights of survivors of sexual assault sends a powerful message to survivors that our community leaders care about their rights and are working to protect them,” said Susan Mottet, DC JSC organizer and President of the National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW). “This bill was a survivor-driven advocacy effort, and we thank the brave men and women who testified and shared their stories,” said DC JSC organizer Marisa Ferri. “We’re encouraged that the passage of SAVRAA, especially along with DC JSC’s amendments, will help ensure that survivors who report their assault can begin the process of healing and obtaining justice.”

The Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act will be voted on again and then passed onto the Mayor to be signed into law.

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Formed by Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), the DC Rape Crisis Center (DCRCC) and National Organization for Women, DC Chapter (DC NOW), the DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC) is a grassroots coalition of sexual assault survivors, direct service providers, advocacy organizations, allies and community members working to increase and codify the rights of and improve services for survivors of sexual assault in the District of Columbia.
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