The 2013 Connecticut Legislative Session began on January 9, and CONNSACS is looking forward to advocating for legislation that will benefit survivors, support the work of sexual assault crisis programs, and hold offenders accountable. Learn more about our legislative agenda here, or visit our Public Policy page.
Support Groups and Volunteer Trainings
Click here for more information about support groups and volunteer trainings going on throughout the state.
CONNSACS Executive Director Laura Cordes with First Lady Cathy Malloy
On Thursday, May 9th, over 100 supporters gathered to celebrate CONNSACS’ 30th anniversary with a gala at the Governor’s Residence in Hartford. First Lady Cathy Malloy, who graciously hosted the event, spoke about her work in the anti-sexual violence movement and the connection between sexual assault and broader women’s rights issues. CONNSACS Executive Director Laura Cordes highlighted some of the organization’s many accomplishments, recognized attendees who have contributed to CONNSACS’ success, and outlined the work that still needs to be done to support victims and hold offenders accountable.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), and CONNSACS is joining anti-sexual violence organizations throughout the country in raising public awareness about sexual violence and educating communities and individuals about sexual violence prevention. The 2013 National SAAM campaign, “It’s Time to Talk about It” focuses on healthy sexuality and child sexual abuse prevention.
Child sexual abuse thrives in silence. When healthy, caring adults do not educate children about body parts, appropriate touch, and healthy sexuality, that education is left to abusers. By starting conversations about age-appropriate behaviors, healthy boundaries, and respectful relationships, adults open lines of communication and let children know that it is safe to have conversations about what happens to their bodies. It helps children understand that it is okay to talk about situations that feel uncomfortable and to reach out for help when they have been hurt. Offenders often tell a child that the child will be in trouble is he or she says anything about the “secret” abuse that is occurring. Children need to understand that this is a lie and that it is okay to confide in an adult when they feel uncomfortable.
Adults can also help prevent child sexual abuse through their own words and actions. They can show respect to children, model healthy behaviors and boundaries, and confront other adults when they act inappropriately. When adults are willing to have conversations with children about healthy sexuality and abuse, and when they model good behaviors, they are training the next generation to create a culture in which sexual violence will not be tolerated.
Sexual Assault Crisis Services programs throughout Connecticut will be holding awareness events and activities throughout the month of April. Attend one of the great events going on in your area, and join the conversation. We can end sexual violence, but we have to “talk about it.”
PRESIDENT OBAMA SIGNS THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT
On March 7th, President Obama signed the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which has provided funding and support to combat sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking since 1994.
“We join advocates and survivors throughout the country today in celebrating the President’s signing of the Violence Against Women Act,” said Laura Cordes, Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services (CONNSACS), the coalition of Connecticut’s nine sexual assault crisis services programs. “Every day, women, men, and children who have survived sexual assault receive support and advocacy services that would simply not be available without VAWA. I am grateful to the Connecticut Congressional delegation for their leadership and support throughout the reauthorization process.”
Connecticut’s Senators and Representatives were strong supporters of new VAWA provisions that will better protect vulnerable and underserved populations, including LGBT individuals, Native Americans, college students, and immigrants. These new provisions, which were backed by advocates and survivors, faced criticism from House Republicans, who blocked passage of a similar reauthorization bill in 2012.
In Connecticut, VAWA supports sexual assault survivors by funding: bilingual/bicultural advocates who provide services to Spanish-speaking sexual assault survivors; specialized sexual assault victim advocates who work with parole units to support victims when their offenders are released from prison; CONNSACS staff who provide information, training, and support to community-based sexual assault crisis services programs as well as organizations and state agencies who work to support victims and hold offenders accountable; outreach and services to underserved populations including the elderly, people with disabilities, and homeless individuals; grants to combat sexual violence on college campuses; and primary prevention education.
Sexual assault victim advocates throughout the state provided services to over 7,000 survivors of sexual violence last year, a 20% increase over the previous year.
We rose in Hartford! Thank you to everyone who rose up, spoke out, and danced as part of One Billion Rising. The energy was palpable, the dancing was incredible, and the speakers were powerful. This was truly a historic event.
This is what it looks like when over 200 people rise together and demand change.
One Billion Rising corresponds to the 15th anniversary of V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls sparked by Eve Ensler’s play, The Vagina Monologues. Events were planned in over 200 countries around the world, and in Hartford, we rose with an event at the state Legislative Office Building.
The event opened with CONNSACS advocate Leah Prescott-Burgess giving a powerful reading of Eve Ensler’s monologue, Rising. After the reading, the Judy Dworin Performance Project led dancers in a flash mob on in the Legislative Office Building atrium. Click here for the full story.
On January 17, 2013, CONNSACS joined college administrators, victim advocates, legislators, and educators at Trinity College for the release of the 2012 Campus Report Card. The Campus Report Card, which was authored by CONNSACS in conjunction with the Connecticut College Consortium Against Sexual Assault and the Connecticut Campus Coalition to End Violence Against Women, is a snapshot of current sexual assault policies and practices at both private and public Connecticut colleges and universities. In addition to highlighting the progress that has been made throughout the state to address sexual violence, the report identifies both gaps in response and areas for improvement based on promising and nationally recognized best practices.
The problem of sexual violence on college campuses has been well documented. Research indicates that up to one in four women will be sexually assaulted during their college career, and students who experience sexual victimization are more likely than their peers to miss class, perform poorly academically, and withdraw from school altogether.
The 113th Congress was sworn in on January 3, 2013, and CONNSACS is joining other anti-violence organizations throughout the country to ask our newly elected officials to act immediately on VAWA reauthorization. The Violence Against Women Act has been providing life-saving protections to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking since 1994, but Congress allowed it to expire almost two years ago. Victims and survivors deserve better.
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women estimates that 200,000 victims could lose access to services if VAWA is not reauthorized soon. CONNSACS is hopeful that Congress will take quick action in the coming weeks and pass a version of the Violence Against Women Act that works for all victims. Visit http://4vawa.org/ to learn more about VAWA and why we need Congress to act now.
January is National Stalking Awareness Month. 6.6 million adults are stalked each year in the United States, including many survivors of sexual violence. Take time this month to visit the National Stalking Awareness Month website to learn facts about stalking, safety tips, and relevant laws in your state.
Last year, CONNSACS and advocates throughout the state worked hard to pass legislation to update Connecticut’s stalking law. The new law went into effect on October 1, 2012. Are you familiar with it? Learn more from our new fact sheet.
STATE SUPREME COURT RELEASES DANGEROUS DECISION IN SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE New Ruling Puts Victims with Disabilities at Risk
Late last week, the State Supreme Court upheld a dangerous Appellate Court decision that limits the meaning of "physical helplessness" in sexual assault cases. CONNSACS is disappointed with the Court's decision in State of Connecticut v. Richard Fourtin and will continue to pursue legislation to mitigate its damaging impact.
Fourtin was convicted of attempted sexual assault in the second degree and sexual assault in the fourth degree. His victim was a young woman who has such severe physical and developmental disabilities that she cannot walk, communicate verbally, or perform the activities of daily living without assistance. Despite her disabilities, the Appellate Court overturned Fourtin's conviction and wrote in its decision that the victim was neither "unconscious or so uncommunicative that she was physically incapable of manifesting to the defendant her lack of consent to sexual intercourse."
The Court ruled that because the victim can communicate "by gestures, biting, kicking, and screaming," she could have expressed her lack of consent to her offender and therefore cannot be considered physically helpless. By implying that the victim should have physically confronted her offender in order to communicate her lack of consent, the Court is perpetuating the myth that victims of sexual violence are somehow responsible for preventing their assaults. No victim should ever be asked to fight against their assailant to prove their lack of consent.
Since the Appellate Court ruling three years ago, CONNSACS and a coalition of supporters, including The Office of the Chief State's Attorney, The Office of Protection and Advocacy, and The Connecticut Council on Developmental Disabilities, have pursued legislation to improve Connecticut statute in light of the Fourtin case. Now that the Supreme Court has upheld the Appellate Court's decision, it is more important than ever for us to pass legislation that provides explicit protection for people with disabilities who are victims of sexual violence.
Are you upset about the Supreme Court's ruling? Here are a few things you can do in response:
Contact your state legislators and tell them, "People with disabilities are at risk because of the Supreme Court's decision in State v. Fourtin. During the 2013 session, please support CONNSACS' efforts to ensure that Connecticut's sexual assault statutes offer adequate protection to people with disabilities."
Write letters to your local newspapers. Let them know that people care about this issue and that no victims of sexual violence should ever be asked to physically defend themselves against an assailant.
Talk to your friends and family. Sexual violence is rarely discussed in our society, but newsworthy events like the Fourtin case create opportunities for all of us to talk about the prevalence of sexual violence and what we can do to end it.
The 2012 legislative session ended in May, but many of the laws passed during the session are just beginning to go into effect. On October 1st, two of CONNSACS' legislative priorities - a new stalking law and a law expanding eligibility for victim compensation - will take effect in Connecticut.
Connecticut's new stalking law will update and revise old statutes that did not cover many of the technologies and methods that stalkers use to frighten their victims. Learn more about this new law here.
Another law will make it easier for victims of sexual violence to become eligible for victim compensation. Previously, sexual assault victims either had to report their assault to law enforcement or have an evidence kit collected in order to be eligible for compensation. Under the new law, survivors will be eligible for compensation if they disclose their victimization to any of several professionals, including sexual assault crisis counselors.
CONNSACS has a created a new fact sheet with more details about these two laws. If you have any questions, please contact Anna: email@example.com or 860-282-9881.
Missouri Congressman Todd Akin recently taped a television interview in which he said that rape rarely results in pregnancy because, "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."
The Congressman's remarks have sparked a national debate about rape, reproductive healthcare, and the science of pregnancy. While each of these topics is worthy of discussion, CONNSACS would like to issue a brief response to the use of the term "legitimate rape."
As a society, we have generally accepted the notion that rape is a terrible act of violence. Very few, if any, public figures would be willing to go on record as saying that rape is okay or that victims are liars. Most people know they are supposed to abhor rape and support victims, and many people do. Some, however, have resisted the notion that they should abhor allrape and support all victims. As a result, it is increasingly common to manipulate language as a way to soften conversations about rape. People voice their staunch opposition to rape but claim that there may be instances of "gray rape." They insist that not all rape is "rape-rape," that "forcible rape" is different than "regular rape," and that "date rape" might not be all that bad.
Our society has sufficiently stigmatized the word "rape," but because we have not sufficiently stigmatized the act itself, we have developed a tendency to surround the word with descriptors that make it more palatable and less consistent with reality.
We cannot modify rape. We cannot diminish its trauma by adding an adjective or trying to qualify it. Rape is rape. Congressman Akin's use of the term "legitimate rape" is not problematic because it is false. All rape is legitimate rape. The term is problematic because it implies a contrast that does not exist. The same is true of phrases such as "innocent victim" that discount the experiences of survivors. Any sex without consent is rape. Rape is rape even when the victim is drinking or wearing a short skirt or walking alone at night. Rape is rape even if the survivor is in a relationship with the perpetrator or was flirting before the assault.
Words matter. They can be used for help and healing, or they can be used to degrade the experiences of victims and survivors. Congressman Akin's recent comment about "legitimate rape" is upsetting both on its own and as part of a larger trend. Rape is rape, and we are all responsible for using language that reflects this reality.
Governor Malloy and First Lady Cathy Malloy: Itís Time to Talk about Sexual Assault
In a new public service announcement, Governor Malloy and First Lady Cathy Malloy discuss the urgent need for Connecticut residents to talk about sexual violence and to reach out for help if they have been assaulted. The PSA continues the first couple's ongoing efforts to acknowledge the widespread impact of sexual violence and break the silence surrounding the issue. Avon-based marketing firm Mintz & Hoke Communications Group donated services to write and produce the PSA.
Many survivors of sexual violence are ashamed and embarrassed about the abuse they experienced and feel as though they cannot talk about it. They may stay silent because they believe the assault was their fault and that no one will believe them if they disclose. When public figures like the Malloys are willing to talk about sexual violence and reassure survivors that they are not alone in their experiences, it makes it easier for victims to come forward and access the help they may need to heal.
CONNSACS would like to thank the Governor and First Lady for their willingness to be part of this project; Mintz & Hoke for donating their time, equipment, and expertise; and the Governor's communications team for their assistance in coordinating the video shoot.
Advocates and Congressmen Call for Passage of the "Real" VAWA
The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been improving the response to sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking for nearly twenty years. VAWA, which was first passed in 1994 and subsequently reauthorized in 2000 and 2005, is a comprehensive legislative package that has brought together law enforcement, victim advocates, healthcare professionals, social service providers, and others to share information and use their distinct roles to improve community responses to violence against women. Learn more about VAWA here.
In Connecticut, VAWA funds, including the Sexual Assault Services Program, STOP Grant, and the Rape Prevention and Education Program, support:
Bilingual, bi-cultural advocates who serve the Spanish-speaking community
Specialized sexual assault victim advocates who work with parole units to support victims when their offenders are released back into the community
CONNSACS staff who provide information, training, and technical assistance to SACS programs throughout the state
Outreach and services to unserved and underserved populations
Grants to combat sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking on college campuses
Primary Prevention community education
Advocates with U.S. Congressman Himes in Norwalk
While VAWA has always received strong bipartisan support in the past, it
has been the subject of controversy and debate throughout the current reauthorization process. In late April, the Senate passed a version of VAWA - S 1925 - that includes strong protections for LGBT survivors, immigrant victims, and Native women. The House, however, passed a version of VAWA that includes none of the Senate protections and takes away some of the provisions that have been keeping victims safe since 1994. Advocates throughout the country have been reaching out to their Senators and Congressmen to ask the to support the Senate version of VAWA and reject the regressive, incomplete version of VAWA that is currently in the House.
Advocates talking to U.S. Congresswoman
DeLauro in Hartford
The Connecticut Congressional delegation has publicly championed the real VAWA. Both U.S. Senators, Blumenthal and Lieberman, were co-sponsors of the Senate version of VAWA, and all five of the Connecticut House Representatives voted "no" on the House version of VAWA that fell short of meeting the needs of victims and survivors. In addition, four House members - Congressman Murphy, Congressman Himes, Congressman Courtney, and Congresswoman DeLauro - recently held press conferences on VAWA in Connecticut. Advocates from several SACS programs were able to attend these press events, speak to the Congressmen, and serve as a reminder that the Violence Against Women Act is critical to sexual assault survivors in Connecticut. CONNSACS worked closely with Congressman Himes' office to set up a May 21 press conference in Norwalk, and CONNSACS Executive Director Laura Cordes spoke at the event along side of the Congressman and Mayor Richard Moccia of Norwalk.
Click here to learn more about the VAWA Reauthorization and what you can do to advocate for a version of the bill that benefits allsurvivors of sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking.
Successful Legislative Session Ends with the Passage of Bills to Benefit Survivors of Sexual Violence
The 2012 Connecticut legislative session ended on May 9, and CONNSACS is pleased to announce the passage of several pieces of legislation that will benefit survivors of sexual violence.
Bills that passed include HB 5031 (An Act Concerning Sexual Violence on College Campuses), HB 5548 (An Act Concerning Domestic Violence, which improves Connecticut's stalking statutes), and HB 5365 (An Act Concerning Court Operations and Victim Services, which will make it easier for sexual assault survivors to be eligible for victim compensation).
We are also celebrating funding for the SAFE Program and a 0.5% cost of living adjustment for all of Connecticut's nonprofits organizations, including the rape crisis line item in the state budget.
If you are interested in learning more about our public policy initiatives or becoming involved in our legislative advocacy, please contact Anna Doroghazi, Director of Public Policy and Communication: firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 282-9881.
On April 27th, 2012, CONNSACS held its annual meeting at the Inn at Middletown. In attendance were Governor Malloy and First Lady Cathy Malloy, CONNSACS staff, member program representatives, and community allies. The meeting was an opportunity to elect the CONNSACS board, celebrate the work of sexual assault crisis services programs, and present awards to two individuals who have been working to end sexual violence in Connecticut.
First Lady Cathy Malloy and
Following the business meeting, First Lady Cathy Malloy received the NSVRC Visionary Voice Award, which highlights individuals whose outstanding prevention work is making a significant impact in their communities. Cathy served as Executive Director of The Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Counseling and Education in Stamford for ten years before moving to Hartford and becoming CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council. As Connecticut's First Lady, Cathy has continued to advocate for the prevention of sexual assault. CONNSACS was honored to nominate the First Lady for this national award, which was given to twenty individuals throughout the country. Following the award presentation, Cathy Malloy addressed attendees as the event's guest speaker.
The second award presented at the meeting was the Gail Burns-Smith Dare to Dream Scholarship/Stipend Award, which was given to Krystal Rich from the YWCA New Britain Sexual Assault Crisis Services. The Dare to Dream Award is named for Gail Burns-Smith, who served as the Executive Director of CONNSACS for 22 years. The award is given annually to an individual whose work or study in the field of sexual violence most exemplifies Gail's commitment to its public awareness, education, prevention and advocacy on behalf of victims/survivors. Krystal Rich received the award for her dedicated work at the New Britain SACS as well as her strong history of advocacy at Central Connecticut State University.
Annual Meeting Attendees
The annual meeting also featured a presentation from Beth Hamilton, the CONNSACS Prevention and Training Coordinator, who demonstrated how Audience Response Systems can be used to engage audiences and facilitate conversations about sexual violence. To close the meeting, CONNSACS Executive Director Laura Cordes presented certificates to member programs to acknowledge the outstanding victim services, outreach, and training that they are doing throughout the state.
Te Creemos: Video de concientización sobre la violencia sexual
(We Believe You: Sexual Assault Awareness Video)
This short video was produced by the CONNSACS Spanish Response Team, a group of bilingual/bicultural Spanish-speaking advocates who serve victims/survivors at sexual assault crisis services programs throughout the state. The video was created and released as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), which organizations throughout the country observe during the month of April. Click here to learn more about some of the great events that are going on in your area as part of SAAM.
El Equipo de Respuesta en Español, un grupo de consejeras/os y representantes bilingües afiliados con el Servicio de Crisis de Asalto Sexual de Connecticut (CONNSACS), ha lanzado este video de servicio publico en español para educar a la comunidad hispana/latina sobre la violencia sexual e incentivar a las victimas/sobrevivientes a utilizar los servicios disponibles. El anuncio de servicio público fue lanzado como parte del mes de conciencia sobre el asalto sexual, el cual es observado en todo del país durante el mes de Abril. Para más información sobre eventos durante el mes de Abril, haz clic aquí.
Te Creemos (We Believe You) A translation of the video is available here.
La ayuda está disponible. Llama a lalíneagratuita a 888-568-8332. Help is available. Call our free Spanish hotline at 888-568-8332.
The Te Creemos video provides viewers with information about sexual violence and resources that are available to survivors, including information about CONNSACS' statewide, free, confidential 24/7 sexual assault Spanish-language hotline. Research shows that one in three Hispanic women and one in four Hispanic men will experience sexual violence during their lifetime, but the Hispanic/Latino community faces many barriers to accessing services. These include language barriers, concerns about actual or perceived immigration status, cultural stigma, and fears about being treated unfairly by law enforcement or other service providers. Everyone deserves safety, respect, and support. Help us spread the word that help is available.
El video presta información sobre la violencia sexual y recursos que están disponibles para sobrevivientes, incluyendo información sobre la línea de apoyo - es gratis, confidencial, y provee apoyo las 24 horas, 7 días de la semana. Estudios demuestran que una de cada tres mujeres y uno de cada cuatro hombres hispanos serán abusados sexualmente durante su vida, pero la comunidad hispana/latina enfrenta muchos obstáculos cuando se trata de acceder a los servicios. Estos incluyen barreras idiomáticas, preocupación acerca del estatus de inmigración, estigma cultural, y miedos acerca del tratamiento por la policía y otros proveedores de servicios. Todos merecen la seguridad, el respeto, y el apoyo. Ayúdanos apasar el mensaje de que la ayuda está disponible.
Please share this video with your social media contacts and organizations that serve Connecticut's Spanish-speaking community.
Favor de compartir este video con tus redes sociales y organizaciones que brindan servicios a la comunidad hispanohablante en Connecticut
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