National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: Implications for Oregon

This December, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released findings from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS).  The findings confirm what we’ve known for a long time: Sexual violence is one of the most serious and prevalent public health and social justice issues our country faces.  Indeed, the study confirmed that nearly 1 in 5 women have been raped at some point in their lives.  Also, nearly 1 in 2 women and nearly 1 in 5 men have experienced sexual violence victimization other than rape at some point in their lifetimes.

We can do better.  We can create communities free from sexual violence.

Dedicated professionals, activists, and community members through Oregon have implemented thriving sexual violence response and prevention efforts over the past several years.  From its founding 13 years ago to today, the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force (SATF) has created our renowned Sexual Assault Training Institute (SATI) for the training of responders to sexual violence, published a statewide sexual violence prevention plan, developed a robust Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner training and certification program, supported community-based organizations in taking on prevention work, advocated for significant policy and legislative changes, and much more.   Oregon has come far.  We are a state committed to ending sexual violence.  This report confirms that the SATF’s services are essential and that our prevention efforts are on target.

A few of the SATF’s successes are directly related to the key recommendations in the report, including:

  • Survivors of sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence need coordinated services to ensure healing and prevent recurrence of victimization.
    • Oregonians, through the Task Force Advisory Committee’s Legislative and Public Policy Subommittee, worked to create and pass a law in Oregon that requires that all counties establish a Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) by the end of 2013.
    • The SATF supports the creation and sustainability of Sexual Assault Response Teams (SARTs) through technical assistance and training by SATI.
    • Community-based sexual assault services organizations throughout Oregon work diligently to build strong and lasting relationships with key stakeholders in their communities.
    • The Task Force Advisory Committee’s Victim Response Subcommittee dedicates itself to ensuring that victims’ voices and informed choices guide the response to sexual assault.
  • Strengthen the health care system’s response.
    • We continue to receive increased requests from nurses throughout the state who are interested in becoming Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) and our SANE Program works with SATI to make those possible, providing SANE trainings throughout the state.
    • Legislation supported by the SATF in 2011 requires that all medical facilities employ or contract with a trained forensic examiner, or adopt policies to transfer sexual assault patients to facilities that provide these services.
    • Our SANE Program also provides administrative support to the Oregon SANE/SAE Certification Commission, one of only seven state-level certification bodies in the United States.
    • The purpose of the Task Force Advisory Committee’s Medical Forensic Subcommittee is to develop an effective medical response to and standardize the care of sexual assault victims throughout the state of Oregon.
  • Hold perpetrators accountable.
    • The Sexual Assault Training Institute (SATI) provides basic and advanced training for law enforcement officers and prosecutors who work to hold offenders accountable.
    • The Oregon legislature, at the request of the SATF, amended the definition of “mental incapacitation” to close the loophole that allowed most rapes of intoxicated victims to go largely unpunished.
    • Task Force Advisory Committee Members, particularly members of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee and the Offender Management Subcommittee, work tirelessly to improve the state’s approach to perpetrator accountability and treatment.
  • Prevention efforts should start early, promoting healthy, respectful relationships in families by fostering healthy parent-child relationships and developing positive family dynamics and emotionally supportive environments.
    • Community-based organizations throughout the state conduct school-based sexual violence prevention efforts, often with a parental-involvement component, that focus on respect, communication, consent, and many more key characteristics of healthy relationships.
    • The strategic plan for implementation of the statewide sexual violence prevention plan aims to, “Through the use of Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) funds and other community resources, promote peaceful, healthy relationships and sexuality in Oregon by increasing the capacity of individuals, groups, and communities to provide comprehensive, culturally relevant, sexual violence prevention strategies.”
    • The Oregon legislature passed a law in 2009 that requires comprehensive sexuality education in all schools.  This policy is supported by the statewide youth sexual health plan and Oregon Youth Sexual Health Partnership.
    • Communities across the state organize their members to promote positive, healthy sexuality and relationships.  For example, several communities organize groups of men to address men’s roles in the prevention of sexual violence.
  • Continue addressing the beliefs, attitudes and messages that are deeply embedded in our social structures and that create a climate that condones sexual violence, stalking, and intimate partner violence.
    • The Oregon Men Against Violence initiative, advised by the Men’s Engagement Subcommittee of the Task Force Advisory Committee, supports efforts to engage men and boys in the prevention of and response to sexual violence.
    • Local efforts, such as PAWS for Change in Klamath Falls, Oregon, engage men and boys throughout the community in critically analyzing what it means to be a man (how masculinity is defined) in their communities and how this impacts community health.
    • A new partnership between the SATF and the Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board trains tribes across Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to implement Sexual Assault Response and Resource Circles.   Core to this effort is honoring the power of the community to create healthy, safe, and just environments that promote positive behaviors and resist oppressive influences and history.
    • The Task Force Advisory Committee’s Prevention and Education Subcommittee   organizes the statewide Sexual Health Work Group that assesses and promotes healthy sexuality efforts throughout Oregon.

With the implementation of NISVS, the CDC began collecting state-level data that will prove to be useful as it is updated and made more precise in the coming years.  We look forward strong data sets that inform our sexual violence response and prevention work in Oregon.

The NISVS findings demonstrate the far-reaching impact of sexual violence, underscoring the heavy toll that it takes on women, men, and children in the United States.  Sexual violence hurts us and it weakens our communities.  With this new data, we know that we have come far, and we see that we must go much farther.  Thank you for supporting Oregon’s efforts for peaceful, healthy, and safe communities free from sexual violence.

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January 2012 E-Newsletter!

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