Our society tells us that when we fall down, we should get right back up. When we’re sick, we should “suck it up” and go to work anyway. And when we are harmed, we’re supposed to just get over it. This mentality is at the root of a culture that doesn’t create space for healing. For survivors of sexual violence, there are even more barriers. These include societal stigma around sexual violence, stigma around asking for support, lack of funding for therapy, lack of employer support and paid time off for healing, and unequal access to therapy and services from providers who understand trauma and the power dynamics involved in abuse and oppression. Additionally, the dominant narrative around who is considered a survivor or not, as well as what is considered healing, is Euro-centric and leaves out culturally-competent care.
Those who have been harmed by sexual violence should be treated with care and compassion, and given access to the support and services they need and want. Survivors should be able to dictate their own healing journey without barriers based on money or identity. Survivors should be given the space they need, with the understanding from their employers and loved ones that healing is not linear, it isn’t always convenient, and often, there is nothing to “get over” but rather finding ways to carry the trauma while moving forward. Survivors should be treated with dignity and recognition of their humanity at every step.
WE ARE CALLING FOR
- Funding of community-rooted, culturally-responsive, and trauma-informed programs that serve survivors whose needs are often ignored by mainstream health care and sexual assault services, including Black, Indigenous, caste-oppressed and survivors of color, LGBTQIA+ survivors, and survivors with disabilities.
- All health insurance policies to fully cover mental health services without co-pay, including a range of trauma-informed therapies, community healing services, substance abuse treatment, and harm reduction services, and culturally-competent and identity-affirming services and healers.
- Ensure youth survivors of sexual violence have access to healing services without parental consent, and analyze the impacts and effectiveness of mandatory reporting requirements.
- Increase access to virtual and phone-based mental health programs to expand the pool of mental service providers available to survivors in rural areas or those geographically separate from their Indigenous/cultural centers, and include efforts to ensure meaningful access for survivors with limited English proficiency and for those impacted by the digital divide with limited access to technology.
- Incentives and requirements for anti-bias and trauma training for all mental and medical health care providers.
- Ensure that institutions are held accountable for not keeping children and adolescents safe, and for covering up child sexual abuse, such as in organized religion and sports.
POLICIES THAT MOVE US FORWARD
- Expand and allow federal funds to be disseminated as direct cash transfers for mental health, medical, holistic, and other healing services.
- Fund the federal Sexual Assault Services Program at $200 million, a transformative increase from the current appropriation of $38 million to allow a greater number of survivors to access federally-funded rape crisis centers, and expand the services provided by those programs.
- Provide targeted funding for culturally specific community-based organizations primarily focused on enhancing access to services and well-being for survivors from communities of color, immigrant communities, and other underserved communities.
- Expand Family and Medical Leave Act coverage to include paid safe days for all survivors of sexual violence, regardless of duration of employment and size of the employer.
- Require child and youth-centered, federally mandated safeguarding policies and procedures for all youth-serving organizations—including ongoing training for staff, anonymous reporting mechanisms, and safety committees that include participation of community members and youth.
- Change laws that currently protect religious organizations by limiting the legal recourse of survivors in cases of child sexual abuse and other forms of sexual violence.