Welcome to the Official Website of James Landrith
Poetry written in the 21st Century
Written by James Landrith
Tuesday, 13 May 2014
I think I'll call this one "sometimes."
Sometimes, you need to pick up your oldest son from the Metro at 9:30 pm.
Sometimes, you think you feel something crawling up your leg in the dark as you drive up the road.
Sometimes, you ignore it and think it is probably just the air conditioning tickling your leg.
Sometimes, you stop at a red light and decide to change the station because that song you didn't like in the 1980s isn't any better in 2014.
Sometimes, there is an OMG BIG FUCKING SPIDER looking back at you from the channel display as if it owns the place.
Sometimes, you wage a small war in your own car.
Sometimes, you win.
About Me/Website -
Press and Government Mentions
Written by Alison Vingiano
Monday, 05 May 2014
How The “Trigger Warning” Took Over The Internet
The phrase evolved from clinical psychiatry, moved from LiveJournal fan fiction to Tumblr to mainstream media, and eventually ended up on college syllabi. Here’s the story of how it happened.
posted on May 5, 2014, at 3:37 p.m.
Scroll through Tumblr, search on Twitter, or glance over almost any feminist blog and you’re bound to stumble upon the “trigger warning,” a bold introductory statement alerting readers that unsettling content follows. An R rating. A red flag in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable internet that suggests the text may unearth traumatic memories within you, or bring you back to that pinnacle moment when your life was divided into “before” and “after.”
The clinical notion of triggering dates back far as 1918, when psychologists tried to make sense of “war neurosis” in World War I, and later World War II, veterans. The term “post-traumatic stress disorder” came into use after the Vietnam War, but was not recognized as a diagnosable affliction until 1980. Then, psychologists started to work with clients to identify possible PTSD “triggers,” or a sensory input that somehow resembles the original trauma. But anticipating them is notoriously difficult. They assume disparate and unpredictable forms. An essay, or film, or other piece of media might trigger a person, as could a sound or a smell, a physical space, a specific object, or a person.
The digital response, the term “trigger warning,” is now everywhere. It is common on feminist websites from xoJane to The Hairpin, and has been debated in a number of mainstream publications that have never even adopted the phrase, from The Guardian to the Associated Press.
This has happened as sexual assault becomes a larger part of the national conversation: Last week the White House released anti-rape PSAs and launcheda task force for better responding to sexual assault on college campuses. And the term trigger warning has adapted too. It has now moved offline and onto college campuses, where some students are asking for trigger warnings on class syllabi.
Of course, content warnings on media existed prior to the internet: There’s the graphic-content warning before a television show or a video game, or the rating system for movies. But where did the phrase “trigger warning” come from, and how did it dominate the internet and inch into our offline lives?
Justine Zwiebel / Via BuzzFeed
Tracking down the first time the phrase “trigger warning” appeared on the internet proves nearly impossible, but it’s clear that the term did not enter the web fully formed. Before the “trigger warning” became the accepted way to brace readers for explicit content, bloggers prefaced stories with “This might be triggering,” or “This deals with some eating disorder stuff,” or “Warning: potential trigger.”
Some version of the term began appearing on feminist message boards in discussions of sexual assault in the late ’90s. Andi Zeisler, the co-founder and editorial/creative director of the feminist publication Bitch magazine, said the phrase often popped up on a community forum on Ms. Magazine’s website.
“The first time I saw trigger warnings used was on Ms. Magazine’s bulletin board in the late ’90s and early ’00s,” she said. “It might have been on other feminist sites, but I only remember seeing it on Ms.”
By the early 2000s, the term had found its way to LiveJournal, where it was used on fan fiction.
Gaby Dunn, a writer and early adopter of Tumblr and LiveJournal, said when she was using LiveJournal around 2001, fan fiction communities warned one another of explicit content but seldom used the phrase that has been adopted today.
“When we’d write fan fiction on LiveJournal, we might say, ‘This includes a rape storyline,’ or something, but that phrase [‘trigger warning’] was never used,” Dunn said.
The concept of triggering wasn’t just applied to fan fiction; other users in recovery from addition or self-harm began to use it around the same time. On LiveJournal, some iteration of the trigger warning was first posted in 2002, according to the site’s public archive. A user warned her followers that she was “pro-ana,” and a commenter asked what that meant. The author explained:
Another post from 2002 asked users to “be courteous and use an lj-cut with a warning in the text before any possible triggers [for self-harm].” (An lj-cut allowsyou to hide all or part of your entry behind a link.)
The actual words “trigger warning” gained traction on the website a year later. A version of the phrase was used in the title of a July 2003 post that spread across the website, and is still archived on LiveJournal, called “What Type of Self-Mutilation Are You? (Warning: Triggering Pictures).”
In the years that followed, between 2003 and 2007, the exact phrase “trigger warning” appeared in blogs and in comments on LiveJournal 62 times, according to the site’s archives. Some are on posts about rape, others eating disorders, and some reference what triggered users in their offline lives. And hundreds of other posts contain notes warning readers about potentially triggering content by using slightly different language.
While warning for triggers became expected in these specific communities, the advent of Twitter in 2006 and Tumblr in 2007, and the growth of Facebook in 2008, mainstreamed the term in a new way. People who used trigger warnings on their personal blogs began sharing content on Twitter and Facebook with the signifier:
Others shared links on Twitter with a trigger warning, even when the actual article did not use one:
This links to this Feminist Majority article, which does not have a trigger warning.
Trigger warnings thrived on Tumblr too.
Tumblr’s interface, in which users scroll through an endless dashboard of blogs, offers no warning — not even a headline — for potentially NSFW or triggering material. There’s no choice of whether or not to click. The content is just there, and the purveyors of its omnipresent porn GIFs and Benedict Cumberbatch fan fiction don’t care if you’re at your office. Perhaps because of this, and the fact that many LiveJournal bloggers were early Tumblr users, trigger warnings became a common courtesy when the site began in 2007.
Tumblr’s interface influenced the need for trigger warnings as much as its content did, as the site quickly grew popular among fan groups, feminists, the LGBT community, and teens. Articles that did not include trigger warnings in their original form were reblogged on Tumblr with the phrase. There is even aFuckYeahTriggerWarnings Tumblr. So bloggers began to expect the warnings, and when they ventured to other feminist sites, many started requesting trigger warnings in comments.
“It doesn’t set off any triggers for me, but others may disagree,” one Feministecommenter warned on a 2008 article that did not include a trigger warning. In an article a couple years later, a commenter requested a trigger warning for eating disorders after Jill Filipovic, an editor for the site, wrote that a piece of sexist legislation was “so awful it made me want to throw up.”
Feministe then became the first website to share a story on Twitter with a trigger warning, according to search results from Topsy, a website that searches and analyzes Twitter archives.
Feministe officially introduced trigger warnings in 2008, “based on feedback from commenters,” said Filipovic. “We obliged to users’ demands because we did not want to alienate any readers.”
But some posts prior to 2008 warned of disturbing content. A post titled “Would You Rather” from February 2006, for example, read: “(Note: contains some sexual-violence triggers).” Another post from July 2007 warned: “this video is potentially triggering.”
Zeisler of Bitch, who started using trigger warnings in 2007, said she also began using the term based on commenter’s requests. The print edition of the magazine, however, has never used the expression.
“Online spaces are often more curated for an imagined specific group of people. They’re a little more narrowly focused, and there is a sense that they are cultivating a community,” said Zeisler. “People who read and comment have a stake in the life of that online community, so it makes sense to respect what they want and think about the reading experience other people will have.”
Like its counterparts, Feministing, which rose to popularity in the feminist blogosphere in 2009, adopted the phrase based on requests.
“Feministing respects such requests [from comments] by including trigger warnings on posts when we cover issues related to sexual assault, rape, or other violence, or publish posts with graphic content related to these themes,” said Lori Adelman, the site’s executive director. “We strive to create an accountable space online,” which, among other things, includes “acknowledging when others are triggered.”
Melissa McEwan, founder and writer of the popular feminist blog Shakesville, began using trigger warnings in 2009, five years after she first founded the site. She wrote about feminist subjects in the blog’s early days, but McEwan says that readers weren’t demanding trigger warnings with the same frequency. The rise of social media changed that.
As a survivor of rape, McEwan understood the desire to see trigger warnings before graphic content related to sexual assault, but she originally excluded the notes when writing about other subjects, like racism, ableism, colonialism, depression, or eating disorders. When readers started to ask for trigger warnings on those posts too, she was happy to add them.
After about two years of using trigger warnings, McEwan ditched the term in favor of her own system, which she calls “content notes.” Similar to trigger warnings, the notes detail what topics will be discussed in each post.
“We switched to content notes in 2011 or 2012 to acknowledge that even if somebody isn’t triggered, there still might be something that they don’t want to read,” McEwan explained. “Another issue that’s been brought up is that the word ‘trigger’ might be triggering for people who have experienced gun violence.”
Other sites have developed their own system too; Bodies Under Siege, a self-injury support message board, uses abbreviated tags — from SI (self-injury) to ED (eating disorders) — to offer warnings on particularly triggering posts.
These days content notes are found on nearly every Shakesville post, even on photograph of McEwan’s dogs where their teeth are “bared in a way that may be perceived as aggressive.” She added that one at the request of a man who had suffered from a dog bite. No harm comes from tellings readers what content to expect in a post, she believes.
The trigger warning has taken on a life of its own, flooding the feminist blogosphere and becoming an expected courtesy.
“You’re sort of seen as a jerk if you’re writing in a feminist space and not using trigger warnings,” said Filipovic. “You now see them applied to racism, anything that is anti-transgender, anything that is bigoted, ablism. The word ‘crazy’ could merit a trigger warning … There’s this feeling: ‘How many problematic things can I point out about this article to show that I am a feminist, or the most able to identify all of the problematic language?’”
The term has also moved beyond the feminist community: It is still used throughout fan fiction and became the norm on the website AO3, an archive of fan literature, in 2009. A spokesperson for the site, Claudia Rebaza, said, “It’s quite possible that discussion of triggers took place in fan spaces before the terms were more widely recognized … the concern about warning for content was widespread enough among fan work creators that it was built into the AO3 posting format [in 2009].”
As the term grew increasingly ubiquitous online, it also began to acquire critics. In 2010, writer Susannah Breslin wrote that feminists applied the phrase “like a Southern cook applies Pam cooking spray to an overused nonstick frying pan” and that “the whole world is a trigger warning,” to which Feministing respondedthat she was a “certifiable asshole,” and Jezebel, a site that has never used trigger warnings, claimed that the debate over the term “been totally clouded by ridiculous inflammatory rhetoric.”
Posts questioning the necessity of the trigger warning thereafter appeared in The Awl, The Rumpus, and other publications, many arguing the term was overused. In a 2012 Feministing post, writer Maya Dusenbery wrote that although she was using trigger warnings at Feministing, she “didn’t really believe in them.”
“It feels arbitrary what gets the warning and what doesn’t,” Dusenbery wrote. “And on a blog like this, especially, I sort of expect that everything could be somewhat triggering… On the other hand, despite their imperfections, trigger warnings seem to be appreciated by some people and that’s good enough for me.”
A few months after Breslin’s piece in 2010, Jessica Coen took over Jezebel, a highly trafficked website that writes about gender but does not deem itself “feminist.” The site had never used trigger warnings in the past, and Coen said there was never a discussion about whether or not to introduce them.
“As a human being you’re responsible for what media you engage with. If aJezebel headline says ‘harrowing,’ or ‘terrible,’ or ‘horrible,’ that’s a pretty good indicator that the content will be difficult,” Coen said. “That’s the web standard. If you start warning for one thing, you have to decide which unpleasant thing is worth a trigger and which isn’t. That isn’t a position an editor should be in.”
(BuzzFeed doesn’t use trigger warnings; its style guide asks reporters to make sure headlines are clear, and to use explicit warnings of graphic content.)
But Jezebel did use the term once, as a joke in an August 2013 post about a bug infestation. One commenter accused the site of “trolling people who believe in them [trigger warnings]” and criticized Coen’s policy against them.
Justine Zwiebel / Via BuzzFeed
Although the trigger warning has only entered the online conversation in recent years, and has mostly gained attention in feminist circles, the concept of triggering dates back to psychological studies of post-traumatic stress disorder in war veterans. Studies of shell shock after World War I often focused on recognizing (and ignoring or confronting) potential provocations for “war neurosis.” The term “trigger warning” doesn’t appear in early psychological academic papers, or almost any print publications, but the concept behind the phrase was prevalent.
In the 1918 book Shell Shock and Its Lessons, professors Elliot Smith and T.H. Pear warned that intense emotional or physical arousal could cause the following:
Psychological trauma from war was called “battle fatigue” or “war neurosis” until long after World War II, when thousands of veterans were lobotomized to help with psychological issues that confounded doctors. Post-traumatic stress disorder was not officially recognized as an affliction with specific symptoms that could be consistently diagnosed as a disease until 1980, according to theNational Institute for Mental Health. Care for PTSD shifted dramatically as well. Veteran hospitals began working with clients to help them identify triggers for their PTSD, and control their responses when triggered. Women’s abuse crisis centers and support groups have also used the concept of warning clients about possible triggers since at least 1980.
David Beasley, a spokesman for Safe Horizon, a New York City–based organization that provides social and psychological services to victims of violence and trauma and runs many group therapy and support groups, said that the center has used the concept of warning clients about triggers for decades.
“The idea of triggering traumatic experiences is something we are conscious of, and our work has been aware of it since we began 35 years ago,” said Beasley. “We work with our clients on finding potential triggers in their environments and how to deal with that best.”
Taking trigger warnings from support groups to online space was a natural progression, Beasley said. “It would make sense for our clients to seek out online communities where they can talk to people who have had similar experiences.”
Beasley believes that without ever using the signifier in therapy, some members of support groups who learned to identify personal triggers and expect trigger warnings began to use online communities like LiveJournal, DeadJournal, Xanga, and Tumblr, and brought these concepts with them.
Posts on Tumblr offer a similar explanation. As one user wrote:
While it’s clear that the phrase itself came to fruition online, the concept of triggering originated offline in psychological studies, trauma support groups, and feminist communities. Now it’s moving back offline in various capacities — most notably onto college campuses. Trigger warnings have even been requested before television programs.
After a violent rape depiction in a Scandal episode late last year, many viewers said that the show should have used a trigger warning before that scene, and Shonda Rhimes, the show’s executive producer, agreed:
In the support groups organized by Safe Horizon, the language has now changed.
“In the last couple years, trigger warnings have become more commonly used in our community, and it is now our shared group language,” Beasley said.
On a number of college campuses, from Oberlin to University of California, Santa Barbara, and Rutgers, administrators are fielding requests from students who want to see warnings before difficult materials, such as films that depict rape scenes, or books that discuss racism and colonialism.
At Oberlin College, several dozen professors recently voiced concerns at a meeting, arguing that adding trigger warnings on syllabi could interfere with academic freedom and worsen the learning environment, Slate reported. The policy demanding teachers use trigger warnings was ultimately tabled.
Still, trigger warnings have grown and thrived in the spaces they where they first became popular. Third-party extensions for Tumblr can aid those who are triggered easily: “Tumblr Savior” lets users block any tag, and Tumblr SafeDashgives users the chance to select the images they want to see.
When you search “anorexia,” “cutting,” or “depression” on Tumblr, you get redirected to a page asking you if you’re OK and linking you to a crisis center. And if you search for the phrase “trigger warning,” before you get to scroll through the results where you’ll find hundreds of pictures of slit wrists and emaciated rib cages, the message below appears, indicating that the site does not take the phrase lightly, despite its ubiquity.
Among survivors of sexual assault, opinions on the term’s growing presence both online and offline are mixed. But those varied opinions only illustrate the term’s necessity and its flaws.
In a piece on The Rumpus published in 2011, author Roxane Gay explains some of her own triggers for sexual assault and rape — “When I see men who look like him or his friends… When I’m having sex and my wrists are unexpectedly pinned over my head. When I see a young girl of a certain age.” She then turns to the online phrase, and writes:
But Shakesville founder McEwan, also a survivor, defends the pervasiveness of the term.
“Being physically triggered is much more serious than being upset,” McEwan said. “People who say, ‘You’re too sensitive’ don’t actually understand what it means to be triggered, and it diminishes a survivor’s experience. The accusation of oversensitivity is such an effective silencing mechanism.”
Alison Vingiano is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Alison Vingiano at
Last Updated ( Saturday, 31 January 2015 )
Blog, Commentary and Articles -
Rape, Sexual Assault and Abuse
Written by James Landrith
Thursday, 01 May 2014
As a vocal and public male survivor, I've taken on a lot of abuse, harassment and hate from those who don't want to hear our voices. I get it. Rape is an "icky" topic. Men are supposed to be strong and women couldn't possibly commit sexual violence. They will quote legal definitions, espouse childish mythology and communicate taunts in an attempt to shame and silence. There are any number of "reasons" why we are silenced, minimized, trivialized and outright mocked by the general public and often by sexual violence activists and advocates. Further, if the general public acknowledges male survivors, then it will also have to consider the possibility of female rapists beyond the "wink-wink" emotionally stunted ideology ascribed to at present.
Get over it. We exist.
I've been speaking on a very public stage since finally finding my voice in 2008. That was nearly two decades after I had been drugged, raped and blackmailed into silence. Since then, I've been called every name I can imagine, been publicly shamed in print, told that I "better not reveal the name" of my rapist and been subjected to a ton of other forms of intimidation and silencing attempts. I keep hearing how male survivors don't experience such shaming tactics, yet I keep experiencing such firsthand. I wonder why the need to deny it happens?
As a male who does not identify as "ally" or "bystander" first, but as a survivor and actual stakeholder in sexual violence issues in my own right, I am saddened at how often we are used as cannon fodder by both men and women in battles over who has it worse.
That is yet another iteration of the Oppression Olympics. That is creating a hierarchy of suffering. That is NOT anything approaching actual advocacy work.
If you don't care about our issues, that is fine. However, please stop co-opting our traumas to make the case that "X doesn't care about you and only brings you up to silence Y." Guess what, the advocates for "Y" are doing the same thing with regard to male survivors and our issues by using us as talking points and a "gotcha" in their never-ending gender wars. Such ideological battles are more akin to a turf war or gang fight than anything even slightly resembling mature and reasoned advocacy.
Please. We are actual human beings. We exist. Our issues may not matter to some, but we deserve to be treated with a little dignity and a lot less shallow condescension from people who are only using us to score points in ideological arguments.
Our concerns, our struggles and our lives matter far more than your selfish need to score a quick point at our expense. Is that too much to ask?
Don't bother answering. I'm not asking. You don't actually care anyway. Anyone engaging in such practices lacks the emotional maturity to comprehend why such behavior is abhorrent in the first place.
Advocacy that is not based in compassion and focused on the lives of the human beings affected will eventually fail - and spectacularly. Believe it.
About James A. Landrith
James Landrith is a healing rape survivor, public speaker, Vice President of Men Recovering from Military Sexual Trauma (MR. MST), internationally syndicated blogger, civil liberties activist and the notorious editor and publisher of The Multiracial Activist (ISSN: 1552-3446) and The Abolitionist Examiner (ISSN: 1552-2881). Landrith can be reached by email at:
or at his personal website/blog.
Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 May 2014 )
About Me/Website -
Press and Government Mentions
Written by Austin Koeller
Thursday, 17 April 2014
By Austin Koeller, The Antelope
Take Back the Night always empowers the audience. The multifaceted event will be held Thursday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room. The show concludes with an annual drag show.
Following speakers, audience can walk out to Take Back the Night, dance-off, win prizes, watch drag show
A woman walks alone into the night. After a long night, she just wants to get back to her dorm safely. With every step she takes, her heart beats faster and faster as she passes the nearby streetlights.
The fear rises inside as she fears that she may not make it back to her dorm safely. Nearing her dorm, she begins to walk at an even faster pace, until she reaches the front door of her dorm hall.
As she walks up the stairs to her room, she hurries inside her room, locking the door, her heart still beating from the fear of walking back to her dorm room alone.
As women continue to face the fear of walking home alone, sponsors of one upcoming campus event hope to change this by hosting a Take Back the Night event. The program will be held Thursday, April 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ponderosa Room of the Nebraskan Student Union.
The event is sponsored by the Women’s Center, the Office of Multicultural Affairs, QSA & Sister to Sister, UNK Women and Gender Studies, Triota, LoperNites, Pepsi Funds and University Program and Activities Fees.
Take Back the Night event is a nationwide event started in the 1970s following the murder of microbiologist Susan Alexander Speeth, who was stabbed to death after walking home alone. In 1975, the first Take Back the Night event was held in Philadelphia, Pa. to raise awareness of sexual violence.
Since then, Take Back the Night has been held across college and university campuses worldwide.
“The purpose of Take Back the Night is to raise awareness that these things are happening in our community and that women should still be empowered to walk home at night,” said Jordan Loschen, a graduate assistant in the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs. “The goal is for students to feel empowered, to talk about the issue of sexual assault that’s happening on our campus and in our community. When we talk about this issue more, we will be able to prevent it more, stop it, and increase the reports of sexual assaults.”
Loschen said that since only 60 percent of all sexual assaults are reported, it is important to increase the reports of sexual assaults, in order to decrease the number of cases that occur.
The event will begin with two speakers speaking about sexual violence.
“It will begin … with a sexual assault survivor,” Loschen said. “She is a female, and she was sexually assaulted while a student at UNK and she still is a student.”
In order to protect the identity of the student and her story, the female speaker’s name is not being released.
The event will also feature nationally recognized speaker James Landrith.
“His case is really unique because he was actually sexually assaulted by a female,” Loschen said.
After the speakers present, the event will also feature a drag show. Loschen said that the drag show will feature six professional drag king and queens. She said that while some people have questions as to why Take Back the Night is put on along with the drag show, she feels as if both events can be empowering for different populations.
“We just want to raise awareness for the LGBTQ population through empowering and fun events such as the drag show,” Loschen said.
After the drag show, the walk to raise awareness of sexual violence will begin.
“We’re going to walk out of the union, walk to 25th Street and pause,” Loschen said. “Then, we’ll proceed to the fountain and finish up the event there.”
Throughout the night, the event will consist of activities such as dance-offs, trivia and a raffle.
The raffle, Loschen said, consists of up to $500 in prizes including gift cards to K-Mart, Nick’s Gyros, Target and Wal-Mart; five free car washes and other prizes.
Students can get free raffle tickets at tables in the atrium on Wednesday and Thursday, leading up the event. The students will receive a balloon with a random number of tickets to be entered into the raffle drawing. In addition, students will receive an additional free raffle ticket if they take a picture of the event poster, set it as their profile picture on Facebook or Twitter and show it at the event.
Loschen said that the event would not have been possible without the “generous donations and support from the community and the campus.”
“We have some great people and organizations on campus that have given us funding,” Loschen said. “Without them, this event would not be possible.”
The Take back the Night event received funding from LoperNites, University Program and Activities Fees, the Women’s Center and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The Women’s Center sponsors activities throughout the year to raise awareness of sexual assault, including Sex Signals, Stalking Awareness, Open Mic Night, Responsibility and Love is Consent. They are teaming up with UNK Intramurals to hold a flag football tournament throughout the month of April.
Advocacy and Letters -
Written by DC Justice for Survivors Campaign
Tuesday, 08 April 2014
April 8, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Renee Davidson
DC Justice for Survivors Campaign (DC JSC)
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 theDC 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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