Sexual Assault on Campus: What We Can Do

By Nicole Greene, Acting Director, Office on Women’s Health

*Originally published on the Women’s Health blog on September 27, 2017″

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.57.00 PM

Content Warning: Sexual Assault

One in five undergraduate women (PDF – 282 KB) are sexually assaulted during college. When I think about that number, I want to change it so everyone is safe. This National Campus Safety Awareness Month, I encourage you to support the theme “Take the First Step” and work to create a safe campus.

The Office on Women’s Health is committed to preventing sexual assault on college and university campuses. That’s why we launched the College Sexual Assault Policy and Prevention Initiative. This initiative provides technical assistance and support for implementing sexual assault policies and prevention strategies on college campuses.

At just a year into the initiative, we’re encouraged by the programs being implemented around the country. Schools are conducting bystander intervention trainings that are focused on fraternity and sorority advisors. Others are offering awareness and prevention video resources. Some have been conducting trainings on trauma-informed responses for their staff and incorporating messages about consent and bystander intervention into fall festivals.

I’m personally excited about these programs and prevention activities because they address this issue from multiple angles: awareness, prevention, intervention, and response. Demonstrating to students that their schools are aware of this issue and care enough to provide these activities and resources is a huge step in the right direction. So, what else can we do to help prevent sexual assault?

What Communities Can Do

Education about sexual assault and consent begins long before college, in the messages children receive from their parents and other adults. We can plant the seed of consent and respect in children from an early age with this simple lesson: People should not touch each other without asking first. As children grow, the messages grow with them. We also all have a role in modeling respectful and consensual interactions, both sexual and nonsexual. In addition, community members should pay attention to their local and state policies and legislation, and they should advocate for positive change in support of sexual violence prevention efforts and effective reporting and supportive services for survivors.

What Colleges Can Do

Administrators, faculty, staff, and coaches must work with students to implement comprehensive prevention programs. Schools should consider teaching consent and healthy relationship/communication skills throughout the academic year, institute stricter intolerance policies on assault, and make it clear that sexual assault has no place in higher education.

What Students Can Do

Students have a large role in preventing sexual assault of others, too. If they see someone at risk for assault, they can help prevent it by using the C.A.R.E. bystander intervention technique: Create a distraction, Ask the person directly, Refer to an authority like a resident assistant or security guard, and Enlist others’ help.

Every person on campus has a role to play in eradicating sexual assault from universities and colleges. When your sons and daughters go off to college, remind them what respecting themselves and others looks like. After that, it’s up to them to make the right choices and for the colleges to support them.

This National Campus Safety Awareness Month, I encourage students, administrators, faculty, and coaches to take the first steps together to prevent sexual assault. For more info on preventing sexual assault, visit Sexual Violence on Campus: Strategies for Prevention (PDF – 3.5 MB) and STOP SV (PDF – 2.85 MB).

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.57.00 PM

Nicole Greene serves as Deputy Director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health (OWH) and acts as the primary advisor to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health — Women’s Health. A former Council for Excellence in Government Fellow and a graduate of the prestigious Leadership for a Democratic Society program through the Federal Executive Institute, Ms. Greene leads change management in the office. One of her first projects at OWH was to lead the restructuring of OWH, improving the efficiency and effectiveness by aligning the mission of the Office so it can better serve American women and girls. Read more here.

Governor Maggie Hassan Continues Her Support of Survivors this DVAM

We end our DVAM blog posts from New Hampshire’s highest elected officials with this post from Governor Maggie Hassan. Prevention Innovations Research Center is grateful for the support that has been demonstrated for domestic violence victims and their children, as well as for the New Hampshire programs and advocates who work tirelessly and passionately to provide life-changing and life-saving support and services.

By Governor Maggie Hassan


Domestic violence is an unthinkable crime, and it is one that tragically happens far too often in New Hampshire and across the country. Abuse, assault and violence can happen anywhere, and it can happen to anyone. Survivors of domestic violence are women and men of all races and colors. They are our bosses, co-workers, friends, neighbors and family members.

Speaking out about domestic violence and sexual assault is critical to preventing further abuse. Domestic Violence Awareness Month reminds us that by keeping these issues at the forefront of our collective conscience, we can help ensure that every victim’s needs and rights are identified and addressed, while continuing to make progress toward the ultimate goal of preventing these crimes in the first place.

Every day, survivors and their families speak up and tell their stories, inspiring us with their courage and serving as a beacon of hope for those who have yet to come forward. And their bravery has led to important improvements to our laws.

In our state, Becky Raines’ courage led to the passage of Joshua’s Law in memory of her son, which established the crime of domestic violence in New Hampshire – helping law enforcement and prosecutors better identify and stop repeat abusers, making it easier to keep guns out of the hands of abusers, and providing victims with access to support services and protections as soon as possible. And because of John Cantin’s tireless efforts, we passed Missy’s Law in honor of his daughter to make attempted strangulation, often a precursor to even greater violence in domestic abuse cases, a felony.

It is the bravery of these individuals that inspires me every day to work across the aisle to protect the rights of survivors and their families and to do everything in our power to help prevent assault and abuse from occurring. As Governor, I am focused on ensuring that our advocates, law enforcement, public safety officials and legal community have the tools they need to support survivors and to keep all Granite Staters safe from domestic violence.

We have worked across party lines in Concord to increase funding to support domestic violence prevention efforts. We also worked to establish a commission to study sexual abuse prevention education in elementary and secondary schools to help instill in our young people the importance of treating one another with dignity and respect.

To support survivors and victims of domestic violence, we passed a bipartisan measure requiring defendants to be in the courtroom for victim impact statements and implemented the Lethality Assessment Program, an innovative tool used by police officers to identify survivors at high risk of being seriously injured or killed and to connect them with a local crisis support center if necessary. This partnership between law enforcement and local support centers is helping save lives and preventing deaths from domestic violence, and we must expand it throughout the entire state to protect even more Granite Staters.

To address human trafficking, we passed laws to make it easier to convict violators, while also providing victims with the resources and protections they need to rebuild their lives. I also recently signed a bipartisan bill that makes it a Class B felony to purchase or agree to purchase human trafficking victims under the age of 18.

In order to continue the progress we have made here in New Hampshire, we must ensure that laws are in place to protect victims and survivors of domestic violence on a federal level as well. I was proud of Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s leadership in enacting the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Rights Act, which builds on the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act and helps assure victims of sexual assault that the law is on their side, clearly articulating rights to address the unique challenges sexual assault survivors face.

While we have made progress in our efforts to support survivors and families of domestic violence and to prevent such heinous crimes from happening, we know that we must remain vigilant in our work so that no Granite Stater lives in fear or danger.

By continuing to talk about these issues and committing to not be a bystander, each of us can go a long way to ending domestic violence. Throughout Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the entire year, I encourage all Granite Staters to honor those we have lost to domestic violence, to commend survivors who have spoken out, and to recommit ourselves to working together every single day to continue building an even safer and stronger New Hampshire.



Margaret “Maggie” Hassan, a Democrat, is New Hampshire’s Governor. To read Maggie’s full bio, click here.

Uniting Hands and PAWs to End Domestic Violence

By Senator Kelly Ayotte


As we mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, I’ve had several opportunities to think about how we can all do better to support survivors of domestic and sexual violence and prevent these crimes from happening in the first place. I was glad to participate in the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence’s annual Hall of Fame Luncheon at the end of September. Every year, they honor New Hampshire residents who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in order to provide better support for survivors and work toward ending these horrific crimes. I’m incredibly grateful for their work, and for the work of UNH’s Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) in preventing sexual and domestic violence on campus.

Since my time as a prosecutor and New Hampshire’s first female attorney general, I have met with stakeholders at all levels, and over the years the conversation surrounding domestic and sexual violence has evolved to grasp the fact that domestic violence is about power, and it’s a way for abusers to assert control.

There has been a collective movement to look toward more wide-ranging solutions to tackle the root causes of violence against women.

In the Senate, I introduced legislation that speaks to a certain aspect of domestic violence that has consistently been an issue, but never previously dealt with at the federal level. I worked across the aisle with Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) on the Pet and Women Safety (PAWS) Act (S. 1559) to address the existence of pets in situations of domestic violence, and how the bond between a victim and pet is often exploited by abusers in order to gain leverage in an already-abusive relationship.

In New Hampshire and across the country, crisis centers encounter tragic cases where abusers will manipulate their victims by threatening to harm, or intentionally inflicting pain on their victims’ pets.

By taking advantage of an individual’s love for their pet, abusers control victims by forcing them to choose either to leave their pets behind or stay in a dangerous situation that puts their safety in jeopardy.

Further, while a 2014 study found that almost 3/4 of pet-owning women seeking shelter at crisis centers reported that their abuser threatened, harmed or killed family pets, only a small number of domestic violence shelters permit pets.

The PAWS Act would take a number of steps to better empower women to leave abusive situations—and protect their pets and families.

The PAWS Act would expand federal law so that it includes protections for pets of domestic violence victims, and also strongly encourages all states to provide coverage for pets in protection orders.

Thankfully, more than 25 states have enacted similar legislation to safeguard pets in situations of domestic violence. But prior to the PAWS Act, federal legislation has failed to confront this issue.

Further, the PAWS Act requires convicted abusers to repay the full amount of victims’ losses for veterinary services needed for the treatment of their pets’ injuries.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a time to recommit ourselves to finding more solutions and work toward ending violence against women once and for all. I was proud to help introduce a resolution again this year designating October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in support of advocates, first responders and victims who are deeply impacted by this terrible crime. But ending violence against women can’t be relegated to only one month a year. That’s why I’ve been so committed to fighting to pass a bill I helped introduce, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act (CASA), which takes important steps to prevent sexual violence on college campuses, support survivors, and hold colleges and universities accountable. You can learn more about this legislation and the other initiatives I’m working on related to preventing domestic and sexual violence on my website here.

I look forward to continuing my work to support New Hampshire’s advocates, crisis centers and important community resources, including PIRC. I’m going to keep fighting to get the PAWS Act signed into law.

Together, we can— and should—do better to prevent violence against women.

Official Portrait

Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican, is a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire.

To read Senator Ayotte’s full bio, click here

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: A Reminder of Our Perpetual Responsibility

By Representative Frank Guinta


Prevention Innovations Research Center (PIRC) at the University of New Hampshire is doing important work to prevent sexual and domestic violence in our state. During Domestic Violence Awareness month and always, I am proud to join them to prevent violence of any kind.

Granite Staters’ safety and security is my highest priority in Congress, where I represent the First District, including the University of New Hampshire and almost 700,000 residents. Statistics show that a significant number of people will experience some form of physical abuse in their lives, domestic abuse a prevalent one. An intimate partner is typically the perpetrator. Both men and women may be victims, more often women.

Recognizing the warning signs and reporting abuse are critical to preventing such incidents, potential and real. By sharing information with a family member or friend, a trained professional or legal authority, a Granite Stater could save her life or that of another.

We as a nation must do our part. We must encourage victims to come forward and take a strong stand against criminal behavior. In 2016, it is staggering that debate surrounds what civil society and governments should do to eradicate this heinous crime.  Violence against women should be intolerable.

It should be punishable to the fullest extent of the law. As Manchester’s mayor, I worked with the police department to reduce crime by 17 percent. Law enforcement officers across New Hampshire are eager and able to help Granite Staters in times of need.

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (NHCADSV) serves almost 15,000 people every year, providing counseling and legal assistance. I recently joined the group to challenge a state Supreme Court decision reversing New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law, which ensures that sexual violence victims’ personal histories remain so, inaccessible to criminals seeking to litigate their victims’ private lives.

We won our argument and preserved a key legal tool to prosecute criminal offenders. The Rape Shield Law also helps to remove public stigma that may discourage victims from seeking justice. In Congress, in partnership with NHCADSV and bipartisan colleagues, I have pursued other initiatives to improve the public response to sex crimes. I requested $40 million dollars from the House Appropriations Committee, $5 million above the President’s funding request, to bolster the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) at the Office of Violence Against Women.

The SASP provides medical and legal aid to survivors and their families, aid that dramatically increases their recovery rates and criminal prosecutions. Just last month, the House approved the Survivors Bill of Rights with my full support. Because a minority of survivors report rape, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the bill requires authorities preserve forensic evidence, notify victims of results, and inform them of their rights under the law.

The Survivors Bill of Rights is just the latest effort in Congress to prevent sexual and domestic violence. My personal effort will continue long past October, a reminder of our perpetual responsibility to respect and protect victims of abuse, no matter their gender or station in life, and to serve justice.


Congressman Frank Guinta, a Republican, is the  Representative from New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.

To read Representative Guinta’s full bio, click here

Congresswoman Kuster Recognizes DVAM

By Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster


This summer, I stood on the House floor and, for the first time, told my own story about my experiences with sexual assault.

Afterward, I was overwhelmed not only by the support that I received from my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, but by the kind messages from constituents across New Hampshire, some of whom came forward with their own stories. Speaking out for the first time, almost 40 years later, was not easy. But I’m hopeful that sharing my story may help survivors know they are not alone.

Unfortunately, many people never feel free to come forward after incidents like the ones that I experienced.  Data from RAINN, the nation’s largest sexual violence prevention network, shows that of every 1,000 sexual assaults that occur, only 344 are reported to police.  Common reasons cited for not reporting include fear of retaliation from the perpetrator and a belief that the police could not or would not be able to help.  Clearly, we must do better.  We must create a better culture where survivors are able to come forward without fear.

As we mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we can both celebrate the progress we have made and reflect upon the hard work that remains to be done to combat sexual violence—on our campuses, in our military, and throughout our communities.  There have been important steps forward.  This summer, amid public outrage about the lenient sentencing of former Stanford University student Brock Turner, I joined with 17 of my House colleagues to read on the House floor, Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial, marking the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chamber.

Additionally comprehensive federal regulations, following the bipartisan 2013 re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), now provide additional guidance to schools regarding campus sexual violence.  And earlier this month, President Obama signed into law the Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which, among other reforms, formally codifies that assault survivors have the right to receive a comprehensive forensic physical exam free of charge and to have their rape kits preserved.  Legislation like this helps demonstrate to survivors that we have their backs, and that every effort will be made to bring perpetrators to justice as swiftly as possible.

I was proud to cosponsor the House version of the Survivors’ Bill of Rights, but there are a number of other pieces of legislation for which I am advocating that are just as worthy of a vote on the floor—and President Obama’s signature.  They include:

  • H.R. 1310, the Campus Accountability and Safety Act; introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), this bipartisan legislation would strengthen Clery Act reporting requirements for schools that receive federal funding, as well as require them to develop enhanced campus security policies, among other changes.
  • H.R. 2680, the Hold Accountable and Lend Transparency on (HALT) Campus Sexual Violence Act.  Introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), this legislation would require the Department of Education to publicly disclose schools that are under federal Title IX investigation, as well as strengthen penalties for schools that are in violation, among other reforms.
  • H.R. 1490, the SOS Campus Act.  Introduced by Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), this legislation would require schools receiving federal funding to have designated independent advocates to focus on preventing and addressing campus sexual violence.
  • H.R. 5972, the Campus Sexual Assault Whistleblower Act; introduced by Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), this legislation would provide protection for students that report sexual assault (either against themselves or others) against “honor code” violations or other retaliation from administrators.

Together, we must focus on preventing future incidences of campus sexual violence, and creating college climates in which victims feel comfortable reporting and perpetrators are held accountable.  We should learn from schools that are already leading the way in this area, and hold accountable institutions that are not.  I’m proud of UNH’s and PIRC’s innovative approach to combating sexual violence, on campus and elsewhere.  Research has shown that only a small percentage of people commit these crimes, meaning that the majority of people who don’t can be part of the solution.  Initiatives like Bringing in the Bystander and Know Your Power are crucial to bringing everyone together to work toward safer communities, and I look forward to continuing to support your efforts in Congress.


Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster, a Democrat, is the  Representative from New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District.

To read Representative Kuster’s full bio, click here

DV Programs Help Survivors: The DV Evidence Project and Theory of Change

By Cris M. Sullivan, PhD, Director of Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence, and Anne Menard, CEO, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence


Increasingly, domestic violence (DV) victim advocacy programs are being asked by funders and policy makers to describe not just whether and how their services are “evidence-based,” but what theory of change guides their work. In order to help DV programs respond to both of these demands, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) has created an online resource center that houses a great deal of free and accessible resources.

Among other things, The DV Evidence Project houses a theory of change that programs can use to demonstrate the process through which their services result in long-term benefits for survivors and their children. A theory of change is an empirically justified explanation of how and why one expects a desired change to occur. It involves identifying the desired long-term goals (i.e., what are we hoping to accomplish?), and then working backwards to identify how to achieve measurable outcomes tied to the goals (i.e., how do we get there?). DV programs engage in a wide range of activities designed to have a positive impact on the safety and well-being of both survivors and their children. In addition to helping survivors protect themselves and their children from current and future abuse, programs also work to increase survivors’ sense of self-efficacy as well as their hope for the future, and directly increase their access to community resources, opportunities, and supports (including social support). Staff recognize that well-being is not independent from community-level factors, and—in addition to their work with individual survivors—they engage in a variety of efforts to create communities that hold offenders accountable, promote justice and survivor safety, and provide adequate resources and opportunities for all community members. They accomplish these objectives through system-level advocacy efforts, prevention activities, community education activities, and collaborative community actions.

This theory of change was created in 2012 in collaboration with numerous experts, including practitioners, advocates, survivors, funders, researchers, and policy makers, and then it was updated in 2016. The theory first notes that the long-term goal of domestic violence programs is to enhance survivors’ and their children’s well-being. There is ample empirical evidence demonstrating that (a) self-efficacy; (b) hopefulness; (c) social connectedness; (d) safety; (e) having adequate social and economic opportunities; (f) economic stability; (g) enhanced justice; and (h) good physical, emotional, and spiritual health have an impact on social and emotional well-being. DV programs are invested in influencing these eight factors for survivors and their children through efforts targeting multiple levels of change.

While the type of direct services offered by DV agencies may differ (e.g., advocacy, shelter, counseling, transitional housing, supervised visitation, children’s programs, support groups), they share a number of common elements (e.g., providing new knowledge, safety planning, skill building). The following eight components are recommended as mechanisms for achieving the social and emotional well-being of domestic violence survivors and their children:

  1. Providing information about their rights, options and experiences
  2. Safety planning
  3. Building skills
  4. Offering encouragement, empathy, and respect
  5. Supportive counseling
  6. Increasing access to community resources and opportunities
  7. Increasing social support and community connections, and
  8. Community change and systems change work.

The DV Evidence Project site provides brief summaries of the research and evidence behind shelters, advocacy, support groups and counseling, demonstrating that programs are engaged in “evidence-based practice”. Finally, evaluation tools are provided so that programs don’t need to reinvent the wheel.  These evaluation tools include client surveys, tips for engaging staff in evaluation, strategies for gathering the data in sensitive ways, and protocols for interpreting and using the findings. All of these resources are available at no cost, and we hope they are helpful to those in the field doing this incredibly important work.

anne-mendardAnne Menard is an activist who has worked on policy, practice and research issues affecting domestic violence and sexual assault survivors since the mid-70s. Her particular focus has been on survivor-defined advocacy and public policy and research affecting women and their families,especially those living in poverty. After serving as a senior consultant to the Family Violence Prevention and Services Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services during 2005, she returned as CEO of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), a position she previously held from 1994-99. Prior to this national level work, Ms. Menard led the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence for over six years, and, in the early 1980s, co-directed Connecticut’s largest domestic violence shelter and was actively involved in grassroots
sexual assault advocacy.
Anne Menard
CEO, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
3605 Vartan Way, Suite 101
Harrisburg, PA 17110
800-537-2238 x 121
(cell:  717-386-5309)
sullivanCris M. Sullivan is the Director of the Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence and Professor of Ecological/Community Psychology at Michigan State University (MSU). In addition to her MSU appointments, Dr. Sullivan was appointed by Governor Rick Snyder to chair the Michigan Domestic & Sexual Violence Prevention & Treatment Board, and she is Senior Research Advisor to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.  Dr. Sullivan is internationally recognized for her expertise in evaluating domestic violence and sexual assault programs. Her reputation led the Family Violence Prevention & Services Administration (FVPSA)to enlist her help in 2006 in creating two outcomes that are now used by all FVPSA grantees across the county. In 2012, she developed a Theory of Change describing the process through which domestic violence programs improve the lives of survivors and their children (, and this model has been enthusiastically adopted nationally.She has written evaluation manuals for programs and provides trainings on this topic that are well-received, and her work is highly regarded by policy makers, academics and advocates.
Cris M. Sullivan, PhD
Director, MSU Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence
Professor, Ecological/Community Psychology
130 Psychology Bldg., 316 Physics Rd.Michigan State University
E. Lansing, MI  48824-1116
1 / 1

Previous fileNext file


It’s Time to Include Relationship Violence in the Campus Sexual Assault Conversation

By Elizabeth Wilmerding


Recent strides have been made in sexual violence prevention in the college environment, although we still have a long way to go. To anyone working in this field for years—or decades—this small amount of progress can make one think, “It’s about time.” It’s time to acknowledge the amount of trauma occurring on college campuses. It’s time for survivors to get access to the support and services they deserve. It’s time for federal laws, state laws, and campus policies to promote cultures of nonviolence. And, it’s time to bring dating and domestic violence into the campus sexual assault conversation.

Our culture and policies around sexual violence are changing because our level of understanding is changing. Yet, we’re continuing to leave out dating and domestic violence. We now know that up to 90% of survivors of attempted or completed rape know their attackers. We know that 1 in 5 women will experience such an assault in their lives, as will 1 in 33 men and 1 in 2 trans* or gender-nonconforming people. We have begun to consider sexual violence from an intersectional perspective, recognizing that survivors have complex identities before an assault, and that those identities impact their experiences of trauma and healing in unique and complex ways. While our narratives around sexual assault and rape have shifted to include these realities, they haven’t changed enough to account for the intersections between sexual violence and relationship violence.

If we want to truly change our culture and eradicate interpersonal violence, it is critical that we acknowledge the link between sexual violence and relationship violence. One in 3 women have experienced violence from an intimate partner. Of these hundreds of thousands of women, 40-45% will experience sexual assault or rape as part of the abuse. New data shows us that 1 in 4 men may experience dating or domestic violence and these figures and those for trans* and gender-nonconforming people may underestimate the rate of incidence. Imagine if we dedicated the same amount of time, resources, and expertise to preventing dating and domestic violence on our campuses as we devote to preventing sexual assault and rape.

Many colleges and universities educate their students about affirmative consent, bystander intervention techniques they can use at parties, and definitions of sexual assault and rape. What if we expanded these dialogues to include the extreme jealousy and stalking that can indicate dating violence, and the intimidation and displays of power that often accompany domestic violence? What if we made sure undergraduate students understood that dating violence can happen in a variety of relationships, including those involving hook-ups or friends-with-benefits? And, what if we spoke with students about the many shapes domestic violence can take in marriages and long-term relationships?

I suspect that, by emphasizing the links to dating and domestic violence in our conversations about sexual violence, we will be able to greatly increase awareness of many types of interpersonal violence and reduce their occurrence and impact. Not only that, but we will validate the experiences of the many survivors whose experiences are not limited to one categorization of harm. True violence prevention depends on having a broad and nuanced understanding of both the current climate and our vision for the future. If we truly hope to end sexual assault, rape, stalking, dating violence, domestic violence, and sexual harassment, we must have a comprehensive approach. It’s time to include dating and domestic violence in our conversations and strategies about ending sexual violence on college campuses.

eliz1Elizabeth Wilmerding is pursuing a Master’s degree (2017) at UC Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare. Her background is in the prevention and support of survivors of sexual and relationship violence, in campus and community settings. A former intern at Futures Without Violence, she is currently doing a field placement at UC Berkeley’s PATH to Care Center, the university’s organization devoted to violence prevention and survivor support. She lives in Oakland, CA.

Tech Safety App Protects Users from Online Harassment and Abuse

By Taylor Flagg


The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) developed the Tech Safety App as an educational resource on issues regarding harassment via technology. There is no one right way to respond when faced with harassment, stalking or abuse through technology, and this app is not a comprehensive safety plan, as each instance of harassment or abuse calls for a specific solution.

Technology poses a unique problem with regard to harassment. Harassment and abuse through technology can often be isolating and difficult to escape due to the nature of the medium. Victims and law enforcement authorities may not be able to identify perpetrators if they hide behind technology, which can make escaping the situation even more difficult. As the Tech Safety App points out, “Just because the harassment isn’t in person doesn’t mean that it doesn’t feel or is any less real or threatening.” Even though harassment and abuse occur through technology they are still harassment and abuse, and may be considered criminal behavior.

When you open the app, there are six subjects you can click on to explore: cell phone safety, device safety, harassment, impersonation, location safety, and online safety. When you click on each subject, the app outlines steps you can take, safety tips, and resources available regarding that particular issue. Resources available in the app include tips for reacting and responding to harassment and abuse through technology, including documenting evidence, talking with an advocate, talking to the police, and finding an attorney.

The app is easy to use, and has a helpful function called “Find My Way.” When you open the app, the “Find My Way” bar provides users with a step-by-step menu on where to begin. You may not be sure under which of the categories your particular problem falls, and this function addresses that obstacle. The “Find My Way” option begins with five common reasons people may want to use the app: “I need help and someone to talk to,” “I am worried about harassment or stalking,” “I am worried that someone knows too much,” “I want tips on how to increase my privacy,” and “I want someone to know what’s happening.” Clicking on any of the choices brings users to further step-by-step options designed to help them find what they are looking for. This is a great function for those unsure of where to start.

Everyone can benefit from this app. It is a wonderful tool for anyone who may be experiencing harassment via technology themselves or have friends or family members who are having this experience. It is also a wonderful educational tool for those who want to learn about a widespread issue that can affect anyone. It educates users on the nature and dynamics of harassment and abuse through technology, and includes informative descriptions of various tactics used by abusers. For instance, did you know that a phone’s Caller ID can be manipulated to hide the real phone number of the caller? Perpetrators can use various technological services to change the phone number, their voice, add background noise, or record harassing or abusive phone calls. This can make it incredibly difficult to identify the perpetrator. The Tech Safety App tells users about such practices and explains that state and federal laws forbid someone from manipulating caller ID with the intent to harass or harm another individual. It also notes that there are services that can expose masked Caller ID numbers and reveal the actual number of the caller.

The app reminds users that safety is most important. If you believe you may be harassed or abused through technology, or are being threatened, consider whether the harassing, threatening or abusive person may be able to learn that you are seeking resources or information, and whether he/she may be likely to escalate their abusive or harassing behavior upon discovering you are seeking information or support. If yes, or if you are not sure, Tech Safety encourages users to use this app from a device to which an abusive person does not have access.

If you are interested in downloading the Tech Safety App, visit for more information.

tf-picTaylor Flagg, B.A., is a Graduate Student in the Justice Studies Program at the University of New Hampshire and a Graduate Researcher at Prevention Innovations Research Center. Taylor earned her B.A. in both History and Justice Studies from the University of New Hampshire. Her passions in social justice are concentrated in global crime and inequalities facing women. She hopes to enter a career in social justice following completion of her degree.


Strengthening the Domestic Violence Field: Building the Evaluation Capacity of Community-Based Organizations

By: Dr. Rebecca Rodriguez, Martha Martinez-Hernandez, MPA, and Dr. Josie Serrata


Domestic violence organizations are tasked with providing evidence to funders and other stakeholders that their programs have a positive impact on program participants. For some organizations, evaluation can seem like a daunting task, especially if they have limited internal capacity, or do not have experience conducting their own evaluations in a way that is palatable to external stakeholders.  This is the reality faced by many small community-based organizations (CBOs) working in the field of domestic violence across the United States, in particular for those working with communities that have been historically marginalized.

Responding to the need for CBOs to document their work—while understanding that perhaps not all of us have experience with evaluation—the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities (NLN), a project of Casa de Esperanza, set about making the evaluation process accessible and practitioner-friendly.  Led by their research and evaluation team, the NLN partnered with several Latina community-based organizations from across the country (La Paz, Trans Latina Coalition, Mujeres Latinas en Acción, Voces Latinas, Casa de Esperanza’s Amigos program) to develop the Building Evidence Evaluation Toolkit,  a free web-based tool for organizations that approach domestic violence prevention from a culturally specific framework and are seeking to demonstrate the importance of what they do.

Using the analogy of a receta, or recipe, the evaluation toolkit seeks to build and expand the capacity of organizations to conduct evaluations of their programs. The evaluation toolkit is divided into different sections according to the level of knowledge and expertise of the user. For example, there is a beginner’s section that introduces the basic ingredients or concepts of evaluation and provides worksheets to walk the user through the various components of evaluation, including creating logic models; thinking through how to organize, interpret and analyze data; and how to use the results. In addition, the Evaluation Toolkit has more in-depth guidance for users interested in using community evidence to document the culturally specific nature of their work. It includes a Community Centered Evidence Based Practice approach, which is an adapted Evidence Based Practice model for practitioners and evaluators who engage community members in their programming (Serrata et al., in press).

There is also a learning community for those interested in sharing resources and learning more about each other’s work. Our team continues to add new tools. We are in the process of developing measures that capture the added value of culturally specific Domestic Violence organizations.

Here are links to what we have included:

We hope that you will find the toolkit beneficial to your work, and we would love to hear your feedback.

Source: Serrata, J.V., Macias, R.L., Rosales, A., Hernandez-M, M., Rodriguez, R., & Perilla, J.L. (in press). Expanding Evidence-Based Practice Models for Domestic Violence Initiatives: A Community-Centered Approach. Psychology of Violence.

rebecca-casaRebecca Rodriguez, Ph.D. (email: is a community psychologist and manager of research and evaluation at the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families and Communities. Rebecca’s research interests broadly focus on culturally specific and community-centered approaches to prevent family violence in Latino@ families. Her research has examined marital and dating violence by investigating family dynamics (e.g. gender roles, parenting), U.S. immigration policies, and by working directly with Latin@ youth witnesses and survivors of violence in conducting participatory action research on topics they find important to their communities.  Her evaluation work includes participatory and culturally responsive evaluation practices and developing the evaluation capacity of community based organizations.

martha-casaMartha Hernandez-Martinez, MPA (email: serves as the Research Associate for the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families & Communities. She is originally from Managua-Nicaragua, where she holds a License in Psychology from the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua. Her work experience in Nicaragua included providing services to victims of natural disasters and domestic violence, and research on men’s sexual health. In addition, she designed, delivered, and evaluated gender based education programs targeting health workers. Martha moved to the U.S. in 2002, and worked as a community organizer in issues of affordable housing, immigration, and education. Martha also holds a Masters in Public Affairs from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota. Martha’s major interest and passion consist of issues related to the intersections of gender, social norms, intimate partner violence (IPV), healthy masculinities from a Global South perspective, and the impact of public policies on women’s lives (e.g., reproductive health, human rights, development policies).

josieserrata-10Josephine V. Serrata, Ph.D. (email: is a clinical community psychologist and director of research and evaluation at the National Latin@ Network for Healthy Families & Communities, a project of Casa de Esperanza. Her research and evaluation work are embedded in practices that are culturally affirming and community driven. Her research includes studying the intersections of domestic violence with issues of oppression, privilege and strength in Latin@ families and communities. Her evaluation experiences have included evaluating community based prevention and engagement efforts, including a leadership intervention for immigrant Latina survivors of domestic violence. Her clinical work focuses on trauma informed, culturally relevant approaches.


Domestic Violence: Be Part of the Conversation

By Katie Ray-Jones


If 12 million people were affected by an epidemic in this country, it would be all over the news. People in every community would be concerned, and you’d hear about it everywhere you went.

What if I told you that there is such an epidemic happening right now in every city and state in the U.S.? But this epidemic is not a disease or a virus. It’s domestic violence.

Domestic violence affects millions of people in the U.S. each year. One in four women and one in seven men are physically abused by an intimate partner, and one in three teens will experience some form of dating abuse. However, these numbers don’t show the entire picture. It’s likely that many victims are suffering in silence and never report their experiences due to fear, shame, and a lack of resources.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and all month long organizations and individuals around the country are working to raise awareness about this important issue. Why is it so crucial to make domestic violence part of our national conversation? On a personal level, anyone can be a victim—or a perpetrator—of relationship abuse, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or background. But domestic violence isn’t just a private, family matter. On a broader cultural level, domestic violence intersects with many of the major social issues of our time, such as affordable housing, LGBTQ rights, and gun laws. This issue is shaped and perpetuated by many of the attitudes and fears that affect our world, like misogyny, racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.

At the National Domestic Violence Hotline, we are in a unique position to inform the ongoing conversation about domestic violence. As the only national hotline that provides direct support to anyone affected by intimate partner abuse, we are able to gather data and stories from survivors across the country. In 2014, The Hotline conducted a survey with our chatters about their abusive partners’ access to firearms. Of those who revealed that their partners had access to guns, 22% said their partner had used a gun to make threats, and 67% believed their partner was capable of killing them. These impactful stories and statistics can be used to inform policies that lead to better protections for survivors and our communities.

Many people might feel helpless at the thought of ending domestic violence, but there are many things that we as individuals can do. First and foremost, we must stop blaming victims. No one deserves to be abused for any reason. The person responsible is the person who chooses to be abusive. Second, it’s important that we learn the signs of relationship abuse so that we can recognize when it is happening. It’s also critical that we teach young children the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors. We can do this by being a healthy partner in our own relationships and calling out ideas or behavior that promote violence or abuse. We can all spread the message that love is not abuse.

By accomplishing these seemingly small acts, we can eradicate stigma for victims and begin building better support systems locally and nationally. We can also shine a light on abuse and promote healthy relationships for future generations. These may sound like lofty goals, but I believe that a world where all relationships are positive, healthy and free from violence is possible.

Learn more about The Hotline at

katie-hotlineKatie Ray-Jones is the chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline). She is a recognized leader in the domestic violence movement and has extensive experience working with victims and survivors. Ray-Jones has managed emergency shelter and housing programs as well as nonresidential services for survivors and their children. Prior to being named CEO of The Hotline, she served as operations director and then president of the organization. She serves as treasurer on the board of directors for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and is a member of the National Task Force to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.