Janna Henning, JD, Psy.D., Associate Professor, Adler School of Professional Psychology
Sexual violence remains prevalent in the United States. Cultural factors—including legal and political systems and the media—strongly influence how it is viewed and defined, says Janna Henning, J.D., Psy.D., Adler School Associate Professor and Coordinator of its Psy.D. Traumatic Stress Psychology Concentration.
For example, some politicians have attempted to redefine rape with terms such as “forcible rape,” which refers to assault committed while using a weapon or physical force—and excludes assaults on the unconscious, disabled persons, and children. Such altered definitions can lead to changes in laws defining what constitutes rape and who has the right to press charges.
It’s only one example of how political, legal, media and other cultural factors influence whether the long-term effects of sexual violence will be taken seriously, how likely it is to be reported to authorities, whether perpetrators will be prosecuted and convictions obtained, who is seen as “responsible” for preventing it, and whether resources for prevention and treatment will be available or adequately funded. Advocacy efforts are necessary to correct myths and misinformation, change negative stereotypes, and increase social support for prevention and intervention.
On Monday (March 18), the Adler School and our Traumatic Stress Psychology Student Association in Chicago will host “Sexual Violence in the United States: Impact, Awareness, Advocacy, and New Directions for Change” to examine these issues, the research and advocacy at work.
As part of the program, we will welcome speaker Grace Brown, artist and founder of Project Unbreakable. Brown established the project in October 2011, working with survivors of sexual assault to photograph each one holding a poster with a quote from his or her attacker. TIME magazine has a named it one of the “top 30 Tumblr blogs to follow.”
Following Brown’s talk, Dr. Henning will describe how advocacy is crucial to curbing tolerance, incidence and consequence of sexual violence, and we’ll also hear from a panel of speakers dedicated to providing services and engaging in advocacy projects to combat sexual violence and its effects in our culture.
- Rebecca Gordon, Ed.D., Director of the Women’s Leadership & Resource Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago
- Steve Adler, Prevention Education Specialist for Rape Victim Advocates
- Eva Ball, MSW, Coordinator of Sexual Violence Response Services and Advocacy for the Center for Awareness, Response and Education (CARE) with Northwestern University Health Service.
Each will describe and discuss current advocacy projects sponsored or developed by their organizations, comment on what has worked well and what needs to be changed, and present ideas about future advocacy efforts.
“Sexual Violence in the United States: Impact, Awareness, Advocacy, and New Directions for Change” takes place 6 to 8:30 p.m. next Monday, March 18, in Community Hall at the Adler School, 17 North Dearborn Street, Chicago.
Admission is $25 for guests, and free for Adler School students, faculty, alumni and staff who present an ID. Attendees may also receive 2.5 CEUs; a $20 administrative fee will be charged. Advance registration is required. Register right away for “Sexual Violence in the United States: Impact, Awareness, Advocacy, and New Directions for Change”—the event is filling quickly.