Prioritize Sexual AssaultRecognize the Distinction between Sexual Assault (SA) and Domestic Violence (DV) Services
Prioritize Sexual Assault
The majority of service providers in the state are dual – in that, they provide services for domestic violence (DV) and sexual assault (SA). This model affords programs the ability to avoid duplication of services and collaborate on these issues. While the two are linked by virtue of the fact that both involve the abuse of power by one person over another, there are important differences that have impacted how services are provided to SA survivors. Failure to recognize these differences has negatively impacted SA work and survivors.
There has long existed a gap in distinct SA services at dual programs. While experiences of DV and SA can certainly co-occur, data illustrates that dual programs serve many more DV victims than SA victims. This disparity cannot be explained by a difference in prevalence of these crimes, as studies suggest SA is more prevalent than DV. Therefore, this gap in services is more likely due to vast funding disparities. At the state level, the ratio of DV funding to SA funding is 13.7 million compared to 2.2 million dollars. Additional disparities are mirrored in federal funding levels. These structural barriers have long led SA services to be treated as an “add-on” to DV services, resulting in far fewer SA advocates, less comprehensive SA services, and a lack of organizational infrastructure to support distinct SA services and prevention.
At the state level, the ratio of domestic violence funding to sexual assault funding is 13.7 million compared to 2.2 million dollars
Distinct services for SA are essential due to the complexity of the violence. Many dual programs struggle to reach survivors of SA outside the intimate partner context. Although SA may be used by a partner to exert coercive control, those who perpetrate SA transcend intimate partner relationships. For example, the person causing harm may be an acquaintance, co-worker, fellow student, family member, or a stranger. Additionally, sexual abuse occurs across the lifespan, with some of the highest prevalence rates for children. These factors contribute to the complexity of sexual abuse and require equally complex services.
Recognize the Distinction between Sexual Assault (SA) and Domestic Violence (DV) Services
- Requires increasing funding levels for SA services
- Prioritizes SA services in existing funding sources
- Challenges dual programs to focus not only on the link but also the distinction between DV and SA
- Understands the complexity of SA outside of intimate partner relationships and across the lifespan
- Develops distinct SA services to meet the needs of survivors
- Appreciates the concept of body autonomy in SA is connected to reproductive health access and choice