June 12, 2015
Sexual assault continues to receive unprecedented attention in national media. Sexual assault in the military, at college campuses, and in prisons have all been in the media spotlight. Awareness of human sex trafficking and sex assault of children has increased. Survivors of all ages, genders, and backgrounds are being recognized. Through it all, Maryland’s rape crisis and recovery programs continue to do what they have done for decades: respond to survivors and educate their communities. This issue of Frontline spotlights For All Seasons, the sexual assault program serving the mid-Eastern Shore. We also highlight Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Maryland’s local efforts to educate their communities.
Advocating for the rights of survivors and sexual assault programs in Annapolis is one of MCASA’s most important responsibilities. This legislative session included passage of a number of important bills. These include expansion of the protective order statute to cover survivors of sexual assault and dating violence, sponsored by Delegate Kathleen Dumais and Senator Victor Ramirez (and originally introduced by former Senator Chris Shank, the new Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention). This bill took years to pass and we are glad to see Maryland join the 42 other states with similar laws. An important bill taking aim at the issue of college sexual assault was also enacted after being introduced by freshman Delegate Shelly Hettleman. This bill will help strengthen relationships between colleges and sexual assault programs, improve law enforcement response, and help encourage survivors to come forward. You can learn more about these new policies here, and you can read our full legislative report for more information. We are grateful for all of the legislators and advocates who have worked to make change possible, and for all of the survivors whose courageous testimony helped to shed light on the critical issues at stake.
MCASA is committed to recognizing and countering all sexual violence. In this issue, we feature two articles on the subject of violence that is frequently overlooked. The first sheds light on physical and sexual violence against members of the transgender community, and how best to ensure that services responding to sexual assault are accessible and welcoming to this community. The second is about online harassment and threats through the social media app Yik Yak. The recent murder of a Mary Washington student reminds us that this type of harassment must be taken seriously.
At MCASA, we are excited to increase our own capacity to address the needs of underserved populations and are welcoming a new attorney to our staff to work on PREA, the Prison Rape Elimination Act. Rebecca Turner, Esq., our Inmate Services PREA Liaison, will provide key support for MCASA’s mission to ensure that all of Maryland’s survivors receive quality, compassionate care. Learn more about PREA, prison rape prevention, and Rebecca’s work in this issue’s Prevention Corner article.
As always, it is a privilege to work on behalf of survivors and the programs and people that support them. Please join us to ensure that survivors are heard. Join MCASA.
Let’s keep working together to end sexual violence.
Lisae C. Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault