The articles in this Reaching Victims newsletter include: a quote from Sarah McBride; a description of FORGE; and an article on the importance of using correct names.
See the newsletter online here
This monthly newsletter is our opportunity to:
- Spotlight victim services organizations and their work
- Share promising practices & resources
- Engage more organizations in training/webinars/events
Each month we will have a guest editor from our community to help us curate content around a theme or population. June is LGBTQ Pride Month, so we’re turning to guest editors Loree Cook-Daniels and michael munson from FORGE.
VOICES: Sarah McBride
I stayed silent because I worried that when people hear “trans person” and “sexual assault” in the same story, their minds would pass over the reality and immediately go to the dangerous myth of the “trans… predator” adding insult to injury that the fear of speaking out could unintentionally reinforce support for anti-trans policies that actually foster violence against people like me. — Sarah McBride, Transgender Rights Activist
SPOTLIGHT ON: FORGE
One of the challenges FORGE, a national transgender anti-violence organization, has faced is how to address victimization within populations that are already feeling very vulnerable due to discrimination and abuse. Importantly how do we do this without making victims feel even more powerless and hopeless than they may already feel?
FORGE uses two organizing principles to help us balance this conundrum. We approach our work from a trauma-informed perspective and, critically, also focus on empowerment: how can we help both victims and their service providers regain a sense of control and agency? One example of of encouraging empowerment is our ongoing social media hashtag themes of #RadicalResilience and #RadicalCare. We encourage you to explore these posts, starting with this critically important one on pronouns.
Many victim service providers are looking for ways to improve services to trans and LGB survivors. FORGE’s Self-Assessment Tool: “Is Your Agency Ready to Serve Transgender and Non-Binary Clients?” is an excellent, self-paced place to explore your agency’s strengths and areas for improvement.
PROMISING PRACTICES: Naming Rights
Have you ever been called a name or form of address you were uncomfortable with? How did you feel? All victims deserve the tiny but critical respect of being called by the name they use. When a Christopher is called “Chris” by a victim service professional even though he never uses that nickname, it can feel disrespectful. The survivor is liable to wonder, “if they can’t even get my name right, how well will they listen to what else I share with them?”
Names are important. As one blogger put it, “Names are connections to family, to culture, to community, to the core of our selves.” They can be especially important to the survivor who has struggled on behalf of their name. That’s often true for transgender and non-binary victims as well as survivors who have changed their name to escape an abuser or honor a marriage. Victims who come from cultures different than the service provider can also pay close attention to how careful the provider is to learn how to pronounce their name right.
For transgender and non-binary survivors, pronouns – he, she, they, etc. – carry as much weight as do chosen names. That’s why an increasing number of victim service professionals are adding a pronoun line to their email signature block, requesting every person’s pronoun on intake forms, and introducing themselves by offering their pronoun as well as their name when first meeting a client. These small practices send huge signals to transgender and non-binary victims, telling them that the victim service professional knows how important it is to get their name and pronoun right. Getting it wrong can stop the conversation before it starts. Getting it right sets the stage for a more honest and fruitful discussion of a victim’s needs and ultimate healing.
Read more of the newsletter here.