Tuesday 24th of April, Fort Worth
What happened today @
"Look survivors in the eye and ask them what they need, what you can do for them
Look at them, see them, otherwise you erase them"
The 18th Annual International Family Justice Center Conference hosts a group of 700 unique and powerful convening of professionals working in the fields of domestic violence, child abuse, sexual assault, elder abuse, and human trafficking.
The opening morning was very powerful. Gael Strack and Casey Gwinn immediately set the tone with their strong message for Hopegivers. The core of the work in an FJC is empower survivors, adults and children. Empowering people is all about helping them to have hope again. The power of hope givers is the strength of every and each FJC.
The Alliance of Hope honored Lara Logan with the HOPE Rising Award.
Lara Logan is a South African journalist and war correspondent. She is the chief foreign affairs correspondent for CBS News and correspondent for CBS.
Lara told her story with the titel: Living to tell the story. Lara Logan kept the 700 members of the audience in complete silence during her story. Each participant in the room held their breath and absorbed her strength, positivism and message. The powerful testimony of Lara gives a real and thrustful voice to every survivor of violence.
On 15 February 2011 Lara was covering the celebrations in Tahrir Square following Mubarak's resignation. At that time she was attacked by a large group of men and had been beaten and sexually assaulted during more than half an hour, before being rescued by women and men camping on the square. She barely survived the attack and rape.
Lara is speaking out to break the silence about the sexual violence and give survivors a strong voice and hope.
She tells from the deepest of her soul what happened to her, what she thought, felt, from minute to minute.
The core of her story is that hope is the tool to survive even the worst victim experiences. It is about the mindset, to put your thoughts on hope. She gives each victim a voice, in such an intense and powerful way that it gives hope for every victim.
Lara states: "The hardest thing that you can experience as victim, is being erased, being not seen, being silenced". It's important to look survivors in the eyes and ask them: What can I do for you? What do you need?". Often victims are erased, people are afraid to see them, to talk to them, to mention what they experienced. And that's the quickest way to take hope away. Ask the uncomfortable questions, help them to speak out.
"The more powerful you're voice, the more you can do, for yourself and for all others".
As a society and as a person, we have to keep people who abuse and attack others accountable. This is a very strong message to survivors
"To hold people to account, to teach your children to hold people accountable, is very important".
In the afternoon, the attendees had the choice between 7 tracks of workshops, engaging them to focus on one topic and go into the depth of to experience input from different themes:
- Expanding Family Justice and Multi-Agency Centers
- Trauma Informed Advocacy
- Improving Law Enforcement Response (DV/SA/CA)
- Working at the Intersections of Co-Occurring Trauma (Polyvictimization)
- Best Practices for Civil and Criminal Justice Professionals
- Effective Handling of Non-Fatal Strangulation Cases
- Camp HOPE America: Breaking the Cycle
After the workshops L.t.Mark Wynn, a retired police officer, challenged the audience to look at domestic violence through the eyes of a twenty-year public servant and a ten-year survivor of domestic violence. He expressed the importance of leadership and the challenges of dealing with the most committed and often the least reported crimes in the U.S. There is a need to challenge law enforcement and community leaders to change the climate of organizations by holding themselves and agencies accountable for professional and informed response on violence against women.
This short training film provides an overview of how trauma impacts victims and how law enforcement or other first responders can implement a trauma informed response and approach to sexual assault survivors:
Gael Strack ended the first conference day by an overview about the impact and meaning of strangulation in domestic violence cases. Strangulation is a strong predictor of death threatening violence and is to little addressed and recognized. The awareness raising about strangulation needs more effort and the approach more pertinacious.
In the evening of this first conference day a big exchange "Happy Hour" was organized in the Sundance Square, a perfect meeting place to meet, share joy and have a real "WE".