By Arianna Rivera Program Coordinator (Training and Underserved Populations)
For those of us in the sexual violence field, we sometimes say that we “know the statistic”-- we know that 1 in 6 women will be a victim of sexual assault in her lifetime. However, this general statistic does not capture the challenges of all women. What we may not take into account when working with survivors is that only 20% of Latina survivors seek formal support, such as medical, legal, or counseling assistance ; African American girls and women experienced higher rates of rape and sexual assault than white, Asian, and Latina girls and women from 2005-2010 ; or that 1 in 3 Native American women has been raped in her lifetime.  Having spaces for discussion and education about how Sexual Violence affects communities of color and other underrepresented communities is essential in our growth as community educators, service providers, and advocates.
The annual MCASA-Women of Color Network Conference is one such space. On November 6, 2015, the MCASA-Women of Color Network planning committee, in partnership with Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, held the 10th Annual MCASA-Women of Color Network Conference at Bowie State University. The conference was attended by 182 individuals – an increase of 114 percent from the previous year’s attendance. Those that attended ranged from professionals working in the anti-sexual assault field to students. We thank all of this year’s attendees for making the 10th Annual Conference our most successful yet. We appreciate your ongoing work to eradicate sexual violence, and we look forward to seeing you in the future. We would also like to thank this year’s Planning Committee for their excellent work, commitment and vision.
The focus of this year’s conference was The Intersectionality of Public Health, Sexual Trauma, & Communities of Color. The speakers addressed a broad range of intersectional topics, including the impact of race, gender, sexual orientation, and substance abuse in the lives of survivors of sexual violence. Farah Tanis, the Executive Director, Ex Officio of the Black Women’s Blueprint, and keynote speaker, discussed the importance of taking into account the multiple factors that create barriers to reporting sexual assault in communities of color.  Following Ms. Tanis, both Tracy D. Wright, the Resource Sharing Project Technical Assistance Provider/WOC Leadership at the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and Mothyna James Brightful, the Director of Community Education & Training at TurnAround Inc., focused the discussion on Prevention. Ms. Wright presented on the importance of Engaging Men and Boys in Prevention, while Ms. James Brightful discussed Sexual Assault Prevention in Communities of Color.
The first half of the conference was concluded with a poetry performance by Lauren May, a writer, artist, French fry enthusiast, and a member of Split This Rock! Dr. Jacquelyn Duval-Harvey, the Executive Director at Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Human Services focused on Sexual Trauma and Addiction: Using Trauma-Informed Approach to Allow Client Priorities to Emerge. The conference concluded with a discussion on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault in Queer Communities of Color, by Saida Agostini, LGSW, and director of LGBTQ Resources at FreeState Legal Project.
MCASA encourages you to join us in welcoming the New Year with new goals. In 2016, the MCASA-Women of Color Network will be focused on outreach efforts, both to increase public awareness of the issues and to expand the group as a resource for women of color in the sexual violence field. For more information or to inquire about our monthly meetings, please email MCASA-WOCN at [email protected], subject: MCASA-WOCN.
 Cuevas, Carlos A. Ph.D., and Sabina, Chiara Ph.D., “The Sexual Assault among Latinas Survey,” 2010.
 U.S. DOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics, “Female Victims of Sexual Violence, 1994-2010,” 2013.
 Tjaden, Patricia and Thoennes, Nancy, “Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women, U.S. DOJ Office on Violence Against Women, 2000.
 Tanis, Farah, “Connecting the Dots” Lecture, Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault - Women of Color Network Conference, Bowie, MD, November 6, 2015.