Fall 2021 has been a busy time for MCASA as we continue to adjust to a ‘new normal’ with ongoing pandemic and public health concerns. MCASA continues to be here to serve you through these changing times. This fall MCASA hosted its sexual assault victim advocate training fundamentals online and kicked off another virtual campus training series. An annual highlight of the fall, the Maryland Women of Color Network hosted its 16th Annual Conference on November 19th following the theme Truth, Transformation, and Healing: Supporting Survivors & Rebuilding Our Communities.
This season has also brought challenges to service providers in the state. Rape crisis centers and other programs helping victims and survivors have seen increases in requests for services, changes in the workforce, and continuing fallout from the COVID 19 crisis. Compounding this, critical federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) grants are in jeopardy. These funds are used for services such as counseling, advocacy, domestic violence shelters, child advocacy centers, support for rape victims at the hospital, and victim-witness support in court. Unless Governor Hogan includes funding in the state budget to make up the difference, critical services will be drastically reduced next year, beginning in the second half of 2022. A group of over thirty crime victim programs sent a letter earlier this month asking Governor Hogan to fill in the temporary funding gap using Maryland’s historic budget surplus of $2.5 billion. Click here to read the Preventing Cuts to Victim Services letter sent to Governor Hogan on November 17th, 2021.
This edition of Frontline addresses a wide variety of topics from reproductive rights, to personal trackers and digital stalking, to sexual harassment on college campuses, and more. In our Prevention Corner, we examine the need to advance health equity and reproductive care as primary prevention for sexual violence. In our College Consortium article, we explore the prevalence of sexual harassment and catcalling on college campuses as students return to in person learning both nationwide and here in Maryland. In our Survivor Safety column, we look at the recent popularity and dangers of personal trackers such as Apple Airtags and Amazon Tiles and their implications on safety for survivors. We also share some information on upcoming legislation to add electronic stalking to existing stalking law here in Maryland.
We also bring attention to sexual violence against indigenous women and communities in an analysis of the lack of criminal jurisdiction on native lands. Finally, we conclude with an article titled “It Could Have Been Worse” where we analyze the dangers in comparing traumas and minimizing experiences with steps to move forward in the healing process for victims and survivors.
MCASA is proud to continue this work to end sexual violence here in Maryland and nationwide and we are so grateful for your support. Consider becoming a member to support survivors in Maryland annually. You can also make a donation and help us serve Maryland survivors today.
Lisae Jordan, Esq.
Executive Director & Counsel
Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault