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Sex Assault Training for Military, Police, Social Workers, to be Hosted in Portsmouth

The training sessions are for anyone working with victims will be held July 8, 15, 22, and 29 and August 5, at the Roger Williams University Baypoint Inn & Conference Center, 144 Anthony Road, Portsmouth.

The United States Navy’s area sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) coordinator will be among the trainers at the annual Rhode Island State Victim Assistance Academy, a collaborative training program of Family Service of Rhode Island and Roger Williams University. 

The training sessions are for anyone working with victims—such as police officers, hospital workers, social workers—and will be held July 8, 15, 22, and 29 and August 5, at the Roger Williams University Baypoint Inn & Conference Center, 144 Anthony Road, Portsmouth, RI.

Topics covered also include childhood victimization, elder victims, working with LGBTQQ youth, homicide victim response, the justice system, cultural competence, victim’s issues in mental health, and ethics. Registration is by calling 401-331-1350 ext. 3200 or on-line at www.familyserviceri.org.  The cost is $50 or $125 for attendees seeking continuing education credit. 

“Sexual assault in the military is a complex and important national issue and we owe it to our service members to learn as much as we can. We want to raise awareness about the difficulties in reporting but also the resources that need to be put in place to help,” said Family Service of Rhode Island’s Susan Erstling, PhD, a founder of the annual academy six years ago.  

“In a state with such a significant military presence it’s critical for non-military victim services professionals to understand the culture and stresses of military service when they are responding to sexual assault.  We are pleased to welcome Allison Agnello, who not only has been a trainer at the academy, but a student as well.”

United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has called combating sexual assault in the military “as high a priority as there is.”) 

SAPR, based at Naval Station Newport, helps all military personnel, their dependents 18 years old and older, as well as civilians sexually assaulted on Department of Defense property. 

The Department of Defense estimates there are over 26,000 cases per year, said Ms. Agnello, noting that the number is a 2012 estimate and will be updated in the near future.  “The Department of Defense defines sexual assault as intentional sexual content involving force, physical threat or abuse of authority when the victim does not or cannot consent,” she said.  “Sexual assault includes rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault or attempts to commit these acts.”

She said that her goal during the academy is to help victim service providers recognize the issues unique to people involved with the military, currently or in the past.  “Due to the significant population of service members and veterans throughout Rhode Island, these providers may come into contact with them in their work.” 

Family Service of Rhode Island is a statewide non-profit social service and educational organization.   More information is available at www.familyserviceri.org.

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