WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) introduced a bicameral resolution calling for a Congressional commitment to elevate the voices and needs of sexual violence survivors, particularly members of diverse communities that experience sexual violence at higher rates and are less likely to have access to justice and mental and emotional support resources after being victimized.
While all survivors’ voices need to be uplifted, troubling data illustrate the need to highlight those of historically and currently disenfranchised and underserved communities:
The resolution commits to:
“Elevating the voices, leadership, and needs of communities that face systemic barriers in the effort to end sexual violence and gender-based violence and to support all survivors of sexual violence, including—immigrant survivors; survivors who are incarcerated; survivors with disabilities; survivors of color; American Indian or Alaska Native survivors; survivors of child sexual abuse; and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex survivors.”
The resolution also calls upon Congress: “to ensure that responding to the needs of sexual violence survivors is a legislative priority, to demonstrate proactive leadership in the effort to end sexual violence and gender-based violence; and to reject rollbacks of enforcement and interpretations of protections against harassment.”
The full text of the resolution is here.
The resolution is supported by the following organizations that advocate for women and girls, minorities, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ+ community:
End Rape on Campus, FaithTrust Institute, Girls Inc., Human Rights Campaign, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, Know Your IX, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Center for Transgender Equality, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, National Women’s Law Center, Platform, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault and The National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
"As a crime that is often characterized by disparate power dynamics and often committed as an act of oppression and control, sexual violence disproportionately affects individuals from marginalized communities," Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director, NJCASA said. "Senator Booker and Representative Watson Coleman's resolution recognizes that the root causes of sexual violence--inequality, oppression, and discrimination--must be addressed before meaningful change can take place. NJCASA applauds Senator Booker and Representative Watson Coleman for their commitment to supporting all survivors of sexual violence, including those from vulnerable and underserved communities."
“With their support of this resolution, Senator Booker and U.S. Representative Watson Coleman join our resistance. It is clear that this administration has zero interest in protecting survivors’ rights nor the life or liberty of folks with disabilities, immigrants, communities of color, Native survivors, or LGBTQ communities—and yet, our stories of resilience continue to permeate this darkness,” shares B. Ever Hanna, End Rape on Campus, Campus Policy Manager. “This is not the first time survivors have successfully demanded change, and will not be the last. With the partnership of leaders like Representative Watson Coleman and Senator Booker, it’s clear that our movement and our stories will be shaping a safer, brighter future.”
"This is a critical time for our nation to commit to ending sexual violence and gender-based violence. For the first time in history, there is a cultural awareness of the vast scope of this crime as well as an understanding of the incredible impact of the trauma created by sexual violence and violation on individuals and communities. So much is destroyed by sexual violence,” shares Sarah Butler, Program Manager, FaithTrust Institute. “We can change this. We must dedicate ourselves to hearing and honoring the truths of survivors. We must recognize and actively address the tremendous vulnerability that so many face due to lack of resources and the inherent roadblocks to safety built into our society through racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia."
“In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda and our partners are deeply committed to elevating the voices and leadership of Black women and LGBTQ people of color, who remain most subjected to and uniquely impacted by violence of many forms. This includes sexual violence and violence that is sanctioned by the state. We need more Congressional leaders to unapologetically use their voice to confront sexual and gender-based violence. In centering survivors and communities who are are most directly and disparately impacted, this resolution is a crucial step,” shares Marcela Howell, Founder and President/CEO, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda
“Know Your IX recognizes that sexual and dating violence are manifestations of systemic gender oppression, which cannot be separated from all other forms of oppression, including but not limited to imperialism, racism, classism, homophobia, transphobia, and ableism. We are excited to see the Senate recognize that the experiences of survivors are shaped by their individual identities and the connected systems of oppression. It is essential that all of us challenge the narrow and inaccurate representations of what assault, violence, and survivorship look like. We thank Senator Booker his leadership and for pushing others to acknowledge that gender violence disproportionately affects people of color, women, and transgender and gender nonconforming people,” shares Sage Carson, Manager, Know Your IX.
"It is vital that our institutions address sexual violence and protect all survivors with special attention to the most vulnerable. We will leave no one out in our work to end sexual violence," shares Terri Poore, Policy Director, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence.
"Nearly half of transgender Americans are survivors of sexual violence. We applaud this resolution and call on all of our elected officials to make sure survivors' voices won't be erased," shares Harper Jean Tobin, National Center for Transgender Equality
"Sexual violence is pervasive among LGBTQI people, as the Resolution explains -- nearly half of all LGBTQI people have experienced some form of sexual violence; for bisexual women, transgender and nonbinary people, and LGBTQI people of color, the statistics are even more stark. We appreciate this Congress's willingness to center the needs, voices, and leadership of marginalized communities in this work, and their commitment to maintaining and expanding sexual violence prevention and enforcement measures," said Meghan Maury, Policy Director, National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund
“The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence applauds this important Senate resolution that robustly articulates the vast and unique needs of survivors of sexual violence and gender based violence. We must ensure that not only Congress, but out entire nation is committed to ending sexual violence and gender-based violence and helping survivors heal and thrive,” shares Marium Durrani, Director of Policy at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
“Today more than ever we need strong leadership and commitments from Congress to protect civil rights laws and survivors from all communities and backgrounds. This resolution is an important step towards recognizing that all survivors of sexual violence – especially survivors of color, immigrant survivors, LGBTQ survivors, and survivors with disabilities— must have access to the support and resources they deserve and need,” shares Olympia Feil, Director of Media Relations at the National Women’s Law Center
“Platform applauds Senator Booker and Congresswoman Watson Coleman’s dedication to all survivors with the introduction of this Resolution. It is time legislation about sexual and gender-based violence explicitly state, serve, and protect all survivors, not just some,” said Jenna Milliner-Waddell, Platform’s Communications Director, “Our community is raising their voices and calling for change that accounts for the realities they experience. This Resolution powerfully acknowledges their voices and takes a critical step forward in a national conversation around sexual violence that highlights the systemic barriers to care and rehabilitation that survivors in underserved communities face.”