Happy New Year! With 2017 officially out the door, we’re looking forward to the new year and have a lot in store for 2018. Here’s a sneak peak of our hopes and dreams for the coming year!

law & legislation

So much legislation was passed for NJ survivors in 2017. What’s on the horizon for the new year?

PATRICIA: In 2018, NJCASA will continue to advance a comprehensive policy agenda. Of priority will be the abolition of the civil statute of limitations. There is currently no criminal statute of limitations for sexual assault in New Jersey, yet there is an insufficient two-year civil statute of limitations (by way of comparison, there is a six-year civil statute of limitations for trespassing).

NJCASA, alongside several other statewide advocacy organizations, will be advocating for a full abolition of New Jersey’s civil statute of limitations (as is the case in eight other states). As current cultural discourse has highlighted, survivors of sexual violence endure complex trauma that requires an appreciation for, and understanding of, the ways in which lives are impacted by this heinous crime. New Jersey can affirm the lived experience of survivors and increase perpetrator accountability by joining the ranks of the other states that place no arbitrary restrictions on the timeframe or age by which survivors can pursue civil remedies for justice.

Patricia Teffenhart is NJCASA’s Executive Director. She serves as the chief policy strategist, working with state and federal legislators to create a safer, more equitable society. She also provides strategic visioning and programmatic support to NJCASA’s talented team of professionals.

working with new partners

Speaking of legislation, what are your hopes for the new triennial law enforcement training?

ROB: With new laws that strengthen training for law enforcement, New Jersey demonstrates a commitment to ensure offices are prepared to handle the complexities of sexual assault cases. By ensuring training occurs every three years, law enforcement will be able to employ the most up-to-date practices to engage with survivors in a trauma-informed manner. I’m also excited that this coincides with an ongoing, federally-funded project working with partners at the State Police to create a comprehensive training curriculum for officers across the state. These collaborations are a great example of systems working at their best when all sides are committed to ongoing improvement to best serve survivors.

Robert Baran is NJCASA’s Assistant Director.  Along with supporting the range of initiatives upon which NJCASA is focused, Robert serves as the primary liaison to the State Police for the Law Enforcement training project. 

serving all communities

NJCASA has been working with Sexual Violence Programs to expand access for historically underserved communities. What are some service provision goals you hope to accomplish in 2018?

JYOTI: One of the aspects of my job that I best love is I get to work across a diverse portfolio of projects all focused on expanding access to services. For 2018 I hope to maintain our momentum in building local program capacity to better understand and engage historically underserved communities. I also hope to shift our perspective from a “this is one more project to undertake” mindset to a “how can we as an agency infuse the essence of intersectionality in all aspects of our work?” mindset.

Jyoti Venketraman is the Special Initiatives Manager for NJCASA. She supports a diverse portfolio of projects focused on expanding access to and improving quality of services.

the #metoo moment

Survivors were in the spotlight at the end of 2017, and the communications team was constantly on-the-go to stay on top of coverage! What are some conversations you hope will happen in the new year?

MARISSA: The groundswell of #MeToo moments and silence breakers in 2017 was unlike anything I’ve ever seen doing this work. As a culture, we are moving to a place where survivors can feel safe, comfortable, affirmed, and listened to when they come forward to share their experiences. Reporters and journalists are covering these stories more and more – making our 2017 Media Toolkit project all the more relevant!

In 2018, I hope conversations continue to happen at the intersections. The conversation we’ve had about workplace harassment is critical, but has primarily focused on white, cisgender women. To continue to sharply and accurately tell these stories, we need to talk about survivors who are LGBTQ+ (specifically survivors who are trans, who are disproportionately impacted by sexual violence), survivors of color, tribal sovereignty for Native American survivors of violence, survivors who are male, survivors in later life, survivors who are incarcerated, survivors currently experiencing homelessness … the list goes on and on. We need to center these experiences that the mainstream media has traditionally marginalized. I think we’re already making great strides in accurately portraying the breadth of survivors – and we can keep going!

Marissa Marzano is the Communications Specialist for NJCASA. She spends her days fielding media requests and monitoring news and trends, designing NJCASA resources, managing social media accounts, and providing technical assistance on all things communications to program members and other coalition counterparts.

resources & more!

NJCASA released a bunch of research-to-practice and resource documents, such as the media toolkit, prevention snapshot, and more. Are there any in the making for 2018?

SARAH: Yes! Currently, we’re working on a trauma research-to-practice toolkit to inform NJ Sexual Violence Programs (SVPs) and allied professionals in their practice. The toolkit will be divided into four sections: trauma 101, the neurobiology of trauma, community and historical trauma, and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). The final product will be hosted on the NJCASA Resources page for access at any time. Additionally, a webinar will accompany each section and made available on NJCASA’s Online Campus for SVPs.

Sarah Bear is the Training & Outreach Coordinator for NJCASA. She manages the Training Institute, assists with NJCASA’s social media presence, and runs the Social Media Ambassador program.