Over 200 law enforcement professionals, prosecutors, victim service providers and others are expected to attend a one-day training on February 22, 2019, to hear from leading national experts in sexual assault response and investigation. Participants will explore how the trauma of sexual assault victimization impacts the behaviors, memory, and recall of survivors, and strategize how to improve criminal justice and community responses to better meet their needs. Using real case examples, the training will showcase best practices in sexual assault response and investigation, including alternative reporting options for survivors, an “Opening Doors” model of services, and the Start by Believing philosophy.

San Luis Obispo Chief of Police Deanna Cantrell highlighted the need for such training, to support sexual assault survivors and hold perpetrators accountable: “When law enforcement is trained to empathetically recognize and respond to the emotional trauma inflicted by sexual assault, victims are not re-traumatized, and investigators can conduct a more thorough, professional and evidence-based investigation. Additionally, it helps Law Enforcement to understand symptoms of vicarious trauma they may experience.”

This one-day training will be hosted by the San Luis Obispo SART (Suspected Abuse Response Team) Advisory Board, in partnership with the San Luis Obispo Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, and District Attorney’s Office, along with RISE. Generous support was also provided by community partners French Hospital Medical Center and Mountainbrook Church, where the training will take place.

Training will be provided by Sergeant Liz Donegan (Retired) of the Austin Police Department (APD) and Dr. Kimberly Lonsway of End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI). Sgt. Donegan (Ret.) served 26 years with the APD, leading the Sex Crimes Unit for over 9 years where she enacted a progressive approach toward investigating sexual assault, providing better service to victims, and changing the culture surrounding the investigation of non-stranger sexual assault.

Dr. Lonsway is a Founding Board Member and current Research Director for EVAWI, America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving criminal justice responses to sexual assault. EVAWI provides training and technical assistance for thousands of professionals each year and is responsible for the nationally-recognized Start by Believing public awareness campaign.

This training is funded through the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES), Criminal Justice/Emergency Management & Victim Services Branch, Sexual Assault Response Team (XS) Program administered by RISE.

About RISE

RISE is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization whose mission is to transform the lives of sexual and intimate partner violence survivors, their families, and the community through services and education that promote safety, healing, and empowerment. RISE provides the following services: 24-hour support line, case management, restraining order assistance, accompaniment and advocacy, two emergency shelters, individual and group counseling, and prevention education. To learn more, visit RISEslo.org.