Creating Systematic Change
Over the past 15 years, the Conference on Crimes Against Women has worked to fulfill the mission of providing cutting-edge, relevant training and education to first responders and community stakeholders on best practices regarding the identification, investigation and prosecution of all crimes against women. Created in partnership between the Dallas Police Department and Genesis Women’s Shelter & Support, the Conference is held annually in Dallas, Texas and offers over 245 sessions, case studies, hands-on computer labs and networking opportunities taught by local and national experts drawing more than 3,000 attendees from across the nation and around the world. Attendees include professionals who work in the fields of prosecution, law enforcement, victim advocacy, campus safety, military, medical and other first responders, encouraging and emphasizing the importance for a coordinated community response to all crimes against women. The Conference addresses the many and varied forms of crimes against women including domestic violence, human trafficking, sexual assault, stalking and strangulation.
CCAW offers both generalized and vulnerable population specific training. There are no barriers or bounds to crimes against women; women from all ethnicities, cultures and socio-economic backgrounds are affected each year by domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, cyber-crimes and other forms of exploitation and victimization; however, certain underserved groups—women who are indigent, undocumented, have limited English-proficiency and/or are experiencing other barriers to safety and self-sufficiency—experience an added layer of complexity within the multitude of challenges that crime victims face and are often impacted at higher rates by these crimes. Attending this Conference gives service providers the tools they need to overcome some of these barriers.
Each year the Conference awards nearly 200 scholarships to under-resourced service providers across the United States provided through generous community sponsorships and grant funding. A recent survey over the last five years of scholarship recipients demonstrates the incredible work that these professionals have accomplished since attending the Conference. 75% surveyed have implemented departmental or process changes or improvements when responding to female victims of crime. Officers in Michigan started a Victim Notification Review Team designed to assess when to notify members of a survivor’s family in the event of a high-risk domestic violence assault. Prosecutors in Ohio have recognized the need for a Victim Witness Coordinator that assists survivors through the entire legal process resulting in an increase in prosecution rates. An advocacy agency in North Dakota spearheaded a Domestic Violence High Risk Team. Officers in Rhode Island have trained hundreds of hotel workers, teachers and other community members on how to recognize and stop human trafficking. Advocates in Alabama opened a transitional housing facility for survivors of domestic violence.
Each incremental improvement to the way we provide support to survivors of gender-based violence adds to the greater goal of creating far-reaching, systemic change in every step of our judicial system. We are encouraged by the shifting tides surrounding violence against women; our society is beginning to pay attention and speak up like never before. Crimes against women are being investigated and prosecuted with persistence and determination. Voices once silenced are now holding accountable those who perpetrate this violence. It is our honor to host the nation’s largest and most comprehensive forum on best practices, concrete strategies and cutting-edge tools in the fight to end violence against women.
Written by Sarah Stubblefield, director of communications and operations for the Conference on Crimes Against Women