#66 - Advocating Against the Sexual Assault Epidemic
Individuals with disabilities are 7x more likely to be the victim of sexual assault. After learning of her sister’s abuse our guest, Julie Newart, began an advocacy organization called Natalie’s Voice.
Natalie’s Voice is a family-driven sexual assault prevention advocacy organization aiming to:
Raise awareness that the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are highly vulnerable to sexual assault.
Empower caregivers with effective planning tools.
Build community around response so that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Each and every non-verbal person with intellectual and developmental disabilities will have their voice be heard, by way of loving care providers, through effective planning, adaptive technology and a cohesive agency response system, in the face of the sexual assault epidemic.
Mentioned in This Episode
In 2012 Julie Newart learned of the sexual assault of her sister at the hands of a trusted care provider. Since then, she has been on fire advocating for policies and procedures to come against the sexual assault epidemic happening to individuals with disabilities.
Julie Newart’s sister, Natalie, was sexually assaulted at the hands of a trusted caregiver. The attack brought to light holes in the system and how the real danger of sexual assault in the special needs community is approached and handled.
Natalie’s assault both ripped out the hearts of the family and surprised them. They never considered that a trusted care provider would rape her. In hindsight they saw signs such as months of moaning, insomnia, sitting on her haunches, and different diapering patterns.
With Natalie’s STD diagnosis, the reaction from the case worker and medical team was quiet. Little was done, including failure to file the a mandated report, offer therapy, nor review the steps on how to respond to expected abuse. Julie thinks this is because we are up against policies and systems not set up to support nor acknowledge the risk and prevalence of abuse in the special needs community.
Julie called the police as soon as the STD was diagnosed. This is one of Dr. Nora Baladarion’s 10 steps. The director of the facility surprisingly said he wished the police were not called.
Wanting to quickly close the books on cases such as these is a common pattern which may put others in harms way. Often, families are asked to sign a nondisclosure and quickly close the books. The good news is progress in this area is being made with bill SB820.
Julie is leading the movement to utilize technology that can provide data and share monitoring stats (similar to the the tracking of a fitbit). This would allow data to be collected and loving care providers to be alerted when distress is detected.
To join the work the Julie is doing in advocating for policy change visit Natalie’s Voice and contact her at NataliesVoiceCA@gmail.com