Sunday, October 7, 2018

End Violence Against Women International’s (EVAWI) Virtual 5K Walk/Run/Bike Event

Every now and then an event comes along that catches your eye and makes you say, “I want to be part of that.”    That is exactly what happened in Yavapai County Arizona with the End Violence Against Women International’s (EVAWI) Virtual 5K walk/run/bike event. 
I started running late in life.  Before that, I ran to maintain my fitness enough to pass the required physical tests associated with my career as a law enforcement professional.  At age 52, I was inspired by an individual whom I worked with and respected who made the decision that he was going to run a half-marathon.  I found myself a year later running the Rock n’ Roll half marathon in Tempe, Arizona with a group of friends. Over the next several years, I ran over 10 half marathons and numerous 10K and 5K running events.
A change in jobs and a move became a letdown for me as far as my running was concerned.  I basically stopped for a while.  As anyone could guess, it was hard to kick-start that momentum again.  Then along comes a Virtual 5K opportunity that could be done completely on your own, or with a group.  It appealed to me and I earned my EVAWI 5K medal after completing a 4-mile run right after the first of the year in 2018.  Needless to say, I was excited, pumped, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment in getting back into the running groove.

This run can be completed individually, but a friend and co-worker of mine, Sergeant James Tobin with the Yavapai College Police Department took it a step further and formed a team to participate in the walk.   The team was called: Yavapai Gold!
And to make things more interesting, he challenged the Yavapai County Juvenile Probation Department to form a team.  They responded with the creation of the Yavapai Platinum Team!
Finally, the Yavapai County Adult Probation Department, after being challenged, responded with the creation of team as well.
Yavapai Gold’s 5K walk was completed on Saturday, July 28thwith not only our team members, but allies and family, and a couple of dogs who seemed to enjoy being a part of such a worthwhile event.
Not only has this Virtual 5K helped me personally with a renewed fitness goal and objective, I’m supporting an organization that is changing our world for the better in how we respond to disclosures of sexual violence and how survivors of such violence are treated not only by the criminal justice system, but by society in general.   I’m proud to have earned my medal and look forward to additional challenges that EVAWI may come up with in the future.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Impact of Believers

Grace French 
Sister Survivor 
President and Founder of The Army of Survivors.

The story of how I started seeing Larry Nassar for medical treatment is unusual in the fact that I did not go to him for a sports injury. The first appointment I vividly remember was for a wrist injury I got from playing a rough game of Red Rover on the playground. That day I sought treatment for a sprained wrist and ended up with a grown man, a doctor, with me on the medical table, massaging my breasts and thighs. I was only 12 years old. But it didn't stop there. I continued seeing Larry well into 2014 for dance-related injuries, and soon his “treatments” progressed to include penetration.

Larry's treatments weren't confined to the doctor's office. He "treated" me in the basement of my dance company’s performance venue, behind pulled curtains, as I prepared to go onstage for the Nutcracker. I saw nothing wrong with this, my only goal was to get back on stage so I could live my dreams.
Larry Nassar was my doctor. But I did not see him as my abuser. After all, my mom had been in the room at every appointment, he was an Olympic doctor, he treated all of the great gymnasts, figure skaters, and dancers…I wanted to be just like them. Even if I had told people I was uncomfortable with some of the treatments would they have understood why they bothered me? Would they even believe me?

After trying to ignore the news articles about my former doctor, I found myself watching the victim impact statements at his sentencing hearing. One after one I saw girls march up to tell their stories. Stories so similar to my own, in so many ways. I watched as people not only believed them but cheered them on.

Connecting the dots in my own story was devastating. I felt my whole world and reality crash around me. The weight of his abuse and his control over the way I, my family, and my community viewed him was too heavy even to comprehend.

As I began to share my story, I realized how impactful it was. Within days of sharing the truth of my abuse with my friends and family, multiple people had come to confide in me about their own experiences. I even had a mother come to me saying "thank you." Because of me sharing my story, she decided to have a conversation with her daughter about what abuse looked like, and what to do if it happened. I am so grateful to have been able to inspire that necessary conversation.

This only happened because my family, friends, and community were ready and able to believe in me and my story.

Because of experiences like these, I found a new purpose in sharing my story and advocating for others. I've attended multiple bill hearings at the Michigan State Legislature offering my support to help them pass, I have spoken at the MSU Board of Trustees meeting regarding my concerns about crass leadership at MSU and the harmful culture it has created, and I traveled to Washington D.C. to lend my support as a survivor at the Senate hearing involving MSU, USAG, and USOC leaders.

Last but not least, I have led the movement to form The Army of Survivors.
Created by the survivors of Larry Nassar, The Army of Survivors is a non-profit in the making, standing together to create a culture where sexual assault and abuse survivors feel safe and supported when speaking their truth. We support survivors and work to change society through resources, advocacy, and education. We strive to erase the stigma attached to sexual assault and abuse.

My journey through the hurt, devastation, and finally anger has led me to this. I feel incredibly empowered, listened to, and heard. My story would have been entirely different had I not been believed. This is why the Start by the Believing campaign is so necessary to change the culture today.

Twitter  @survivorsarmy

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Start By Believing: Embracing The Movement

Eric A Barreras, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, US Coast Guard District Eleven
EVAWI, Associate Board Member

Words are important. They can be interpreted differently from person to person, and that interpretation stems from our life experiences. I attended my very first End Violence Against Women International conference in New Orleans back in 2015. At that time, I was a civilian Supervisory Special Agent with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command and had approximately 14 years of investigative experience, most of which involved sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse.

When I first heard the Start By Believing phrase several years ago I was a little reluctant to embrace it. After all, at that time I was a detective who built a strong reputation for being able to substantiate or refute reports. My main concern revolved around the idea that if I embraced and vocalized a response in line with believing, it would make my investigation appear biased. In my heart I felt this would invite almost any defense attorney to introduce the notion that I did not give their client a fair shot, meaning I built the case around the Start By Believing concept and not the facts. 

Later in 2015, I transitioned into sexual assault advocacy work. During that change, I wholeheartedly felt I could focus on believing. After all, that is the job of an advocate. As an advocate, I have come to realize just how powerful believing someone can be. It’s empowering. It’s supportive. It’s absolutely necessary for recovery. Especially with survivors who are dealing with self-blame or doubt. I have also come to the conclusion that feelings and emotions are far more powerful than words. By believing, we are able to attack the primary advantage predators have relied upon for years - disbelief. 

If you’re an advocate, Start By Believing should be a given. If you’re a police officer, military leader, supervisor, someone’s friend, relative or co-worker, Start by Believing is critical to achieving your end goals, which is serving others and making our community safer. Why is that? Because someone who does not feel supported will have a hard time coming forward.

The fact that an extremely small percentage of offenders are actually held accountable for their actions should raise concern for all of us. It’s time to eliminate our immediate response of disbelief, and that requires us to at least Start by Believing - regardless of your connection to the victim/survivor, or the profession in which you serve.

If you’re still struggling with this concept, I can understand that. I know that my inability to fully embrace it as a detective was wrong. I understand that now. It just took me awhile to understand why.

If the most precious person in your life was sexually assaulted, would you want them to be believed? I’m inclined to think that everyone would respond with a resounding “yes.” Perhaps by collectively embracing Start by Believing, we will change culture in such a way that predators will find it extremely challenging to operate.  If so, we will also increase the likelihood that offenders will be held accountable. All we have to do is simply Start by Believing.

EVAWI has published several training bulletins to address some of the questions that might be raised by criminal justice professionals and allies.  We encourage you to click on the links below to learn more:  

Start by Believing:  Evaluating the Impact of a Public Awareness Campaign Designed to Change the Community Response to Sexual Assault (July 2013)

Start by Believing:  Participation of Criminal Justice Professionals (September 2016)

Start by Believing to Improve Responses to Sexual Assault and Prevent Gender Bias (August 2017)

The Investigating Officer’s Direct Exam: Strategic and Tactical Considerations to Take Advantage of the IO’s Expertise (June 2018)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Three Days

Catherine Johnson 
Director, EVAW International Board of Directors

Three days.  That’s the length of the End Violence Against Women International Conference. Three days to connect with like-minded individuals – individuals collectively working to end gender-based violence.  Three days of not feeling alone while doing this work.  Three days to re-energize before returning to our communities and getting back into the fight.

The awards, plenaries, and breakouts that followed the inspirational opening ceremony provided attendees with the opportunity to gain new insights and advanced training in the response to gender-based violence.  The seated lunches, break-times, and evenings provided everyone with the opportunity to network with allied partners from all over the world.  It is here that relationships are built, new friends are made, old friends are reunited, and minds are expanded.  It is where attendees discover the reality that there are others who think similarly. 

The stories shared, both in the training sessions and after, never fail to move me.  Experiences like Jennifer Nadler’s set to the background of Linkin Park. The raw truths. The raw experiences. The strength and fortitude that is sometimes hidden and other times bare and uncovered.  The capacity of the human spirit is awe-inspiring.

Lastly, throughout the conference there were opportunities for fun.  A photo booth allowed people to take fun photos and capture memories.  Vendors gave away samples and educated attendees on the latest and greatest in training and technology.  Laughter was the evening background music and could be heard from the restaurants, conference rooms, and lobbies.  The sound of real connections being made filled the air.

Three days does not sound like a lot of time, but those three days can be life changing. If you did not make it to the conference in Chicago last month, plan to spend 3 days with us (or 4 if you join us for the post-conference), April 22-24th, 2019, in San Diego. For many of you, your kids or friends might be on Spring break.  Make it a vacation.  I promise you will leave changed! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Behind the Scenes

Catherine Johnson 
Director, EVAW International Board of Directors

Today is the eve of the 2018 End Violence Against Women International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Gender Bias being held in Chicago Il.  As I sit looking out over the lake I reflect on the number of years I have attended this organization's conferences.

I attended my first EVAW International Conference as a young detective  in 2006 in Kansas City Missouri.  I can still remember the impact that first conference had and have had the privilege of attending all but one since.  

Prior to becoming a board member I had no idea what it took to put on a conference the size of EVAW International. I would simply show up to whatever city the conference was being held, grab my tote bag, then seek out new friends and familiar faces.  I knew the three days I spent at the EVAW International Conference were going to be well-spent.  I knew I would be provided with advanced skills and training that I could then take back to KCPD to help me and other detectives be more successful in our job as detectives in the Sex Crimes Unit.  I also knew I would leave the conference exhausted but with a renewed sense of energy, purpose, and excitement to put into action what I had learned.

Today, as a Board Director, I have a better understanding of the behind the scenes activities that go into putting on a conference of this magnitude. Over the next few weeks I plan to share with you some of the things you may not know about. I plan to post a glimpse from the trenches.  You will see photographs and videos, some from behind the scenes, as we prepare to bring you a stellar conference!   

Let's talk about what happens before the conference actually begins.  The work begins with the EVAW International staff way before we get to the location of the meeting.  I cannot begin to describe all that they do, but let me be clear - this conference could not be done at the level it is without the staff!   They are an amazing group of individuals and absolutely incredible team!

By the time the Board of Directors arrive, the staff has already started working at setting things up at the conference location, to include preparing for the annual in-person board meeting which takes place the Sunday prior to the conference. For some of us, this is the only time we get to see one another face to face.  As you can see by these photographs there are some serious conversations being had. I am sure a few of the world's problems are being solved!

The EVAW International Board of Directors is a working board in it's truest sense.  If you have ever attended an EVAW International Conference you may remember receiving a bag of conference-related materials to include a spiral bound notebook which contains the full agenda.  Those bags don't stuff themselves!  The Monday prior to the conference the entire Board of Directors (and as many volunteers as we can summons) meet to prepare the bags.  It is hard work, but there is usually music and a lot of laughter as we try to make it as fun as possible!  This year we stuff over 2000 bags and actually finished in a record amount of time (just under 2.5 hours).  As you can tell by the photo, everyone was extremely excited to be finished!  My hope is that our enthusiasm will be contagious!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Real Impact of Kobe Bryant’s Academy Award

Eric A Barreras, Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, US Coast Guard District Eleven
EVAWI, Advisory Board Member

Last week we watched as Kobe Bryant received an Academy Award for the film “Dear Basketball.”  As many of us remember, in July of 2003, Mr. Bryant was arrested in connection with the rape of a 19-year old woman who worked in a hotel where he was staying.  As a retired detective specializing in sexual assault investigations, a former criminal defense investigator, and a current advocate for survivors of sexual assault, my heart goes out to this survivor and the countless others who have been impacted emotionally by Mr. Bryant’s recent accomplishment.

Mr. Bryant initially lied to investigators and denied engaging in any sexual activities with the victim.  Upon further questioning, Mr. Bryant admitted to engaging in sexual activities with her but claimed they were consensual. The case was dropped after the victim refused to participate further, even though there was evidence to substantiate the victim’s report (bloody clothing, bruising around the victim’s neck area, forensic evidence that supported sexual acts occurred, and testimony from a hotel employee who witnessed the victim leaving the hotel emotionally distraught). The victim had received several death threats from Kobe Bryant supporters who were incapable of seeing him as a rapist. The victim later filed a civil suit, which was settled out of court and included Mr. Bryant’s public apology to the victim.

About one year following the victim’s report, Mr. Bryant signed a seven-year, $136 million contract, and regained several of his major endorsements. He was also named the NBA's Most Valuable Player in 2008 and the Finals' Most Valuable Player in 2009 and 2010. We can now add Academy Award Winner to his list of accomplishments.

This survivor had to sit idly by as the world chanted Bryant’s name in the arena for twelve years following her sexual assault. I can only imagine the pain she must have felt when her assaulter was hoisted up on an even bigger platform and applauded by the public after winning an Academy Award.  He was never proven innocent, he merely benefited from the victim’s inability to continue with the trial. This is something very few people understand. I believed her then, I believe her now, and I will continue to believe her moving forward, despite the overwhelming lack of support she has received over the years. If more criminal justice professionals would just Start by Believing, perhaps victims wouldn’t be so afraid to participate in the investigative process.  And maybe—just maybe—more offenders will face justice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Technology and Innovation Making a Difference

Stacey Brietzke, Director of Marketing Communications, Ten8Tech

Seek Then Speak and Victim Link: Linking sexual assault victims to resources and support 

There is no shame when a loved one dies, when your car is stolen, or when you’re diagnosed with cancer. Friends and loved ones gather for support. They don’t blame you. They don’t say, “you brought this on yourself.”

So why is it different when someone comes forward about sexual assault?

Often, when sexual assault victims find the courage to speak out, they are blamed or not believed. Without support, the assault becomes a source of shame and it can have destructive effects on families, communities, and society.

But a team of people, united across the nation, are dedicated to changing this.

In 2003, Sgt. Joanne Archambault, who retired from the San Diego Police Department after almost 23 years in law enforcement, founded End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) to improve responses to sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence. 

Today, EVAWI is America’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving criminal justice responses to sexual assault. In the past 10 years, nearly 25,000 people participated in EVAWI’s OnLine Training Institute, growing with about 4,500 new registrations in 2017 alone. Last year, these users participated in more than 8,000 modules, racking up more than 1.6 million hours of training. Additionally, in 2017, EVAWI’s website had nearly 4.6 million page views and visitors downloaded an average of 1,027 resources per day.

EVAWI strives to improve the way survivors are treated, pursue accountability for perpetrators, and prevent future attacks. Yet, there is an understanding that most sexual assault victims never report the crime to law enforcement, often because of the responses they receive when they first tell someone about their assault.

That’s why EVAWI created its Start by Believing campaign — to prepare professionals and loved ones to respond appropriately to sexual assault disclosures and improve outcomes for victims.

Start by Believing launched during Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April 2011 in conjunction with the International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking hosted by EVAWI in Chicago, Illinois.

Today, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma are official Start by Believing States, and there are hundreds of other Start by Believing communities across the globe. 

Start by Believing is more than just a few words. It is not simply a pledge that an individual might take, or a public awareness campaign that an agency or community might adopt. It is not a specific phrase that needs to be said to victims. Rather, Start by Believing is a philosophical stance that should guide responses to sexual assault.

“Start by Believing is a philosophy designed to ‘flip the script’ on the negative messages victims have historically received when reporting a sexual assault,” Archambault said. “A positive reaction can increase the chance they will report to law enforcement and reach out for help from other sources.”

But what happens next? After Start by Believing, how do we help?

Platform Utilizes Microsoft’s secure, cloud-hosted Azure Gov. technology

That’s where Ten8Tech steps in with its innovative, secure, Microsoft Azure Government-hosted platforms, Seek Then Speak and Victim Link.

Ten8’s CEO and President, Anthony Formhals, like Archambault, is a former law enforcement officer. As a patrol officer in Chula Vista, California, for eight years, he spent a lot of time doing reports for events like fender benders and lost cell phones — but what he really wanted to do was better protect and serve his community.

Understanding how much time is spent on non-emergency reports when law enforcement resources could be more effectively used elsewhere, Formhals founded Ten8Tech and created Case Service, patented technology that allows citizens to file non-emergency reports by voice over the phone, via text or mobile app, or on the web.

In 2016, while speaking at a conference for the Arizona Association of Chiefs of Police (AACOP), Formhals met Chief Jerald Monahan, a veteran law enforcement officer with more than 38 years of experience, who now serves as EVAWI’s Law Enforcement Liaison. Chief Monahan was a past president of AACOP when he heard Formhals talk about Case Service. He asked Formhals if the technology could be used to take rape reports.

“I knew Case Service wasn’t the right product for what he envisioned,” Formhals said, “but Chief Monahan’s enthusiasm got me thinking about how we could use its core technology to help sexual assault victims.”

From there, Victim Link was borne.

“Using our Victim Link technology to link sexual assault victims with law enforcement and victim advocacy organizations just made sense,” Formhals said. “So, with EVAWI’s expertise and resources, we worked collaboratively to also create Seek Then Speak to help victims.” is a national, multilingual platform that enables victims and their support people to gather information, explore options, and take action. They can connect however they are most comfortable – by voice over the phone, via the web, or by using a mobile app. Victims can even begin the process of reporting directly to law enforcement and requesting supportive services through Victim Link. 

“Enhancing this service with Seek Then Speak and Victim Link will only provide improved services for our citizens,” said Ricardo Martinez II, Public Safety Director and Chief of Police for the City of Nevada, Iowa. “Providing the best services to our community is our primary goal. We believe this new technology will help us to pursue our mission, and improve responses, services, and access for victims of crime.”

All of this takes place within the secure, cloud-hosted environment of Microsoft Azure Gov, and complies with all law enforcement data security guidelines.

“This technology will allow us, as a community, to offer education and assistance in a manner that is consistent with how many college-age people communicate, which is predominantly electronically,” said Michael Thompson, Chief of Police from the Arizona State University Police Department.

Expanding this technology’s reach, not just to Arizona State University, but across the nation, remains a priority for Ten8 and EVAWI. Thanks to new grant funding, they’re finding new ways to do just that. 

In September 2017, the Office of Justice Programs’ Office for Victims of Crime awarded EVAWI grant funding to enhance services for victims of crime across the United States. The funding is through the Vision 21: Advancing the Use of Technology to Assist Victims of Crime program.

EVAWI is committed to continuing its partnership with Ten8Tech to expand and enhance Seek Then Speak and Victim Link to improve responses, services, and access for victims of crime. Through this opportunity, no-cost Victim Link subscriptions are offered to eligible law enforcement agencies and victim advocacy organizations to expand the reach of Seek Then Speak and Victim Link across the nation. Agencies can easily apply for the no-cost subscriptions on the Victim Link website.

The expertise, technology, and financial support is there, but why is this technology needed?

“As few as one in five victims report their sexual assault,” Kristina Rose, EVAWI’s Executive Director, said. Before joining EVAWI late last year, Rose previously served as the Deputy Director at the U.S. Justice Department’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), so she understands the far-reaching impact of these non-reported assaults.

“Most victims do not contact health care providers or victim advocates,” she explained. “Many fear not being believed or blamed for the assault. Without a report, help remains out of reach for most victims.” 

“Seek Then Speak and Victim Link can help us better serve these victims, close the gaps in service delivery, and promote justice and healing,” added Ann Burdges, EVAWI’s Director of Communications and Systems Innovation.

Burdges, a former law enforcement officer and sex crimes investigator, most recently served as CEO and Executive Director of the Gwinnett Sexual Assault Center & Children’s Advocacy Center in Atlanta. The immediate past vice president of EVAWI’s board of directors, she joined EVAWI in 2017 to oversee the $1.4 million grant from OVC to improve access to sexual assault reporting options and victim advocacy.

Through this funding, EVAWI is working with Ten8Tech to provide no-cost, one-year Victim Link subscriptions to eligible law enforcement agencies and victim advocacy organizations.

“This has been a tremendously rewarding partnership,” Formhals said. “We look forward to working with EVAWI to help achieve its vision of a world where gender-based violence is unacceptable, where perpetrators are held accountable, and victims receive the compassion, support, and justice they deserve.”

EVAWI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and educating those who respond to gender-based violence, equipping them with the knowledge they need to support victims and hold offenders accountable. For more information, visit

Ten8Tech, established in 2012, is a technology company that creates intelligent, automated communications products for public service. With its patented Communication Fabric technology, Dialogue Framework, Ten8Tech enables two-way dialogue through products that simplify complexities and expedite communications between citizens and those who serve them. For more information, visit