Department of Justice STOP Conference

Tuesday, 2 February 2010
San Francisco, CA

Lori Crowder Mariska Hargitay and Darlene JohnsonOn February 2, 2010, Deputy Associate Attorney General Karol V. Mason, Acting Director for the Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Catherine Pierce, and Joyful Heart founder and president Mariska Hargitay addressed nearly 300 attendees at the Services-Training-Officers-Prosecutors (STOP) Conference in San Francisco. Also presenting, was author, advocate and vicarious trauma expert, Laura Van dernoot Lipsky, who spoke as part of Joyful Heart's Heal the Healers program. The four-day conference brought together representatives of the offices of the governor, attorney general, or other state criminal justice agency from every state government and territory in the nation. Also in attendance were domestic violence and sexual assault coalition representatives from every state and territory. It was the single largest and most comprehensive gathering of professionals and decision makers working to address the issues of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse. And it was unique opportunity for Joyful Heart to bring a message of hope and possibility to the healing community as a whole. Joyful Heart was honored to participate and to have Ms. Hargitay deliver the keynote speech:

You have honored me deeply by inviting me to stand among you, and with you, in our common cause.

I am especially honored to be here on the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, the legislation that revolutionized the way violent crimes against women are prosecuted and prevented, and the way communities respond to survivors. The bill's author, then-Senator, now Vice President Joseph Biden, is a true hero.

And, frankly, so are you, as revolutionaries so often are.

I have seen survivors find their way back to lives of possibility, hope and joy, and I am so proud to be part of a movement that will change the way we talk about and behave around these epidemics.

Through your work, you strengthen the possibility of healing for a survivor because you are acknowledging, responding to, and giving your all to do something about the violence and injustice they have suffered. That is why I am so moved by your collective commitment: because it has the power to heal.

Those in attendance were invited to watch "Joyful Revolution," Paul Korver's documentary film on Joyful Heart.

The real highlight for many of the advocates and administrators, however, was the presentation by Laura Van dernoot Lipsky. By exploring with the audience many of the themes in her book, Trauma Stewardship: Caring for Self While Caring for Others, she introduced the concept of Vicarious Trauma-the causes, signs and ways to combat the effects-in a meaningful, practical format. By using Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s metaphor of the "web of life," Lipsky reinforced the interconnectedness of the community of healers who have dedicated themselves to combating this violence.

Acting Director Pierce spoke to the spirit of collaboration she sees as key to making progress on these issues.

Darlene Johnson and Mariska Hargitay

In the past 15 years since the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law, countless lives have been saved, the voices of survivors have been heard, and families have been protected. But there is still much more to be done. We have federal resources and we have a strong commitment from this administration, but that is not enough. We need to work together to bring about a significant shift in our culture.

This collaboration within the community is at the top of Joyful Heart's list of priorities, making the foundation's presence at this conference essential to furthering our commitment to care not only for the survivors of this violence, but also to care for those who care for the survivors.

The Justice Department has launched a year-long commemoration of the 15th anniversary of VAWA, working to raise public awareness on issues around violence against women, to build and renew coalitions among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and victim services communities, and to end stalking, sexual assault, domestic and dating violence for men, women and children across the country. As part of this effort, the department has encouraged allies, including Ms. Hargitay, who have lent their names in support of the department's "Join the List" initiative to raise awareness with their fans, through Web and fan sites, and Social Networking profiles.

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