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2007 National Award for Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence
Susan Vickers is the Founding and Executive Director of the Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC). The VRLC is a non-profit organization committed to improving the lives of sexual assault survivors by meeting their civil legal needs. VRLC accomplishes this by training attorneys and law students in Massachusetts and across the nation to join its mission, and by living its commitment to advocating for and representing the legal rights of all sexual assault survivors. Susan launched VRLC as an outgrowth of her work with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC), where she established the Center's legal representation component. VRLC has represented thousands of survivors; it has trained almost as many civil lawyers and advocates. To this day, her vision -- and VRLC's mission - remains grounded in the real lives and legal needs of sexual assault survivors. With Susan at its head, the VRLC provides free training to hundreds of civil attorneys throughout the year who represent SA victims for free. Susan has guided the VRLC in its effort and commitment to achieve one simple goal: to use the power of the law to prevent the myriad harms that result from even a single sexual assault. VRLC believes that we can help create a healthier, safer and more productive nation by providing zealous, independent legal advocacy to sexual assault victims. In pursuit of this mission, VRLC is working to help create and train a national cadre of civil attorneys able, willing, and committed to zealously advocating for sexual assault victims on an individual basis. VRLC believes the law can - and should - be a potent force for change. Nationally, VRLC is poised to publish a national manual that provides lawyers and advocates with the basic tools necessary to assist a sexual assault survivor with her civil legal needs. VRLC owes its extraordinary impact to the vision, leadership, and dedication of the organization's founder and Executive Director, Susan Vickers.
For nearly four years, the Virginia Department of Health has conducted a successful social marketing campaign aimed at men 18-29 to reduce statutory rape and sexual coercion of minors by older adults. It was conceived because surveys reported one in four women in Virginia had been the victim of sexual assault, most when they were children. Virginia also recorded 2,684 births to girls age 14 and 15 from 1999 to 2003 from men over age 18. The campaign's message, 'Isn't She a Little Young? Sex With a Minor, Don't Go There,' generated overwhelming state and national media coverage for its effort to enlist the aid of men when they see their buddies pursuing young girls. The message appeared on billboards and on postcards that were distributed to bars, restaurants and retail establishments. The postcards were designed to be conversation starters among men who could also mail them to friends. VDH's latest effort to reduce statutory rape and the sexual coercion of teens by older adults reaches out to the Hispanic community to educate young Latinas about healthy dating relationships. The centerpiece is the fotonovela, 'Gracias Papa.' The fotonovela is a popular form of communication in the Hispanic culture. It is formatted like an American comic book, and contains a dramatic storyline communicated through speech bubbles that appear over the characters' heads. This campaign also consists of three 60-second Spanish language radio PSAs and a Spanish Web page (www.paramihija.com). All were developed with input from professionals in the Hispanic community and focus group interviews.
Peer Solutions piloted STAND & SERVE, a sexual violence prevention program in 1997 at Tempe High School in Arizona with assistance from the Arizona Department of Health Services. Peer Solutions now facilitates on-going activities with 6 high schools, 6 middle schools, 3 elementary schools and Arizona State University with the support of over 20 community partners reaching approximately 25,000 students, staff, family and community members annually. The vision of STAND & SERVE is for individuals to internalize respect in thought, reflect it in action, and spread it to others, resulting in an increase of peace in our hearts, homes, schools, workplaces and communities. The mission of STAND & SERVE is to cultivate positive social change by uniting schools, families and communities with STAND & SERVE, an asset based, peer facilitated, prevention and intervention support program fostering peace, respect, empathy and ownership of the solution. STAND & SERVE is a student-run club hosted by Peer Solutions designed to address the underlying conditions of sexual violence while promoting respect for self and others.