The Disability and Abuse Project has a new face, with new leadership and support, building upon many years of work and accomplishments by a variety of colleagues who have lent their expertise to this cause.
The project focuses on individuals with developmental or intellectual disabilities who are victims of sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. This includes all aspects of crime, such as crime victimization, reducing the risk of becoming a victim, support to the individual and family members when crime does occur, as well as providing guidance for psychotherapy and legal support.
The project works with those who respond to crime reports, including police and sheriff personnel at all levels (patrol, investigators, detectives, dispatchers), prosecutors, protective services professionals, SANEs, victims advocates, and any others. It provides technical assistance, training programs, and training curricula. The project offers educational programs and consultation to schools, adult day programs and other groups to enhance awareness of the problems and encourage risk reduction programs as well as information on mandated reporting.
The project also provides support to defense attorneys to make sure that defendants with developmental disabilities receive a fair trial and that they are sentenced appropriately to their culpability. Finally, the project maintains national and international support through its listserv and the new feature of a weekly newsfeed, with all articles from the past week on the topic, keeping subscribers to the listserv up-to-date. Through the listserv, participants can reach out to each other for resources, answers to questions, hot discussions, and maintain a sense of community.
The project is a function of Spectrum Institute, a nonprofit organization promoting respect for human diversity. Over the years, Spectrum Institute has sponsored projects dealing with personal privacy, family diversity, and freedom from violence, as well as promoting the elimination of discrimination on the basis of marital status and sexual orientation. It helped launch the Disability, Abuse, and Personal Rights Project many years ago. I am grateful to the Board of Directors for affirming the organization’s support for this new and improved Disability and Abuse Project.
Jim Stream, the Executive Director of the Arc of Riverside County, is the inspiration for our new look and now our participation in the social media world where we can both disseminate and receive information with a much wider audience, and serve many more people. His internet advisor, Michelle Baldwin, provides this project with her tech savvy guidance. We are grateful to Jim and Michelle for their enthusiastic support.
Anne Kincaid is the newest addition to our team. She is responsible for gathering news items during the week and putting them into a readable newsfeed. This allows our members to quickly stay up to date in their state or their particular subject matter area of interest. The weekly newsfeed is sent out to our members, beginning with my “picks” (those items I feel are of particular interest), then the rest of the articles are available using a link to our wesite, where readers can easily access articles as their time permits. In fact, each week’s newsfeed is archived, so anyone can go back and find articles of interest, all of which are listed in alphabetical order by state.
My new blog, of which this is the first installment, will be available right here. Our listserv members will be alerted to new blog postings. I will be inviting guest bloggers to write for us on topics about which we need their expertise. Since this is a blog, readers will be able to post comments or ask questions, so this will be a collaborative forum.
I will also be inviting some of my colleagues to become advisors to the Disability and Abuse Project. These will be individuals with expertise relevant to helping victims with disabilities.
Finally, none of this would be happening without the work of Tom Coleman, who has become the “Administrator” of this project, although he is much much more! He is my “angel” or he says, “manager”, and keeps me on my toes, nudging me to actually do the things I say I want to do. He helps with time management, project management, and in particular, generating new ideas for getting this going.
I am SO EXCITED to have our new website, our newsfeed, this blog, and other ways to connect and share that are just around the corner. Please do let me know if you want to join with us as we move forward with this important work. I am sure we can find a place for you to participate with the Disability and Abuse Project team.