How Our Listserv Helps Professionals

The Disability and Abuse Project’s Listserv is similar to a community bulletin board. Our members receive every message posted on the Listserv, and can either read and respond, or just read and learn. In fact, most of our members are what are called “lurkers” in geek-talk: people who watch what is going on but do not actively participate. Others are actively engaged and post frequently. These are folks who are more likely to be those whose occupations bring them face to face interactions with crime victims with disabilities on occasion, while many who post more frequently have more day-to-day interactions.

The members of the Listserv include a variety of professionals: police/sheriff officers who act as patrol, detectives, investigators, trainers; prosecutors who investigate and try cases; victim advocates; rape treatment center personnel; child advocacy professionals including forensic interviewers, case managers, social workers, executive staff and medical staff; SANEs (sexual assault nurse examiners); teachers; psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed social workers; disability specialists such as those who work with specific populations including deaf, hard of hearing, blind and vision impaired, those who have autism or are on the autism spectrum; those with intellectual and developmental disabilities; individuals concerned with mental illness, physical disability, recently acquired disabilities; defense attorneys, civil litigation attorneys, public service attorneys, special education attorneys. I’m sure there are many more categories, but this gives you an idea of the breadth of our members.

In support of our mission, the Listserv is a place to exchange information, share ideas and comment on current news events. These are important aspects for any professional. Yet, the heart of the Listserv is the capability to jump into action when needed. I’ll share with you a few recent examples where our members made a real difference in the lives of families in need.

Last month I received a rather long email from a woman in New York. She believed her daughter had been a victim of sexual assault. Her detailed account of the events told it all: her adult daughter’s disheveled appearance with clothing in disarray upon return from her day program, bleeding in the groin area, and complaining of physical pain, fearful, angry and distraught. The mother took her daughter to an emergency room where staff had refused to perform a SANE exam. The police did take a report, but the attitude was one of lack of interest and the mother felt that the officer brushed them off. Her own doctor refused to conduct a pelvic exam. Her daughter was in physical pain and both were in emotional distress, so she reached out for help.

The email was so detailed, any reader could see why help was needed. I asked if she would be willing to allow me to share her email with hundreds of professionals on our Listserv to see who could help her. She readily agreed.

Within 10 minutes, members reached out to her by direct email. Folks from all over the country offered direct phone numbers for her to call for legal, medical and psychological help. They compassionately provided information giving psychological support to this family while attending to the obvious medical needs.

After just one week the mother wrote to me expressing her profound gratitude, stating that she was no longer feeling so alone and helpless. My thanks go out to Shirley Pacely, Paul Feuerstein and Luz Marquez. Since folks responded to her directly, I do not know all who jumped in to help.

A second example is that of a police officer in Mississippi asking if I knew any qualified child forensic interviewers “in my area” to help with a case of a non-verbal little girl with significant developmental disabilities. I placed the request on our Listserv. Within 30 minutes, I had an email from Lori Brown who works in Georgia. Call it the “Law of Attraction,” Lori said that in about two weeks she had plans to be very close to the caller. I put the two together. Lori not only conducted the forensic interview quite successfully, but identified that this child’s abilities far exceeded her current school placement. Arrangements were made to get her into an appropriate educational track. Yeah, Lori!

Finally, we have had several requests by our members for assistance in preparation for a presentation they were planning. Our members are always quick to offer direct assistance as well as links or sending materials by direct email to the requester. New materials of interest to us all are often announced, such as Wendie Abramson’s new adapted Power and Control Wheel for individuals with disabilities.

The Listserv is like a community gathering spot, or a coffee shop online, for social and business together…a virtual Starbucks store.

I’ll end with a note of gratitude to our members, who give of themselves selflessly and generously. All of this is without pay and often without public appreciation or recognition. They do it because it needs to be done and they CAN DO it!

We are changing and updating the appearance and outreach of the disability and Abuse Project. I believe that these changes will increase our reach and visibility, and strengthen our ability to be of service to each other and the individuals and families who need our collective wisdom, knowledge and compassion.

To ask to have your name and email address added to our Listserv, please email us at: