Beyond the Assault: Sexual Violence, Victim Support, and the State
Walters, Emma Cesia
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This study was created to critically examine how post-assault services for victims of sexual violence work with each other. By examining services - including public health programs, the criminal justice system, rape crisis centers, and legislative organizations - not only in their own specificity but also through their interactions, this paper hypothesizes that post-assault services are fragmented through divergent goals, policies, and practices because of a lack of awareness towards intersectionality. Furthermore, the coupling of progress narratives with growing anti-institutional sentiment has stifled demands for further improvement. This project calls for increased state-driven and state-funded intervention in cases of sexual violence. Beginning with a study of sexual assault resources in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the project was expanded to Massachusetts, with a specific focus on the Western Region. This analysis takes its provocation from feminist theory, and then examines the real life application of concepts through interviews with professionals and critical policy analysis. While feminist calls to action have instigated significant and crucial progress, I argue that there remains essential work to be done to bring disparate services together and create a more comprehensive experience for all victims of sexual violence.