Legislative Advocacy to End Sexual Violence
Laws govern so much of our daily lives. And for survivors, many of the challenges they face in their healing are tied up in systems that can be improved through legislation. Important funding for services that survivors need also comes through a legislative process. Not to mention the power of laws in creating a culture that prevents sexual violence.
Advocating for and supporting legislative reforms that support survivors and empower communities is a key part of what we do. Drawing on the expertise we’ve gained from decades of directly serving survivors and seeing firsthand the barriers they face, we educate policymakers on the realities of sexual violence as well as the proven best practices in response and prevention.
Whether taking part in local task forces, meeting one-on-one with legislators, providing legislative testimony, or signing on to allied advocacy campaigns, we are dedicated to pushing forward policies that will make a difference in the lives of survivors and communities.
We listen deeply to the voices of the survivors and communities we work with, and we use this knowledge to inform our legislative advocacy. We ask what survivors are experiencing as they heal and seek justice, and what they need. We ensure that it is not just one voice driving the agenda, but many, and that our strategies are informed by the complexities of survivors’ lives and the breadth of sexual violence that affects so many in our communities.
To ensure we have a full picture and can bring people on board with the policies we advocate for, we forge ongoing collaborations with key people in various systems—college campuses, police, and more. We also build relationships with legislators, policymakers, and other stakeholders, so they know they can call upon our expertise and we can provide the knowledge they need to make informed votes on important legislation that will support survivors and prevent sexual violence.
Sexual violence response
As the only comprehensive rape crisis center in the Greater Boston area, BARCC supports thousands of survivors, family, and friends in the 29 cities and towns we serve—a population of approximately 4.6 million people. Because of this, we focus on bills that will help survivors and their loved ones access accurate information while receiving the free, confidential services they need to guide them in their path to healing. We engage with legislators and key stakeholders to ensure that rape crisis centers have the tools to best support the survivors they serve. We also advocate for legislation and policy changes to make sure that sexual assault evidence collection kits are collected, held, transported, analyzed, and stored with respect and according to best practice.
Sexual violence prevention and education
Preventing sexual violence, and the conditions that support it, is a cornerstone of BARCC’s work. In order to eliminate sexual violence, we need to engage bystanders and our communities and work against racism, sexism, ableism, and other biases at the policy level. Targeted outreach and high-quality education and intervention are key elements of our prevention strategy. We focus on supporting key legislation that promotes comprehensive, inclusive, and realistic policies that are grounded in best practice, including those that address offender accountability and treatment. All survivors deserve to be free of harassment and sexual violence—in their families, neighborhoods, schools, campuses, and workplaces.
Housing and economic stability
Economic justice is a critical aspect of public health and safety in our communities. BARCC understands the economic impact that sexual violence has on survivors and their families. And all members of our communities, including survivors, deserve a safe place to live. We support legislation that promotes economic stability, access to financial benefits, and affordable and safe housing. Healing is facilitated by survivors having their basic needs must be met.
Health care and mental health resources
Survivors of sexual violence have disproportionately poor health outcomes. BARCC supports legislation that promotes ongoing access to health, reproductive, dental, and mental health care. In order for survivors to continue their path toward healing, they need high-quality, responsive, trauma-informed health care. They also need free, confidential, and trauma-informed mental health services—like those offered at BARCC—for emotional support and navigating the effects of sexual violence. We advocate for legislative policies that promote all of these aspects of health.
Criminal legal system
Not every survivor seeks to access the criminal legal system. But for those who do, the experience they have in accessing accurate information, how they are treated throughout the process, and the outcome of their efforts have a major impact on them. BARCC advocates for survivor-informed practices that ensure each step of the process is focused on three things: (1) the voice and well-being of the survivor, (2) survivor and community safety through offender accountability and treatment, and (3) the elimination of bias and discrimination in the criminal legal process.
Check out BARCC's latest news on legislative and policy advocacy.