The Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA), a network of 30 rape crisis centers, has been awarded a $12,000 Healing Illinois grant to provide training to its network staff. The Listening, Healing, and Moving Forward project will expand understanding of racism and its intersection with sexual violence.
African American women tend to have life experiences that place them at risk of sexual violence, according to the National Organization for Women (NOW). These experiences also serve as barriers to Black women's reporting an incident or obtaining justice. NOW outlines law enforcement interactions, discipline in schools, low-wage work, poverty, and stereotypes as some of the risk factors.
"All forms of oppression play on each other," said Carrie Ward, executive director of ICASA. "We know that victims of sexual violence are often not believed in the community when they come forward, and we know that's especially true for victims of color."
"We are committed to ending all forms of oppression, and racial justice is one of our guiding principles," Ward added.
She said the Healing Illinois grant came at a crucial time, following years of state and federal budget impasses that have negatively impacted ICASA's finances.
Each of ICASA's 30 independent organizations will implement the trainings. In addition to teaching how incidences of sexual violence relate to Black females' life experiences, the trainings will also cover social justice.