Transforming LGBTQ Survivor Access
Through this innovation grant, VRLC conducted focus groups and listening sessions with LGBTQ survivors, their allies, and victim service providers, to identify and develop strategies to eliminate the barriers faced by LGBTQ sexual assault survivors seeking services. The project also enhanced the capacity of VRLC lawyers to provide culturally-informed, survivor- centered legal services to LGBTQ clients; increased awareness statewide of VRLC’s free legal services; provided training to victim service providers across Oregon to make their services more accessible and responsive to the needs of LGBTQ survivors; and increased the number of lawyers who can provide free, culturally-responsive, trauma informed, and survivor-centered legal services to adult and minor LGBTQ SA survivors. To accomplish this, VRLC partnered with the Sexual Assault Task Force and the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, as well as many informal partners who include but are not limited to LGBTQ-focused providers such as the Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center, TransActive, the Q Center, Outside In, and a score of other domestic violence, sexual assault, and other victim service providers.
The Victim Rights Law Center
The Victim Rights Law Center (VRLC) was the first non-profit legal services organization in the country dedicated to meeting the legal needs of sexual assault survivors. They provide free legal services to sexual assault survivors throughout Massachusetts and Oregon. VRLC also provides training, consulting, mentoring, and other services nationally to support the work of victim service providers.
Specifically, in MA and OR, VRLC provides holistic, trauma-informed, and survivor-centered legal services to victims of rape and sexual assault on privacy, safety, employment, housing, immigration, education, criminal advocacy, and financial matters. VRLC priorities include but are not limited to serving survivors from marginalized, high risk communities such as minors, undocumented, LGBTQ, older, rural, and older survivors. Their Oregon-based Transgender ID project serves transgender survivors throughout the state in need of legal and financial assistance to access appropriate identity documents. In addition to VRLC’s work representing individual survivors, VRLC is funded by the Office of Violence Against Women to serve as national technical assistance (“TA”) providers. VRLC is the designated comprehensive TA provider for campus grantees. They also have two privacy-specific TA projects addressing: (1) confidentiality for survivors of domestic, sexual, and dating violence; and (2) campus sexual assault, minors, and privacy resources for non-English speaking survivors and providers. Their SAJE (Sexual Assault Justice Education) project is dedicated to strengthening legal service providers’ capacity to meet the comprehensive needs of sexual assault survivor. VRLC is poised to complete their mini Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) project addressing privacy considerations for survivors who are incarcerated, confined, or detained.