From left: Danielle Chamberlain, victim assistance coordinator, Office of Victim Advocate; Gigi Kilroe, survivor and speaker, resilient voices; Tia Rodriguez, psychological support specialist, SCI Dallas.
April is recognized as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. The Sex Offender Programming Coordinator at SCI Dallas, PSS Tia Rodriguez, held an event within the facility for sex offenders to gain an understanding of the impact that this type of crime has in hopes of reducing recidivism.
Gigi Kilroe, a survivor of sexual assault and speaker from Resilient Voices, addressed a group of offenders who are actively participating in programming, to share her story of trauma and provide the incarcerated individuals with insight on how sexual violence has had an impact on her emotional wellbeing, physical health, and healing throughout her lifespan.
Events held for SAAM are typcially directed toward advocacy and support for victims. This is the first event held within the DOC specifically directed at those who commit these types of offenses. This was a volunteer event but in order to attend, all participants were currently active in programming and completed the first phase of treatment, Taking Responsibility. The goal was to bridge the information the offenders learn in group and provide them another opportunity to develop empathy for victims.
The incarcerated individuals also researched statistics on sexual assault and presented them to the group to showcase the severity and prevalence of sexual violence within our society. Rodriguez also identified the key concepts of treatment that Kilroe identified throughout her presentation to highlight the efficacy of current group therapy.
Overall, Kilroe felt that the attendees were respectful and seemed to be very receptive toward her story and message. Feedback from the attendees supported that opinion and felt that this type of event should be part of the treatment process, as they gained a new perspective into the harm they have caused.