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Gender-based violence is preventable and prevention is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of their profession. That’s the message organizers hope attendees will take away from a national conference on the subject to be held at the University of Delaware on Sept. 28 and 29.
The Equitable Approaches conference is hosted by UD’s Center for the Study and Prevention of Gender-Based Violence (CSPGBV). The two-day event examines the complex topic through the lens of scholarship, advocacy and activism. The conference uses an interdisciplinary approach to bring together researchers, policymakers, survivors, filmmakers and others to share the latest research and best practices on subjects including intimate partner violence, sexual assault, victimization, policing and more.
UDaily spoke with conference organizers Jennifer Naccarelli, CSPGBV co-director and associate professor of women and gender studies, and Angela Hattery, CSPGBV co-director and professor of women and gender studies, about the importance of the conference.
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Q. Where did the idea for the conference originate? Why is CSPGBV hosting it now?
Naccarelli: Ten years ago, we had a conference commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, the 40th anniversary of the Department of Women and Gender Studies and the 20th anniversary of the Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Since then, we’ve experienced tremendous growth in our undergraduate training program, our community partnerships and our areas of training and expertise. With this conference, we highlight the Center’s expansion and mark our focus on multiple forms of gender-based violence.
Q. How unique is it to have a conference that brings scholars, students, advocates and activists involved in this area together in one space?
Hattery: As a scholar, I might go to, let's say, an activist or advocacy or policy conference, but I might be one of the only scholars. I think advocates or policy specialists rarely come to academic conferences. This conference is designed for people who address gender-based violence from all of these approaches to all have conversations in a very intentional way.
Q. How do you create a schedule that appeals to such a varied audience?
Naccarelli: The program might look to someone fragmented, but in fact, it's reflecting exactly what the goals were. There are keynote sessions about college-based sexual assault, and folks from DC coming to talk about the history of the Violence Against Women Act, and another that is in the realm of intimate partner violence and how traumatic brain injury manifests and has different health outcomes for survivors. There will be something for everyone and there will be many opportunities for attendees to learn something new or consider an approach that they haven’t thought about before.
Q: How important is including the scholarship?
Hattery: It's super important. Our center is the first of its kind in that we provide professional training at the undergraduate level to prepare students to work in the field of gender-based violence prevention and intervention. We're the only center that has a dual commitment to generating scholarship and professional training, so we’re shaping the field of gender-based violence professionals. As we're training professionals, we're bringing into conversation the scholars and the practitioners to produce the best strategies for addressing gender-based violence.
Q: The schedule includes a keynote with survivors of intimate partner violence. Why is this session important?
Hattery: It’s important for people to understand these issues are about real people's lives and not just numbers and case studies in a textbook. And that when you experience a trauma like this, it changes the shape of your life, the options that become available to you, the trajectory that things take.
Q: What do you want attendees to take away from the conference?
Naccarelli: If everybody walks out the door with a new organization or person or partner to collaborate with, I think that would be a success. A new way of considering traditional approaches to your particular area of focus, would be another one. For students, I want them to envision the different career paths that an education in gender-based violence can offer to them. Advocacy, but also in terms of the law, in terms of systems and systems reform, in terms of public policy, in terms of corporate responsibility, in terms of human resources, in terms of our educational systems. I want them to be exposed to the breadth of industries that you can apply training in gender-based violence to.
Hattery: I think a student should walk out and understand that preventing gender-based violence is their responsibility, regardless of what they do with their lives. They can be a firefighter, they can be a baseball coach, they can be an advocate and they can prevent gender-based violence in all of those spaces.
UD’s Sexual Offense Support program provides crisis support and victim advocacy and is available 24/7 by calling (302) 831-1001 and pressing “1”. Members of the University community are reminded to be vigilant: If you see something, say something. Call 911 to report suspicious activity.
For additional information on safety and wellness topics at UD, visit www.udel.edu/students/safety/.
Members of the UD community may download a free smartphone app, LiveSafe, that lets users submit tips to police, receive important broadcast notifications and contact the University of Delaware Police Department directly. To learn more, visit this LiveSafe website.
Article by Hilary Douwes
Photos courtesy of Angela Hattery and Jennifer Naccarelli
Graphic by Christian Derr
September 20, 2023