Working together to end violence against deaf people: 2012 Justice for Deaf Victims National Coalition Conference

The event featured "Collaborative Partners Day" to specifically encourage collaboration beyond the deaf community

By Melissa L. Anderson, PhD

From Oct. 9 to 12, 2012, more than 50 Deaf individuals and hearing allies working in the domestic violence/sexual assault (DV/SA) field gathered in Denver to exchange information and explore best service practices at the biennial Justice for Deaf Victims National Coalition (JDVNC) Conference. This year’s conference was hosted by DOVE: Advocacy Services for Abused Deaf Women and Children, a Denver-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free services and education to Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Late-Deafened and Deaf-Blind victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as victim service providers and the general public.

Although the JDVNC conference has historically been intended for American Sign Language users who work in the field of DV/SA, this year’s conference organizers hosted a “Collaborative Partners Day,” opening the conference to professionals outside of the Deaf DV/SA field, to specifically encourage collaboration and information dissemination beyond the Deaf community.

Those individuals immersed in the field of Deaf DV/SA cite many challenges faced in the field, including the lack of attention paid to Deaf DV/SA issues and the shortage of research and accessible services. These challenges can be partially attributed to issues of dissemination and networking. To this day, few resources have been published and, until a national network was developed, it was difficult to locate others working in the field, hindering our ability to build on one another's work and develop effective collaborations.

In order to reduce the gaps present in Deaf DV/SA research and services, networking and collaboration are key. By creating a national network of allied individuals committed to serving Deaf survivors, JDVNC has made a huge step toward achieving their mission — to end domestic and sexual violence in the Deaf community. For more information about the objectives and activities of JDVNC, please visit their website.

About the author

Melissa L. Anderson, PhD

Melissa L. Anderson, PhD is a postdoctoral fellow, focusing on treatment of trauma and addiction in the Deaf community at University of Massachusetts Medical School.