The first Northern Utah Conference on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault will be at Utah State University’s Eccles Conference Center on June 27-28. The theme for the inaugural gathering is “A Call for Collaborative Leadership.”
The conference was formed in a partnership among the USU President’s Office, Aggies Think Care Act and CAPSA, a local nonprofit that serves and supports survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.
Emmalee Fishburn, a senior prevention specialist in USU’s Office of Equity and one of the conference organizers, said the event is designed for professionals who work with people who have experienced or engaged in domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking. This includes law enforcement, prosecutors and defense attorneys, therapists, victim advocates, medical providers and prevention educators.
“However, many of the sessions would be helpful for anyone who knows people who have had these experiences or anyone who wants to learn more about these topics,” Fishburn said.
Having community leaders, school administrators and health teachers, and local clergy attend would be beneficial, she said. “Collaborative leadership should not just involve the professionals who address these issues — it also needs to involve the community, because domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are societal issues.”
Conference sessions will focus on offender accountability, recognizing and correcting victim-blaming, and stalking, along with a variety of topics on working with and supporting survivors during the reporting process and recovery.
The conference is free to attend. For the complete schedule and to register, visit usu.edu/DVSAconference. Free social work continuing education unit credits are available for participants, and law enforcement personnel can earn in-service training hours for attending.
Carrie Madden will speak June 27. The mother of MacKenzie Madden, a former USU student who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend in her apartment in 2014, will share her keynote address, “Triumph Over Tragedy: A Mother’s Story.”
Retired West Valley City police detective Justin Boardman, an international expert in trauma-informed investigative processes, will deliver the June 28 keynote, “Cultivating Consent Culture: How Law Enforcement Can Transform the Reporting Process for Survivors.”
Organizers say the conference is an extension of the ongoing partnership between CAPSA and USU to address domestic violence and sexual assault in local communities.
“Northern Utah has a robust network of professionals working on these issues, but not everyone comes together on a regular basis,” Fishburn said. “This is an opportunity for people to learn about current trends and build local connections.”
Misty Hewitt, chief program officer for CAPSA and a conference organizer, agrees on the importance of those local connections.
“My hope is that leaders and providers in this community — on campus and off — can come together with a common goal of increasing awareness on this important topic, commit to working together to help survivors find hope and healing, and utilize best practices when holding offenders accountable,” she said.
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