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Sally Laskey, Kris Bein, and Liz Zadnik on How Self-Assessments Can Strengthen Sexual Assault Services

This blog post was originally published on the American Evaluation Association’s tip-a-day blog on January 16, 2016.  It is being republished here with permission.

Hi there! We’re Sally Laskey, Outreach Director at the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Kris Bein, Resource Sharing Project Assistant Coordinator at the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and Liz Zadnik, Capacity Building Specialist with the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault. We’ve worked together to strengthen a self-assessment tool for advocates working with survivors of trauma at dual (domestic violence and sexual assault) or multi-service organizations.

Sally and Kris have worked closely for years developing training techniques for the tool, as well as assisting organizations as part of the Sexual Assault Demonstration Initiative. The assessment was developed to support organizational efforts to enhance services, as well as identify strengths and gaps regarding:

  • Services to survivors of sexual violence
  • Relationships in the community
  • Confidence in responding to survivors of sexual violence
  • Skills for responding to survivors of sexual violence

Lessons Learned: The depth and meaning of the self-assessment is very connected to larger contexts within an organization. While Sally and Kris have been working with folks across the country, they’ve noted a number of trends and approaches:

  • “Assessment” = listening and understanding. In other words, professionals who were initially skeptical or hesitant about the process quickly identified how the questions dug deep and explored neglected areas of practice or development.
  • Try not to focus on what’s wrong, but rather on strengths and leadership.
  • Conversely, those gaps or needs help set a clear path for change. The assessment is also designed to help strengthen services, thus requiring some shifts in practice.

Meanwhile, Liz has been working on some tools that build on a role-specific assessment for preventionists working with communities to end sexual violence. The compendiums are influenced by core competencies and qualities for this group of professionals and designed to prepare and support them in ever-evolving work. Similar to the self-assessment for advocates, this tool will be a strengths-based exercise for professional development and self-reflection.

Hot Tip: When providing training, connect the assessment with practitioners’ established skillset to reduce resistance and confusion. The skill of listening has been a great bridge in connecting advocates with assessment.

Rad Resource: Check out SADI’s other resources for capturing community voices and strengthening services in multiservice organizations.

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